Wednesday, January 23, 2008

An Arkansas legislator defends Huckabee

I'm technically taking a blogging break because I thought things had settled down a big here on the ol' blog, but I had an unexpected conversation with Mark Martin, an Arkansas legislator, in the comment box that I feel needs to be bumped up to its own post. Here's how it's gone so far,

Mark Martin: As a homeschooling father and an Arkansas State Representative, I cannot believe the vitrolic lies and slander that gets spread in the political arena. Huckabee has never been anything but extremely supportive of homeschooling in Arkansas and has gone out of his way to protect us from a very very powerful teachers union in this state.

You can believe twisted facts by bitter political rivals (including the interparty rivalries) if you wish. But the fact remains that with the exception of one legislator who was also a homeschooler, the rest of us know what Huckabee did for homeschooling in the state of Arkansas.Please don't believe bitter political rhetoric. If it were not for Huckabee, we homeschoolers would be in severe shape in this state.

Spunky: Thank you for your comment Mr. Martin, You said, "Please don't believe bitter political rhetoric. If it were not for Huckabee, we homeschoolers would be in severe shape in this state."

I have not believed the political rhetoric of anyone. I have done my own research and worked through the information available to arrive at my own conclusions. If you would like to read my posts and discuss the substance of what is written and clear up any misconceptions that is most welcome. However, asserting that I have believed the the "bitter rhetoric" of others is not helpful to the discussion or your own credibility. It is simply not true.

The article I recently posted by Jim Holt was secondary support for my own research. I do not know Mr. Holt, nor have I obtained any of my information from him or any of Huckabee's bitter rivals in Arkansas. If you would like to believe that a Governor who increases regulation, imposes a waiting period, and who pays for testing instead of ending it is "supportive" of homeschooling, who am I to argue? But I do not consider it a postive event.

Huckabee could have at least NOT signed the legislation signallng that he at least understood that this is a violation of a parents rights and such restrictions go beyond the jurisdiction of the state. After all, it was Governor Huckabee who opposed school vouchers because of the "control" it would give the state over private faith based schools. But for some reason, when the state funding is given to homeschoolers for tests, there is no protest that this gives the state "control?" What could be more private or faith based than a Christian homeschool? Sorry, that just doesn't make sense to me.

Instead of fighting to eliminate testing and by offering to pay for it, Huckabee, by his own admission, imposed further state control. And for this Arkansas homeschoolers applaud him? Governor Huckabee was bold enough not to sign legislation that referred to "acts of God" and yet we see no such boldness and at least going on record objecting to this legislation.

If homeschoolers in Arkansas see that as a positive, again who am I to argue? But that doesn't mean I have to accept it in my presidential candidate or call him a "friend to homeschoolers."

Our nation is built on the free exchange of ideas, it's a remarkable and humbling experience when a homeschool mom in Michigan gains the attention of a legislator in another state. Thanks for checking in and offering your thoughts. I welcome your thoughts on my articles but assertions that I chose to believe the "rhetoric" of others without some evidence to support your claim will likely be ignored in the future. Nothing personal, I just don't have the time or inclination to defend baseless assertions. Thanks!

Mark Martin: Spunky, Anybody can twist a situation to appear other than what it actually is by ripping it out of context.Take for example a very dear friend of mine, Jim Bob Duggar, who is no longer in the state legislature. At the time there was going to be a fuel tax, there were two proposals the first for 7% and a compromise alternative for 3% was proposed. One of them was going to pass. Mr Duggar is opposed to anytax increase, but if he failed to vote for the 3%, then the 7% would be passed. What should he do? He could count, he knew that if the 3% passed, that would strip off enough votes to cause the 7% to fail. But he also knew that if the 3% failed, the 7% would pass with a veto proof majority. What did he do? He voted for the 3%. What would you do? Don't be so sure unless you have been there. Regardless, Mr. Duggar didn't support a tax and infact adamently opposed them. To accuse him of "voting for a tax" is a half truth, which we know is not the truth at all. But you see how things become twisted?

The same situation goes for Mr. Huckabee and all the half truths the uninformed and haters drag out against him. Very often Mr. Huckabee was faced with 75%+ of the legislature being Democrats. The could override his veto at will, and almost always did with few exception. And when they failed to override one of his vetos, the made him pay dearly by either passing an even more aggressive version of the bill after making back room deals to fund pork projects for the few Democrat dissenters, or worse. They would viciously kill pro-life legislation the Governor was pushing as "payback" for the veto.

Politics is not as cut and dried as we would like it to be. Hard decisions have to be made.I suppose that you could counter that a politician should vote against the tax, even though it means an even higher tax would be the result. I suppose that you could say that a governor should veto a bill knowing that it will be overridden and result in a partisan backlash that kills pro-life legislation and perhaps costs countless babies lives for NOTHING. You could advocate those things. But I won't. A person can make value judgments about people and situations that they only have the slightest of detail. And they make judgements that are counter to the majority of those on the battlelines like Jerry Cox. You can do that. But I won't. I've been there. I KNOW where Mike Huckabee stands. He is absolutely a defender of homeschooling.

Spunky: The Arkansas Constitution provides for men and women of Arkansas to pursue their own happiness. Article 2 says,

“Freedom and independence. All men are created equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights; amongst which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty; of acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and reputation; and of pursuing their own happiness. To secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. ”
I understand what you're saying regarding Mr. Duggar, but equating compromises over the differences in a fuel tax to a compromise of the freedom of parents to pursue their own happiness and restricting their freedom doesn't cut it for me. I can handle a compromise over a gas tax, but a governor's job is to defend his state's Constitution which is there to protect the people of his state.

By Huckabee's own admission he only used the veto a few times. In a 2006 interview he said,

"I've only vetoed a few pieces of legislation in 10 years, most of which were because of they were unconstitutional and I had a clear reason to withhold them."
His own reason for employing the veto is interesting. Clearly there were times he was willing to risk a political backlash to stand on Constitutional principles and in the legislation referring to "acts of God" theological reasons as well. However, in this case given that the parents' rights were clearly being violated Huckabee compromised instead. It wasn't just their state constitutional rights and freedom but, according to HSLDA, their 14th Amendment rights were potentially also violated.

"Arkansas is now one of only 12 states to impose a deadline for beginning home schooling or requiring parents to provide advance notice to public school
officials of their decision to do so. Because of this restriction, parents who encounter intolerable conditions at the public school, such as imminent danger to the safety or welfare of their child, will have to wait at least 14 days before withdrawing the child to begin home schooling or else face truancy charges for unexcused absences during the 14-day waiting period. No such restriction exists for parents who decide to immediately remove their children to attend a private or parochial school in Arkansas. This raises serious issues regarding the right of parents to direct the education of their children and equal protection of the law as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution."
HSLDA opposed this bill. If Huckabee lacked the political will to stand with HSLDA and veto this legislation on Constitutional grounds as he said he did with other bills or the leadership ability to convince the Democrats in the legislator that this was a violation of the citizens' Constitutional rights, he did have at least one other option available. He could have let the bill go without his signature signaling that he recognized this fact and that these added restrictions violated their fundamental rights and exceeded the jurisdiction of the state. The Arkansas Constitution says in Article 6,

"If any bill shall not be returned by the Governor within five days, Sundays excepted, after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law in
like manner as if he had signed it; unless the General Assembly, by their adjournment, prevent its return; in which case it shall become a law, "
The bill would have become law in five days and Huckabee would have been on record standing up for the Constitution. So there was a third option available which he used in a 2004 tax bill, yet he didn't use it regarding the fundamental rights and freedoms of Arkansas homeschooling parents. We don't even see Huckabee acting on principle and offering even "token" opposition. That's what a "defender" of homeschooling does. What good is a governor who says he believes in a parents rights but then signs legislation violating those rights without at least some sort of stand against the state's imposition.

Again, he was strongly against vouchers because of the control it gives the state, but yet when it comes to parents in homeschools he compromises? This just doens't make sense? As a candidate, Huckabee, is asking people to make a value judgment and elect him President based on a "faith that defines Him." He said his faith wouldn't let him pass vouchers, but yet it let's him pass this legislation against homeschoolers? This is especially troubling, when one considers that it was ONLY homeschoolers that had the waiting period. Parents who opted for a private school did not have this restriction placed upon them.

Mr. Martin, Governor Huckabee is asking for our vote. An examination of Huckabee's record on key issues is part of determining if he is an acceptable candidate. I am sure Huckabee would like us to just take the word of Jerry Cox and ignore the solid evidence that refutes his homeschool record. But some of us are not that easily swayed. If Arkansas homeschoolers think it's acceptable to have a leader that compromises their contitutional rights and imposes restrictions upon them, that's fine by me. But when this leader then moves onto the national stage it's a whole new ball game. And here in Michigan we like our homeschool freedoms and don't want a President who compromises them just because democrats threaten to impose legislation. No thanks! That may be how Arkansas politics works, but we northerners are a bit stubborn and we like to fight for our rights and want leaders who do so as well.

We don't applaud when a governor offers to pay for a test that they shouldn't even require homeschoolers to take. We don't applaud when a governor requires parents to take the test or face truancy charges. We don't applaud when the state requires parents to wait to take THEIR children out of state schools. We don't applaud and we don't work to elect them to higher office.

Huckabee's record speaks louder than Jerry Cox and the others. The only spin is coming from Huckabee's homeschool video that promotes his record as positive and ignores facts that tell us the whole truth, not just about his homeschool record but an education agenda that advances federal and international control in education. As your rightly pointed out a half-truth is no truth at all.

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