Sorting through the Noise on SB96 and THE REAL PROBLEM

by Mark Moore

When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” – Thomas Sowell

I would ask you to keep the above quote in mind, my fellow citizens, and forgive me if some of the things I write today have too fine a point. I ask that you look past any discomfort my words may cause.  Judge me not according to any sting you might feel from what I say. My words are true and my motives in writing them are not to hurt you, but to help you.  If you must judge me, I ask that you do so on that basis.

First of all, Governor Asa Hutchinson’s plans set the stage for continued Medicaid expansion under Obamacare in Arkansas. I think what he wants is going to be something halfway between Romneycare and the Obamacare program which it inspired. He has not said this outright, but if you think this through, as we will together later on, then it is clear that he does. For those supporters of his who would protest that I should not put words in his mouth, I will keep it short:  He has only himself to blame. If the man does not want people speculating about what he wants then he should get off the fence and say what he wants in plain English.

So, the answer from our ruling class, after all of this, is more government. This even though the voters have made it crystal clear in multiple elections that they did not want into Obamacare to begin with, and they have voted to take us out of it ever since. This continues a long tradition of the Democrats expanding government, and Republicans elected to reduce it instead deciding they should expand it too, but more efficiently. There is your choice America, And you say we don’t really have self-government anymore.

When you look beneath the shell games, this Medicaid expansion simply borrows money from the next generation in order to subsidize health insurance for able-bodied adults.  Further, the program is not sustainable because the money to pay for it does not exist and never existed. When today’s politicians max out the credit capacity of your children the world will quit loaning us money and this and other unaffordable government will end (badly). The hospitals, the Obama administration, and others who are raking in the extra money love it.

If you think this is good public policy, you should support the Governor’s program, if you think its a bad idea you should oppose it.  The only thing I would fault you for is if you supported something (or were silent about something) that you were formerly actively against just because now the Governor wants it.

The administration and many legislators are going around telling people that Hutchinson’s plans will “end the private option.”   Much like when Bill Clinton said that he did not have “sexual relations” with Monica Lewinsky, they are not technically lying, you just have to listen to them really, really, closely.  The so-called “private” option was a specific set of temporary waivers applied to Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.  Those waivers are temporary and go away anyway at the end of 2016.  If nothing else replaces them, then as it stands we go to the standard Medicaid expansion without any special waivers.

When conservative grassroots objected that the “private” option was Medicaid expansion, certain Republican legislators swore up and down that it wasn’t.  Over time, it became obvious they were not being honest about that.  Now the Hutchinson plan comes along and says that we should get a study group together so that when the collection of temporary waivers known as the “private” option expire they can ask for a different set of waivers.  If the legislature accepts those waivers, Medicaid expansion stays, they just change the tweaks attached to it.

If that happens, everyone upset at the “private” option should still be upset.  That is because they were not upset at the tweaks to Medicaid expansion called the “private” option, they were upset at what was being tweaked- Medicaid expansion.  Keeping the same program with different tweaks does not address the underlying objection, but some legislators are using a verbal shell game to mislead their constituents about what is really going on.

But does the Hutchinson bill, SB96 run by his close relative Senator Jim Hendren, really aide the cause of Medicaid expansion, or does it provide a path to end Medicaid expansion?  There have been claims both ways.  What is the answer?  Like the Governor’s intent, it is opaque and difficult to sort out, but I believe the best answer is that the bill provides a possible way to end Medicaid expansion a few months before it would end anyway at the potential risk of providing it a pathway making it permanent (at least until it helps bankrupt us).

Sen. Hendren argues that his bill is the only way to repeal Medicaid expansion that can get enough votes to pass.   If you are not thinking it through, his claim sounds plausible, and it may well be that he himself believes it.   Consider that the legislature has three main factions on this issue now.  One is mostly the Democrats, who will agree to any Medicaid expansion that the Obama Administration will approve, including one without special waivers.   There are a lot more Republicans than Democrats in the legislature but they are split between a second group, those who take the position of most voters in this state (no to any sort of Obamacare Medicaid expansion) and a third group who feel that they are the first people in human history smart enough to make socialism work.  That last group consists of what is left of the group that supported the Private Option and others who think that while those waivers did not work out, maybe others will.  I believe the Governor to be in this category as well, and so a lot of legislators who were in the firm “no” category are going over to the “let’s grow government smarter” category.

So is Hendren right?  Is SB 96 the best way to end Medicaid expansion given the make up of the legislature? Here is the flaw in that thinking: His bill funds Medicaid expansion until the waivers required to pass it in the first place end anyway.  Hendren says that without the repeal in SB96 that once the waivers expire we will be stuck with standard Medicaid expansion with no tweaks (waivers).  I would answer “for how long though”?  Only until the next legislature sat down in January of 2017.   If the Governor’s office said “no waivers” then the Democrats would be isolated.   The group of Republicans who opposed this from the start, and the group who would only vote for Medicaid expansion if they got to tinker with it, would be against going on with the program.  The Republican party would be re-united, and in a way that pleases the majority of the voters.

The provision in Hendren’s bill to shut down Medicaid at the end of 2016 is little more than a fig leaf.  It gives those who really want to shut it down next to nothing, while the rest of his bill undermines them terribly.  A glance at the bill shows that supporters of the original “private” option will pick the lion’s share of the “Task Force” members who will give recommendations. A best case scenario for Hendren’s bill would be if it shut down the Medicaid expansion a couple of months earlier than would happen anyway without his bill.   The worst case scenario seems more likely- that it keeps factions one and three above working together and isolates those who are listening to the voters and want to end this thing now.

Further proof that Hutchinson wants some sort of Medicaid expansion and that those who support SB 96 are (wittingly or unwittingly) helping him, is the way they have blocked alternative bills that really did wind down Medicaid expansion.  I am talking about SB 144 by Linda Collins-Smith and a similar measure in the house sponsored by Donnie Copeland.   Those bills never got out of committee.

Senator Hendren says a bill that Private Option supporters can vote for is the only kind of bill that can pass. Even if that is true, if Senator Hendren really does want to shut down Medicaid as he claims, then he and the rest should do everything they can to get those bills re-filled and voted on by the full house and senate.  If he is wrong and one of those bills passes, Medicaid expansion is gone sooner, before it further distorts our medical infrastructure.  But even if he is right and the bills fail, having a vote will give the voters valuable information on who they need to target.  We can’t tell a thing about all those freshmen or potential flip-floppers by how they vote on SB 96, because as the Senator himself says, it is a bill that even those who want Medicaid to stay swollen can vote for.  We the People can get him the most help if there is a floor vote on those kinds of alternatives.

******

And now we get to the real point of the article.  The part you may not care for because it may require change of you, and not just them.  The aspect of this drama that is most shocking to many people watching is the speed and even ferocity with which many of the formerly most steadfast opponents of Medicaid expansion are lining up behind the Governor’s plan, even though that plan is, when properly analyzed as above, pro-Medicaid expansion.  Why are they flipping, or at the least, why are they so reluctant to see what the rest of us can see?

The answer is simple, the Governor is of their own party now.  It was bad when a Democrat was doing it, but now that it is a member of their own party doing it, well, as Upton Sinclair once noted “it is hard to get a man to see something when his salary depends on him not seeing it.”  There place in the party hierarchy, in being in “the club” depends upon them not seeing it. That explains why some legislators have been lashing out at people who point to the widening gap between how these legislators wish to see themselves and what they are actually doing.

The point is that when a legislator’s party holds the Governorship or the Presidency, the typical response of legislators is that they don’t really need constituents anymore- they work for the Executive branch. Thus it is that the People’s Branch, that entity most accessible to the citizens, becomes lost to them. This is how the unitary party system, where the same organization sends up candidates for all branches of government at all levels of government, undermines the formal system of checks and balances established by the Founders to protect the American people from their government.

The bottom line is that if you want your legislators to represent you instead of the Governor, you are going to have to quit electing them via the same political organization which elects the executive branch.   You will have to elect them as, for example, independents.   Until you do, the effect you see right now on this issue will keep happening over and over and over.  I am a part of Neighbors of Arkansas, a group which helps independent candidates who answer only to their constituents and not a party label run from DC. I ask you to consider signing up.

Arkansas Children Kidnapped From Family Home by Police

by Christine Keller

We received this distressing e-mail from a friend of ours this morning.  The writer (mother of 9 home schooled children) forwarded the e-mail she sent to her father.  She is obviously distraught.  We are shocked at the abuse of police power by the Garland County Sheriff’s Office.  It is unconcionable and barbaric, not to mention unconstitutional.

These are the men who kidnapped these children.  Shame on them.

Oh Dad, EmojiEmojiEmojiEmojiEmoji

I did not have the strength to call after all that happened today.  I still haven’t been able to fall asleep and I don’t have much hope that I will.  The DHS has come and stolen our kids from us under the guise of “protecting our children.”  For the first time since I gave birth to Madelyn I am away from all my bambinos.  Only Hal and I are here alone in this wide house tonight.

The details are so many and I know you’ll want to know them all.  I will try to give a short account in this email and then fill you in more over the phone tomorrow.

Last month the DHS sent someone out to investigate a call made on their hot line (by an anonymous caller.)  The lady who called let us know that she was somewhat embarrassed at how silly the charge was against  us but that it was her job to investigate it anyway.  We welcomed her into our home and she immediately knew that the charges were frivolous.  The charges were that our kids were always running around barefoot, “even in the snow” and that they were inadequately dressed.  Also that Hal had struck Christina on the face.  We showed her some of the “200 and something” pair of shoes and told her (actually the kids told her) how it was their preference to go barefoot and that it was like a tradition to briefly run out in the snow barefoot and take a picture of the footprints.  We assured her that when they played in the snow they all liked to wear multiple layers of clothing and bags over their feet to keep their shoes from getting wet and that they wore plastic gloves over their winter gloves to keep them from getting wet and cold too.  Everyone in the family knew Hal had never hit Christina so they all eagerly told her that wasn’t true.  She wrote her report and a couple of days ago we got it in the mail and it said that the charge was not valid or false (I don’t remember the exact wording but the report was that the charge was not true.

Then today (Monday Jan, 12th) we had plans for company to eat supper with us in the evening and we got a call in the morning from the DHS saying they got another phone call and that they had to come out just to ask us some questions again.  We planned it for the morning at 11:00 so it wouldn’t interfere with our evening plans.  Then he called back and said he had been called into a meeting with his supervisor and that he would probably be later.  Well, he never called back and never came.  Then around 4:30 several people showed up at our door, all obviously here for the investigation and we welcomed them in.  However they desired us to step outside in order to speak privately with Hal and I and not in front of the kids.  I tried to tell them it was much warmer inside and that it was nothing for the kids to go to the back of the house for us to have privacy talking.  They refused and insisted on us stepping outside.

It was freezing cold and neither Hal or I had on coats.  After stepping outside they issued us a search warrant and said we could not enter our house or talk to our kids until the search and the investigation was through.  You can only imagine how hard it was to play it cool and not blow up at the injustice that started to unfold.  We could not go get a coat, we could not call a lawyer, we could not retrieve anything inside like a phone or a camera to record anything or call anyone.  They offered to let us sit in one of the 12 vehicles that ended up being in our driveway to keep warm.  I blatantly refused saying I was not going to sit somewhere I couldn’t have a view of my children and what all was going on so I sat on a chair on the porch facing our front window and driveway, freezing cold.  It was almost 30 minutes later before they retrieved our coats for us to put on.

They said the charge was that we had a poisonous substance in our house and that the kids were being exposed to it and it endangered their welfare.  The substance named in the report was MMS and we would have gladly given it to them without a search warrant because we knew nothing of the dangers of it from all our research.  It is sold on line as a water purifier and we are “preppers” so there is nothing unusual about us having it in our house.  Never has it been used it in any way to “poison our kids or even expose them in such a way as to endanger their lives.  Nor did we feel we were endangering them to have it in our house.  They said they still had to have all the kids checked out by a doctor and be tested for MMS exposure.  Of the 12 emergency, state, county, federal, etc. vehicles, one was and ambulance and there happened to be a doctor on board that could check them out with out having to take them to the hospital.

Each of the kids had to be interviewed and our house was thoroughly searched everywhere for over 2 hours!  Such invasion of privacy.  Meanwhile everyone we talked to at this point tried to be nice and answer our questions as best they could.  We asked who made the charge and if anyone could just make any accusation and they have to act on the call regardless of it’s validity.  They said it could be a hateful neighbor, a prank caller, someone with malicious intent and they still would have to act on the call.   The call was anonymous and therefore the caller was protected while all our rights were taken away.

I questioned what the possibility of our kids being taken away were if they deemed the charge true, knowing that they would find the MMS which was not hidden since we didn’t know of any danger it presented.  They talked like the investigation would be drawn out over a 45 day period of time and that it would just involve the kids going to the Little Rock hospital for the test to be done (hair follicle test, blood work etc.) and that there would be interviews and visits etc.   We of course expressed all our concerns as to what this would do to the kids since they’ve never been to the doctor for sickness or health issues and they’ve never been away from us in that type of setting.  I insisted if we had to tolerate such an order that I or we as their parents at least be present with them while the procedures were done.

All our neighbors that passed by stopped and tried to find out what in the world was going on and they were all sent away with no explanation.  Our dinner guest who when they arrived tried to approach us on the porch did not get far onto our property before she was approach forcefully with a “in your face” insistence that they leave.  I yelled to her to take pictures of all the vehicles with her phone since we were not allowed to do anything to protect our own innocence at what they were doing to us.

It was about 2 hours before we were let back into our house and yet we still could not have any concerned neighbors come in and be witnesses on our side.  They were back and forth all over our house, inside and outside, on the phone and talking to us.  There was over 13 (I couldn’t keep track how many) different authorities here.  Our phone rang like crazy and no one was allowed to answer it.  Finally one neighbor was able to come in and our phone became ours again.  During the times they weren’t talking to us I made calls to the guest we were expecting and then some of our neighbors called to see what was going on.  I couldn’t tell them how it would end but that I’d call them back after they left and let them know what all happened.  Our guest still planned to come after they left (they were just driving around waiting for them to leave and the whole time they were here (which ended up being around 5 hours) they kept saying “just a few more minutes” or “I’m just waiting for one more phone call”

There was never any hint that they would take our kids from us.  They waited till 15 minutes before it was all over to come in from outside, 6 to 10 intimidating brute looking males and 1 Chief investigator female from the State Police, all lined up in our den to tell us they would be taking our kids into their custody for 72 hours.  All my niceties left me.  I flipped out and told them that what they were going to do to our kids was way worse than what they were accusing us of.  They were totally unjust and didn’t love our kids like we do….. on and on crying at my helplessness to protect my kids from total strangers who where going to take them away from us under the guise of “protecting” them.  All the little kids were upset and Hal and I and the girls were all crying and in shock.

They started packing stuff for our kids to have clothes and things while they were gone and my head was spinning in a nightmarish state.  They tried to calm me down and I said I had every right to be upset with them because they were taking my babies from me.  When I did calm down for the kids sake and try to comfort them they ripped them away from us saying that we had already taken too much time and that they had to go.  I grabbed my camera and started following them to take pictures.  The pictures did not come out very good because my mind couldn’t function on how to operate the camera in such a frenzied state.  It was on glitter mode which makes all the bright lit stuff sparkle.  I’m very disappointed I didn’t get any pictures of all the people and vehicles that were there while it was still day light.

I still can’t believe they are gone.  I have no idea what will happen tomorrow or what comes next.  The only thing we can come up with, which we can’t prove, is that Victoria and Jonathan (who they kept in the back of a SUV the entire time they were here) must have said something that gave them the grounds to act as they did.  They are teenagers and are very discontent with life in general right now, as are most teenagers when they arrive at that age where the parents know nothing and the kid is always right (so to say.)  I don’t blame them for being teenagers but I wouldn’t put it pass the adults that were talking to them to draw and take advantage of their frame of mind.  It’s obvious they came with an intent and they just needed some grounds to get the kids in their ballpark so they can do what ever they want with them.  Gloria was telling Hal that they would all be getting shots.  I have no idea what all they told them or what our kids said but I know the little kids will suffer the hardest from all this.  And nothing will ever be the same from this day forward.  How can it be?

I love you dad.  I know all this is upsetting you.  I know because you’re my dad and you love me with all your heart.  You can imagine my love for my kids right now and what we have to be feeling for them right now while they are in some strangers house being treated like royalty in order to calm their poor little scared and confused hearts down.  They’ve never slept away from us.  We recently let Victoria sleep at a friends house for the first time (New Year’s Eve) but she and Jonathan aren’t who I’m worried about.  If their actions brought this about (even in a innocent way) it is so not fair for what it cost the whole family to go through.  And this will be just the beginning of it I’m sure.

You are welcome to call tomorrow (today) I plan on calling you but I don’t know what will take place tomorrow, with all our concerned neighbors, DHS, court hearing (which they said they’ll try to do in next 24 hours?) so feel free to call if I haven’t called by the afternoon.  (We now know [on 1-14-15] that we will not get to go to court till at least next Tuesday and because of the Hair Folical test they will have to get, the results take two to three weeks to come back so it will be at least this long before they let them go but they also say it could be 30 to 90 days.  They are in DHS child shelters somewhere in Loenoke County.)

Below are the few pictures I managed to take.  I won’t say the usual “hope you enjoy the pictures” bit.  They are pictures of our worst nightmare come true.
Love,
Michelle

Fayetteville First City to Reject Gay Agenda Ordinance

by Mark Moore

A national campaign by the so-called “Human Rights Campaign” to pass city ordinances that would enact punitive measures on businesses which did not submit to the homosexual/transgender agenda met its first defeat in Fayetteville last night. The measure, largely the brain-child of “Human Rights Campaign” founder and accused child rapist Terry Bean, called for a city commission to assess daily fines on local businesses which failed to accommodate homosexuals and transgendered persons to the degree an appointed commission felt they should.

In other cities, this has included forcing business owners to permit patrons to use whatever restroom they felt they identified with that day rather than their actual sex.  Opponents pointed to several reports of predatory males using the cover of the ordinance to gain access to women’s restrooms in order to victimize women.   It was the battle over the same type of ordinance which led the lesbian Mayor of Houston Texas to attempt to subpoena the sermons of five area churches.

The Human Rights Campaign had targeted 200 cities. mostly with large universities like Fayetteville, where they set a goal of seeing the ordinance enacted.   Though the ordinance remains controversial in many cities they were more than halfway towards accomplishing that goal without a single defeat, until now.   In Fayetteville’s case, they persuaded the City Council to vote it in over the protests of those who felt it should go to the ballot.   A provision in the city charter allowed citizens to place a repeal of any ordinance on the ballot if they got the required signatures.   Opponents did so, and the special election was held last night.  Despite an all-out effort of the city council, and the far better organization of the pro-ordinance side, the ordinance was repealed by a 52% to 48% vote.  This makes Fayetteville Arkansas the first such city to reject the proposal.

Not only was this noteworthy because it represents the first time in the nation citizens have successfully pushed back against this aggressive effort to use state force to demand compliance, but several other noteworthy things occurred.

One was that this was the first time I have ever seen a side down so much in early voting come back and win.   Early voting was heavy for the type of election it was, and the pro-ordinance side (due to their superior organization) had a twelve point lead.   They went from being up by twelve in early voting to losing by four overall.   I have never seen that happen.   The overall results are virtually always within three points of the early voting.

The second notable from this event is what led to the first:  Churches were actually being churches.  Local churches stepped up and told their congregations about the special election and urged them to go to the polls and vote to repeal the measure.  Readers of this space will know that I am not a fan of churches being captured by politicians or political parties, but speaking the truth on issues is one thing they ought to be doing.   That is why the pro-ordinance side won early voting, but lost big on election day.  Most voters for the pro-freedom side did not even know there was an election until Sunday.

The third notable was that the Republican Party did not accomplish this repeal, it was local citizens reverting to the novel concept of self-government.   The local Republican Party had no role, they basically sat this one out, though some of the best workers in the repeal effort were also members of a Republican Women’s group.  I stopped by the victory party and saw all kinds of people there, Republicans, Democrats, and Awake.

The last notable is the decption.  The proponents of this measure were all about the homosexual agenda, but they masked what they were doing as a campaign for “equality” and “civil rights”.   They tried to hide in a crowd of other groups, groups not based on behavior such as race, where there is still guilt and a stigma to racism.  I have to believe that many people who voted for this ordinance to stay in place did not really understand what they were voting for.  They just heard the right buzzwords.

Judge Baker Squanders More Judicial Branch Credibility With Marriage Ruling

by Mark Moore

I see that Federal Judge Kristine Baker has struck down Arkansas’ amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.   She did so on the basis of the claim that  to”deny consenting adult same-sex couples their fundamental right to marry in violation of the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
Don’t think that I am an enemy of the judicial branch or contemptuous of the law. The truth is just the opposite. It is my love for our system of government, with checks and balances and high-minded concepts like Due Process, which makes me so incensed at their cheapening. We are headed for tough times in this nation. It will not be my doing, I am only foretelling. We are going to need a judicial branch that has credibility and moral authority to help hold our society together in the coming hard times. 

That is why I object so strongly to doctrinaire leftists squandering the credibility of the judiciary by making ill-informed decisions such as the one Judge Baker just imposed on the people of this state, though to her credit she stayed implementation of her ruling pending an appeal.
Before I explain why she (like most recent courts) are using a new, novel, and erroneous, definition of the terms “equal protection” and “due process”, let me point out something about the 14th amendment.   It is a mess. It turns most of the Bill of Rights on its head by putting the feds in charge of the states when the Bill of Rights were originally given to limit the federal government’s power over the states.  But even then the judges are not using it right, because they often simply ignore the last clause “The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”
So you see judges are not supposed to use this amendment to manufacture new and novel “rights” out of thin air on the basis of the 14th, because the amendment itself says that the Congress, not the courts, have the power to enforce the provisions of the article.   Congress has passed no law mandating state recognition of homosexual “marriages”.   If Congress has done anything to speak to the issue, it has done the reverse.  It has tried to say that for federal purposes marriage was the union of one man and one woman.  Yet perversely, the courts have thrown that law out too, on the basis of what they (judges) feel the 14th says despite the clear language of the article that any enforcement of the article must come from legislation passed by Congress.
But even if that provision did not exist, she would still be getting it wrong because she gets “Due Process” and “Equal Protection” wrong.  By “wrong” I mean she uses the new meanings of the term that judges have created for themselves to leverage their power and destroy self-government rather than the traditional definitions back when judicial restraint was more appreciated and practiced.
Let’s start with “Due Process”. In our system, everyone is entitled to it, but what is it? In the traditional view it means that agents of the government must act within the law when they enforce the law. For example, if they search your home without probable cause and without a warrant, they have violated your Due Process rights. The same goes if the arresting agents attempt to beat a confession out of you. If you are not allowed access to legal council when they try you, they have violated your Due Process rights. If they attempt to convict you of a felony without giving you the right to a trial by jury, they have violated your Due Process rights. 

In each of these cases, the point of Due Process is to make agents of the government follow their own laws when meting out justice. This view of Due Process is the traditional one, but radical activist judges have expanded judicial power by claiming that “Due Process” can be used to void the substance of laws, not simply validate the procedures used to enforce them. 

If I could give a more concrete example, suppose there was no law in Arkansas against driving while under the influence of alcohol. The people corrected this by passing such a law via ballot amendment. If the law said that police can arrest people and assign them 30 days in jail without bail and without seeing a judge, then this procedural aspect of the law would be a violation of Due Process. If throwing that provision out was all Baker did, that would be good, its how judges are supposed to protect us. But that is not what she has done. What she has done is the equivalent of saying that the people do not have a right to determine who can drive on public roads based on their behavior. It’s like claiming that people have a fundamental right to drive even if they drink up, shoot up, or snort up. It further claims that this “right” trumps the rights of any of the rest of us to try and protect ourselves and others by putting up legal barriers to behavior we have good reason to suspect will cause damage to innocents. 
The very term “Due Process” makes it clear that it is the procedures used by government agents that judges are authorized to rule on, not the substance of what the law determines is legal or illegal. 
Words mean things. “Equal” means something. It means “of the same value”. Two men having sex may be “equivalent” to a man and a woman having sex, but it is not “equal”. Two people shacking up together does not have the same social value as two people who have committed to one another before God and Man in marriage. Claiming that those two things are “equal”, that is, of equal value, devalues that choice which is really of greater value by pretending that it is not. Thus a logical case can be made that treating co-habitation as equal to marriage unjustly de-values marriage. Equal protection should not mean that all choices are equal, just that the law will protect even people who make disfavored choices or belong to disfavored groups.
Equal protection means just that, protection. It has nothing to do with what activities the law condemns. It has everything to do with the government protecting the victims of crimes by punishing those who victimized them. If crimes against blacks or gays were not investigated, or prosecuted, then they don’t have equal protection. They should, that is what Equal Protection is all about.

For that matter, even drug dealers and muggers should be protected by the law. If someone just decided to blow them away because “they were criminals anyway” the law would take offense. And it should take offense because even those whose behavior is in disfavor in one area still have the right to Equal Protection under the law. As applied to this case, it does not mean that the People don’t have the authority to decide what we want to honor and recognize as a valid marriage. 

So in summary, Due Process is not a blank check for activist judges to throw out the substance of laws passed by the People. Rather it means that agents of the government should follow their own laws in enforcing the law. Equal protection does not mean that the law must treat all choices, marriage, co-habitation, necrophilia, drug-use, etc…., as equal as regards to eligibility to adopt children. It simply means that that the law should protect disfavored groups equally, even while the People retain the right to make certain choices and activities illegal or legally disfavored.

How Arkansas Senate Republicans Can Avoid Enraging Their Base, Even With Dismang as Pro Tem

by Mark Moore

I am not sure that the Republican party is even interested in pleasing their base anymore.   Though professional excuse-makers try to spin it, there is now plenty of evidence to suggest they are merely the controlled opposition for one pro-government party which has two faces, even if not all of their officeholders are in on the deception.

The Arkansas Senate is a good example of the profound disrespect the Republican political class routinely displays for those who fought hardest to put them in office.   The message of not only the base, but the people of Arkansas generally, was that they rejected the Democrats and they rejected Obamacare. This includes the so-called “Private” option endorsed and funded by the majority of Republican Senators in 2012.

The “Private” option (which is not even really private, it just has private entities benefiting from a government program) is nothing other than the exact method by which the Republicans in Arkansas caved to the Democrats on Obamacare. Pro-“private” option Republicans were rejected by the voters in election after election.   In spite of this, the Republican State Senators are about to march down to Little Rock and vote for one of the architects of the Republican cave on Obamacare as the President Pro Tem of the Senate.

Johnathan Dismang was elected the designated President Pro Tem by the previous Republican Senate- one which had five more pro-“private” option Senators than the current Senate does after the voters did some house-cleaning.   Back then the choices were Dismang and Johnny Key, who was also for Obamacare.   The new crop of senators are mostly acting like they are somehow bound by the actions of the prior, more liberal, Senate in their choice of leader.  Conservative Senator Gary Stubblefield has tried to mount a challenge to this odd choice, but he can’t seem to get enough votes. Even some of the more conservative holdovers are acting like they vowed to back Dismang no matter what last year, instead of just selecting him in preference to the other choice at the time- someone who made even more bad calls than he did.

If Dismang had changed, these Senators might be able to argue that they could keep their word to the voters to oppose the “Private” option version of Obamacare even while voting him in as President Pro Tem, but there is little evidence to suggest he has and much to suggest that he has not.   This excellent piece by Conduit for Action explains some of the particulars on that, both in the House and the Senate.

So far I have just outlined the problem.  That is always the easy part.  Fortunately a solution is also available, should the Republicans have any interest whatsoever in pleasing their base, listening to the message the people as a whole just sent at the polls, or even simply keeping their oaths of office.   You see, Dismang is about to be elected to the office of “President Pro Tem” of the Senate.  The “tem” is Latin for “acting” or “temporary”.   This raises the question, who is supposed to be “President Pro Permanent“?

According to the Constitution of the Great State of Arkansas, the Lieutenant Governor is to be the President of the Senate.   When Arkansas was a one-party state and that party was the Democrats who tend to a herd mentality even more than the Republicans, that did not matter so much. It was all “good ole-boy” stuff so it did not matter how power was divided on paper.  Then Mike Huckabee got elected Lt. Governor and the Democrats changed the rules of the Senate so that the Lt. Governor was stripped of almost all of his power.  If Huckabee had been interested in hanging around as Lt. Governor he might have challenged them on it, but since he was angling on being Governor soon anyway there was no motive for him to press the question.

Other states, such as Texas, have very similar wording in their state constitutions as to the role of the Lt. Governor and in those states the office is very powerful, some would say the most powerful in the state except for Governor.  The difference is not in the wording of the Constitutions, it is that in Texas and other states they follow their state constitution on this question and in Arkansas we have not.   Then our chattering classes in the media make snide remarks about how “useless” the office is.  Well, yes I suppose any office would be “useless” if the legislature made an extra-constitutional move which had the effect of stripping away its most important function, but that does not mean the office is worthless, it means the legislature is derelict.

Our state apparently once thought it important that at least one chamber of the legislature be presided over by a person who answered to all of the people of the state, not just a single legislative district.  That is why we need a Lt.Governor.   We saw what happened in the House last year, when Davy Carter went crazy and tried to make the house vote on the exact same bill, day after day until they gave him the vote that he wanted.   I was disgusted by it, but he was not “my” legislator and did not answer to me.  At least one chamber of the legislature should be run by someone who answers to the whole state, and that is what the Lt. Governor is for.

It is interesting to note that some Senators have talked of sponsoring a bill that would ask people to vote to abolish the office of Lt. Governor.  And with Amendment three passing (using deceptive language that it would “establish” term limits when it was in fact greatly weakening them) Dismang could wind up as President Pro Tem not for one or two sessions, but for many years.  My position is that a man who wants that much power should have to answer to the whole state, not just one Senate district.

Look, I am not a Tim Griffin fan, to put it mildly.  People who read my stuff know that, but this is not about my personal preferences, this is about the Rule of Law.  The fact is he is Lt. Governor and the Constitution says that the Lt. Governor is the President of the Senate.   He ran on the idea that the Lt. Governor is President of the Senate.  He should be making all of the decisions that the “President Pro Tem” has been making in our recent history, including who chairs what committee.

All of those Senators who won’t back Stubblefield over Dismang because they  “gave their word” that they would vote Dismang for Pro Tem can still vote Dismang for Pro Tem, but if they want to also “keep their word” to the voters to oppose the “private” option and uphold their oath to the state Constitution then they should do two more things.  They should vote to repeal the rules the Senate put in after Huckabee was elected which stripped the Lt. Governor of power the state constitution says he should have and replace those rules with ones that comport with what the Constitution says.   Then they should call up Griffin and ask him to get to work.

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Arkansas Constitution, Amendment 6, section five…… “5. Qualifications and duties of Lieutenant Governor – Succession to the governorship.

The Lieutenant Governor shall possess the same qualifications of eligibility for the office as the
Governor. He shall be President of the Senate, but shall have only a casting vote therein in case
of a tie vote. ” (voting only in case of a tie is typcial of Chairman of any sort under Robert’s Rules of Order as they were at the time the amendement was passed)

State Senator Bryan Kings Explains Why the PO has Cornered Future Legislatures

by Mark Moore

State Senator Bryan King of Green Forest has twice made the Arkansas Watch list of Top Ten Legislators.  One reason is that he tells his constituents the truth, even when it paints members of his party in a negative light.  That is a refreshing change from the typical pattern where even the good ones feel obligated to cover for the bad ones.   Here Senator King calmly and rationally explains what a horrible position future legislatures have been placed in by the actions of his Obamacare-loving colleagues. …Here is his report…….

Expanding Obama care in Arkansas has put future state budgets in the red

For the past biennium the architects of the private option have been telling everyone that the health care plan is a good deal for Arkansas. The reality is that the private option implemented Obamacare in Arkansas and is threatening to put future state budgets in the red.

Many voters and legislators have given the benefit of the doubt to the architects of the private option, in large part because we haven’t yet had to pay for it.  Even people with the best of intentions may change their minds when the bills come due.

In the case of the private option, Arkansas doesn’t have to begin matching federal funding until Fiscal 2017. That presents a grim financial prospect for the freshmen class of legislators who will be elected in November. In January they will take their first oaths of office, and before they complete their legislative careers they will have to figure out how the state can possibly afford hundreds of millions of dollars in additional expenses brought on by the private option.

Based on the state’s economic performance over the past five years, it’s reasonable to assume that state government revenue will grow at a rate of 3.14 percent over the next five years. However, we should keep in mind that assumptions of a 3.14 percent growth rate are an optimistic “best case scenario.”

State revenue growth is slowed by a downturn in the economy, which could result from any number of possibilities – a crisis in the oil-producing regions of the Middle East or a sudden spike in inflation rates, for example.

But if we are willing to assume that nothing unexpected happens in the Middle East or on Wall Street, we are looking at growth in Fiscal Year 2020 of $184 million over the previous year. This year’s freshmen legislators will be the General Assembly’s veteran leaders in the regular session of 2019, when the budget for Fiscal 2020 must be approved. Their duty will be to distribute that $184 million in projected growth to the state agencies that provide vital services.

Traditionally, growth money is distributed to public schools from kindergarten through grade 12, to colleges and universities, to prisons, to health care services and to the many smaller agencies that make up state government. Each entity gets a percentage of the total revenue, which is their traditional “piece of the pie.”

Long-standing tradition may come to an end when budgets for Fiscal Year 2020 are written because the private option is on pace to eat up almost all of the projected growth in revenue. That means schools, colleges, universities and prisons will have to live on less.

Under the provisions of the Arkansas private option, as it’s now written, in Fiscal Year 2020 almost every penny of growth money will be obligated to paying for the private option. Why? Because in Fiscal 2020 the state will have to contribute 10 percent of the total costs of the health plan. Even though 10 percent may not sound like much it will amount to $181 million.

In other words the state Department of Human Services, which administers the private option, will get $181 million of the $184 million in total growth money available in Fiscal 2020. That leaves only $3 million for the entities that have traditionally received a share of each year’s growth – public schools, higher education, cities and counties, prisons, law enforcement and economic development.

Public schools will fare better than others because the Arkansas constitution mandates that the legislature provide for an adequate education. However, the constitution has no similar mandate for higher education, so state-supported colleges and universities are looking at stagnant budgets in Fiscal 2020 and beyond.

If our economy continues to perform as it has for the past five years, and if the private option remains in place, higher education can count on annual increases in their state aid of only 0.22 percent over the next five years. Colleges and universities will have to pay for any increase in operating costs by raising tuition and fees.

Budgets for prisons, drug courts and parole systems are projected to increase at a rate of 2.4 percent a year, again if we base assumptions on the performance of the past five years. The Human Services Department would grow almost twice as fast under this scenario. Its budget would increase by 4.7 percent, mainly because of the necessity of paying for the private option. Arkansas prison officials are pleading for revenue to build more facilities to house the steady and dramatic growth in the inmate population, but there will be no additional funds if the private option absorbs all growth.

If we experience an economic slowdown the private option will become an even greater burden on the public treasury. In that event, state government will have to slash budgets and cut services.

Everyone wants transparency and accountability in government, and everybody has different ideas about how to achieve them. One way is for policy makers to open their eyes and honestly face the issues. We have bought something and soon we will have to pay for it. The architects of the private option have an obligation to look at the numbers and consider the long-term fiscal security of colleges, universities, prisons and the numerous state agencies that stand to lose a share of their state revenue while Human Services receives an ever greater share.

Denial of reality is not constructive and it’s an unwise policy for governing. It’s like throwing your credit card bills in the trash instead of paying them, in the hopes they’ll go away.

Who to Vote for in Fayetteville City Council Races and Why

by Mark Moore

What is ominous is the ease with which some people go from saying that they don’t like something to saying that the government should forbid it. When you go down that road, don’t expect freedom to survive very long.

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The city council election in Fayetteville might be the most important election in the state this year.  This is not only because Fayetteville has been a great city, a jewel in the crown of our state, but also because the contrast between the candidates is so vast.  The political distance between even Tom Cotton and Mark Pryor is not so vast as the distance between the liberal-fascist slate of candidates and the “conservatarion” slate.

Fayetteville has had a leftist city council for years.  Most residents put up with it as long as they restricted their activities to pedestrian level incompetence and issuing toothless proclamations about how much better they are than the rest of the state.  The new breed of liberal is not so harmless because the new left does not look much like the old left- rather it looks a lot like the old fascism.

The council passed Ordinance 119.  This measure would set up a commission with the power to fine private businesses $500 per day if the commission felt that the private business was not being accommodating enough to commission-favored groups. Expect the commission to function similar to the one in Colorado who demanded that a baker make a wedding cake for a homosexual “marriage” even if it violates his conscience.   The same thing happened in Oregon. Once privately owned businesses had the right to refuse service to any customer.  Now, that is only true if the customer is not a member of a special class of citizens.

Opponents of 119 say that the ordinance could lead to mandating that businesses allow patrons to use their restrooms according to what gender they claim to identify with, rather than the restroom appropriate to their sex.   Supporters of the measure scoff at these claims, but let me ask you, did any of you think 15 years ago that cake makers would be forced out of business simply for choosing not to make wedding cakes for homosexual “marriages”?

What seems outrageous and outlandish today is what happens a few years down the road.  I can remember when homosexuals were only asking for their acts to be made legal on the basis of “what happens in my bedroom is not the public’s business.”  I don’t want my daughter to have to deal with males lurking about inside the women’s restroom at the mall, and based on the history it is not far fetched at all to see that happening under 119 in a few short years.

Look, the “conservatarian” slate is much more conservative and religious than Fayetteville on average, just as the present city council is more authoritarian, aggressively anti-Christian and leftist than Fayetteville on average.  This is a consequence of the big middle not getting very involved in politics.   The media is going to try to tell you that the one side should be disqualified because they are too extreme in their views while failing to inform you that the other side is at least as extreme on the other side.

That is ignoring the important question.  The most important question in this race is not who is the most extreme in their views, but rather who is the most willing to use government force to impose those views on you.  The fascist left wants the machinery of government to impose their views, the libertarian-leaning right have their own views, but they don’t want to use the machinery of government to impose them on you- they want to destroy the machinery.  The conservatarians who are running are not running so that they can seize control of this “Civil Rights” commission and start using it to beat up on businesses which discriminate against Christians.  Rather they are running so that they can abolish this commission altogether.

So this election, citizens of Fayetteville, is not a question of who is left or who is right.  It is not even a question of whether homosexual marriage should be recognized by the state.   It is an election between freedom and fascism.   Those who want fascism simply because today the machinery favors their cause are fools, for it may favor a cause which they oppose tomorrow.   The best policy is freedom from government interference so that voluntary choices between individuals defines our society.   Dismantle the machine so that none of us have to worry about it being seized by this faction or that one and used against us or our neighbors.

With that being said. here is the Freedom Ticket….

Paul Phaneuf for the Ward One  (south half of town) seat held by incumbent Adella Gray.

Josh Crawford for the Ward Two seat (central part of town between I 49 and Hwy 45) held by incumbent Mark Kinion.

John La Tour for the open seat in Ward Four (west of I 49) left by departing Alderwoman Rhonda Adams.

Fayetteville voters can consult this map for more details about what ward they live in.

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Mark is an advocate of a philosophy of government called Localism.