Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April 6, 2011

Interview with Rep. Allen West (R-FL) |  The Public Square
One of my favorite organizations, the American Policy Roundtable, has an hour-long program which includes an interview with freshman Congressman Allen West (R-FL).  I've been a huge fan of West since I heard his CPAC keynote address last month.  He's a patriot and a thoughtful, solid conservative. APR's interview with Rep. (and Army Lt. Col.) West will encourage you!  His knowledge on a wide range of topics is dizzying.  Seriously, who knows the name of Muhammad's first wife?  He combines that intellect with real life experience with radical Islam as a commander of our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and a reverence for the Bible. 

If you don't have time for the hour-long program, you can listen to a two-minute spot from David Zanotti and Wayne Shepherd with some background information about Congressman West and his qualifications to speak about radical Islam:


Speaking of Congressman West, his first bill in Congress passed unanimously this week, a waste-eliminating cut in the defense budget (that some have said for years was off the table):

"The House on Monday unanimously approved a bill sponsored by South Florida Congressman Allen West – his first bill passage since coming to Congress – that would cut the Defense Department's printing costs. 

'We all still rely on paper,' West, a Republican from Plantation, told the House. 'But I do not understand why we need examples of these highly expensive glossy color briefing slides and slick books that DOD sends over here.' 

The bill – passed by a vote of 393 to 0 -- would cut the Pentagon's proposed $357-million printing costs for next fiscal year by 10 percent, or $35.7 million."

Another APR program I've really benefited from was an interview with Dr. Wayne Grudem on the topic of "God and Politics," based on his book of the same name.  Grudem and hosts David Zanotti and Wayne Shepherd have a great discussion about the role of Christians in the political realm, both in biblical times and the present day.

 "During the month, according to the Treasury, the federal government grossed $194 billion in tax revenue and paid out $65.898 billion in tax refunds (including $62.011 to individuals and $3.887 to businesses) thus netting $128.179 billion in tax revenue for March.
At the same time, the Treasury paid out a total of $1.1187 trillion. When the $65.898 billion in tax refunds is deducted from that, the Treasury paid a net of $1.0528 trillion in federal expenses for March."
NASA warned hackers could take over space station  World Net Daily
"Paul Martin, the NASA inspector general, is reporting NASA's computer network was so vulnerable to cyber attack that computer hackers could take control of a spacecraft while in flight, according to a report from Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin.
In part, the report states, 'We found that computer servers on NASA's agency-wide mission network had high-risk vulnerabilities that were exploitable from the Internet. Specifically, six computer servers associated with IT assets that control spacecraft and contain critical data had vulnerabilities that would allow a remote attacker to take control of or render them unavailable.
 "The implications of penetrations into NASA's network are staggering. NASA's network consists of 190 interlinked computer systems and is widely distributed throughout the United States."

 Socialized Medicine Director Dies Waiting for Operation  The New American (HT: Glenna)
"Margaret Hutchon, a former mayor, had been waiting since last June for a follow-up stomach operation at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, Essex.
But her appointments to go under the knife were cancelled four times and she barely regained consciousness after finally having surgery.
Her devastated husband, Jim, is now demanding answers from Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust — the organisation where his wife had served as a non-executive member of the board of directors.
He said: 'I don't really know why she died. I did not get a reason from the hospital. We all want to know for closure. She got weaker and weaker as she waited and operations were put off.'
Not to be cruel, but the reason is simple.It’s called government-run health care."
 The article continues with many more instances of death and suffering as a result of Britain's government healthcare program. 


Cleveland school board lays off 643 teachers, closes 7 schools |
"[The Cleveland School Board] laid off 643 teachers, some for the third time in the last seven years. 
The board also closed seven of its 94 schools, including Giddings Elementary where Freeman teaches. In all, the cuts aimed at stabilizing the district financially along with slight revenue increases total nearly $73 million....
... The Cleveland layoffs are based on seniority and certification. Under Ohio's recently signed collective-bargaining law, formerly known as Senate Bill 5, performance not seniority would be the primary factor in determining teacher layoffs. However, the new law does not apply to these layoffs because they are being carried out under an existing contract....
...The cuts are equal to about 10 percent of the current operating budget. Interim Chief Executive Officer Peter Raskind said his goal was to wipe out a $47.5 deficit forecast for next school year, as required by state law, and get the district through 2012-13 without further upheaval."
Part of problem in the Cleveland school district is the severe population decline.  Ten years ago there were 70,000 students.  Today there are only 45,000.  When you lose 25,000 students, you can't expect to keep all these schools open and maintain the same staffing levels.  Parents and teachers are outraged, as  they usually are when this happens, but it's a hard, cold reality: fewer students = fewer teachers, administrators, and buildings. 

The solution for parents is to have a robust school choice program in Ohio.  Those who care about poor children in failing inner-city schools should be marching in Columbus, Wisconsin, and D.C. on behalf of school choice initiatives - to get these children OUT of failing schools IMMEDIATELY.  They cannot wait another 5 years while their school districts dither around with dubious Race to the Top bureaucracies like implementing longitudinal data systems and adding layers and layers of admistrators.  In five years it will be too late for many of these children.    

Unions want members to pay for SB 5 referendum | Columbus Dispatch Politics
"Betting on an expensive referendum drive, opponents of Senate Bill 5 are turning to rank-and-file union members to help cover campaign costs predicted to reach $20 million.
At least three statewide labor organizations - the Ohio Education Association, the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police and the Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters - are considering charging members extra fees to fund a ballot effort to repeal a GOP-backed bill signed by Gov. John Kasich last week that would limit collective-bargaining rights for state- and local-government employees
We Are Ohio, the coalition of union supporters pushing for the referendum, yesterday delivered proposed petition language and nearly 3,000 signatures to the Ohio secretary of state and attorney general - the first step toward making the Nov. 8 statewide ballot.
In an email dated March 22 and obtained by The Dispatch, Ohio Education Association executive director Larry Wicks said teachers and other unionized school personnel might be charged a one-time assessment of $50 to generate more than $5 million to fight Senate Bill 5. A spokesman said yesterday that the OEA's representative assembly will vote on the charge in early May.
Wicks said in his email, 'At least $20 million will be needed to run an effective campaign.' He also said a referendum effort was 'not a slam dunk.'...
..."In an email to union members, Jack Reall, president of the Columbus firefighters union, said statewide leaders will meet Thursday to consider charging $100 per member for the referendum campaign. Jay McDonald, president of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, said a decision will be made on a member charge this week.
Also wading into the referendum effort yesterday was former Gov. Ted Strickland, who, in a fundraising email obtained by The Dispatch, asked supporters for $5, $10 and $25 donations to the Ohio Democratic Party."
In case you're wondering why this is going to the voters after it was passed by both houses of the legislature and signed by Governor Kasich, it's because the Ohio Constitution allows Ohio's citizens to bring a referendum (or even an amendment) to the ballot as long as they can collect enough signatures to get it on the ballot.  For a referendum, SB5 opponents will need to gather signatures equal to 6% of the number voting in the most recent gubernatorial election, which means they'll need 231,149 signatures by the June 30 deadline to get it on the November ballot.

 Senate Bill 5 supporters slow to organize | The Columbus Dispatch
"From Kasich's office to various tea party headquarters to the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, belief is strong that someone will step forward to lead a campaign in favor of Senate Bill 5 and coordinate fundraising, if and when a referendum is placed on the November ballot.
Talk of such a coordinated effort in Ohio is at present relegated to back channels, while Democrats and labor leaders are galvanized for war - and with more than $5 million available just from the Ohio Education Association, should it approve a plan to charge its members a one-time assessment of $50 to support the referendum.
'The bottom line is that it's better to be engaged sooner rather than later,' said Andy Doehrel, president of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. 'I expect us to be involved, but how or what the time frame is, I just don't know that at this time.'
This is not a good sign, considering how well-organized and well-funded opponents of this bill are and considering that they are planning to force their union members to contribute to the effort.

The key to defeating the anti-SB5 referendum may lie here:
"Chris Littleton, president of the Ohio Liberty Council, an affiliation of 65 tea party groups, said his members will help support Senate Bill 5.
But Littleton said if the council had to choose, its priority would be to back a constitutional amendment that would strike down the compliance component of the federal health-care law passed in 2009.
Littleton said his group needs 150,000 more signatures by July to guarantee that the amendment question is placed before voters in November."
If BOTH of these issues make it onto the ballot, they will help each other because voter turnout for one will garner votes for the other issue, which likely includes crossover supporters.  Some voters who would make the effort to go out and vote for an amendment to opt out of Obamacare might also vote against the anti-SB5 referendum and vice-versa.  The more these issues can be tied together under the mantle of fiscal responsibility, the more they can mutually benefit each other and assure a positive outcome in November. 

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