Why a Trauma Kit is essential and what it should contain


Tiny SquirrelGun shows are great places to meet kindred spirits and at the last one I went to I met David Dietrich who is co-owner of GetReady! Emergency Planning Center, getemergencyready.com. He was selling a fantastic range of Trauma items (although I admit he got my attention with a small pack on his stall labeled “Vasectomy Kit.”) Anyway, I asked him to come up with something that would really be of use to you guys and he produced a doozy. Check this list out. Thanks David, this is really useful. 

Most people likely think about equipment for trained specialists in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) when they hear “Trauma Kit.”  Other terms used are “Blow-Out Kit,” and “Individual First Aid Kit” (IFAK).  However, they would be wrong.  Such kits are instead designed to be used by the first responder, whether he is a police officer, infantryman, or just a Good Samaritan.

A Trauma Kit is a far cry from a typical First Aid Kit.  While the latter is designed to support minor injuries and medical issues, the former is essential for saving someone’s life in the next ten minutes.  That means such kits are focused on major bleeding from gunshots, stabbings, and amputations.  In addition, they address breathing obstructions from anaphylaxis or massive tissue damage.

For the purposes of post-disaster preparedness, a Trauma Kit provides coverage where there will likely be no medical services for some time.  That means we will be on our own.  We ourselves may be not only the first responder, but also the last.  So, acquiring and learning to use the components of such a kit is a critical capability.  This is one reason why so many military combatants have survived serious wounds in our recent wars.

One axiom is indisputable – all bleeding stops.  The question becomes, how it will stop?  Do you want to let it stop on its own, after the casualty has bled out, or do you want to play an active role, stopping the bleeding yourself in sufficient time for the casualty to become an asset once again?  The Trauma Kit provides a means to that end, through various included devices.

Image: Pictured are the JBC Corporation Medical Assault Kit, costing over $200, and the GetReady! Field Trauma Kit, listing at $99.95.

So, what does a Trauma Kit look like?  First of all, it is relatively small, easily carried on a belt, armor plate, or in a backpack.  Secondly, it does not usually contain the items we expect to see in First Aid Kits.  Rather, they include tourniquets, pressure bandages, blood clotting agent, occlusive dressing, tension pneumothorax needle, and nasopharyngeal airway. There may be a few other odds and ends as well, but those are the basics.


Let’s take a look at components of a trauma kit, to better understand why they are used:


Image: Pictured are rubber tubing, RATS, SWAT-T, and CAT-T.  Others to consider are are SOF-TT, and TK-4.  They range in price from approximately $6 to $32 each.

Tourniquet.  There are many designs and brand available, from simple rubber tubing to complex windlass or ratcheting designs.  But, they all have one purpose – to constrict or eliminate blood flow to the bleeding extremity.  While these used to be a tool of last resort, military experience has proven their worth in saving lives as the tool of first choice.  If properly applied and combined with other devices, they can be safely removed later.


Pictured are the H&H Medical H-Bandage and the ubiquitous “Israeli Bandage.”  They range in price from approximately $6 to $15 each.

Compression (Pressure) Bandage.  There are several commercial brands out there, typically based on the original Israeli Bandage.  As the tried and true method for staunching blood flow is pressure and elevation, their purpose is to maintain pressure at the injury site, as well as provide a clotting medium.  This is accomplished through an integrated dressing and pressure device.  The hands are then left free to perform other functions. Here are some examples of commercially available Pressure Bandages:


Pictured are the Celox Hemostatic Granules,  QuikClot Combat Gauze, and QuikClot Clotting Sponge.  They range in price from approximately $13 to $42 each.
Pictured are the Celox Hemostatic Granules,  QuikClot Combat Gauze, and QuikClot Clotting Sponge.  They range in price from approximately $13 to $42 each.

Hemostatic (Clotting) Agent.  There are mainly two commercial brands out there, found in three forms.  These are QuikClot and Celox, using sponges, gauze wraps, or poured granules.  The key component is either a clay mineral (kaolin), used in QuikClot, or a crustacean derivative (chitosan), used in Celox.  Both types interact with blood plasma to rapidly form clots.  They work independently of blood platelets or thinning drugs.



Pictured are the H&H Medical Wound Seal Kit and Compact Wound Seal.  Other companies also produce simple and valved options.  They range in price from approximately $15 to $30 each.
Pictured are the H&H Medical Wound Seal Kit and Compact Wound Seal.  Other companies also produce simple and valved options.  They range in price from approximately $15 to $30 each.

Occlusive Dressing (aka Chest Seal).  Several brands are used by the military and other agencies.  They are designed to block inhalation through the thoracic cavity, rather than normally, into the lungs.  If such a condition, known as a “sucking chest wound,” is allowed to continue, the lung on that side will likely collapse, putting pressure on the aorta and heart, resulting in painful breathing and associated circulatory problems.




Pictured are the BD Angiocath and the H&H Medical Tension Pneumothorax Needle.  Enhanced versions are also available.  They range in price from approximately $15 to $43 each.
Pictured are the BD Angiocath and the H&H Medical Tension Pneumothorax Needle.  Enhanced versions are also available.  They range in price from approximately $15 to $43 each.

Tension Pneumothorax Needle (TPN).  Several brands are used by the military and other agencies.  They are designed to release air and/or fluid pressure in the external thoracic cavity that may lead to the same conditions described under Occlusive Dressing above.  So, this device is for closed, versus open chest wounds.  The TPN is probably the most difficult of all the Trauma Kit devices to apply, and should by studied and practiced.


Naso-Pharyngeal Airway (NPA)

Pictured is the Rusch Robertazzi Nasopharyngeal Airway.  Packaged with water-soluble lubricant, they range in price from approximately $5 to $15 each.
Pictured is the Rusch Robertazzi Nasopharyngeal Airway.  Packaged with water-soluble lubricant, they range in price from approximately $5 to $15 each.

Numerous brands are used by the military and other agencies. They are used to maintain breathing in the event of an airway blockage due to anaphylaxis or tissue damage.  They are basically comprised of a stiffened rubber tube, beveled on one end and enlarged into a bell shape on the other.  Assisted by accompanying water-based lubricant, they are fully inserted into a nostril up to the bell.

compressed-gauzeCompressed Gauze.  Numerous brands are used by the military and other agencies.  They are used primarily to absorb and aid in the clotting of blood.  Almost always comprised of cotton, they are the most versatile Trauma Kit component.  And it cannot be overstated that you can never have enough gauze.  Additional uses include absorbing other bodily fluids, covering burns and lacerations, wrapping dressings, and securing splints.


Trauma Shears

Pictured are 3.5” and 5.5” light duty Trauma Sheers from Rescue Essentials and Ronson.  Other, more robust sheers are available.  They range in price from approximately $3 to $50 each.
Pictured are 3.5” and 5.5” light duty Trauma Sheers from Rescue Essentials and Ronson.  Other, more robust sheers are available.  They range in price from approximately $3 to $50 each.

Numerous brands are used by the military and other agencies.  They are used primarily to cut away clothing and other accessories (eg bra underwire) to quickly access the point of injury.  Their unique design provides a safe and easy method to cut through almost anything, including coins!  The major take-away regarding arterial bleeding is that saving clothing comes in a distant second to saving a life.




 Pictured are rolls from eGear and H&H Medical.  Also found among survival gear, they range in price from approximately $1 to $4 each.

Pictured are rolls from eGear and H&H Medical.  Also found among survival gear, they range in price from approximately $1 to $4 each.

Medical (Duct) Tape.  This ubiquitous resource really comes into its own in a medical kit.  Not only can it be used to secure bandages and dressings, but it also has applications for foot care (eg prevention and treatment of blisters), wrapping splints, making snow goggles, and repairing medical gear and other items.  Mini rolls, primarily for storage purposes, are the best configuration.  Don’t leave home without them!



Pictured are rolls from eGear and H&H Medical.  Also found among survival gear, they range in price from approximately $1 to $4 each.
Pictured are rolls from eGear and H&H Medical.  Also found among survival gear, they range in price from approximately $1 to $4 each.

Medical Gloves.  These are included in Trauma Kits primarily to protect the responder, not the patient.  Bodily fluids can carry many dangerous diseases, and having additional barriers during treatment may keep the responder from becoming a casualty.  In addition, they may preclude the need for further cleansing following treatment.  Simple glove removal and disposal may be sufficient action under tactical conditions.

Marking Pen

Pictured are mini Sharpies.  Full-sized versions can also be used.  They range in price from approximately $1 to $3 each.
Pictured are mini Sharpies.  Full-sized versions can also be used.  They range in price from approximately $1 to $3 each.

This is important not only for recording information on a Casualty Card, but also for marking other information, such as the date and time of a tourniquet application.  Such marking can be on the device itself, or even on the forehead of the patient.  There are other uses for such pens, such as taking notes on environmental conditions, and descriptions of agents (eg animals, plants, suspects) involved.


Pictured are the H&H Medical standard and Marine Combat Casualty Care Cards.  They range in price from approximately $2 to $4 each.
Pictured are the H&H Medical standard and Marine Combat Casualty Care Cards.  They range in price from approximately $2 to $4 each.

Casualty Response Documentation Tool (CRDT).

This is an event recording card, containing information describing patient and injury, treatment (including drugs) administered, mental state, circulation, respiration, mechanisms of injury (MOIs), medical conditions, and overall patient medical status, from routine to critical.  It’s always good to keep track of what’s happening in such cases, for reference prior to future treatment.


 Pictured are medical pouches from Eagle Industries and Maxpedition.  Another common brand is Rothco.  They range in price from approximately $15 to $45 each.

Pictured are medical pouches from Eagle Industries and Maxpedition.  Another common brand is Rothco.  They range in price from approximately $15 to $45 each.

Pouch.  Typical military kit dimensions are 8 inches long by 6 inches wide by four inches deep when full.  It uses the Pouch Attachment Ladder System (PALS) to fasten to Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment (MOLLE) configured backpacks.  Made of rugged Cordura nylon, this Pouch can be used under adverse environmental and tactical conditions.  It should be readily accessible for immediate use.


Other Components.  A number of other items may be included in a Trauma Kit for various reasons.  For example, if the owner would like to access the kit for minor injuries, and not dip into important trauma components, then adhesive bandages may be included.  In addition, medications (eg aspirin) should be considered.  Sterile wipes and water for cleaning wounds, flashlight for nighttime, and CPR shield round out the list.

 Pictured are a CPR Shield, regular strength Aspirin, Moist Towelettes, Sterile Water, Penlight, Adhesive Bandages, and Gauze Pads.  They range in price from approximately $1 to $5 each.

Pictured are a CPR Shield, regular strength Aspirin, Moist Towelettes, Sterile Water, Penlight, Adhesive Bandages, and Gauze Pads.  They range in price from approximately $1 to $5 each.



David Dietrich is co-owner of GetReady! Emergency Planning Center, getemergencyready.com. He has been preparing for uncertainty since he was a youth, recognizing that backpacking is about smaller, lighter, and multi-capability.  His experiences in the Boy Scouts and military have given him an appreciation for the real meaning of the Scout Motto – “Be Prepared.”  Today, David runs a disaster preparedness business that is focused on the creed – helping you help yourself.  It is about delivering resources, training, education, and consulting in preparation for a failure of civility.  Prepared people are survivors.





What you didn’t learn in Conceal Carry Training. And how this information could change your life.

Image: Target shooting, Kelly McCarthy. Now’s the time to think about the consequences of pulling the trigger in a defensive situation

Pulling that trigger is something you need to have thought about BEFORE you ever have to do it. Could you shoot a kid? No? Could you shoot a kid with a gun aimed at your wife? Maybe? Could you shoot a pregnant woman? Never? Could you shoot a pregnant woman with a gun to your kid’s head. Would you shoot a gunman threatening a clerk in a convenience store if you’re safely hiding at the back and in no immediate danger? Could you shoot your wife? Are you going to risk your life for a stranger? Are you willing to endure the court case? The massive hit to your finances? To even, possibly, have to move town because people won’t believe that what you did was necessary. So many ifs, right?

Here are the steps that COULD follow a defensive shooting:

  • Shots Fired
  • 911 Call
  • First Responders
  • Local law enforcement supervisors
  • Detectives – In some places the ADA will be dispatched
  • Investigation/Questioning
  • Prosecutor Determination
  • Trial Phase
  • Sentencing
  • Appeal Process
  • Civil Trial

See what I mean. Being the hero can get you in a whole world of trouble? That’s why I am probably only going to draw and shoot if I’m saving someone with the same last name as me.

Reporting a defensive shooting

So you pulled the trigger. You need to prepare for how you would report a defensive shooting. Rule No. 1. Don’t incriminate yourself. The 911 operator is not your friend but is trained to keep asking questions which are being recorded. Keep it simple.

  • Dial 911
  • Report there’s been a shooting.
  • Give them your name and the address you’re at
  • Tell them who is in the house/building. (Maybe send the kids next door if they are present.)
  • Describe any injuries and whether you need EMS
  • Describe yourself, your clothes. Put your weapon on the floor or in clear sight. (Unless you are using it to subdue a criminal.)
  • If you are insured with an organization that provides an attorney, call them. If you have an attorney call them.
  • Tell the police the bare minimum. Be cooperative but spare the details. Say only:
    • Officer, I was in fear of my life/my family member was threatened and at risk of losing their life. (You would not pull the trigger to save property. The fallout is NOT worth it for something insured or inanimate.)
    • I will sign the complaint.
    • Be helpful and show them what the assailant used to attack you.
    • Introduce any witnesses.
    • Tell them you are invoking the Fifth Amendment until you have had time to talk to your attorney and calm yourself down. You should say you’ll be back within 24 hours to talk to them. Be prepared to be arrested. And be prepared to spend a long time being questioned.
    • Remember to say: “If he/she survives I want to press charges.” Remind everyone that you’re not the aggressor here. 

A Thanksgiving miracle? Lower gas prices!


Click here to visit AAA and find the average price in your state.

It’s not often you see the gas prices drop at Thanksgiving, but this year they are. Average price per gallon is $2.60, with many places running much lower. The international crude benchmark has fallen under $65 per barrel from a four-year high of more than $86 in October as the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Russia have increased output.

Trump made it clear yesterday that he believes the benefits of good relations with the Saudis outweigh the possibility that the Kingdom’s Crown Prince ordered the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Muslim Brotherhood supporter, in Turkey. Critics say Trump is ignoring human rights. Others claim messy politics in other nations should be weighed in the balance of America interests.

Click here for your state and county prices. And don’t forget https://www.gasbuddy.com will show your the cheapest gas wherever you are.

Click here to visit AAA and find the average price in your state.

Peas or Carrots?


Yesterday in the Rose Garden, President Donald J. Trump participated in a classic Thanksgiving tradition: the White House turkey pardoning. From the moment online polls opened, Americans began casting their votes online for two very qualified candidates, Peas and Carrots.

With the votes now tallied, by a razor-thin margin, Peas has earned the honor of 2018 National Thanksgiving Turkey!

Along with his runner-up and alternate, Carrots, Peas will move to the “Gobbler’s Rest” exhibit in Blacksburg, Virginia. At Gobbler’s Rest, students and veterinarians within Virginia Tech’s Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences will care for both turkeys, who will soon be available for public visitation.

“As we gather together this week with those we love, we share our gratitude to all of those who spend this holiday very, very far from home, serving in our military overseas,” President Trump said from the Rose Garden. “We send our eternal gratitude to the heroes who keep America safe, strong, proud, prosperous, and free.”

Short Video:

Full White House Video

Alternate pronouns – threat to free speech?


Jordan Peterson takes on the new pronoun debate. As usual he’s very measured. Is he correct?

Wait? What? Toilet paper tablets?


These toilet paper tablets are great for personal hygiene, cleaning up messes, first aid applications, even as an emergency fire tinder. They pack down much more compact and dense than toilet paper, and are biodegradeable. They need a tiny amount of water to rehydrate and offer an efficient cleaning solution for more than just your backside.

I think he gets the price wrong. I found 500 for under $40 on Amazon and Wysi Wipes at 100 for $15. 

Let’s gut the government

Image: White House

Like Forests – Government Needs The Underbrush Removed

The awful California wildfires that have killed dozens of people and destroyed hundreds of millions of dollars worth of property – are absolutely atrocious.  It is such an inconceivable loss.

What makes the devastation and destruction additionally awful – is the awful, wasteful non-necessity of the massive magnitude.

California Failed to Sufficiently Manage its Forests:

“From the Ventana Wilderness in Big Sur to Warner Valley on Mt. Lassen, trails are overgrown and bordered by rotting trunks and dry limbs.  When trees fall, instead of the dead wood being cleared, it’s left to decompose along paths and roadways. Underbrush is left untouched as well, with forest floors blanketed in dry kindling. This hands-off approach creates a literal tinderbox, leaving our forests incredibly vulnerable.  One practical solution…would be to clear the deadwood and dry brush.”

Such a simple solution – which California’s government chose not to implement.  Choosing instead to side with the uber-regulatory environmentalists.  So very, very sad.

What a massive frigging waste.

I loathe waste.  Of life, time, money – anything.  Each is so finite – we must guard vociferously each from squander.

Government – is squander incarnate.  It is a bureaucratic blackhole.  Where lives, time, money and energy go in – and nothing comes out.

California’s government has spent decades squandering the beauty and productivity of the Golden State.  Including allowing exponentially larger wildfires than necessary to occur – over and over and over again.

The same sort of undergrowth clearing that should have been done in California – must be done…with government deadwood and dry brush.

To avoid these sorts of conflagration in our economy – government’s regulatory thickets need to be regularly thinned.

Regulations appear, grow and multiply – further and further choking our economy.  And these thickets – periodically cause the entire economy to burn down.  See: The Community Reinvestment Act, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae – and the 2008 global economic conflagration.

So frequent maintenance is necessary.

This regulatory underbrush removal – is exactly what the Donald Trump Administration has been doing.

Trump Cuts 22 Regs for Every New One

The results – have been extraordinary.

Sorry Obama, But It’s Trump’s Economic Boom, Not Yours

Included in Trump’s underbrush removal – were some particularly awful, wasteful clumps.

Trump’s (Federal Communicatons Commission) FCC Votes to Repeal Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality is a massive, all-encompassing imposition of government on the Internet – with absolutely no need whatsoever for it.

The pro-Net Neutrality claim is : Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will block your Internet access without it.  Except: In a quarter century without Net Neutrality – no ISPs have ever blocked anyone.

(You know who blocks people all the time?  Big Tech: The likes of Google, Facebook and Twitter.  To whom Net Neutrality – didn’t apply.)

Did Trump ridding us of Net Neutrality help?  Bien sur.

Building on the Broadband Investment Bump:

“In 2017, investment in broadband rose by $1.5 billion to $76.3 billion. This reversed a decline of approximately $3.2 billion in 2015-16.”

Thankfully, the Trump Administration can stride and masticate Bubble Yum at the same time.  As they clear federal underbrush – they look to do the same down ballot.

New FCC Order Pushes 5G Momentum In Right Direction:

“(These) rules…streamline wireless infrastructure deployment….These advanced networks will be dependent on thousands of small cell antennas that discretely attach to local infrastructure, like light posts and buildings, to ensure strong and reliable connectivity. It will be an incredibly significant undertaking to retrofit existing infrastructure with these sensors in a timely, streamlined and cost-efficient manner. But current regulations on the books were designed for 100-foot wireless towers and don’t make sense for today’s modern wireless infrastructure.”

So the Trump Administration has cleared out much of the wireless Internet regulatory undergrowth.

The administration needs to do to the wired Internet regulatory underbrush  – what they have so wisely done to the wireless.

Because first and foremost: You can’t have wireless – without wired.  Every single thing everyone does on a cell phone – travels much of the way on wired networks.

So wired Internet needs a regulatory clean-out – the way wireless Internet did:

“Congress set limits on the amount of compensation that cable operators can be charged for this access, to be sure that cable operators will continue to invest in their networks and offer new products and services. Unfortunately, at the same time that cable operators are investing in their networks to expand the services they are offering consumers, some local franchises are also abusing the local and state franchising process by demanding that cable operators obtain extra authorizations or licenses and pay extra fees when they offer broadband and other services over the cable network, even though the operators have previously already paid them a fee for their network to be in the rights-of-way.”

Trump’s FCC limited the shakedowns state and local governments impose – upon wireless providers.

Trump’s FCC must do the exact same – for wired providers.

The sooner – the better.

Because when it comes to 5G – China is coming.

And we want as little government underbrush as possible – impeding anything we want our economy to do.

Seton Motley is the founder and president of Less Government.  Please feel free to follow him on Twitter (@SetonMotley) and Facebook.  It’s his kind of stalking.

Brush clearance and wildfires – California disagrees.


I found this article from 2013. It’s interesting because it demonstrates that the brush discussion in California has been ongoing for years. Maybe the 2018 fires will focus the attentions of the authorities on this annual problem.

Back in 2013, the state produced its Environmental Impact Report that detailed the potential effects of the state’s brush-clearing efforts for decades to come. California wanted to clean brushwood to prevent the spread of bushfires. The state’s strategies included: prescribed burns, using sheep and goats to control weeds, mechanical thinning, sending out California Conservation Corps hand crews and, in some cases, spraying herbicides after the initial clearing.

Concerned environmental groups disagreed, citing their special interest: botany, birds, etc, as the reason for not focusing fire prevention on brush, but on regulations for people. They wanted the state to concentrate on better land use planning: defensible space, stricter fire-safe building codes and full funding of fire crews

“They’ve got to get away from this vegetation treatment myopia,” said Rick Halsey, director of the Escondido-based Chaparral Institute.

The proposed statewide push for more brush clearing to prevent wildfires triggered environmentalists dissent because the proposed mix of strategies included “prescribed burns and applying herbicides” and they countered that, “too much clearing threatened irreparable harm to the environment and would actually fuel bigger fires if more flammable invasive weeds and brush take root.”

“You have to have vegetation management. Why? Because the population is growing,” said George Gentry, executive officer of the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection.

“People have to expect one of two things,” he continued. “They’re going to have to expect a large-scale fire that San Diego has already seen or they’re going to have to accept some form of treatment to help mitigate those large-scale fires. That’s the choices we’re basically faced with.”

This video is from over a week ago. And still the fires burn.

Lincoln and Thanksgiving: The Origin of an American Holiday


The very first Thanksgiving happened almost 400 years ago—long before the nation was born. How did it evolve into America’s quintessential national holiday? Credit largely goes to two people—one, a name you know; the other, you’ve probably never heard—but should. Melanie Kirkpatrick, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, gives us the run-down on how a harvest party between Pilgrims and Indians became our oldest national tradition.

Wow! 7 Places that will pay you to move there!


One of these places will even pay off a big chunk – or all – of your college loan!

As more and more people are drifting to larger metropolitan areas, rural towns suffering from population flight are fighting back. Many are offering incentives aimed at attracting new residents and reviving their communities.

According to Zillow, at the beginning of the 20th century, rural America housed more than half the country’s entire population. Today its share of the total population has declined, falling from 54% in 1910 to just 19% in 2010. Which is making rural America get creative with its incentives to attract new residents.

And it’s not just the countryside. Some major cities, suffering from urban decay are hoping that some new blood will reboot their fortunes.

Tribune, Kansas, offers such a program. “If you move here, we will pay down your student debt,” explains Christy Hopkins, community development director for Kansas’ least populated county, Greeley (in which Tribune sits).

This program, called the Rural Opportunity Zone (ROZ) program, offers perks to grads from big cities for moving to underpopulated towns in one of 77 participating Kansas counties. One of the incentives? They’ll help you pay off your student loans — up to $15,000 over the course of five years.

And it seems to be working — for both the town and its new residents.

“We’re the least populated county — we’re 105th in population for counties in Kansas, and now we’re eighth in college degrees per capita. There’s a correlation to draw,” says Hopkins.

Here are five towns and three states that offer a robust set of loans, programs and/or assistance for those seeking to become homeowners:

Curtis, Nebraska

Population: 891
Median home value: $79,000

Dream of building your own home from the ground up? Curtis, Nebraska, has a sweet deal for you. If you construct a single-family home within a specified time period,  you’ll receive the lot of land it sits on for free.

Marne, Iowa

Population: 115
Median home value: $75,300

Just 45 minutes east of Omaha, Marne will give you a lot of land for free — all you have to do is build the house (conventional construction or modular) and meet program requirements. Houses must be a minimum of 1,200 square feet, and the average lot size is approximately 80 feet by 120 feet.

Harmony, Minnesota

Population: 999
Median home value: $93,900

The Harmony Economic Development Authority offers a cash rebate program to incentivize new home construction. Based on the final estimated market value of the new home, rebates range from $5,000 to $12,000, and there are no restrictions on the applicant’s age, income level or current residency.

Baltimore, Maryland

Population: 616,958
Median home value: $116,300

Baltimore has two programs offering robust incentives for buying a home in the city. Buying Into Baltimore offers a $5,000 forgivable loan (forgiven by 20 percent each year so that by the end of five years, you no longer have a balance) if you meet certain qualifications.

The city’s second solution is a brilliant one. The Vacants to Value Boosterprogram offers $10,000 toward down payment and closing costs when you buy one of the program’s distressed or formerly distressed properties.

New Haven, Connecticut

Population: 131,014
Median home value: $168,400

Also not a rural area, but offering an incredibly generous package of homeowner incentives, New Haven offers a suite of programs totaling up to $80,000 for new homeowners, including a $10,000 forgivable five-year loan to first-time home buyers, $30,000 renovation assistance and/or up to $40,000 for college tuition.

Some states offer incentives

Alaska offers incentives for veterans and live-in caretakers of physically or mentally disabled residents. They even have a manufactured home program and a rural owner-occupied loan program. See the full list of programs here.

Colorado offers traditional programs that assist with down payments and low interest rates, but it also has a disability program that helps first-time buyers who have a permanent disability finance their home.

The state also has a down payment assistance grant that provides recipients with up to 4 percent of their first mortgage, which doesn’t require repayment.

Free land

Loup City, Nebraska will give you a lot of land to build your own home. It’s like the old pioneer land allocation program and a great way to attract talent and generate jobs.

Got a business? Camden, Maine is a small New England village where an entrepreneur can request any available lot in town if they promise to hire at least 24 locals.

Know of any more? Leave deets in the Comments below.


Get ready to see prices go up and jobs get cut – The new House wants to change rules on taxes

Image: Kelly McCarthy

I didn’t see this in any of their election stump speeches but the Democrats are planning to reverse the GOP’s tax overhaul that so helped the recent industrial boom and moved U.S. corporate tax rate down to the middle of the pack from being one of the highest among developed countries.

As usual, these proto-socialists are going after “the top 1% of the population and corporations.” Sadly, the cost of paying tax means that corporations have less money around to pay staff, or keep their prices low, so if this occurs, expect job cuts and price raises, especially in utilities like power and water.

As one of their first acts in the majority, Democrats hope to undo a Republican rule that makes it difficult for the House to vote to raise anyone’s taxes. But the solution Democratic leaders are advancing has already hit opposition from some liberal lawmakers and groups — potentially foreshadowing battles to come as the new House Democratic majority tries to settle on an economic agenda.

The GOP rule requires a three-fifths supermajority vote in the House to approve any income tax increase. Democratic leaders would replace it with a rule requiring a supermajority vote to approve tax increases for most taxpayers — but only a simple majority vote to raise taxes for the wealthiest 20 percent or for corporations.

The solution was proposed in a package of rules changes advanced by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other leaders, and presented to House Democrats earlier this week. Democratic leaders are soliciting input from rank-and-file lawmakers and newly elected members, and the package could change before the full House votes on it in January.

The Washington Times 11/16/2018

While the Democrats aren’t naming numbers, it’s a real concern for corporations using Trump’s incentives to repatriate their profits. A corporate rate hike would increase the amount that pass-through entities such as partnerships and LLCs effectively pay — and that could cause corporations to reconsider their structure since they face two layers of tax. Private equity firms KKR & Co. and Ares Management LP have already switched to corporations from partnerships to take advantage of the low corporate rate. (Bloomberg).

New 2A Dispute Pits The NRA Against Doctors

Image: Screen grab from YouTube of an idiot with a firearm.

The latest gun control dust-up is not between the Bloomberg-funded “Everytown for Gun Safety” and the National Rifle Association; nor is it an argument between law enforcement groups on opposing sides of the issue.

The most recent and ongoing dispute between Second Amendment supporters and gun control advocates pits the NRA against doctors.

Shortly before the November 6 mid-term elections (from which candidates on both sides of the gun-control debate can claim victories), the NRA rebuked the American College of Physicians (ACP) for the organization’s continuing advocacy of gun-control legislation having nothing directly to do with the practice of medicine.

In response, physicians associated with the ACP, along with some doctors not directly related to that group, engaged the gun-rights association in a Twitter war. The battle centered on the question of whether physicians should use their platform as medical professionals to press for political policy changes rather than to improve doctors’ ability to treat victims of gun violence.

Physicians, just like members of any other profession, are certainly free to express their views on firearms-related issues or any other matter falling within the broad parameters of public policy. That some physicians have determined to do so as doctors — using the platforms available to them as doctors to advocate for gun control measures — is not a new phenomenon.

Almost a quarter century ago, in 1995, the “Annuals of Internal Medicine” (the flagship publication of the ACP) declared that “firearm violence” was a “public health imperative” that had reached “epidemic proportions” and therefore measures to limit access to firearms through legislation was an appropriate responsibility of physicians qua physicians.

The ACP has continued and even accelerated its drive to enact gun control legislation. In fact, its webpage highlights gun violence as among the most important issues with which it is concerned.

That webpage prominently displays a red icon labeled, “Firearms and Health”; it is the only “collection” of ACP publications to which visitors to the page are directed. A click on that icon will reveal to the visitor some 60 different publications on the topic.

The publications, which comprise ACP’s current and publicly available collection of gun control writings, include topics that are standard fare for gun control advocates: unfavorably comparing rates of firearm violence in America to other countries, the need for broader and stronger background checks, public opinion surveys supporting gun control measures, the gun show “loophole,” the dangers of having firearms in homes and more.

Recently, of course, the ACP has jumped on the bandwagon of those calling for a ban on so-called “3-D firearms.”

Beyond this compilation of the “usual suspects,” however, the ACP has positioned itself firmly on the far extreme of gun control, favoring measures such as the “prohibition of handgun ownership by private citizens.”

It has advocated also for measures that qualify it for derision, such as a federal ban on plastic (as in “toy”) guns.

It is such fringe advocacy that undercuts the credibility of the ACP, which is supposed to be an organization representing and assisting internal medicine doctors in their practices. But it was the group’s loose use of “studies” and other statistical “evidence” in support of its gun control advocacy, that recently caught the eye of the NRA.

The gun-rights organization blasted the ACP for deploying its physician-supported resources to press federal and state legislators for ever-increasing limitations on individual possession of firearms, based on faulty analysis.

The APC is not alone in using its resources to advocate for not connected to its core mission.  The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has for decades tried, sometimes successfully, to interject itself into the gun control debate, by declaring that gun control is a matter within the organization’s jurisdiction over the control of diseases.

Republican-controlled Congresses have in recent years stopped the CDC from using taxpayer funds to involve itself in gun control efforts.

It is a virtual certainty, however, that the House, soon-to-be under Democrat Party control, will remove such prohibitory language in CDC’s appropriated funding. It is not clear that the Senate, which remains under GOP control, will go along with such a measure.

What is certain is that come January, Speaker Pelosi and her Democrat majority will be a far more receptive audience to extreme gun-control advocacy groups like the ACP; a situation that unfortunately will continue to blur the line between the practice of medicine and the practice of gun control.

Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. The views expressed here are his own. 

Elton John in the best Christmas ad you’ll see this year


Every year a British department store called John Lewis puts out their Christmas ad. It’s eagerly awaited and signals the start of the Christmas season.

Here’s this year’s featuring Elton John. It has a powerful message in there, too. Enjoy.

1972 Event: Was solar storm responsible for detonating Vietnam mines?

Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO, Public Domain

According to a report on WUWT – the best climate site out there in my opinion – a strong solar storm in 1972 caused widespread disturbances to satellites and spacecraft, and may have led to the detonation of mines during the Vietnam War, according to new research showing the event may have been a more devastating solar storm than previously thought.

The study’s authors suggest the solar storm was a Carrington-class storm, meaning it may have been similar to the strongest storm on record, the Carrington Event of 1859. They hope the new findings will motivate further investigation of the storm and help scientists prepare for solar events in the future.

“This is a Carrington-class storm that has gone under the radar,” said Delores Knipp, a research professor at the University of Colorado Boulder and senior research associate at the High Altitude Observatory of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. “What I am asking scientists to do is go back and reinvestigate with new eyes.”

In a new study in Space Weather, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, researchers pieced together data and historical records related to the solar activity of 1972 to better understand the nature of the solar storm.

According to the Plain Language guide on Space Weather:

The extreme space weather events of early August 1972 had significant impact on the U.S. Navy, which have not been widely reported. These effects, long buried in the Vietnam War archives, add credence to the severity of the storm: a nearly instantaneous, unintended detonation of dozens of sea mines south of Hai Phong, North Vietnam on 4 August 1972. This event occurred near the end of the Vietnam War. The U.S. Navy attributed the dramatic event to magnetic perturbations of solar storms. In researching these events we determined that the widespread electric‐ and communication‐grid disturbances that plagued North America and the disturbances in southeast Asia late on 4 August likely resulted from propagation of major eruptive activity from the Sun to the Earth. The activity fits the description of a Carrington‐class storm minus the low‐latitude aurora reported in 1859. We provide insight into the solar, geophysical, and military circumstances of this extraordinary situation. In our view this storm deserves a scientific revisit as a grand challenge for the space weather community, as it provides space‐age terrestrial observations of what was likely a Carrington‐class storm.



House GOP Urged to Use Lame-Duck Session to Fund Border Wall and more…

“Congress needs to be willing to come here and work next week, through Thanksgiving,” said Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz. “I think we need to work the last two weeks in December or three weeks.” Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, [CC BY-SA 2.0](via Wikimedia Commons)
Conservative Republicans are calling for a busy lame-duck session of Congress between now and Jan. 3, when Democrats will retake the majority in—and control of—the House.“Republicans still have an opportunity to do what we said,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, said in a statement provided to The Daily Signal.“We should fund the border security wall, pass a farm bill that requires able-bodied adults to work if they receive welfare, and keep working to hold the FBI and [Justice Department] accountable for their misconduct during and after the 2016 election,” Jordan said.

Funding for the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies runs out Dec. 7, and Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., told The Daily Signal in a phone interview Thursday that he would like to see the Republican Congress do what it can to balance the budget before Democrats take over the House in the 116th Congress after the first of the year.

“I would like to see my conference actually pass my resolution to balance the budget,” Biggs said.

“We’ve got seven portions of the budget, seven bills you are going to see wrapped into one,” which will probably come out around Dec. 7, he said.

“I’m just so tired of us saying that we really care about balancing the budget, but we are not going to be able to touch that for two years,” Biggs said.

The Arizona lawmaker said he thinks House Republicans should work overtime to protect the gains they have made from attacks once House Democrats take back power.

Congress needs to be willing to come here and work next week, through Thanksgiving. I think we need to work the last two weeks in December or three weeks, or whatever they are going to do, to try to get out super-early.

I think we need to do all of that and to be working to get this stuff done, especially if you believe like I do … that Democrats, first of all, their agenda is going to be to try to eviscerate anything that we were able to accomplish with regard to regulatory reform, economic bills, legislation that we got through, like the tax cuts.

Biggs said other lame-duck priorities should be border wall legislation and funding that does not include amnesty for illegal immigrants.

“My bill I introduced in either late July or early August is actually a pretty clean ‘build the wall’ with funding in it, and I think that needs to happen,” he said. “What you are going to see, I am afraid, is an effort to kind of give a nod to building the wall. What I am hearing is, they want to use the entire Goodlatte framework for that.”

An immigration bill offered by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., provides a smaller amount of amnesty, 1.23 million green cards for illegal immigrants over the next 15 years, while House Speaker Paul Ryan’s bill provides 2.12 million more green cards to illegal immigrants through amnesty, according to a report from the Center for Immigration Studies. Goodlatte and Ryan, R-Wis., both chose not to run for re-election and will step down in January.

Biggs said amnesty still isn’t the way to go.

“If that’s the case, then what you end up having is amnesty traded for a wall, which is a fool’s bargain, actually,” Biggs said.

Heritage Action for America, the lobbying affiliate of The Heritage Foundation, says Congress should include funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall in must-pass legislation to keep the government open.

“There is a laundry list of legislative items conservatives hope to influence [in the lame-duck session], including strengthening work requirements for food stamp recipients in the farm bill and making the individual tax cuts permanent in a potential tax-extenders package,” Wesley Coopersmith, policy director of Heritage Action for America, told The Daily Signal in an email.

“I think the top priority in the minds of many members of Congress and Republican leadership is to secure funding for President Trump’s border wall and internal enforcement policies,” he said. “Lame duck could be the last chance for the president to fulfill his campaign promises on border security.”

In a recent blog post, Heritage Action encouraged conservatives in Congress to oppose any Department of Homeland Security funding bill that does not include funding for a border wall and internal enforcement.

It is also calling for Congress to pass other items, such as legislation from Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., that would bolster work requirements for able-bodied adults in exchange for welfare benefits through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, a program that gives temporary financial aid to low-income families.

“There has never been a better time to reform our welfare system and see more families experience prosperity,” Smith said in a statement provided to The Daily Signal.

“My JOBS for Success Act would refocus the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program on the truly needy and ensure states are taking all possible steps to assist them in finding employment,” he said. “This is the perfect time to build on the success of tax reform and deregulation to help more families become self-sufficient.”

While the Conservative Action Project’s to-do list for the lame-duck 115th Congress also calls for border wall funding and opposes providing amnesty to illegal immigrants, it also calls for confirming judges to fill the more than 100 judicial vacancies on the federal courts.

“We urge the Republican majority to confirm these judges before closing out the session in December,” the Conservative Action Project said in an email.

While most lame-duck sessions have not been seen as constructive, Democrats’ lame-duck session of 2010 before Republicans assumed the majority in 2011 was hailed as “the most productive of the 15 held since WWII.”

During that lame-duck session, Democrats repealed the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding homosexuals in the military, allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. armed forces; ratified the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia; and passed a tax cut compromise that extended former President George W. Bush’s tax cuts.

Biggs says he thinks Republicans’ 2018 lame-duck session has the potential to be as productive as that of the Democrats in 2010.

“I think it does. I have written an op-ed about it. Every chance I get I talk about it publicly, I talk to my colleagues about it,” the Arizona lawmaker said.

“If we lay in the fetal position because we are bummed and because we lost, instead of getting out there and trying to really advance this, we will really, really squander that last opportunity we have for a couple years, and it really is frustrating as heck to me,” he said.


6 ways House Democrats will try to remove Trump from office


Image: By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America (Nancy Pelosi) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Democrats have been promising oversight of the Trump administration for months if they get a House majority—and now they will have the numbers to investigate the president’s business interests, tax returns, possible Russian ties, and other matters.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., who will be House Judiciary Committee chairman when the new majority takes control in January, has big game in mind.

Nadler has talked to fellow lawmakers about impeaching both President Donald Trump over Russia and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh over alleged perjury during his heated Senate confirmation, The Federalist reportedWednesday.

Other incoming House committee chairmen have pledged more aggressive oversight of the president as well.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., will be chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., will lead the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

“I want to probe senior administration officials across the government who have abused their positions of power and wasted taxpayer money, as well as President Trump’s decisions to act in his own financial self-interest rather than the best interests of the American people,” Cummings said after the midterm elections.

Given the divided Congress—Republicans will continue to control the Senate—investigating may be the only way House Democrats see having an impact.

“There aren’t many other ways to make their mark. They can’t pass legislation, so it’s hard to imagine they’re not focused on investigations,” Curt Levey, president of the Committee for Justice, a conservative legal group, told The Daily Signal. “They will likely frame it as holding the administration accountable, but their base will demand nothing short of impeachment.”

However, oversight doesn’t just involve political gotcha and can be productive in a bipartisan way, one ethics watchdog said.

“We should see a concentration on disaster relief contracts and cybersecurity,” Liz Hempowicz, director of public policy for the Project on Government Oversight, told The Daily Signal. “Most organizations have to sue to be moved up in the cue for [Freedom of Information Act] requests. We need updated rules for the Office of Government Ethics.”

“There are a ton of issues to investigate that don’t deal with the president himself, that affect everyone,” Hempowicz said. “Targeting waste, fraud, and abuse is not partisan, even if the approaches to reforms might differ.”

There is still reason to pursue headline-grabbing issues that are substantive, she said.

“I hope members of Congress can walk and chew gum at the same time,” Hempowicz said. “There is substantive bipartisan work that can be done, and they can still look at emoluments and tax returns. If there are legitimate questions about whether the president is using his office to enrich his companies, that is something Congress should be focused on.”

Based on statements by Democrats in recent months, here are six keys to upcoming House oversight of the Trump administration.

1. The New Chairmen

The three incoming chairmen–Cummings, Nadler, and Schiff—staked clear ideological agendas during their tenures in Congress.

As the ranking member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Cummings routinely pushed back against two Republican chairmen, Darrell Issa of California and later Trey Gowdy of South Carolina.

This was particularly the case during the committee’s investigation into the IRS scandal, in which the tax collecting agency targeted conservative organizations during the Obama administration.

Cummings also served on the House select committee investigating the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, and whether the State Department could have taken steps to secure the U.S. compound there.

He called the investigation a “political charade” and “partisan attack.”

Cummings was among only 75 House members—all Democrats—who voted against revoking federal funding from the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now, better known as ACORN. In a bipartisan vote in September 2009, the liberal advocacy group came under scrutiny for numerous ethical and legal issues.

However, Cummings repeatedly went after True the Vote, a Texas-based group that advocates voter ID laws across the country. He accused the organization of trying to take away the voting rights of minorities.

Nadler, incoming chairman of the Judiciary Committee, also has been involved in some controversies.

In January 2000, the New York Democrat pushed for President Bill Clinton’s last-minute pardon of Susan Rosenberg, a member of the radical Weather Underground. Rosenberg was sentenced to 58 years in prison for her role in an armed robbery in 1981.

During the George W. Bush administration, Nadler was routinely a critic of the Patriot Act and other national security measures during the war on terrorism in the aftermath of 9/11.

As for Schiff, he dismissed the Intelligence Committee’s conclusion in March that there was no collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia.

The panel’s Republican majority, the California Democrat said, “has placed the interests of protecting the president over protecting the country, and history will judge its actions harshly.”

2. More Russia

Special counsel Robert Mueller reportedly will wrap up, by year’s end, his investigation of Russian election interference and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow.

“We’ll have to see what Bob Mueller has been able to do and what Bob Mueller has been able to say, either via indictment or via report, and that will also guide what we intend to do in our committee,” Schiff told MSNBC.

The Intelligence Committee would take the lead on the Russia probe in the House, but the Judiciary Committee also would play a role, Nadler reportedly said. Any impeachment move would be cleared through Judiciary.

The conclusion of the Mueller probe likely won’t make a difference in what the House does, said Levey, head of the Committee for Justice.

Levey said he suspects the report will conclude no direct evidence of collusion, but will find points on which to criticize the Trump campaign.

“The Mueller report will still be used as a justifiable starting point for impeachment, it won’t limit them,” Levey told The Daily Signal, referring to Democrats. “Even if the report finds no direct evidence, this has gone on for two years without a lot of evidence.”

3. Foreign Emoluments

Nadler already has signed onto letters inquiring about money from foreign governments doing business with Trump’s family-owned companies while he serves as president.

A president making money from foreign sources would be a violation of the Constitution’s obscure Foreign Emoluments Clause, Democrats contend.

Nadler and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., have led a group of almost 200 Democratic members of Congress in suing the administration to require the president to notify Congress before accepting any benefit from foreign governments.

In September, a federal district judge in the District of Columbia ruled the lawmakers have standing to bring the case.

Trump vowed before taking office to donate all foreign profits from his hotels, golf courses, and other holdings to the U.S. Treasury. However, Democrats complain, profits don’t necessarily include all revenue from foreign sources.

4. Ouster of Jeff Sessions

Trump gave House Democrats a new topic to probe Wednesday when he demanded Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ resignation.

Trump named Sessions’ chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, as acting attorney general.

“President Trump waited until just hours after the midterm elections to make this move, which had been rumored for months,” Cummings said in a formal statement. “Congress must now investigate the real reason for this termination, confirm that Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is recused from all aspects of the special counsel’s probe, and ensure that the Department of Justice safeguards the integrity of the Mueller investigation.”

Nadler and other Democrats on the Judiciary Committee wrote a letter to current Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.

“The forced firing of Attorney General Sessions appears to be part of an ongoing pattern of behavior by the president seeking to undermine [the] investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election,” the Democratic letter says.

5. FBI Headquarters

Cummings and other Democrats on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee have inquired whether the Trump administration blocked the sale of the 44-year-old FBI headquarters building to prevent competition for the Trump Organization’s Washington hotel.

The FBI has been considering moving to a new location, likely in Maryland. The White House previously said the reason for nixing the sale was to save taxpayers money.

“These new documents raise serious questions about whether Ms. Sanders issued her statements with knowledge of these facts or, alternatively, without taking basic steps to confirm their accuracy,” Cummings and the other Democrats wrote. “Either way, the White House should not be issuing false claims to justify or conceal President Trump’s conflicts of interest on this matter.”

House Democrats released emails showing what they contend is evidence White House officials were aware that the Trump plan would cost taxpayers millions of dollars more than the longstanding relocation plan for FBI headquarters.

report by the General Services Administration’s Office of Inspector General concluded that relocating the FBI to the Washington suburbs would cost an estimated $3.6 billion, and selling the existing building on Pennsylvania Avenue NW to commercial developers or others could result in revenue of $334 million to help offset that cost.

The Trump administration floated an alternative, $3.8 billion plan to keep the Pennsylvania Avenue property, demolish the existing facility, and construct a new building, according to the inspector general’s report.

That cost would include $3.3 billion to rebuild, $57 million to relocate 2,306 FBI personnel who will not fit in the Pennsylvania Avenue facility, and $459 million in construction costs at FBI facilities in Alabama, Idaho, Virginia, and West Virginia to accommodate those employees.

6. Total of 64 Subpoenas and Counting

Democrats on the House Oversight Committee have requested 64 subpoenassince Trump came into office that the Republican majority decline to issue.

Among those 64 motions were efforts to obtain information on:

—Separating children from adult illegal immigrants who cross the border into the U.S.

—How the White House grants security clearances.

—The Justice Department’s decision not to defend the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

—The Census Bureau’s intention to ask about citizenship on the 2020 census.

—Operations of the Trump Foundation charity.

—Business holdings of presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump.

Report by Fred Lucas. Originally published at The Daily Signal.

Listen to whales and help science!

Image: Christopher Michel https://www.flickr.com/photos/cmichel67/ – CC BY 2.0

I just stumbled upon this amazing site. http://www.orcasound.net/listen/  You can listen to whales in realtime.


Listen to live underwater sound in orca habitat! If you’re lucky you’ll hear orcas, but mostly you’ll hear ships…

Choose a location and then select the green listen button. The control bar at the bottom lets you pause/play and shows how many people are listening for whales with you.

While you listen, you can also learn more about orca sounds. If you need some more inspiration, here is five minutes of J & K pod orcas calling, whistling, and clicking:

Launched this month, the Orcasound app makes it easy for everyone to listen for whales. They welcome feedback about your listening experience via this user experience survey. If you have trouble, try reloading the site after clearing your browser’s cache.

It’s where real-time audio streams, citizen science projects, educational materials, and outreach projects of Orcasound brought to you by the current network members, listed below, who have e-signed the 2016-2020 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). Any organization or individual is welcome to join the network (for free!), either as the host of a hydrophone node, a researcher or citizen scientist, an educator/activist, or a general volunteer.

If you’re an individual wanting to volunteer, collaborate, or donate, check out the many ways you can support Orcasound. Everyone can listen for whales, and learn the diverse sounds of the Salish Sea.


Orcasound is a cooperative network, there are many ways to support our efforts. We welcome your help in three broad areas (more details below): volunteeringat one of the network nodes, hacking the hardware and software that makes Orcasound work, and donating to our cause.



Shock: The Truth behind the Caravan


Ami Horowitz journeys to Mexico to find out the real reason why there is a caravan of migrants on its way to the United States’ border with its southern neighbor. You’ll see that asylum is not the number one reason for coming here. And you can’t help but notice that 95% of the migrants are male. The women and children story is for the cameras.

Someone is backing this. Watch. This is an assault on American Sovereignty. It’s a test to see whether these people can get through to the USA by skirting or ignoring the current regulations.

Please notice that the United Nations are in place. Against the USA.

The Art of the Veto


Now we get to see if the new House Republicans have more backbone than the last lot. 

By last count, Republicans lost at least 32 seats in the House in the midterm elections, and U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is once again poised to be elected House Speaker. This means all legislation will now have to be worked out between a Democratic House and a Republican Senate led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

To navigate these new waters in 2019, President Donald Trump has signaled a willingness to negotiate but he must remember that his greatest leverage could come in the House minority if he wishes to plot a more conservative path, writes Robert Romano

Veto power

Certainly there will be last-minute attempts in the lame duck session to get things done with Republican majorities, which may or may not work. Time is not a luxury. Democrats will believe they can get a better deal in January and will block legislation in the Senate. It’s up to Trump to convince them otherwise.

Looking forward, then, with at least 199 members in the House, Trump and the GOP should have enough votes to sustain any presidential vetoes if they play their cards right. All Trump needs are 145 members who are willing to stand with the President.

It’s how Reagan got tax cuts and defense spending done with a Democratic House in the 1980s, and it’s how Trump can still get things done in 2019.

In “The Art of the Deal,” Trump wrote, “The worst thing you can do in a deal is seem desperate to make it. That makes the other guy smell blood, and then you’re dead.” He was right. It was the major reason why Republicans, besides increasing defense spending, were not able to accomplish much in enacting the President’s agenda — including fully funding and building the southern border wall — despite having majorities in both houses of Congress.

So terrified were Republicans in Congress were of a partial government shutdown, they never even tried to deliver full funding for the wall. It would cost them control of the House, the sage advisors in the D.C. establishment warned.

And therefore the wall was never funded. The government was not shut down. And the House GOP lost the election for the House and their majority anyway. Go figure.

This time, Trump does not have to make that mistake. Instead of relying on a Republican House majority to deliver the wall, he can instead use the art of the veto. He can veto the spending bills until he gets what he wants — as long as one-third of the House is willing to stand with the President and sustain the veto.

As Trump wrote in his book, “The best thing you can do is deal from strength, and leverage is the biggest strength you have. Leverage is having something the other guy wants. Or better yet, needs. Or best of all, simply can’t do without.”

Trump added, “Leverage: don’t make deals without it.” Well, a presidential signature is needed to pass legislation in Congress.

But to get the legislation he wants, the President must be willing to say no deal. Veto the spending bills in 2019. To ratchet up the pressure, Trump and House Republicans could threaten not to provide back pay for federal workers deemed non-essential in a government shutdown situation, but this will require spines of steel by members.

The President should therefore consult with Republican leaders in both chambers on any potential negotiating strategy with Democrats in 2019, but in the end, Trump must be willing to go to bat legislatively for his agenda if he want to see it through.

The first two years of Trump’s term, he relied on outgoing Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to deliver key parts of his agenda. That failed, and Republicans arguably lost their House majority because of it. They didn’t fully repeal and replace Obamacare. The wall was not built. Non-defense spending was not cut as in Trump’s proposed budget. And so forth.

It wasn’t all the House’s fault. Obamacare repeal and replace actually passed the House, but it ran into a stone wall in the Senate. Once the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) voted against the bill, it was done. Still, it was House Republicans who paid the price on Nov. 6. Since then, they certainly did not do much to advance their cause. Where’s the wall?

Trump should be able to leverage that failure now to galvanize House Republicans behind the proposition of sustaining his vetoes. He may have to retool his legislative team at the White House to adjust to the new reality — and to exploit Pelosi’s weak position. If Congress cannot override the veto, Pelosi will have to come to the table to deal on the spending bills. She cannot impose her will on the Senate and the White House, something House Republicans had to painfully learn in 2011 and 2013. Now it’s Democrats’ turn to learn the same lesson.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.

Bitch slapping Michael Moore


Do you like Michael Moore? I think he’s an idiotic shill. So watching a takedown amuses me. And watching an epic takedown amuses me even more.


Ebola on the move


Since our last report:

The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo admitted this week that the country’s tenth Ebola outbreak is now officially its worst ever, after the number of confirmed infections crossed the 300 threshold. The virus has killed 211 people, the ministry of health said.

Unlike previous outbreaks, which have been restricted to fairly remote, rural areas, the present epidemic has swept through populated parts of northeastern Congo, a lawless area that is infested with rebel groups, freelance militias and armed criminal gangs.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said last week (November 2018) that the Ebola outbreak in conflict-ridden Congo has become so serious that international public health experts need to consider the possibility that it cannot be brought under control and instead will become entrenched.

By extension we believe this means it can spread. There are concerns that Ebola could mutate into an airborne strain, if an outbreak remains active for long enough in human populations. Currently, authorities claim it is passed from person to person and is not airborne although some believe it can be transmitted this way. The implications for airborne Ebola are horrifying.

If the current outbreak cannot be brought under control, it would be the first time since the deadly viral disease was first identified in 1976 that an Ebola outbreak led to the widespread presence of the disease, says Eric Worrell. The current outbreak is entering its fourth month, with nearly 300 cases, including 186 deaths.

If Ebola becomes endemic in North Kivu province, in northeastern Congo, “this will mean that we’ve lost the ability to trace contacts, stop transmission chains and contain the outbreak,” said Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, which hosted the briefing on Capitol Hill that featured the Ebola discussion with Redfield.

In that scenario, there would be a sustained and unpredictable spread of the deadly virus, with major implications for travel and trade.

War zone

To compound issues, the outbreak is taking place in a part of Congo that is an active war zone. Dozens of armed militias operate in the area, attacking government outposts and civilians, complicating the work of Ebola response teams and putting their security at risk. Violence has escalated in recent weeks, severely hampering the response. The daily rate of new Ebola cases more than doubled in early October. In addition, there is community resistance and deep mistrust of the government.

Read more (paywalled): https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2018/11/05/cdc-director-warns-that-congos-ebola-outbreak-may-not-be-containable/

Could it become a global threat

1. Ebola can spread without visible signs of illness. In some cases Ebola has a long, symptom-free infectious period. People who survive the lethal infection sometimes become symptomless carriers, shedding large numbers of virus particles for months, even years after their own personal encounter with Ebola.

2. Ebola is lethal, estimated at 50% mortality. Even “mild” versions of the disease are often fatal. Importantly, survivors can still carry and shed the virus.

3. Ebola has an extremely rapid mutation rate. 

4. Can it be transmitted without a carrier?

From an epidemiological study in 2016;

Aerosol Transmission of Filoviruses

Berhanu Mekibib and Kevin K. Ariën

Although there is strong debate on the potential aerogenic transmission of filoviruses, it should be stressed that the transmission by air is not similar to influenza or other airborne infections. The viral particles are limited in the health care units and affected villages or households having direct or indirect contacts with patient(s), if it was really an airborne virus like influenza it would spread rapidly and involve wider geographic area and population. Based on the existing literature, filoviruses have very little to no capacity to be airborne (i.e., inhalation of infectious particles at a distance from the source). The virus does not transmit from an infected person to a susceptible person that is located at a distance [25,70]. First, the virus will not remain viable by the time it gets to the distant point because the aerosol is already desiccated. Secondly, the viral load or aerosol particles in the air gradually decrease with distance from the source to the extent not sufficient to induce infection. However, Chiappelli et al. [33] stated that there is a distinct possibility for EBOV to become airborne because of the customary and high mutation rates of negative sense RNA viruses. According to Brown et al. [99] although it is unclear that these mutations carry any fitness advantage or not, EBOV in western Africa is not behaving differently than what has previously been reported [100]. There is no change in route of transmission, no suggestion of airborne spread, no significant differences in disease presentation. Besides, none of the 23 viruses that cause serious disease in humans have been known to mutate in a way that changed their mode of infection.

At any moment, an unknowing Ebola carrier, the sole survivor of an outbreak which killed their family and friends, a carrier with no visible signs of illness, might decide to build a new life in another country. The potential consequences of such a carrier successfully reaching one of the Western World’s less sanitary cities, triggering a lethal outbreak amongst homeless people and people with compromised immune systems, an outbreak which could pass to the general population of that city, are too horrible to contemplate.

The Failure of Public Schooling in One Chart


While I have great fondness for some of the visuals I’ve created over the years (especially “two wagons” and “apple harvesting“), I confess that none of my creations have ever been as clear and convincing as the iconic graph on education spending and education outcomes created by the late Andrew Coulson.

I can’t imagine anyone looking at his chart and not immediately realizing that you don’t get better results by pouring more money into the government’s education monopoly.

But the edu-crat lobby acts as if evidence doesn’t matter. At the national level, the state level, and the local level, the drumbeat is the same: Give us more money if you care about kids.

So let’s build on Coulson’s chart to show why teachers’ unions and other special interests are wrong.

Gerard Robinson of the American Enterprise Institute and Professor Benjamin Scafidi from Kennesaw State University take a close look at this issue.

…education is important to the economic and social well-being of our nation, which is why it is the No. 1 line item in 41 state budgets. …Schools need extra money to help struggling students, or so goes the long-standing thinking of traditional education reformers who believe a lack of resources – teachers, counselors, social workers, technology, books, school supplies – is the problem. …a look back at the progress we’ve made under reformers’ traditional response to fixing low-performing schools – simply showering them with more money – makes it clear that this approach has been a costly failure.

And when the authors say it’s been a “costly failure,” they’re not exaggerating.

Since World War II, inflation-adjusted spending per student in American public schools has increased by 663 percent. Where did all of that money go? One place it went was to hire more personnel. Between 1950 and 2009, American public schools experienced a 96 percent increase in student population. During that time, public schools increased their staff by 386 percent – four times the increase in students. The number of teachers increased by 252 percent, over 2.5 times the increase in students. The number of administrators and other staff increased by over seven times the increase in students. …This staffing surge still exists today. From 1992 to 2014 – the most recent year of available data – American public schools saw a 19 percent increase in their student population and a staffing increase of 36 percent. This decades-long staffing surge in American public schools has been tremendously expensive for taxpayers, yet it has not led to significant changes in student achievement. For example, public school national math scores have been flat (and national reading scores declined slightly) for 17-year-olds since 1992.

By the way, the failure of government schools doesn’t affect everyone equally.

Parents with economic resources (such as high-profile politicians) can either send their kids to private schools or move to communities where government schools still maintain some standards.

But for lower-income households, their options are very limited.

Minorities disproportionately suffer, as explained by Juan Williams in the Wall Street Journal.

While 40% of white Americans age 25-29 held bachelor’s degrees in 2013, that distinction belonged to only 15% of Hispanics, and 20% of blacks. …The root of this problem: Millions of black and Hispanic students in U.S. schools simply aren’t taught to read well enough to flourish academically.  …according to a March report by Child Trends, based on 2015 data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), only 21% of Hispanic fourth-grade students were deemed “proficient” in reading. This is bad news. A fourth-grader’s reading level is a key indicator of whether he or she will graduate from high school. The situation is worse for African-Americans: A mere 18% were considered “proficient” in reading by fourth grade.

But Juan points out that the problems aren’t confined to minority communities. The United States has a national education problem.

The problem isn’t limited to minority students. Only 46% of white fourth-graders—and 35% of fourth-graders of all races—were judged “proficient” in reading in 2015. In general, American students are outperformed by students abroad. According to the most recent Program for International Student Assessment, a series of math, science and reading tests given to 15-year-olds around the world, the U.S. placed 17th among the 34 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries in reading.

This is very grim news, especially when you consider that the United States spends more on education – on a per-pupil basis – than any other country.

Here’s a table confirming Juan’s argument. It lacks the simple clarity of Andrew Coulson’s graph, but if you look at these numbers, it’s difficult to reach any conclusion other than we spend a lot in America and get very mediocre results.

Juan concludes his column with a plea for diversity, innovation, and competition.

For black and Hispanic students falling behind at an early age, their best hope is for every state, no matter its minority-student poverty rate, to take full responsibility for all students who aren’t making the grade—and get those students help now. That means adopting an attitude of urgency when it comes to saving a child’s education. Specifically, it requires cities and states to push past any union rules that protect underperforming schools and bad teachers. Urgency also means increasing options for parents, from magnet to charter schools. Embracing competition among schools is essential to heading off complacency based on a few positive signs. American K-12 education is in trouble, especially for minority children, and its continuing neglect is a scandal.

He’s right, but he should focus his ire on his leftist friends and colleagues. They’re the ones (including the NAACP!) standing in the proverbial schoolhouse door and blocking the right kind of education reform.

P.S. This is a depressing post, so let’s close with a bit of humor showing the evolution of math lessons in government schools.

P.P.S. If you want some unintentional humor, the New York Times thinks that education spending has been reduced.

P.P.P.S. Shifting to a different topic, another great visual (which also happens to be the most popular item I’ve ever shared on International Liberty) is the simple image properly defining the enemies of liberty and progress.

Discover FEE’s Programs for Homeschooling Families

Republished from Dan Mitchell’s blog.

Image: Homeschooling Flikr CC0

MUST READ: “There not there” Armistice project 2018



It has been my privilege to lead our nation’s finest warriors and I believe it is our duty to remember each and every hero who sacrificed their life for our country. I am extremely proud to support There But Not There, a nationwide tribute commemorating the centenary of World War One and raising money for today’s Veterans. It is my honor to support this project, not only remember the more than 100,000 Americans lost in WWI, but to help veterans who need it today.

General Stanley A. McChrystal

There But Not There is the 2018 Armistice project for the British charity Remembered. As There But Not There has launched around the world, their Soldier Silhouettes, which are made by veterans in the UK, have been seen in some iconic locations and purchased by communities across The Commonwealth, USA and Great Britain.

Remembered aims to:

  • Commemorate the Fallen through installations of Soldier Silhouettes.
  • Educate all generations about why they made the ultimate sacrifice.
  • Raise substantial funds through sales of our 10-inch Soldier Silhouettes to help those suffering from the mental and physical wounds of their service.

The funds raised through the sales of the Soldier Silhouette figures will contribute directly to the work of the following charities:

The Invictus Games Foundation

The Royal Foundation

Walking With The Wounded

Combat Stress

Help for Heroes

Project Equinox: Housing Veterans and Medical Students

Image: The inspiration for “There but Not There”

‘Multiple Men’ Were ‘Ready to Take a Bullet for Any Single One of Us,’ Says Woman Who Survived California Shooting


Multiple men reportedly put their bodies on the line to protect patrons at the club in California where a gunman entered Wednesday night, killing 12 and reportedly taking his own life.

“While we were all dog-piled at the side, there were multiple men that got on their knees and pretty much blocked all of us with their backs towards the shooter, ready to take a bullet for any single one of us,” Teylor Whittler, a woman who had been in the club during the shooting, said Thursday morning, reported ABC News.

“And just the amount of people who made sure everyone got out OK or if they were out … they made sure, they went around to every single person around them and asked them if they were OK and if they needed a phone to call their family … just in general any way they could help. It was awesome,” she continued.

The gunman entered Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks Wednesday night around 11:20 p.m. and opened fire at a crowd of mostly college students using a semi-automatic pistol. It was “country night” at the bar.

The suspect is identified as 28-year-old David Ian Long, who reportedly dressed in a black hooded sweatshirt. The gunman and Ventura County Sheriff’s Deputy Ron Helus is among the dead, according to NBC News.

Hundreds of people attended a procession for Helus Thursday.

Eighteen other victims were injured while trying to escape from the club during the shooting. They are being treated at local hospitals, according to Ventura County Fire Department Capt. Stan Ziegler.



“This kid was mentally disturbed in high school. There were signs and the administration knew it.”

News is now breaking that the murderer had a history of violence going back to high school where he allegedly attacked his coach. (More here) The PTSD take on his reasons for perpetrating this heinous attack may lie deeper than we think. 

Grace Carr @gbcarr24

Grace Carr is a reporter for The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Reproduced from The Daily Signal. 

Why is America Divided?

Image: Flickr-Kurt Bauschardt CC BY-SA 2.0]

In one sense political divisiveness has always been with us. The United States was birthed in political animosity. If you doubt it, go read about the contention between figures such as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, or between Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton.

And, of course, there was that little matter between Hamilton and Aaron Burr that resulted in a duel–a fatal one for Hamilton.

So why do we think the divisiveness of modern politics is so historically unique? How can some people say that the debates of our own time are worse than those which not infrequently consummated in two men firing pistols at each other?

Is there some sense in which contemporary political debates are divisive in a way the older ones were not? How exactly does the attack on Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s home differ from a duel?

Although the debates of the founding era were indeed divisive, their worst excesses were largely the result of personal animosities, many of them cases in which confidences were broken or in which there was a personal insult that required satisfaction.

The political debates too–whether there should be a national bank, or what kind of relations we should have with revolutionary France–were largely matters of how some particular end might be accomplished. It was seldom about the end itself.

And this is the difference between today’s politics and the politics of yore: It is now not only the means that are in contention, but the ends themselves.

The American founders were revolutionaries not by nature, but by circumstance: They sought not to throw off, but to exercise the rights and values of their colonizers (unlike the French, who are the precursors, in this respect, of the modern left who did dispute them).

This is what we see today with the rise of what we might call the Jacobin Left (“Jacobin” being the label adopted by the most ruthless of the French Revolutionaries). While conservatives, by the very nature of their attitude toward life, are more inclined toward social and political stability founded on permanent verities, today’s left increasingly sees its purpose as the questioning of these verities.

Today’s left consists increasingly in the challenge to, not the perpetuation of, political and social norms and conventions. Today’s left doesn’t just bemoan a loss in a presidential election: It challenges the legitimacy of the electoral college. It doesn’t argue for better relations between the sexes, it contests what gender means in the first place. It doesn’t just contest conservative policies toward marriage, it questions the definition of marriage itself.

This is why we are likely to see more calls for “political action” that resolve into violent protest. The deeper the disagreement, the more acrimonious the debate. And it’s likely to get worse.

[Image Credit: Flickr-Kurt Bauschardt CC BY-SA 2.0]

This post Why is America Divided? was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Martin Cothran.

Are they stealing the elections? Rubio says yes.


At the heart of this issue is Broward County and Brenda Snipes. Snipes took over as Broward Supervisor of Elections office in 2003. (Remember Florida was the center of the incompetent ‘hanging chads’ chaos of the Bush/Gore 2000 elections).

Now, following a court agreeing with a lawsuit brought by Gov. Rick Scott that Snipes had violated public records laws, she found herself the target of similar calls for her removal from office, and for the same reasons.

Snipes has not been an outstanding success. Long lines and vote counts that continued long after polls closed marred elections in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2012, 2016 and, of course, this year.

According to the Sun Sentinel:

— A court ruled she had broken election law when she destroyed ballots from the 2016 election 12 months after it, instead of the 22 months required by federal law.

— A medical marijuana amendment was left off some ballots in 2016.

— Election results in the 2016 primary were posted on the elections office’s website before polls closed, another violation of election law.

— In 2012, almost 1,000 uncounted ballots were discovered a week after the election

— In 2004, some 58,000 mail-in ballots were not delivered to voters, leaving election officials to scramble to send new ones.

And now, after days passed in which Snipes could not or would not say how many ballots remained to be counted, and failed to give regular updates to the state every 45 minutes as required by law, she was hit with a lawsuit by Scott’s Senate campaign and the National Republican Senate Committee demanding she inform the public how many votes remained to be counted.

Meanwhile in Arizona

So is President Trump onto something? Should we rerun these elections?

Candy in Early America


A simple and delicious sweetmeat from the 18th Century. Citrus peel recipes were very common in Early America. Here’s a great prepper way to make something sweet. (And save the syrup – it’s great in cocktails!)

The Senselessness of World War I, from Beginning to End


Wilson's War book cover Jim PowellOne hundred years ago Sunday, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, the bloodiest war in history ended. In the New Yorker, historian Adam Hochschild writes about the senseless beginning of the war in an “epic chain of blunders, accusations, and ultimatums” and about its senseless end: “In the five weeks since the Germans first requested peace negotiations, half a million casualties had been added to the war’s toll…. Worse yet, British, French, and American commanders made certain that the bloodshed continued at full pitch for six hours after the Armistice had been signed [at 5 a.m., with the news immediately radioed and telephoned to commanders on both sides].”


Cato senior fellow and historian Jim Powell wrote about the blunders and consequences of World War I in his book Wilson’s War: How Woodrow Wilson’s Great Blunder Led to Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, and World War IIHe summarized his argument in Cato Policy Report four years ago:

World War I was probably history’s worst catastrophe, and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson was substantially responsible for unintended consequences of the war that played out in Germany and Russia, contributing to the rise of totalitarian regimes and another world war.

Indeed World War I was a catastrophe, a foolish and unnecessary war, a war of European potentates that both England and the United States could have stayed out of but that became indeed a World War, the Great War. In our own country the war gave us economic planning, conscription, nationalization of the railroads, a sedition act, confiscatory income tax rates, and prohibition. Internationally World War I and its conclusion led directly to the Bolshevik revolution, the rise of National Socialism, World War II, and the Cold War.

On this weekend as we celebrate the end of this tragedy we should mourn those who went to war, and we should resolve not to risk American lives in the future except when our vital national interests are at stake.

David Boaz is the executive vice president of the Cato Institute and has played a key role in the development of the Cato Institute and the libertarian movement. He is the author of The Libertarian Mind: A Manifesto for Freedom and the editor of The Libertarian Reader.

Boaz is a provocative commentator and a leading authority on domestic issues such as education choice, drug legalization, the growth of government, and the rise of libertarianism. Boaz is the former editor of New Guard magazine and was executive director of the Council for a Competitive Economy prior to joining Cato in 1981. The earlier edition of The Libertarian Mind, titled Libertarianism: A Primer, was described by the Los Angeles Times as “a well-researched manifesto of libertarian ideas.” His other books include The Politics of Freedom and the Cato Handbook for Policymakers.

His articles have been published in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, National Review, and Slate, and he wrote the entry on libertarianism for Encyclopedia Britannica. He is a frequent guest on national television and radio shows, and has appeared on ABC’s Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, CNN’s Crossfire, NPR’s Talk of the Nationand All Things Considered, The McLaughlin Group, Stossel, The Independents, Fox News Channel, BBC, Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and other media.

Walworth County Goes Debt-Free


The other day, I wrote about the disadvantages of state and local governments issuing general obligation debt. Those governments currently have more than $3 trillion in overall debt outstanding. Government borrowing enriches financial firms, encourages corruption, and magnifies the ultimate tax burden that citizens will bear for the related spending.

It is prudent and practical for states to operate with very little debt, as Idaho, Wyoming, and a few other states have shown.

Here is an inspiring editorial in The Gazette, published in Janesville, Wisconsin, home of outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan. Walworth County is near Janesville.

Local government officials everywhere take note: Walworth County is proving you can run a government and undertake capital projects without carrying any debt.

The concept—saving money instead of issuing bonds to pay for something you need—is radical in our debt-happy society.

Walworth County has been debt free since March, despite the construction of a $24 million health and human services building.

Taxpayers will be rewarded with a 2.8 percent drop in the tax levy—no small trick at a time of rising inflation and interest rates.

The county’s recent decision to pay off $9.1 million in debt while resisting the temptation to borrow is particularly praiseworthy. As a result, Walworth County might be the only debt-free county in Wisconsin.

Think about the significance of Walworth County’s accomplishment: It is spending within its means while saving money in anticipation of future needs.

It’s unheard of, for example, for a school district to save the money it will need for a new school. School district referendums calling for more bonding are as predictable as they are numerous.

Many of these referendums pass because taxpayers don’t realize they’re paying far more than the advertised price for a project, as Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies at the Cato Institute, noted in his Monday column. He describes bonding as a hidden tax.

If Walworth County had decided to issue bonds to pay for its health and human services building (assuming a 4 percent interest rate over 30 years), taxpayers would have had to fork over nearly $23 million in interest, including an estimated $550,000 in underwriting and advisory fees, according to a municipal bond calculator at the website for Municipal Capital Markets Group.

By planning ahead, Walworth County is saving taxpayers millions of dollars.

Any unit of government wanting to follow Walworth County’s lead needs to be forewarned: Saving for a future project requires discipline and clear communication with voters. Many of the fiscal challenges this nation faces are a result of politicians viewing the world in one- or two-year increments, from one election to the next. Unfortunately, politicians don’t plan to be in office when the bills come due and the financial wreckage becomes apparent.

But once in a while, politicians surprise us by exercising restraint. When that happens, like a comet’s orbit approaching the sun, we should all take notice. Kudos to Walworth County for demonstrating government can function debt free.



Chris Edwards is the director of tax policy studies at Cato and editor of www.DownsizingGovernment.org. He is a top expert on federal and state tax and budget issues. Before joining Cato, Edwards was a senior economist on the congressional Joint Economic Committee, a manager with PricewaterhouseCoopers, and an economist with the Tax Foundation. Edwards has testified to Congress on fiscal issues many times, and his articles on tax and budget policies have appeared in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and other major newspapers. He is the author of Downsizing the Federal Government and coauthor of Global Tax Revolution.

Edwards holds a BA in Economics from the University of Waterloo and an MA in Economics from George Mason University. He was a member of the Fiscal Future Commission of the National Academy of Sciences.

Jordan Peterson: “Let’s fix global warming…it’s the kind of low resolution thinking that gets us nowhere”


Dr. Jordan B. Peterson is a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, a clinical psychologist and the author of the multi-million copy bestseller 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. In 2016, shortly before the publication of 12 Rules, several of Dr. Peterson’s online lectures, videos and interviews went viral, launching him into unprecedented international prominence as a public intellectual and educator.

He’s widely regarded at the spokesman for commonsense in an increasingly polarized global environment. I particularly liked his take on Climate Change, which can be seen in the video below at 20.30, but as it’s so unusual to have an hour of someone speaking sense, I thought I’d share the entire video. It was recorded at the Cambridge Union, a debating and free speech society within Cambridge University, UK.

Five Takeaways from the 2018 Elections…and Implications for Liberty


By Dan Mitchell

Image: By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America (Nancy Pelosi) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
We had an election in the United States (or, as Mencken sagely observed, an advance auction of stolen goods). Here are five things to keep in mind about the results.

First, the GOP did better than most people (including me) expected.

This tweet captures the zeitgeist of last night.

The Senate results were especially disappointing for the Democrats. It does appear the Kavanaugh fight worked out very well for Republicans.

Second, better-than-expected election news for the GOP does not imply better-than-expected news for public policy. Given Trump’s semi-big-government populism, I fear this tweet is right about the increased risk of a counterproductive infrastructure packageand a job-destroying increase in the minimum wage.

For what it’s worth, I think we’ll also get even more pork-filled appropriations spending. In other words, busting the spending caps after already busting the spending caps.

The only thing that might save taxpayers is that Democrats in the House may be so fixated on investigating and persecuting Trump that it poisons the well in terms of cooperating on legislation.

Fingers crossed for gridlock!

Third, there was mixed news when looking at the nation’s most important ballot initiatives.

On the plus side, Colorado voters rejected an effort to replace the flat tax with a discriminatory system(in order to waste even more money on government schools), California voters sensibly stopped the spread of rent control, Washington voters rejected a carbon tax, Florida voters expanded supermajority requirements for tax increases, and voters in several states legalized marijuana.

On the minus side, voters in four states opted to expand the bankrupt Medicaid program, Arizona voters sided with teacher unions over children and said no to expanded school choice, and voters in two states increased the minimum wage.

Fourth, Illinois is about to accelerate in the wrong direction. Based on what happened last night, it’s quite likely that the state’s flat tax will be replaced by a class-warfare-based system. In other words, the one bright spot in a dark fiscal climate will be extinguished.

This will accelerate the out-migration of investors, entrepreneurs, and businesses, which is not good news for a state that is perceived to be most likely to suffer a fiscal collapse. It’s just a matter of time before the Land of Lincoln becomes the land of bankruptcy.

Interesting, deep-blue Connecticut voters elected a Republican governor. Given the state’s horrific status, I suspect this won’t make a difference.

Fifth, Obama was a non-factor. Democrats lost almost every race where he campaigned.

Though I should point out that he deserves credit for trying to have an impact in close races. Many top-level politicians, looking to have a good “batting average,” only offer help to campaigns that are likely to prevail.

That being said, this adds to my hypothesis that Obama was basically an inconsequential president.

No wall, no House, no surprise


By Natalia Castro

Republicans would have loved to win the House, but unfortunately, they did not deserve it, as they lost at least 26 seats and more like 30 or so. After failing to solve our countries immigration problem time and time again, it should not be surprising that voters were not enthused to head to the polls on Tuesday. Now with a Democratic House ready to take power in 2019, the lame duck is now perhaps the last chance to get the wall built and if Republicans want a chance in 2020 this must be their focus.

President Donald Trump requested $25 billion to fund a defensive wall along the U.S. Southern border. In his first two years in office, with a Republican majority in Congress, only $1.6 billion has been allocated to fund this wall. While Trump has optimistically called this a “down payment” with full funding coming in the near future, that funding has yet to materialize — and the Republican voters knew it.

The truth is, House Republicans had ample opportunity to prove to the American people that building the wall is not just a rallying cry, but an actual policy objective.

Republicans could have leveraged their majority to fund the wall during the 2017 omnibus spending bill.

Republicans could have leveraged their majority to fund the wall during the September 2017 continuing resolution spending bill.

Republicans could have leveraged their majority to fully fund the wall during the 2018 omnibus spending bill.

Or Republicans could have leveraged their majority to fund the wall during the most recent continuing resolution “cromnibus” spending bill.

But they failed to do so. Instead, leaving our border exposed as a caravan of illegal immigrants march toward it days before the midterm elections. GOP voters had some reason to be unhappy, or at least less of a reason to be enthusiastic at the House level. It was a signature legislative promise.

Pew Research from November 2018 shows that immigration remains a very important issue to voters, just like it was in 2016. 71 percent of Republicans considered immigration the most important issue to their vote. So it is no surprise that a lack of action on the wall triggered a lack of action in the voting booth.

As Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning notes, “This is a failure of House leadership to enact the Trump agenda. This is the consequence of failing to keep the President’s promise to build the wall. When the House Republican leadership decided they wanted to spend almost the whole of 2018 at home rather than working in D.C. they should not have been surprised that voters sent them home permanently. The rejection of House Republican leadership now demands a new, more conservative leadership be elected.”

The immigration problem in the US will only get worse with a Democratic House, meaning in 2020 it will be just as large of a campaign issue. Republicans must use the lame duck to push reform in order to give voters another reason to vote red in 2020 and retain the presidency — unless Republicans want to take their chances making a deal with a House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) introduced a bill in October to fully fund Trump’s wall. At the time, many assumed it was just a bill to show voters that Republicans are still willing to keep their promises, now it is their best chance of getting funding.

The Build the Wall, Enforce the Law Act would call for $23.5 billion in border wall funding which would be split between the physical barrier and technology, operations, and other infrastructure costs related to border security.

McCarthy has said in a statement, “For decades, America’s inability to secure our borders and stop illegal immigration has encouraged millions to undertake a dangerous journey to come here in violation of our laws and created huge loopholes in the legal channels we use to welcome immigrants to our country.”

Had this bill and that rhetoric been around in 2017, Republicans might have kept their majority. But since it wasn’t, and now Republicans must use the lame duck to secure our border once and for all. While it won’t not save them in this election, it could help reclaim the House in 2020.

Natalia Castro is the multimedia manager at Americans for Limited Government.