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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Rep. John Lewis Distorts Truth About Voter ID Laws

Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) had an op-ed in the New York Times on Friday in which he condemns the move in a number of states to require photo identification be presented when voting, calling it an unconstitutional poll tax.  Rep. Lewis tries to make his case by conveniently omitting some crucial facts and getting others completely wrong. 

"Despite decades of progress, this year's Republican-backed wave of voting restrictions has demonstrated that the fundamental right to vote is still subject to partisan manipulation. The most common new requirement, that citizens obtain and display unexpired government-issued photo identification before entering the voting booth, was advanced in 35 states and passed by Republican legislatures in Alabama, Minnesota, Missouri and nine other states despite the fact that as many as 25 percent of African-Americans lack acceptable identification."
Let's take the states he mentioned one at a time and see what the truth is.

Alabama - A bill passed this year would require voters to use an Alabama-issued driver's license or non-driver ID, other photo IDs issued by the state or federal government, a U.S. passport, a student or employee photo ID issued by an Alabama college, or a tribal ID.   The bill also requires the Secretary of State to provide free photo IDs people who don't have one.  Secretary of State Beth Chapman has said she plans to make them available at every county courthouse.

Minnesota - Similar to Alabama, free photo IDs were to be provided.  The bill was vetoed by Democratic Governor Mark Dayton.

Missouri - The bill passed by lawmakers was to be on the ballot in the 2012 election, but the people of Missouri won't get to vote on it since it was vetoed by Democratic Governor Jay Nixon.  The proposal would have allowed peo­ple to vote by pro­vi­sional bal­lot who are unable to obtain proper ID because of phys­i­cal or men­tal dis­abil­ity, an inabil­ity to pay for a doc­u­ment nec­es­sary to obtain the required iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, a reli­gious belief against forms of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion or the voter was born before Jan. 1, 1941.



"Students at state universities in Wisconsin cannot vote using their current IDs (because the new law requires the cards to have signatures, which those do not). South Carolina prohibits the use of student IDs altogether. Texas also rejects student IDs, but allows voting by those who have a license to carry a concealed handgun. These schemes are clearly crafted to affect not just how we vote, but who votes."
Wisconsin - A government issued photo ID is required.  The bill passed and signed by the Governor requires the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to provide state identification cards free of charge.

South Carolina - Voters must show either driver’s licenses, photo IDs issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles, passports, military IDs, or new voter registration cards that include photos.  Like Wisconsin, state identification cards will be provided free of charge.

Texas - Voters will have to show a state-issued ID card or a driver’s license, a military ID, a concealed hand gun license issued by the Department of Public Safety, a passport, a state-issued election identification certificate, which is a free ID issued to a person who requests it specifically for the purpose of voting.

I keep seeing those words "free ID".  Rep. Lewis chose to ignore them since free IDs don't help his bogus argument.
"Conservative proponents have argued for photo ID mandates by claiming that widespread voter impersonation exists in America, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. While defending its photo ID law before the Supreme Court, Indiana was unable to cite a single instance of actual voter impersonation at any point in its history. Likewise, in Kansas, there were far more reports of U.F.O. sightings than allegations of voter fraud in the past decade. These theories of systematic fraud are really unfounded fears being exploited to threaten the franchise."
Rep. Lewis neglects to mention that the Supreme Court upheld the Indiana law on a 6-3 vote, declaring that a requirement to produce photo identification is not unconstitutional and that the state has a "valid interest" in improving election procedure as well as deterring fraud.

Rep. Lewis also neglects to mention that lawyers challenging the Indiana law did cite the experience of one would-be Indiana voter, Valerie Williams, who was turned away from the polling place in November 2006 by officials who told her that a telephone bill, a Social Security letter with her address and an expired driver’s license were no longer sufficient.

“Of course, I threw a fit,” she said in an interview with The New York Times. Ms. Williams, in her early 60’s, is black — and is a Republican.

Brian C. Bosma, who was speaker of the Indiana House when the law was enacted said, "This is only a burden for those who want to vote more than once.”

As for voter impersonation, Rep. Lewis neglects to mention that ACORN pled guilty to voter registration fraud in Nevada earlier this year.  Massive vote fraud was also uncovered in Houston. 



"Voters in other states weren't so lucky. Florida has cut its early voting period by half, from 96 mandated hours over 14 days to a minimum of 48 hours over just eight days, and has severely restricted voter registration drives, prompting the venerable League of Women Voters to cease registering voters in the state altogether. Again, this affects very specific types of voters: according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice, African-Americans and Latinos were more than twice as likely as white voters to register through a voter registration drive."
The nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice?  Discover the Networks describes the Brennan Center as "think tank and legal activist group affiliated with New York University Law School and closely aligned with the Shadow Party of George Soros. The Center’s stated mission is to carry on the work of its namesake, former Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. (1906 - 1997). Brennan pioneered the modern practice of “legislating from the bench.” He promoted the idea that judges need not respect the “orginal intent” of the Constitution’s Framers."
"These restrictions purportedly apply to all citizens equally. In reality, we know that they will disproportionately burden African Americans and other racial minorities, yet again. They are poll taxes by another name."
Requiring photo identification, which is provided free of charge, is a poll tax?  Really? 


If Rep. Lewis is serious about ensuring that voters are not disenfranchised, perhaps he would produce any letter he wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder urging prosecution of the members of the New Black Panther Party who brandished nightsticks at a Philadelphia polling place in 2008.  The case was dropped by the Justice Department in 2009.  I'd bet the farm such a letter doesn't exist.


Rep. Lewis has played fast and loose with the facts.  He has distorted the truth and left out crucial pieces of information.  When you don't tell the whole truth, you are deliberately telling a lie.  What do you call someone who tells lies?

Note:  The National Conference of State Legislatures has an excellent web page detailing the voter identification requirements of each state, found here.

Friday, August 26, 2011

U.S. Postal Service: You Thought We Were Slow Before...

The U.S. Postal Service has decided they can save about $1.5 billion a year in postal expenses by adding a day to first class and priority mail delivery.  The change would allow them to not pay weekend overtime and to use cheaper ground transportation instead of air.  Post office executives are expected to announce some of their plans for delivery changes after Labor Day.

This comes on the heels of the announcement that the service had a net loss of $3.1 billion in its third quarter and warned again it would default on payments to the federal government if Congress didn't step in.

In its fourth straight year of declines, the USPS had a net loss of $8.5 billion for the 2010 fiscal year.

This is yet another reason to go paperless.  Being an avid technology user, I have switched all monthly bills to paperless and I will frequently use my iPhone to pay bills.  If the mailman never stopped at my house again all I'd miss out on is junk mail and the weekly task of redelivering my neighbor's mail to the correct address.  I should bill the USPS for my delivery services.

In the event of an EMP I'm definitely in a world of trouble, but I doubt the USPS would be able to save the country by delivering mail.  Kevin Costner's laughable flick The Postman may have ended with a statue erected of a societal saving mail carrier, but I will refer you back to the word laughable.
Seinfeld's Newman would probably be closer in accuracy.


Postal Employee: "May I help you?"
Kramer: "Yeah, I'd like to cancel my mail."
Postal Employee: "Certainly. How long would you like us to hold it?"
Kramer: "Oh, no, no. I don't think you get me. I want out, permanently."
Newman: "I'll handle this, Violet. Why don't you take your three hour break?
Oh, calm down, everyone. No one's cancelling any mail."
Kramer: "Oh, yes, I am."
Newman: "What about your bills?"
Kramer: "The bank can pay 'em."
Newman: "The bank. What about your cards and letters?"
Kramer: "E-mail, telephones, fax machines. Fedex, telex, telegrams,
holograms."
Newman: "All right, it's true! Of course nobody needs mail. What do you
think, you're so clever for figuring that out? But you don't know the half of
what goes on here. So just walk away, Kramer. I beg of you."
Supervisor: "Is everything all right here, Postal Employee Newman?"
Newman: "Yes, sir, I believe everything is all squared away. Isn't it, Mr.
Kramer?"
Kramer: "Oh, yeah. As long as I stop getting mail!"


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Entitlement Spending Hits 10% of GDP

The Heritage Foundation's Budget Chart Book includes this chart showing the spending on defense and entitlements.  Misplaced priorities!




Monday, August 22, 2011

Brad Henry's Legacy: Gambling Addictions

One of Brad Henry's main campaign issues in 2002 was enacting a state lottery and, after being elected Governor, he made the lottery a priority in the 2003 legislative session.  The legislature approved a lottery proposal to be put on the 2004 general election ballot.  State Questions 705, which set up a lottery commission, and 706, which created a lottery trust fund, were both passed by voters.  The lottery then began in Oklahoma in 2005.

Also at Brad Henry's urging, the legislature placed on the 2004 ballot a proposal to allow American Indian tribes to enter compacts with the state so they could provide additional types of gambling.  The tribal-state compact allowed eligible tribes to pay a monthly exclusivity fee to the state in exchange for the exclusive right to operate Class III gaming services, which includes Las Vegas-style slot machines and card games. The state question also set up provisions for a limited number of licensed racetracks to use electronic gaming machines.  Before the state question was approved, tribes were only permitted to run Class II gaming operations, such as bingo halls.

This proposal also passed, and anyone driving through Oklahoma can see the massive number of casinos we have here in Oklahoma, all with packed parking lots.  These casinos are a second home, maybe even a first one, for many Oklahomans.  I recall during a day of wildfires earlier this year one of the local news channels reported receiving phone calls from residents wanting to know if a casino threatened by wildfire had been damaged.

After the tribal-state compact was approved by voters, thirty-three tribes entered a compact with the state to operate Class III gaming since the state question passed, according to the state finance office’s gaming compliance unit.  Revenue from the Tribal Gaming Exclusivity Fees that tribes pay to the state have totaled more than $366 million during the six-year period.

The amount the state receives increased each year and 2010 was on track to exceed $118 million.  Of that money, 88 percent is earmarked for common education funding. The Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services receives $250,000 for gambling addiction services and the rest enters the state’s general fund.

Oh, yes, the addictions.  The by-product of gambling.  Is the revenue worth the cost?

Experts say there could be more than 100,000 problem gamblers in Oklahoma.  The Oklahoman has reported that the number of people seeking help for gambling addiction has increased 150 percent since voters approved gambling at racetracks and expanded betting at tribal casinos in 2004.

Gambling in Oklahoma has contributed more than $184 million to state government revenues, but at a cost to tens of thousands of residents who have become problem gamblers, say experts.  There have been more than 18,000 calls to Oklahoma's Problem Gambling Helpline since 2007.
  • $7 billion — Last year's estimated nation-wide social cost to families and communities from gambling-related bankruptcy, divorce, crime and job loss.
  • 48 percent — Gamblers Anonymous members who considered suicide.
  • 57 percent — Gamblers Anonymous members who admitted stealing to finance their gambling.
  • 85 percent — Approximate percentage of adults in the United States who have gambled at least once.
  • 60 percent — Approximate percentage of US adults who gambled within the last year.
  • 100 percent — The presence of a gambling facility within 50 miles roughly doubles the prevalence of problem and pathological gamblers.
  • Number 5 — Oklahoma's ranking among states with the most casinos.
  • More than 100 — Tribal casinos in Oklahoma, four Oklahoma racetrack casinos and the statewide lottery.
"Oklahomans have lost their homes, spouses and retirement funds to gambling," said Jo Ann Pearce, executive director of A Chance to Change, a state gambling treatment contractor that has seen a 50 percent increase this year in demand for services.

"It’s not uncommon to see hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenditures” by gamblers, said Wiley Harwell, director of the Oklahoma Association for Problem and Compulsive Gambling.

In a July 2008 article in The Oklahoman, Mark Bonney, a bankruptcy trustee, said that gambling addiction was responsible for 10 percent of the Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies in eastern Oklahoma.  Now, the number is closer to 15 percent, with gambling a contributing factor in another 5 percent.

"Most of the people I see are making between $30,000 and $50,000 a year, and they’re gambling about $10,000 a year,” Bonney said.

In a December 2010 interview, Brad Henry acknowledged there is still work needed to advance how the state treats and prevents gambling-related addictions and problems.  “I think there is more that can be done,” he said. “Absolutely there are people across the state suffering from all kinds of addictions — whether it is from gambling, prescription drugs, illicit drugs or alcohol. We don’t do enough to prevent and treat all kinds of addiction.”

There was gambling in Oklahoma before Brad Henry became Governor.  But, due to his efforts to expand gambling in our state, by the end of his second term there were countless lives on a path to destruction that might not have been, had it not been for Brad Henry. 

Well done, Governor.  Your legacy will have lasting effect on many lives.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Huntsman Ends Campaign for President

Well, not really, but he might as well.  You might not have even known that former Utah Governor and Obama-appointed Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman is running for the Republican nomination for President.  I'm not convinced he's serious about it and statements like he made last week lead me to believe he just has nothing better to do right now.

Last Thursday he sent a tweet, saying "To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy."

Governor, you're crazy. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

Republicans Concerned About Perry's Appeal To Independents

Congressional Republicans are expressing concern that Rick Perry won't appeal to independent voters, largely because of comments Perry has made about President Obama and Ben Bernanke.

“You can’t be calling Bernanke a traitor and you can’t be questioning whether or not Barack Obama loves America, that type of thing,” Rep. Peter King (R-NY), told POLITICO.

“Intimating the Federal Reserve Chairman is guilty of treason is not going to create more confidence in voters about you,” said Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH). “I would suspect Gov. Perry regrets that statement.”

It's a bit early to be worried about Perry's appeal to independent voters.  Perry may have a problem just getting the Republican nomination, due to concern from conservative Republicans over his record on immigration and the Gardasil executive order.

Republicans ready to crown Perry as their nominee should hold off on the coronation. 

Teacher Suspended For Facebook Gay Marriage Comment

A Florida high school has suspended it's 2010 Teacher of the Year over a comment about gay marriage that he made on his Facebook page.

Jerry Buell, social studies teacher, wrote on his personal Facebook page that same-sex marriage is a sin, that he almost threw up over news about the legalization of gay marriage in New York and that gay marriages were part of a "cesspool."

School officials are 'investigating' to determine whether Buell broke the school district's code of conduct policy.

WESH in Orlando has more, including the video story from their newscast:  http://www.wesh.com/r/28899497/detail.html

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fallin: Perry Would Be Good for Oklahoma, But...

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin said yesterday that Texas Governor Rick Perry would be a strong advocate for issues important to Oklahoma, including oil and gas development.  However, she stopped short of endorsing him for President, saying "I'm not going to make a commitment right now."

This did not surprise me, since I recall an endorsement Fallin received last summer while running for Governor.  No doubt, she is waiting to return the favor.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

United States Funds Pay Jailed Palestinian Murderers

Israel National News is reporting that jailed Palestinian Authority terrorists in Israel are receiving monthly salaries from the PA, which receives half of their funding from the United States.  Last year the United States provided almost $600 million to the PA.  European nations provide the other half of their funding.

Jailed prisoners receive from 1,400 to 12,000 shekels per month, which is about $400 to $3,400 per month. Prisoners receive more per month for serving longer sentences, with those serving 20 to 30 years receiving the most.  These would be the people who planned and took part in the intentional murder of civilians.

Some of the PA terror victims are American citizens, meaning that US taxpayers are funding the monthly salaries of the very people who murdered fellow Americans.  The PA spends more than $5 million per month in salaries for 5,500 terrorists imprisoned in Israel.
 
Palestinian Media Watch has reported that the payment of salaries to jailed terrorists became legal under a new PA law, but that the practice of paying prisoners has been occurring since 1994.  The new law includes:
  • A monthly salary "to provide for the needs of prisoners within Israeli prisons"
  • Additional benefits for released prisoners
  • Additional benefits for prisoners' families
  • Funding "for the prisoners' legal needs"
Palestinian Media Watch also reports that openly paying jailed terrorists would violate 2010 US funding legislation that provides rules for supplying funds to Gaza and the West Bank.  The rules state that the secretary of state “shall take all appropriate steps to ensure that such assistance is not provided to or through any individual, private or government entity, or educational institution that the secretary knows or has reason to believe advocates, plans, sponsors, engages in, or has engaged in, terrorist activity.”

Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik of Palestinian Media Watch also said, "Paying salaries to imprisoned terrorists is just one example of how the PA uses its budget to support and glorify violence, thereby violating the intentions of its donors.  As long as the donor countries continue to support the PA budget - ignoring what the budget as a whole is funding - they are directly responsible for the continuation of PA hate incitement and terror glorification."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Notes From Rep. James Lankford Community Forum


Rep. James Lankford, Oklahoma's 5th District Representative held a community forum yesterday evening at the Eastern Oklahoma County Vo-Tech with around 60 people in attendance.  Rep. Lankford took a few minutes to go over some basic budget facts and figures, then spent the bulk of the 90 minute forum answering questions from attendees. 

The items discussed and asked about the most were the national debt, the deficit and the Bush tax cuts.  There were three obvious liberals who attended and hammered Lankford hard on the Bush tax cuts.  One man was extremely agitated and, after his own question was asked and answered, he continually interrupted Rep. Lankford while he was answering other questions and kept coming back to the same theme of taxing the rich; making sure they pay their 'fair share'.  Eventually, others in the audience were getting visibly frustrated with this man and one woman finally let loose on him, saying "Why don't you stop trying to bully your way into other people's time.  You had your question answered and you need to be quiet so my question can be answered."  I heard light applause and a few people saying "yes!"  The man remained silent after that.

Since the bulk of the questions dealt with the debt and deficit, Rep. Lankford had the opportunity to reiterate some points more than once.
  • Tax increases do not create jobs.
  • A balanced budget amendment is the only way this problem is ever going to be solved.
  • The Senate might as well not even be there since they never do anything.
  • The national debt situation is worse than most people realize.
Rep. Lankford was in good humor, an excellent speaker and seemed very well versed on the fiscal status of the nation and our fiscal history, referring specifically to past budget events when making points.  For being in Congress not even a year, he was most impressive.  His humor was particularly welcomed when explaining to one of the liberals why tax increases were not a good idea, saying "Yes, Congress has done such an outstanding job with your money, so please give us more."

Rep. Lankford related several stories from his time thus far in Congress; two of which I will note here.  He was chairing a committee meeting on small business and was hearing testimony from four business owners.  The business owners were relating how they wanted to grow their businesses by providing goods and services.  Rep. Dennis Kucinich was on the committee and stated to the business owners that he felt government helped create jobs by adding regulations so that businesses would have to hire compliance officers to ensure the business complied with all the government regulations.  Rep. Lankford said he then asked all the business owners would they rather have compliance officers or would they prefer to grow through providing goods and services.  Of course, they all said goods and services. 

The other story sounded very frustrating for Rep. Lankford and I have no doubt is a common occurrence in Congress.  He briefly described the massive amount of redundancy in the federal government and that he had filed an amendment to eliminate the Council On Environmental Quality.  The CEQ, he said, is a small office with a budget of $2.7 million that was created in 1969.  Their chief function is environmental reporting, which is now done by the Environmental Protection Agency, making the CEQ's work redundant.  The amendment was defeated, receiving 'no' votes from many Republicans as well as Democrats. 

Rep. Lankford said he went to some of his Republican colleagues and asked why they did not support his amendment.  He said some told him that, yes, the CEQ is redundant, but they couldn't risk voting no and being seen in their district as anti-environment. 

I have read today of other Representatives (Paul Ryan, Ben Quayle, Chip Cravaack) who are charging people from $10 to $35 to attend events and be able to ask them a question.  This is deplorable.  Rep. Lankford is holding several public forums, all free of charge, and gives everyone fair opportunity to ask questions or, if you're a liberal, to take a crack at him.  Representatives should give their constituents free access to them.  They are there to serve us; not the other way around.  Rep. Lankford made it clear he shares that attitude.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lavish Welfare State...An Abject Failure

Peter Hitchens of the U.K.'s Mail Online has the quote of the week in his article which slams the Prime Minister for having "no idea what to do" about the riots:

"Water cannon and plastic bullets indeed.  What an utter admission of failure, that after 50 years of the most lavish welfare state in the solar system, you cannot govern your country without soaking the citizenry in cold water and bombarding them with missiles from a safe distance.  Except, of course, that it is because of the welfare system that this is so."

Ahhh, what liberalism hath wrought.  Watch and learn, America.

Mexican President Thanks Rick Perry

This is video from November 6, 2003 of then Mexican President Vicente Fox thanking Governor Rick Perry for making in-state tuition available to 'migrants' in Texas; something American citizens from other states weren't even allowed to have.  Way to be strong on illegal immigration, Governor.

Pawlenty Drops Out

Tim Pawlenty is dropping out of the presidential race after a "disappointing" third place finish in the Iowa straw poll. 

Read more at Fox News:  http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/08/14/pawlenty-to-drop-gop-presidential-bid/

New Domain Name

I finally got around to getting my own domain, which is now www.charlesmphipps.com.

If you've been linking to my old blog site, okpolitechs.blogspot.com, please update your links.  Thanks for your support!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Catholic Church Sues State of Alabama Over Immigration Law

The Catholic Church and the Department of Justice have both filed lawsuits against the state of Alabama's new immigration law, scheduled to take effect September 1st.  The law "requires law enforcement officers to attempt to determine the immigration status of a person who they suspect is an unauthorized alien of this country," said Alabama Republicans.  It also makes it illegal to transport, conceal, harbor or house unauthorized aliens.  Additionally, school districts are now required to check the immigration status of new enrollees.

The DOJ's lawsuit claims the law intrudes on the federal government's immigration policies and responsibilities.  I haven't seen the lawsuit but I'm sure it makes no mention of the feds lack of enforcement of those policies and responsibilities.

The Catholic Church claims the law criminalizes the Church's mission and interferes with the right to the free exercise of religion.  Archbishop Thomas Rodi of Mobile, AL said, "No law is just which prevents the proclamation of the Gospel message, the baptizing of believers, or love shown to a neighbor in need."

Rodi further said, "This new Alabama law makes it illegal for a Catholic priest to baptize, hear the confession of, celebrate the anointing of the sick with, or preach the word of God to, an undocumented immigrant.  Nor can we encourage them to attend Mass or give them a ride to Mass. It is illegal to allow them to attend adult scripture study groups, or attend CCD or Sunday school classes.  It is illegal for the clergy to counsel them in times of difficulty or in preparation for marriage. It is illegal for them to come to Alcoholic Anonymous meetings or other recovery groups at our churches.”

Are there no Catholic churches where the illegal immigrants come from?  Do they have to enter the United States illegally before they have access to a priest?  Rubbish.

Rodi needs to read the first five verses of the 13th chapter of Romans, where Paul reminds Christians that they are to obey worldly authority:

"Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience."

Mexico and fifteen other Central and South American countries have all filed briefs against the Alabama law.  Mexico said it wants to ensure its citizens are treated fairly while in the United States.

"Mexico has an interest in protecting its citizens and ensuring that their ethnicity is not used as basis for state-sanctioned acts of bias and discrimination," the brief says.

As Katie Pavlich at Townhall.com points out, "If Mexico, and the 15 other countries suing Alabama were really concerned about their citizens being treated fairly, government officials in those countries would take steps to improve their citizens' situation at home so they don't have to come to America for economic opportunity."

Waiting Patiently...



Update 8/13/11 - Sarah Palin said to the press at the Iowa State Fair yesterday, "When we're ready to announce, you won't be able to miss the announcement."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

California Attacks Electoral College

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation that allows California to join seven other states in awarding all the state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes nationwide in a general election.  Currently, all 55 of California's electoral votes are awarded to the ticket that receives the most votes in the state. 

The change will occur only if it is adopted by states with a majority of the electoral votes in the country.  The other seven states who have already enacted the change are, with their number of electoral votes:  Vermont (3), Massachusetts (11), New Jersey (14), Maryland (10), Illinois (20), Washington (12), Hawaii (4) and the District of Columbia (3), for a total of 132 of the 270 needed electoral votes before the measure will take effect.  Proponents of this multi-state compact are hoping to have enough states adopt the measure in time to have it effective for the 2016 election.

Governor Brown said the action was aimed at giving California more influence in presidential elections.  Having more electoral votes than any other state was apparently not enough influence.  Assemblyman Jerry Hill, who sponsored the bill, said, "For too long, presidential candidates have ignored California and our issues while pandering exclusively to the battleground states."

This is another step in the drive to eliminate the Electoral College and transition to a national popular vote election.  The election of 2000, in which George W. Bush defeated Al Gore with electoral votes, but lost the national popular vote, intensified the movement in this direction.  A multi-state compact that awards electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote is an end run around the requirement for a constitutional amendment to change the Constitution and remove the Electoral College system.  Congress has rejected hundreds of constitutional amendments that would have changed or eliminated the Electoral College. 

The national popular vote is a misguided movement that ignores the original intent of the Founders when they drafted the Constitution.  The federal coalition of the United States was designed with the intent that the states, not the direct vote of the people, would select the President.  In Federalist Paper 39, James Madison wrote that "the immediate election of the President is to be made by the States in their political characters."  The United States was created as a republic; not a democracy. 

Should enough states adopt this popular vote system to make it effective, I would sincerely hope there would be a constitutional challenge.  Article 1, Section 10 of the Constitution prohibits states from entering "into any Agreement or Compact with another State" without the consent of Congress.  Jefferson's principles of federalism have maintained this country more than two centuries.  To ignore and undo the republican ideals in favor of direct democracy would have detrimental consequences for the future of our nation.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

McCain to Constituents: "I'm Not Sorry"

Senator John McCain was back home in Arizona during the Senate recess and was at a town meeting in Gilbert, AZ.  When asked for an apology for calling Tea Partiers "hobbits", he replied "I said that if anyone misunderstood what was printed in the media, I'm sorry, it was misunderstood, but I'm not sorry for what I said."

Monday, August 8, 2011

Drug Testing Welfare Applicants

State Rep. Guy Liebmann (R-OKC) announced last Friday that he will introduce a bill in the next legislative session requiring all welfare recipients to take a drug test.  Liebmann said his bill would be based on recently passed similar legislation in Florida.  Drug testing would be mandatory and applicants who test positive for controlled substances would be disqualified from the program for one year, unless they choose to seek treatment.

David Blatt at OKPolicy.org has written about a previous legislative attempt at mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients and called it an "unnecessary, expensive and counterproductive proposal."

The American Civil Liberties Union is currently contemplating a lawsuit against the state of Florida, calling the state's action "patriarchal, racist and mean-spirited" and a violation of Constitutional rights.  Were Oklahoma to pass a bill based on Florida's, a lawsuit would likely follow.

In spite of the fact that the 1996 Welfare Reform Act authorizes states to impose mandatory drug testing for welfare applicants, there is precedent to support the ACLU's position.  A 1999 Michigan law requiring welfare recipients submit to drug testing was declared unconstitutional in 2000 by a United States District Court.  That ruling was upheld in 2003 by a Federal Appellate Court, who said the law did not fit "the closely guarded category of constitutionally permissible suspicious testing".

Aside from the cost of implementing a drug testing program, the legislature should take into consideration the potential cost for a lawsuit.  When the State of Utah was considering such a law the estimated cost for defending a lawsuit was over $1,000,000.  With the current budget shortfalls, Oklahoma simply cannot afford it.

Liebmann forgets to mention that Oklahoma already uses a "screen-and-refer" method of detection for drug abuse.  The Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory has an accuracy rate of between 89-97 percent, can distinguish between drug users and abusers, and can detect alcohol abuse.  The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has reported in the last decade that a questionnaire they administered identified 94 out of 100 drug abusers.

With a successful program to detect drug abuse already in place and the potential for a massive costs associated with drug testing legislation, Oklahoma does not need this bill.  Preventing drug users from receiving welfare funds would be ideal, but not everything is possible either constitutionally or fiscally.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Iranian Court Annuls Death Sentence for Christian

So many people in the United States take freedom of religion for granted.  Reading about this Christian in Iran, persecuted for his beliefs, is chilling.  I hope all Christians who learn of his situation will pray for him and his family.

The Iranian supreme court has annulled the death sentence for Yousef Nadarkhani, a 35 year old Christian who has been in custody almost two years and was given a death sentence for converting to Christianity from Islam.

Nadarkhani was arrested after he protested a government policy requiring children, including his two sons, to study the Quran in school.  Nadarkhani told school officials that the Iranian constitution allows for freedom of religious practice.  After his protest, secret police called him before a political tribunal and arrested him.  He was charged with apostasy and evangelism of Muslims and was sentenced to death by hanging.

The supreme court sent the case back to the lower court after the annulment, asking Nadarkhani to repent.  It is unknown if the death sentence will be reinstated if he does not.

Nadarkhani's attorney, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, has also been sentenced to nine years in prison and banned from practicing law for ten years because of his "actions and propaganda against the Islamic regime."  Dadkhah was also criticized for giving interviews to foreign radio stations.

Read more at the Iranian Christian News Agency:  http://mohabatnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2286:iran-annuls-death-term-for-yousef-nadarkhani&catid=36:iranian-christians&Itemid=279

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Conservatives: Political Undertakers?

From "Origins of the Fourth World War" by J.R. Nyquist, 1999, Black Forest Press

"And what have our cherishers of old bones not done to breathe life back into various dead bits and pieces?  What of our so-called conservatives who dawdle as political Frankensteins, each with his own grave robber's collection of impolite body parts, trying to sew up a complete corpse?  Can they actually bring anything back to life? 
No, of course not.  For there is not any wholeness or any wholesomeness in what they have assembled; no functioning organ of nutrition, no unity of style, no agreement on method of purpose; no organic cohesion except as necessitated by common enemies; namely, by communists and nihilists.  It turns out that the enemies of conservatism are the glue that holds the conservatives together - which is ominous.
To elaborate further - Modern conservatism is an anarchy of ideas and poses stemming from our nostalgia for what is gone.  The conservative, superficially, is a worshipper of old ruts.  But underneath he is modern, he is liberal; employing liberal means which are but homage to the liberal end.  Our conservatives no longer have anything to conserve.  Conservatism, therefore, as it fails to regenerate dead tissue, has become the work of political undertakers whose job it is to make the corpse appear better than it did in life.  But despite all this cosmetology, the corpse grows riper and riper.  We hear the cries for more and more perfume: drug czars, education reforms, commissions on corruption, pornography and crime.  In the final analysis, the valiant campaign against decomposition becomes increasingly shrill as the body politic continues to deteriorate."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Top 25 Things You Have to Believe to Be a Democrat Today

This appears to have been written while Bill Clinton was President, but all are still correct.  I located this list on an old computer and it was not sourced.  If you know the original author or source, please let me know so I can give the proper credit.
  1. Drug addiction is a disease that should be treated with compassion and understanding...unless the addict is a Conservative radio host.
  2. The United States should be subservient to the United Nations. Our highest authority is not God and the U.S. Constitution, but a collective of tin pot dictators (and their appeasers) and the U.N. charter.
  3. Government should relax drug laws regardless of the abuse potential, but should pass new anti-gun laws every time a gun is misused by a criminal.
  4. Calls for increased security after a terrorist attack are "political opportunism," but calls for more gun control after a criminal's spree killing is "a logical solution."
  5. "It Takes a Village" means everything you want it to mean...except creeping socialist government involvement in the nuclear family.
  6. Disarming innocent, law-abiding citizens helps protect them from evil, lawless terrorists.
  7. Slowly killing an unborn innocent by tearing it apart limb from limb is good. Slowly killing an innocent disabled woman by starving her to death is good. Quickly killing terrorists and convicted murderers & rapists is BAD.
  8. Every religion should be respected and promoted in public schools the name of diversity, so long as those religions don't include Christianity.
  9. The best way to support our troops is to criticize their every move. This will let them know they're thought of often.
  10. Sexual harassment, groping and drug use are degenerate if you're the governor of California, but it's okay if you're the President of the United States.
  11. Sex education should be required so that teens can make informed choices about sex, but gun education should be banned because it will turn those same teens into maniacal mass-murderers.
  12. Minorities are blameless for the hatred of the racist, but America is entirely at fault for the Jihadist's hatred.
  13. Poverty is the cause of all terrorism...which is why the leaders of al Qaeda are almost entirely U.S.-educated and were raised in wealth and luxury.
  14. The Patriot Act is a horrific compromise of Constitutional rights, but anti-Second Amendment laws and Franklin Roosevelt's Presidential Order 9066 must be regarded "necessary evils."
  15. We should unquestioningly honor the wishes of our age-old allies, even when said allies no longer act like our allies and have vested economic interests in propping up our enemies.
  16. Socialized medicine is the ideal. Never mind all those people who spend every dime they have to get to the United States so they can get quality medical care...that their nation's socialized medical community can't provide.
  17. Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky and Natalie Maines are perfectly qualified to criticize our leadership, but Arnold Schwarzenegger, Charlton Heston, and Dennis Miller are just ignorant political hacks.
  18. John Lott's research on how gun ownership reduces crime is junk science, but Michael Bellesiles is still an authority on why gun control is good (even though he was forced to resign from Emory due to research misconduct over his book "Arming America").
  19. Bush's toppling the Saddam regime was a "diversion," but Clinton's lobbing a couple of cruise missiles at Iraq in the thick of the Lewinsky sex scandal was "sending a message."
  20. A president who lies under oath is okay, but a president who references sixteen words from an allies' intelligence report should be dragged through the streets naked.
  21. Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning Second Amendment rights and shopping the courts for judges sympathetic to causes that wouldn't pass in any legislature.
  22. "The People" in the First Amendment means The People; "the People" in the Fourth Amendment means The People; "the People" in the Ninth Amendment means The People; but "the People" in the Second Amendment (ratified in 1791) means the National Guard (created by an Act of Congress in 1903).
  23. You support a woman's "right to choose" to terminate a pregnancy, but don't believe that same woman is competent enough to home school the children she bears.
  24. Proven draft-dodging is irrelevant, but baseless claims of AWOL status is crucial to national security.
  25. Threatening to boycotting Dr. Laura's and Rush Limbaugh's advertisers is exercising Freedom of Speech, but threatening to boycott CBS's "The Reagans" and Liberal actors is censorship and McCarthyist blacklisting.