Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


By Nancy Thorner – 

Sponsored by the Young American Foundation and the College Republican Organization of Northwestern University, former Senator Rick Santorum was engaged as the Fall speaker by the Northwestern College Republican Organization on Wednesday, November 19. His topic, “America’s Defense.” Santorum served eight years on the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he led the fight before the attacks of

September 11th, 2001 to transform our military from a Cold War force to meet current threats.

Introduced by the president of the Northwestern College Republican Organization, it was obvious that those in attendance were eager to hear what Santorum had to say. By the same token, Santorum expressed his fondness for engaging with students. Having run for president in 2012, Santorum noted how only one out of 22 candidate debates dealt with national security. National Security was just not a big issue in 2012, unlike it was in the recent election.

Given the disastrous election results suffered by Democrats in most of the states, are Democrats open to learning from the past so their foreign policy can be forward looking? This nation became a super power after WW II. She is still the lone super power left in the world, but for how long?

Senator Santorum outlined five lessons learned from past conflicts that must apply to future engagements.  All are applicable to both parties, as defense should not be a partisan issue.

Lesson one:  Democratic Capitalism as a World Model?

It was 25 years ago this month when the Berlin Wall fell.  Some thought this event signified the end of history and that the world was heading in a different direction.  Socialism and authoritarian had lost.  “Democratic Capitalism” would reign as the world model. Russia found out on its own that its economic system couldn’t support defense ambitions.  China had to move into the 20th century by adopting capitalistic principles.  Democratic Capitalism, however, applies to more than just adopting capitalistic measures.  It can’t be forced upon countries. Democratic Capitalism occurs when capitalism is felt by a large segment of the people. Dissatisfaction develops when people don’t believe capitalism is working for them.  Democratic Capitalism, when working well, provides a strong economy to support and provide a quality of life its citizens.  Here is America blue collar conservatives, and all working men and women, must experience some economic benefits to believe that the system is working.

Lesson two:  “Peace Through Strength”

This was the watchword of President Reagan’s presidency.  As such, strength of power was an important deterrent against enemy aggression. Weakness only encourages bad behavior from those who wish us harm. This nation must send out a signal to the world that she is still strong.  But how to do so, when General James Dempsey remarked how our military is so underfunded it would be immoral to fight a war?  Also, America has not committed the revenue necessary to keep a strong military.  China, Russia, and Iran are sensing America’s inability to deter, making us more venerable to foreign strength and power.  It is imperative that we reengage and better fund our military.

Lesson three:  Understand the Threat and Define it

Public opinion does matter. The President is either deterred or encouraged to act through public opinion. Support to re-engage in Iraq was not there until the public was appalled by the beheadings.  It was only then that Obama took action. Rick Santorum doesn’t see the White House responding in any meaningful way to defeat the Islamic terrorists in Iraq or Syria.  What is needed above all is for our leaders to adequately define the threat. There was no problem when defining the enemy in WW II as Nazi aggression or Communism. Because of today’s political correctness, threats can no longer be defined, nor can the nature of the enemy.

“Terrorist” alone doesn’t cut it, unless we use “Islamic” in conjunction with “terrorist”, for we are fighting “Islamic terrorists,” Santorum said.

Winning a war is impossible unless we can define the terrorists and what they are trying to accomplish.  We see none of this from the Obama administration, where confusion existed after the Oklahoma beheading of Colleen Hufford, a 54-year-old grandmother and worker at Vaughan Foods in Moore, Oklahoma. Was it terrorism or workplace violence, even though co-workers in interviews said the suspect, Alton Nolen, 30, tried to convert them to Islam.

Regarding the 2009 Ft. Hood shooting, Muslim or Islam were never mentioned in the indictment of Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S. Army major and psychiatrist, who fatally shot 13 people and injured more than 30 others in what has been labeled as workplace violence.  We are not facing a new threat, but a resurgence of a threat that we thought had been subdued. It is folly to believe that Iran is doing anything other than working to develop a nuclear weapon.  Iran has ballistic rockets. The only purpose they have is to carry nuclear war heads, yet the Obama administration believes that through diplomacy Iran will end its nuclear program.

Lesson four:  Plan to be successful

We are presently engaged with fighting ISIS.  After the American public saw the brutal beheadings, it wanted the President to do something.  What President Obama failed to do is to lay out a plan for success. Is this administration really serious about winning the war? Consider the number of sorties flown every day. In the Gulf War it was 800 a day; in the 2nd Gulf War, 1,000; and in the present confrontation, it’s between 2 and 5. This is no way to run a successful foreign policy program.  Victory must be the end goal.

Lesson five:  If America doesn’t lead, who else will?

Mark Steyn in his book, America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It, points out how demographic trends in Europe point to Muslims, in time, taking over Europe because of the sheer number of Muslims living in European nation fostered by continuing high birth rates. European countries are not engaged in countering this critical problem which threatens their existence, because as sovereign nations they are more concerned with their own survival than in protecting their own interests.  There is only one country that can stand up to evil.  It  is America.  America is still in a unique position in the world. She can still lead because of her military might and economy, but America’s credibility is being eroded.  There must be a vision, which necessitates laying out objectives so a plan can be formulated to carry through.

The Question and Answer session that followed was impressive.  The students in attendance seemed unusually bright, engaged and well-versed on the political happenings of the day.  They listened with respect to Senator Rick Santorum, asking intelligent questions that reflected knowledge way beyond what is known by a majority of the American people.  Hearing the students engage with Senator Santorum gave me some hope that this nation will somehow survive the present assault on its democracy and the rule of law.

Question 1:  The treatment of Hamas as a legitimate government?

Response:  Democracies don’t happen overnight.  It is wrong to believe that this nation can go into a country and everyone will desire to live as we do in a democracy.  It makes no sense that we continue to give money to those who practice terrorism and who threaten the existence of Israel.  Iran is the biggest threat to Israel.  Once Iran has the nuclear bomb, it will not hesitate to wipe out the state of Israel.  An easy achievement, as Israel can be wiped out by a single nuclear weapon.  President Obama has done more to advance Iran’s nuclear power than anyone else.  Obama is desperate for a deal with Iran (Might it be to legitimize his Nobel Peace Price?), but when has Iraq ever honored any deal? The one thing that could stop Iran from producing a nuclear weapon is putting pressure on Iran through heavy sanctions. But lo and behold, when things starting getting bad for the Iranian people because the sanctions were working, this nation agreed to hold joint negotiations with Iran, buying more time for Iran to develop a nuclear bomb.  Santorum fears greatly for the State of Israel.  It looks like Israel will have to defend itself.

Question 2:   Are you considering a run for president in 2016?

Response:  Santorum responded in the affirmative.  He is exploring the possibility.

Question 3:  Will your pro-life position be held against you?

Rick Santorum reminded students that they are more pro-life than their parents.  Your parents could have said “I don’t want you and you wouldn’t be here.”  You are also a very visual generation and have seen a baby in the womb.  It looks like baby, not just like a blob of flesh. All of us have the opportunity to make our case, and this is how it should be.  The debate should be made in the public square, but so often the will of the people is denied and instead a court determines the outcome.  Debates used to be two way street, but not any longer.  “If I disagree with you it is because I must hate you, I’m intolerant, or a bigot, which is a huge infringement on Freedom of Speech.” We must be tolerant of differences of opinion, but there must be debate.  It is encouraging that 50 years after Roe vs. Wade debate is still warranted.

Question 4:  Is Climate Change a Threat to National Security?

Response:  During a recent visit to China, President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a landmark climate change agreement.  President Obama touted the agreement as a major climate victory, but how can it be a victory when China is not committed to anything?  What we offered to do would have no effect on climate change, but it would instead lower the standard of living and raise the cost of purchased goods.  If the solution set forth doesn’t solve the problem, why then are we doing it?  Let’s have a debate to allow those who ascribe to climate change the ability to state just how climate change threatens national security.

Question 5:  What must Republican do to win in 2016?

Response:  Republicans won in November not because they had any real solutions, but because Democrats were so bad on the economy and national security.  The solutions offered by Democrats to issues were for more government intervention and increased spending.  Regarding Republicans in 2016, they can’t continue to run on their usual themes of balancing the budget, cutting taxes, and cutting programs.  Republicans need a more positive message that will offer solutions that resonate with the American people.  What Republicans haven’t yet realized is that their usual message is met with tone deafness in Middle America.  Republicans must present a message of pro-growth and pro-work.  Opportunities must be created for all Americans, remembering that 70% of the American people don’t hold college degrees. Working Americans have been hurt during the past eight years as medium incomes have decreased. With President Obama’s illegal Executive Order granting 4 -5 million undocumented immigrants Social Security numbers and work permits, there will be 5 million more individuals available to take the same jobs now held by others.  Hispanics here legally are going to see their wages crumble. Blacks will also hurt in the job market.  Most Americans don’t realize that every year 1.1 million immigrants are legally granted permission to come to America. If a Republican president is elected in 2016, anti-business and other crippling legislation must be repealed.  The same for Obamacare. A sensible energy policy must also be set forth.

Hopefully the Republican controlled Senate and House before 2016 will show some spine in confronting Obama in his determination to enact climate change measures and bi-pass Congress on immigration policy that if allowed to stand unchallenged will harm the American people and this nation.  Since Obama has nothing to lose as he is not on the ballot in 2016, it is certain that he will use his final two years in office to push agenda items through Executive fiat that he couldn’t move legislatively during his prior six years   Someone must fight for the American worker.  Let it be the Republican Party!

*This disclaimer preceded the introduction of Rick Santorum:  “The thoughts expressed by Rick Santorum are not to be viewed as representing the views of Northwestern.  Nevertheless, a visitor is entitled to speak without interruption, as Northwestern honors the sanctity of free speech and upholds the value of civility.”  Both were honored by the students.  Following Santorum’s remarks, many students gathered around him to get a chance for further interaction.


By Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold – 

At approximately 9 pm Monday evening, St. Louis County Attorney General McCulloch announced that the grand jury investigating the killing of Michael Brown by Ferguson policeman Darren Wilson did not return a true bill (i.e., an indictment). McCulloch, and later President Obama, described the incident as a tragedy which should be a platform for improvements to be made in the relationship between police and the black community in the future. What was not said, explicitly, was the actual facts of the case.

It is incontrovertible that a homicide occurred – a human being was killed at the hand of man. It is also an undisputed fact that Officer Wilson fired the shots that killed Michael Brown. Left unsaid was that the grand jury determined that no crime occurred, hence Officer Wilson would not be charged and tried in a court of law.

No crime occurred because Officer Wilson acted in self defense, in fear of his life. This conclusion was based on forensic evidence from the investigation, corroborated by testimony of officer Wilson and many citizens, including black members of the community that witnessed the event.

The right to defend one’s life using deadly force if necessary is fundamental to common law, statutory law, Constitutional law, and ecclesiastic law predating the pyramids of Egypt. Michael Brown was killed because he attacked Officer Wilson, fled, then turned to attack Wilson again as he pursued Brown. Brown continued the attack after being wounded until he was rendered incapable of attacking by a wound to the head.

Significantly, witnesses testified that no more shots were fired once Brown was on the ground. That is consistent with the law regarding self defense, that you stop shooting when the attack is no longer imminent. Brown had the opportunity to flee, but chose to turn and confront his pursuer. Wilson had a sworn obligation to continue the pursuit until his attacker was apprehended, or further pursuit was not possible.

It is significant that witnesses cited by Brown family attorney, Benjamin Crump, activist Al Sharpton and others, were quickly discredited before the grand jury. Their testimony was inconsistent with the forensic evidence, and often with previous statements by themselves.

Several admitted that they did not witness the event personally, but related events as they heard them from others.

If anything needs improving, it is to avoid inciting mob mentality by soliciting and repeating false testimony. Many of those who testified before the grand jury did so in secret out of fear of this mob. One  must ask whether  they would have been forthcoming in a public trial. If not, where is the justice?

Many didn’t like the verdict evidenced by the rioting, looting, fires set, and the small gun fire which took place in Ferguson after the verdict, but the destruction of property only results in throwing fuel on an already explosive situation.  Angry demonstrations ensued in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Oakland, St. Louis, and even in front of the White House, by those who have been told repeatedly over the years that cops have been unfair to them.

It was justice carried out in accordance to a mindset that accepts, without question, police brutality as a common, recurring happening, with no regard for the facts or for the justice system. The grand jury couldn’t even find enough evidence to come up with the lowest possible indictment charge against Officer Wilson.

As the colonel, played by Jack Nicholson, said in the courtroom drama, “A Few Good Men,” “[They] can’t handle the truth.”

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Friday, November 21, 2014


By Nancy Thorner – 

Heritage Foundation’s chief economist Steven Moore was in Chicago recently, a guest of Illinois Policy Institute. During his presentation, Moore spoke very highly of Bruce Rauner, having met with him to give advice before the election.

Of importance to Moore is that people are not paying enough attention to how red states are getting redder (run by Republicans with pro-growth and pro-market oriented policies), while blue states are getting bluer. Arkansas was cited as one of the last states to turn red. North Carolina is now a thoroughly red state. In blue states — Illinois, Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York — Democrats have become even more powerful and the states bluer. The difference being:  Red states practice Reaganomics; blue states have high tax rates which force wealthier people to move.

High tax rates do matter, Moore says. This accounts, in part, for the slow bleed of people and businesses exiting blue states and migrating into red states. We are in an economic war, as states do compete with each other. Voters vote with their feet for policies they think are important to them and their livelihood. Moore listed CA, NY, NJ, and CO as states that must change or else die.

Moore zeroed in on the four largest states, two red (Texas and Florida) and two blue (New York and California).  The difference couldn’t be any starker. There is zero state income tax in the states of TX and FL.  In NY and CA a top income tax rate exists of 13.5%. Nine states have no income tax.

Texas and Florida benefit from being “Right to Work” states.  This doesn’t mean that TX and FL can’t have unions, just that workers can’t be compelled to join a union if they decide not to. Businesses have been heard to say that they prefer locating in Right to Work states. Moore related his experience in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and how unions wanted to come in and unionize.  The point was made that unions would be harmful.  But what really resonated with workers was this cautionary statement, “Don’t turn Chattanooga into Detroit!”  The effort to unionize in Chattanooga was defeated by a vote of 57 – 47.

Where are the jobs?

Amazing statistics: In the last 15 years Texas has netted a 74% increase in jobs; Florida, 60%; CA, 35%; and New York, 9%.  For every one job created in CA and NY, three jobs were created in TX and FL.

Steven Moore related a debate with Paul Krugman in which Moore asked Krugman this question:  “States that aren’t doing well did all the things you told them to do to create jobs for working people, but what happened?”  To which Krugman replied:  “People are leaving the North for the South because of the weather.”  Moore’s retort:  “Explain then why the following migration patterns are happening?  CA is a lovely place to live, yet in the last 10 years 1.5 million more people left CA than came to live in CA.  Also, “How do you explain that people are leaving San Diego for Houston?  It’s certainly not for the weather!”  Texas is an amazing place.  Since the recession began in June, 2009, new job growth has been zero in this nation.  Texas has accounted for every new job that has been created in America.

According to Moore, this nation is experiencing an energy revolution.  North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate in this nation.  People in North Dakota are getting super rich.  Steve Moore remembered paying a nightly rate of $300 a few years ago to stay at a Best Western hotel.   Moore’s upbeat reaction to the economy is based on fracking and its unbelievable technology.  If this nation can get it right, in five to six years she will move from being an oil-gas importer to an oil-gas exporter.

Why isn’t the economy doing better?

People who run Fortune 500 companies look at their financial situations. Companies have been able to retool themselves and become efficient and productive.  This wouldn’t have happened ten or twenty years ago.  Why then isn’t the economy growing at 4%?  Instead, the economy is in a beetle position.  Companies are not reinvesting money into the economy because they are terrified of Washington, D.C. and the next shoe that might drop. A common attitude among Democrats is that business is evil. It might be said that liberals love jobs, but hate employers. When was the last time President Obama ever said anything positive about big business?

Steve Moore believes that if Obamacare is rolled back, this nation will see one of the greatest economic booms it has ever seen.

Question and Answer Session

The question and answer session had much value and expanded upon many of the ideas expressed by Steven Moore in his remarks.

1.  Question:  How will Bruce Rauner be able to govern Illinois with Madigan still in charge and with super majorities in both the House and the Senate?

Response:  Steve Moore had only positive things to say about Rauner, believing Rauner has the fortitude and backbone to do the right thing, admitting, however, that it will be a huge challenge.  One advantage is that Rauner isn’t beholden to anyone.  If Rauner is privy to a stone wall of opposition from Democrats, as was true with President Reagan, like Reagan, who gave speeches on TV, Rauner must likewise take his case to the people.  Rauner must deal with the following three issues in a timely way: 1) Fixing the pension system, 2) Pulling back the tax increase, and 3) Providing the opportunity for school choice.

2.  Question:  How does Jonathan Gruber fit in with the future of Obamacare?

Response:  Jonathan Gruber is important because he demonstrates how the Left will lie, cheat and steal to win, regardless of the issue.  In regard to the issue of Global Warming, which Moore called a hoax, the assumption that science has been settled is not in keeping with the true nature of science, as science is always evolving.  It is so-called elitists, often touting their doctorate degrees, who believe that the populous can’t make decisions for themselves.  They “want to keep the poor people on the reservation.”

3.  Question:  How to deal with the $7 trillion plus increase in the debt since Obama took office

Response:  We must get back to 3% to 4% growth.  The economy needs to grow faster than the debt.  One thing that keeps Steve Moore up at night is the possibility of interest rates spiking. Presently interest rates are low.  On a 10-year Treasury bond the interest rate is 2.3%.  If interest rates do rise, all taxes collected could be used to pay the interest on the debt.  By 2020 the single largest expenditure will not be Medicaid, Medicare, or defense, but interest on the debt.  Bruce Rauner must deal with Illinois’ unfunded pension system.  Moore suggested providing a 401(k) retirement system for workers.

4.  Question: Explain how states change from red to blue states, etc.?

Response:  Colorado was basically a red state until Californians left California and moved to Colorado. Now Colorado is a purple state.  New Hampshire (Live Free or Die state) has gone from a red state to purple as Massachusetts and Connecticut residents moved to New Hampshire.  Democrats tried to turn Texas from a red state to a blue state, but the recent Primary Election exposed their complete failure!  In Texas there are fourteen state-wide races. In all fourteen races, not one of the Democrats running received more than 40% of the vote. Touching on the illegal immigration issue, Moore is in favor of Republicans passing comprehensive immigration reform. Thorner is not with Moore on this issue.  Steve Moore’s explanation:  In Texas 40% to 45% of Hispanics vote Republican; in California they overwhelmingly vote Democrat. Why the difference? According to Moore, in Texas illegal immigrants are put into the work force as soon as they arrive, while in California illegal immigrants are put on welfare which leads to their radicalization.

5.  Question:  What must Republicans do to win more of the minority vote?

Response:  As Woody Allen once said, “90% of life is just showing up”   The 2012 election presented a clear choice of candidates between Mitt Romney and President Obama.  Moore found it disappointing in watching Spanish-orientated TV programs such as Univision before the 2012 election, that the ads run were all sponsored by Democrats which informed Hispanics that Republicans hated them. Where were the Republican ads to counter this assertion. Moore believes that in the presidential elections of 2016, 2020, and 2024, the Republican presidential nominee must speak Spanish.  It was then that Moore expressed his liking for Jeb Bush (Throner cringed in her seat upon hearing Moore’s pronouncement!).  Bruce Rauner did quite well with blacks in Illinois, campaigning as he did in black churches and neighborhoods with this question: “What have they [Democrats] really done for you?”

6.  Question:  What about the city of Chicago?

Response:  Chicago is a world-class city.  It should be “the Hong Kong of the Midwest” if not for its bad leadership.  Moore advised that the first vote in the GOP Senate and House should be for the full repeal of Obamacare.  Lots of Democrats weren’t in office when Obamacare passed without a single vote from Republicans.  Let’s put the Democratic legislators on record.

7.  Question:  What about the surge in the stock market?  People should be feeling better about the economy. 

Response:  Even though Obama remarked before the election that the economy was improving, felt pain of the people doesn’t make it into media reports or via the performance of the stock market. What matters most is real take home pay. This has shrunk under Obama, leading people to believe otherwise about the economy. 52% of the American people still believe this nation is still in recession.  Because of Obamacare, people are dealing with its “49” mandate (businesses with more than 50 workers must provide insurance) and it “29” mandate (people working more than 30 hours a week are entitled to insurance by employer).

8.  Question:  Why are Democrats opposed to fracking?

 Response:  Steve Moore called Tom Steyer a “wacko and a global warming fanatic.  It is insane to believe that we can energize this economy with windmills!”  In so far as the Keystone XL pipeline bill failed to garner the 60 votes needed to pass in the Senate, Democrats can rightly be painted as radical environmentalists.  In their fixation with the environment, which stems from their acceptance of Global Warming as settled science, they are destroying blue collar jobs. Republicans must send this message:  “We are the party who is trying to protect your jobs.  We are on your side.”

Instead of the Heartland pen usually given to guest speakers, Johnathan Greenberg, Vice President of External Relations, presented Steven Moore with one of two attractive ties now available for purchase sporting the Illinois Policy Institute logo.

In closing, Greenberg warned how the media and union bosses are already rallying to make the 5% tax hike permanent.  Their goal is to move Bruce Rauner to where they want him to be.  Greenberg assured attendees that the Illinois Policy Institute would be their voice in pushing against the unions and the media.

As Executive Vice President of the Illinois Policy Institute responsible for executing the Institute’s strategic plan which center on turning liberty principles into marketable policies that become law, Kristina Rasmussen was on hand in Chicago from her headquarters in Springfield, IL, to welcome chief economist at the Heritage Foundation, Steve Moore, to discuss his book “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of States.  The event was held in the Library at the Chicago headquarters of the Illinois Policy Institute, 190 S. LaSalle St.

Technorati Tags: Heritage Foundation, Illinois Review, Nancy Thorner, Steven Moore

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


By Nancy Thorner – 

Follow the money. It all ends up in the hands of a very few. Pearson Foundation is getting the contracts because of its partnership with the Bill Gates Foundation. Greed, secrecy, deceptions, and lies …. and to think Democrats accuse Republicans of the very things, while Democrats are the ones using government to get richer. The deceptions run very deep. It’s time for exposure.

The saga begins on one summer day in 2008, when Gene Wilhoit, director of a national group of state school chiefs, and David Coleman (known as the architect of Common Core), knowing they needed tens of millions of dollars and a champion to overcome the politics that had thwarted previous attempts to institute national standards, approached Bill Gates at his headquarters near Seattle, to convince Gates and his wife to sign on to their idea.  Gates, upon asking if states were serious about common educational standards, was assured that they were. Gates signed on and the remarkable shift in education policy know as Common Core was born.

The Gates Foundation has spent over $170 million to manipulate the U.S. Department of Education to impose the CSSS, knowing it would realize a return on this investment as school districts and parents rush to buy the technology products they’ve been convinced are vital to improving education.  Bill Gates’ Microsoft will make a fortune form the sale of new technology products.  According to the Gates Foundation, CCSS is seen as a “step to greater excellence in education.”

On April 27, 2011 the Gates Foundation joined forces with the Pearson Foundation, a British multi-national conglomerate, representingthe largest private business maneuvering for U.S. education dollars. Pearson executives saw the potential to secure lucrative contracts in testing, textbooks and software worth tens of millions of dollars.  Its partnership with the Gates Foundation was to support America’s teachers by creating a full series of digital instructional resources. Online courses in Math and Reading/English Language Arts would offer a coherent and systemic approach to teaching the new Common Core State Standard. The aim: To create an online curriculum for those standards in mathematics and English language arts that span nearly every year of a child’s pre-collegiate education. This aim has already been realized and is in practice in Common Core states.

The Pearson and Gates foundations also fund the Education Development Center (EDC) based in Waltham, Massachusetts. It is a global nonprofit organization that designs teacher evaluation policy.  Both stand to benefit from EDC recommendations. The center is involved in curriculum and materials development, research and evaluation, publication and distribution, online learning, professional development, and public policy development.

In its alignment with the Gates Foundation and Common Core, Pearson dominates the education testing and is raking in profits as school districts are pushed to replace paper textbooks with digital technology.  For example, the Los Angeles school system with 651 students, spent over $1 billion in 2013 to purchase iPads from Pearson.  Additionally, The Los Angeles school purchased Pearson’s Common Core Systems of Courses to provide all the primary instructional material for math and English/language arts for K-12, even though the material were incomplete in 2013.

Pearson’s profits will continue to increase as it has billions of dollars in long-term contracts with education department in a number of states and municipalities to introduce both testing software and the teacher training software and textbooks it claims are necessary to prepare for the tests. For example, Illinois has paid Pearson $138 million to produce standardized tests; Texas, $50 million; and New York, $32 million.

Pearson is really raking in the dough now that Pearson VUE, the assessment services wing of Pearson, has acquired examination software development company Exam Design.  CTS/McGraw-Hill is Pearson’s main competitor in the rise of standardized testing.

Corporations finding they can profit from turning students into unimaginative machines, are newly discovering they can likewise profit from standardizing teachers as well. Starting in May 2014, Pearson Education will take over teacher certification in New York State as a way of fulfilling the state’s promised “reforms” in its application for federal Race to the Top money. The evaluation system known as the Teacher Performance assessment or TPA was developed at Stanford University with support from Pearson, but it will be solely administered and prospective teachers will be entirely evaluated by Pearson and its agents.

A small cloud did fall over the Pearson Foundation (the nonprofit arm of educational publishing giant Pearson Inc) in December of 2013, when a $7.7 million fine was levied for using its charitable work to promote and develop course materials and software to benefit its corporate profit making.  After the investigation begun, Pearson Foundation sold the courses to Pearson for $15.1 million.

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman determined that the foundation had created Common Core products to generate “tens of millions of dollars” for its corporate sister. According to the settlement: “Pearson used its nonprofit foundation to develop Common Core product in order to win an endorsement from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which helped fund the creation of the Common Core standards, having announced in 2011 that it would work with the Pearson foundation to write reading and math courses aligned with the new standard.”

Since Pearson is the world largest education company and book publisher, with profits of more than $9 billion annually, the $7.7 million fine was not a hardship. Pearson, wasn’t always so big.  As a British multinational corporation Pearson was just starting out in the early 2000’s. Pearson started to grow when it embraced No Child Left Behind as its business plan and began rapidly buying up U.S. companies.

On June 10 of this year, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced its support for a two-year moratorium on tying results from assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards to teacher evaluations or student promotions to the next grade level.

Although the Gates Foundation’s director of college-ready programs stated how Common Core was having a very positive impact on education, teachers do need more time to adjust.

The moratorium was enacted when on June 9, Diane Ravitch, research professor of education at New York University and author of “Reign of Error,” sounded the alarm over the implementation of Common Core and called for a congressional investigation, noting, “The idea that the richest man in [the U.S.] can purchase and — working closely with the U.S. Department of Education — impose new and untested academic standards on the nation’s public schools is a national scandal.”

It would be folly to suggest that either Bill Gates or Pearson, despite the temporary tactical retreat by Gates will not keep pushing for Common Core with its required educational technology. This nation spends over $500 billion annually on K-12 education.  When colleges and career-training programs are included, the education sector represents almost 9 percent of the U.S. gross domestic production.  Companies like Pearson and Microsoft stand to greatly profit as they develop and administer the tests and sell the teacher-training material.

It is not unreasonable to suspect that companies like Pearson stand to gain when tests designed to measure Common Core State Standards make most public schools look bad.  Counting on widespread failure of the Common Core State Standards, school districts and parents will be pushed to purchase even more training technology, teachers in low-ranked schools will be fired, and school will be turned over to private management.

As a text book manufacturer, Pearson Education buckled to the activists demands in Texas and replaced the scientific understanding of climate change with the politically driven claim that humans are causing climate change.  Because of the size the Texas it does have influence on the national textbook market.

Might Common Core State Standards be the latest in the grand corporate scheme to profit from privatized public education?  In the interim, Bill Gates’ Microsoft and Pearson get big CCSS profits.  Certainly neither teachers nor students are benefiting.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Election Policies Trampled in Quest to Win

voteAfter every national election the losing party claims voter fraud influenced the outcome.   We hear reports of voter suppression, voting machine irregularities, non-eligible people voting, tampering with ballots, intimidation at the polls, and the list goes on and on.  Are these claims just the product of intense disappointment and frustration due to rigorous campaigns in which thousands of people spent many months of exhaustive work and intense passion to win? The disappointment of losing cannot be underestimated.  However, as much as we might sympathize with those who lost, nobody can deny the fact that election laws are often bent and others blatantly broken in the election process. The quest to win causes those with a lack of principles to claim “the end justifies the means”.  No!

Nothing justifies breaking established election laws, because that can rob the rightful winner of victory and cheat citizens from securing the person they want to represent them.

Even more alarming is that it appears our federal Justice Department and top elected officials at both state and federal levels have been smitten with the same lack of good judgment and/or conscience.  They lack interest in taking stronger steps that would help facilitate strict enforcement of existing election laws, and resist enacting new laws that would help prevent the many ways voter fraud has been perpetrated.  Illegally Influencing the outcome of an election must be stopped.  Until that is accomplished, we cannot claim to be any  better than third World countries we continually condemn.

Voter fraud is not always detected, and even when it is there is a hesitancy by officials to take the case to trial.  Often, the result is just a stiff (but meaningless) warning.  Those who get caught with a more serious violation and actually go to trial rarely receive a stiff penalty.  Thus, we continue to see our election rules and laws abused each election cycle.   Perpetrators know there is a low risk of exposure, that convictions are scarce, and even if convicted there are few who receive a harsh penalty.   With so little to fear, it is easy to understand why voter fraud has escalated.

The one way for all of us to have confidence our vote is not being canceled by an illegal one, or that voter fraud was not the reason for a candidate’s victory, is to demand our state and federal officials get serious about enacting strong laws to weed out ineligible voters and to initiate a Voter I.D. law in every state.  Voter registration offices throughout the Country, must investigate and purge their registration lists of all illegal names, and people must prove they are legally registered voters before receiving a ballot.

Sounds simple to do, and it really is, but Democrat leaders do everything possible to prevent that from happening, and Republican leaders, while advocates of the voter I.D. law, do not speak out boldly enough to win its implementation. Now that Republicans have control of Congress, we will see if they are serious about reform.

The most recent evidence of an official hindering the passage of a Voter I.D. law was seen when Attorney General Eric Holder publicly vowed to aggressively challenge voter I.D. laws.  His recent resignation from the office brought in a ray of hope that more states would initiate procedures to enact Voter I.D. laws,  as well as develop stronger procedures that can protect legal votes.

Is Voter Fraud Rare?

Democrats claim that voter fraud is so rare it doesn’t require new laws that would prevent illegal voting.  However, the facts do not support that viewpoint. Keep in mind that voter fraud is often very difficult to detect and even more difficult to prove.   Without the requirement of a voter proving they are who they claim to be, voter fraud is difficult to detect.  That became even more of a challenge when a directive from the former Attorney General Eric Holder was sent to Registrars throughout the nation, warning that any voter suppression would be dealt with harshly.

Translated at the local level that was a warning to every Registrar and thus poll worker that before challenging any suspicious activity, you better be very sure you are right.   Could the result of that warning, coming from the federal government, not discourage Registrars and their staff to be on full alert for any possible irregularities of voting violations they witnessed?   Whether that was the original intent or not,  the result had to be that only the most blatant examples of fraudulent activities were reported and had a chance for conviction.

Bringing a case of voter fraud to trial is expensive and time consuming.  Therefore, people are forced to carefully decide whether they want to be involved in that uncomfortable process.  Most people cannot afford the costs, if they are proven wrong.  Therefore, fewer suspicious people are confronted, unless the evidence is blatant, overwhelming. and indisputable. One can only guess how many instances of voter fraud have gone  undetected and/or unreported as a result.

An example of the lack of interest by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute voter fraud cases can be seen in the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case.  During the 2008 election,  Black Panthers stood just outside the doors of a polling facility, wearing black berets and jackboots;  one Black Panther prominently displaying a large club in his hand.   These men were charged with the crime of voter intimidation outside of a polling station. In spite of citizens’ claims the men were indeed intimidating, the Dept. of Justice, under Eric

Holder, narrowed the charges and then ultimately dismissed them.   The actions of Eric Holder and his department were defined as outrageous by many, but it left little doubt that what the general public considered blatantly illegal were was not  enough to warrant a conviction under Eric Holder.

The following quote was made by Department of Justice Attorney Christian Adams regarding the case:  “The New Black Panther case was the simplest and most obvious violation of federal law I saw in my Justice Department career.  Because of the corrupt nature of the dismissal, statements falsely characterizing the case and, most of all, indefensible orders for the career attorneys not to comply with lawful subpoenas investigating the dismissal, I resigned my position as a Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney.”

Christian Adams informed the public of other examples of voter fraud that were ignored by Attorney General Holder and the Justice Department.  A particular blatant example is that absentee ballots were sent to people who had not asked for them.  A political operator would then visit the specific homes, uninvited, the day the ballots arrived and help the voter fill them out and/or take the ballot and fill them out, including a forged signature

Targeting Voter Fraud

A liberal group called the “Voter Participation Center” (formerly known as Women’s Voices Women Vote), mailed hundreds of thousands of registration forms to residents in several states, including Florida, hoping to enlist more potential voters.  Florida officials declared the mailers to be confusing and misleading due to what seemed a deliberate attempt to cause voters to believe the State of Florida itself was sending them the official form.  A bigger problem for the state was that the voter registration forms were sent to many ineligible voters, such as felons, the deceased, children, and even animals.

As a result of this mailing, Florida State officials realized their voter registration records needed to be purged of those who were illegally listed. The state sued the federal government to gain access to a U.S. Department of Homeland Security database that could help officials spot non-U.S. citizens who were attempting to vote.  The U.S. Department of Justice, under the leadership of Eric Holder, subsequently sued the state alleging that its purge of voters is illegal.

Also of concern to citizens is the lack of attention to this subject by the media.  They too appear timid regarding aggressive investigative reporting on the subject.  Citizens throughout America want to have confidence in our voting process. That confidence can begin with required inspections of every voter registrar office in America.  Every voter registration list should be investigated for accuracy and purged of every name that cannot be substantiated as a legal.  Also, every Registrar Office should provide proof that every poll worker, every employee, has gone through an education program regarding their responsibilities and all that their job requires.  The media might also highlight specific Registrars and Registrar offices that are highly efficient and effective.  We recommend the Orange County, CA office and Registrar Neal Kelly as examples of what we would like to see in every  State and each County in America

It is hoped that with the recent resignation of Eric Holder, a new Attorney General might take a more active approach to enacting laws that would significantly reduce the opportunity or possibility of fraudulent voting.  However, the leading candidate for that position as of this writing is Brooklyn federal prosecutor, Loretta Lynch.  While she has good qualifications for the position, unfortunately, she agrees with Holder on the issue of Voter I.D. laws.  She has expressed strong viewpoints against the law and apparently can easily dismiss fraud that might have been prevented with the I.D. law.

Reporter John Fund has written three books on voter fraud.  A recent survey by Old Dominion University indicates that there are more than a million registered voters who are not citizens, and who therefore are not legally entitled to vote.  James O’Keefe with Project Veritas Action, the same person who exposed ACORN and many other abuses of power, has done numerous excellent exposes showing the extent the Democrats are reaching to perpetrate voter fraud on the American public. In one video, numerous campaign workers in North Carolina try to assist an admitted illegal immigrant to vote.  In another videoO’Keefe looks at voter rolls and shows how easy it is to vote as someone else when poll workers are not allowed to ask for ID.

State Fraud

Massive voter fraud in Maryland was uncovered due to a careful examination of Jury Duty surveys.   Many who claimed to be non-citizens on that official form had filled out a Voter Registration form claiming just the opposite, that they were citizens.   Obviously, the individuals lied about their citizen status on one of the forms, and most were proven to have lied on the Voter Registration form.  Also, during the last election, early voting participants made accusations made that some voting machines had changed Republican votes to Democrat one.  Republicans are calling for an investigation by the State Board of Elections.

Early voting in Illinois also got off to a rocky start, when votes being cast for Republican candidates were transformed into votes for Democrats. Voters were told they likely were not pressing the button properly.  Illinois State Representative candidate Jim Moynihan went to vote at the Schaumburg Public Library and reported:  “I tried to vote for myself and instead it cast a vote for my opponent.”  Moynihan said Cook County Board of Elections Deputy Communications Director, Jim Scalzitti, told Illinois Watchdog, the machine was taken out of service to be tested. Access this website to see Republican votes flipped to the Democrat in a polling place in Moline, Illinois.

The North Carolina Board of Election found 1,425 registered voters who likely are illegal aliens.  The audit sampled 10,000 registered voters with data provided by the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles and the US Department of Homeland Security.

A single Bronx voter listed in official records as being 164 years old led to the Board of Election officials to review their files.  They discovered 849 New Yorkers who were supposedly alive when Abraham Lincoln was President.

Further examples of Voter Fraud in Connecticut, Kentucky, Georgia, Virginia, Minnesota, Alabama, Texas, Massachusetts, Tennessee, California, Idaho, Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, New Hampshire, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Indiana, Florida, South Dakota, Nevada, Oregon, Iowa, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Michigan, Hawaii, Maryland, Rhode Island, etc., can be reviewed here.

For Reflection

A few days before the election, a Wisconsin mailman was seen dumping hundreds of Republican postcards in the trash, all of them supporting Republican candidates.  He is now under indictment.

The above examples are just a scant sampling of voter fraud in America.  Patriots argue for an overhaul of our election security.00 processes, and laws. Every person who casts a legal vote should do so with the confidence it is not being canceled by an illegal one.  America’s electoral system should be perceived as reliable, efficient, and honest; a system that has the tools to detect fraudulent activities as well as convict perpetrators who violate our laws.  A system that is working effectively will not only detect voter abuses, but would also be a deterrent to prevent potential fraudulent activities.  Oddly, many of our government officials often seem more concerned about election irregularities in other nations than our own, and when informed of voter improprieties in the United States, they have the audacity to state such claims are grossly exaggerated.

Our response should be that something as important as an American citizens’ vote should be highly respected and protected.  Our next article will devote attention to the reasons Voter I.D. laws should be mandatory in all states.

Tags: Early votingvoter fraudvoter registrationvoti

Monday, October 27, 2014

By Nancy Thorner – 

The federal Dodd-Frank Act is considered by many to be the most significant financial legislation in modern history. Its purpose was to create a sound Economic Foundation to grow jobs, protect consumers, rein in Wall Street and big bonuses, end bailouts,and “too big to fail,” as well as prevent another financial crisis. Years without accountability for Wall Street and big banks had ushered in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression that resulted in the loss of 8 million jobs, failed businesses, a drop in housing prices, and wiped out personal savings.

It was in response to this 2008 crisis, that the Obama administration urged prompt and full implementation of the “Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act,” meant also to serve as an inoculation against future crisis. Dodd-Frank was signed into federal law by President Barack Obama on July 21, 2010 at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C.

Because of policy decisions made early on in the implementation process, it became nearly impossible for regulators to enact smart and well-coordinated regulations.  Furthermore, the process of rolling out the regulations became extremely political.

A brief Summary of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act can be read here.

As part of its Liberty Speaker’s Series, the Illinois Policy Institute, CEO and President John Tillman, hosted a discussion of Dodd Frank and its fallout on Tuesday, October 28, at its headquarters in Chicago, 190 S. LaSalle Street, 40th Floor Library.

On the panel to discuss Dodd-Frank were three individuals who had been appointed to various government commissions to assist in the drafting, implementation, and oversight of the Dodd-Frank Act.

Paul Atkins, chief executive of Patomak Global Partners, LLC, was appointed by Congress and served from 2009 to 2010 as a member of the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Atkins was then asked to serve on FSOCK, a creation of the Dodd-Frank Act and a uniquely powerful body within the executive branch of the US government.

It consists of 15 members, of which 9 are the chairs of other federal financial regulatory agencies charged with identifying and responding to emerging risks throughout the financial system (to prick the financial bubbles before they happen).  The Secretary of the Treasury serves as the Chairperson of the Council.

In discussing Dodd-Frank, Mr. Atkins warned that whenever a bill has “consumer” and “protection” in it, watch your wallets. Atkins called the 2,319 page bill basically rubbish.  Not unlike Obamacare, Dodd-Frank was pushed through Congress with no one knowing what was in the bill until after it had passed.  While Dodd-Frank created thirteen new offices and agencies, the government only got rid of one agency.  Dodd-Frank conveys the message that government knows best under the assumption that if enough smart people are assembled in the same room with enough information, they can do better than the free market.

Speaking about SIFI (Systemically Important Financial Institution) Institution), the $50 billion in consolidated assets threshold at which bank holding companies are subject to enhanced prudential supervision was called science fiction by Atkns. The $50 billion SIFI threshold sweeps in too many small banks that don’t pose a systemic threat, thus diluting attention from the big banks that do.

Jill E. Sommers served as a CFTC commissioner (U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission) for five years, from 2008 to 2013, one of only two Republicans.  The mission of the CFTC is to protect market participants and the public from fraud, manipulation, abusive practices and systemic risk related to derivatives — both future and swaps — and to foster transparent, open competitive and financially sound markets.

Ms. Sommers, as one five CFTC members, spent more than two years writing the Dodd-Frank Act rules to bolster oversight of the $639 trillion swaps market and the futures industry following a shortfall in customer funds at the failed brokerage MF Global Holdings Ltd.  Criminal or civil charges have yet to be filed against MF Global after the company left a $l.6 billion shortfall in customer funds when it filed for bankruptcy in October of 2010.

Sommers expressed concern over the agency’s approach to completing Dodd-Frank rules, citing a lack of coordination with the SEC and oversea regulators, that the agency hadn’t adequately considered public comments on proposed rules, and that an analysis of regulatory costs and benefits was lacking.  Industry needed relief from rules that were impossible to employ when first instigated.

Jill Sommers vented her frustration as to the role of the oversight and regulation of swap markets in a speech delivered before the Cadwalader Energy Conference in October of 2012, the day before the definition of “swap” became effective and compliance rules for swap deals kicked in.  According to Sommers, if dozens of requests weren’t granted for relief, the market could be damaged and irreparable harm could follow for market participants.  Sommers bemoans the fact that many of the rules finalized were vague and subject to legal challenges, which has resulted in real, unintended and very costly consequences.  Sommers has little confidence that the rules already in place have a chance of withstanding the test of times.  She instead believes that the commission will be consumed over the next few years using valuable resources to rewrite the rules we knew or should have known would not work in the first place.

Christopher Giancarlo was confirmed by unanimous consent of the U.S. Senate on June 3, 2014.  On June 16 he was sworn in as a CFTC Commissioner whose purpose is to protect market participants and the public from fraud, manipulation, abusive practices and systemic risk related to derivatives (both futures and swaps) and to foster transparent, open, competitive and financially sound markets.  Giancarlo’s term expires in April 2019.  Giancarlo took the place vacated by Jill Sommers on the CFTC.  His work on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission might be defined as the clean-up phase.  Giancarlo considers the Futures and Swap markets important to a thriving economy.  Of importance is that the government doesn’t interfere.  Food and energy prices are low because we don’t have government setting the price.

Mr. Giancarlo defined the Swap Market as looking more like the bond market, and the Futures Market more like the stock market.  The Swap Market, in comparison to the Futures Market, operates as controlled over-the-counter growth.  The Swap Market is now a global market.

On Sept. 9  Giancarlo gave the Keynote Address to the Global Forum for Derivatives Markets (35th Annual Burgenstock Conference) in Geneva, Switzerland.  He began his remarks by indicating that they would be his own and did not necessarily constitute the views of his fellow CFTC Commissioners or its staff.

Giancarlo posed three questions, although he realized that many in attendance already knew the answers and that they didn’t inspire confidence in the future.

  1. Are we fully honoring the commitment to coordinate our efforts to reform the derivatives market?
  2. Are we avoiding protectionism?
  3. Or are we building new 21th century protectionism around regional financial markets, especially in swaps and futures?

Giancarlo further indicated that “this lack of coordination in swaps clearing does not exist in a vacuum.  It is preceded by an uncoordinated approach in formulating the regulations of swap trading.”

The fourth anniversary of the signing of the Dodd-Frank was noted this summer on July 21. Most Americans think more regulation is the answer and that Dodd-Frank solved the problems causing the crisis, even believing that the law didn’t go far enough to punish private firms responsible for the crisis.  If anything, Dodd-Frank has made the financial system even more fragile than it was prior to the 2008 crisis.

As concluded in a committee staff report titled, “Failing to End Too Big to Fail: An Assessment of the Dodd-Frank Act Four Years Later’, released just days before the fourth anniversary signing of the Dodd-Frank Act by President Obama in 2010, the Dodd-Frank Act did not end “too big to fail” as the law’s supporters claim, but actually had the opposite effect of further entrenching “too big to fail” as official government policy.  According to Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee Committee Chairman Rep. McHenry, “Rather than institute market discipline and a clear rules-based regime, four years later Dodd-Frank’s failed policies have only worsened the risks within the financial system and recklessly handed financial regulators a blank check for taxpayer-funded bailouts.”  The report is available here.

Another article worth reading by Calomiris and Meltzer was published on Feb. 12, 2014 in the WSJ: How Dodd-Frank Doubles Down on ‘Big to Fail’.  It relates how Dodd-Frank doesn’t address problems that led to the financial crisis of 2008.

It remains to be seen if Mitch McConnell does controls the U.S. Senate in 2015, whether the Republican Party will push for full or partial repeal of Dodd-Frank.  In the meantime, Commission J. Christopher Giancarlo has his work cut out for him as a CFTC Commissioner.