I attended several sessions and found most invaluable, especially when panelists made points that provoked new insights or paradigms. Listed are brief descriptions of the panels and my ‘takeaways’. If you attended the same sessions, please add your comments. If you attended different sessions and would like to have your ‘take-aways’ posted – email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll post it for you.
Medicaid Expansion: Breaking the Bank while Cheating the Poor
“Did you know that 13% of patients on Medicaid are more likely to die than patients without any insurance? It’s a true and startling fact. This workshop will focus on the problems and cost associated with expanding this broken program, and show how enterprising doctors are offering better solutions.”
Tarren Bragdon, Foundation for Government Accountability, CEO
- Medicaid should only be for the truly needy
- Largest cause of government spending and borrowing
Avik Roy, Manhattan Institute, Senior Fellow
- Our system is breaking by cost overruns by Medicaid
- Medicaid pays only ¼ of the price that private insurers must pay, so most providers will not take Medicaid patients
- Health outcomes are worse for Medicaid patients than for people who have no insurance and go to emergency rooms. Government run single-payer outcomes are worse than anything else
Lee S Gross, MD, Epiphany Health, Co-founder
- Epiphany Health is a concierge plan for the little guy, not insurance. Those on Medicare cannot go to a concierge plan doctor and are forced to stay with Medicare providers.
- Several Republican governors are opting for the Medicaid Expansion because Hospitals are lobbying like crazy: Ohio, Michigan, Arizona
- Hospitals love taking Medicaid money and then subsidize the shortfall by charging privately insured patients more to make up the difference! Hospitals are the ‘enemy’ – not the insurance companies
- Doctors now work to satisfy the hospitals not the patients because 7 years ago 70% of physicians had private practices while now – 70% of physicians are in hospital owned practices!
“….Come find out how activists across America have helped to decrease their state burden an put money back in the pockets of their fellow citizens.”
Dr. Christine P. Ries, Georgia Institute of Technology, Professor of Economics
- The GA Tax Reform Council has made significant progress in rolling back taxes
- Tax Reform The Game was developed by Dr. Ries, and allows for interactive modeling of changes (eg implications of lowering/raising taxes and spending), incorporating dynamic assumptions for economic and job growth based on such changes. Play with it!
Chris Farr, AFP Foundation, NC Deputy State Director
- Succeeded in bringing down the tax rates, capped the state gas tax and eliminated the estate (death) tax in this purple state!
Joe Henchman, TAX Foundation, Vice President for State Projects
- States that made significant progress in lowering rates in the past year were: Wisconsin, New Mexico, Indiana, Arizona, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Massachusetts, North Carolina, DC (see details at their State section)
- For state by state data on surges in income tax revenues go to their article: States see Spring Surge Income Tax Revenues
Waste Watchers: Finding Government Waste & Shedding Light On It
“We’ve all heard the stories about government wasting tax dollars on $12 bagels and parties in Las Vegas….Our seasoned experts will explain what causes this waste, and help you learn how to identify and expose all the pork”
The focus of this session was on state and local levels – however all were referred to a wiki-like site for federal spending (outrages) called Spendopedia!
Susan Combs, TX Comptroller of Public Accounts
- Schools are 1/3 of the state budget and school construction is the biggest boondoggle/source of waste!
- It takes persistence, creativity and determination to find waste
- “If you can’t defend it, don’t spend it”
- She uses data-mining software to uncover Medicaid fraud
- NO GOVERNMENT WANTS YOU TO KNOW WHAT THEY’RE DOING! – Be ruthless about demanding information
Dan Epstein, Cause of Action, Executive Director
- Grant money from Federal Government to States is typically used (funneled) to groups lobbying for increased taxes!
- Since government doesn’t want to be watched, the FTC looks at all watch-dog groups’ websites.
- In order to get fee-waivers on the Federal level it’s necessary to be a non-profit and categorized as a ‘news media requestor”. Have to fight for your rights – eg AFL/CIO has ‘news media requestor’ status whereas his organization is suing since rejected for such status.
- He recommends getting published on the Washington Freebeacon!
Mary Ellen Beatty, Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, Director of Citizen Outreach (click on state for your state’s websites)
- Franklin Center is a network of ‘investigative reporters/bloggers’ looking for Waste, Fraud and Abuse at schoolboard, city councils, county commissions.
- It only takes a handful of people to ‘shine the light’ on each of the above
- Review their websites, and write about it!
- Call out elected and government officials by name and link to their name in articles to trigger Google Alerts!
- Tweet @ the officials’ twitter accounts because the tweets are public
Tips from the Q&A Session at the end of the panel:
- To see examples of FOIA requests search on ‘foia letter generator tool’
- If you get pushback – MAKE A STORY OUT OF IT! Use the Franklin Center. Document every details and again – NAME NAMES!
- Don’t be labeled as a NUT! Be professional and respectful
- Be creative in fighting copying fees (used to hide stuff) – offer to come in and just read the material, use your phone to take pictures of the pages, don’t accept paying per page!
Building Bridges and Creating an Army: The Importance of Relationships
“So you want to make a difference. Before you can truly be effective, you need to build a network. These are fellow activists you can leverage when it comes time to act on your issue”
Jen Stefano, AFP State Director
- Know who and what you are
- Explain policy issues from the Point of View of those to whom you’re speaking
- Go to their meetings (the people you’re trying to reach) – don’t expect people to come to yours
- Do you have the same people coming to your meetings over and over and they don’t ever DO ANYTHING???? Stop!
Daniel Garza, The LIBRE Initiative, Executive Director
- Of the self-identified Hispanic population, 1/3 speak only Spanish, 1/3 are bi-lingual and 1/3 only speak English
- A very large percentage (of the Spanish-speaking) have their tv’s tuned only to Univision and get all of their news/politics/etc from that station
Evan Feinberg, Generation Opportunity, President
- Aimed at youth
- Jobs and NSA spying big issues
IT’S AS IMPORTANT TO HAVE THE RIGHT MESSENGER AS IT IS THE RIGHT MESSAGE!
With a crystal-clear night on the back end of a Florida “cold-snap” (getting into the 40’s the day before), there was another exciting night of patriotism from the Palm Beach County Tea Party. Though the turnout was lighter than this past month, it was an unquestionably exciting evening of brisk dialogue amongst Patriots in Boca Raton. Slade O’Brien was the guest speaker, and his perspective as a leader of grassroots movements, and dealing with politics on the LOCAL level, was quite illuminating. As the Florida Director of Americans For Prosperity, Slade has an extraordinary inside perspective on Florida politics, with access to all the “movers and shakers” within the political sphere in our state.
What he revealed about statewide graft and corruption in state contracts from legislators “thanking” their lobbyists and supporters who got them elected was both sickening and motivating at the same time. Slade also updated us on the “Five For Florida” initiative that AFP began last year, and updated us on their progress. While much has been accomplished, we have a “long road ahead”, as Slade said.
This also marked the return to Boca Greens Country Club, and exceptional venue for our group in terms of space, facilities, location, and food. Salad, Rolls, Chicken, and Salmon was served with a Vodka Penne dish, and a yummy-looking Apple-Cobbler type of dessert (I did not partake). It was a great crowd, populated by both familiar faces, as well as many new people. PBCTP Co-Founders Mel and Barbara Grossman made the trip from Jupiter to be with us, as did Terry Brady.
Boca Chapter Coordinator Alex Berry began the proceedings at 7:00pm with the Pledge of Allegiance. Carlos Manuel Santana then regaled us with his impassioned version of the National Anthem. After the usual protocol of explaining what the PBCTP is, and what it stands for, Alex made general announcements, and then asked former Board member Francisco Rodriguez to come to the podium. Francisco explained how he has recently published a book that addresses the critical issue of WINNING ELECTIONS, and how that starts on the local level, something we can all participate in. And this dovetailed well with Slade O’Brien’s discussion of the “pragmatics” of politics….
Alex then introduced Slade, who held the crowd captive with a personal account of his observations on how Florida has foolishly discouraged entrepreneurial activity with miles of red tape. He was actually very encouraging, however, because he drew parallels between what Scott Walker has done in Wisconsin, and what is possible here in Florida.
Slade followed his presentation with a boisterous “Q&A” session with the audience, moderated by Alex Berry. Tea Party members donated the raffle prizes, and the winners were announced at the drawing, concluding the evening.
We look forward to more great meetings in 2013 for our Boca Chapter—please INVITE YOUR FRIENDS to our next event, which will be on April 2nd, 2013!!! Remember—we always have our Boca Chapter Dinner/Speaker event on the FIRST TUESDAY of every month, so mark your calendars! Please get involved if you aren’t yet, and STAY involved if you already are! Remember, we are LOOKING FOR ADDITIONAL BOCA TEAM LEADERS, including a Boca Chapter Coordinator (leader in Boca). Please help out if you can!
Ever heard of the Civil Rights Act (CRA) of 1957? You will after reading this.
We hear so many false suggestions and outright wholly unsupported allegations of racism leveled by the Democrat leftists against Republicans and/or conservatives this political season from political campaigns and the media. So, it’s time to dust off my law degree once again and research the actual legislative history of the CRA and which party did, and which did not, support the CRA. Ignoring and/or re-writing history is never acceptable so here we go.
First, a brief mention of one of the undisputed heroes of the Democrat left, President Franklin Roosevelt (FDR) and his “New Deal” programs. During FDR’s administration, for all its perceived “social justice” and so-called equality, discrimination against blacks in housing, transportation, public accommodation and the armed services went virtually unchecked during the “New Deal”. Fast forward a couple of decades to 1957. In order to break the racist obstruction of Southern Democrats (so-called “Dixiecrats”) Republican President Dwight Eisenhower (Ike), I repeat Republican, sponsored both a civil rights as well as a voting rights act. And who do you think blocked him in the senate? The future president US Senator Lyndon Johnson (LBJ) fought tooth and nail against both. Ike finally signed a very watered down version of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 which was intended to guarantee voting rights of all black people. This was the first civil rights legislation to pass and be signed into law since the Reconstruction era after the Civil War. Ike was forced to send federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas to escort black students entering a formally all white school to enforce the law.
Again, fast forward to 1964 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (the one along with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which are the only ones mentioned these days along with LBJ, another much admired President by the Democrat left). As I mentioned in the previous paragraph LBJ was no supporter of the civil rights movement. LBJ’s legislative voting record from 1940-1960 was that of a typical “Dixiecrat”, i.e., an actual racist as opposed to the falsely accused Republicans and/or conservatives hung with that heinous label today. And, if you think LBJ had some epiphany and attack of conscience or sudden mysterious injection of righteousness in 1964 and 1965, think again! Here is a direct quote about what he really felt about the civil rights legislation, taken from Ronald Kessler’s book “Inside the White House”:
“These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up they’re uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference.”
Translation of the above quote is that LBJ made an apparent 360° turn which was based solely on the cynical notion that if black people are dependent upon Democrats for public assistance, welfare and government programs they would, as LBJ quipped be “voting Democratic for the next 200 years”. The Republicans of that era were instrumental in the 1964 and 1965 Acts passing, since the Democrats could never muster enough votes within their own party. The “Dixiecrats” would not vote for either Act.
Today, in the mad dash of the left to demonize and vilify Republicans and/or conservatives the actual history of the civil rights movement has been outright distorted. The story in this article is untold since we know who controls traditional media and text books. LBJ was not the civil rights champion he’s made out to be. In fact, he was quite the opposite. Leftists make a fatal mistake, in my view, when they paint conservatives as racist when conservatives challenge welfare because while we understand people need assistance, we also understand that it cannot become a lifestyle, passed down from generation from generation.
The bottom line is we conservatives look at the potential of the individual and not the potential for further votes and political power due to repression of constituents to rise out of dependency on government as LBJ so callously pointed out in the 1960s. Apparently, LBJ’s plan is working out better today than even he would have imagined, generations relegated to government dependence and the misery it brings and a block of voters that vote nearly 100% Democrat, presumably far into the future.
Many of our Palm Beach County Tea Party members met Mark Meckler last September when he and Dawn Wildman visited all three of our chapters. Just before Christmas, you may have read that Mark was arrested in LaGuardia airport on a firearms charge. The liberal media portrayed this as a major arrest and that Mark was facing 15 years in prison due to a firearms charge. This situation has been resolved positively Mark can finally explain what happened. Since our major media outlets will not cover this positive outcome, I want to share Mark’s statement with you. It is lengthy but well worth the read!
From Mark Meckler:
On December 15, 2011 at approximately 5:15 a.m., I was at LaGuardia International airport preparing to check in for a flight out of the city. During a routine check-in, I requested a firearms declaration form from the ticket agent. It was my intent to declare and check my unloaded firearm.
I purchased this firearm legally, and I have a valid concealed carry permit for it issued in California. The unloaded gun was locked inside a TSA-approved travel case, and the case was locked inside my checked luggage. I carry the firearm for my personal safety, having received numerous threats due to my role in the Tea Party Patriots. I have checked this firearm at airports dozens of times before, all across the country.
As I traveled through LaGuardia that morning, I passed TSA signs telling me I had the right to check this unloaded firearm in my luggage, and that I am required by law to declare the firearm to the ticketing agent. This is exactly what I did.
The ticketing agent provided me with the declaration form, and I signed it and returned it to her. She advised me that she would need to call Port Authority police to inspect. This is not unusual when traveling with a firearm. Procedures vary from airport to airport, from airline to airline, and even from day to day, and as a law-abiding citizen, I have always been happy to cooperate.
Unfortunately, that day, I didn’t realize that I was about to cross paths with New York City’s anti-Second Amendment stance. Upon showing my case and the weapon to the officer who arrived on the scene, and after a few brief questions, she advised me that she was placing me under arrest for violating New York City’s firearms laws.
To say that I was stunned would be an understatement. I am from a law enforcement family. My mother is a retired correctional officer, and I have spent my life around folks from the law enforcement community. I have always considered myself a law-abiding citizen. I have never been arrested before. I have never been in police custody. I can never say those things again. On December 15th, 2011, I was arrested, handcuffed at the ticket counter, and taken to a waiting squad car for transport to the Port Authority Police station at LaGuardia.
I was subsequently transferred, in handcuffs, to the Queens Central booking facility in New York City. I was charged with felony possession of a firearm with intent to do harm. I spent the day in Queens…in jail.
It was a nightmare that I can scarcely describe to you. Until you have felt the handcuffs on your wrists, and until you have heard that cell door close behind you, it is impossible to understand what it means to actually lose your liberty. And since that day, my liberty has been at stake, and because of that threat, based upon the advice of counsel, I’ve been unable to publicly speak about this case. Today the silence ends.
I am pleased to announce that the criminal case against me has been dropped. Although I was originally charged with a violent felony, the case against me was resolved with a plea to “disorderly conduct. ” Disorderly Conduct is not a felony or a misdemeanor, or even a crime. The facts underlying my plea are that I declared a legally purchased, properly licensed and unloaded firearm at an airport counter. Apparently, much to my surprise, in New York City, it is considered “disorderly conduct” to exercise your constitutionally guaranteed, Second Amendment rights.
Strangely, now that the case against me is over, the authorities refuse to return my firearm. There is no law that allows them to confiscate a weapon in this manner. They simply say “no” when you ask for your weapon back. This is apparently their “policy.” This is apparently done regularly in New York. This is government robbery. Not only is New York City anti-Second Amendment rights, but they are depriving citizens of their legally owned property. My lawyer has advised me that I can attempt to pursue the return of my firearm, but that to do so would cost me more than the firearm is worth. I am not alone in facing this tyranny. It has happened to hundreds of people in the New York metro area. My lawyer, Brian Stapleton, has handled over 400 of these cases himself, so he is an expert on the subject.
While the end of this case is the end of a horrible nightmare for my family and I, it is not the end of this fight. It is just the beginning. Since the original incident, I have received more emails, phone calls, texts and tweets of support than you can possibly imagine. To those people, I want to say heart-felt thanks on behalf of my entire family. We have come to know that we are not alone in this particular fight. Apparently, this happens to hundreds of people per year in New York City. And New York City is not alone in its attack on our rights. This sort of Constitutional abuse, Second Amendment and otherwise, is taking place all over the nation. And we as citizens must stand against it. We must protect our rights, or we will lose them.
Many of you know me as someone who is willing to stand and fight for self-governance in this country. I’m no politician, and I’m not from a powerful or connected family. I’m an average American citizen. And I stand shoulder to shoulder with millions of other Americans who, despite enormous obstacles, and despite the politicians and ruling elite who oppose us, intend to return this country to the bounds of the United States Constitution.
The politicians and ruling elite will try, but we must not let them label us Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal. We cannot let them make us fight against each other. Too much is at stake. We the People are losing our sovereignty to the government. We the People, must stand and fight for our inalienable rights.
I’m not alone in this fight. There are so many laws, that no one can possibly know or understand them. We are all affected. From the inner city to the farm, from the heartland of America to the coasts, people are under pressure from a government that no longer serves them. From my home in California, to the farmland of Kansas… from the small towns of South Carolina to the metropolis of New York, every year the legislatures pass thousands of laws and regulations that do not serve the people.
The legislators don’t read the bills they pass, and even if they did, they couldn’t understand them. Our criminal justice system is terribly broken, and no longer serves the people and the communities it was intended to serve. Our regulatory system is broken; small businesses and the communities that rely on them crushed under the weight of unnecessary regulation.
We are, step by step, destroying the heart of America. And we are doing so because we are not governing ourselves according to the Constitution. It’s up to us…the People.
It’s time to stand for self-governance. It is time to stand for the plain meaning of the Constitution. Every word of the Constitution is important, and we must fight for them all. We must fight for every inch of this country, from the inner city to the smallest rural town. We are, all of us, first and foremost, American citizens. We’ve always governed ourselves…and we always intend to. And we’ve always been willing to stand when freedom is at stake. It is time to stand…time for all of us, every race, every religion, every gender, every American to stand up and fight for liberty and take responsibility for governing ourselves.
No one should ever have to go through what my family has been through, simply for exercising a fundamental right, specifically enumerated in the United States Constitution. I am committed to making sure no one does. And I’m willing to work with anyone…anyone, who agrees that it’s time for the people to govern themselves once again.
Will we as citizens fight for our inalienable right to govern ourselves, or will we quietly allow ourselves to be “governed” into submission by a ruling elite, disconnected from our citizens and our communities? Only history will tell, but I intend to fight.
There is continual interest, speculation and concern surrounding Smart Meters and Smart Meter Grids. The first Florida community to resist the implementation of Smart Meters that I have heard of is Lakeshore Neighbor’s Association, Lakeland, FL. I have not yet received the results of their August 15, 2011 6:00pm meeting at City Hall. I will post updates. The purpose of this post is to invite dialog and provide resource information.
Florida Power and Light provides web sites www.fpl.com/energysmartflorida and www.fpl.com/contents/privacy_policy.shtml. These sites will suggest that there are benefits including improving the efficiency of meter reading and billing, increasing the quality of customer service by eliminating the need for estimated bills, saving staff time and fuel, preventing recording errors and minimizing the need for personnel to go on the property.
The privacy concerns from citizens are denied by FPL. They will tell you they only monitor how much electric you use, not how you use it. When I asked them how they interface with Grid Glo I was referred to a supervisor. I am still waiting for a reply. I urge you to research gridglo.com. The company is located in Delray Beach, Fl. According to the web site, utility companies are rapidly installing smart meters resulting in massive amounts of data being gathered. Grid Glo assigns an EPM score, (Energy People Meter) which is a real time digital fingerprint of people’s energy use.
Web sites opposing Smart Meters continue to grow. Concerns over violations of our fourth amendment persist: www.stopsmartmeters.wordpress.com and www.refusesmartmeter.com. You can also contact email@example.com for local information.
To date FPL has not addressed the health concerns. What are the risks from the microwave radiation are detailed by Dr. Zory R. Glaser Ph.D. www.zoryglaser.com and “The Sage Report sagereports.com/smart-meter-rf . Excerpt from the Sage Report *the reflectivity of polished metal surfaces is usually quite high (such as stainless steel and polished metal surfaces typical in kitchens.
In my next post I hope to have the answers to:
Do Smart Meters have a second antenna that will eventually talk to my appliances? Will my washer and refrigerator report me? Use www.govtrack.us and read bill S398 Implementation of National Consensus Appliance Agreements Act of 2011, HR 2208 Smart Grid Advancement Act of 2011 and HR 2748 Smart Electronics Act.
Are Smart Meters UL (Underwriters Laboratory) listed and certified? Of the people I have talked to they do not see the UL tag on their meters.
Some Smart Meters are being installed with prior notice to the home owner and some meters are installed without any prior notice. In my next post I hope to have photo examples of both. If you search google you can see the different types now available. Ask your family and friends to look at their own house and submit pictures.
Note: If Safari does not bring you to these sites try using Firefox or Crome.
Fred and I attended the Florida Redistricting Public Meeting conducted at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton today, August 16. We didn’t know quite what to expect – eg. who would be attending, or to whom we would be addressing our comments. As it turned out, the majority of the speakers were from various interest groups, with the League of Women Voters being the best represented, as well as the most aggressive about their issues. The committee consisted of a panel of 40 state representatives and senators, arranged in a double row facing the crowd. The chairman is Senator Don Gaetz, R-Niceville.
Senate 27 – a district likely to change
Both George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post, and Anthony Man of the Sun-Sentinel did a good job representing the gist of the meeting. However I’d like to capture a few of my personal observations and concerns.
First – it alarms me greatly whenever, as a political conservative, I find myself agreeing with most of the comments made by the very liberal Boca crowd who took the time to get organized, come out in force, speak and stay until the end of the meeting listening to others’ comments.
– Timeline: I agree with the concerns, best expressed by Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, that the timeline to completion of the redistricting effort is extremely late in the election cycle. Incumbents and those who are considering running for office will not know the boundaries or district makeup until well into 2012, which will not allow those non-incumbents to campaign or solicit donations, or even file for office. Ms. Bucher should have been allowed much more than the 2 minute (doubled for her) allotted time to express the issues as she saw them. At the end of the meeting, her issues were dismissed by Rep. Stephen Precourt, R-Orlando, the vice chairman of the House Redistricting Committee. He said that most county election supervisors said that the information would be there in plenty of time for proper preparation for upcoming elections. He cited Seminole County (population 423,000) as an example. The population of Palm Beach County is 1,320,000 – considerably larger. – Advantage: Incumbent?
– No Florida Legislature proposed maps were presented for public comment: The rationale given was that the panel would solicit public input, and then use that input (along with maps submitted by the public) to devise new legislative boundaries. But three months of public meetings throughout the state dedicated to input prior to seeing any official maps, while only allowing a fraction of that for future public comment on the official maps, only in Tallahassee, sometime in the future, smacks of self-protection by incumbents of either party. (It is too similar to what is happening on the national level where our President or the Democrat party refuses to present a serious budget.) Once a redistricting plan is out there – it is immediately subject to criticism and attack. So why not take the safer route and not present anything until the last minute. Advantage: Incumbent?
– Perceived arrogance by the legislative panel: At least one representative was not in his seat for the bulk of the meeting. Another key leader seemed to get up and leave frequently, cell phone in hand. This is a common occurrence by our elected officials at County Commission meetings. Apparently it also is common practice at higher levels of office. We had to remain seated, if we wanted to ensure our turn to speak. Please do us the courtesy of remaining in place to hear us out. We think the Republican Majority in Tallahassee is doing good work, but we also remember it was arrogance that brought down the 2006 Congressional Majority. Think about it.
I am not one of the 70+ percent of the voters who voted FOR amendments 5 or 6. I believe that there is a clear agenda behind those two amendments and that there will possibly be valid cases against these in the courts. However, as several proponents of the measures said at the meeting, Redistricting is one of the most important roles of this Legislative session in Tallahassee, and I’d feel better served if I felt that my Tallahassee representatives were looking out for my interests as a citizen, rather their own.
One last point – the purpose of redistricting is to balance the districts to reflect the 2010 census. The overwhelming majority of the speakers were more concerned with the ramifications of the Fair Districts Amendments, as if they could be used to redraw the districts on a blank sheet of paper and “right the wrongs” of the past 100 years. It would be a mistake to attempt such a thing, full of unintended consequences. Redistricting works best when adjustments are made on the margins of existing districts. We hope both sides remember that.