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For real change, make local elections a top priority

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Can you name the Vice President of the United States? How about the two U.S. Senators in your state? All members of Congress (or at least your own district’s representative)? Governor? If you’re reading this, chances are good that you can easily answer these questions because you’re at least a little interested in politics.

How about your Mayor? Any or all city council members? School board members? County Auditor? Unfortunately, this is where many Americans start to fail the test. Admittedly, I would have failed the test a couple of years ago. Like many Americans, I voted for local elections based upon name recognition, party affiliation, or whether or not I’d received a flyer or received a knock on my door. I spoke to a woman the other day who said she voted for whoever had a sign in her next-door neighbor’s yard because “that lady keeps up with this stuff.”

Every American should keep up with this stuff. It’s THAT important.

When I started flirting with the idea of leaving the GOP last year, I explored several third parties. I sat on conference calls with leaders of one party, had an audience with the chair of another, and spoke directly to three third-party Presidential candidates. Invariably, the discussions were discouraging. It wasn’t that they didn’t have good ideas. It was that only one party could answer an important question: “What are you guys doing to win local elections?”

They were all sinking time, money, and energy into getting their Presidential candidate on ballots, but only one party was actively running in local elections. They made it clear that they weren’t actually giving much support to local candidates, but at least a few people were willing to use their party’s name a registration to run for office. I tracked back to see how many elections they’d won over the years. 13, including two in 2016. How could a party that was sinking all of their resources into a futile Presidential race think it was okay to put next to zero effort into local elections?

This is why I helped form the Federalist Party.

Local elections ARE important. They don’t get the press coverage. The people who win these offices can’t bomb Syria or impose tariffs on Canada. On the other hand, they make decisions that directly affect our lives. They choose the way many of our children receive their education. They set guidelines to either encourage or discourage business growth. Some bring communities together. Others divide communities further apart. It’s imperative that we all start paying closer attention to the races and leaders that live next door. That’s not to say the people in DC are not important, but they receive too much emphasis compared to the politicians in our own backyards.

As a party, we intend to focus on local elections from two perspectives. First, we want to identify principled candidates and win local races. Then, we want to localize decision-making as much as possible for the nation. There is currently way too much influence coming from DC in areas they’re simply not qualified or empowered to addressed.

There are areas in which the federal government should hold the power. These have been clearly enumerated. It’s time to return the rest of the power of government where it belongs: states, counties, cities, communities, and most importantly to individual Americans.

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Media

Our YouTube channel has launched and it’s so much fun

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Our YouTube channel has launched and its so much fun

Everyone discovers something amazing later than they probably should have. I had a friend who was in his late 30s before he tried an In ‘n Out burger despite living in southern California his whole life. He probably never would have tried it until he hired a former manager at the restaurant chain who said he still eats there weekly despite working there for years. This made my friend curious and he kicked himself for passing up on trying the delicious burgers for decades.

When we first launched NOQ Report last year, one of the guys advising me about it recommended accompanying the articles with videos. He thought if we put together a proper YouTube channel and possibly even a podcast, we could add a totally different dimension and reach a separate audience. I declined for over a year because I was worried it would take too much time.

I was right, but it doesn’t matter. After putting out four videos in three days, I’m hooked.

There’s a completely different mentality when researching a topic for video. I’m forced to be more precise with my words because I can’t simply link out to other references as I can with articles. I have to explain it all, and while I thought it would be an announce, it turns out that it actually makes things easier. I can explain the details of something much more easily by speaking about it than trying to write it or reference others. That’s the beauty of video. It’s more of a direct recording of thoughts when speaking into a microphone instead of typing on a keyboard.

Now that we’re producing videos, we need subscribers. Please head over to our YouTube channel, hit subscribe, and be sure to hit the little bell to receive alerts at well.

Here are the four videos we’ve made so far. Please leave us feedback on how to improve as well as topics you’d like us to cover in the future.

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Immigration

Little if any progress as partial government shutdown looms

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Little if any progress as partial government shutdown looms

WASHINGTON (AP) — The fight over President Donald Trump’s $5 billion wall funds has deepened, threatening a partial government shutdown in a standoff that has become increasingly common in Washington.

It wasn’t always like this, with Congress and the White House at a crisis over government funding. The House and Senate used to pass annual appropriation bills, and the president signed them into law. But in recent years the shutdown scenario has become so routine that it raises the question: Have shutdowns as a negotiating tool lost their punch?

Monday brought few signs of progress. A partial shutdown that could occur at midnight Friday risks disrupting government operations and leaving hundreds of thousands of federal employees furloughed or working without pay over the holiday season. Costs would be likely in the billions of dollars.

Trump was meeting with his team and getting regular updates, said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Trump was also tweeting Monday to keep up the pressure.

Exiting a Senate Republican leadership meeting late Monday, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota said, “It looks like it probably is going to have to build for a few days here before there’s a solution.”

The president is insisting on $5 billion for the wall along the southern border with Mexico, but he does not have the votes from the Republican-led Congress to support it. Democrats are offering to continue funding at current levels, $1.3 billion, not for the wall but for fencing and other border security.

It’s unclear how many House Republicans, with just a few weeks left in the majority before relinquishing power to House Democrats, will even show up midweek for possible votes. Speaker Paul Ryan’s office had no update. Many Republicans say it’s up to Trump and Democrats to cut a deal.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Trump talk most days, but the senator’s spokesman would not confirm if they spoke Monday about a plan. McConnell opened the chamber hoping for a “bipartisan collaborative spirit” that would enable Congress to finish its work.

“We need to make a substantial investment in the integrity of our border,” McConnell said. “And we need to close out the year’s appropriation process.”

Meanwhile more than 800,000 government workers are preparing for the uncertainty ahead.

The dispute could affect nine of 15 Cabinet-level departments and dozens of agencies, including the departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, Interior, Agriculture, State and Justice, as well as national parks and forests.

About half the workers would be forced to continue working without immediate pay. Others would be sent home. Congress often approves their pay retroactively, even if they were ordered to stay home.

“Our members are asking how they are supposed to pay for rent, food, and gas if they are required to work without a paycheck,” said a statement from J. David Cox, Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the large federal worker union. “The holiday season makes these inquiries especially heart-wrenching.”

Many agencies, including the Pentagon and the departments of Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services, are already funded for the year and will continue to operate as usual, regardless of whether Congress and the president reach agreement this week.

Congress already approved funding this year for about 75 percent of the government’s discretionary account for the budget year that began Oct. 1.

The U.S. Postal Service, busy delivering packages for the holiday season, wouldn’t be affected by any government shutdown because it’s an independent agency.

Trump said last week he would be “proud” to have a shutdown to get Congress to approve a $5 billion down payment to fulfill his campaign promise to build a border wall.

During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump promised that Mexico would pay for the wall. Mexico has refused.

Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, in a meeting last week at the White House, suggested keeping funding at its current level, $1.3 billion, for improved fencing. Trump had neither accepted nor rejected the Democrats’ offer, telling them he would take a look.

Schumer said Monday he had yet to hear from Trump. Speaking on the Senate floor, Schumer warned that “going along with the Trump shutdown is a futile act” because House Democrats would quickly approve government funding in January.

“President Trump still doesn’t have a plan to keep the government open,” Schumer said Monday. “No treat or temper tantrum will get the president his wall.”

One option for lawmakers would be to provide stopgap funding for a few weeks, until the new Congress convenes Jan. 3, when Pelosi is poised to become House speaker.

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, who is in line to become the No. 3 Republican in the Senate, suggested a stopgap bill could be one way to resolve the issue or a longer-term bill that includes money for border security.

GOP leaders, though, were frustrated as the clock ticked away. Leaving the weekly leadership meeting, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said any planning was a “very closely held thing. That’s why we should never let this happen. We should pass the bills the way we’re supposed to pass them.”

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Associated Press writer Laurie Kellman in Washington contributed to this report.

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Entertainment and Sports

Missouri poacher ordered to repeatedly watch ‘Bambi’

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Missouri poacher ordered to repeatedly watch Bambi

OZARKS, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri poacher has been ordered to repeatedly watch the movie “Bambi” as part of his sentence in a scheme to illegally kill hundreds of deer.

David Berry Jr. was ordered to watch the Disney classic at least once a month during his year-long jail sentence in what conservation agents have called one of the largest deer poaching cases in state history, the Springfield News-Leader reports .

“The deer were trophy bucks taken illegally, mostly at night, for their heads, leaving the bodies of the deer to waste,” said Don Trotter, the prosecuting attorney in Lawrence County.

Berry, his father, two brothers and another man who helped them had their hunting, fishing and trapping privileges revoked temporarily or permanently. The men have paid a combined $51,000 in fines and court costs — but the judge ordered a special addition to Berry’s sentence for illegally taking wildlife.

Court records show he was ordered by Lawrence County Judge Robert George to “view the Walt Disney movie Bambi, with the first viewing being on or before December 23, 2018, and at least one such viewing each month thereafter” while at the county jail.

Berry was also sentenced to 120 days in jail in nearby Barton County for a firearms probation violation.

His father, David Berry Sr., and his brother, Kyle Berry, were arrested in August after a nearly nine-month investigation that also involved cases in Kansas, Nebraska and Canada. The Missouri Department of Conservation said information from the investigation led to 14 Missouri residents facing more than 230 charges in 11 counties.

Investigators say David Berry Sr.’s other son, Eric Berry, was later caught with another person spotlighting deer, where poachers use light at night to make deer pause and easier to hunt.

The investigation into the Berrys began in late 2015, when the conservation agency received an anonymous tip about deer poaching in Lawrence County.

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Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com

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