Wednesday, October 30, 2013

6a00d834515c5469e2019aff90d1ae970c-75wiBy Nancy Thorner –

Illinois Representative Jeanne Ives (District 42- R), in her Veto Session Half-Time Report, described the time spent as just typical days of minimal activity.  There was no serious pension reform, but there were increased spending requests, and discussions of tax incentives for large corporations to entice them to stay in Illinois.

To add insult to injury, Illinois has the worst-funded pension system in the nation ($100 billion and rising) with only 39 cents in assets for every $1 of obligations.

Shouldn’t the state of Illinois be reckoned with as a state having a financial crisis of gigantic proportions, given that the state is estimated to be $5.4 billion behind in paying its bills and where more than 20 percent of its budget is devoted to public employee pensions.  Additionally, Illinois also has the second highest unemployment rate in this nation.

Credit downgrades in recent years, based upon pension debt which places Illinois’ credit rating at the bottom of all 50 states, certainly gives credence to the urgent need to do something and NOW!   The consequences of Illinois’ low credit rating is that the state must pay more interest when borrowing money.

Also to be remembered is that in 2011 Illinois raised its income tax rate from 3 to 5 percent to pay down the billions owed in its backlog of bills, only to have the increased revenue go toward required pension payment.

Recently, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton made a complete turn-around from how he thought about pension reform a little over a year ago on September 12, 2012, when he met with the Tribune editorial board.  At that time Cullerton explained why public pension reform was his No. 1 priority for the 2013 legislative session:

It may not be the No.1 priority of the public because they don’t understand the significance of how this crisis affects the operation of state government, but those of us who know the state budget know this is essential because you wouldn’t have enough money to pay for health care or education.

Cullerton’s  tune was different, however, during a Sunday interview on WGN-AM with Tribune reporter Rick Pearson when he said:

Quite frankly, I don’t think you can use the word ‘crisis’ to describe it at the state. It’s something we have to deal with, but it’s not something that we’re on the verge of bankruptcy on.

Even though Cullerton is correct that states can’t file for bankruptcy, cities can.  Chicago does need pension reform at the state level to avoid becoming the next Detroit.

Cullerton then went on to tell Rick Pearson that the real agenda of those who brought “pension crisis” into the Illinois government vernacular had nothing to do with getting more money into education funding or other essential government functions, but instead about allowing the income tax to fall to 3.75% as scheduled in 2015.

Just how did we get in today’s pension crisis?  And Illinois does have a pension “crisis, and it is an accurate term.   The aim of pension reform is not to punish public employees or to force them to share the pain of those in the private sector who have seen their retirement plans dissipate in recent years. Instead, it’s about balancing state government priorities while ensuring the solvency of retirement funds on which public employees depend.

What are some of the most egregious mistakes leading to this present pension crisis?

  • Failing to make payments to the pension funds that would have kept them securely funded.  Sometimes the unions now blaming lawmakers for shorting payment to pension funds were the biggest cheerleaders for skipping payments.
  • SB 27 passed on Memorial Day Weekend of 2005, stiffed pension funds by $2 billion.  Supporters claimed that the worthwhile reforms it did contain would realize savings at $30-$40 billion through 2005, making it no big deal to replace the $2 billion.  That $40 billion in predicted saving somehow grew into a $100 billion pension debt eight years later.  Since 2009, both school funding and payment to the disabled have been cut steadily as pension payments have chipped away at the state budget.
  • Illinois computes its retirees’ annual pension raises using compound interest instead of simple interest because Governor Thompson signed the bill into law in 1989.

A 10-member conference committee is now working on a reform plan whose savings would fall between what the competing Cullerton and Madigan bills are projecting.  Democrat House Speaker Madigan’s bill would take an estimated $27 billion off the $100 billion pension liability and save taxpayers an estimated $250 billion through 2045, bringing all five of the state’s public employee pension systems to 100 percent funding.  Democrat Senate President John Cullerton’s bill, supported by public employee unions, would save $46 billion and bring the system to 90 percent funding.

According to Chicago Tribune reporter, Ray Long, a pension deal remains elusive, at least during the fall veto sessions, as politics has the upper hand. Any vote likely to take place would fall only weeks ahead of the deadline for candidacy petitions to be filed for next year’s election. Then too, Democrats don’t wish to alienate their traditional Democratic allies of government-worker unions.

Meanwhile, Republicans are voicing proposals for workers to be able to opt into a 401 (K) style plan, for there to be a minimum guarantee cost-of-living increase at 0.5% instead of 2%, and that retirement age be raised.  The latter is a non-starter for Democrats!

Meanwhile, Democrats are hoping that at least some Republican vote for pension reform “in order to share the blame for a controversial vote.”

As related by Senator Jim Oberweis (District 25 – R) in previewing the Fall Legislative Veto Session:

Especially aggravating is the fact that one sensible pension reform option is not even being considered   Senate Bill 2026 was proposed by the Illinois Policy Institute because it would pass constitutional muster, would immediately cut Illinois’ $100 billion unfunded pension liability by nearly half, and would protect the benefits earned to date by current government workers.  Future benefit would accrue in new defined contribution plans. 

Sponsors of the proposed Illinois Policy Institute pension reform solution in the House (House bill 3303) were Representatives Tom Morison (District 54 – R) and Jeanne Ives (District 42 – R).

With a backlog of more than six months of unpaid bills, the worst credit rating in the nation, and the worst funded pension of any state, and given that revenue projections show that Illinois may have $382.5 million more in tax revenue this fiscal year than was originally projected, any clear thinking and insightful legislator would reason that this Christmas tree-like monetary gift to Illinois from taxpayers should be used to pay down Illinois’ backlog of bills.

But like kids fearful that money left in pockets will burn holes, will Democratic legislators within the General Assembly be swayed by pressure directed against them to undo past cuts and likewise sanction new spending, such as?:

  •   Cook County wants $30 million to promote Medicaid enrollment.
  • The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees wants $112 million in pay raises — promised by Gov. Pat Quinn and approved by a judge — but not yet funded by the General Assembly.
  • The Department of Corrections wants $40.5 million to pay a lawsuit and back bills.

As stated by Matt Dietrich on October 24 in his article, Pension reform and tax cuts are separate issues: 

Right now, Illinois spends 24.3% of all its state-generated revenue on it pension payments and that number is climbing.  A lot of people mocked Squeezy the Python last fall, but the message was true.  Our spending on pensions is way out of proportion with what a government should be spending.  It’s increasing ever year and squeezing out funding for essential functions like education.

In 1996, pensions accounted for 3.6% of revenue.  Think about that.  From 3.6% to 24.3%.  By what measure is this a sensible allocation of state revenue?   

More bad news was related to Dietrich by way of the Civic Federation, which projects Illinois will be $5.8 billion behind in paying its bill at the end of the current fiscal year. (This month’s projection noted earlier was $5.4 billion.).

Perhaps even more unsettling is the shortfall or loss of an estimated $54 billion in revenue for Illinois should the partial sunset of the 2011 tax increase take place as scheduled halfway through fiscal year 2015:  a personal income tax rate reduction from 5 to 3.75% and a corporate tax rate reduction from 7 to 5.25%.  Even an optimistic forecast on savings from a pension reform bill would only amount to $750 million to $1.5 billion.

Republicans candidates for governor who favor a partial sun-setting of hiked 2011 income tax rates, need to present a specific plan on how they would deal with the massive $54 billion in revenue loss that would encounter in the wake of the sunset.

A leadership deficit in Springfield is hurting Illinois taxpayers at a cost of at least $5 million per day.  Each day that goes by adds another $5 million in interest payments on our pension debt.

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Thorner

By Nancy Thorner –

It was on Friday, October 25th, that Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary Kathleen Sebelius, speaking at a panel in San Antonio, urged potential healthcare consumers to disregard ObamaCare website horror stories and partisan bickering over the law. In Sebelius’ words when asked what advise she would give to those seeking federal healthcare plans:

“Sign up,” she said, “Don’t believe what you’ve heard. Just check it out, look at the prices, look at the plans.

Sebelius further indicated that “significant improvement” have already been made and that administration officials vowed to have the site fully repaired by Nov. 30 (two months after the October 1st roll-out), and fully workable in time for users to buy the coverage that takes effect on January 1st.

It was several days earlier on Tuesday, October 22nd, during a CNN interview that Kathleen Sebelius informed Dr. Sanjay Gupta that President Obama had no warning of issues with the Website before its roll-out.  http://www.onenewspage.us/n/US/74w2r2uci/Video-Sebelius-Obama-not-aware-of-HealthCare-gov.htm

It’s seems too much of a coincidence that once again we have an uninformed President Obama, which seems to be happening with regularity whenever an issue surfaces that might harm Obama’s image or his political standing.  The most recent incident, according to a report on Sunday, Oct. 27th by a German newspaper, was that President  Obama knew his intelligence service was eavesdropping on Merkel as long ago as 2010. This contradicts reports of Obama telling Angela Merkel that he was unaware of the eavesdropping. http://www.grandforksherald.com/event/aricle/id/276834/group/homepage/

It will be interesting to hear what Sebelius has to say about the website roll out disaster when she testifies in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee this coming week.  On the government end, construction of the disastrous Healthcare.gov website was overseen by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMs), a division Kathleen Sebelius’ Dept. of Health and Human Services.  Has Ms. Sebelius no culpability for a website that was basically untested before it was rolled out on Oct. 1st, with known problems existing prior to its rollout?

On the same day (Friday, October 25) Kathleen Sebelius urged Americans to sign up for healthcare and not to be swayed by the horror stories they have been hearing, it was reported that a Princeton classmate — Toni Townes-Whitley, Princeton class of ’85 — was a senior vice president of CGI that earned the no-bid contract to build the $678 million Obamcare enrollment website of Healthcare.gov.  Although four companies submitted bids, a senior vice president for the company testifying last week before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, could not name those companies or explain why only CGI’s bid was considered.  http://dailycaller.com/2013/10/25/michelle-obamas-princeton-classmate-is-exective-at-company-that-built-obamacare-website/ 

Stranger yet is, as reported in the Washington Examiner by Richard Pollock on Thursday, October 10, is that the Canadian provincial health officials last year fired the parent company of CGI Federal, the prime contractor of the Healthcare.gov website.  CGI Group was terminated in September of 2012 by the Ontario government health agency after the firm had missed three years of deadlines and had failed to deliver the province’s flagship online medical registry.  The online registry was supposed to be up and running by June of 2011.  http://washingtonexaminer.com/canadian-officials-fired-it-firm-behind-…

After a tough couple of weeks following the roll-out of Healthcare.gov, President Obama, realizing that his signature policy achievement was being threatened with derailment, bought some time over the weekend when in his weekly address of Saturday, October 26, he informed the American people:

As you may have heard, the site isn’t working the way it’s supposed to yet.  In the coming weeks, we are going to get it working as smoothly as it’s supposed to. 

Obama adviser Jeffrey Zients, appointed on Tuesday, October 22 to figure out how to manage the complicated fixes for the website, had the following to say when he unexpectedly participated In a conference call with health reporters on Friday, October 25.  Although a deadline was given of Nov. 30 to have the website up and running, Zient cautioned there was a lot of work to do:  “By the end of November, healthcare.gov will work smoothly for he vast majority of users.”

Zient further said that he had hired a “general contractor” to manage the many contractors on the project, and had developed a “punch list’ of dozens of problems to address, including sending error-ridden application data to health insurers and improving basic user experience.  http://www.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=USBRE99PO2S20131026

But does it serve the interests of the administration to set a Nov. 30 deadline?  It might buy the administration and tech experts time to iron out the bugs in the website, but the American people are likely to hold the administration to that date.  Even when and if the website is fixed, it will be a problem to lure those people back who have had bad experiences with the website.

According to many tech experts, the White House faces a tall order in fixing the ObamaCare website.

Jon Wu, an analyst and co-founder of consumer finance site Value Penguin, had this to say:

You can probably make corrections in the code, but if they need months to test the process before, I don’t see how you can say that you’re going to be able to have it up and running in a couple weeks.

Based on public reports, Wu related how many of the glitches appear to be the result of problems in how different government systems interact with each other.  Those problems are more difficult to identify than simple errors in code or a shortage of server capacity.  Said Jon Wu, “It’s definitely past the point where it’s a superficial problem.”

Wu also questioned how useful the “surge” of additional information technology experts will be.  Noting that any new programmers will have to be brought up to speed on the existing code, Wu remarked,  “You can’t throw a hundred surgeons into a room and expect it to take one one-hundredth of the time.”

More insight over the ObamaCare website glitch came from Clay Johnson, a former Presidential Innovation Fellow and the CEO of the Department of Technology.   Johnson nailed the problems existing in HealthCare.gov from the way the government hires outside contractors.  Because of the lengthy forms and technical language, the firms rewarded have the best lawyers rather than those firms with the best programmers.

Also noted by Clay Johnson was a host of regulations that make it more difficult to build a government website than a private one, i.e., regulations requiring that all government websites be accessible to the blind and meet a host of security requirements.  These well intended regulations but lead to many projects coming in late, over-budget, and full of technical problems. http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/330731-white-house-faces-tall-order-in-fixing

Jim Geraghty of National Review, in referencing Jeffrey Zients’ pledge that ObamaCare.gov will be working by the end of November, cited in his article, HHS Probably Can’t Fix It by the End of November, and That’s Probably Too Late Anyway, ten estimates offered by tech experts outside of government of how long it would take to fix the exchange websites to get them up and running and functional.  None of them were positive about the fix happening by Nov. 30.  http://www.nationalreview.com/node/362231/print

Technical experts told USA TODAY:  The federal health care exchange was built using 10-year-old technology that may require constant fixes and updates for the next six months an the eventual overhaul of the entire system. 

Yuval Levin, after talking to sources in the insurance industry:   No one wants to say how long it might take, and no one would share with me what estimates they might be getting from their contractors (whom they no longer trust anyway), but there has so far been relatively little progress and it seems like everyone involved is preparing for a process that will take months, not weeks. 

And from Bruce Webster, NR cruiser and increasingly frequent Morning Jolt contributor:  “You need to have strict controls on what changes are allowed to be made to the source code through the alpha and beta phases just before release.  If you do not handle this process rigorously, you’ll just keep oscillating for weeks, months, or even years.  I’ve seen it happen time and again.  

Bruce Webster was told by his father who worked for nearly 30 years in electronics in the Navy:  If you don’t have time to do it right, will you have time to do it over?  That is exactly the problem that the Obama Administration caused for itself (‘We needed five years but only had two’), and it is exactly the problem that they face going forward. 

Coming on the heel of how web experts are addressing the failure of the HealthCare.gov and the probability that it can be fixed by October 1st was a report of yet another glitch that happened this past Sunday (Oct. 27) on the federal government’s online portal to buy health insurance, when a conduit for verifying the personal information of people applying for benefits under the law went down in a failure.  The website failure was blamed on outside contractor Terremark.  A spokesman for Verizon Enterprise Solution, of which Terremark is a part, told the Associated Press:  “Our engineers have been working with HHS and other technology companies to identify and address the root cause of the issue.”  Terremark is the data services hub that supplies tax information to websites run by the U.S and 13 states to sell medical coverage.  http://ww.foxnews.com/politics/2013/10/28/republicans-hint-at-long-term-strategy-obamacare-website-only-tip-iceberg/?intcmp=HPBucket

It is fair to ask whether the HealthCare.gov website glitches are only the ‘tip of the iceberg.”

Republican concerns expressed by Fred Upton (R-Mich), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman, in this week’s Republican address were directed on whether enrollment glitches will provider payment glitches?  Furthermore, will patients show up at their doctor’s office or hospital only to be told they aren’t in the system?  Also of concern is whether personal information Americans provide as part of the enrollment process will be safe from cyber hackers and identity theft. http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/330757-upton-on-obamacare-more-than-website problem

Fred Upton continued to reflect about the need to pay a fine if the deadline was not met, given that the law requires Americans not covered by healthcare insurance to sign up so they’re enrolled by the end of March 2014

How can the administration punish innocent Americans by forcing them to buy a product many cannot afford, from a system that does not work?

Democratic senators who spent more than two weeks opposing Republicans’ request for a delay in Obamacare have suddenly seen the light.  In tough battleground states (swing states) four senators have signed on to Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s letter of October 22 sent to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking that the open enrollment date by extended past March 3, 2013.  http://www.newsmax.com/Politics/Senate-marginal-Shaheen-Obamacare/2013/10/26/id/533230

Bad choices do have a way of boomeranging back and hitting us on the head, even Democrats!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at 09:45 AM | Permalink

Friday, October 25, 2013

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Nancy Thorner (far right) joined Lake County Right to Life in Springfield WednesdayBy Nancy Thorner –It was 6:00 am when I boarded a chartered bus organized by Lake County Right to Life President Bonnie Quirke, along with thirty-nine others that signed up to attend “Marriage Lobby Day” at the state Capitol. Sponsored by Illinois Family Institute, Executive Director David E. Smith organized an effort Wednesday, October 23, to encourage lawmakers to protect and strengthen marriage instead of undermining it through Senate Bill 10. The day before, Tuesday, October 23, those in favor of gay marriage had gathered in Springfield to lobby for their cause.Lake County Right to Life, along with others like African-American Clergy Coalition and the Catholic Conference of Illinois as well as churches across the state converged on Springfield to affirm their support of God’s design for marriage. Estimates are between 3 to 5,000 strong believers in God’s design of marriage as detailed in Matthew 19:4  “… He who create them from the beginning made them male and female….”

Armed with a folder provided by president Bonnie Quirke of Lake County Right for Life, I settled back to read its many inserts. The schedule of events first caught my attention. I would be too late to attend the 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Prayer Rally at the Lincoln Statue at the east side of the Capitol at 2nd street, but in time to attend the 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Marriage Rally in the Rotunda.

Also scheduled was Special music in the Rotunda from 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m.; a Prayer Rally in the Rotunda from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.; a Marriage Prayer Walk around the Capitol every 15 minutes, starting near the Lincoln Statue at 2nd St., from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.; and visiting the offices of our state representative, Speaker Madigan and Minority Leader Durkin from 9:00 – 3:00 p.m. to drop off prepared half-sheet letters, to be signed and with our addresses, stating our purpose for being in Springfield today:

We are here at the Capitol today to oppose the effort to redefine the institution of marriage (SB 10).  For the needs and rights of children, the health of communities, and individual religious liberties marriage, marriage must be protected and strengthened, not undermined. . . The union between one man and one woman – marriage — is timeless, universal, and special.  Please protect marriage and be a voice for God’s design for the family.  Vote NO to SB 10.

 One attention-getting article in my folder was entitled, The Truth About Same-Sex ‘Marriage’, which made the following points:

  • It’s not about ‘Equality’, ‘Love’, ‘Discrimination’, or ‘Civil Rights.’  It’s about teaching your children homosexuality is normal and inviting them to affirm and participate in its lifestyle. 
  • Same sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution which grants the ‘free exercise’ of religion guaranteed to each person beyond the four walls of a religious institution.
  • What homosexuals are actually demanding is that they be permitted to redefine marriage — to eliminate one of the conditions that society views as central to marriage:  sexual complementarity. 

The meaning of marriage was described in another folder insert:

All societies throughout recorded history have publicly  recognized the institution of marriage as a sexually complementary public institution.  The government’s obligation is merely to recognize legally what marriage actually is.  The government has no business creating an entirely new-and-destructive-institution and then attaching to it the name of marriage. . .  . If marriage were solely or even centrally about love and had no connection to children, the state would have no interest in or business being involved with marriage.

Prior to reaching Springfield, an article about the effects of same-sex marriage on school children in Massachusetts served as a further eye-opener, giving me much ammunition as to the ineffability of even considering a same sex marriage bill here in Illinois.

Because same-sex marriage is ‘legal’ in Massachusetts (court ruling, November 2003), federal judges ruled in 2007 that the schools now have a duty to portray homosexual relationships as normal to children, despite what parents may think or believe!  It behooves all who are pushing SB 10 here in Illinois to read What same-sex ‘marriage’ has done to Massachusetts.  The same would happen here in Illinois.

There was excitement upon reaching Springfield.  Finally the time had come.  The sight of the Capitol dome told all that our destination had been reached.

Many in the group decided to visit their legislator’s offices first to deliver their letters asking legislators to vote no to SB 10. Legislative districts represented in the diverse group from Lake County were 51st (Ed Sullivan – R); 52nd (David McSweeney – R); 58th (Scott Drury – D); 59th (Carol Sente – D);  60th (Rita Mayfield – D); 61th (Jo Ann Osmond – R); 62nd  (Sam Yinling – D); 64th  (Barbara Wheeler – R).

Although 61st District Jo Ann Osmond is retiring this year, she was present at the veto session (which also includes next week) to make sure that, should the SB 10 be brought up for a vote, her “no” vote would be recorded.

In meeting Representative Rita Mayfield in the tunnel from the Capitol Building to the cafeteria, she informed Bonnie Quirke that she would be voting “no,” as this is how her constituents want her to vote in Waukegan, IL.   It was disconcerting to hear that a recent count indicated that the bill was only two short of bringing it up in the House for a vote. It was already passed in the Senate.

After that, the Marriage Rally began in the Rotunda. Looking up at the balcony area from the ground floor of the Rotunda, I saw many individuals gazing down at all the people sitting in chairs on the ground floor, crammed into the Capitol Rotunda, as cameras were recording.

David Smith, as Executive Director of the Illinois Family Institute and organizer of the Defend Marriage Lobby Day, introduced the speakers.  “Don’t let anyone tell you that marriage doesn’t have broad support among Hispanics, Asians, Republicans and Democrats,” he said.

Following the prayer by Monsignor Carl Kemme, Diocese of Springfield, IL, Bishop Larry Trotter, Sweet Holy Spirit Church of Chicago spoke about what the righteous must do:

  • Take a stand for what is right and righteous.
  • Report for duty.
  • Keep on believing that Jesus walked on water, calmed the oceans and the seas, and that the Bible is the Word of God.

Senator Kirk W. Dillard, a Republican member of the IL State Senate (24th District), and now running for governor of Illinois, indicated that he would veto any gay marriage bill and how he has always been for marriage between one man and one woman.

Senator Jim Oberweis, although a freshman senator, said he will mount a campaign to defeat Senator Dick Durbin if he can get enough signatures on petitions to qualify.  Oberweis has always supported traditional marriage.

Christian activist Jim Finnegan, in relating how religion is being taken out of business and schools, quoted the Bible and its 5th amendment: Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which The Lord your God gives you.  (Exodus 20:12RSV)   There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that marriage is anything other than between one man and one woman.

Pastor Danny Holliday of Victory Baptist Church in Alton, IL, believed in and trusted in this nation when he went to war in Vietnam, fearing for his life. What sustained Pastor Holliday was his love for this nation and his belief that this nation was one under God.  It was God who put male and female together, not the government, initially joining Adam and Eve.  Now promoters of gay marriage are changing their tune from one of civil rights to redefining the institution of marriage that God has created.

Peter Breen represented the Thomas More Society as it defends the constitutionality of Illinois law defining marriage as the union of husband and wife.

Self-described ex-lesbian Linda Jernigan, and Abraham Lincoln impersonator Marc Zumhagen also spoke.

Words of unflinching affirmation fashioned the rhetoric of the speakers.  Several worth remembering:

  • Christ is a friend of sinners, but not not a friend of homosexual behavior.
  • Gay marriage will have to be taught as the moral equivalency of marriage in schools if SB 10 is passed.
  • We can’t allow 200 years of history to hi-jack the very thing we hold dear because of emotional underpinnings that something should be so.
  • Tell your children that we used to be one nation under God, that whatever race or gender we were born into will always remain with us.
  • Our faith and our church are now under attack.  God will move on our behalf, but we must become involved.
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Time allowed those in the Lake County Right to Life group to participate in a Marriage Prayer Walk around the Capitol, but then it was time to depart back to Marytown, and then to our homes throughout Lake County.On my trip home from Springfield, in contemplation of the day’s events, I was even more certain that gay marriage is not a civil right. Civil rights are very specific rights that are accorded to individuals because of their status as humans  These rights are based on universal characteristics, not on feelings, desires, “orientations,” or volitional conduct.Defend Marriage Lobby Day 001

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Friday, October 25, 2013 at 11:30 AM | Permalink

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

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By Nancy Thorner – 

Donald J. Devine and his book, America’s Way Back Reclaiming Freedom, Tradition, and Constitution were featured at a Heartland Author Series on Thursday, October 17. For conservative Republicans, the Heartland event was perfectly timed to offer much needed affirmation that there is a way back to reclaiming America’s freedom, prosperity, and creativity despite the obvious divisions displayed between establishment and conservative Republican Party members during the past several weeks.

Currently, Donald J. Devine is a vice chairman of the American Conservative Union, senior scholar at the Fund for American Studies, and the author of eight books. Devine is best known as a long time adviser to Ronald Reagan, serving as head of the federal civil service during Reagan’s first term, where he saved $6 Billion in taxpayer money and reduced more than 100,000 non-defense bureaucratic slots. Don Devine describes himself as a proud libertarian.

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Here is what fellow libertarian U.S. Senator Rand Paul has to say about Devine’s book, America’s Way Back:

Devine spells out the solution for the modern GOP — a fusion of the best of conservative ideas with those of the liberty movement, all rooted in the Constitution. This book provides plenty of intellectual ammunition for the modern conservative movement.

Edward Feser’s, associate professor of philosophy at Pasadena City College, expressed this acclamation for Devine’s book: 

To many conservatives have forgotten that freedom and tradition, limited government and conservative morality, stand or fall together. Devine’s fine new book, a vigorous defense of fusionism, provides a much-needed reality check. If conservatives want to win again — and want to ‘deserve’ to win again — they need to listen to Devine.

Introduced by Heartland Institute Chairman Joe Bast as the “founder of the great modern Republican movement,”  Mr. Devine went on to explain how the fusionism of Frank Meyer and William F. Buckley, Jr. led to the conservative revival in the 1959, which, in turn, influenced President Reagan, thereby enabling Reagan to create a strong unified whole (synthesis) so both freedom and tradition could exist harmoniously in his administration.  Such a transformation begs and cries out for a revival today.

First off, Don Devine shared a question he directed to President Reagan when asked to serve during Reagan’s first term as chief bureaucrat to head the Office of Personnel and Management (OPM).  “Why me?”, asked Devine.  “Isn’t this a funny position to offer a libertarian like me?”

Reagan replied: 1) Cut 100,000 non-defense personnel. 2) Reduce their benefits. 3) Make them work harder.

It was then that Devine remembered something President Harry Truman had say, “If you need a friend buy a dog.”  Mr. Devine went out and promptly bought two of them.  Don Devine did put in place a pay for performance system, among other notable achievements, while heading Reagan’s Office of Personnel and Management.

Regarding President Reagan, every modern president since Woodrow Wilson has increased non-defense discretionary spending.   Ronald Reagan, however, reduced non-defense spending by 9.5%.  Even entitlement spending under Reagan went from 17.4% to 16.6% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

In challenging those present, Don Devine asked his audience to name the years when the American people experienced economic depressions?”  Quickly mentioned were the Great Depression of 1929 and the most recent one in 2008.

Missed was the year of the third depression. It happened in 1987 during Reagan’s administration and was described as a serious crisis and second in severity to that of the Great Depression.  President Reagan was advised to shut down the stock market and further stimulate the economy.  To which Reagan said:  “If you don’t let the stock market go down, it will have no place to grow.”

As Reagan’s answer suggests, President Reagan did nothing, and the economy bounced back.  Although President Reagan did increase spending on defense, he did so during the “cold” war which Don Devine called “a real war.”  Reagan also won the cold war without firing a shot, which was defined by Devine as the way to “win a real war.”

How did President Ronald Reagan manage to accomplish that which other presidents could not do?  Ronald Reagan had a vision fashioned by our Founding Fathers of what made America work right. It was based on Western tradition and on the idea that a synthesis exists between freedom and tradition.  Freedom without an underlying foundation of custom and tradition could no exist.  Likewise, tradition and custom couldn’t exist without the existence of freedom.

It was Fredrick Hayek’s book, The Road to Serfdom, which influenced Ronald Reagan by setting forth what constituted Western tradition.  The book may never have gained notoriety had it not been for Reader’s Digest excerpting Hayek’s book over a period of several weeks.  After its publication, the crazy idea that freedom works became a viable concept to embrace among the American people.

Upon reading Hayek’s book, Ronald Reagan came to believe that freedom and tradition were what made America great, just as a few decades earlier William Buckley’s whole view of life was changed when reading The Road to Serfdom. Gathering together a group of creative individuals in the hope of finding some common ground — including  anarchists and communists — Buckely found Frank Meyer, once an avowed communist, who turned to become Buckley’s right-had man.

As Bill Buckley’s “side kick,” Frank Meyers developed the theory of fusionism, a term used frequently in Don Devine’s book and defined as “a political philosophy that unites elements of libertarianism and traditionalism into a philosophical synthesis which is considered the definition of modern American conservatism.”

Together Buckley and Meyers led the conservative revival of the 60’s  This recreation of the conservative movement led to the nomination but failed election of Barry Goldwater in 1964 and was the impetus for the modern conservative movement culminating with the election of Ronald Reagan.

Lamented by Don Devine is how far this nation is today from the era of Reagan.  As to stopping the creeping statism of today, Mr. Devine opined that this nation can’t survive unless a core of people who are passionate about both freedom and tradition step forward to explain why individuals who believe in freedom aren’t crazy. Conservatives have a message but not a messenger.  That some one is still out there to be found. It wouldn’t even have to be a politician to spearhead the movement. Devine spoke of himself as being too old to lead such a revival movement.

It would be nice to have another Bill Buckley step forward to communicate conservatism in a new and exciting way.  Nevertheless, that conservative vision of Reagan must be put together again, for a free society will always be a tradition-based society with moral principles that define slavery, theft and murder as evil.

Our Founding Fathers created a great system of government, understanding that power could be a problem and that the solution was to divide it.  The 10th Amendment must be restored designating “that powers not delegated to the U.S. by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively. . .”

Woodrow Wilson, as 29th president from 1913 -1921, is attributed with fostering a revolutionary, progressive turn in government that is still with us today.  Traveling abroad, Woodrow Wilson went to Russia so see how government worked.  Wilson was impressed with how Bismark operated. When Bismark wanted to get something done he went out and did it.  The problem with the U.S. was its Constitution which divided power, when centralization of power was needed to do a good job.  Wilson was able to convince the intellectual elite that if those having power and expertise were gathered together and given control, a good society would be created.

Wilson’s idea has never gone out of fashion and is now blooming with vigor in the Obama administration. Presidents Harding and Coolidge tried to return to a normal view of the Constitution.  President Roosevelt at first desired the same return, but was told by intellectuals to go back to the Wilson era of operation.

A warning by Don Devine: This nation is now at the end of its ropes.  Money is running out. Our nation’s bureaucratic system has become overbearing. Then too, this nation is in constant deadlock because our Constitution was not built to do all the things we expect of it today.  It was set up so things can’t be run by the central government.

According to Don Devine, this nation has three choices:

  1. Place power in one House of Congress.
  2. Centralization of power in government.
  3. Go back to the way of the Constitution.

The way back to our Constitution is enumerated in Article 1, Section 8, which outlines just what Congress is authorized to do.

Don Devine’s account of his final cabinet meeting with Ronald Reagan demands a hearing.  President Reagan is reported to have said:  “In my reading of history, no nation has ever gone this far down the road of statism and has been able to come back, but we want to be the first that will overcome this challenge.” President Reagan, known for his story telling to make a point, used this story to explain his expressed optimism for the nation:

Parents, upon finding their son always finding good in every happening, decided their son had to be taught a lesson to prepare him for the hard knocks life would surely bring him.  Their decision:  With Christmas approaching, it was decided not to give their son any Christmas presents.  On Christmas morning, and with great anticipation, their son entered the living room to find a room without a Christmas tree with presents underneath.  Noticing their son’s surprise, the parents instructed their son to open a door leading to another room.

This the boy did, only to find a room filled with manure.  Instead of expressing anger or dismay, the boy hurriedly ran to find a shovel.  Upon his return the boy started to dig frantically away at the manure.  “What are you doing,” asked the boy’s parents? To which the boy replied, “Wherever there is so much manure there must be a pony underneath! These two questions directed to Don Devine are especially reverent to our current political situation.

The first question inquired of Devine were his thoughts about the shutdown of the government over defunding Obamacare.  Mr. Devine spoke of technical mistakes made by Republicans, and how he would not have gone down the same route; nevertheless, the sequester was kept in tact.  Democrats hate the sequester and rolling back the sequester is their number one goal.  Prior to the last House vote, Harry Reid did attempt to add the sequester roll back as a condition to opening the government along with increasing the debt limit.  The sequester has given this nation the only deduction of non-descretionary spending (now for two years) since Reagan.

About the media being the biggest enemy?  Mr. Devine didn’t hold back when he called the media “outrageous.”  Furthermore, the media has always been biased, with intellects naturally left-wing in their views.  Why this bias isn’t going to change:  1)  This generation of reporters is much stupider than in other generations.  2) Others generations of reporters at least felt some guilt over not giving any positive coverage at all to the other side.  3)  As the media loves Obama, Republicans will never receive fair play from the media.

The next Heartland Author Series will take place on Thursday, October 24 from 11:30 am to 1:30 p.m.  Featured will be Travis H. Brown and his book, How Money Walks.  Call 312/377-4000 for reservations or visit heartland.org.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 09:26 AM | Permalink

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Logo108h

By Nancy Thorner – 

With all that is happening currently in Washington, D.C. with the blame game still being very much in the news as to those responsible for the partial sixteen-day shutdown of our federal government, just how do Common Core State Standards fit into the picture?

Simply stated, the intent of Common Core is to nationalize education, along with the minds of American youth, thereby  directing this nation’s future.  As totalitarian leaders have taught us in the past, whoever molds the minds of the youth can eventually command the population. It matters not if the transition takes a generation of two.

Many already perceive that this nation is currently on the road to Socialism, and perhaps even worse though the advancement of the Obama administration’s agenda. Should Common Core be allowed to take hold under the assumption that a one-size-fits-all educational policy is acceptable that advances a liberal, progressive agenda in schools nationwide — with students being taught what to think and not how to think — the result will insure that the next generation of Americans will be liberal in their thinking and in tune with whatever leftist philosophy they encounter as adults.

So it will be that Obama will have fulfilled his mission to reshape this nation into one where our Constitution is no longer relevant and where freedom and liberty have been replaced by government control of our lives.

Two Curriculum Common Core coffees were recently held in my school district at the West Campus of Lake Forest High School in Lake Forest, IL. Of great interest was the Common Core motto appearing on the initial e-mail invitation which announced the two curriculum coffees:  Preparing America’s Students For College & Career.

I attended the second curriculum coffee held on Tuesday, October 15th from 7 – 8 pm, organized to familiarize local residents and taxpayers with the Common Core State Standards Initiative as applicable to Illinois and, in turn, students enrolled in Lake Forest School Districts 115 and 67.

Lauren Fagel, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction, Technology and Assessment (one of three assistant superintendents in the Lake Forest School System) moderated both curriculum coffees.  The topic:  How Common Core State Standards will challenge our students to become better critical thinkers and problem-solvers.

In so far as the mention of Common Core still brings a blank stare from many parents of school-age children, similar events are most likely being planned in many school districts throughout Illinois as Common Core standards are being rolled out in various stages of implementation across Illinois. This lack of transparency about Common Core has happened despite the 2010 adoption of Common Core by every state except Alaska, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia even before the math and language arts standards were written, enticed by the lure of massive federal grants.

Defenders of Common Core assert that Common Core is state-instigated and controlled. This could not be further from the truth. The federal government provided all the funding for the national tests and also gave major grants to nonprofit groups who wrote Common Core. Bankrolling the entire Common Core project were nonprofit groups and big funders of government expansion such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Microsoft also has a significant financial state in the national education markets.

While this nation may be a superpower in some ways, in education it lags behind in a recent comparison of academic performance in 57 countries.  Students in the US performed near the middle of the pack.  Finland overall came out on top.  Other top-performing countries were Hong Kong, Canada, Taiwan, Estonia, Japan and Korea.

To be determined:  Will CC raise the performance level of students?  Of concern to many is how Common Core education standards manifest a centralization of authority over the historically decentralized K-12 education system.  Even more troubling is that Common Core is devoid of any history where success was achieved before states signed on to Common Core in 2010 lured by federal grants.

As Lake Forest High School prides itself on its high academic standards and its high achievement rankings with other school districts within Illinois, I was curious how Lauren Fagel would present Illinois’ state standards initiatives so as not to impinge upon the already high academic standards already established in Lake Forest’s two micro school districts, District 67, K – 8th and District 115, 9th – 12th.

Armed with booklets, The Common Core:  A Bad Choice for America, by Joy Pullmann, a Research Fellow at The Heartland Institute, I arrived early to place a booklet on each chair in the meeting room. These excellent resource booklets about Common Core can be ordered through The Heartland Institute for distribution by calling 312-377-4000.

Although her request to me was congenial, Assistant Superintendent Lauren Fagel informed me that she would prefer to have the booklets removed from the chairs and put on the tables where other handout material was available for the taking. To her credit, Ms. Fagel did tell those gathered about the booklets placed on the table by Mrs. Thorner and published by The Heartland Institute.

Handouts on the table, along with Heartland’s published booklet by Joy Pullman, were a Parents’ Guide to Student Success, one each for Kindergarten through 8th grade, and a Parents’ Guide to Student Success (High School English) and Parents’ Guide to Student Success (High School Math).  The Parents’ Guides were produced by the National PTA.  For more information, full Common Core standards can be found at www.corestandards.org .

Stated predominately on the front page of each guide, which differed only when referring to the grade level of each hand out:

This guide provides an overview of what your child will learn by the end of kindergarten in mathematics and English language arts/literacy.  It focuses on the key skills your child will learn in these subjects, which will build a strong foundation for success in the other subjects he or she studies throughout the school year.  This guide is based on the new Common Core State Standards, which have been adopted by more than 40 states.  These K-12 standards are informed by the highest state standards from across the country.  If your child is meeting the expectations outlined in these standards, he or she will be well prepared for 1st grade.

The hour time allowance wasn’t nearly long enough to find out much about Common Core other than what  Lauren Fagel presented through her slide presentation.  I felt very much alone as the only individual in the room who seemed knowledgeable about Common Core and the controversy surrounding its application as states, parents, and teachers are beginning to pull back from Common Core upon discovering what Common Core education standards would mean if fully applied.

In answer to a question before the start of the meeting, Ms. Fagel personally informed me that such a pullback of Common Core standards wouldn’t occur here in Illinois, or in the Lake Forest School System, as Common Core State Standards were sanctioned and adopted by the IEA, thereby making the implementation of Common Core mandatory in Illinois school districts.

First off, Ms. Fagel informed a somewhat pathetic low turnout of 20 or so individuals that a major change was taking place in many schools throughout this country, but not so much here in Lake Forest and in the neighboring Village of Lake Bluff, District 65, because Lake Forest and Lake Bluff already had in place high educational standards for their student population. Fagel continued, “We now have the opportunity to further enrich our students by having Common Core standards operate as guideposts along the way.”

In speaking about Common Core expectations, Ms. Fagel cited what appears on Common Core websites:  “To give students the critical knowledge and skills that they will need after high school.”  Accordingly, Common Core standards are geared to teach students to 1) Analyze, 2) Comprehend, and 3) Evaluate.  Ms. Fagel further described Common Core standards as representing the floor level, but in no way indicative of the ceiling.

A slide presentation outlined Common Core Anchor Standards in Reading, Writing, Speaking & Listening from K – 5, followed by the same Common Core Anchor Standards for grades 6 – 12. Math standards were likewise enumerated for each grade level. While Common Core standards delay Algebra until the 9th grade, LFHS will continue to keep Algebra at the 8th grade level.

I regret not having a chance to ask Ms. Fagel what would happen to the existing high standards in the Lake Forest School Districts given that states may not change Common Core standards.  They must adopt all of them at once and may only add up to an additional 25 percent to set Common Core requirements.

Although Ms. Fagel insisted that Common Core was not a curriculum as such, the issue of testing must be considered as a means for accessing student achievement.  Mentioned by Ms. Fagel was PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers), and its race to develop assessments so teachers and administrators can evaluate student progress.

According to Ms. Fagel, PARCC has yet to bring its testing material to fruition so it’s ready for use; nevertheless, a national testing system based on the new standards is already being rolled out which will test students regularly from the third grade to ensure that their Common Core-based education is proceeding smoothly.  It is almost certain that SAT’s and ACT’s used nationwide in admissions to higher-learning institutions will be aligned with the new Common Core standards.

Somewhat strange to me, as one whose school days are more than 50 years behind me, are Common Core Anchor Standards in Writing as they relate to the range of writing to be covered by students:  Students must write arguments to support claims.  Less emphasis will also be placed on creative writing. 

Regarding Common Core Anchor Standards for Literature (K-5), students will analyze how and why individuals, events and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text with an emphasis placed on reading non-fiction.

A parent did complain how her first grade daughter had been turned off from reading because she did not like to read non-fiction.  What will happen when she advances to higher grades?   English and Language Arts Common Core standards place emphasis on reading dry technical writing, like government documents and technical manuals, as opposed to literary classics.  Under Common Core at least 50% of reading assignments must consist of informational texts.

In that Common Core standards focus on core conceptual understanding and procedures starting in the early grades, learning multiplication tables is most likely considered old-fashioned and obsolete?  And what about spelling and cursive writing?  Common Core State Standards do not require children to learn how to write in cursive.

Math and English standards were focused on initially as they were the two subjects expected to be he least controversial among the voting and taxpaying public.  Common Core standards are not being extended to social studies, science, history and more.  Suggested history textbooks are being accused of having a strong liberal bias.

In science, called the Next Generation Science Standards, students will be forced to learn a steady stream of controversial propaganda of everything from the theory of evolution to largely debunked theories advanced by U.N.global-warming alarmists about supposed human impacts on “climate change.”

There are also the National Sexuality Education Standards being written for Common Core.  They have as a goal to provide clear, consistent and straightforward guidance for sexuality education which is developmentally and age-appropriate for students in grades K-12.

It was Lauren Fagel’s goal to make Common Core sound palatable and reasonable, but whether Common Core has what it takes to elevate this nation’s floundering education system can only be determined when a comparison is made of student performance before Common Core standards and after Common Core has been fully implemented for a number of years.

Common Core might very well do some good in those schools whose students rate way below par academically, but will Common Core State Standards be able to work wonders on students who did poorly prior to the adoption of Common Core?  I doubt it.

As for high achieving schools such as found in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff, Common Core might even result in lowering educational standards.  A substantial amount of retraining will be necessary for teachers to learn how to successfully teach the Common Core way in schools throughout Illinois. The implementation of the new standards could also cost cash-strapped state governments some $16 billion to implement.

Fair to question is whether this nation’s students are being used as Guiana pigs in a one-size-fits-all educational experiment that many feel is destined to perform badly or even fail? The vast majority of countries where students perform more poorly than they do in America have nationalized education.

Without question, Common Core standards fail to address the specific needs of a state or a child, but even most troublesome is that it is designed to produce a generation of progressive, liberal-minded adults and citizen activists who will see this nation in a way completely alien to what our Founding Fathers had in mind when they created a nation that offered such great hope and promise to future generations of Americans.

Monday, October 21, 2013 at 08:14 AM | Permalink

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Obama-02

By Nancy Thorner & Al Boese –

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America ‘s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure.  It is a sign that the US Government cannot pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies.  Increasing America ‘s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that, “the buck stops here”. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better“. –U.S. Senator Barack H. Obama, March 16, 2006

Now fast forward to Thursday, October 16, 2013:

So what are we to make of Barack Obama’s quote before he was elected president and while yet a senator here in Illinois, given that the debt limit debate, as of last night, was still ongoing in Congress despite the rapid approach of the debt limit deadline fast approaching. As to be expected, Obama’s quote was recently spun in a way to exonerate Obama from his 2006 rhetoric. After all, weren’t Obama’s casual 2006 remarks only in keeping with what all politicians do when trying to score points politically with the other party?

While the outcome of the irresponsible debit limit deadline is still a bit cloudy, what is not uncertain is how this nation got to where it is today. Might we start with this broad premise as to the “how” and “why” of the present situation: With no need to mince words out of political correctness: President Obama is a liar (you can keep your old plan and doctor, and much, much more, including Benghazi the IRS); a hypocrite as the paragraph above reveals; an incompetent and failed leader (never held a job or lead anything); a radical socialist (deep and long relationships with Saul Alinsky and Abner Mikva); stunningly clueless as to matters of foreign policy (Syria, Egypt, Libya);  a gullible and naïve diplomat (Putin and Iran cleaned his clock); a Commander in Chief void of conceptual military strategy (abandon Iraq and Afghanistan); and a president devoid of an understanding of economic, fiscal and monetary policy (stimulus and unemployment outcome and government effectiveness).

President Obama’s lack of regard for the Constitution and the traditional rules of Law is legendary. He is likewise a narcissistic loner who dislikes most people and direct conflict (body language in the confrontation with Paul Ryan at the Obamacare conference in 2010), and holds the people of this country in contempt and disregard, as evidenced by his willingness to punish American citizens (selective close down of government facilities to obtain maximum citizen discomfort) to obtain a political point and gain.

Nowhere in American history has any President so willfully and maliciously punished the citizen of the country, for any reason. What we are seeing is reverse patriotism and a total disregard for those for whom he took an oath to lead and protect.

The performance of Congress is not artful and even disgraceful, but this man is the President, the one man who can take the necessary actions to lead us out of the quagmire. We get instead a dash to the bottom, if that is even possible considering where we are now.

If ever we have witnessed the outcome of a leaderless nation, it is now. Obama has clearly abandoned that role and substituted demonization, contrite allegations, petty and childish claims and unseemly arrogance. He campaigns but does not lead. He talks but does not do. He blames but self absolves. And, now we are abandoned.

May God help us all now for the sake of future generations of Americans!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 09:45 AM | Permalink

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Monday, October 14, 2013

ThornerBy Nancy Thorner –

In his weekly Saturday radio address, President Obama told the American people that the government shutdown needed to end so Congress could work on passing comprehensive immigration reform.

Not knowing any better, I might believe that Obama was only kidding! In tandem Obamacare and comprehensive immigration reform, if passed, would represent financial boondoggles with ramifications and consequences for future generations of Americans that are impossible to fully comprehend, but destructive they will be in so many ways.

But how is the House’s immigration bill stacking up in this political contentious month of October which is fast slipping away?  After more than four years of secretive talks, the bipartisan House committee, although set to release its proposal a few months ago, remains somewhat hesitant that it will be swatted down by House conservatives who want an opportunity to first vote on measures to strengthen border security.  Republican establishment House members have every right to be concerned if conservatives House member are pushed aside and told to back off.

As it now stands the bipartisan House bill is reported to include a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, but one taking at least two years longer and more arduous than the one in the Senate-passed plan. It is quite telling that the bipartisan House proposal has won the praise of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Might there be good reason why Nancy Pelosi is so enamored with the bipartisan proposal plan?  House Members of the bi-partisan House group on immigration reform include:  Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.); Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL); Rep. Zoe Logren (D-Calif.); John Yamuth (D-Kentucky); and lone Republican, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida.  Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) dropped out in June over a health care dispute, and Texas Republicans Reps. John Carte and Sam Johnson said that they had “reached a tipping point” in the talks and could no longer continue working on a “broad approach to a rewrite of the nation’s immigration laws.

What might we anticipate from Republican House Speaker John Boehner in how he might deal with House establishment members on immigration reform, especially if Boehner is pressured to deal with reform before the end of this month or at least before the year’s end? Will Boehner remain firm on the need for border security before all else, or will he  be influenced by Paul Ryan in the House and Mitch McConnell and others in the Senate who are pushing for what could only be a disaster in the making — comprehensive immigration reform.

During a news conference back in April Speaker Boehner indicated that he would not allow a floor vote on any immigration bill that didn’t have the support of a majority of his Republican majority.  This seemed to rule out the Senate bill.  Also related by Boehner was that the House bill would be “grounded” in a guarantee of increased border security.

Troubling is a recent report revealing that House Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Chairman Paul Ryan, Congressman Luis Gutierrez, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor are working to advance proposals to open citizenship benefits to the majority of those here illegally, in combination with proposals to expand visa programs.

Representatives Goodlatte, Ryan and Cantor aren’t the only Republicans pushing amnesty in the House.  Rep. Steve Southerland of Florida said this about immigration: “We have to address it  It’s a moral issue” while House GOP conference chairwoman, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodger of Washington state thinks immigration should be a top priority for House Republicans this year and that a window exists between now and the end of the year to accomplish it.

USCIS (U.S. Immigration Citizenship and Immigration Services) president, Kenneth Palinkas, ripped the House leaders noted above on Thursday, October 10, for following the same pathway in pushing amnesty that the Senate “Gang of Eight” members did with proposals to legalize the status of America’s at least 22 million illegal immigrants.   Furthermore. Palinkas related how the Obama administration had placed obstacles and roadblocks in front of adjudication officers who were only attempting to protect this nation’s security and the American taxpayer.  Mr. Palinkas, in attempted to document these abuses on more than one occasion with the authors of the Schumer-Rubio-Corker-Hoeven (S.744), was summarily ignored.

In no uncertain terms  Kenneth Palinkas expressed these concerns to Republican House leaders Goodlatte, Ryan, and Cantor:

Why are plans being pursued prior to first reforming the USCIS where wide spread abuse exists, before the USCS is given the responsibility of reviewing the tens of millions of green cards, temporary visas and citizenship applications?

  • Concerning Eric Cantor’s GOP DREAM Act, tentatively called the KIDS act, it could lead to a slippery slope if successfully argued in the future to include extending birthright citizenship to foreign citizens of other countries
  • Most importantly, why were USCIS agents excluded from all discussions about immigration reform with House leaders, as they were from Senate conversations?
  • Words of caution are in order for how the House might be dealing in October with its immigration reform plan.  Concern exists that any proposed groupings of “step-by-step” House immigration proposals may be used as a tool by House establishment leaders to get to a conference committee.  At this point the House measures would be combined with the Senate bill, sent to the president for his signature, leading to the start of illegal immigrants getting amnesty in its aftermath.

Phyllis Schlafly explains these concern in the following way in her August 2013, The Phyllis Schlafly Report, Vol. 74, No. 1:

The Gang of Eight pro-amnesty Senators are trying to con the House of Representatives into passing parts of an anti-American amnesty bill so they can get a Chuck Schumer-dominated conference committee and bamboozle Representatives into going along with their sellout plans.  The few pro-amnesty Republican Senators had Marco Rubio as the salesman for the unpopular amnesty bill, and the few pro-amnesty Republicans in the House have Paul Ryan to play the same un-Republican role. 

In the same report Schlafly enumerates these dangerous and costly provisions in the Senate’s Gang of Eight bill that are impossible to itemize, but they do speak of foolishness if not challenged by Republicans:

1. Rules are loosened for asylum seekers by reducing the application to be an asylum seeker from the current one-year deadline to as many years as the immigrant wants.  It also allows the U.S. Attorney General to pay the asylum seekers’ legal fees. Have we so soon forgotten how those welcomed as asylum seekers turned out to be terrorists?

2. To help the immigrants transition to American life and apply for government benefits, duties are outsourced to community organizers and activists paid by taxpayers.  This will ensure the loading of new entrants permanently into the Democratic Party.

3. The amnesty bill even assigns some of these so-called non-profit left wing community groups the task of rewriting provisions for U.S. citizenship.

This question needs to be asked and answered honestly.  Why are companies laying off thousands then demanding immigration reform, when at the same time corporate officers are seeking higher numbers of immigrants, both low-skill and high-skill?  An  article written by Byron York and published in the Washington Examiner on September 11, is worth reading.

Before anything else is going to work, people must have confidence that the border is secure to prevent another wave of illegal immigrants who believe that they too will be granted the same “courtesy” of amnesty in the future.

Immigration reform, as proposed by the Senate Gang of Eight and now being pushed by some in the House, threatens this nation’s economy, job markets and national security.

Can we afford to allow Congress to pass what is “pretend” immigration reform?   The push for immigration reform must be stopped from happening in the House of Representatives.  According to Article 1, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution, the House is given the sole power to originate all bills for raising revenue under what is know as the Origination CauseThe Gang’s amnesty bill oversteps and includes a provision to raise some revenue, making it possible for the House to reject the Senate bill in what is called a “blue slip” procedure.

You owe it to your family and to your fellow countrymen to contact your own representative and House leaders Speaker John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Bob Goodlatte, and Paul Ryan, insisting that in light of the direction immigration reform seems to be taking in the House with its close proximity to the Senate’s Gang of Eight proposal, immigration reform must die in the House.  The immigration reform legislation as being formulated is a destructive piece of legislation that will destroy this nation.

Isn’t it time that we put the American people and jobs first?  We need to help Americans find jobs, not replace them under the guise of immigration reform.

_______

Part 1:  http://illinoisreview.typepad.com/illinoisreview/2013/10/thorner-immigration-reform-with-amnesty-is-still-very-much-alive.html#more

Monday, October 14, 2013 at 01:45 PM | Permalink

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

ThornerBy Nancy Thorner – 

It’s been quite some time since the issue of immigration reform has been a topic that has reached the attention of the public through media reports.  In the meantime there have been numerous immigration rallies held, the most recent one on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., when because of the government shutdown the World War II Memorial was barricaded and not officially open to veterans (as it was for illegal immigrants) who had come to pay tribute as representatives of the “The Greatest Generation.”

The issue of immigration reform, however, is still very much alive and is being crafted below the radar by pro-amnesty members of the House, even in the midst of the government shutdown when House members are attempting to negotiate over Obamacare, the debt-ceiling, and the budget as a means to reopening the present partial government shutdown.  And this at a time when Britain is moving to limit immigration — as reported in the Wall Street Journal on Friday, October 11 — with an Immigration Bill designed to make it easier to remove illegal immigrants and to prevent them from using state-funded services such as health care!

Much has been said and written about the Senate’s controversial immigration reform bill S.744 (Gang of Eight) passed in late June. Claims made by the White House about S.744 don’t stack up against the facts.  As recounted in a Heritage Foundation Morning Bell post on September 6th.

1.  CLAIM:  The Senate-passed bill would reduce the deficit, but the amnesty part of it would be extremely costly for American taxpayers, particularly in the long run.

2.  CLAIM:  The Senate-passed bill would increase wages, when instead many legally present workers would find their wages lower.

3.  CLAIM:  The Senate-passed bill would eliminate visa backlogs and reduce waiting times, when it would overwhelm the current immigration system.

4.  CLAIM:  The Senate-passed bill would provide a “lengthy but fair” path to earned citizenship, but amnesty is inherently unfair to those who waded through the complex and convoluted immigration system to come and remain here legally.  Approximately 4.4 million individuals at this moment are waiting in the line to be granted entry to this nation.

5.  CLAIM:  The Senate-passed bill would improve employment-based visa programs, when it would make the process worse.  The list of new restrictions on employers of H-1B visa recipients include requiring employers to pay higher wages to most H-1B workers than current U.S workers and other requirements that would create a bureaucratic nightmare for employers and put them in legal jeopardy.

According to U.S. Border Patrol agents who work along the Mexican border and also patrol many of the roads that lead from the border to US cities, their beefs include:   In making routine or spontaneous law enforcement decisions, such as ordinary traffic stops, Federal law enforcement officers may not use race or ethnicity to any degree, except that officers may rely on race and ethnicity if a specific description exists.  Meaning, if an overflowing van is spotted with Hispanics heading north from the Mexican border, all the Border Patrol agents can do is sit and watch them drive by as the agents didn’t actually see them crossing the border.

Within the immigration reform bill is a provision that will allow the Department of Homeland Security to collect data on all immigration law enforcement activities to see if anyone is guilty of racial or ethnic profiling.  This will result in millions more illegals flooding over the border hoping to be rewarded a promised path to citizenship for their illegal acts.  Likewise, drug traffickers will have open roads to truck illegal drugs into the U.S.

As reported by Breitbart News in July, a mandate similar to the one found in Obamacare is likewise contained in the Senate’s immigration reform bill that, according to the CBO scoring of the legislation, would impose a $20 billion Medicaid expansion on States over a decade-long period should President Obama should sign a version of the Senate’s immigration reform bill into law.  How come?  Because of the increased number of individuals who would become eligible for either full Medicaid or more limited emergency benefits.

What would be the consequences of a mandate expanding Medicaid here in Illinois?   In April of this year Tribune reporter Bruce Japsen reported:

Illinois doctors, hospitals and pharmacists are turning away poor patients and cutting services because the state owes them more than $1 billion in overdue Medicaid payments.

The state budget crisis has forced the Illinois Department of Public Aid to be more than six months behind in some payments to providers of care to the 1.6 million Illinoisans insured by the Medicaid program.

And let’s not forget, even thought immigration legislation is now stalled in Congress, that it hasn’t prevented President Obama from issuing policy directives that grant amnesty by default.  An Obama directive in August of this year compelled U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to stop removing broad categories of unlawful immigrants such as in cases where an illegal alien is the primary provided for any minor child — regardless of the child’s immigration status — or the parent or guardian of a child who is a U.S citizen or legal permanent resident.

Also consider how In June of 2012, by executive fiat, a memorandum was issued informing US. immigration officials how  this nation’s immigration laws should be enforced against certain young people who were brought to this country as children and know only this country as home.  Despite the same proposal failing in Congress more than 30 times, the fiat allowed major portions of the DREAM Act to be implemented.

Perhaps the most disturbing but least discussed feature of the Gang of Eight’s immigration plan is the detrimental effects S. 744 would have on this nation’s labor force.  Certain business groups will be provided with multiple avenues to avoid hiring U.S workers with the ability to bring in record numbers of workers from abroad.  In addition to the issuing of 30 million green cards, S.74 also doubles the number of non-immigrant guest workers admitted each year from approximately 600,000 today to an average of 2.1 million annually over the next decade.

Part 2 two will detail how the House’s immigration bill is progressing even now as Speaker Boehner and Republican House members deal with the government shutdown; which House members are pushing immigration reform; and why it’s essential that immigration reform be stopped in the House.

Sunday, October 13, 2013 at 09:47 AM | Permalink

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Friday, October 11, 2013

CapitolBy Nancy Thorner – 

Listening to the news reports yesterday afternoon, October 10th, of negotiations between Republicans and President Obama was enough to make my head spin, as reports started to surface every 15 minutes or so about the outcome of the meeting.  Finally reported in the early evening was how both sides of the aisle would continue negotiations during the night to see if a compromise could be reached. The only entityfeeling upbeat was the stock market, and this was over the prospect of a deal.

It was was reported as a sign of hope yesterday morning just the fact that President Obama and congressional Republicans had finally decided it was time to talk.  As it was, eighteen House Republicans met at the White House yesterday afternoon in an effort to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling by Oct. 17.  Among the participants were the House GOP’s budget chief, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who had tried to sell conservatives his two-step plan on Wednesday, October 9, to hike the debt limit short term and reopen the government long enough for Congress to pass entitlement reforms, an idea Ryan expanded on Oct. 9th in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Erick Erickson of Redstate reported before the afternoon talks that he had been told by several sources that Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor were plotting to give up trying to either defund or delay Obamacare by working up a deal that would include a debt ceiling increase “with a few sops to the GOP as cover.”  The one change they were considering was the repeal of the medical devise tax.  If such action occurred, wouldn’t it ensure that ObamaCare would be fully funded and the American people, unlike businesses, would have no delay?

Speculation is fine, but what really ensued between House Republicans and President  Obama?  Boehner presented a plan to raise the debt limit for 6 weeks as a good faith effort on the part of Republicans to move halfway to what Obama was demanded in order to begin talks toward meaningful negotiations.  Boehner’s proposal would suspend the debt limit until Nov 22, the Friday before Thanksgiving.

Obama’s initial position, enumerated a number of times by President Obama and other Democratic legislators, was that a clean bill must be proposed with no partisan strings attached to end the government shutdown before Republican issues could be addressed.  Obama additionally preferred a much longer extension of the debt limit than the six weeks offered by Republicans.  By the close of yesterday’s meeting, however, there was a report of a slight hint that Obama just might agree to one of the Republicans demands without the other —  the length of the debt limit extension.  To Republicans, just because Obama didn’t say “no” gave them a slight glimmer of hope.  Republican and Democrats aids agreed to continue talks overnight.

What possibly brought both sides together to talk and attempt to negotiate? Might the effort to negotiate a deal, especially among establishment House Republican leaders, have been tied to a Gallup survey released on Wednesday, Oct. 9th, citing that the favorably rating of the Republican Part had sunk to 28 percent?

But what about the overall poll numbers of an AP-Gfk Poll conducted Oct. 3 – 7 which asked who was to blame for the government shutdown, which in reality is only a partial shutdown?

The AP-GfK poll was a mixed bag of where blame had been placed by the American people, many of whom hear reports coming only from the mainstream media which favor Obama.  Admittedly, Republicans did receive more blame than  Democrats, but Democrats didn’t emerge from the poll smelling like roses!

Regarding President Obama, the “blame shutdown game” ties right in with an AP report of how Barack Obama’s approval level has cratered during the shutdown phase to 37%.  Obama must be worried, as this threatens his grandiose dream to capture the House in 2014 to put in place his progressive socialism without hindrance from an obnoxious House that is holding him hostage!  On the other hand Obama might be in a state of disbelief.

In Obama’s thinking he is invisible, pulling the strings from just out of sight, never realizing that he has overplayed his hand in his attempt to inflict pain due to budget issues.  How could Obama refuse to pay death benefits for soldiers killed in action, even though a law authorizing payment was passed by both houses of Congress on October 1 and signed by Obama?

And just why should Republicans be criticizing the health care enrollment process over a few “glitches” in the software?  Obama can’t explain the doubling of premium costs and carve-outs to big business, members of Congress and big labor as just mere “glitches,” yet when listening to press secretary Jay Carny and President Obama they never happened.  Nothing happened at all!

Providentially not all Americans yet believe that Obama is just an innocent bystander with no culpability for whatever happens.  As incredulous as it might seem to some, G. W. Bush is still being blamed for Obama’s misgivings by his most ardent supporters.

Are members of the Republican leadership either not grounded in reality or does naivety keep them from understanding the ways President Obama formulates policy?  Although Republicans have been burned time and again when caving in to demands of “it’s either my way or no way,” are Republican establishment members so gullible to believe that things will be any different this time around?  A word to the wise, especially to Republican Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell. Hope doesn’t always run eternal.  False promises of hope acted upon will only cause more problems in the long run.

Any deal Boehner reaches with Obama would have to be passed by the House, where, depending on the negotiations made with the President, the terms might not set well with all House members.  House member worried about increasing the debt level without spending cuts to offset the spending are sure to debate the following questions: 1) why we need to raise the debt ceiling when this nation already has a massive $17 trillion and an incomprehensible $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities, and  2) why default would be inevitable without it as there is enough revenue coming in to pay the interest on our debt?

It is not really a conservative position to allow an increase in the debt limit without asking for a decrease in spending.  This would be like asking for a credit card limit increase without lowering the monthly expenses.  The debt would only continue to pile up to the detriment of this nation’s financial solvency

To those House members who want only to open government as quickly as possible and are willing to give all that Obama wants with no string attached, they are courting a recipe for disaster. Such action would hopelessly split the Republican Party and would dash all hopes of Republicans of taking control of the Senate and keeping control of the House in the elections of 2014 and recapturing the White House in 2016.

As the debt ceiling can’t be responsibly raised without corresponding cuts, it would be wise to follow the lead of those House Republican members who favor a piecemeal approach to ending the shutdown.  By opening up National Parks and having soldiers and their widows get paid, Obama will have lost his leverage and Republicans can then move onto other agencies until all of government is open except for the HHS and the IRS.  Then Democrats will have to make a call whether to push Obamacare off until October, 2014, with the election only a few weeks away.

Would Democrats even dare to fully enact Obamacare as a set policy not negotiable in any way if the polls are correctly showing Democrat Senate losses in Alaska, Louisiana, Missouri and North Carolina.  With Max Baucus from Montana retiring, his seat should be a pickup for Republicans.  That’s the 51st Senate seat, allowing Republicans to delay the full enforcement of Obamacare.

What happens in the next day or so is of great importance.  How Republicans react could determine the future direction of this nation.  Will this nation go the way of Socialism as government becomes more aggressive and power hungry?  This government already has too much authority with its power to inflict pain.  If Republicans give in to Obama’s demand that only after a clean resolution is passed will he address their other problem, trusting Obama will keep his word, the blood will be on Republican hands for not doing everything possible to halt Obama’s grab for power.  The control of health care is considered an important ingredient in the move toward Socialism.

Sometimes forgotten is that the House holds the purse strings.  Furthermore, that House members were elected to Congess in 2012 to get rid of Obamacare.

Republicans must hold their ground lest future generation look back to this era and question why Republicans allowed Democrats — believing as they do that the Constitution prevents them from doing what they wish to to — to circumvent our Constitution, thereby imposing their will upon the American people and taking with it our God-granted rights of freedom and liberty, only to be replaced by an oppressive government that cares not about the average citizen, but only about doing what is necessary to retain control and power. 

The rallying cry must be for conservatives and like-minded Republicans to hold the line in both the House and the Senate.

You hold the future of America in your hands!

Friday, October 11, 2013 at 02:30 PM | Permalink

 

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

20131004_182018By Nancy Thorner –

The 2013 Fall Banquet of the Illinois Family Institute was held at the Midwest Conference Center in Northlake, IL, on October 4th, 2013. The theme of the evening, “Courage to Stand,” featured Dr. Benjamin Carson as the Keynote Speaker. This annual event was sold out over a month before its Oct. 4th scheduled date with 1100 attending, prompting the addition of an overflow room.David E. Smith is the Executive Director of the Illinois Family Institute, whose mission it is to strengthen the family and restore traditional Judeo-Christian values to our culture by educating, equipping, and networking men, women and churches for the battle to protect the family.

Julie Roys, as a trusted voice of biblical wisdom on Moody Radio, was first up at the podium as Masters of Ceremony to welcome the guests.

Making an appearance on stage prior to supper being served was Executive Director David Smith. Mr. Smith spoke about the success of IFI lobbying efforts in having the General Assembly in Springfield fail to pass a homosexual marriage bill that initially seemed like a slam dunk. Praised was the IFI Lobby Day on Feb. 20 of this year when thousands of “Don’t Redefine Marriage” supporters converged on Springfield from all over Illinois. Support also came from the Chicago Coalition of African American Pastors, chaired by Bishop Lance Davis.Black state legislators were told in no uncertain terms that voting for gay marriage was unacceptable.

Another Pro-Marriage Lobby Day is scheduled for Wednesday, October 23, at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield.  As the battle to make gay marriage legal in Illinois is alive and growing stronger, along with the good possibility that the gay marriage proposal could be brought up for a vote a number of times in the upcoming veto sessions of the 98th General Assembly (the first being from the 21 to the 24 of October), Smith urged all to come to Springfield on October 23rd to rally against the Illinois General Assembly redefining marriage.

As stressed by Smith, homosexual marriage is a Biblical issue.  The Lord wants us to roll up our sleeves and get to work.  Sitting back and relaxing is not possible if the evil leftist effort is to be stopped.  Legislators must be sent this message:  Don’t even think about redefining marriage!  Who are we to decide that one life is more important than another by killing babies in the womb.  This indicates the barbaric nature and direction of our society, whereas every life should be precious.

Smith encouraged all present, as did State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) later on in the program, to become regular financial supporters of the IFI by making a monthly commitment, so enabling the IFI to continue with its vital work and hopefully to make it possible to hire a few more individuals to expand its work.

Dr. Benjamin Carson did not disappoint those who had eagerly looked forward to seeing him in person and hearing him speak when signing up to attend the IFI banquet a few months ago. There was evident excitement in the room with an enthusiastic applause of welcome when Dr. Carson walked on stage to take his place at the podium.  All had a vivid memory of Dr. Carson’s poignant remarks at a prayer breakfast with President Obama sitting near by with an evident scowl on his face.

It was shortly afterwards encounter with the President that Dr. Carson was audited for the first time by the IRS.

In a lighthearted way, Dr. Carson wasted no time in noting that he’s neither a Republican or a Democrat, but if he were a member of a party it would be the “logic” party.   Dr. Carson then went on to relate how when the Baltimore Sun found out he was going to Illinois to speak, it exclaimed how Carson was going to Illinois to speak to a “hate group,” so defined by the Southern Poverty Law Group.

Dr. Carson then continued to relate some amazing details about his life.  When only eight years old Carson dreamed of becoming a mission doctor.  Knowing that mission doctors served at a great personal sacrifice with little pay, by age thirteen Carson’s thinking had changed.  Having grown up in poverty, Carson decided that being rich was better than being poor so why not become a psychiatrist, as he was already providing a sounding board for his fellow classmates?  With a bit of bravado, Carson declared that he was going to become the greatest psychiatrist the world had ever known.

Following his desire to become a psychiatrist, Dr. Carson reasoned, knowing that God endows everyone with special gifts and talents, and how God had endowed him with good hand and eye coordination and he also liked to dissect things, why not become a terrific brain surgeon?  Contemplating further, Carson reasoned that by operating 10 – 18 hours on kids the rewards would be great — a long life for the children and a big return on his investment.

In commenting about ObamaCare, Dr. Carson opined what an amazing thing it was to be a member of the medical profession and to be able to contribute to the well-being of mankind.  Regarding ObamaCare and the haste in which it was put together, it is not about health but instead about control.  It involves people at the pinnacle of power who wish to place government in charge of our lives.  It requires courage to remind elected officials that they work for us and not the other way around.  Carson also bemoaned political correctness and called it “a scourge on our society.”  Freedom of expression is so important and is to be cherished.

Dr. Carson subtly compared what is happening in the White House to the teachings of Chicago native, Saul Alinsky’s, whose Rules for Radicals published in 1971 served as impassioned counsel to young radicals on how to effect constructive social change.  Never mentioned by name, but implied, was how the President had been schooled in Alinsky’s rules as a community activist in Chicago.   Prevalent among the Alinsky’s rules being applied by the White House through its actions and policies: 1) if you push a negative hard enough it will gain traction and become a positive and 2) driving a wedge between people or groups of people will create class warfare and with it division and unrest.

Dr. Carson’s dream of becoming a doctor suffered a major setback when his parents divorced, prompting these thoughts about marriage. To Dr. Carson, marriage is a relationship between God and His people.  “Just as the secular progressive movement is currently indicating that it’s fine for a child to say that 2 + 2 = 5 if the child is able to explain why this is so — as sanctioned through Common Core initiatives — so secular progressives are likewise pushing the idea that homosexual marriage is fine and dandy by summarily dismissing the covenant between God and His people,” he said.

Although there exists a legal way to establish a homosexual union, secular progressives seem intent on changing what is a pillar of our society — traditional marriage between one man and one woman.   Anyone who doesn’t believe as they do are called haters, Carson said. “They are intolerant.”

Dr. Carson was an object of such derision when a “Chik-fil-a” -like attempt was made to paint Carson as a homophobic, only to be backed away from when the accusation about Carson proved to be unfounded. Carson reminded the audience not to be afraid of those who try to discredit what they firmly believe, for God is with them and will provide the strength and the courage needed to prevail.

Regarding Dr. Carson’s mother who had only a 3rd grade education, she decided early on that welfare was not for her, not wanting to become a victim knowing that handouts zap motivation. Although it would have been easier for Carson’s mother to sit down and wait for a handout, she took her two sons out into the country, knocking on doors of farmers, to inquire whether she and her two sons could pick apples, beans, or whatever else might have been available and in season.  A three to one deal was offered. “We will pick four bushels, giving you three and taking home with us one bushel,” his mother told the farmers. Through canning, there was plenty to eat in the Carson household.

Dr. Carson applauded Bishop Lance Davis of the Black Chicago Alliance for standing up against homosexual marriage. “Young black men and women must receive a message that the act of fathering a child is more likely to dissolve their lives than to involve them in achieving success,” he said.

Young black youth must also be schooled in economics, specifically, how to bring the dollar back into their communities to create jobs and develop entrepreneurship, Carson said.  Instead, young people speak about victimhood, content to receive Democratic handouts to insure loyalty to party, not realizing that such dependence on government rather than self will only result in continued feelings of victim hood.

As to the plight of this nation’s education system, Dr. Carson painted a rather dismal picture, one in which this nation’s students rank 22nd out of 23rd among the richest countries surveyed in solving math and scientific problems.  He mentioned additional worrisome figures: 30% of young people don’t graduate from high school, and  40% end up taking more than four years to finish college.

“In this technological era we live in, this nation has a great need for physics and math majors,” he said. “Students must be encouraged to sign up for the difficult courses required for preparation to become engineers and scientists, which call for more work and study. Education standards started slipping when this nation’s moral compass went down the tubes.”

It didn’t help that the space program was killed, Carson said.  Forgotten is that the program was also about developing technology and innovation.  What about a nation that has eight times more energy than Saudi Arabia, yet oil and coal were treated with disdain even before the EPA declared CO2 a pollutant and the cause of global warming.

“The EPA has become so powerful that unless energy is harvested in a safe way — like wind or solar power — the offending entity is under threat of  being shut down,” he said.  “As a pinnacle nation, on the verge of losing this status, will we be able to learn from the mistakes of others and change course in time to remain competitive and a world power?”

When Alexis de Tocqueville, an aristocratic Frenchman, visiting this nation in 1831 to see what made democracy tick, what he found was a superior educational system where students were completely literate by the 2nd grade.  This explained how pioneers could go from one part of the country to another.  They knew how to invest and to solve problems.  By middle school students could answer question that most college students would be unable to answer now days, and we live in an age of technology!  His book, Democracy in America is still popular today and is used as a text in political science and history courses.

There is a way for this nation to catch up very quickly in education through virtual classrooms where millions of students can be exposed to expert instruction simultaneously, Carson encourage. “Students must return to a place where they are able to fit into a larger puzzle and not be islands unto themselves.  Spirituality must also be returned to become a guiding factor in their lives.  With God removed the void has been filled with worldly things, which has led to theft, selfishness, lack of respect and murder, etc.”

Political correctness was shown for what it is and condemned by Dr. Carson.  Individuals can easily be led astray by those intent on spreading false information presented as truth, which explains why this nation must concentrate on getting its people educated again. This doesn’t mean to eliminate sports and entertainment from our lives, but these pass times shouldn’t crowd out efforts at keeping informed so misinformation can be spotted and rejected.

Dr. Carson said he hated poverty.  There was a time as a child when Carson thought he might have been born in an alien civilization.  In 5th grade Ben Carson moved back to Detroit to live in tenement conditions.  Upon observing people being shot dead in his own neighborhood, Carson deduced that he might not survive long enough to become a doctor.

In attending school in Detroit, Carson was considered stupid, but he did admire the bright students who always knew the answers, wondering how they became so smart.  Carson’s mother prayed that her young sons would receive wisdom through learning.  With only a third grade education Carson’s mother couldn’t read, but the boys didn’t know this at the time.  By requiring her boys to check out two books weekly from the local library and write book reports — which she only pretended to read — Ben found knowledge that likewise enabled him to answer questions like the smart kids in his class and to likewise become smart.

It dawned on Ben that he had the brain, but that it was necessary to change his attitude.  After this revelation, Ben was no longer bothered by being poor, for he had the power to chart what course he wanted to follow in life, as we all do.

Emphasized by Dr. Carson is that we do have a chance to to change this nation.  It does takes courage to stand up for what we believe, as was displayed by patriot Nathan Hale.

During the American Revolution, before being hung by the British, Hale declared, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country”  Then there was Patrick Henry who intoned these famous words:  “Give me Liberty or give me Death.”  Nor can we forget about George Washington who had the courage to fight beside his own men, always remaining untouched with enemy fire all around him.  As a courier for General Braddock in the French and Indian War, two horses were shot from underneath Washington, yet he keep on fighting.  After some time the Indians came to the conclusion that Washington couldn’t be taken down.  The Great Spirit was by his side and protecting him.

It is Dr. Carson’s conviction that God has looked out for this nation from her very beginning, that He loves this nation and allowed her to rise rapidly to reach her pinnacle of power and success.  But just as quickly we can lose our nation if we allow the progressive liberals to take over.

In observing how mild-mannered Dr. Carson is today, it was difficult to ever imagine that he had a temper problem when in high school. In a surprise revelation, Carson related how he had almost killed a fellow student by knifing him.  Fortunately for Dr. Carson the student was wearing a large brass buckle which broke Carson’s knife upon impact.  Badly shaken by what he had almost done, and realizing that he would be on his way to reform school or prison if he had been successful, Dr. Carson went into a bathroom where he prayed for three hours with Proverbs Chapter19, Verse 19-21 foremost in his mind.

A man of great anger will bear the penalty, For if you rescue him, you will only have to do it again.

 Listen to counsel and accept discipline, That you may be wise the rest of your days.

Many plans are in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the Lord will stand.

Understanding came to Carson that what he had attempted to do out of anger was a sign of weakness and not strength, for no reason other than having a classmate step into his space. Upon leaving the bathroom Carson’s temper problem was no longer with him. God, in all of his wisdom and love, had banished Carson’s explosive temper forever.

Dr. Carson closed with these three thoughts:

  •  We became a great nation because values and principles were taught with the Bible serving as a guiding force.
  •  When this nation ceases to be good, it will fail.
  • We can’t be free unless we are brave, for as the final words signify in our National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner:

“O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

Dr. Benjamin Carson has five books to his credit.  American the Beautiful:  Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great is worth purchasing as it provides inspiration and insight for leading a successful life.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013 at 12:22 PM | Permalink

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