Month: February 2020

Group petitions to join this state, blaming Oregon’s liberal Democrats

A group of frustrated Oregon conservatives, who have tried everything from voting out Democratic state officials they consider too liberal to recalling the state’s governor and appealing to their Washington representatives, now want to leave the state – by moving the border with neighboring Idaho westward, a published report Monday said. The group, Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho, has secured initial approval from two counties and has set a goal of getting enough signatures to put the proposal on local ballots in November, USA Today reported. Barring a setback, voters in southeastern Oregon could see a question on a redrawn state border with Idaho, the newspaper reported. Last year, a controversial bill protesting greenhouse gas emissions caused state Republicans to flee Salem, the state capital. Democrats currently control both branches of the state legislature as well as the governor’s mansion. However, Valerie Gottschalk, another petitioner, said she hopes the proposal will gain traction similar to how the petition to recall Gov. Kate Brown did last summer. Proponents were unsuccessful collecting the 280,000 signatures for a recall election, but Greater Idaho said it only needs to collect about 2,400 signatures from Josephine County and about 3,000 from Douglas County to appear on the ballot, USA Today reported. “People here would prefer Idaho’s conservative governance to the progressive/liberal current Oregon governance. Every time I look at the Facebook group Greater Idaho, the group has gotten bigger,” Gottschalk said in a news release. Of Oregon’s 36 counties, only 14 in the Willamette Valley area would remain if the group succeeds, the newspaper reported. Moving the border would require approval from the U.S. Congress as well as the Idaho and Oregon state legislatures, however. The proposal to join Idaho isn’t the first effort Oregonians have made to leave the state. In 1941, residents of residents of southwestern Oregon tried to secede by creating a state of Jefferson with northern Californians.

Analysis: Saving Higher Education

Despite the denials of universities boards, administrators, and faculty, American higher education, particularly in the humanities and social sciences, is a hopeless mess. What basis is there for such a harsh diagnosis? One, a college education is far too expensive. Nearly 45 million young Americans owe $1.5 trillion in student loans — a staggering sum unmatched in American history. Millions have either defaulted on their loans or are able to pay only the interest and are making no progress on the principle. Universities have for decades upped their tuition and services higher than the rate of annual inflation. Yet they deny they have any responsibility for the staggering student debt, even though the encumbrances have altered the U.S. economy, culture, and demography. One of many reasons youth are marrying later, delaying child-rearing, and unable to buy a home is that so many of them are burdened well into their late twenties and early thirties with student-loan debt, on average over $30,000 per student. Again, the university more or less shrugs, insisting it has no responsibility for this collective national disaster that it helped create. The student-loan crisis could be alleviated if universities, not the federal government, were the co-signers of the loans, which would make them share with students the moral hazard of loan repayment. Instead of spending superfluously on “diversity and inclusion” czars and entire castes of non-teaching facilitators, universities would have incentives to lower non-teaching costs. It would be in their own financial interest to ensure that students could minimize debt by graduating within four years, and also to invest in job placement for their graduates, so they could move into the full-time workforce months after finishing school. Two, universities have no methods to analyze whether students are, in fact, better educated after they graduate than when they enrolled. While most colleges still demand to see applicants’ standardized SAT or ACT scores, so they can judge the relative quality and significance of their high-school grade-point average, they allow no such audits on the efficacy of their own four-year course of study. That is, there is no commensurate exit national testing service that evaluates graduating college seniors, both to evaluate how much they have learned in college and to allow employers some idea of the relative quality of particular college degrees. Thus, potential students have no idea whether graduates test better or worse than when they entered a particular college. And we don’t have enough data to learn how schools rank the comparative competency of their graduates. Thanks to grade inflation, an increasingly therapeutic curriculum, and the politicization of the university, it’s increasingly doubtful that four years of colleges enhance students’ quantitative, analytical, and literary skills, at least not commensurately with the time and capital invested in an undergraduate degree. If a university has had no problem in requiring a standardized SAT or ACT score of a high-school graduate, then it should not object to being treated the same as it treats others, and therefore should insist on testing for its own graduates. Graduate and professional schools usually require advanced standardized tests of applying baccalaureates, but it is difficult to find comparative ratings of such scores among undergraduate institutions. Three, universities do not apprise incoming students about the full ramifications of their ensuing debt — in terms of monthly costs and average loan duration — and their likely inability to pay off their loans. Much less do universities provide students information on the average post-graduation compensation of particular majors, to allow students some idea of how their chosen field of study may or may not provide enough compensation to pay off their loans. Universities should be required to have the same truth-in-lending standards as furniture or car-sales personnel. Teen-age college applicants should be told the precise monthly costs of principle and interest payments, and the average duration of student loans following graduation, as well as the average salaries for particular majors upon graduation. Students should also be given detailed breakdowns of the charges they incur — the amount that each course costs the students, as well as the costs for office hours, administrative overhead, building maintenance, insurance, etc., so they can compare different paradigms at various schools. Once a student is apprised of where his loan dollars are allocated, he might take a far more mature attitude toward university priorities that will affect his financial status for years. Four, universities routinely deprive students of their constitutional rights while on campus. Activist conservative and religious students on many campuses accept that they will be subject to a degree of harassment and intimidation not found off campus, and not experienced by liberal and left-wing counterparts on campus. Visiting conservative speakers expect that might be being disinvited, shouted down, or physically assaulted on many campuses, with the likelihood that student perpetrators will not be punished. Students concede that the expression of conservative or unorthodox views in class can endanger their grades, and can lead to harassment and worse outside the classroom. In general, many of the protections of the Bill of Rights no longer apply on campus, especially in matters of alleged racism or sexual harassment, or the expression of heterodox ideas. Colleges often ignore constitutional guarantees that all students will be treated equally without regard to race, religion, or gender as outlined in constitutional amendments, federal legislation, and court rulings. As a result, “safe spaces” on campus will openly discriminate against those of particular races. Dorms will be sometimes be segregated by race in a fashion that would be illegal in commercial rental agreement and home sales. Admissions are governed in part by racial and gender preferences. Complaints about the infringements of constitutionally protected freedoms will either be met by reprisals or ignored. Alumni and donors should give to universities only on the condition that they commit to following the U.S. Constitution. They should not contribute blindly to higher education but target their gifts to particular programs and insist on contractual requirements to ensure the funds are spent as donors intended. Campus disrupters who shout down speakers or physically assault other students should be subject to criminal liability, the same way that people who commit felonies and misdemeanors in the workplace are not given exemption by their employers. Students who employ violence against faculty, other students, and visitors are not wild-eyed idealists dedicated to some revolution. Most heavily weigh their careerist aspirations and commit violence on the premise that they will never face expulsion, much less charges of felony or misdemeanor assault that might endanger their planned career trajectories. If a college administration were to expel students who attack speakers or destroy the property of others on campus, and then notify legal authorities of such criminality, most campus disruptions would soon cease — and not just on the campus in question. Five, even private universities are, in a tax sense, not wholly private. The returns on multibillion-dollar endowments are, even after the tax reforms of 2017, still largely exempt from taxation or much federal oversight. At a time when student debt incurred at universities exceeds $1.5 trillion, less than half of all endowment income is pledged to student scholarships and tuition reductions. The decisions on how universities and colleges spend the other half of their tax-exempt incomes are largely their own; the federal government gives far greater latitude to campuses than to other tax-exempt foundations. How ironic that in 2020, America’s universities and colleges are the wealthiest in history — at the very time when aggregate student debt has reached a record high. The U.S. government should continue to reexamine the entire tradition of tax-exempt university endowments — in this age of $20 billion, $30 billion, and $40 billion individual Ivy League and marquee endowments — and adjust tax policy accordingly. Aggregate tax-exempt university endowments exceed $600,000 billion, and the richest Ivy League schools have banked between $1 million and $3 million per student enrolled. Given the political activism of universities, their failure to guarantee students’ constitutional protections, and their use of tax-exempt income for non-instructional and even non-educational expenses, the entire notion of tax-exempt status should be revisited, with far greater restrictions imposed. And given that just 100 colleges and universities have two-thirds of all endowments, there should be a far lower cap on tax-free investment income. Higher education increasingly values aristocratic brand names, money, and progressive agendas rather than graduating well-educated and debt-free students who leave prepared to think inductively and empirically, and to enter the workforce as autonomous citizens who are financially, politically, and culturally independent. Instead, higher education has managed to turn out a generation of students who are often both ignorant and arrogant, both far less educated than prior generations of graduates and far more indebted for much of their lives — and all for mostly inferior educations. That all of these paradoxes occur in a landscape of loud progressivism is a cruel joke.

No kidding..   Thanks to Dr. Victor Davis Hanson, PhD, for that eye-opening, and well-thought out analysis.  Hopefully Sec. of Education Betsy DeVos has been given a copy of this, as well as our federal legislators.  Some really excellent ideas here.    🙂

Johns Hopkins Study: No Evidence ‘Assault Weapon’ Bans Reduce Mass Shootings

A study released by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health declares there is no evidence “assault weapon” bans lead to a lower “incidence of fatal mass shootings.” The push for an “assault weapons” ban is central to the Democrats’ gun control agenda nationally and is front and center for Democrats at the state level in places like Arizona and Virginia. According to the Johns Hopkins study, researchers”did not find an independent association between assault weapon bans and the incidence of fatal mass shootings.” Researchers did claim licensing requirements like those in Connecticut help reduce the number of mass shootings, but their study omitted the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School in which 26 were killed at the school and another victim was killed in a private home. In other words, a study which claims licensing reduces instances of mass shootings omitted one of the most often cited mass shootings in U.S. history, even though that shooting occurred in a licensing state. Moreover, John Hopkins’ criteria for licensing laws allowed them to bypass Illinois which, in turn, allowed them to sidestep the never ending gun crime of Chicago. But the study was clear there is no evidence tying “assault weapons” to a lower incidence of mass shootings.

Gee..  Imagine that…  This is the type of story you will NEVER see on CNN, MSNBC, PBS/NPR, or any other organ of the dominantly liberal mainstream media, as it totally undercuts their fascist anti-gun narrative.

Al Sharpton’s 2004 campaign still owes $900K after failed presidential bid

Rev. Al Sharpton’s unsuccessful presidential campaign had nearly $1 million in debt at the end of 2019 ⁠— more than 15 years after his 2004 presidential bid. Sharpton’s former campaign treasurer Andrew Rivera is responsible for paying off the $925,713.78 in debt. “I have asked Andrew Rivera, the finance chair of my 2004 campaign, to set up a meeting with the Federal Election Commission so that I can resolve any campaign debts related to Sharpton 2004,” Sharpton told the New York Post. “I am willing to work out a settlement for all claims with my own money to the degree that I’m allowed and will raise money directly … Even if I am not legally liable for it, I am certainly morally responsible.” Sharpton runs the influential nonprofit National Action Network. He made more than $1 million at the organization in 2018, according to the Post. Campaign committees that are unable to pay their debts can file a debt-settlement plan with the FEC, the commission told the Post. “Committees could not just decide not to pay,” an FEC spokesman told the outlet. Sharpton and Rivera settled with the FEC in 2009 on a separate matter: violating federal campaign finance laws. Sharpton and his campaign agreed to pay $285,000 in civil penalties.

This is crazy!   Why aren’t the FEC and the Dept of Justice ALL over this?  Al Sharpton is the very definition of corruption.  Sure, he’s saying all the right things to the New York Post here.  But, he doesn’t mean a word of it.  It’s WAY past time that this corrupt, self-righteous, self-serving, black racist blowhard be held to account.

Boy Scouts of America files for bankruptcy after sex abuse lawsuits

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection early Tuesday after decades of sexual abuse claims within one of the country’s largest youth organizations. The petition, filed in Delaware bankruptcy court, halts the hundreds of lawsuits the BSA is facing that allege sexual misconduct by people within the 110-year-old organization over the years. Sexual abuse settlements had reportedly strained the Boy Scouts’ finances, with states passing laws last year so victims from long-ago abuse can sue for damages. Mike Pfau, an attorney whose firm was representing 300 victims in New York as of last April, said the bankruptcy would be “bigger in scale than any other sex abuse bankruptcy.” “You’re talking about thousands of perpetrators,” Seattle-based lawyer Michael Pfau, who has represented more than 300 Boy Scout victims in 34 states, told the New York Daily News. “You’re talking about tens of thousands of victims. This will be the largest bankruptcy the country has ever seen, and likely one of the largest corporate bankruptcies.” The national organization said they made the move to fairly compensate victims harmed during their time in scouting and to keep the 100-year-old nonprofit running for years to come. A Victims Compensation Trust will reportedly be set up during the bankruptcy process, which the organization says will provide “equitable compensation to victims.” “The BSA cares deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologizes to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to harm innocent children,” said Roger Mosby, president and chief executive officer of the BSA. “While we know nothing can undo the tragic abuse that victims suffered, we believe the Chapter 11 process – with the proposed Trust structure – will provide equitable compensation to all victims while maintaining the BSA’s important mission,” he added. The BSA has issued an Open Letter to Victims, which can be read online, and will run as a full-page ad in USA Today on February 19. Scouting programs will continue during the BSA’s bankruptcy process and for many years to come, the organization says. Local councils are not filing for bankruptcy, as they are legally separate and distinct organizations. The bankruptcy petition reportedly listed the Boy Scouts’ assets as between $1 billion and $10 billion, and its liabilities at $500 million to $1 billion.

And the downfall of the BSA continues…  It all started when they made the insane decision to allow openly gay scoutmasters in their ranks.  That decision opened the floodgates for all sorts of issues.  And, boy did it adversely affect membership.  After all, how many parents would let their little boys go out on an overnight camping trip with an openly gay scoutmaster?  Yeah…exactly.  And their recent to decision to allow girls in was the last straw for many parents.  Up til then, the LDS/Mormon community was the largest membership within BSA.  But, no more.  They officially pulled out.  So, this is hardly a surprising development.  As a kid, I was a Cub Scout, then a Webelo, and then a Boy Scout.  I was even in their secretive  “Order of the Arrow.”  So, it was a big part of my youth, as it was for my older brother.  What has happened to the BSA over the last decade has been heartbreaking to all of us who were part of that formerly great organization.  For us, what the (lack of) leadership at BSA has done to destroy the culture and very fabric of that formerly great organization, we take personally.  BSA used to stand up against the gay mafia who would bully the BSA, and sue them in court.  The gay mafia would get backing from San Fran based Levi’s and other corporations intent on destroying the Boy Scouts.  When they finally caved in to the gay mafia, things started to fall apart.  And, here we are.  What a disappointment.  For those parents wanting an alternative to BSA, consider Trail Life USA.  Its what BSA used to be..

Opinion/Analysis: Here’s why the Trump administration shouldn’t re-regulate the rail industry

Federal regulators are investigating a new plan to re-regulate America’s freight railroads and the $200 billion of goods and products it hauls across the country each year. It’s a terrible idea that collides squarely with Donald Trump’s efforts to make industries more efficient by eliminating costly and senseless rules. But will the Trump White House tell the Surface Transportation Board, which has oversight over the nation’s network of freight railroads, to cease and desist? To understand why this is misguided we have to shift into reverse back to the bad old days of the 1960s and 1970s, when almost all modes of transportation operated under the stranglehold of Soviet-style price regulation. These rules nearly bankrupted the freight railroads, and a government takeover of the industry seemed inevitable. Instead, in the late 1970s and 1980s, Congress acted to lift the price controls on the airlines, the shippers and the railroads and allow the market to set shipping rates. The Staggers Rail Act deregulated prices and saved the dying freight trains, although it led to dramatic consolidation. Remarkably, these laws were even initiated by liberals such as the late Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and economists in the Carter administration. (Yes, Jimmy Carter got something right.) The Reagan administration accelerated the process. Today, nearly everyone agrees that the deregulation movement in the transportation sector was an unqualified success. Airline deregulation cut airfares for passengers by 50 percent, 60 percent and in some cases, 90 percent. According to a 2000 study by the Surface Transportation Board, “rail economic regulatory reform resulted in significant economic efficiency benefits, most notably rapid productivity growth, that enabled railroads to become financially stronger while lowering average rate levels.” Thomas Gale Moore of the Hoover Institution found that for rail customers, “freight rates fell by 45 percent,” and even though the industry consolidated, it has remained “intensely competitive.” Intensely competitive is an excellent way to describe today’s freight industry — including the transport of everything from Amazon deliveries to oil and gas from the wells to the service stations to crops, lumber, steel and semiconductors. Consumers and producers greatly benefit from our world-class delivery of products. Rail competes with ships, truckers, airlines, pipelines and now drones. That isn’t to say there aren’t some stranded producers who can face monopolistic pricing, but in 2020, that is rare. So, it is puzzling that in a Sept. 12 announcement, the Surface Transportation Board sought feedback on a plan to apply “a rate increase (price) constraint … to long-term revenue-adequate carriers.” A recent report from the Surface Transportation Board’s Rate Reform Task Force suggests that it “create separate rate standards for revenue-adequate and non-revenue-adequate railroads,” according to Supply Chain Dive. It is a backdoor plan to bring back price controls of yesteryear. It would do so through an antiquated provision of the Staggers Rail Act known as “revenue adequacy,” which mandates a bottom-floor level of revenue for the industry. It was meant to ensure the survival of the railroads. The board now would turn that provision on its head and define “adequacy” criteria as an excuse to impose not a floor on prices but a revenue ceiling. Kennedy must be rolling over in his grave. Under this scheme, once rail shippers reach a specific revenue target, the government could deem them as having “adequate” — i.e., enough — funds and arbitrarily cap the rates on additional products they ship. It is similar to the government telling a diner owner, “Once you sell your 500th hamburger, you can’t make a profit on the next 200 that people buy.” The problem, of course, is that regulators lack the knowledge and foresight to know what “adequate” revenue is. Rail shippers’ profits and operating costs fluctuate year over year and can ebb and flow with the health of the overall economy. Also, because this is designed to limit rail profits, economists at the Phoenix Center found that a revenue ceiling would significantly reduce railroad investment at a time when we should be incentivizing more, especially in automation. Such a command-and-control pricing model characterizes regulated industries such as water and electricity. This has been an enormous failure that shields consumers from the benefits of competition, such as more innovation, better prices and more options. It also flies in the face of the economic revival strategy of the Trump administration, which is to deregulate industries aggressively and let markets clear, to the benefit of consumers. Some at the transportation board think Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is president. Back in the late 1970s, when the airlines were deregulated, then-chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board Alfred Kahn, also known as the “father of airline deregulation,” shut the agency down after airlines were allowed to set their prices. It was a clever way to ensure that the regulations would never come back. The Trump administration may want to do the same with the transportation board, which is now trying to justify its existence by bringing back the 1970s regulatory structures. We suspect that some of the shipping industry’s customers may be behind the call for price controls to squeeze lower prices out of the rail industry. Arguably, Trump’s most significant legacy is ending President Barack Obama’s war on business by allowing firms to achieve more substantial rewards for becoming more efficient. The rail industry is doing just that and should be celebrated, not punished, for its economic progress and its return to profitability.

Agreed, and well said, Stephen. Stephen Moore is responsible for that excellent piece.  He is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with FreedomWorks. He is the co-author of “Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive the American Economy.”

 

NASCAR star Hailie Deegan poses with Trumps ahead of Daytona 500: ‘Goal complete’

Hailie Deegan, the 18-year-old driver deemed “NASCAR’s Next Big Superstar,” posed for a photo she’ll likely remember for the rest of her life, standing next to President Trump and first lady Melania Trump at the Daytona 500 on Sunday. Deegan and the Trumps were all smiles ahead of the race in Florida. The driver posted the photo to Twitter, adding, “Goal complete,” with a check mark. Earlier Sunday, she tweeted: “Today’s goal. Get my helmet signed by Trump.” That earlier tweet got the attention of Donald Trump Jr., who responded: “DM me… I may know someone.” Deegan proudly held her helmet as she posed for the photo. She was not slated to drive in Sunday’s race. Deegan made her stock car debut at Daytona earlier this month, finishing second to Michael Self in the ARCA Series season opener on Feb. 8. President Trump spoke ahead of the Daytona 500, calling it “the legendary display of roaring engines, soaring spirits and the American skill, speed and power that we’ve been hearing about for so many years.” He later gave the command, “Gentlemen, start your engines,” and rode for a lap in the presidential limo known as “The Beast” before the race got underway. When asked about her rising profile in NASCAR, Deegan said earlier this month: “I think there’s that aspect of being a girl that does help. But, once you get in the car, it don’t matter. No one knows. Most of the time I have the most aggressive-looking, guy-looking car on the track.”

What a great story!     🙂