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John Walsh

Against the backdrop of the continuing sagas of Obama Care (Apparently someone should have read the bill before passing it.) and Lois Lerner’s missing emails, along comes a few smaller scandals to distract us.  Interestingly enough these two “back page” stories could shift the balance of power in the Senate. Behind door number one we have Montana Democratic Senator John Walsh who has been accused of plagiarizing his Master’s Thesis seven years ago. And behind door number two, we have Dr. Milton Wolf, a candidate for the Kansas Republican Senate seat currently held by Senator Pat Roberts, being investigated by the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts for posting “gruesome x-rays of dead or severely injured patients” on Facebook.

Senator John Walsh of Montana has been pinpointed for having “possibly” plagiarized his Master’s thesis at the Army War College in Carlisle PA back in 2007.  Walsh, the former Lieutenant Governor of Montana, has only been in the Senate since February when Montana Governor Steven Bullock appointed him to take over the seat previously held by Max Baucus who left the Senate to become the Ambassador to China. It has been asserted that Walsh’s fourteen page thesis “The Case for Democracy as Long Term National Strategy” borrowed heavily from other published works on the same topic without attributing credit within the text or footnotes. Walsh has been accused of lifting the six key recommendations in his thesis from a 2002 paper published by the “Carnegie Endowment for International Peace”.  Walsh who served in Iraq from 2004 to 2005 denies the allegations of plagiarism and claims that he was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder at the time he wrote the thesis. Walsh’s thesis will be run through an online plagiarism detection program and if the program demonstrates the presence of plagiarism, appropriate disciplinary measures will be taken.

Milton Wolf Senate Campaign

Back in February when John Walsh was settling into his role as Senator, Kansas Senate candidate Milton Wolf was making headlines for having posted on Facebook a series of  highly graphic x-rays of  dead or very badly injured patients  along with gratuitous inappropriate commentary. When the news of the Facebook postings was first reported by the Topeka Capital Journal, Wolf claimed that the medical images were legally loaded to Facebook for educational purposes.  The Wolf story had all but vanished into the archives, when the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts investigation hit the news feeds just in time for the Kansas GOP primary on August 5.  Oh by the way, Wolf is the senator who claims to be Obama’s cousin and has published a tome entitled “First Do No Harm. The President’s Cousin Explains Why His Hippocratic Oath Requires Him to Oppose Obama Care”.  Enough said.

Keep your eyes on Montana and Kansas. Things are getting interesting.

 
Nunn vs Perdue

The Georgia Senate race for retiring Senator Saxby Chambliss’s seat is shaping up to be one of the hottest competitions.  The Georgia race is extremely critical as its outcome might decide which party will control the Senate. The Republicans need six more seats to win control of the Senate and don’t want to risk losing Chambliss’s seat to the Democrats.

Ironically the two candidates, the Republican,  business man David Perdue and the Democrat,  non-profit executive Michelle Nunn  neither of whom have ever held public office describe themselves as Washington outsiders when nothing could be further from the truth.  Mr. Perdue, the former President and CEO of Reebok, and former Chairman and CEO of Dollar General Stores, is the cousin of former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue.  Ms. Nunn, who is currently the CEO of City Cares and was previously the CEO of the Hands on Network which later merged with George H. Bush’s Points of Light Foundation is the daughter of former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn.Senate Race 2014 Map

Interestingly enough, both candidates are highly qualified but bring baggage to the campaign. Mr. Perdue who narrowly defeated eleven term Representative Jack Kingston to win the nomination. (Perdue: 50.9% vs. Kingston: 49.1%) brings a vast amount of large company corporate management experience.  His advocates argue that he has the financial, operational and organizational skills to turn around Georgia’s economy.  But his resume has a few blemishes. He previously served as the CEO of Pillowtex, a textile manufacturer which went bankrupt in 2003  with the end result of 7500 people losing their jobs. He has also received negative press when in 2006, three years into his four year tenure as Dollar General’s CEO, the federal investigators at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined that female store managers were paid less than male store managers with similar levels of responsibility.  A year later in 2007, in a separate claim, thousands of female managers lodged a class action suit for alleged gender pay disparity which Dollar General later settled for more than $15 million.

Michelle Nunn has had a highly successful career building and leading large non-profit organizations. She served as Hands on America’s first Executive Director.   In 2007, Hands on America merged with George H. Bush’s foundation Points of Light and Ms. Nunn assumed the position of CEO.  Points of Light is currently the largest organization in the U.S. devoted to volunteer service.  She brings bipartisan experience to the table as well having worked with Republican Senator Orrin Hatch and the late Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy to create the 2009 Serve America Act, which provides small grants to engage volunteers in service delivery.  She was also appointed by George W. Bush to serve on the National Council on Service and Civic Engagement. But on the flipside, she has recently been highly criticized by the press for her inconsistent position on Obama Care which has been reflected in a number of high profile television interviews. During a recent MSNBC interview, she repeatedly dodged questions about whether she would repeal the Affordable Care Act. She also has been cited as saying that she supports the legislation but then emphasizes that she would fix it. The press is already having a field day with her waffling.

It is still early. There is a lot more mudslinging to follow between now and November. But one thing is sure all eyes will be on the Peach State.

Tom Steyer

It is campaign season and those seeking public office have all got their hands out.  And as the candidates shuttle from one rubber chicken dinner to another, along comes billionaire hedge fund operator and green energy proponent Tom Steyer with a basketful of golden eggs worth about $100 million.  Steyer, who previously founded and served as Senior Managing Member of the hedge fund, Farallon Capital Management is the President of NextGen Climate, “an organization that acts politically to avert climate disaster and preserve American prosperity”.  Acts politically indeed, Steyer has pledged $100 million to support upcoming political campaigns and has already ponied up $50 million of his own money with the balance slated to come from NextGen.  And all you need to do to get your share of the golden fortune is to embrace and advocate for Steyer’s climate control policies.

 Unfortunately there is an inherent hypocrisy to Steyer’s climate control policies.  While he claims to have no financial interest in the environmental positions he espouses, the facts paint a different picture.  Steyer, a proactive opponent of the Keystone Pipeline was up until recently a major investor in Kinder Morgan, an organization which was developing  a competing entity to the Keystone Pipeline. But it gets worse. Steyer publically opposes fossil fuels, coal in particular. However, when he was at the helm of Farallon, which currently has over $20 billion in funds under management, the firm invested substantially in coal production in Jakarta, Sydney, Hong Kong, and Singapore among other locations. And as Farallon is a private fund, it was not required to report the details of its investment activities. And these “hidden” numbers tell an interesting story.  Farallon’s investments in coal mines produced approximately 150 million tons per annum (mtpa) of coal in 2012. By contrast the Koch Brothers only owned one coal mine which has since closed but only produced about 6 mtpa of coal when it was at full capacity.

How is that for an “inconvenient truth”?

Government Corruption Redacted

We inhabit a vast information bubble where we can rapidly access breaking news, the latest innovations in science and technology, bestselling books, and box office bonanzas. Like a customer at a diner, we can order the information in the media of our choice, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  And while we love that we can find the answer to a trivia question with a google keystroke, we are not enamored of the overwhelming stream of unsolicited information which bombards us on an hourly basis. But in a bizarre irony, not every message is making it to our inbox, our television, our twitter feed or our Netflix account. A silent gatekeeper is sorting our mail for us and determining what to keep and what to toss.

Yes, censorship is alive and well in the "superpower" of the free world. Unlike the "blackout" of magazine articles that you sometimes see in Asia and the Middle East, this censorship is silent and practically invisible to the naked eye. It starts in our universities where over 90% of the professors are left leaning and consequently building course agendas and curriculum materials which reflect their personal philosophies. This is particularly prevalent in literature, history, sociology, political science and media/journalism courses.

Censorship takes many forms such as the media self-policing itself by punishing journalists for expressing a different point of view. A well known example is the 2010 firing of journalist Juan Williams from NPR for his perceived anti-Muslim rhetoric. Fortunately, the talented Mr. Williams still has a presence in other media forums including Fox News. Another example is investigative reporter Sheryl Attkisson’s March resignation from CBS after a twenty year career because she felt the network was “soft” on Obama.  Ms. Attkisson who had written hard hitting news stories on topics such as Benghazi, Obamacare and government obstruction claimed to have been dissuaded from pursuing certain stories or if she did do the story, the clip wasn’t aired.

The White House is also playing gatekeeper by predetermining which media outlets and specific journalists will have access to the President.  White House press briefings are no longer an open Q&A. It is largely believed that the Obama communications team previews the roster of reporters and determines the reporters from whom the President will entertain questions. This control of the dialogue was not taking place during previous presidential administrations.Dinesh D'Souza's "America"

Censorship is also happening in our book stores and online distribution channels. COSTCO recently removed Dinesh D’Souza’s book, “America, Imagine a World without Her” from its shelves citing less than anticipated sales. COSTCO only reversed its decision after a protest from its customer base coupled by scathing press coverage. Coincidentally, COSTCO’s former CEO donated $100,000 to the 2012 Obama campaign and COSTCO employees also donated over $200,000 during the President’s first term in office.

The film industry is also famously left leaning in its production development and financing decisions. This tendency is particularly in evidence in film festival competitions especially Robert Redford’s Sundance, the mecca of independent filmmakers. It is no secret that the talented Mr. Redford is left leaning, but then so are many of the members of his board of directors. Consequently, the festival has had a history of being very receptive to films which are reflective of the left’s pro-environment stance such as Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”. The festival has also embraced politically controversial films such as “Why We Fight”.

Given this backdrop, it is no surprise that conservative film makers have encountered difficulty getting their voices heard at Sundance and other festivals. For example, Business man turned film maker Dennis Michael Lynch’s film “They Come to America” which presented a conservative view on immigration was rejected at Sundance and over 20 other film festivals. Dinesh D’Souza completely skipped the film festival circuit when he released the film version of “America”.  On the other hand, in 2013, both Robert Stone’s “Pandora’s Promise”, a pro-nuclear picture and R.J. Cutler’s “The World According to Dick Cheney” premiered at Sundance. And in 2014 Greg Whitely’s “Mitt”, a behind the scenes look at Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign debuted in Park City. But somehow a film about Mitt Romney debuting in Utah seems like a no brainer. An unknown conservative film maker is going to have a harder time crashing the party and finding an angel investor in a haystack.

Censorship of any form has no place in our universities, newsrooms, film production companies, corporations etc. The party needs to be open to everyone. It is time to fire the gatekeeper and let some new guests in. 

 
Media Justice
We now live in a society where the media is king. The media creates our heroes and identifies
our scapegoats.  Like a bookie at a  horse race, the media selects the political candidates to run and channels Procter & Gamble to turn them into a household name. Barack Obama has gone down in history as not only the first black president but the first president elected through the strategic integration of internet marketing, social networking, traditional media and database analytics. 
 
The media dictates who we worship and who we ostracize. They tell us who to listen to and who to shun. They identify the key voices and set the currency for their presence. The media tells us that former first daughter Chelsea Clinton with her brief professional stints at McKinsey and NBC is worthy of a $75,000 speaking fee where former secretary of state, national security advisor and current provost at Stanford Dr. Condoleeza Rice only merits an average speaking fee of $35,000.
 
The media tells us that the notorious Kardashians, Hiltons, and the gallery of other reality show stars are worth our viewership and our adoration. What world do we live in when Snooky of the Jersey Shore fame is considered more of a headliner than the late great author Maya Angelou?
 
Some say the media is biased towards a liberal point of view. It seems that the institutions and individuals who receive the most positive treatment in the media tend to be more left leaning. Democrat Bill Gates is a press hero but Republican leaning Donald Trump receives less generous coverage. And the statistics support that viewpoint. The lion share of university professors including journalism professors are liberal. According to  recent study in the Washington Post, 50% of reporters describe themselves as independents, 28% Democrats, 7.1% Republican and 14.6% Other.   But since the media centers of influence are are all located in cities with democratic voting majorities ( New York, LA, DC etc), the percentage of Democratic reporters is obviously much higher.. 
 
But there is something more dangerous happening here. The media is helping to foster a society which idealizes political correctness and personal entitlement instead of free speech, hard work and national security. Bowe Bergdahl, a soldier described by his comrades as a "deserter" was just returned to active military duty. Even though  the search for him resulted in the loss of at least 6 other lives and tied up resources which could be deployed elsewhere, the media has transformed him from deserter to hero.  We have opened our border to hordes of undocumented disease carrying illegal aliens, over 50,000 at last count. The media has not only sensationalized the coverage with misleading statistics of the proportion of underage minors, they are also painting anyone who does not want to let these masses into our country as heartless individuals. When did it become heartless to want to protect your own family, health, and personal property? We are allowing the media to tell us how we are supposed to think and what we are supposed to say. It is time for us to take the microphone back.
 
The High Cost of Tuition
We have all heard the sobering statistics. The price tag for a  Bachelor's degree from a college or university in the United States has skyrocketed. Students paying in-state tuition at a state school will spend an average of $91,304 ($22,826 a year ) to obtain their degree. Students attending a private college or university will spend an average of $179,000 ($44,750  a year) While these strataspheric prices are out of reach for many, students continue to seek post high school education. Once considered a luxury, a two or four year college degree has become a near necessity in the 21st century economy. Fifty years ago, high school graduates had the option of attending trade schools and securing jobs in factories and steel mills. But the erosion of the US manufacturing base eliminated full time blue collar jobs with healthy benefit packages and replaced them with part time low paying service jobs with reduced or no benefits. So students continue to apply to college in droves and pile on student loan debt to the tune of $1.2 trillion dollars. And to make matters even worse, the student loan default rate has demstrated year over year increases between 2007-2012.  Furthermore, student loan debt cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. Instead the lender can garnish the borrower's wages to repay the loan.
 
Tuition inflation highest among Consumer Price Index
The esclating costs of a US university education are the direct results of the dramatic growth in college attendance levels over the past fifty years. In 1963, 45% of high school graduates attended college. In 2013. 68% of high school graduates attend college.
 
Back in 1963, the average household income was $6,200 and the blended  average  annual cost of a college education (tuition, fees, room and board) was $1286 or 21% of the household income. In 2013,  the median household income is $51,000 and the blended average  annual cost of a college education is $33,788 or 66% of the household income. In short the high level of demand for a college education is driving the spiraling costs.
 
Something obviously has to change. We have students graduating from college with mountains of student loan debt. And since students are paying down this debt, they are either not spending their money on other products or services or they are piling on even more debt. Consequently they delay the purchase of  a home,and decline or limit their participation in defined contribution plans. All of this is just bad news for the broader economy. In addition, this student loan debt makes our young people less competitive and nimble vis a vis their international counterparts. After all, students in most European countries including France, Germany, Italy, Spain etc., have the opportunity to attend state funded universities at nominal costs often less than $1000 a year.
 
U.S. Tuition fees relative to other countries.We need to change the university expense model. The P&L is underwater. We need to consider other educational models such as a greater integration of online learning into the core curriculum. Online tuition is approximately 20-25% of class room tuition.
 
And there are probably even more opportunities  for cost reduction as the lifecycle for online learning modules evolves. We also need to further examine the three year bachelors degree model which several state public university systems are currently exploring including California, Indiana, and Minnesota . In 2011,the  Governor John Kasich of Ohio mandated that  the public university system explore the implementation of the three year degree model. The State has made great progress in this area with at least seventeen state schools including Ohio State currently offering  a three year degree program. The Ohio system three year degree requires that students enroll with a minimum of thirty previously acquired credits. Students typically can obtain these credits while still in high school through Advanced Placement courses and co-operative programs with community colleges and other methods.
 
Like any other landscaping changing initiative, the three year degree model has its share of advocates and opponents. The advocates site the obvious benefits of reduced costs and earlier entry into the workforce. The opponents think the condensed degree is watering down the college experience and also see potential financial and operational costs with full scale integration. Having said that, the current program design research and testing efforts should continue.
 
We need to think outside the ivy tower to find a better way to educate and train our students to be creative,productive contributors to an ever evolving global economy. If we don't continue on this path, we risk undoing fifty years of progress to revert to a time period where a university education was only for the affluent.
 
 
Voter-ID & Voter CorruptionYou need ID to drive a motor vehicle, walk into a building, order a beer, pick up tickets at will call, drive a car, cash a check, enroll in school, get a professional certification, buy a gun (legally), catch a plane, or order a pill to relieve allergies.  We need ID for hundreds of reasons that effect every age group, gender, race, or socio-economic group.
 
The fact is we need it to prevent voter fraud as well.
 
The left talks about how requiring voter ID to vote is too burdensome, and will disenfranchise those with disabilities, the elderly or who are black.  Yes, even race has played a part in the Democrat's argument that Voter ID is too much of a burden.
 
When I hear about how requiring Voter ID will disenfranchise voters I think about how the disabled and elderly already are required to have ID to receive medical treatment, and I'm not buying the argument that skin color is a factor.
 
So what's left?  Of course the only answer is voter fraud.  We've already seen PA Democrats accept bribes in return for their opposition to voter identification law.  The bigger problem has to do with Democrat grass roots organizations who shuttle Democrats to register to vote, then vote for them once they are on the voter registration books.
Recently I argued with a Republican who actually suggested that requiring Voter ID would do little to prevent voter fraud.  I disagree.  His argument was that voter fraud is within the precincts themselves and suggested more inspectors from each side to prevent fraud.  The problem with this check and balance is that with some precincts there are planted inspectors from the opposition party.  Once that arrangement is in place there is no stopping a precinct worker from sitting there on election day writing in names and voting for friends and family in the community that who will not show up.  So given this level of fraud Voter ID would not help.
 
Voter-ID solution
Which is why I'd take the voter ID one step further.  It's time we look at bar code scanners like they use at the grocery check out counter.  It's time we implement magnetic strips with our ID like we have with credit cards, or at the very minimum bar codes that could automatically expedite the processing of a voter in a precinct.

 

 
Why am I almost 100% certain the Democrats will oppose this idea?
 
Voter fraud, that's why.
 
The solution is to utilize bar codes and magnetic strips found on credit cards by embedding them into our ID.  It's time we realize that voter fraud has a greater effect on disenfranchising voters than requiring voters to show ID with bar code or magnetic strips.
 
 
Catch Release then VOTE!

The immigration crisis that has been escalating along the southern border of the United States has occurred as a direct result of Obama policy and refusal to enforce the illegal immigration laws currently in effect as passed by Congress and signed by POTUS.

Which begs the question regarding Obama's strategy to turn Texas Blue.  Why now?  Once word spread that Obama would not enforce US laws regarding illegal border crossings we started to see an unprecedented influx of illegals passing through our borders.  Instead of resistance to deter we offered assistance to promote the illegal action.  The overwhelming number of illegals passing the border has caused problems with the spread of disease including tuburculosis (TB) and other deadly and highly infectious diseases.  We are seeing families torn apart, millions of dollars spent, and inhumane living conditions all in the name of politics.
 
The question is why?  The answer is because the biggest "fundamental transformation of America" would be to turn Texas, Florida and Arizona blue by using the same playbook as we've seen from the left with regard to Civil Rights and the social welfare / reparations investments within the black community.  Despite having spent trillions of dollars we've seen a increase in black on black violent crime, black poverty, and black children being born into single parent homes.  Yet the playbook to win votes, hearts and minds of those who need social welfare handouts has resurfaced, this time for hispanics and those entering our southern border in reccord numbers.
 
Soon we will hear words like "refugee", and "amnesty", and "immigration reform" but only after hundreds of thousands of new illegals enter our country.  The illegals will surely be at a disadvantage within our job markets and will likely require more healthcare than our average citizen, and the party to promote social welfare and free healthcare will buy those votes with those programs with the end game of turning Texas blue and owning future elections with the new electorate and demographics.
 
Look ahead and surely the debate will showcase the Republicans push for strong border security, deporation and a pathway to legal citizenship versus the Democrats push for transforming every illegal into a citizen that can vote.
 
In a recent debate a Republican offered to triple the amount of humanitarian aid and security to the illegals along the border promising national guard security, medical care, housing and food so long as they can be administered legally by transporting the illegals back to their homeland while continuing to offer them aid and security.  The Democrat response was that there can be no solution without citizenship which is really code word for voter.  The problem with treating illegals in the U.S. is that it's illegal and the government needs to maintain a standard of law.  Going forward we will never see legitimate Democrat legislation proposals that don't include a fast track for illegal citizenship and voting rights.  Border security and immigration reform will require compromise for bipartisan legislation to resolve the immigration problem.