Follow The Money And Be Prepared

I think most Americans would agree that George Soros is not a positive influence on the American political scene. His money can be found buying influence and supporting candidates for election that bring chaos into our legal system. He is working hard to continue these efforts.

The Washington Free Beacon reported the following yesterday:

A powerful donor club cofounded by liberal billionaire George Soros quietly established two big-money entities to help its effort to inject $275 million into the 2020 election.

The Democracy Alliance, a coalition of deep-pocketed Democratic donors, launched the Strategic Victory Fund super PAC in March. The PAC appears to be aimed at state-based initiatives and can collect and spend unlimited sums on political advertisements. The group also created the Strategic Victory Fund nonprofit arm, which supplied the PAC’s initial $500,000 deposit.

Democracy Alliance helps set the Democratic agenda and Vox has called it the “closest thing that exists to a ‘left-wing conspiracy’ in the US.” The two new groups appear to be part of the $275 million anti-Trump strategy its board approved in February of 2019. The strategy includes supporting state-based organizing in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, and Virginia. It would also work to elect more progressive politicians at the state and local levels while building a candidate pipeline. The network additionally pinpointed at least 25 rural communities to build infrastructure and leadership for “civic engagement and progressive agenda development.”

Both the PAC and the nonprofit were incorporated by North Carolina attorney Michael Weisel, who also incorporated other Democracy Alliance efforts, including its Committee on States. Gara LaMarche, president of Democracy Alliance, confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon that the super PAC and nonprofit are part of the organization’s 2020 efforts. Scott Anderson, executive director of Strategic Victory Fund, was previously the executive director of the Committee on States. Anderson did not respond to a request for comment.

The Strategic Victory Fund’s dark money nonprofit arm funds the Organizing Together 2020 campaign, a large-scale effort to better position Democrats to take on Trump. Organizing Together was launched to boost Democratic campaign infrastructure in the battleground states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The campaign, which consists of a coalition of 14 liberal groups, is co-chaired by Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo, New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, and former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe. The total cost of its efforts is estimated to run between $20 and $60 million.

North Carolina is a battleground state. Residents need to be prepared for a barrage of anti-Trump ads (twisting the truth wherever possible) and lots of negative letters to editors and bots on social media. This is a time when voters need to rely on their own research rather than what they are being told. This will probably be the most expensive presidential campaign in history and hopefully will prove that money can’t buy elections.

Why Mail-In Voting Is A Really Bad Idea

In December 2018 The Federalist posted an article with the following title, “How Ballot-Harvesting Became The New Way To Steal An Election.” The article is still relevant today. So what is ballot-harvesting? Ballot-harvesting is the practice of party operatives collecting absentee or mail-in ballots and turning bunches of them in at a time. So why is this risky? A person can go into a nursing home with a handful of ballots, sit down with each resident (regardless of their mental capacity), fill out a ballot for them, have the resident sign it, and turn it in as the resident’s vote. There is no way of knowing if the ballot reflected the resident’s wishes.

The article notes:

With ballot-harvesting, paper votes are collected by intermediaries who deliver them to polling officials, presumably increasing voter turnout but also creating opportunities for mischief.

The latter is suspected in North Carolina, where uncharacteristic Democratic charges of vote fraud prompted an investigation into whether Republican-paid political operatives illegally collected and possibly stole absentee ballots in a still-undecided congressional race. A national spotlight was shone by The New York Times, which, like Democrats, often minimizes vote fraud; it flooded the zone in this case, assigning five reporters to a single story.

In California, by contrast, Democrats exulted as they credited a quietly passed 2016 law legalizing ballot-harvesting with their recent sweep of House seats in the former Republican stronghold of Orange County, thereby helping them win control of the House. In that case, it was Republican eyebrows that were arched. House Speaker Paul Ryan said what happened in California “defies logic.”

The article continues:

Only 16 states regulate ballot-harvesting at all, and their rules vary. In Colorado, one of three states to conduct all elections entirely by mail-in ballots, third-party volunteers are allowed to collect up to 10 ballots, though critics have long alleged that the practice is ripe for exploitation.

In November, Montana voters passed a state referendum banning the collection of ballots by third parties. Arizona’s 2016 ban against the practice, which had previously been linked to voter fraud in the state, was recently upheld by a federal appeals court, despite claims that it would disproportionately impact Latino voters who relied on third parties to help navigate the voting process.

Please follow the link to read the entire article. This is an activity that has successfully stolen elections in the past, and there is no reason to believe that it would not be used if voter laws were altered to allow voting by mail.

When Regulations Interfere With Solutions

Yesterday The Union Leader, a New Hampshire newspaper, posted an article about the possible shortages of medical supplies and hospital beds during the coronavirus epidemic.

The article notes:

ACROSS the country, state leaders have raised the alarm over the lack of enough beds should the COVID-19 pandemic create a surge in serious and critical cases. They are concerned that they simply won’t have enough hospital beds to care for ill patients and are taking drastic steps to “flatten the curve” – spreading out the timeline of the disease so that the health care system can manage the influx of new cases.

This is just as true in New Hampshire as across the country. However, the prime reason we don’t have more hospital beds is not a lack of demand, but government regulation.

According to U.S. Census data, New Hampshire’s population has grown by 48% since the 1980 census. However, the last new hospital to open in the Granite State did so in 1983.

The reason why our state hasn’t built more hospitals since then isn’t lack of demand. With a growing and aging population, our health care needs have gone up, not down.

The answer why we haven’t seen more hospitals and, thus, more hospital beds is because of government regulations that were intentionally designed to limit competition and choice. Sadly, these regulations have been effective in achieving those goals.

For many years, the prime culprit from new hospital development was the state’s Certificate of Need (CON) board. For someone to get a license to build a new hospital, they would have to go before this board and hope to get a government permission slip to have the opportunity to begin. Unsurprisingly, the CON board became a protection racket for the state’s existing hospitals to stop new development.

Thanks to the work of Americans for Prosperity activists and critical policy champions like Senator John Reagan and former Representative Marilinda Garcia, New Hampshire was able to put an end to the CON board in 2016.

The article cites some other regulations that limit the number of hospital beds:

One regulation forces anyone who wants to open a hospital to have a 24 hour per day, seven day per week emergency department. Given that emergency departments are the most expensive and toughest to staff part of any hospital, this is a huge barrier to opening a new facility.

And, like most cronyism, existing hospitals made sure this requirement doesn’t apply to any hospital that had its license before the law was passed.

Another regulation forces any new hospital to take reimbursement from all payers, regardless of whether doing so makes sense for that hospital’s business model. Across the country, cash-only facilities are thriving, providing lower cost alternatives to patients. But, under state law, they can’t operate in the Granite State.

Finally, one state regulation provides for a 15-mile radius monopoly zone around smaller hospitals in more rural areas. This guarantees that anyone outside of the southeastern part of New Hampshire will never see another hospital being built in their community, or anywhere near them.

While changing these laws won’t help us fight the COVID-19 virus, it’s high time the state legislature begins to remove these barriers to help us deal with the next pandemic. Our public health infrastructure has been unnecessarily hobbled, not by disease, but by special interests.

North Carolina is one of the states with Certificate of Need (CON) laws. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 35 states and Washington, D.C. operate a CON program with wide variation state-to-state. I suspect that number is high–they may be including laws that are not technically CON laws. At any rate, North Carolina has been trying to repeal its CON law for a number of years. CON laws interfere with the free market and artificially inflate medical costs by creating monopolies. One way to lower medical costs without sacrificing quality of care would be to remove CON laws. However, hospitals like their monopolies.

Why The Census Is An Issue For The Democrat Party

The Democrats have been pursuing two paths regarding the 2020 Census and its impact on the 2020 election–the first is to eliminate the Electoral College and the second is the refusing to distinguish between American citizens and non-citizens during the census. Eliminating the Electoral College will put Los Angeles and New York City in charge of our country’s government (those two cities have not really mastered good government with fiscal responsibility) and counting non-citizens in the census will give more Electoral College delegates to the Democrat states.

On January 5th, The Blaze reported the following:

Population estimates show reliably Democratic states, like New York, California, and Illinois will each lose at least one congressional district and representation in the Electoral College. Conversely, states that tend to vote for Republicans—such as Texas, Florida, and Montana—are expected to increase their presence.

“This is looking to benefit Republicans only because of how the landscape has changed,” said Jenna Ellis, senior legal analyst for the Trump 2020 campaign, according to radio station KTRH.

Ellis also noted that Democrats’ anticipated losses is why they mobilized so strongly to oppose the Trump administration’s addition of a citizenship question on the Census.

“They’re not interested in laws,” she said. “They’re not interested in sound reasoning or fair and accurate representation of every American. They are only interested in concentrating their own political power by any means necessary.”

Most Americans have the option of voting with their feet. That is why California is rapidly losing citizen residents and Texas is gaining them.

The article lists the states gaining and losing population:

Among GOP strongholds expected to lose an electoral vote are: Alabama, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Among the blue states are California, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, and Rhode Island. That’s an even minus five for both parties from the 2016 election night map, according to an analysis by NBC News.

However, when analysts looked at states expected to gain seats, the GOP comes out on top. Three Republican states that went for Trump in 2016—Montana, Arizona, and North Carolina—are likely to pick-up one seat after the Census. On the Democratic side of the ledger, two states (Oregon and Colorado) will each add a seat, resulting in a net gain of one Electoral College seat for Republicans.

The big problem for the Left is that forecasts show Florida and Texas—both of which voted for Trump in 2016—picking up a combined five seats (two for Florida, three for Texas). Thus, if the estimates hold, Republicans will pick-up six Electoral College votes. Of course, this assumes that both the GOP maintains control of the Lone Star and Sunshine States, but that’s a topic for a different day.

The only hope for the Democrats is that the people moving to Republican states bring their big government ideas with them and overwhelm the population. As someone who lives in one of those states, I am hoping that doesn’t happen.

How Many Times Do Voters Have To Pass This To Make It Law?

A 2016 article at CNN reported:

A federal appeals court Friday overturned parts of North Carolina’s 2013 voting law, including provisions that required voters to show a photo identification card, saying they were enacted “with racially discriminatory intent” in violation of the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act.

“We cannot ignore the record evidence that, because of race, the legislature enacted one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history,” 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Diana Motz wrote.

This was the third federal court ruling against voter identification laws this month. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled July 20 that Texas’ voter ID law violated the Voting Rights Act, and federal judges softened a Wisconsin law on July 19.

The voters responded by passing an amendment to the North Carolina Constitution in November 2018 that required voter id.

The Carolina Journal continues the story today:

 A federal court gave North Carolinians who adopted a constitutional amendment requiring voter ID a late lump of coal.

U.S. District Court Judge Loretta Biggs and Magistrate Judge Patrick Auld issued a notice Thursday, Dec. 26, saying the court will put the law implementing the constitutional amendment on hold. They’re presiding over a lawsuit challenging the law requiring voters to present a state-approved form of identification at the polls. The court said it will issue an order next week.

…What happens next is anyone’s guess. The defendants in the lawsuit who have standing to file an appeal may choose not to, jeopardizing the voter ID requirement for the March 2020 primary.

The N.C. chapter of the NAACP filed the lawsuit a year ago, saying the 2018 implementing law was too much like earlier voter ID attempts that were ruled unconstitutional. Senate Bill 824 became law Dec. 19, 2018, over Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto.

But in its lawsuit, the NAACP didn’t include the General Assembly among the defendants, even though legislators passed the law being challenged. The only defendants are Cooper (who vetoed S.B. 824) and the members of the State Board of Elections.

Legislative leaders asked the court in January to join the lawsuit. Biggs rejected the request, saying the elections board could defend the law.

County elections boards were told Thursday the voter ID informational mailing was scrapped.

It is significant that the only defendants are Governor Cooper and the State Board of Elections. My guess is that the Governor will choose not to oppose the ruling and we will have to vote for voter id again. The legislature passed voter id laws a few years ago, and the voters amended the Constitution to require voter id last year. The court is taking away the rights of the voters and of the legislature. That should not be allowed to stand.

Shenanigans In North Carolina

Governor Roy Cooper was elected in 2016 and began his term in 2017. Previously he served as North Carolina’s Attorney General. My sources tell me that he runs the Democrat party much the way a mafia don would, using threats to make sure no legislators break ranks in their voting. He also seems to have some problems controlling spending in some of the state agencies.

The Carolina Journal posted an article today citing some of Governor Cooper’s current challenges.

The article reports:

Consider, for example, the current cash crunch at North Carolina’s Department of Transportation. Secretary Jim Trogdon blames the problem on hundreds of millions of dollars of hurricane damage and payouts to property owners whose rights were violated by the state’s abusive Map Act.

While these costs are real, they don’t fully explain DOT’s overspending. An outside consultant’s report dinged the department for faulty forecasting and cash management. State Treasurer Dale Folwell cited the report’s findings as well as DOT’s transfer of $1.1 billion from the Highway Trust Fund to the Highway Fund without his legally required authorization as reasons why Cooper should replace Trogdon.

Rather than responding to these specific concerns, the governor’s press office put out a statement rejecting what it termed “a financial lecture from the nation’s least effective state Treasurer.” DOT’s money woes have complex origins and consequences, to be sure. But Trogdon’s defense neither required nor was advanced by such adolescent name-calling.

Much less money is at stake over at the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, but its recent miscue inflicted more political damage.

The department handles a decades-old program called the N.C. State Scholarship for Children of War Veterans. The department sent out a letter informing colleges and universities that scholarship payments would be “delayed until further notice,” citing the budget impasse between Gov. Cooper and the General Assembly. But according to reporting by WBTV’s Nick Ochsner, there was neither a fiscal nor a legal reason to suspend payment. Whether this was simply an administrative screw-up or a purposeful attempt to pressure GOP lawmakers, it was incredibly foolish.

There are also some questions regarding Medicaid in the state:

Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services is mired in its own controversy over awarding a Medicaid contract to a managed-care network led by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina instead of one led by Aetna. In its legal challenge to the decision, Aetna argues that one of the DHHS employees in charge of evaluating the bids was living with a key Blue Cross executive.

Furthermore, according to reporting by Carolina Journal’s Don Carrington, an internal document shows that Aetna’s bid originally ranked above the Blue Cross bid. A DHHS official then intervened to create a new criterion after the fact, which had the effect of displacing Aetna in favor of Blue Cross.

There are also charges that the Governor attempted to obstruct an investigation into some aspects of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The article concludes:

Cooper and three of his aides have been asked to testify on the pipeline at a legislative hearing on November 8. Will the sober-minded former state senator and attorney general show up and provide a persuasive defense of his administration’s conduct? Or will North Carolinians be treated to another round of political hackery and juvenile tweets?

Lt. Governor Dan Forest will be running against Governor Cooper in 2020. Dan Forest definitely has my vote.

 

Stacking The Deck To Steal An Election

Next year is an important election for America. The ‘fundamental transformation of America’ has been temporarily interrupted by the Trump administration, but there are those who are extremely anxious to see the transformation continue. They are fully prepared to manage the decline of America. Unfortunately President Trump is fully prepared to manage the reemergence of America as a major economic player. That will be the battle fought. Americans (knowingly or unknowingly) will be asked to choose between growth or decline. President Obama is sending his henchman Eric Holder to see if the scales can be tipped in favor of decline. In August I posted an article about this effort. Now that effort is officially coming to North Carolina.

On Thursday, Channel 5 in Raleigh reported:

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder strategized on redistricting reform Thursday with left-leaning groups that are knee-deep in the issue in North Carolina.

Holder, who served under former President Barack Obama, met with activists in Raleigh and Greensboro. He’s chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, making him the Democratic Party’s point man on redistricting reform, gerrymandering lawsuits and state legislative fights heading into the 2020 elections.

Those elections will decide control of state legislatures, and thus a decade’s worth of election maps for legislative and congressional districts across the country. His group, with backing from the former president, has funded lawsuits and election campaigns with the overarching goal of electing Democrats and undoing maps his side sees as unfair Republican gerrymanders.

When that’s done, Holder said Thursday, he hopes to see nonpartisan redistricting reform take hold in more states. He said he favors an independent commission that takes the power away from elected officials to draw their own districts.

“We’ve got to get back to a place where elections are simply fair,” Holder said.

The article further explains:

Republicans have criticized Holder’s effort as a partisan one, geared toward electing Democrats whether the maps are fair or not. A spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, with whom Holder sparred a bit on Twitter last month, asked Thursday “how many times Eric Holder has hosted a roundtable in blue states.”

“It’s probably equal to the number of blue states he’s sued, which is zero,” Pat Ryan said in an email. “Holder’s support for ‘fair maps’ is a phony front to help Democrats win more elections.”

Holder hasn’t shied away from the partisan nature of his effort. He told those gathered in Raleigh that “it sounds kind of strange, but this is a partisan attempt at good government.”

Sorry, Eric Holder, there is no such thing as a partisan attempt at good government. Remember, this is the man who ignored a video of the New Black Panthers intimidating voters in Philadelphia and dropped the charges. The video has disappeared from YouTube, but here is a still shot:

When I think of Eric Holder, I don’t think of good government.

Once A Community Organizer, Always A Community Organizer

President Obama has reentered the political scene. He is in the process of buying a beautiful waterfront home on Martha’s Vineyard. He is also involved in an organization called “Redistricting U.” The organization’s website is Allontheline.org.

Here is some information from the website:

  • “I’ve always believed that training is at the heart of organizing. It’s why I made it a priority in my 2008 campaign and throughout our larger movement for change in the years since. … The movement for fair maps will determine the course of progress on every issue we care about for the next decade. And we can’t wait to begin organizing when the redistricting process starts in 2021. We need to build this movement from the ground up – right now.” — President Obama
  • As a campaign of the National Redistricting Action Fund, a 501(c)(4) organization, All on the Line’s primary purpose is the advocacy and the promotion of social welfare. However, in limited instances, and only when consistent with our values and mission, All On The Line may engage in grassroots electoral work.
  • All On The Line is a campaign of the National Redistricting Action Fund (NRAF), an affiliate of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC), which is chaired by Eric H. Holder, Jr., the 82nd Attorney General of the United States.
  • The All On The Line campaign began, in part, when NRAF combined forces with Organizing for Action, an organization founded by Obama aides that grew out of President Obama’s campaign infrastructure. The power of ordinary people coming together to enact change is central to the beliefs of President Obama and Eric Holder, and they are both active in this effort and supportive of this campaign.

The states targeted by this organization for redistrict6ing are Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. It is interesting that all but one of these states voted for President Trump in 2016. President Trump lost in Colorado by less than 5 percent.

So what is this really about? President Obama is watching his legacy being destroyed as President Trump is rebuilding the American economy. President Trump is on track to be reelected despite the efforts of the mainstream media and the hysterics of the Democrat presidential candidates. Redistricting reform is the name President Obama is giving to his efforts to make sure President Trump is not reelected.

 

Almost A Year Later

On September 14,  2018, Hurricane Florence made landfall at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. It crawled across North Carolina very slowly. A friend described it as being stalked by a turtle. New Bern was particularly hard hit. New Bern is located where the Neuse River and the Trent River come together. East winds pushed water inland up the Neuse and into the Trent River. The water had nowhere to go, and downtown New Bern was under water. Restaurants and businesses were flooded. People lost homes and cars. The Cajun Navy spent the night evacuating people in low-lying areas that had not evacuated. It was a long and scary night. Thank God for the courage of the Cajun Navy.

It’s been almost a year. Some of the businesses have come back. Some haven’t. The Convention Center is still closed and is expected to reopen in October. I read one report that said that they found alligator tracks inside the Convention Center. That would not be surprising. Not all of the downtown hotels are open yet.

But the city is coming back. We will recover. Below is a picture that illustrates that fact:

The bear speaks to New Bern’s strength & recovery from hurricane #florence & features several honors to first responders on the back. #downtown #historic #newbernnc #bearcountry Congrats CresCom!

The ‘bears’ are a part of the landscape in New Bern. There are hundreds of large bears painted to represent various aspects of life there. The above bear took a short trip during the hurricane!

It is good to see New Bern recovering. We are not fully recovered–there are still houses that have not been repaired, roofs that have not been repaired, and other needs, but we are definitely moving in the right direction. The new bear represents that fact!

So Remind Me Why I Voted

We live in a representative republic. We elect people to represent us. Occasionally we actually vote on issues via referendums, ballot initiatives, etc. Those votes directly reflect the will of the voters.

In 2018, the General Assembly passed a law putting an item on the ballot that required voters to show identification in order to vote. Governor Cooper vetoed the legislation; the Senate overrode the veto. The measure was also challenged in court, but that challenge seems to have gone nowhere.

The voters of North Carolina approved voter id by more than 50 percent. The Governor has called the law racist and unnecessary. If everyone is required to show identification, how is that racist? The law is necessary because we have a number of voters on our voter rolls that are over 110 years of age. I doubt that all of those people are still alive. There are also situations where fifty or more people are listed as having the same address–an address that does not have an inhabitable building. There have also been situations where people who voted were asked to serve on a jury and told the court they couldn’t because they were not American citizens. Wow.

Yes, voter id is necessary. Yes, the voters of North Carolina voted for it. Yes, Governor Cooper, you should be representing the will of the voters.

Maybe The Race Wasn’t About Gender

On Wednesday, The Hill posted an article with the following headline, “Heavy loss by female candidate in Republican NC runoff sparks shock.” Wow. This is totally biased reporting. I live in North Carolina’s Third Congressional District. I voted in the election The Hill is talking about. It wasn’t about gender.

The article notes:

Murphy had earned the endorsement of a slew of high-profile Republicans, including Freedom Caucus founders Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), after the legislator pledged to join the group if elected.

The House Freedom Action Fund, which is affiliated with the Freedom Caucus, spent $236,000 to defeat Perry in the contest. 

Former New York City Mayor and Trump confidant Rudy Giuliani also threw his weight behind Murphy in the final days of the race, recording robocalls on behalf of the candidate. 

However, Perry was not without funds or endorsements. She ended up raising $373,851 for the primary and the runoff, below the $543,991 raised by Murphy.

But she had the backing of various Republican female PACs, including the Winning For Women Action Fund, which dropped more than $680,000 supporting Perry and opposing Murphy in the runoff.

So if you add up those numbers, Murphy had $779,001, and Perry had $1,053,851. That may explain why I received a mailing (sometimes two) from Joan Perry every day. It was annoying. I voted for Greg Murphy. The fact that Joan Perry is a woman was not a consideration for me. She is very smart and very well spoken. I have heard her speak and was impressed with her as a person. However, she is a doctor. She is not a business woman, and she is not a politician. She would have been a total novice in Washington. The determining factor for me was the fact that Greg Murphy aligned himself with the Freedom Caucus. She did not have the experience to do that–he did.

Identity politics does not work. It’s wrong. People are getting wise to it. I want experience, ideas, and some hope of being honestly represented.

Trying To Get It Right

Dale Folwell is the State Treasurer of North Carolina. He was responsible for getting the state out of debt to the federal government unemployment benefits program (over the objections of many Democrats) and is now working to bring transparency to health benefits for state workers (again over the objections of Democrats and some Republicans).

The Carolina Journal reported on June 17th that Mr. Folwell is actually  making some progress.

The article reports:

With a deadline just 13 days away, Community Care Physician Network, North Carolina’s largest network of independent physician clinics, announced Monday, June 17, it signed on to the State Health Plan’s cost-cutting Clear Pricing Project.

Community Care Physician Network is associated with 2,500 primary care clinicians, pediatricians, family medicine physicians, obstetricians/gynecologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. The group has more than 880 practices statewide. The network treats more than 2.5 million North Carolinians, including 700,000 Medicaid beneficiaries.

“Their physicians are leaders in our state in developing the highly regarded medical home model. They’re known nationwide for high quality care, patient satisfaction and by using their innovative, collaborative approach to drive down costs,” Folwell said in a news release announcing the move.

Folwell says health care costs must be reduced immediately. The State Health Plan is only 3% funded, has $35 billion in unfunded liabilities, and will become insolvent in 2023. The Treasurer’s Office projects taxpayers could save $258 million and plan members $57 million annually under the Clear Pricing Project. The changes take place in 2020. Providers have until June 30 to join the project.

“It made good sense to us,” Conrad Flick, Community Care Physician Network co-president, said of linking with the reconstructed plan. “We’re dedicated to our communities and our patients, and focused on providing them with better and more cost-effective health care.”

The article concludes:

The N.C. Healthcare Association, the lobbying arm of hospitals and large health systems, continues to oppose Folwell’s plan. The group pushed for passage of House Bill 184 to halt the reforms and launch a two-year study instead. The House passed the measure, but it has gotten no traction in the Senate.

Hospitals say the cost-cutting features of Folwell’s plan jeopardize the survival of rural hospitals. Folwell said most rural hospitals will be better off financially under the plan, and nine of 10 primary care physicians will get more money.

Montana is among a handful of states that use the reference-based pricing model for their state health plans. Officials there told Carolina Journalthe results are positive.

Dale Folwell is attempting to bring the same sort of fiscal sanity to healthcare in North Carolina that he brought to unemployment benefits. Let’s hope that he is successful.

If You Voted For A Democrat In North Carolina, This Is What You Got

Yesterday The Daily Haymaker posted an article about the vote in the General Assembly that failed to overturn Governor Cooper’s veto of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.

This is the essence of the bill:

If an abortion results in the live birth of an infant, the infant is a legal person for all purposes under the laws of North Carolina and entitled to all the protections of such laws. Any infant born alive after an abortion or within a hospital, clinic, or other facility has the same claim to the protection of the law that would arise for any newborn, or for any person who comes to a hospital, clinic, or other facility for screening and treatment or otherwise becomes a patient within its care.

By not overriding the Governor’s veto, the law has now declared that a living, breathing baby is not a legal person and is not entitled to the rights of a legal person. That is truly a dangerous place to be. You can make the argument that a baby in the womb is not a person (although scientifically that argument does not stand up), but how can you declare a living, breathing human being not a person? In the future are there going to be other living, breathing people who the legislation will declare do not have the rights of a legal person? This isn’t about abortion–this is about providing care for a living human being.

The article notes:

They’ll call you a bigot if you don’t want guys dressed like girls in the restroom or locker room with your wives or daughters. They’re also for stronger protections for barnyard animals than for newborn humans. Meet Wayne Goodwin’s Democrat Party, 2019 edition.

Common sense is obviously not a functioning part of the North Carolina Democrat party.

Good Deeds Rarely Go Unpunished

In late February, H.R. 184 was introduced into the North Carolina House of Representatives. In early April, H.R. 184 made it to the North Carolina Senate where it was referred to the Committee On Rules and Operations of the Senate. There it sits. It’s a bad bill, catering to special interests, and need to die there.

So exactly what is H.R. 184? On April 4, 2019, Raynor James wrote an article describing the debate in the North Carolina House of Representatives over H.R. 184. In her article Raynor explained that H.R. 184 would tie the hands of State Treasurer Dale Folwell in dealing with the rapidly growing problems with the State Health Plan.

An article in The Daily Haymaker on March 26 explains some of what is going on:

Former state representative Dale Folwell (R) worked wonders in cleaning up the highly FUBAR-ed unemployment insurance system. You would think it would be a no-brainer to put him on fixing that money-bleeding nightmare known as the state health plan. (The plan made it to its current sorry state in no small part to the micro-managing mischief by legislators in both parties who saw it as their own personal piggy-bank and slush fund.)

So, along comes Dale Folwell trying to do exactly what the legislature empowered the state treasurer’s office to do years ago:  competently manage the state health plan.  Folwell decided taxpayers needed to understand exactly what  health care providers were billing the health plan FOR.

This did not sit well with the folks at the hospitals and clinics sending in those fat, vague, non-specific bills.  Armies of lobbyists were dispatched to spend dark money on ads smearing Folwell and his pricing transparency plan.  A lot of politician pockets were lined.  A bill got drafted (with a lot of lobbyist, um. “help”)  that tied Folwell’s hands on exactly what he could to in regard to the state health plan.

The bill, H184, got its first hearing in the House Health Committee today.  Conveniently, there was NO roll call vote on this expensive legislation — with a total cost over 3 years of $400 to 600 MILLION. 

The bill did get amended.  The time frame for the “study” on  changing the health plan was shortened. The state employees — who stand to be affected the most by this bill — got their representation on the “study committee” expanded from ONE to TWO.  (Isn’t that nice?)    And the whole package is still going to cost the taxpayers an additional $241 MILLION.

The article then explains the problem:

There was no real good reason to do this. It went against one of the alleged core principles of the majority party. The prime beneficiaries of the state health plan — the state employees — appear to be solidly behind what Folwell is doing. Taxpayers — seeking to avoid a $400-600 MILLION hit from doing NOTHING and “studying” the idea of reform — appear to be all for it.

But the deep-pocketed lobbyists who are so kind and compassionate to campaign accounts all over Jones Street were not happy and HAD to be mollified.

Some Republicans are fighting back. There was a Resolution at the North Carolina Third District Republican Convention today that backed Dale Folwell and his efforts to clean up the State Health Plan. The Resolution passed easily.

The Resolution included the following:

In 2008, expenses for the North Carolina State Health Plan were roughly $2.2 billion; today they are roughly $3.4 billion. Medical and pharmaceutical costs are increasing five to nine percent annually and current spending projections estimate that the plan will be insolvent by 2023 unless action is taken. The campaign to fix the state healthcare plan is opposed mainly by special interests–hospitals and those who profit by the inefficiency and inflated costs of medical care under the current system.

I was told that the bill would probably die in committee. I hope that happens. However, the fact that saving taxpayer money was opposed by special interest groups should not come as a shock to any of us. That fact underlines the need for citizens to stay aware of what our legislature is doing. North Carolina is in a strong position economically–it is a place where businesses relocate. If our State Health Plan is not brought under control, our taxes will increases to cover the cost of the program and we will be much less attractive to businesses looking for a place to be.

Bad Day at Black Rock

Below is a guest post by Raynor James, an eastern North Carolina resident who has followed the debate on North Carolina House Bill 184 very closely:

Tuesday, April 3rd was a sad day in the North Carolina House of Representatives.

Let me tell you about it. Dale Folwell is North Carolina’s Treasurer. He’s a very popular fellow for all the right reasons. He did a good job when he served in the North Carolina General Assembly. He got North Carolina’s unemployment insurance out of debt to the Federal Government when he served in Governor McCrory’s administration, an accomplishment that continues to save North Carolina’s employers significant sums annually. He’s known as a problem solver.

North Carolina’s State Health Plan (which pays for medical expenses of current and retired state employees) is seriously underfunded and is projected to be bankrupt by the year 2023.When Dale Folwell was elected Treasurer, many who voted for him expected him to solve the Plan’s problems as its administration was in the Treasurer’s portfolio.

Enter HB-184 which if implemented will tie the Treasurer’s hands and not allow corrective action to be taken while a committee studies the situation.

HB-184 was debated on the floor of the House April 3rd. Let’s look in on how some conservative House members tried to kill the bill.

First, Representative Michael Speciale offered two amendments to the bill. Representative Speciale’s first amendment would give the Treasurer a vote on the study committee and would make it impossible to expand the size of the committee (something that is sometimes done when the “powers that be”don’t like the direction a committee seems to be taking).

That amendment passed by a vote of 106 to 5.

Representative Speciale’s second amendment would remove Section 2 from the bill. Section 2 requires that Blue Cross-Blue Shield continue to be used during the study period.

It also prevents the Treasurer from switching the Plan to using referenced based pricing for medical services to the Plan during the study period.That amendment failed by a vote of 88 to 23.

During debate on HB-184 itself, Representative Larry Pittman cited a memo from the Plan’s Board of Trustees that projects that the plan will be out of money in 2023, and said that we can’t wait on a two year study. He talked about how hospital groups were groaning about how burdensome the Treasurer’s planed payment changes would be on them [tie pricing of medical services to 172% of the average Medicare pays for the same service], and pointed out how well funded many hospitals are. In support of his assertion, Representative Pittman mentioned that the hospital at East Carolina has given $10 million dollars to fund a stadium.

Representative Pittman asked that members not pass the bill and added that when Treasurer Folwell had requested info from the hospital groups, they had sent him the schedules he asked for with page after page blacked out. “They might as well have slapped him in the face and spit on him,” Representative Pittman said.

He continued by saying passage of the bill would hurt both members of the Plan and taxpayers who pay the freight and pointed out that members of the Plan are also taxpayers, so they get hit two ways.

He stated that Dale Folwell is “competent” and “honest” and renewed his request by saying, “Defeat this bill.” Representative Michael Speciale said, “We’re told that if we don’t pass this bill, the sky will fall; we’ll lose our rural hospitals.” He went on to say that they’d heard the same thing when he was trying to get rid of the CON [Certificate of Need] laws [which did not pass] and shortly thereafter they closed one of the hospitals in my district.”

“I hear fake news ads” [on the topic of rural hospitals closing if HB-184 doesn’t pass] when I drive in my district.”

Representative Speciale went on to say that Dale Folwell got the people together who are opposing him [mainly large hospital groups] and asked how much waste, fraud, and abuse there is in the system. The answers they give him ran from 12% to 25%, so he took a middle number and asked them to figure out how they could reduce costs by 15% and said that they needed to get together again as soon as that was done.

After that meeting, Treasurer Folwell tried to set follow up meetings, and time after time he was stonewalled.

Representative Speciale continued, “Now we’re faced with $33 to $36 billion dollars in unfunded liabilities. If we don’t allow him to cut costs, how are we going to cut costs because it’ll be on us!”

“Dale Folwell has increased what would be going into rural hospitals. He’s compromised, but they won’t budge an inch.If we do not pass this bill, then the hospital lobby will sit down and talk to him. Let the state Treasurer do what he was elected to do. Throw the politics aside and vote NO!

Representative Keith Kidwell said, “For the last 10 years, health care costs have gone up and up. We asked Treasurer Folwell to handle it. Let’s not bobble him,or we’ll be faced with taking $235 million to $509 million [dollars] from the general fund to deal with the problem AND $1.1 billion will be added to the unfunded liability.”

“HB-184 will cost us a ton of money!” “Cut through partisanship and look at the numbers! We HAVE to block this bill!’

In spite of those eloquent pleas and others, too, HB-184 passed 75 to 36, and it will now be sent to the North Carolina Senate where it is hoped that wiser voices will prevail.

If you’d like to hear the whole debate, you can go to the NC General Assembly website at which NC House sessions are archived.

Thank you, Raynor. This is a picture of what is going on in the North Carolina state legislature. President Eisenhower warned about the military-industrial complex. What we see here is the result of intense lobbying by the healthcare-industrial complex. We need to stop this bill.

This Would Be Beneficial On A Number Of Levels

CBN News posted an article today about an innovative energy source that would be beneficial for both energy production and for the environment. The article hits close to home because it involves an issue North Carolina has been discussing for a number of years.

First of all, I need to say that I know very little about hog farming and hog waste. However, it does make sense that some of the by-products of hog farming might create an environmental problem. However, there seems to be an answer that will be profitable for everyone.

The article reports:

In fact, to Smithfield Foods and Dominion Energy, converting hog manure to natural gas for powering homes and businesses has a sweet smell of success.

“We think it’s a lot simpler, and we think it will change the face of how manure is handled and turned into energy going forward,” Kraig Westerbeek, senior director of Smithfield Renewables, told CBN News.

…So how does it work – turning this waste into energy? Often called biomethane, renewable natural gas is pipeline-quality gas that comes from organic matter like hog waste.

CBN News went to North Carolina to tour Circle K II Farms, a Smithfield pilot project.

“Manure actually is a positive thing,” said Westerbeek. “It creates value, and it helps fertilize crops; it helps produce energy. It’s not a bad thing. We view manure as an opportunity.”

Kraig Westerbeek explains how the process moves from the hog buildings to a huge covered lagoon called a “digester.”

“The product, natural gas, is actually a product of digestion of the solids by bacteria, so for that reason, it’s called digestion,” he said.

…The manure is funneled under the large plastic cover of the lagoon, and it’s mixed over and over. Bacteria break it down, producing what’s called biogas, which causes the cover to bubble up. That gas is 65 percent natural gas.

The biogas produced at farms then moves through gathering pipes to a gas-upgrading unit. That’s when Dominion Energy steps in.

“Where we come in – you see this plant back here – we’re gonna lend our engineering expertise to create a process that’s as efficient as possible in creating clean, renewable natural gas that customers can use,” Childress said.

At the gas upgrading system, the natural gas from the farm is refined. When it leaves there, it is 99.1 percent natural gas. It then enters a pipeline and is funneled to homes and businesses.

The article concludes:

This project involves partnering with local farmers like Dean Hilton, who’s been raising hogs for nearly 15 years. He calls it the “wave of the future.”

“After meeting with Kraig on the trial site, we realized that there’s a lot of opportunity in the fact that we can actually reduce our manure in our current lagoons, as well as turning the solids, the new solids into renewable energy,” Hilton said.

Westerbeek admits turning manure into renewable natural gas is “fairly expensive”.

“You have an investment in a digester like you see in the background, and then the gathering pipelines to gather the gas from different farms and bring it to a central location,” he explained.

“And then one of the more expensive parts of this is actually cleaning the gas from its form as biogas from this digester into pipeline-quality natural gas,” Westerbeek continued.

Both he and Childress along with their bosses believe it’s a worthy investment leading to clean energy, plus economic benefits for their companies, rural America and the general public.

This seems like a win-win situation. Now if we can just do the same thing with cows…

The Case For Voter ID

The Washington Free Beacon posted an article yesterday with the following headline, “Study: Voter ID Laws Don’t Stop People Voting.”

The article reports:

Strict voter ID laws do not suppress turnout, a new paper finds, regardless of sex, race, Hispanic identity, or party affiliation.

Requiring photo ID to vote is a hotly contested subject in American political discourse. Proponents argue that it is necessary to insure against fraud and preserve the integrity of the American electoral system. Opponents argue that it will disenfranchise otherwise eligible voters—many of whom would be poor and of color—who are unable to easily obtain ID.

In total, 10 states, ranging from Georgia to Wisconsin, require voters to show ID in order to vote. Seven of those states require a photo ID, and three do not. An additional 25 states “request” that voters display ID, but may still permit them to vote on a provision ballot if they cannot. The remaining states “use other methods to verify the identity of voters,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The new research, from an economics professor at the University of Bologna and another at Harvard Business School, indicates that “strict” voting laws of the type implemented in those ten states do not have a statistically significant effect on voter turnout.

A few years ago, North Carolina tested a voter ID system during a primary election. Turnout was higher than in previous primary elections. The voter ID requirement did not suppress the vote. The system allowed the poll workers to scan the voter’s driver’s license in order to print the correct ballot. Implementing that system allowed the lines to move quickly and resulted in more efficient voting for everyone. The idea that voter ID limits voters is a myth. You need an ID to do a lot of everyday things, so most people have an acceptable form of ID.

The article concludes:

At the same time, the study’s authors use the same data to examine the actual effect of strict voter ID laws on voter fraud itself, and similarly find no statistically significant effect. Using two datasets of voter fraud cases (which represent a cumulative 2,000 proven or hypothesized events over eight years), the study examines the relationship between laws and frequency of measured voter fraud, finding no evidence of a change after implementation.

This finding is naturally limited by the extremely small number of voter fraud cases actually identified: fewer than one per million people per year. It is possible that voter ID laws would be more effective suppressing fraud in a context where it was more evidently prevalent; as is, the authors estimate that the laws themselves only cover about 0.3 to 0.1 offenses per million people per year.

In total, then, the paper suggests that voter ID laws are not suppressive, but also that they do not have much of an impact on elections overall.

“Our results suggest that efforts both to safeguard electoral integrity and enfranchise more voters may be better served through other reforms,” it concludes.

Voter ID will not end voter fraud. It will, however, make it more difficult.

This Really Shouldn’t Be A Surprise

A few years ago, I moved from Massachusetts to North Carolina. There was some culture shock. One part of that shock was the gun culture of some of the South. I grew up in a house where no one hunted, so the whole gun thing was very foreign to me. One of the first things I did was to take a gun safety course to education myself. I learned a lot and began to understand why the Second Amendment is so important to our freedom. Unfortunately the leaders in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have not yet gotten that message.

Yesterday The Gateway Pundit posted the following headline, “Boston Mayor’s Office to Force Doctors to Identify and Document Patients Who Own Guns.” Wow. What is the Mayor’s office doing collecting information from doctors?

The article reports:

Here are three of the top goals for health care legislation outlined by his office:

Involving doctors in gun safety: This act would require medical professionals to ask patients about guns in the home, and bring up the topics of gun safety. The goal, Boston Police Commissioner William Gross said, is to identify those at risk for domestic violence, suicide or child access to guns in order to guide people to mental health counseling, resources or other help. “We’re just asking them to help identify ways to save lives,” Gross said.

The fact that a patient owns guns would not be put in their medical record, and is not intended to have physicians help solve crimes.

Chief of Health and Human Services Marty Martinez said that while the program is already common practice at many of the city’s community health centers, legislation would broaden the program statewide.

Does anyone actually believe that gun ownership would not be made part of a patient’s medical record? If the measure is supposed to save lives, what action are the doctors supposed to take after they have determined that a person has guns in the house?

I may be paranoid, but this seems like a back door approach to finding out who has guns so that the guns might be taken away later.

Some Overlooked History

Yesterday The American Patriot’s Daily Almanac posted the following:

On October 25, 1774, one of the first organized political actions by American women occurred in the town of Edenton, North Carolina, when fifty-one ladies gathered at the home of Mrs. Elizabeth King and signed a proclamation protesting the British tax on tea. Led by Penelope Barker, the patriots vowed to support resolves by the Provincial Deputies of North Carolina to boycott “the pernicious custom of drinking tea” and avoid British-made cloth until the tax was repealed.

The ladies of Edenton signed a resolution declaring that “we cannot be indifferent on any occasion that appears nearly to affect the peace and happiness of our country.” The boycott was, they declared, “a duty that we owe, not only to our near and dear connections . . . but to ourselves.”

It was a bold move in a time when it was considered unladylike for women to get involved in political matters. Unlike the participants of the famous Boston Tea Party, the Edenton women did not disguise themselves in costumes, but openly signed their names to their declaration “as a witness of our fixed intention and solemn determination.”

At first the British sneered at the Edenton Tea Party. One Englishman wrote sarcastically, “The only security on our side . . . is the probability that there are but few places in America which possess so much female artillery as Edenton.” They soon discovered otherwise.

Sometimes freedom has unique beginnings! Obviously the British did not understand that there was a revolution coming.

Hurricane Florence

I would like to say a few words about Hurricane Florence and its aftermath. I live in New Bern, North Carolina, one of the areas hit hard by the hurricane. Thankfully the damage to my house was limited to a tree coming down in the driveway and an amazing amount of tree parts that were brought out to the curb. However, not everyone was so fortunate.

During the storm, the Cajun Navy helped rescue people who were stranded by the flood. Other groups also assisted in that effort. Since the storm, we have seen volunteers come in from all parts of the country to help restore power, to help feed people who lost their homes, to help people more large trees that fell, to help remove wallboard and items from flooded homes, and to collect clothing and school supplies for those in need. Neighbors and friends are helping each other in the recovery. There have been free meals for those in need provided by churches and outside groups. Some of the groups involved in helping people impacted by the hurricane are Operation Blessing, Samaritan’s Purse, and Team Rubicon.There are others, but those are the ones I am familiar with. The local churches are playing a major role in the recovery–Temple Baptist Church has provided meals; Without Limits Christian Center has acted as a home base for Operation Blessing. Churches in nearby towns also impacted by the hurricane have also provided food and clothing for those who need it.

The students in Craven County will be out of school tentatively until October 8. The early college students went back to school on October 1. There are still many displaced students and teachers, and I am sure this will be a challenging year for all of us.

This has not been an easy time for coastal North Carolina, but it has been a time of neighbors helping each other and sharing resources. It will be a long process to get back to normal, but we are definitely moving in the right direction. The New Bern Mum Fest will go on as scheduled on October 12 – 14th. Our city is open for business. We have a long way to go, but we will get there through working together and helping each other.

The Economy Under President Trump

Breitbart is reporting today that the Labor Department has stated that initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 207,000 for the week ending September 29th.

The article reports on the impact of Hurricane Florence:

Hurricane Florence, which hit North Carolina and South Carolina last month, affected claims, according to the Labor Department. The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending September 22 was in North Carolina. Claims in South Caroline rose by 2,830, the third largest rise behind Kentucky.

The article concludes:

Jobless claims, which are a proxy for layoffs, have been closely watched for signs that trade disputes would be a drag on the labor market. Earlier this year, economists predicted that the steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the Trump administration would cost 400,000 jobs. That prediction now looks way too pessimistic.

The jobless claims data has no impact on the monthly employment report, which is scheduled for release on Friday. Bloomberg’s survey of economists sees nonfarm payrolls likely increased by 18o,000 in September after rising 201,000 in August. The unemployment rate is expected to fall one-tenth of a percentage point to 3.8 percent, an 18-year low first hit in May.

President Trump may not be the perfect role model for your son, but it is obvious that he is a very savvy businessman who is working for the benefit of all Americans. I hope all Americans will vote next month to elect people who will support his policies. His economic policies are obviously working.

Making The Election Process More Confusing Than It Already Is

On August 31, The Washington Post posted an article about redistricting in the State of North Carolina. Before I go into detail, here is a picture of what is being discussed:

I don’t know about you, but the bottom map looks much more logical than the top map.

This is what true gerrymandering looks like:

I am sure I could have found many other examples, but this is one I know. Note the lavender that meanders from the Rhode Island border up to near Boston. I suppose it is simply an incredible coincidence that the lower part of that lavender is less populated than the area approaching Boston. Also, much of the lower part of that lavender tends to be Republican. What better way to dilute those votes than combine them with the more densely populated Democrat areas approaching Boston. Massachusetts is a one-party state, and its Congressional districts have never been challenged in court. Hmmm.

At any rate, the courts threw a monkey wrench into North Carolina’s November election. It is too late to change the districts, undo the primary elections, and print the ballots. It appears that saner heads have prevailed and the districts will remain in place at least until November.

The article reports:

The plaintiffs who persuaded federal judges to declare unconstitutional North Carolina’s Republican-drawn congressional maps have “reluctantly concluded” that there is not enough time to draw new maps in time for the November elections.

A three-judge panel ruled this week that the maps were an “invidious” plan to favor Republicans over Democrats and had resulted in the GOP capturing 10 of the state’s 13 congressional districts in 2016, even though its share of the statewide vote was just over 53 percent.

There is a reason we live in a representative republic and not a democracy. I think the redrawn districts appear to be much more logical than the previous districts.

Proof That Economic Policies Matter

The Cato Institute posts a report on freedom in each of the fifty states. The link posted here will send you to the North Carolina report, but you can get to information on any state from that link. I am focusing on North Carolina because it so beautifully illustrates the idea that economic policies matter.

This is the write up on North Carolina:

North Carolina is a rapidly growing southern state with a reasonably good economic freedom profile and an even better record on personal freedom, especially when compared with its neighbors.

North Carolina gradually improved its fiscal policies from 2011 to 2016. State taxes fell from 6.2 percent of adjusted personal income to a projected 5.7 percent, right around the national average. Local taxes have held steady over that period at 3.3 percent of income, seven-tenths of a percentage point below the national average. Debt and government consumption and employment fell, but so did financial assets.

Despite large inmigration, North Carolina has disdained excessive controls on the housing supply. Eminent domain was never effectively reformed. Labor law is good, with no minimum wage, a right-to-work law, and relatively relaxed workers’ compensation rules, but an E-Verify mandate was enacted in 2011. Regulation has killed off the managed care model for non-large-group health insurance. Cable and telecommunications have been liberalized. Occupational freedom is a weak spot, especially for the health professions. A sunrise review requirement for occupational licensing proposals was scrapped in 2011. North Carolina is one of the worst states for insurance freedom. It has a large residual market for personal automobile and homeowner’s insurance because of strict price controls and rate classification prohibitions. It also has a price-gouging law and a minimum-markup law for gasoline. Entry is restricted for medical facilities and moving companies. North Carolina’s civil liability system has improved over time and is now about average.

North Carolina has one of the best criminal justice regimes in the South. Incarceration and victimless crime arrest rates are all below average. There is no state-level civil asset forfeiture, but local law enforcement frequently does an end-run around the law through the Department of Justice’s equitable sharing program. Gun rights are more restricted than in many other southern states, with carry licenses somewhat costly to obtain and hedged with limitations. Plus, buying a pistol requires a permit, there is local dealer licensing, background checks are required for private sales, and most Class III weapons are difficult to obtain (sound suppressors were legalized in 2014). Alcohol freedom is mediocre because of state liquor stores and somewhat high markups and taxes. Marijuana has not been liberalized apart from a 1970s-era decriminalization law. Gambling freedom is quite low. School choice was introduced in 2014, but only for students with disabilities. Tobacco freedom is about average because of reasonable taxes and workplace freedom (but not freedom in bars or restaurants).

The information also includes:

Note that the article says that North Carolina gradually improved its fiscal policies between 2011 and 2016. So what happened in 2011–the Republican party took over the legislature after 140 years of North Carolina being a one-party state (Democrat). The Republicans in the legislature have continued to cut taxes and cut spending. Those economic policies have brought people to the state and improved the economic position of the state. Economic policies matter.

Avoiding Shenanigans During An Election

I apologize in advance for the long length of this article, but I want to illustrate how events can be twisted for political purposes. North Carolina is currently a state with a Republican legislature and a Democrat governor. Needless to say, Democrats want to bring us back to 2012 when we were a one-party Democrat state. Some of their tactics aimed at unsuspecting and sometimes uninformed voters are a bit questionable. Fortunately the Republicans in the state legislature identified those tactics in advance and took action to keep things honest.

The story begins with an email sent out to many Democrats in Craven County, North Carolina. The letter was sent to encourage people to come out to a Townhall meeting hosted by State Representative Michael Speciale. I have left out the names of the author and recipient. The letter reads:

With less than a day’s notice given to their constituents and fellow lawmakers, legislative leaders called a surprise special session today with the sole purpose of changing election laws — all less than 90 days before voters will begin casting their ballots.

The legislature opened by suspending traditional rules so they could rush through two specific pieces of legislation that will leave voters with less information on their ballots this fall.

The first, House Bill 3, allowed the legislature to take control of writing captions for the six constitutional amendments that will appear on the ballot this fall. With its passage, House Bill 3 eliminates any chance voters will receive clear amendment explanations on the ballot. Instead, voters will only see the caption “Constitutional Amendment” and constitutional language approved by lawmakers this summer. Votes will be asked to vote “FOR” or “AGAINST.”
The second, Senate Bill 3, removes party labels from candidates who registered with that party less than 90 days prior to candidate filing. The bill would strip the party designation from at least one prominent Republican N.C. Supreme Court candidate, and, based on comments made during the session, appears designed to advantage another candidate.

Both are now headed to the governor for consideration. Rule changes today mean that the legislature could override gubernatorial vetos on the same day they’re issued.

Today’s costly convening is the latest in a long line of power plays at the expense of taxpayer dollars and our state’s democracy. It also underscores the need to stay informed about the proposals on the November ballot— and we hope you’ll join us in those efforts.

Sign the pledge to vote AGAINST anti-voter amendments on the ballot this fall and fight back!

We’ll be in touch soon with other ways to be involved, including events, actions, and volunteer opportunities in your area.

Together we can push back against attempts to hide the ball from the public when it comes to the proposed amendments — and ensure that North Carolina voters navigate all that’s on their ballot this fall.

Thank you,

So let’s look at what was actually done in that session. My source is the actual webpage for the state legislature because I wanted a neutral source.
The first bill (HB-3) deals with the naming of the Constitutional Amendments that will be on the ballot. Below is a screenshot of that law:
So what in the world is this about? Unfortunately the naming of these amendments has become politicized. One amendment that restores power to the legislature that had eroded in recent years was described on the ballot as a bill to limit the power of the governor. Nope. It has nothing to do with limiting the power of the governor; it has to do with restoring the checks and balances originally set in place. The bill passed in the session called on July 24 was not to confuse voters–it was an attempt to take politics out of the labeling of the amendments. There will be a short summary of each amendment on the ballot to allow voters to see exactly what they are voting for.
The second item, SB-3, deals with party identification in judicial races. The thing to consider when evaluating what you are about to read is whether this would be acceptable if the shoe were on the other foot.
HB-3 reads:
So what is this about? I am not naming names, although informed voters will know exactly what has happened. A Democrat candidate for judge changed his party affiliation to Republican at the last minute. He told colleagues that this was done to split the Republican vote in a particular race. The treasurer of his campaign is a Democrat, and all indications are that the ideas which previously determined his political affiliation have not changed. This was simply an effort to become a spoiler in the race. The law passed states that anyone who changes their party affiliation withing 90 days of an election will not have their party affiliation listed on the ballot. Sudden changes of heart are not necessarily viewed as valid.
This entire episode illustrates the need for informed voters. If someone simply read the misleading email sent out, they would have no idea of what is actually going on.

There Is A Reason The House Of Representatives Has Had To Do All Of The Work On The Illegal Surveillance Of The Trump Campaign And Transition Team

Have you wondered why all the information and investigation of the illegal surveillance of the Trump campaign and transition team has come out of the House of Representatives rather than out of the Senate? Well, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has the reputation for being one of the leakiest, most politicized, and most corrupt committees in Washington. The current chairman of the committee is Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina; the current vice-chairman is Senator Mark Warner of Virginia. Both are seriously entrenched creatures of the Washington swamp. That fact explains the following report.

Yesterday The Gateway Pundit posted the following:

Chairman of the Senate Intel Committee Richard Burr (R-NC) said on Tuesday there were “sound reasons” why the judges issued FISA warrants on Carter Page.

The newly released Carter Page FISA docs, although heavily redacted, reveal the FBI and DOJ relied on Hillary’s phony dossier and liberal media reports as ‘evidence’ presented to the court in order to wiretap Page.

The FBI omitted the fact that the dossier was paid for by Hillary and the DNC.

This is not only criminal, but unconstitutional, says investigative reporter, Paul Sperry.

So spying on an American citizen based on information bought and paid for by a political opponent is now justified? Under what constitution? Has this man read the Fourth Amendment? Donald Trump’s constitutional rights were violated. If this is allowed to stand, we can expect it to happen again to anyone who disagrees with the party in power. That is not a good thing.

The article continues:

Even the argument the FBI thought Carter Page was an agent of the Russians doesn’t hold water. Carter Page was never charged or arrested for being a Russian spy, furthermore, not too long ago Page was actually helping the FBI take down Russians.

So now the FBI expects us to believe Carter Page flipped and became an agent for the Russians…yet they never arrested him?

Comey, Rosenstein, McCabe and Sally Yates all signed the FISA applications even though Hillary’s fraudulent Russia dossier was used as a pretext to obtain the warrants.

According to Senator Burr, these are “sound reasons.”

“I don’t think I ever expressed that I thought the FISA application came up short. There (were) sound reasons as to why judges issued the FISA,” Burr said to CNN.

Hopefully my fellow voters in North Carolina will remove this man from office during the next election. I don’t care if a Democrat replaces him–he has not lived up to his Oath of Office to defend the Constitution.

UPDATE: It should be noted that a copy of the unredacted FISA application was delivered to the committee on March 17, 2017. This was then leaked to the media by a staffer on the committee. That is one of many questionable actions by the committee regarding the illegal surveillance of the Trump campaign.