A Caution To Conservatives

William F. Buckley is said to have stated that Conservatives should ‘support the most viable conservative candidate.’ That’s a very important statement.

The exact quote:

“The wisest choice would be the one who would win. No sense running Mona Lisa in a beauty contest. I’d be for the most right, viable candidate who could win.”
-William F. Buckley Jr.

Right now there are two parties in Washington–the first is composed of the Democrats and the establishment Republicans, and the second is composed of the conservatives who have been elected since 2010. The 2014 mid-terms are important. They will determine whether the Democrats and establishment Republicans continue their tax and spend ways or if fiscal sanity makes an appearance.

Many Republican candidates who have been in office for a while are being challenged for the first time in primary campaigns by more conservative candidates. There is nothing wrong with the fact that establishment candidates are being challenged, but I have a word of caution.

In a world of instant news, cell phones that record and take pictures, twitter and facebook, candidates need to be more disciplined than they ever have been. Because the opposition is more than willing to take any comment out of context and twist words, candidates need to adhere to a specific group of lukewarm comments in order to get elected. I am not suggesting that candidates lie or misrepresent themselves, but I am saying that discipline on the part of the candidates will be crucial to this election.

Primary elections are important. You can judge a candidate by the way he runs his primary campaign–does he speak without thinking, does he make statements that cause him to have to  backtrack, is he respectful of the people who come out to hear him and eventually support him?

My advice to conservatives is simple–make sure your candidates are ready for prime time. Otherwise, you will be wasting money and time and accomplishing nothing.

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When Cuts Aren’t Cuts

The CATO Institute posted an article yesterday about Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget proposal.

The article included this chart which tracks spending in the coming years under Congressman Paul Ryan’s proposed budget:

The chart below compares Paul Ryan’s budget against the CBO projections of the federal budget:

Notice that there are no actual spending cuts in Paul Ryan’s budget–it simply represents a slower rate of growth.

The article reports:

Chairman Ryan’s budget would spend $42.6 trillion over the next ten years. Opponents will say that Ryan’s budget slashes federal spending, while supporters will say that it includes large budgetary savings. The reality is that Ryan’s budget would increase spending at an annual average rate of 3.5 percent, or from $3.54 trillion in 2014 to $5.0 trillion in 2024. Only in Washington would that be considered substantial restraint, let alone slashing.

Until we change the culture of Washington, we can expect to see Congress drive America into bankruptcy. If you want to see change, you need to change the people you vote for. Continually voting for the people who keep spending high will not result in lower spending.  Most of the establishment Republicans (as well as the Democrats) have forgotten their promises to cut spending. Those Republicans need to be replaced by people who will remember their promises.

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The Discussion About Common Core Continues

Today I attended a public meeting of a joint legislative committee in North Carolina that is studying Common Core and will likely make recommendations on its implementation in the state. The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a set of standards for K-12 in English and Math. It will later include Science and Social Studies. It is a top down program coming from Washington, D.C., that is copyrighted and not tailored to meet the needs of each individual state. The Common Core program is heavily funded by the Bill Gates Foundation.

There were sixty speakers at the meeting and another forty or fifty in the audience listening to the arguments. Generally speaking, those who supported Common Core spoke of the need for educational standards. I don’t think anyone would dispute that educational standards are needed–the question is whether those standards will be handled locally or handed down from Washington, D.C.

The arguments against Common Core were varied. Some people argued that the dictation of educational standards from Washington, D. C. was unconstitutional. Other speakers expressed concern about the amount of data that will be collected on the students in the Common Core program and what will be done with that data. There was a serious question as to whether privacy rights of students and parents will be protected.

The most convincing argument against Common Core came from parents of children in kindergarten through grade three. Those parents were nearly in tears as they described the impact Common Core was having on their children–the children hate school and are suffering anxiety attacks due to the pressure of constant testing. The children are also being asked to understand concepts that are not age-appropriate to them.

Two other objections to Common Core were that the program has not been tested and that no one has put a specific price tag on the cost of implementing and maintaining the program.

After listening to the statements made this morning, I can only conclude that it would be unwise to implement a set of academic standards without adequately testing them or knowing how much they would cost. I would strongly suggest that the State of North Carolina set its own academic standards by observing other states that have been successful in doing this. Massachusetts (before Common Core) is a very good example of a state that greatly improved its academic standards without any help from the federal government. This is probably the only time I will ever suggest that North Carolina follow the example of Massachusetts, but this is the one time Massachusetts has set a good example.

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Hiding Tax Money Outside The Budget

The Heritage Foundation posted an article today about government-sponsored entities (GSEs). These organizations have an off-budget status (excludes them from federal budget rules and processes) which hides their real cost to taxpayers.

The article cites the example of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae:

The Treasury is keeping Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the taxpayer-backed loan guarantee giants, off the federal budget.

How is this possible?

In 2008, the government took control of Fannie and Freddie and agreed to shield the entities from bankruptcy. Now that the country has recovered from that housing crisis, and money is coming back in through these government-sponsored entities (GSEs), their true cost remains hidden.

…It’s jaw-dropping that such massive flows of taxpayer money could be kept outside the federal budget. And as you can imagine, keeping that cash off the books distorts the overall budget picture.

Just for a start, the housing entities’ “profits paid to the Treasury in 2013 alone have resulted in federal spending and deficits being underreported by more than $100 billion,” says Boccia, the Grover M. Hermann Fellow.

This affects public perception of the deficit—and even lawmakers’ perceptions as they make plans to spend more in the coming year’s budget.

The obvious solution to this is to eliminate GSEs. They have become another way that Washington can control more taxpayer money without being held accountable.

There will be an election in November. All of the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate will be up for re-election. Unless we elect people who will actually represent us and not become part of the Beltway establishment, we will be watching America descend into bankruptcy.

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Sometimes It Just Takes A While For The Truth To Come Out

Fox News posted an article today about some of the testimony on the attack on Benghazi that simply does not add up. The testimony relates to whether or not the attack was a spontaneous event or the result of careful planning.

The article states:

In addition to Rogers’ (Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee) assessment, military experts say the mortar strike on the CIA base was evidence of a planned terror attack, and because it forced the evacuation of the annex, it must have been known immediately in Washington. But in a letter to the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee in January 2013, Morell said “the nature of the attacks suggested they did not involve significant pre-planning.”

Two of the witnesses that have previously testified before the committee are expected to be called back–former CIA Director David Petraeus and his ex-deputy Michael Morell.

The article reports:

In addition to Rogers’ assessment, military experts say the mortar strike on the CIA base was evidence of a planned terror attack, and because it forced the evacuation of the annex, it must have been known immediately in Washington. But in a letter to the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee in January 2013,Morell said “the nature of the attacks suggested they did not involve significant pre-planning.”

…Separately, Morell is accused by Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee of misleading lawmakers over the White House’s role in the so-called Benghazi talking points by stating the text was provided to the administration for their awareness, not for their input. Emails later released by the administration showed otherwise. Morell, who excised half of the talking points text, previously told Fox News that “neither the Agency, the analysts, nor I cooked the books in any way.”

When pressed on the sophistication of the mortar attack, two sources familiar with Petraeus’ statements to Congress said he also seemed to downplay the necessary planning and skill, stating the mortars could have been fired from the back of a truck with the same accuracy.

None of the five military officers contacted by Fox News said the truck explanation was plausible.

There has been so much misinformation put out by the Obama Administration about Benghazi that I really wonder what in the world is the truth and what is the reason for all the misdirection. It is amazing to me that the only person who has actually spent time in jail for the Benghazi attack is the filmmaker of the video that had nothing to do with the attack. The bad guys have been interviewed by CNN, but somehow out government can’t find them. It would be really nice if we found out what all the lying was about so that we could move on to other things.

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Phantom Spending Cuts

One of the biggest scams in Washington is something called baseline budgeting.  It is a way for Congress to claim that they are making spending cuts while increasing the amount of the federal budget. It is actually a rather clever use of the language to mislead the American public. Hopefully the public is beginning to get wise. The budget recently announced by President Obama and the way it is being reported by most of the press is an amazing example of political doublespeak.

Yesterday the Washington Examiner posted an article explaining the real numbers behind the President’s budget and the fact that in the stories in most of the media, the exact numbers are not being reported. All that is being written is that the President’s budge represents a reduction in government spending.

In a nutshell:

...in the current year, the federal government is expected to spend $3.77 trillion. With all the spending cuts being talked about, a reasonable person might assume that spending next year will be down a bit. But it’s not. In fact, the president’s budget calls for spending $3.90 trillion in 2015. That’s approximately $230 billion more than this year. It’s not a one-year aberration either. Spending increases are projected every single year for the next decade and beyond.

It’s hard to write that the president’s budget is cutting spending by $600 billion while also reporting numbers showing spending going in the opposite direction.

Sadly, Washington reporters have chosen to overcome this difficulty by leaving the real numbers out of their stories. That’s a huge problem. We can reasonably expect politicians to spin the numbers and hide the truth because that’s what they do. However, in a free society with a free press, we should be able to count on journalists to report the facts rather than the spin. Unfortunately, we can’t.

Until the average voter gets wise to this sort of journalistic spin, we can expect government spending to increase. This is a game played by both political parties and by journalists. The Washington insiders are not fighting about cutting the budget–they are fighting over who gets to spend the money. Until America elects fiscal conservatives to office, Washington will continue to drive the country into bankruptcy.

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Question Of The Day

On Monday, Fox News reported on President Obama’s interview with Bill O’Reilly:

Obama addressed concerns over Benghazi, the launch of HealthCare.gov and the IRS, during the interview Sunday before the Super Bowl. He adamantly rejected the suggestion that the IRS was used for political purposes by singling out Tea Party groups seeking tax exemption.

“That’s not what happened,” he said. Rather, he said, IRS officials were confused about how to implement the law governing those kinds of tax-exempt groups.

“There were some bone-headed decisions,” Obama conceded. 

But when asked whether corruption, or mass corruption, was at play, he responded: “Not even mass corruption — not even a smidgen of corruption.”

The question of the day (and it is not an original question) is, “if there was not a smidgen of corruption, why did Lois Lerner take the fifth rather than testify before Congress?”

Yesterday Scott Johnson at Power Line posted a letter from William Henck, a man who has worked inside the IRS Office of the General Counsel as an attorney for over 26 years. I am not going to post the letter as it is very long, but I strongly suggest that you follow the link to Power Line and read the letter. It is chilling.

Scott Johnson also posted a story at Power Line today about Cleta Mitchell, who he describes as the most dangerous woman in America. Ms. Mitchell is the Washington attorney who represents several clients victimized by the criminal misconduct of the IRS over the past four years. A video of her testimony before Congress on Thursday is included in the article. She is smart and articulate–she does represent a danger to the Obama Administration. Please watch the video to see why.

The IRS scandal is dangerous to America. It means that whichever party is in power in Washington can use the IRS to target its enemies. This is an impeachable offense, and any administration that engages in this behavior should be faced with the threat of impeachment.

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An Interesting Solution To “Inequality”

Jonah Goldberg posted an article at Townhall.com today that offers an interesting solution to the ‘inequality’ President Obama and some of the political left seem to be focused on lately. Oddly enough, the solution does not include giving more money or power to Washington.

In referring to the culture of Alaska (many of Mr. Goldberg’s wife’s family members live in Alaska, so he has spent some time there), he notes:

In my experience, Alaska stands out in another way: social equality. When I started going there regularly, I was shocked to discover how casually different economic classes intermingle. Scanning the attendees of a party or patrons of a restaurant, it’s pretty much guesswork to figure out who’s a millionaire and who’s a mechanic. Nothing like that happens in places like Washington, New York or Los Angeles, where upper and lower classes get along little better than the Morlocks and Eloi did in H.G. Wells‘ “The Time Machine.” But it does happen in lots of places — liberal and conservative — outside the Amtrak Acela corridor.

Mr. Goldberg points out a very logical solution to ‘inequality’ in America:

For practical purposes, people don’t live in the United States of America. They live in their neighborhoods, towns and communities. Yes, these are American communities, but your neighbors live in your neighborhood, not seven states over. Your kids don’t go to “U.S. schools”; they go to the school down the road.

Yet most of our money goes to the government in Washington, and so does most of the power. Why not flip that around? Want to see the rich, poor and middle class interact more? Give them a reason to show up to a city council or school board meeting. Sure, money has power at the local level, too, but so do votes.

Moreover, when rich people get their way at the local level, people usually know who they are and why they are doing things. And you can bend their ear at the supermarket or at soccer practice.

But when all the decisions are made in Washington or New York, most Americans are simply out of the loop.

And they resent it.

Having lived in New England for many years, I attended many Town Meetings where budgets, roads, zoning, and community growth were discussed. It was a way to see politics on a local level, and it was a way to be involved in the politics of your town. The taxpayers voted on the budget; the taxpayers voted on the zoning; and the taxpayers got to see their elected city officials at work. The taxpayers also had a chance to talk to their elected officials after the meeting. I don’t know if a Town Meeting would work in a larger setting, but certainly if more Americans felt that they had some sort of power, they would attend some of the various committee meetings in their cities and towns. Involving taxpayers in their local governments would be a step forward. I think Mr. Goldberg is on to something.

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Upside Down Logic At Work

On Wednesday Bill Bennett and Christopher Beach posted an article at Politico about the legalization of marijuana. The article points out the contradiction of a liberal philosophy that wants to legalize marijuana while banning large sodas, sugary foods, trans fat, smoking tobacco, etc.

The article points out:

In his recent New Yorker interview, President Obama remarked, “I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life.” But then he added, “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.” Of the legalization in Colorado and Washington—never mind the unresolved conflict between state and federal law—he said, “it’s important for it to go forward.”

Got that? The same president who signed into law a tough federal anti-cigarette smoking bill in 2009 now supports marijuana legalization.

The article concludes:

What explains this obvious paradox? Do these liberals think that marijuana is somehow less harmful than a Big Gulp soda or a bucket of fried chicken? It’s hard to believe that’s the case, given the vast amount of social data and medical science on the dangers of marijuana.

Marijuana is destructive, particularly when used by teenagers. Does the people who want to make it legal believe teenagers will not be able to get it and smoke it? That hasn’t worked real well with either cigarettes or alcohol. Most of us probably know a teenager who used pot and paid a price later on–either in his ability to learn, moving on to other drugs, or side effects from some of the things added to the marijuana. Are we willing to make this drug easier for teenagers to obtain? This sounds like a bunch of 60′s hippies who are finally in control wanting to mainstream their counterculture. This is not good for our children, and it is not good for our society.

 

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What Agenda?

The Washington Examiner posted an article today pointing out that the big three networks gave the Chris Christie bridge scandal 17 times more news coverage in one day than they gave the IRS scandal in six months. Hmmm.

The article reports:

Since Wednesday night, NBC News included six reports over 14 minutes and 14 seconds. CBS devoted five reports over 12 minutes and 27 seconds. ABC managed 4 stories over seven minutes and 47 seconds, said MRC.

As a comparison over the last six months, NBC featured five seconds on updating the IRS story. CBS responded with a minute and 41 seconds. ABC produced a meager 22 seconds.

Make no mistake, this is about taking out the person the Democrat party considers the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination. It also needs to be noted that as the polling numbers now stand, Chris Christie defeats Hillary Clinton in a Presidential campaign.

At this point I would like to state that I don’t want the Republicans to run Chris Christie for President. I think we can do better. There are other governors out there who have good track records, conservative credentials, and a lot more class than Chris Christie.

 

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Disarming A Stuffed Monkey To Make Our Airplanes Safe

Sometimes you just wonder at the level of common sense being exhibited by some people. There was an incident that I personally witnessed last week in a government office where a person’s pocket knife was declared a weapon and he was asked to leave the office. It was a small pocket knife. He made no effort to conceal it–it was clipped onto his pocket. I seem to be living in a part of the country where people carry pocket knives, but evidently you can’t take a pocket knife into a government office–even if it’s a public office. Well, a recent TSA incident tops that.

KING5.com in Washington state reported earlier this month that a women who has a small business selling unique sock monkey dolls had a two-inch toy pistol belonging to her “Rooster Monkburn” cowboy sock monkey confiscated by the TSA.

The article reports:

The TSA agent told May she would have to confiscate the tiny gun and was supposed to call the police.

“I said well go ahead,” said May. “And I said really? You’re kidding me right, and she said no it looks like a gun.”

“She took my monkey’s gun,” said May, who has retained her sense of humor.

“Rooster Monkburn has been disarmed so I’m sure everyone on the plane was safe,” she said. “I understand she was doing her job but at some point doesn’t common sense prevail?”

In the end, the agent did not call police and May did get her other sewing supplies back.

On Monday, the TSA issued a statement, saying “TSA officers are dedicated to keeping the nation’s transportation security systems safe and secure for the traveling public. Under longstanding aircraft security policy, and out of an abundance of caution, realistic replicas of firearms are prohibited in carry-on bags.”

I don’t want to encourage the TSA agent, but I can think of things in an ordinary sewing kit that would be more dangerous than a two-inch toy pistol. I doesn’t say a lot about the level of common sense of the TSA that the agent thought it necessary to confiscate a two-inch plastic toy.

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Beware Of The Small Print In ObamaCare

Yesterday the Seattle Times posted an article about a provision of ObamaCare that has come as a surprise to some of the elderly people who are subscribing to the program.  The story deals with Sofia Prins and Gary Balhorn, both 62, who after reading the fine print in Medicaid that has changed as a result of ObamaCare, decided to get married.

The article explains the problem:

Medicaid, in keeping with federal policy, has long tapped into estates. But because most low-income adults without disabilities could not qualify for typical medical coverage through Medicaid, recovery primarily involved expenses for nursing homes and other long-term care.

The federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) changed that. Now many more low-income residents will qualify for Medicaid, called Apple Health in Washington state.

But if they qualify for Medicaid, they’re not eligible for tax credits to subsidize a private health plan under the ACA, which requires all adults to have health insurance by March 31.

Prins, an artist, and Balhorn, a retired fisherman-turned-tango instructor, separately qualified for health insurance through Medicaid based on their sole incomes.

But if they were married, they calculated, they could “just squeak by” with enough income to qualify for a subsidized health plan — and avoid any encumbrance on the home they hope to leave to Prins’ two sons.

The article further reports:

Late Friday, Gov. Jay Inslee’s office and the state Medicaid office said they plan to draft an emergency rule to limit estate recovery to long-term care and related medical expenses.

They hope to be able to change the rules before coverage begins Jan. 1.

Fixing the problem will cost the state about $3 million a year, said Dr. Bob Crittenden, Inslee’s senior health-policy adviser, but it’s the right thing to do.

“There was no intent on the part of the ACA to do estate recovery on people going into Medicaid (for health insurance),” Crittenden said. “The idea was to expand coverage.”

One of the problems with ObamaCare is that it will move many people who previously had basic health insurance into Medicaid. Unfortunately, Medicaid cannot support this increase–it is already going broke. The increase in Medicaid enrollment will put a severe financial burden on states, and create budget problems for the states that have formed healthcare exchanges.

The article explains the risk of the fine print in ObamaCare:

For health coverage through Medicaid, income is now the only financial requirement.

At first, Prins was pleased at the prospect of free coverage.

But the more she thought about the fine print, the more upset she got. Why was this provision only for people age 55 and older? Why should those insured by Medicaid have to pay back health expenses from their estates when people with just a bit more income who get federal subsidies don’t? Why didn’t she and Balhorn know about this before getting to the application stage?

As Prins began searching for answers, she found that even those trained to help people sign up for insurance under the ACA weren’t aware of this provision, nor were some government officials.

Around the country, the issue has sizzled away in blogs and commentaries from both right and left. The National Women’s Law Center noted the ACA and its regulations prohibit age discrimination in programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the politically conservative Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, writing in the The Washington Times, called the recovery provision “a cash cow for states to milk the poor and the middle class.”

“People will think this is wonderful, this is free insurance,” Orient said in an interview. “They don’t realize it’s really a loan, and is secured by any property they have.”

Even states that are now limiting estate recovery, she warned, can change the rules again if budget problems become more intense.

When you think about it, taking money from the estates of the middle class is simply another way to redistribute wealth, one of the major results of the implementation of ObamaCare. It is becoming very obvious that ObamaCare is a nightmare for the states, the insurance companies, and the insured. It needs to be repealed and replaced.

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This Happens A Lot

Some conservatives call it the “Al Gore Effect.” Almost every time global warming groups plan a big meeting in Washington, they get snowed out (you’d think they would get smart and move their meetings to Florida). Well, it happened again.

Western Journalism reported yesterday that this week the White House hosted the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. The group headed to Washington, D.C. to discuss a plan of action against the perceived threat of global warming just as a massive winter storm struck the nation’s capital.

The article reports:

One of the participants, Gov. Pat Quinn of Obama’s beloved Illinois, made the trip Tuesday after Chicago experienced its coldest night in nearly 20 years. Everyone on the task force got a taste of reality as D.C. was largely shut down due to inclement weather.

Though government offices were closed, the global warming summit continued as planned. This delicious irony was apparently lost on these cult-like adherents to a flawed climatological hypothesis.

There is a school of meteorology that has been warming of global cooling due to the slow down in the number of solar flares (rightwinggranny.com). These scientists believe that the sun has a very large impact on the earth’s climate.

Meanwhile, global warming meetings keep encountering unexpected snow storms.

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I’ve Heard This Song Before

About the only thing good I can say about the Congressional Budget deal is that there is a Congressional Budget deal. After that it gets a little foggy. Part of the problem was that neither side was really in a strong position to negotiate–the Republican establishment is still slamming the Tea Party for the shutdown and President Obama’s approval ratings are sinking like a stone. The establishment Republicans and the President are both desperate for a political victory. As usual, courtesy of the establishment Republicans, the Tea Party is out in the cold. The sad part of that fact is that the Tea Party is the only group in Washington that does actually represent a change from our self-destructive spending habits.

Heritage.org posted an article this morning stating three things in the budget agreement that indicate things in Washington have not changed:

The deal announced yesterday raises discretionary spending above the bipartisan spending agreement forged in 2011 as part of the Budget Control Act. Spending for defense and non-defense domestic programs would be raised by $45 billion in 2014 and by $18 billion in 2015.

… The agreement says that the increased spending is fully offset elsewhere in the budget, using a mix of spending cuts and non-tax revenue. Make no mistake, raising revenue to spend more is simply taxing and spending.

…It spends now and delays savings till later. The budget deal would spend $63 billion over the next two years—but take 10 years to make up for this splurge. This is a common Washington gimmick.

Until Americans are willing to elect people to Congress who will actually cut spending, we are going to see more of the same. It will be interesting to see who supports this deal. It is a deal that is pleasing to the Washington establishment. It may be the best deal the Republicans could have gotten, but it is not a good deal.

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An Unbelievable Labor Contract

Yesterday Mike Antonucci at Hot Air posted a few excerpts from the current contract covering National Education Association employees.

The article reports:

About 500 people work at NEA national headquarters in Washington, DC. A handful of unions represent them, the largest being the National Education Association Staff Organization (NEASO). NEA and NEASO negotiated a 136-page collective bargaining agreement in June 2012, and it runs through the end of May 2015. I have posted the full document on EIA’s Declassified page, but to save you the energy of mining it yourself, here are a few provisions I thought were worthy of highlighting:

…NEA must assume financial liability for an employee who is prosecuted or sued “because of any act taken by him/her in the course of his/her employment.” Under these circumstances, unless the employee is guilty of “gross negligence or gross irresponsibility,” he or she “shall be paid at his/her regular hourly rate for all time spent in jail.”

…NEA is required to provide “an appropriately furnished lounge” for employees at union headquarters. The contract specifically requires NEA to “make an ice machine available to employees in the building.”

There are many other provisions, including reserved parking spaces, valet services when traveling, and other things that most of us would never expect to see in an employment contract. Most of us would love to be covered by an employment contract that covers the items this contract does, but most of us realize that if a company wants to stay in business (and thus provide us with a job), they would probably not be able to afford a contract similar to the one that covers the NEA employees. The article unintentionally points out how big the gap has become between working in the private sector and working for an agency related to the government.

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The Political Right Is Also Capable Of Using The Popular Culture To Its Advantage!

Yesterday the Washington Examiner reported that Vance McAllister won a special election for Louisiana‘s 5th District seat yesterday. Representative-elect McAllister is new to politics–he has never even visited Washington, D.C. However, Representative-elect McAllister is a friend of the patriarch of TV’s “Duck Dynasty,” Phil Robertson, who endorsed his congressional bid.

The article reports:

Vance McAllister beat establishment candidate Neil Riser, a state senator, in Saturday’s runoff election created when former Rep. Rodney Alexander resigned on Sept. 26 to become secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs under Republican Governor Bobby Jindal.

…A handful of Washington GOP operatives tried to get one of the members of the Duck Dynasty family to run for the seat, but failed.

But the race showed just how powerful the Duck Dynasty trademark is in the area, said an election observer.

Wow. Just wow.

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When Your Lobbyists Just Don’t Do Their Job

Yesterday the Washington Examiner posted an article yesterday about a change in the United States renewable fuel policy.

The article reports:

But the EPA officially proposed cutting the renewable fuel target for 2014 to 15.21 billion gallons — down from 16.65 billion gallons this year and a scheduled 18.21 billion gallons for next year.

…”It clearly caught folks by surprise,” said Michael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association.

The biofuel industry felt it didn’t have to worry about the White House, sensing it had several key allies in the Obama administration.

The Obama Administration doesn’t even seem to be consistent in its cronyism. They have alienated their friends and their foes on numerous occasions. The EPA justified the decrease by saying that the demand for gasoline is lower because cars are becoming more efficient.

Ethanol has resulted in higher food prices around the world, damage to boat engines, more expensive gasoline, and higher environmental damage in its refining. This is not a product we want to see more of. Carbon-based fuels do work better, and America is beginning to use its own carbon-based resources.

 

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I’m From The Government…

Michael Graham is a Massachusetts talk show host who writes a blog called “The Natural Truth.” As a resident of Massachusetts, he understands some of the unbelievable things that go on in this state. Today he posted an article entitled, “I’m From The Government And I’m Here To Inspect Your Guns.” No, in Massachusetts that is not a joke .

A Swampscott Massachusetts Board of Selectman member introduced an enforcement discussion Wednesday that he hopes will lead to the safeguarding of guns in town — keeping them out of the hands of children. Keeping guns out of the reach of children is a good idea. However, his methods were unconstitutional. Under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, gun owners are required to keep their firearms locked away or rendered inoperable. That’s not a bad thing, but the problem is how to enforce the law.

The article states:

If this incredibly bad goose-stepping attack on gun ownership sounds familiar, it should. The state of Washington considered it earlier this year. Then some lawyer read this thing called the Constitution and it went away.

But we’ve never been big on that whole “Bill of Rights” thing here in Kennedy Country. And so the town of Swampscott is going to decide whether or not to send the local cops door-to-door to visit lawful gun owners and, you know, just have a look around.

What could possibly go wrong?

At some point, we need to get back to the U. S. Constitution. We are in danger of losing our most basic rights.

 

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The ObamaAdministration’s War On Coal Continues

CBN News is reporting today that thousands of America‘s coal workers gathered in Washington, D.C., yesterday to protest new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that will shut down the coal industry in America.

The article reports:

Coal worker Jim Dailer of Wheeling, W.Va., complained, “They’ve tightened down regulation after regulation down through the years and ended up with putting us out of business pretty much.”
 
More than 200 coal-fired plants have already announced they’re closing.  Dailer said it will be some 350 by the end of next year. 
 
These coal miners, workers and officials rallied on Capitol Hill because only Congress or the courts can stop the EPA.
 
“What we’re trying to do is reach the hearts and minds of the people who are in those halls in front of me,” Horton said as he looked up at the Capitol building.  “To get them to understand that coal is much more than an energy source.  It’s people.”

Just for the record, I am not in favor of air pollution–but I do believe that the government is quite capable of over-regulating. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2012 coal provided 37 percent of the electricity generated in America. At the present time, there is not a reliable ‘green’ source of energy to replace that power. Until the ‘green’ energy industry is more reliable and more economical, we need to leave our coal plants open.

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Why Were These Things Included In The Deal?

I am sure that there is more of this to come, but there are two provisions in the agreement to raise the debt ceiling that indicate to me that it is time to clean house in Washington.

WFPL News reports that the bill ending the government shutdown includes $3 billion for the massive Olmsted Dam Lock in Paducah, Kentucky.  The bill increases the funding from $775 million to nearly $2.9 billion.

The article reports:

Asked about the additional funding in the proposal, McConnell spokesman Robert Steurer directed all questions to lawmakers who worked on the bill directly.

“Senators (Diane) Feinstein and (Lamar) Alexander, the chair and ranking member of the energy and water subcommittee, worked on the issue and can help you,” he says.

Since 2009, McConnell has been an outspoken supporter of the project, and has been working on getting its funding for some time.

This may not be an earmark, but it sure looks like one. Why was this included in this bill rather than a stand-alone bill?

The other part of this bill that disturbs me is the change in how future debt ceilings will be handled.

Breitbart.com reports:

The plan includes a proposal offered by McConnell in the 2011 debt ceiling crisis that allows Congress to disapprove of the debt ceiling increase, which means lawmakers will formally vote on whether to reject a debt ceiling increase until Feb. 7. Obama can veto that legislation if it passes. If Congress fails as expected to gather a two-thirds majority to override the veto, the debt ceiling would be raised.

If we ever want to see the end of runaway spending, we need to oppose that idea and everyone who supports it. Shutting the government down was not pleasant, but Congress (particularly the House of Representatives) is supposed to be in charge of spending. This change makes Congress almost irrelevant and allows the President to continue to drive America into bankruptcy.

This was not a good deal for America.

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Roots–How We Got To Today

The government has reopened. I guess that is good news. But how did we get here, and are we headed here again in January? I am not a big fan of Michael Bloomberg, but even a blind squirrel finds an acorn occasionally.

Politicker.com reports today:

Washington lawmakers finally reached a deal to re-open the government just hours before the debt ceiling deadline, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn’t celebrating yet.

“All of what they’re talking about is simply kicking the can down the road,” Mr. Bloomberg told Politicker this afternoon.

The mayor was responding to a request for his take not long before Republican lawmakers had officially conceded their fight. But Mr. Bloomberg, sounding confident a short-term deal would be reached, predicted another standoff soon.

The Senate has not passed or negotiated a budget since 2009. The House of Representatives is supposed to pass appropriations bills, and the Senate is supposed to vote on them, with the eventual result of a federal budget. Since 2009, the federal government has been funded by continuing resolutions (CR‘s) that kept the spending at record-breaking levels. We have wondered away from the Constitution, and it is costing us financially and it is damaging our country.

The war about the budget represented a battle between those in power in Washington and the rest of us. The proposal from the Tea Party Republicans asked that everyone be treated equally under ObamaCare–even Congress and Congressional aids. The proposal from the Tea Party Republicans asked to delay ObamaCare for a year because of the problems with the website and the negative impact it is having on jobs and the economy. Both of those proposals would have helped average Americans. The resistance came from Democrats and establishment Republicans. Both groups need to be voted out of office.

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Why Federal Programs Need Eligibility Verification

One of the current problems with ObamaCare is that there is no way to verify a person’s income when they ask for a government subsidy to help pay for their health insurance. One aspect of the negotiations currently taking place in Washington is making sure that the people applying for subsidies are actually entitled to them. Generally speaking, can we trust people to take only what they are entitled to? Well, recent events indicate that we need to verify.

Yesterday MSN Money reported that there had been a computer glitch in the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) transfer card system and that stores had no way of reading the balance on the cards. The article reports what happened at one Wal-Mart.

The article reports:

Lynd explained the cards weren’t showing limits and they called corporate Wal-Mart, whose spokesman said to let the people use the cards anyway. From 7 to 9 p.m., people were loading up their carts, but when the cards began showing limits again around 9, one woman was detained because she rang up a bill of $700 and only had .49 on her card. She was held by police until corporate Wal-Mart said they wouldn’t press charges if she left the food.

 Lynd (Springhill Louisiana Police Chief Will Lynd) says at 9 p.m., when the cards came back online and it was announced over the loud speaker, people just left their carts full of food in the aisles and left.”

Unfortunately there are people among us who have no problem taking something they are not entitled to. To put a government program in place that promises benefits without checking eligibility is simply stupid. There will always be people trying to game the system, we don’t have to make it too easy!

 

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Moving The Goalposts When It’s Convenient

One problem with the current negotiations in Washington regarding the government shutdown is that both sides keep moving the goalposts. President Obama says he’s not talking to anyone unless they surrender first, and the Republicans don’t seem to know exactly what they want.

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article today about the current state of affairs. He noted that Senator Susan Collins has made a suggestion that meets the needs of what both sides originally said they wanted.

The article reports:

Collins’ proposal would have extended government funding for six months and boosted the debt ceiling through the end of January. By way of a fig leaf for Republicans, it also would have delayed a medical device tax in the health care law for two years and instituted an income verification requirement for qualifying for Obamacare subsidies.

Democrats rejected the plan not because of the Obamacare fig leaf, but because they want more money for the government. Collins’ proposal would have retained the spending levels established by the sequester, though it would have provided the government with much-needed flexibility in spending this money.

Evidently the debate has morphed from differences in ObamaCare to the ever-present debate on government spending.

As long as either side believes that the shutdown is working for them politically, it will not be solved. Right now the Democrats believe it is working for them. As long as they believe that, the government will remain closed.

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An Interesting Perspective On Events In Washington

Nate Silver is a statistician who used to do baseball statistics. He took his methods of statistical analysis and applied them to the American political scene. He has been very successful in both predicting performance of baseball players and predicting political trends.

Yesterday Nate Silver posted an article at grantland.com about the impact of the government shutdown on the mid-term elections. Some of his comments on the shutdown include rather colorful language, so I suggest that if colorful language offends you, you avoid the quotes to follow and don’t follow the link to the original article.

The article points out:

However, presidential elections are more the exception than the rule. As I discuss in my book, the more common tendency instead is that people (and especially the “experts” who write about the issues for a living) overestimate the degree of predictability in complex systems. There are some other exceptions besides presidential elections — sports, in many respects; and weather prediction, which has become much better in recent years. But for the most part, the experts you see on television are much too sure of themselves.

That’s been my impression of the coverage of the shutdown: The folks you see on TV are much too sure of themselves. They’ve been making too much of thin slices of polling and thinner historical precedents that might not apply this time around.

Mr. Silver lists six observations about the government shutdown:

1. The media is probably overstating the magnitude of the shutdown’s political impact.

2. The impact of the 1995-96 shu4. The polling data on the shutdown is not yet all that useful, and we lack data on most important measures of voter preferences.tdowns is overrated in Washington‘s mythology.

3. Democrats face extremely unfavorable conditions in trying to regain the House.

4. The polling data on the shutdown is not yet all that useful, and we lack data on most important measures of voter preferences.

5. President Obama’s change in tactics may be less about a change of heart and more about a change in incentives.

6. The increasing extent of GOP partisanship is without strong recent precedent, and contributes to the systemic uncertainty about political outcomes.

The bottom line here is simple–we really don’t know how what is now happening in Washington will impact the 2014 mid-term elections. Frankly, I think many Americans are thoroughly disgusted with both political parties.

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