• Category Archives Op/Ed by Gorrell
  • dom·i·cile (noun)

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    Black’s Law Dictionary, the most widely used law dictionary in the US, defines domicile as “That place in which a man has voluntarily fixed the habitation of himself and family, not for a mere special or temporary purpose, but with the present intention of making a permanent home.”
    Key to the legal concept of domicile is intent, which makes it, like so many legal issues, not as cut-and-dried as the layman could wish. Just as an idle mind is said to be the devil’s playground, a mind’s intent is a lawyer’s playground. Many billable hours have been spent debating a client’s intent.
    According to Black’s, domicile is the “established, fixed, permanent, or ordinary dwelling-place or place of residence of a person, as distinguished from his temporary and transient, though actual, place of residence.” Domicile is not a “place to which business or pleasure may temporarily call him.” In law, a person may have many residences, but only one domicile.
    Why the primer on the legal concept of domicile? Last week our NH senate passed a bill to more clearly define “domicile” as it pertains to voting. Though SB3 was approved by Republicans on a party-line vote, our Democrat Secretary of State supported it. Democrat senators, however, invoked their usual rhetorical hyperbole, declaring in a Caucus press release that “Instead of threatening would-be voters with the prospect of someone banging down there (sic) door to interrogate them on their voting eligibility…” Blah, blah, blah.
    In reality, the bill merely defines domicile for voting purposes as “the principal or primary home or place of abode of a person…in which his or her habitation is fixed and to which a person, whenever he or she is temporarily absent, has the intention of returning after a departure or absence therefrom…” It then provides factors to be considered when determining one’s intent. It’s all very reasonable, especially if you value the idea that only those with meaningful ties to a community and state should be able to have a say at the voting booth.
    The problem with SB3 isn’t that it’s unreasonable, or will lead to “voting police” banging down doors as hyperventilating Dems would want you to believe (even if they can’t possibly believe it themselves). No, the problem with SB3’s definition of domicile is that college residency counts.
    The domicile bill has been framed by both sides as a voter fraud issue, but I think that’s too limited. For me, domicile is a matter of self-determination and the right of citizens to decide how their communities and state will be run. With few exceptions, students choose colleges based on educational factors, not with the intent of settling in the town or state where the college is located. Education is a “mere temporary or special purpose” per Black’s. Students who come to New Hampshire from out-of-state for education should not be allowed to influence with their vote how Granite State governments function.
    This is especially true for students who maintain close connections with their out-of-state parents for financial support. Missing from the senate bill’s factors for determining domicile, but included in other states’ laws, is “sources of financial support.” Most students – undergraduates, especially – depend upon their parents for financial support. If a student at UNH were to drop out, is he more likely to stay in Durham to go it alone, or go home to his parents?
    I support raising the bar for proving intent when it comes to domicile, to a point where most out-of-state students would not qualify. People who come to New Hampshire merely for an education should participate in the electoral process in the communities where they came from, where their parents live, where their true connections lie. Allowing them to vote here distorts our political process. It disenfranchises citizens who truly have made NH their permanent place of residence, their home, their domicile.
    If we are going to allow out-of-state students to vote here, it’s time to revive the text of a bill that was deemed “inexpedient to legislate” back in 2014. HB1255 would have allowed “students whose name appears on the voter checklist eligible for in-state tuition rates at schools in the university system of New Hampshire.”
    Fair is fair. If students have the right to vote here because it is their “intent” to make New Hampshire their principle or primary home, we should consider them Granite Staters for tuition purposes. Of course, acting in the best interests of NH citizens, our legislators should ensure that those students paying out-of-state tuition vote out-of-state as well.


  • Middlebury March Madness

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    March roared in like a lion at Vermont’s Middlebury college, where students chose to riot rather than debate the estimable political scientist Dr. Charles Murray. If only we could blame it on the month. Sadly, Middlebury followed the example set earlier by schools like UC Berkeley and NYU: failing to prevent a riot or punish rioters. It isn’t the month; it’s the movement.
    “Mad as a March hare” is a common Brit expression dating back hundreds of years, long before college basketball fans took to the coinage “March Madness” to describe their annual tournament. At least hares and hoop fans have an excuse for their behavior. What could possibly explain away the insanity on display March 2nd at Middlebury?
    Much has been written about the violence that greeted scholar and author Dr. Charles Murray by students who have probably not read his works. The story boils down to this: Dr. Murray was invited to debate a liberal professor on topics from his recent book Coming Apart: The State of White America. Campus officials knew the event would draw protesters. They reminded the students about Middlebury’s code of conduct, which, not surprisingly, was about as effective as reading the Marquess of Queensberry rules to marauding Vikings. Administration should have known better and prepared accordingly.
    Students who have been allowed to grow up thinking they have a right to not hear opinions they find disagreeable and to prevent others from hearing them, too, prevented Dr. Murray from speaking. They shouted him down using the moronic couplets much beloved of the political Left. (Any chant that starts with “Hey, hey, ho, ho” is going to be inane.)
    But the acolytes of the arrogant ignorant Left didn’t stop there. They never do. When their limited vocabulary failed them, they rioted. The liberal professor was hurt and Dr. Murray threatened. Private security did its best to get these academics to safety, but their car was blocked and rocked before they could make their escape. I have yet to read an account in which the police were called and the appropriate response – legal use of force and arrests – was brought to bear.
    The “terrible twos” are a tough time for parents and anyone unfortunate enough to be stuck in an airplane seat near a screaming toddler. But being in the presence of intellectual babies going through their terrible teens or twenties can be downright dangerous. College administrators must start applying the same level of ruthless enthusiasm to curbing anti-free speech rioters as they have been in promoting PC speech codes and punishing microaggressors. You know there’s something wrong on campus when failing to use a preferred pronoun gets you in more trouble than using violence to intimidate and disrupt a debate.
    That tactic – violence and intimidation – has deep roots in authoritarian movements like the one we’re seeing on campus today. That it is employed by people claiming to advance “liberal” or “progressive” ideals is irony defined. A March 1936 editorial in the Toledo Bee titled “March Madness” described a “fantastic riot of tomfoolery” in Europe as Mussolini “abolishes his chamber of deputies and the deputies applaud the news,” and Germany “prepares for an ‘election’ with a one-way ballot, proving, says Der Fuehrer, that he’s for democracy.” We know where that “tomfoolery” led. Though they were dressed in the typical student uniform of t-shirts and hoodies, the Middlebury rioters were acting the part of Blackshirts and Brownshirts in service to authoritarianism.
    Students have shown their willingness to engage in violence. Administrators now must demonstrate their willingness to expel students and assist in the prosecution of violent agitators. Until they do, the anti-democratic violence on campus will escalate. Since university leaders have yet to do the right and necessary things, they need to be encouraged. We know that they are money-motivated; we’ve seen universities twist themselves in knots to avoid losing funding tied to Title IX and Department of Education “Dear Colleague” letters. It’s time for federal and state governments to stop the flow of public funds to campuses that fail to promote intellectual diversity and maintain order in the process.
    Our NH legislators should demand to see proof that our public universities and colleges promote diverse debate and have plans in place to effectively deal with campus anti-free speech violence. Public funding should be on the line in these discussions. Berkeley and NYU seem a world away from UNH or Plymouth, but Middlebury is right next door. It could happen here. We need to know that our campuses are fully prepared to deal with the Brownshirts in their midst.


  • Dysphoria Euphoria

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    When Sir Walter Scott wrote of tangled webs woven to deceive, he could not have imagined the tangle of Gordian knots modern man would create trying to fool Mother Nature.

    I’m a man of simple tastes: strong, black coffee; Highland single malt; bacon. I appreciate Alexander the Great’s solution to untangling the intricate knot of King Gordius of Phrygia: Slice it in two. I’d apply a similarly simple solution to the increasingly complex and entirely man-made problem of living in a world where social media giant Facebook provides a list of more than 50 “genders” from which to choose: For purposes of public policy and accommodation, go with the plumbing God – or god-like surgeons – have provided.
    The latest kerfuffle arousing passions in the “gender fluid” movement is the case of Mack Beggs, female high school wrestling champ. Ms. Beggs’ rise to the top was made possible by forfeits and performance-enhancing testosterone. Some parents didn’t want their girls competing against a wrestler with a physique like a 1980’s East German female Olympian in three-fifths miniature. That oddly-proportioned and physically-dominating body was the result of testosterone, part of treatment helping this girl transition into manhood.
    While she “identifies” as male, Ms. Beggs is biologically and chromosomally the same female she was at birth. While any other girl on testosterone would have been disqualified, the rules of the governing body for school sports in Texas declared that the state’s education code permits using banned drugs such as steroids if it “is prescribed by a medical practitioner for a valid medical purpose.”
    The simple and elegant solution to this problem is to end the discriminatory separation of the sexes in all school sports. No more “separate but equal.” No more Title IX shenanigans. This approach would not only solve the Texas dilemma, it would accommodate those girls who want to play as girls on boy’s teams, and vice versa. Whether you’re a boy, a girl, an XX+testosterone, an XY+estrogen, or some other combination not yet medically possible, you would compete for a position on a single team. May the best athletes win. Continue reading  Post ID 2742


  • Right To Wrong

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    It’s time to name names. It’s time to take off the gloves and fight back against those who hurt our state. It’s time for the NH GOP to draw a line in cement and demand that those who run for office as Republicans either toe it or run under a different banner.
    A few weeks after we elected a Republican governor while maintaining Republican majorities in the House and Senate – something nearly as rare as a blue moon – I penned an essay for these pages supporting Right to Work legislation. Last week, thanks to nearly three dozen Representatives whose actions define “RINO,” the Right to Work Senate Bill 11 died in the House.
    Passing RTW would have made NH a shining beacon in New England, helping us compete regionally for jobs. As I wrote a few months ago, attracting and retaining job-creating businesses and young people looking to get ahead in life requires being business-friendly. Compared to forced-unionism states, the unemployment rate in RTW states is lower; median incomes (after adjusting for the cost of living) are higher; and governments spend and tax less per capita. Right to Work must be considered a foundational issue to the GOP.
    After the disappointing vote, National Right to Work President Mark Mix reminded supporters of choice in the workplace that “from 2005 to 2015, real private sector employee pay and benefits in Right to Work states grew by nearly 17% — almost a third more growth than forced-unionism states saw as a whole, and more than double what New Hampshire saw individually.” That is what some who call themselves Republicans voted against.
    But it’s worse than that. After failing to pass the Senate RTW bill, the “GOP majority” House voted to ensure its own RTW bill could not be brought up for discussion or a vote this session. So, in the Live Free or Die state, employees will continue to be compelled to pay into union coffers…coffers which provide generously and one-sidedly to Progressive causes and Democrat candidates.
    The Democrats voted in lock-step against Right to Work. That’s no surprise for a party that consistently puts organized union interests ahead of workers and taxpayers. But what more evidence of being on the wrong side of a vote do some Republicans need? When your ideological opponents are “all-in” on an issue, you better get out, and fast.
    It’s time for the new leadership of the state’s GOP to not just come out strong about voting against issues that are foundational for conservatives. It’s time to actively and forcefully work against those who damage the party by failing to uphold its principles.
    The state GOP should work now to identify viable candidates to challenge wayward Republicans in the 2018 primary. Those candidates should be assured they will receive state party financial and ground campaign support – money and people to pound the pavement and knock on doors to help them get elected. There aren’t many issues that require ideological purity, but Right to Work is such an issue.
    To say this anti-worker and anti-business vote demonstrates a lack of leadership in the House would be an understatement. We are poorly served yet again this term. Governor Sununu made it clear that this was a key vote on an issue of great importance to the state. Speaker Jasper and his House leadership failed to deliver; whether by incompetence or intent is anyone’s guess. We deserve what we tolerate, and the time for tolerance is over.
    Here are the names of so-called Republicans who voted against Right to Work, who voted to hurt our state’s economic competitiveness:
    Crawford, Karel (R, Ctr Harbor), Merner, Troy (R, Lancaster), Pierce, David (R, Goffstown), Proulx, Mark (R, Manchester), McCarthy, Michael (R, Nashua), Hopper, Gary (R, Weare), Klose, John (R, Epsom), Woitkun, Steven (R, Danville), Chirichiello, Brian (R, Derry), Dowling, Patricia (R, Derry), Katsakiores, Phyllis (R, Derry), Milz, David (R, Derry), Tripp, Richard (R, Derry), Webb, James (R, Derry), Willis, Brenda (R, Derry), Morrison, Sean (R, Epping), Guthrie, Joseph (R, Hampstead), Pearson, Mark (R, Hampstead), Bean, Philip (R, Hampton), Welch, David (R, Kingston), Bove, Martin (R, Londonderry), McKinney, Betsy (R, Londonderry), Doucette, Fred (R, Salem), Chase, Francis (R, Seabrook), Janvrin, Jason (R, Seabrook), Khan, Aboul (R, Seabrook), Tilton, Rio (R, Seabrook), Scruton, Matthew (R, Rochester), Laware, Thomas (R, Charlestown), Gauthier, Francis (R, Claremont), O’Connor, John (R, Claremont), Grenier, James (R, Lempster)
    Along with Speaker of the House Shawn Jasper, these names should be engraved on a GOP wall of shame.


  • Curiouser and Curiouser

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    While not a proper English word, when used together as Lewis Carroll coined them in Alice in Wonderland, “curiouser and curiouser” is an acceptable way of saying something is increasingly strange. Alice used it as she was being stretched out of proportion to more than nine feet tall. I’m using it to describe the sensation I had while sitting through a meeting of school district officials and legislative candidates. It’s increasingly strange to me that people refuse to recognize that traditional public schools have been stretched out of proportion trying to be all things to all students while stretching taxpayer wallets to the breaking point.
    This public meeting was a forum for the superintendent’s office, the school board, and budget committee to meet current legislators and candidates to discuss education issues. Given the state of public education and the ongoing battle over funding (especially acute in my district), I was expecting the Superintendent and board to take advantage of the opportunity by presenting a few ideas that might help our high-cost/low performing district.
    Unfortunately, our public school officials – elected or hired – failed to demonstrate the least bit of intellectual curiosity about how these legislators might help students, parents, and taxpayers grapple with providing the right educational opportunities at an affordable cost. They seemed content to continue down the path of ever-higher budgets and poor educational results.
    New Hampshire spent $14,335 per public school student in 2014, making us the 10th biggest spender in the nation. New York was No. 1, spending just over $20,000, but 23 states managed to educate their students for less than $10,000. My district spent slightly more than the state average for a high school ranked 61st out of 77 by the analysts at Niche. They used factors including test scores, graduation rates, college readiness, and teacher quality. For comparison, the state’s Virtual Learning Academy, with no points for extracurricular activities and sports, ranked 41st.
    Some taxpayers in my district, Winnisquam, are just now beginning to understand that the status quo is about to slap us in the face. The state is reducing the Education Stabilization Grant. It will eventually get to zero, and possibly at an annual rate faster than the 4% currently advertised. Without that Stabilization money, Northfield, one of three towns in our district, will see an increase of $8 per thousand to the property tax rate. Northfield isn’t the only town where this is happening.
    How can we prevent people from being taxed out of their homes? How can we avoid being marked as a real estate dead zone with unacceptably-high property taxes and a low-end school? Not much, judging by the lack of ideas presented to our legislators by our Superintendent’s office and school board. There are solutions, but they require more curious minds than were sitting at the table that morning.
    We could start by consolidating SAUs. We have 100 school administrative units, many with six-figure-salary superintendents and big budgets that don’t contribute directly to the classroom. With fewer than 200,000 students and declining enrollment, we should be able to consolidate SAU functions into 10 county-based organizations without reducing student performance.
    We’re spending more than $1,300 per student on school and general administration; Florida, Texas, and North Carolina spend less than half of that. What could we learn from them? What best practices and laws from other states could we adopt?
    Nationally, only 60 cents of every education dollar is spent for instructional purposes. Taxpayers should demand that school boards prove the education value of each dollar they ask for. Overhead expenses must be cut. One way to do that is to increase the sharing of services and purchasing across districts.
    The biggest savings and benefits to students will come only if we are willing to challenge the traditional public school model. Expanding virtual academies, blending traditional school with home-schooling and online learning, supporting our tax-credit scholarship program, and increasing chartered public schools will reduce per pupil costs while providing better, student-centered learning.
    Charter schools cost about $6,000 per student, less than half of what we’re spending on traditional public schools. The tax credit scholarship program is revenue positive to the state. Both options are providing educational opportunities that meet or exceed student and parent expectations. Every superintendent, every principal, every school board member in this state should be pushing for legislation expanding charter schools and encouraging participation in the scholarship program. That they are not doing so demonstrates both a lack of imagination and a disturbing fealty to the status quo at the expense of children and taxpayers. Curiouser, indeed.


  • The Back To School Edition

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    You could almost hear the sighs of relief across the state these last couple of weeks as parents sent their children back to school. It’s been an annual late-summer ritual for longer than any of us can remember. And like most rituals, it’s an activity few think much about. It’s just what we do; this year same as last year. And that’s a problem.
    Two problems, in fact: educational and fiscal. Educationally, it’s a problem because our public schools have become fortresses of mediocrity. They may not be particularly good at meeting the needs of those locked inside, but they’re great at keeping at bay the forces of change. Eighth-graders may test at 30%- 40% proficiency in math year in, year out, but we keep sending them back for more of the same. Many defend the status quo against those who dare question the dismal results.
    Fiscally it’s a problem because, even as they fail to make the grade, they suck up more wealth from the nation’s economy. The education establishment’s answer to the question “How much money do you need to do the job?” comes straight from the mouth of Edward G. Robinson’s Key Largo character, the gangster Johnny Rocco: “More!” When asked if he’ll ever get enough, Johnny said, “Well, I never have.” And that’s Big Education’s answer, too.
    Continue reading  Post ID 2742


  • Saudi Quebec

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    It was in the upper 80s yesterday and the leaves are beginning to show fall colors, so it’s perhaps a strange time to be writing about maple syrup production. But economic lessons are eternal, not seasonal. Our neighbors to the north are learning one of those lessons now: Market forces and human nature will eventually crack a cartel.
    OPEC is perhaps the most famous cartel of the modern era. Those of us who lived through the oil embargo of 1973 and the price shock of 1979 could be forgiven for thinking that the cartel of oil-producing nations is an exception to the economic rule. Controlling most of the production of a commodity essential to modern economies kept the now-14 nation cartel in a powerful position for decades, but even mighty OPEC has been laid low. Thanks to hydraulic fracturing (fracking), greater efficiencies, and energy substitutes, OPEC founding member Saudi Arabia is facing an “existential crisis” according to a report in the UK Telegraph. The shale rebellion caught the Saudis flat-footed and has OPEC playing defense. Cry me a river of oil, as I fill my tank with under-$2 a gallon gasoline.
    The world can’t get by without oil at any price. The same can’t be said of maple syrup. While I won’t eat pancakes without the real thing, the Quebec maple cartel – the Federation of Quebec Syrup Producers – doesn’t have the global economic import of OPEC. But it does control 70% of the maple syrup market, though that share has fallen from 80% over the past few years. Recently Bloomberg News reported (“Maple Syrup Cartel Battles a Black Market Rebellion”) that the Federation has decided to raise production 12% next year in a bid not only to regain that lost market share, but also to deal with dissent within its ranks. Continue reading  Post ID 2742


  • What’s Up Doc?

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    Bugs Bunny’s signature line, delivered nonchalantly – often at the point of Elmer Fudd’s gun – is the perfect response to Dr. Bob Kocher, one of the physician-architects of the medical abomination known as ObamaCare.
    I’ll assume that Kocher is a better doctor than he is economist, though his resume is light on doctoring and heavy on government consulting. His bio at Venrock, where he is a partner, says he focuses on healthcare IT and services investments. But he was once a Special Assistant to President Obama for Healthcare and Economic Policy. Simply put, he helped shape the ironically-named “Affordable Care Act” which has failed spectacularly at providing affordable care.
    The good doc has had an epiphany. He was “wrong about ObamaCare” and “how the change in the delivery of health care would, and should, happen.” He wrote in the Wall Street Journal that “I believed then that the consolidation of doctors into larger physician groups was inevitable and desirable under the ACA” but “now I think we were wrong to favor it.”
    Given the well-documented examples of socialized systems failing to deliver on their promises, how could this MD have believed that forcing the consolidation of medical service providers into large health systems would lead to higher quality care at lower cost? As National Center for Policy Analysis’ John Graham pointed out, these consolidated systems are missing their promised cost and quality targets.

    Continue reading  Post ID 2742


  • The Three G’s versus the Three D’s

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is the political gift that keeps on giving. Long after failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s speeches have been relegated to the Big Black Book of Political Banalities, Pelosi’s bons mots will be studied by historians charting the intellectual decline of Progressivism.
    Pelosi represents California’s 12th congressional district, essentially the city and county of San Francisco. I doubt there are many other districts that would elect her. “San Fran Nan” epitomizes the dissonance of a city that prides itself for being socially and economically liberal yet actively promotes policies that price most workers out of its housing market. Back in 1967, Scott McKenzie sang that “If you’re going San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.” If you go there today, be sure to bring $3,500 – the median monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment.
    Maybe her district’s dissonance explains some of her political statements. Congress “has to pass [ObamaCare] so you can find out what’s in it, away from the fog of controversy.” Some people call “the fog of controversy” the political discourse we expect to engage in as free people in a representative republic. Continue reading  Post ID 2742


  • On-shoring Unemployment

    Ken Gorrellby Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    Remember the last presidential election cycle when the Left wailed about the scourge of “offshoring” jobs? How times change.
    In June of 2012, the uber-Progressive news site ThinkProgress trumpeted a Washington Post story “that Bain Capital, the private equity firm Mitt Romney headed for 15 years, invested extensively in companies that moved jobs overseas to low-wage countries like China. The practice contradicts the rhetoric of candidate Romney, who since announcing his presidential ambitions, has criticized government policies that have led to jobs, particularly those in manufacturing, moving offshore.”
    Never mind that lowering production costs is something businesses always strive to do, or that businesses with lower cost structures are often good investments for people seeking solid returns on their retirement funds. The Left blamed Romney for enabling the move of “American” jobs to other countries.
    Four years later, the Left is criticizing Donald Trump for his hard-line on illegal immigration, dismissing his claims that illegals are taking jobs away from Americans. They are even calling for the Obama Administration to end its very tepid deportation actions aimed at employers of illegal aliens. Progressives don’t want American jobs going to foreign lands, but seem fine with foreign workers taking jobs from Americans here at home. Continue reading  Post ID 2742


  • Another One Bites The Dust

    Ken Gorrellby Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    If the primary season had an official song, it would be the 1980 chart-topper Another One Bites the Dust. I was never a fan of Queen, and I don’t like that song, but there’s no denying it was popular in its day: a world-wide hit, number one in the US for three weeks, and in the top ten for 15 weeks, the longest of any song that year.
    “And another one gone, and another one gone
    Another one bites the dust”
    Last week the one who bit the dust, at least to me, was Executive Councilor and GOP gubernatorial candidate Chris Sununu. His decision to shovel more of our tax dollars into the maw of Planned Parenthood, Inc., (PP) was not just a flip-flop, it was unsupportable from both the fiscal and women’s health perspectives.
    Regardless of one’s position on the issue of abortion, providing more public money to the nation’s largest – and very profitable – non-profit abortion provider is simply not the best use of limited resources if one’s goal is to promote and improve women’s health. While Planned Parenthood’s PR department works overtime to maintain the illusion that their mission is exactly that – improving women’s health – the facts tell a different story. Continue reading  Post ID 2742


  • The Immigration Joke

    Ken Gorrellby Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A Pakistani and an Afghani walk into a bar…Oh, wait, not a bar, a US/Mexico border checkpoint. No, wait: They simply walked into the United States at an unguarded section of our southern border…and now the joke isn’t so funny.
    In fact, it’s deadly serious. As the Washington Times reported on June 3rd, five Pakistanis and an Afghani, aided by Brazilian and Mexican smugglers, made it 15 miles into our country before being caught by Border Patrol agents. One might ask why the agents even bothered. Though these foreign men entered our country illegally, and the Afghani was flagged in an FBI terrorist database, they all made asylum claims. The Afghan man was held, but the five men from Pakistan were released. Will it surprise you to learn that they have since disappeared?
    News stories like this help to fuel our unhealthy debate on immigration policy. Competing interest groups, disinformation, emotion — and of course, the national security angle — all conspire to hinder open and rational dialog. Add in the usual election-year posturing, and it seems unlikely that we’ll resolve the issue to anyone’s satisfaction until voters send a clear message to Washington. Which is to say, not anytime soon. Continue reading  Post ID 2742


  • Shovel Unready

    Ken Gorrellby Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    Remember the “bridge to nowhere”? Officially called the Gravina Island access project, the bridge was intended to replace ferry service between Ketchikan, Alaska (population of 8,000), and Gravina Island (population 50), home to the region’s airport. The bridge became a powerful symbol of government waste, misallocation of resources, and inability to set proper priorities.
    After much bad press, the bridge plan was scrapped and some of the earmarked funding was diverted to repair a hurricane-damaged bridge in New Orleans. More than a decade later and much closer to home, another bridge has made news. The Anderson Memorial Bridge, connecting Boston and Harvard Square, is a bridge to somewhere, but it too provides a powerful symbol of government waste and inefficiency.
    This 232-foot bridge was built in 1912 in just 11 months. The current rehabilitation was projected to cost about $20 million when the project began in 2012. Four years later the cost is $26 million and counting, and there is no projected completion date. It serves more than 21,000 vehicles and 15,000 bus riders each day, so beyond the inconvenience and danger to pedestrians and cyclists, increased congestion caused by project delays are estimated to have cost the local economy $40 million. Continue reading  Post ID 2742


  • It’s The Economy, Stupid

    Ken Gorrellby Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    It’s not easy navigating the troubled waters of state economic planning these days. Just ask North Carolina governor Pat McCrory. He’s facing corporate boycotts and a federal lawsuit in response to the so-called “bathroom bill” that simply codifies what previously had been considered common sense: People should use the public restroom associated with their biological plumbing.
    Companies and entertainers are trying to change the will of the people by waging economic warfare. That’s their right, but it’s hard to fathom the logic of a group like Cirque du Soleil that cancelled three North Carolina performances but allows the show to go on in Dubai, UAE, where homosexuality is a crime and even cross-dressers face jail time.
    “We just want to go back to Brazil and make clear that we merely came here to get to know the local culture,” explained one of two cross-dressing hairdressers detained by police in Dubai last year. Experience the “local culture” they did. Once authorities figured out what they were (and from their photo it’s clear that imitation is not always the sincerest form of flattery) their vacation took a turn for the worse. One wonders what they would consider more of an affront, the “indignity” of using a urinal in Raleigh or being subjected to the tender mercies of Islamic law?
    In a statement presumably for Western eyes only, Cirque du Soleil proclaimed that the group “strongly believes in diversity and equality for every individual and is opposed to discrimination in any form.” Yet North Carolinians are condemned in press releases while Dubai’s transgenders are condemned to prison. I suppose one should not expect moral clarity from a troupe of Québécois contortionists. Continue reading  Post ID 2742


  • The Crying Indian

    Ken Gorrellby Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    In six months voters might decide to “Make America Great Again.” I won’t predict how that will turn out, though I suspect we would be no worse off than after eight years of “Hope and Change.” I certainly prefer the “great again” slogan to that of the other leading candidate, who declares herself “for America” in a way I find slightly threatening.
    Well-conceived slogans, tag lines, and images resonate with us. Decades after the fact, people of my generation can easily fill in the blank for “Please don’t squeeze the _______.” We know what the San Francisco treat is, and we know what not to leave home without, even if we don’t carry that card. On the other hand, do you remember the campaign slogan for Lindsay Graham or Martin O’Malley?
    Each spring I think about one of the best advertising images of all time. After the snow has receded but before the ferns cover up the mess, I grab a garbage bag and walk up and down the road near my house picking up trash. I remember doing this in the 1970s as part of a Cub Scout pack. To the certainties of death and taxes, I’d add litter. Not twenty-four hours after filling a contractor-grade bag, litter had reappeared, mostly in the form of large cans of cheap beer and hard iced tea. A friend once remarked that he lived a Big Mac away from the nearest McDonald’s; his explanation for all the wrappers strewn along the road near his home. Given my roadside debris, I guess I live a “tall boy” away from a convenience store. Continue reading  Post ID 2742