A Problem Made Worse By Failure To Deal With Another Problem

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article yesterday about a problem in Boston that unfortunately has become a problem throughout the nation. The number of heroin overdoses in all fifty states has risen dramatically in recent years.

According to the Center for Disease Control website:

As heroin use has increased, so have heroin-related overdose deaths:

  • Heroin-related overdose deaths have more than quadrupled since 2010.
  • From 2014 to 2015, heroin overdose death rates increased by 20.6%, with nearly 13,000 people dying in 2015.
  • In 2015, males aged 25-44 had the highest heroin death rate at 13.2 per 100,000, which was an increase of 22.2% from 2014.

This is a nationwide problem. However, each area of the country has its unique source or the problem. In Boston, Massachusetts, the problem is leaked to the problem of illegal immigration.

The article at Power Line reports:

I want to focus on certain findings in the BRIC report regarding drug traffickers. According to the report, only 39 percent of those arrested for Class A Trafficking claimed to have been born in the United States. 26 percent claimed to have been born in Puerto Rico. Records showed, however, that 65 percent were born in a foreign country, with the Dominican Republic accounting for 84 percent of the foreign born arrestees.

The numbers add up to more than 100 percent because, in many cases, the records listed multiple places of birth.

The problem of multiple places of birth listed for the same person can be explained by the fact that identify fraud is involved in many of these arrests.

The article concludes:

It would seem, then, that there is a connection between heroin trafficking in Boston and illegal immigration. However, Steve Robinson, writing on the web page of the Howie Carr show, notes that Boston Mayor Marty Walsh offered to open City Hall as a sanctuary to illegal aliens facing deportation under the Trump administration. In addition, says Robinson, Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker has resisted President Trump’s efforts to withdraw law enforcement grants from towns and cities that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities in the enforcement of immigration laws.

Might not better cooperation with federal authorities in enforcing our immigration laws — enacted by Congress, not by President Trump — help rid Boston of some who are killing Bostonians via drug overdoses?

Why would anyone even consider a law that would allow illegal aliens dealing drugs to stay in America? Everyone who comes to America illegally has broken the law. However, not everyone who comes here illegally continues to break the law. We need to gain control of our immigration so that people who want to come here and assimilate and contribute to America can come and people who want to come here and take advantage of America’s government assistance programs will be kept out. Under our present laws, people who come here illegally are not able to legally work and sometimes resort to identity fraud in order to make a living and survive. We need to find a way to let productive people stay in the country. I would suggest that illegals be given the right to work, but be barred from voting for life. It is time to get control of our borders and to know exactly who is in America.

Fake News

Yesterday The Boston Herald reported that Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey has had to issue an apology for remarks made on CNN. Unfortunately I think it is very possible that many people will hear the remarks and few people will hear the apology.

The article reports:

Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Edward J. Markey was forced to apologize yesterday after he “erroneously” claimed live on CNN that a New York grand jury was investigating President Trump’s campaign ties to the Russians.

“There are very strong allegations the Russians had relationships with people inside of the Trump campaign,” Markey said. “In fact, subpoenas have now been issued in northern Virginia with regard to Gen. (Michael) Flynn and Gen. Flynn’s associates. A grand jury has been impaneled up in New York.”

But responding to a Herald inquiry yesterday, spokeswoman Giselle Barry said Markey had made the New York comments “erroneously.”

“Senator Markey does not have direct intelligence that is the case, and the information he was provided during a briefing is not substantiated,” Barry said of the senator’s alternative facts.

The apology explained that there are subpoenas in Virginia regarding the behavior of General Flynn, but there is no grand jury in New York.

On February 17th of this year, Forbes Magazine posted an article showing the ties between Russia and a number of Democratic lobbyists. Ninety percent of what you are hearing in the news about Russia and the 2016 election is fake news. I just wish the media was required to correct a story when they get it wrong.

Why Many Democrats Will Hate President Trump’s Tax Plan

One of the features of the tax plan proposed by President Trump is the elimination of all itemized deductions except for the mortgage deduction and the charitable giving deduction. Keeping these deductions makes sense. Home ownership produces pride in neighborhoods, helps stabilize our society, and actually helps people achieve financial success. Charitable giving is actually one of the traits of Americans. I have had people from foreign countries who have spent time in America tell me that they are amazed at the willingness of Americans to give or to help in an emergency. Keeping both of those deductions makes a lot of sense.

One deduction that will be eliminated is going to be fought by Democrats from some states with high income taxes. That is the deduction for state and local taxes. States like New York, Connecticut, California, and Massachusetts that have high income taxes or property taxes are currently being subsidized by the federal government. People who live in those states actually get a break on their federal taxes because their state taxes are so high. You can expect Senators and Representatives from the states listed above to protest loudly against this tax proposal. However, there may be some Democrats from smaller states that are tired of subsidizing the high tax states that will support it. The Democrats generally vote as a bloc, but because most Americans support tax reform, it will be interesting to see if all of them are willing to take a suicide plunge.

Another thing to watch in the reporting of this tax plan is the narrative. In the past, any time tax cuts are proposed, the Democrats begin their battle cry of ‘tax cuts for the rich.’ That battle cry and its previous success gave us eight years of a presidency where the GDP never reached 3 percent growth. At some point the American people are going to realize that the cry of ‘tax cuts for the rich’ has not helped those in the middle class. Salaries and home ownership rates have decreased during the past eight years. The poverty rate has increased and the number of Americans on food stamps has grown exponentially.

It is interesting that President Trump will be one of the people who will take a heavy hit in taxes if this proposal goes through. He will no longer be able to deduct the real estate taxes on the properties he owns in high tax states. He would probably fare better with the loopholes and deductions in the current tax plan. So much for ‘tax cuts for the rich.’

America’s current tax plan is a tribute to lobbyists. There are a lot of very wealthy special interest groups that do not want to see major changes in our current tax plan. Those groups will be very busy in the coming weeks. The only way to counter the negative spin that will be used to fight this tax plan is to email, call, write, or speak to your Senator or Representative to Congress and tell them that you support the changes proposed. It is time to simplify the tax code and to stop forcing lower tax states to subsidize higher tax states. This plan is something that will be good for most Americans and good for America.

There Are Still People Trying To Undo The Second Amendment

Yesterday I posted an article about the State of Connecticut‘s attempt to make gun ownership very expensive. Well, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has come up with its own idea of how to make using your gun very expensive.

The Daily Caller reported yesterday:

A gun bill in Massachusetts is looking to expand gun restrictions in the state through additional taxes on lawful gun owners.

The legislation, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Cynthia Creem, is one of many she said she has filed every state senate session in order to “to make it harder and harder” to obtain a gun, she told Wicked Local Newsbank.

Not only would the bill impose a 4.75 percent surcharge “on sales at retail of all ammunition, rifles, shotguns, firearms or parts thereof” on top of the licensing fees, the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax and the 11 percent federal excise tax; it would also require virtually all firearm sales to take place through a licensed dealer, with an additional charge for private gun sales, require gun owners to use fingerprint scanners to deactivate the weapon when the technology becomes available and bans .50 caliber weapons outright with a hefty fine and possible jail time if someone is found in violation of the law.

The money raised by this scheme would go into the Firearms Violence Prevention Trust Fund, which the bill establishes. Wow! Penalize gun owners to create more bureaucracy!

The article further reports:

Gun activists in the state are outraged by the sweeping legislation, especially since research shows that crime rates either are not affected or increase over time with more gun restrictions, according to the Crime Research Prevention Center.

“What’s the problem we’re trying to solve?” Jim Wallace, executive director of the Massachusetts Gun Owners Action League, told Wicked Local Newsbank. “Is it political, perceived or real? It seems it’s always been political.”

Frustration with the legislation also includes the belief that lawful gun owners seem to be punished for the transgressions of criminals, people who would find an illegal way to obtain a gun no matter what the law says.

Okay. Let’s look at this a minute. When law-abiding citizens cannot afford guns because the State Legislature has made it very expensive to buy or own one, do you think criminals will still have guns? This is Massachusetts’ attempt at an end run around the Second Amendment. The way our government was set up, the states have the right to disregard a law that is made that does not comply with the U.S. Constitution, but what do you do when the state itself is attempting to undermine a freedom guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution?

Attacking Religious Freedom In Massachusetts

CBN News posted an article today about the battle for religious freedom in Massachusetts.

The article explains the timeline of the events:

Four churches in Massachusetts are suing the state over a new anti-discrimination law that provides no exemption for churches.

Instead, the statute restricts speech that might conflict with government views on gender identity and forces churches to open their bathrooms and locker rooms to people based on their perceived gender identity.

…The state legislature added gender identity as a protected class to the state’s public accommodation law in July 2016. On Sept. 1, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination issued a “Gender Identity Guidance,” which determined that a church would be considered as a place of public accommodation “if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the general public.”

Alliance Defending Freedom is handling the case for the four churches. The four churches are Horizon Christian Fellowship in Fitchburg, Abundant Life Church in Swansea, House of Destiny Ministries in Southbridge, and Faith Christian Fellowship in Haverhill.

The article reports:

“All events held at a church on its property have a religious purpose and the government has no authority to violate the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of religion and speech,” Alliance Defending Freedom legal counsel Christiana Holcomb said.

The law went into effect Oct. 1.  But opponents of the law celebrated a major win late Tuesday in their efforts to repeal it.  The Massachusetts secretary of state has certified the required number of signatures needed to put a repeal measure on the 2018 ballot.

It will be interesting to see if the issue makes it on to the 2018 ballot, even though it has the necessary signatures. A number of years ago, the voters of Massachusetts collected enough signatures to put gay marriage on the ballot, but somehow that never happened. The gay marriage law that took effect in Massachusetts was the result of a court decision–not a vote of the people. Unfortunately, I think this issue may be resolved the same way.

 

Finally Some Common Sense Comes To Our Fishing Quotas

On August 3, the Massachusetts newspaper South Coast Today posted an article about changes in fish stock surveys.

The article reported:

In what one advocate called “a potential sea change” for the commercial fishing industry, NOAA Fisheries announced intentions Tuesday to shift all or part of long-controversial stock surveys from its Bigelow research vessel to commercial boats, saying a transition over the next five years could bring “greater shared confidence” in survey results.

“We have to learn to work better with the (commercial fishing) industry — we have to open up better lines of communication,” Dr. Bill Karp, director of NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, said of the transition.

How fish stocks are measured has been one of the biggest points of contention for years between governmental regulators and commercial fishermen, as survey results affect seasonal catch limits, quotas for various species and more. The latest questions about NOAA’s Henry R. Bigelow research ship arose this spring, for example, when maintenance problems delayed NOAA’s spring survey from April to June.

Don Cuddy, program director for the Center for Sustainable Fisheries in New Bedford, said fishermen also have felt the Bigelow is unable to accurately count “flatfish,” such as yellowtail flounder, because of the type of gear it tows.

The bottom line here is very simple–the commercial fishermen know a whole lot more about the fish population than the government does. Most commercial fishermen have spent their entire lives fishing and understand things the government has not even considered. Most commercial fishermen are conscious of the environment because they realize that if they overfish a certain type of fish, they lose their livelihood. Life was better all the way around before the government began to attempt to take control of the commercial fishing industry. All they are succeeding in doing is putting small family fishing boats out of business, and those family fishing boats are the conscientious fisherman who do not overfish. The conscientious fishermen know how to catch specific fish and how to measure specific fish populations–the government does not.

I’m Grateful For The Outcome, The Court Case Makes Me Crazy

WCVB in Boston reported yesterday that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled Friday that saying the pledge of allegiance every day in public school, including the words “under God,” does not violate the Massachusetts Constitution or discriminate against atheists.

In 2010 an atheist family in Acton, Massachusetts, sued, claiming that the daily recitation of the pledge in classrooms violated their three children’s constitutional rights. The family, who are not identified in the suit, said the ruling insinuates that nonbelievers are less patriotic.

The article reports:

In its ruling the court took pains to make clear that reciting the pledge is voluntary, ” No Massachusetts school student is required by law to recite the pledge or to participate in the ceremony of which the pledge is a part. Recitation of the pledge is entirely optional.”

The decision only applies to Massachusetts because the pledge’s language is defined by federal law.

Good grief.

It’s Not About The Children–It’s About The Money

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you are probably aware that I am strongly opposed to Common Core. There are many reasons for this, and I need to review a few before I get to the current article regarding Common Core.

Reported here in November 2015:

Bill Gates himself has stated, “It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade.” 

Reported here in July 2014:

On the Microsoft Web site, a webpage dated April 22, 2014 entitled “Tech Essentials for Testing Success” describes in considerable detail how schools using computer-based, Common Core-aligned tests will now need to spend a bunch of money — on Microsoft products.

…Microsoft additionally advises schools to upgrade “all units” “to a minimum of 1 GB of internal memory” and to make sure their screens and processors are up to snuff. (Wouldn’t you know it: in some cases, “Power Macs are not supported.”) Schools might also need to outlay tax dollars on Internet connections and hardware such as headphones.

The primary purpose of Common Core is not to educate our children–it’s to force schools to buy Microsoft technology. There are billions of dollars at stake here, which brings me to my current story. When schools originally began buying computer products, most schools bought (or were given) Apple products. The students trained on Apple products went on to buy Apple products as adult consumers. That lesson was not lost on Bill Gates at Microsoft.

On February 12, 2016, the New Boston Post reported:

A lawsuit that aims to prevent Massachusetts voters from weighing in on the controversial Common Core educational standards has backing from people connected to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a major sponsor of Common Core.

Since 2010, the year the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to implement Common Core, through last year, the Gates Foundation donated $776,431 to the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education. The Alliance, a strong supporter of Common Core, is currently coordinating the lawsuit, filed last month, to block a citizen initiative that would allow Massachusetts voters in November to decide whether the state continues to use the federally approved Common Core standards or revert to its own pre-Common Core standards.

In 2007, prior to the implementation of Common Core, Massachusetts was the highest-achieving state in the country.  Opponents of Common Core, an unusually bi-partisan group of parents, teachers, education specialists, conservative activists, and anti-testing activists, say that after the state adopted the federally backed standards in 2010, Massachusetts achievement levels started to decline.

End Common Core Massachusetts, the citizens group behind the ballot question, earlier this year garnered enough signatures to advance the measure.  But on Jan. 22, ten plaintiffs sued to stop the question from reaching the voters. Plaintiffs include William Walczak who is a director of the Alliance, and Jack Dill, who is on its advisory council.

If Common Core was about improving education, why have the achievement levels in Massachusetts schools started to decline since Common Core was implemented? Common Core is a scam put over on parents and teachers that does nothing to improve the education of our children. I does, however, improve the bottom line profits of Microsoft Corporation. Parents need to begin to work to remove it. I am hoping Massachusetts will be successful with its ballot question, but in other places, school boards need to be pressured to take action against something that is detrimental to our children’s education. If it really was about the children, would any school administrators be supporting something that lowers achievement rather than raises it?

When Man Interferes With Nature

John Hinderaker at Power Line posted an article yesterday about a wildlife plan in Massachusetts that seems a little unwise. Massachusetts had made some bad decisions in the past concerning wildlife–resulting in a rabies problem in certain areas of the state and an overabundance of raccoons, skunks, coyotes, and fisher cats, but this decision is really a bit over the top.

The article reports:

A plan by the state to establish a colony of venomous timber rattlesnakes on an off-limits island in Massachusetts’ largest body of water has some rattled by visions of dangerous serpents slithering through the surrounding woods, attacking hikers, fishermen and hunters.

…There are only about 200 of the endangered snakes indigenous to Massachusetts left in five scattered pockets from greater Boston to the Berkshires, French (Tom French of the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife) said. Loss of habitat and human-caused deaths means they could disappear altogether, which is why the Quabbin project is so critical.

When Massachusetts built Route 128 around Boston, they discovered nests of rattlesnakes. Those nests are pretty much gone now. I suspect that most residents of the state consider that a good thing.

The article concludes:

The public’s concerns stem from the fact that rattlesnakes can swim and the island is connected to the mainland by a pair of narrow causeways, French said.

I think we can expect property values on the mainland overlooking the island to decrease rapidly. This is simply not smart.

Making It Difficult To Exercise Your Rights As A Citizen

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Our Founding Fathers understood that at some point the American people might need to be armed to protect them from a government determined to take away their freedom. Unfortunately, some of our cities are moving to take away the freedom of their residents.

The Lowell Sun in Massachusetts posted an article last Tuesday about some changes that are being made in the city of Lowell regarding gun possession.

The article reports:

A new firearms policy will go into place despite a final plea from gun-rights advocates Tuesday for looser restrictions.

The policy requires anyone seeking a license-to-carry to take a gun-safety course. Anyone applying for an unrestricted gun license must state in writing why they should receive such a license, and to provide additional documentation, such as prior military or law-enforcement service, a prior license-to-carry permit, or signed letters of recommendation.

…Taylor (Police Superintendent William Taylor) did agree to work with one resident, a trained firearms-safety instructor, to help shape a training course applicants will be required to take. The trainer, Randy Breton, strongly criticized Taylor moments earlier for what he said was intentionally expensive training to dissuade anyone from applying for a gun permit.

“It’s beyond ridiculous,” Breton said of courses he looked into. One costs $1,100 over five days, and another doesn’t offer any sessions through the rest of the year in Massachusetts.

Does the Police Superintendent really believe that having to write an essay will prevent criminals in Lowell from getting their hands on guns? I can’t believe this will have any positive effect on the crime rate in Lowell. All that the Police Superintendent will succeed in doing is disarming the citizens so that they cannot defend themselves against criminals with illegal weapons. I also believe that this policy is unconstitutional, so we should look for a lawsuit to be filed quickly.

The Actions Of A Younger Sister Remind Us That There Is Hope

On Saturday, Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts unveiled a statue of Martin Richard, the 8-year-old boy killed in the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing. Both of Martin’s parents graduated from the University, and Martin wanted to go there also. What made the unveiling an truly special event were the actions of Martin’s younger sister, Jane, who as the photographer was taking pictures of the statue of her brother, gave her brother bunny ears. The gesture was simply an example of what Jane and Martin would be doing if he had not been killed in the attack. Jane was also injured in the attack, losing a leg.

The Sad Part Of This Is That It Is True

Violence is a problem in America (just as it is in most countries). Gun violence is often the problem cited because it is the most obvious. Some of the people who want to fight gun violence seem to have lost the concept of common sense.

This is a chart from a website called Gun Facts:

CRIME AND GUNS - Property Crimes and Handgun Supply

There is a lot of good information on the site. Here are a few of the facts cited:

Fact: 60% of convicted felons admitted that they avoided committing crimes when they knew the victim was armed. 40% of convicted felons admitted that they avoided committing crimes when they thought the victim might be armed. 7

Fact: Felons report that they avoid entering houses where people are at home because they fear being shot. 8

Fact: 59% of the burglaries in Britain, which has tough gun control laws, are “hot burglaries” 9 which are burglaries committed while the home is occupied by the owner/renter. By contrast, the U.S., with more lenient gun control laws, has a “hot burglary” rate of only 13%. 10

Fact: Washington DC has essentially banned gun ownership since 1976 11 and has a murder rate of 56.9 per 100,000. Across the river in Arlington, Virginia, gun ownership is less restricted. There, the murder rate is just 1.6 per 100,000, less than three percent of the Washington, DC rate. 12

Please visit the site to check the sources on the footnotes.

All this brings me to a story from CBS Boston posted on Thursday. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Police Commissioner William Evans have formulated a plan to reduce gun violence in Boston. The first step of the plan involves sending a letter to all gun owners.

The article reports:

The letter will give gun owners information about reporting a private gun sale, loss or theft. It also advertises a free gun lock, a program that offers a $200 gift card if a firearm owner turns in their weapon and advice on gun storage.

“As a legal gun owner, it is important that you also do your part to ensure that guns are stored safely, and kept out of the hands of children and criminals,” the letter states.

Deadly shootings have dropped 30 percent compared to this time last year, but the city has seen more non-fatal shootings, police say.

“We must think creatively in order to reduce the amount of illegal guns and violence on our streets,” Walsh said.

The city will also reach out to gun vendors about preventing illegal firearm sales.

I fully support safety courses for people who own guns, but the people who legally own guns are not the problem. Statistics show that crime goes down when more people legally own guns. Boston’s problem won’t be solved by buying back guns–it might be solved by allowing more of its upstanding citizens to own guns and ending the hassle Massachusetts puts you through to get a gun permit. Sometimes you just wonder who comes up with these ideas.

The Public Does Have A Voice

Yesterday, Wicked Local Newton (Massachusetts–you understand the name of the paper if you have ever lived in New England) posted an article about  the United States Olympic Committee pulling the Boston bid for the games. All well-informed Massachusetts taxpayers breathed a sigh of relief. The Olympics in Boston were going to make the Big Dig look like a fiscally responsible undertaking.

The fact that the bid was withdrawn was due to the work of a group of people including Newton resident Evan Falchuk, Chairman of Citizens for a Say, and Marty Lamb and Rep. Shaunna O’Connell, Co-Chairmen of Tank Taxes for Olympics.

The article reports:

“The many elected officials in Boston 2024’s corner looked the other way for months, even when it became clear that Boston 2024 had been less than truthful about what it wanted from taxpayers. What those officials couldn’t ignore was the real, credible threat of a binding vote, which is what ultimately led to the USOC pulling the bid,” said Falchuk. “If Boston 2024 could have produced a plan that did not rely on a taxpayer bailout, they would be still in the running for the 2024 games.”

“As a taxpayer I am relieved. Taxpayers would have been paying for the Olympics for decades to come,” said Lamb. “Last week’s revelation about Boston 2024’s first bid documents showed they did not want a ballot question. To suggest it would take $1 million to get on the ballot was blatantly false. I’m sure when the USOC found out we were serious about protecting taxpayers, that sent a strong message.”

“This is good day for Massachusetts taxpayers. The Boston Games would have resulted in a multi-billion taxpayer funded bailout. It would have hurt our state’s bond rating, taken tax dollars from necessities and forced huge tax increases,” said O’Connell. “We are a world class state without the Olympics. We don’t need to spend billions of tax dollars to prove that fact.”

Citizens for a Say along with Tank Taxes for Olympics have filed with the Attorney General a ballot question to prohibit tax dollars for the Olympics. The coalition was the only group pursuing a legally binding effort to protect taxpayers.

Concerned citizens can make a difference–even when they are up against serious money.

 

 

Buried In The Story Is The Cause For The Change

Channel 5 in Boston posted an article today about the fact that the number of great white sharks off Massachusetts shores is rising.

The article states:

The resurgence of the gray seal population has driven the increase in white shark sightings here.

White sharks in excess of 9 to 10 to feet switch their diet to larger prey: seals, sea lions and scavenged whale carcasses,” said Skomal.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act passed by the U.S. and Canada in 1972 helped bring back the gray seals, whose numbers in the Gulf of Maine to Massachusetts are estimated at between 300,000 and 400,000, with a major nesting area for seal pups on Muskeget Island between Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, said Skomal.

About 2,000 pups were born on Muskeget in 2008, four times the rate in 1999.

Last September in Cape Cod waters, Skomal’s team filmed a white shark feeding on a freshly killed seal. The video shared Wednesday night depicted a bloody and violent scene.

The italics are mine. I don’t have anything against gray seals, I wish them well; however, when man decides to change the rules for one part of the animal population, he invariably impacts another part. Sharks have to eat, too.

You can bet that some pseudo-scientist will come along very quickly and blame the increased number of sharks on global warming. That’s just the way things work these days.

What It Means To Invest In A Town

I love what Jeff Kinney (author of the Wimpy Kid books) is doing for Plainville, Massachusetts. He has removed an eyesore from the center of town and replaced it with a wonderful bookstore, but he hasn’t stopped there.

The Attleboro Sun Chronicle posted a story today about his latest contribution to the town.

The article reports:

The Kinneys were at a book conference in Los Angeles, where Julie Kinney found a booth staffed by Write Brain Books publishing company.

The firm publishes children’s book with illustrations, but no text. Children are expected to write their own stories to go with the drawings.

Julie Kinney brought four of the books to Wood School in Plainville, where fourth-grade teacher Devon Almeida turned them into a major project for her students.

Now, their versions of the books have been published and are going on sale at An Unlikely Story bookstore in Plainville, which is owed by Jeff Kinney.

The children presented their stories to parents Wednesday at the school. Write Brain founder and CEO Meredith Scott Lynn flew in from California for the occasion.

I love the fact that the books the students wrote will be sold at An Unlikely Story bookstore. Thank you, Jeff Kinney, for all you are doing for Plainville.

 

Sometimes I Just Miss New England

ESPN is reporting that the Eagle Brook Saloon in Norfolk, Massachusetts, (a great place to eat or drink) now features the Free Brady Blonde IPA on its menu.

The story reports:

As a die-hard New England Patriots fan and season-ticket holder, Chuck Horne needed to do something to support his favorite quarterback, Tom Brady.

So the man who owns a bar less than three miles from Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots play, called up the microbrewery that makes some of his bar’s beers and asked them if they could supply him with a blonde IPA.

…Despite the $6.75 price point — most of its microbrews cost $5.25 — many patrons haven’t flinched. In six days, Horne said, the bar has sold more than 500 glasses of the beer.

“We just feel like the NFL is taking a shot at the big guy on the block to make a statement,” Horne said. “It’s ridiculous.”

Sometimes I just miss New England.

Sharing Success

I lived in Plainville, Massachusetts, for thirty-five years. When my family originally moved there, there was a store in the middle of town called Falk’s Market. The children in the town rode their bikes there to buy penny candy, and the growups knew that Falk’s was the best place to buy steaks to barbeque. Over the years Mr. Falk grew old and the store fell into disrepair. Eventually it was sold to someone who didn’t seem to know how to bring it back to its glory days. Then, a few years ago it was sold to Jeff Kinney, who wrote the Wimpy Kid books. Mr. Kinney knew how to bring back the glory days of the market in the center of Plainville.

The New York Times posted a story today about the bookstore in Plainville that will be opening soon.

This is what Falk’s Market looked like when Mr. Kinney bought it:

FalksMarketBefore

This is the new bookstore:

falksMarketAfterThe New York Times reports:

Now, in a risky and ambitious next act, Mr. Kinney will start selling other people’s books. He’s opening a bookstore, called An Unlikely Story, in his adopted hometown, Plainville, Mass., about 40 miles south of Boston. And while he doesn’t want the store to resemble a “Wimpy Kid” theme park, he’s willing to use the popularity of the series to draw in customers. Mr. Kinney will work at the cash register and in the cafe on occasion, and he plans to teach a cartooning workshop at the store.

Thank you, Mr. Kinney, for loving Plainville enough to build a bookstore there.

The Supreme Court Gets One Right

The Attleboro Massachusetts Sun Chronicle is reporting today that the Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from Robert Kosilek to have the taxpayers pay for his sex-change operation. Robert (now being called Michelle) is serving a life sentence for killing spouse Cheryl Kosilek at their Mansfield condo in 1990. He then placed her body in her car and drove her to Emerald Square Mall in North Attleboro, and took a taxi home. He then reported her missing.

The article reports:

The inmate has waged a lengthy fight for the surgery she says is necessary to relieve the mental anguish caused by gender-identity disorder.   

Last year, a divided federal appeals court in Boston overturned a first-in-the-nation court order for the state to provide the sex-reassignment surgery. Courts around the country have found that prisons must evaluate transgender inmates to determine their health care needs, but most have ordered hormone treatments and psychotherapy, not surgery.

It does not concern me whether or not Robert has the operation he desires. What does concern me is that a murderer expects the taxpayers to fund optional surgery. It is obvious that Robert has some serious issues, whatever they may be, but I do not think it is up to the taxpayers to resolve them with extreme elective surgery. I am also not convinced that anything will resolve these issues. It is one thing to want a sex-change operation, it is quite another thing to murder your wife and try to get away with it. This is one case in which I wish Massachusetts had the death penalty. Mr. Kosilek needs to be shown the same amount of mercy that he showed his wife.

A Waste Of A Talented Athlete

WCVB.com (Boston) is reporting today that former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez has been found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Odin Lloyd. Hernandez will spend the rest of his life in prison without the chance of parole. He will serve his time in MCI Cedar Junction in Walpole, less than two miles from Gillette Stadium.

The article reports:

He was also found guilty of charges of illegal possession of firearm and illegal possession of ammunition.

In Massachusetts, a first-degree murder conviction carries an automatic sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. He will serve his time at MCI Cedar Junction in Walpole.

“Odin was the backbone of the family. Odin was the man of the house.  Odin was his sisters’ keepers,” his mother, Ursula Ward, said in a victim impact statement.

Through tears, Ward said she has forgiven those involved in her son’s death.

“I forgive the hands of the people who had a hand in my son’s murder — both before and after. And I hope and pray that someday everyone out there will forgive them also,” she said.

Hernandez had a bright future in the National Football League. It is a shame that his lack of moral fiber will mean that he spends the rest of his life behind bars.

One Way To Deal With The Bullies Among Us

The Ever So Humble Pie Company in East Walpole, Massachusetts, has been getting harassed because they are one of the sponsors of the Howie Carr show, a conservative talk show broadcast in Massachusetts. The leftist thought police would like to see Howie’s show go away, so they are harassing Howie Carr and the sponsors.

The story is told on the Facebook page of The Ever So Humble Pie Company:

“OCCU-PIES!” Are here!
As many of you know, we have been receiving harassing phone calls from someone claiming to be from the “Occupy” movement and the “Boston Chapter of Black Lives Matter”. They made baseless accusations that Howie Carr is a racist and they want him off the air. And because we advertise on his show, they want to hurt us, too. Well, the only way to deal with bullies is to stand up to them! Howie’s listeners suggested we make “Occu-Pies” to poke some fun at them so we did – and 50% of the proceeds will be donated to Fisher House Boston! Pies cost $5.25 eaqch or 4 for $20. Whoopie are $3.50 each or 3 for $10. Here are the pies –
“Bye Bye American Pie “- Apple
“The Harry Reid Black & Blue Pie” -Blackberries & Blueberries
“If you like your pie, you can keep your pie” – Strawberry Rhubarb
“The IMPEACHment Pie” – Peach
“The Moon Bat Pie” – Chocolate Whoopie Pie
Buy a pie and get a FREE copy of Howie’s book RIFLEMAN! (while supplies last).

This is how you handle the thought police.

We Seem To Have Become Wimps

Sorry if that statement offends anyone, but indications are that it may be true. Dr. Roy Spencer, formerly a Senior Scientist for Climate Studies at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, where he and Dr. John Christy received NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for their global temperature monitoring work with satellites, posted a story on his website today about the “Historic Blizzard of 2015”–it actually ranked #41, or a weak “Category 2″. The article includes a chart showing the Blizzard of 2015 in comparison to the storm ranked Number 1, which occurred in March of 1993.

The article states:

The ranking is based upon societal impacts, so if the worst storm on Earth in the last 10,000 years hit where no one lived, it would not even rank.

So, the NESIS scale for Northeast snowstorms isn’t well suited for talking about climate change. It’s not clear that more snowstorms in recent decades aren’t just from a slight shift in the storm track bringing Northwest Atlantic winter storms (of which there are many…Greenland routinely gets clobbered) closer to New England.

As someone who lived in New England from 1967 to 2013, I was glad not to be there during snowstorm Juno. I would like to point out that this is the first year I remember naming snow storms. I was in Rhode Island for the Blizzard of ’78, and we never named it. There were 48 inches of snow in about a day and a half, and no one thought about naming the storm. We have become wimps.

My warmest thoughts go out to my friends in Massachusetts as they endure the weather expected over the next week. I think you should name the first sunny day “Fred.”

Federal Regulations Are Creating Economic Hardship For People As Wages And Net Worth Are Declining

On October 29, a website called Renewable Energy World posted an article asking the question, “Are Environmental Regulations Causing US Utility Bills to Surge?”

The article points out:

U.S. electricity markets face years of higher prices as clean-air regulations shut more coal-fired power plants than earlier forecast, cutting supply and forcing producers to rely more on natural gas.

…Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc., or MISO, which manages the electricity network that runs from Manitoba to Louisiana, expects its power reserves to fall short of targets by about 2,000 megawatts by 2016, with deficits mounting after that. Even with the shale boom that’s cut gas prices, power generated with the fuel costs $30 to $35 a megawatt-hour, compared with about $25 for coal, according to Brattle.(the Brattle Group, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based consulting company).

Please note that this is the result of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations–not the result of any law passed by elected officials. The EPA is accountable to no one (except possibly the President) and does not have to worry about elections. The EPA does not have to deal with the consequences (intended or unintended) of its actions.

It is time for Americans to take their country back. We need to be a country where laws and regulations are made by people who are accountable to the voters. The only way to stop the runaway train of over regulation is to elect Congressmen (and a President) who respect the U.S. Constitution and are willing to abide by it. If we don’t take our representative republic back soon, we will never be able to take it back. We will have to explain to our children and our grandchildren how and why we gave up their freedom.

The North Carolina Academic Standards Review Commission

The North Carolina Academic Standards Review Commission met today in Raleigh, North Carolina, to discuss the Common Core Mathematics Standards.

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) of the Bill states:

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.

Today was the second meeting of the Academic Standards Review Commission I have attended. The last one (last month) dealt with the Common Core Language Arts Standards. Today’s meeting dealt with the Common Core Mathematics Standards. The presentations at both meetings were done by people from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI)(a department that is strongly supporting Common Core). There has been (so far) no discussion of any alternate standards. It was also mentioned in today’s meeting that the Commission does not have any money allocated to it, and thus cannot call any experts who might refute the value of Common Core.

I have never been so disappointed in government. When the North Carolina legislature passed the legislation that created the Commission, they passed it in response to complaints by parents about the Common Core standards (and the curriculum that goes with them). The parents were not looking for a worthless commission that would do nothing but hear from supporters of Common Core, put a rubber stamp on it, and go home. (I do need to say at this point that there were some members of the Commission that were asking genuine questions and were trying to look past the one-sided promotional presentation they were subjected to.)

All in all, the meeting of the Commission was a well-orchestrated and controlled dog and pony show that accomplished nothing except to show the extent to which the North Carolina DPI supports Common Core. I would strongly suggest to the Commission (and to the DPI) that if you truly want to improve the education level of North Carolina students, you study the MCAS  (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) program instituted in Massachusetts during the early 1990’s. Massachusetts has more than ten years of test scores that show that MCAS works. Common Core has no reliable test scores that show that has actually accomplished anything. Normally, I would never suggest North Carolina follow the example of Massachusetts, but this one time Massachusetts got it right, and they should be listened to. I would also like to note that many of the local school boards in Massachusetts have opted out of Common Core in favor of MCAS.

 

 

An Exercise In Futility

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

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

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

That article quotes a Massachusetts newspaper article that states:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Big Government Protecting Itself

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

The article reports:

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

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

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

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