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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Once Upon A Time Notre Dame

Music has Charms to sooth a savage Breast, To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak. — William Congreve, in The Mourning Bride, 1697.

In my last blog severely criticized the University of Norte Dame for its pandering to Barack Obama and granting him an honorary degree in 2009 after his support for partial birth abortions — something that is anathema to the Catholic Church.

Today I want to tell you a story of a Notre Dame graduate and his fierce loyalty to the college of Our Lady.

Last week a friend of our passed away while undergoing heart surgery. Our friend, John, a native of Indiana, was born into an Irish family in 1934. He was a product of a Catholic School education and he graduated from the Notre Dame University in 1954. John’s dad owned a stationary store in Hammond Indiana and in addition to selling office supplies the store sold tickets to Notre Dame Football games.

John’s father had a strong commitment to Notre Dame Football, so much so that he would have the legendary coach Knute Rockne over to his house for dinner. Of course John never saw the coach as he died three years before John was born in a tragic plane crash. The only Notre Dame game John’s dad missed was when he journeyed to southern California for John’s wedding. Thankfully the game was televised so John’s dad got to see some of the game.

John grew up loving Notre Dame for not only its football but also for its educational standards and high Catholic moral values. John was what one might call today a conservative Catholic. I prefer to remember John as a practicing Catholic, a father of 6, a grandfather, a great grandfather, a person involved in his community and his church, and a friend.

John graduated from Notre Dame with a BS in electrical engineering and after his move to southern California he obtained a master’s degree in systems analysis from the University of Southern California. He spent the last 22 years of his working life as a systems and database analyst with McDonald Douglas-Boeing in Huntington Beach.

John was smart, well read, and kind. When he discussed religion, politics or world events with you he would always intently listen to your point of view and not attempt to talk you down with his.

When my wife and I lived in Westminster, California we had a dinner group consisting of John and his wife and two other couples. We would rotate the dinner each month and have great dining experiences along with stimulating conversations and debates. John would always say what he believed and attempt to find some common ground with others during these discussions.

John, like his father loved Notre Dame Football. Each year John and his wife would travel to South Bend to attend a game of beloved Notre Dame. I never had the opportunity to ask John what he thought of Rev. Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, inviting Barack Obama to address the college and granting him an honorary degree. I can only guess as to what John would have had to say.

John’s funeral service was held at the local Catholic Church in Westminster, California. The church was almost filled with family and friends. It was a Catholic Mass and the priest, who knew John well, gave a touching and informative homily highlighting John’s accomplishments and his involvement with his family, church and community.

I sat there with my wife and listened while remembering John and praying for his soul, which I knew was resting in the bosom of Jesus Christ. After the communion service a longtime friend John gave a heart-felt rendition of Ave Maria. This left the congregation and a very reflective mood.

When the family gathered at the casket and began escorting it out of the church the pianist began playing When Irish Eyes Are Smiling and the entire congregation broke into song sing along. This brought a smile to many faces as they recalled John’s Irish roots.

But after the end of the Irish ballad the pianist began a slow, hymn-like rendition of the Notre Dame Victory March. This is when the tears welled up and began to flow.

For those of you who are not familiar with how emotional the ties to this great university are I am including this video in honor of John and his life-long attachment to the college of Our Lady.

Music has the power to invoke strong emotions and memories. Perhaps it’s a memory of your first kiss or the birth of your first child. Perhaps it’s going to a ballgame with your dad or your first dance at your wedding.

I can assure you that from now to the day I die when I hear the Notre Dame Victory March I will think of my friend John.

How Obama Bamboozled Notre Dame

“How could this great land of plenty produce too few people in the last 30 years? Here is the brutal truth that no one dares to mention: We’re too few because too many of our babies have been killed. Over 45 million since Roe v. Wade in 1973. If those 45 million children had lived, today they would be defending our country, they would be filling our jobs, they would be paying into Social Security. Still, we watch as 3,700 babies are killed every single day in America. It is unbelievable that a nation under God would allow this.” — Former Democratic Senator Zell Miller

Consider Catholicism’s most prominent academic leader, the Rev. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame. Jenkins took a serious risk in sponsoring Obama’s 2009 honorary degree and commencement address — which promised a “sensible” approach to the conscience clause. Jenkins now complains, “This is not the kind of ‘sensible’ approach the president had in mind when he spoke here.” Obama has made Jenkins — and other progressive Catholic allies — look easily duped.

At the time of Obama’s address at Notre Dame, the icon of Catholic-based education in the United States I was furious. I saw this move by Fr. Jenkins as pandering to his big progressive, left-wing Chicago donors and nothing more than throwing his Catholic principles overboard in favor of his progressive politics and his Chicago donors.

Well, yesterday Jenkins and other Catholic progressives finally saw an unmasked version of Obama. As the implementation of ObamaCare rolls into high gear, we’ve been given insight into how it will be implemented in general. On January 20, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it would not exempt health plans provided by non-profit religious employers from the requirement to provide “contraceptive services.”

In politics, the timing is often the message. On Jan. 20 — three days before the annual March for Life — the Obama administration announced its final decision that Catholic universities, hospitals and charities will be compelled to pay for health insurance that covers sterilization, contraceptives and abortifacients.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the former governor of Kansas, a Catholic, and supporter of the famous abortionist Dr. Tiller announced:

“Today the department is announcing that the final rule on preventive health services will ensure that women with health insurance coverage will have access to the full range of the Institute of Medicine’s recommended preventive services, including all FDA -approved forms of contraception. Women will not have to forego these services because of expensive co-pays or deductibles, or because an insurance plan doesn’t include contraceptive services.”

The category of “all FDA-approved forms of contraception” includes the abortifacients like the “morning after pill.” At the same time I couldn’t help but note that the group of health plans provided by “non-profit religious employers” who do not support contraception winnows the field down rather quickly to those provided by either the Catholic Church or one of its social service or medical subsidiaries.

Now, undeniably, the church milquetoast of past decades that refused to discipline pro-abortion Catholics allowed the impression to form that while the hierarchy may protest, eventually it will go along to get along with a Democratic Party that was once home to most Catholics.

Obama's problem today is that not only is he forcing the Church to violate her conscience, he dissed the highest prelate in America.

In November, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, held what he describes as an "extraordinarily friendly" meeting with Obama at the White House.

The president assured the archbishop of his respect for the Church, and the archbishop came away persuaded Obama would never force the Church to adopt any policy that would violate her principles.

Ten days ago, Obama sandbagged the archbishop

He informed Cardinal-designate Dolan by phone that, with the sole concession of the Church being given an extra year, to August 2013, to comply, the new policy, as set down by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, will be imposed. All social and educational institutions of the Catholic Church will offer health insurance covering birth control, or face fines.

"In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences," said Archbishop Dolan, who went on:

"To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their health care is literally unconscionable. This represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty."

Where do Obama and Sebelius get the power to do this?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law on March 23, 2010, the colloquial name for which is "Obamacare."

NARAL Pro-Choice America is celebrating the new policy. Planned Parenthood's president, Cecile Richards, calls it a "health care issue . based on what's best for women's health." Others have argued that many Catholic women practice birth control.

But that Catholics choose to ignore doctrine does not justify the U.S. government imposing on Catholic institutions a policy that violates Catholic teaching.

The Democrat party has been anti-Catholic in its political positions since George McGovern ran for president yet the priesthood and hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church in America tend to hail from Democrat constituencies. On the one hand the Magisterium is teaching very traditional social values while on the other it is embracing without even a hint of credulity every lefty scheme that comes down the pike.

For instance, in 1983, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops declared nuclear weapons to be immoral and weren’t terribly fond of deterrence either. By 1988 they had decided SDI was destabilizing as was the US linking a Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan to future arms treaties. When communist terrorists were trying to create a people’s paradise in El Salvador, many of our bishops ignored what was happening to personal liberty under the Sandinistas in Nicaragua as they stumbled over themselves to create the “sanctuary movement”, which was one of the offshoots of the so-called “Liberation Theology’, something Rome condemned.

Without putting too fine a point on it but there was no daylight between the position of the Magisterium and that of the Kremlin on these issues.

Not that they are all commies or anything. But there were MOVEMENTS out there that had Pete Seeger singing protest songs and James Earl Jones and Ed Asner at their rallies. How could you not be in favor of these things?

Similar stampedes took place on global warming and immigration.

This is where the cognitive dissonance comes in. When given the choice between seeming to endorse a religious conservative for office (like a Mike Huckabee or Rick Santorum) and seeming to endorse a sacrilegious leftist there is no limit to the contortions a large share of our bishops won’t put themselves through to help the lefty. To wit: by the black letter of the Catechism of the Catholic Church supporting abortion is forbidden. If a public figure does so this failure is compounded by “scandal”, that is, an action that could cause others to question their faith. The fact that there are very few bishops in the nation who have taken steps to discipline pro-abort advocates and politicians especially when they proclaim themselves to be devout like a Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, or Kathleen Sebelius.

The Catholic Church has taken a rather strong stand in opposing the Obamatimthumb.php administration's requirement that the church provide contraceptive medicine and treatments as a required component of ObamaCare. Apparently the administration is in accord with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in shrugging off concerns about the "conscience thing" that has forced the Catholic Church to denounce this policy from the pulpit during Mass on this past Sunday all over America.

The government is requiring the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, and the congregants who are devout Catholics, to fund such contraceptive medicine for all lay employees of Catholic grammar schools, high schools, colleges and universities and for all of the Catholic Church's hospitals and any other church operation that employs lay people across the nation, regardless of their strong opposition on religious grounds.

The Church's stance on this issue is admirable, but not nearly dramatic enough; nor is it something that Obama and his merry band of Liberal-Progressive-Democrats would worry about. Right now they can just give a collective yawn, and assume that Catholics, a traditional Democrat voting block, will continue to vote for anyone with (D) after their name. This response is particularly valid when they know that the IRS and the Department of Justice would jump all over the church if there was a "Don't Vote for Obama" sermon given from the pulpit. No church of any denominations is allowed to make such overt political endorsements under the threat of losing their tax-exempt status.

The Church has a way to seriously threaten the administration and still not lose their tax exempt status. I'm surprised that it hasn't already been voiced somewhere in the media, considering how disruptive it would be to the entire nation.

The Catholic Church maintains the largest private education organization in the country. Currently there are 1,489,000 primary school students within the Catholic school system, and an additional 516,500 secondary school students. That is a total, for those of you without a calculator handy, 2,065,500 kids in Catholic schools.

Suppose, just suppose, those two million plus kids were told that in the near future the school would be closing because the Church refused to remain open and be forced to fund contraceptive services for the lay faculty. It would be a matter of conscience, and who could say that it was anything but adherence to their faith? Even Jeremiah Wright would be hard pressed to say that their actions were not a matter of conscience.

The parents of those two million kids would be up in arms, though. And to be honest, there would be very few parents who, in addition to paying school taxes for someone else's kid to go to public school, dip into their own funds to pay even more to educate their kids in the beliefs and morals attendant to going to a religious school without strongly held views themselves. It wouldn't be likely that those parents who spend a fair amount of money to send their kids to such a school would disagree strongly with the Pope.

So who would they take their anger out on? Probably not the local priests and nuns. Probably not the local bishop. Politicians? Well they are local, they are available, and ultimately they are the proximate cause of the schools shutting down.

You know who else would be up in arms? The local board of education. The most recent statistic for the cost of education for grades kindergarten through high-school indicates that it costs $11,000 per student per year for public schooling. And with over two million kids leaving parochial schools all over the nation, local school districts would have to supplement their budgets by an aggregate cost of $22.7 billion annually. That's just under twenty-three billion dollars. That's billion with a "B." That's how much more the local school boards, state governments and Washington will have to shell out to educate these additional millions of students.

On top of that, the Church could also advise the governments at the local and state levels that effective on some date in the near future, every Catholic hospital will stop accepting patients.

Now in addition to the nearly twenty-three billion that will be needed for the children that will overwhelm the school system, where will the money come to fund hospital expansions, build new school facilities or buy additional school buses to name just a few ancillary, but costly, expenses? Where will the money come from to fund additional unemployment benefits for laid off teachers, nurses, lab technicians, maintenance workers, and so on?

That would an effective way to get the government to understand how seriously Catholics take the "conscience thing", don't you think?

While I do not recommend any of these moves it is about time the Catholic Church get off their left-wing, progressive butts and start speaking out and informing the public of what would happen it they took these actions due to the mandates of ObamaCare, something they supported like Bart Stupak (D-MI) did when he threw off his professed Catholic principles to support ObamaCare, some I hope he regrets today. This is the reason he refused to run for Congress again.

On January 19th Pope Benedict XVI warned a group of Catholic bishops from the United States in a speech at the Vatican last week that some cultural trends in the U.S. are “a threat not just to Christian faith, but also to humanity itself.”

The pope made the observation, as he addressed a group of bishops from the mid-Atlantic region, including Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., and Archbishop Timothy C. Broglio, who leads the archdiocese for the military services. The bishops were in Rome for their “ad limina” visits, which they are required to periodically make to the Vatican to meet with the pope.

The U.S. Catholic bishops have been in an escalating conflict with President Barack Obama and his administration over a number of administration efforts that curtail religious freedom in the United States. Among these are the argument the administration is making in federal court likening opposition to same-sex unions to racial discrimination and the ObamaCare regulation recently issued by the Department of Health and Human Services that requires all health insurance plans in the United States to cover sterilizations and artificial contraceptives, including those that induce abortions. Because the ObamaCare law also requires all American to buy health insurance, the new HHS regulation presents Catholics with the choice of either acting against the law or against the moral teachings of their church.

In the same address, the pope noted that: “Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion.”

In his letter to the bishops the Pope stated:

“Dear Brother Bishops,

I greet all of you with fraternal affection and I pray that this pilgrimage of spiritual renewal and deepened communion will confirm you in faith and commitment to your task as Pastors of the Church in the United States of America. As you know, it is my intention in the course of this year to reflect with you on some of the spiritual and cultural challenges of the new evangelization.

One of the most memorable aspects of my Pastoral Visit to the United States was the opportunity it afforded me to reflect on America’s historical experience of religious freedom, and specifically the relationship between religion and culture.

At the heart of every culture, whether perceived or not, is a consensus about the nature of reality and the moral good, and thus about the conditions for human flourishing. In America, that consensus, as enshrined in your nation’s founding documents, was grounded in a worldview shaped not only by faith but a commitment to certain ethical principles deriving from nature and nature’s God. Today that consensus has eroded significantly in the face of powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such.”

The letter continues:

“The Church’s witness, then, is of its nature public: she seeks to convince by proposing rational arguments in the public square. The legitimate separation of Church and State cannot be taken to mean that the Church must be silent on certain issues, nor that the State may choose not to engage, or be engaged by, the voices of committed believers in determining the values which will shape the future of the nation.

In the light of these considerations, it is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres.

The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion.

Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.”

One of the things the devil works hard on is to convince people he does not exist and he is doing a good job with Catholics. This is why I, a baptized Catholic and the product of a Catholic grade school education, gave up on the Catholic Church. When I see prominent Catholics such as Rev. Jenkins pandering to left-wing progressives and anti-Christians like Obama, Pelosi, and Sebelius I find myself wondering just what the Catholic Church stands for.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Republicans Must Get The Keystone XL Pipeline Underway

"The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse." — James Madison

Last night the Republicans had another one of those he said, she said useless debates. Romney and Gingrich spent most of the time throwing barbs as each other while Santorum and Paul stood by like wooden Indians. Once again policy and vision took a back seat.

One of the things that has been least addressed in these debates is the Keystone XL Pipeline. With the exception of a sentence by Newt Gingrich several debates one of Obama’s biggest failings is his squashing the approval of a 7 billion dollar project that will create 20,000 good paying jobs and will bring much needed Canadian oil to the refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.

With our campaigner-in-chief’s veto of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to sections of the United States, President Barack Obama made what left-wing columnist Joe Klein today called perhaps the worst political mistake of his entire presidency. After all, the scheduled pipeline meant, above all, the potential for perhaps 20,000 jobs immediately and many more in future years.

On January 19th Washington Post, economics columnist Robert Samuleson spelled out the many advantages of the Keystone pipeline. It will not have a major impact on global-warming emissions, as the environmental activist community claims would be the effect if the pipeline were to be approved. Indeed, should Canada instead build a pipeline to the Pacific for Asian export, eventually shipped by tanker to China, there will be even more emissions and the risk of oil spills.

Samuleson stated:

“President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico is an act of national insanity. It isn’t often that a president makes a decision that has no redeeming virtues and — beyond the symbolism — won’t even advance the goals of the groups that demanded it. All it tells us is that Obama is so obsessed with his reelection that, through some sort of political calculus, he believes that placating his environmental supporters will improve his chances.”

But more importantly, rejection means worse relations with our nearby good neighbor, as well as perhaps the loss of thousands of new desperately needed jobs that would help rejuvenate the economy. As Samuleson writes, no matter whether there are less or more than the 20,000 some claim, “it’s in the thousands and thus important in a country hungering for work.” And the pipeline is exactly the type of infrastructure project Obama supposedly favors.

A January 18th editorial in the Washington Post stated:

“Environmentalists have fought Keystone XL furiously. In November, the State Department tried to put off the politically dangerous issue until after this year’s election, saying that the project, which had undergone several years of vetting, required further study. But Republicans in Congress unwisely upped the political gamesmanship by mandating that State make a decision by Feb. 21. Following Wednesday’s rejection, TransCanada promised to reapply — so the administration has again punted the final decision until after the election.

We almost hope this was a political call because, on the substance, there should be no question. Without the pipeline, Canada would still export its bitumen — with long-term trends in the global market, it’s far too valuable to keep in the ground — but it would go to China. And, as a State Department report found, U.S. refineries would still import low-quality crude — just from the Middle East. Stopping the pipeline, then, wouldn’t do anything to reduce global warming, but it would almost certainly require more oil to be transported across oceans in tankers.”

Moreover, by vetoing it, Obama helped our competitor China, which is wondering “how the crazy Americans could repudiate such a huge supply of nearby energy.” Yes, it means we are still going to be dependent upon oil. But let’s face it, Obama’s big green energy push has gone nowhere, as symbolized by the wasted heavy investment in Solyndra and the hype about the electric cars that Americans have ignored completely. Shouldn’t our country have more trade in oil with Canada, rather than have to turn to the Saudis, and to Venezuela, or to other potential and current enemies?

The editorial endorsement of Obama’s veto by the editors of the left-wing New York Times (I have purposefully called the paper “left-wing” rather than “liberal,” since it is a more accurate description of its editorial slant) provides some insight as to what lies behind the veto by Obama. Noting that the State Department has primary jurisdiction over the proposed 1700 mile pipeline, it notes that it would “cross through ecologically sensitive areas in the Midwest.” Thus it favors a new “comprehensive environmental review.”

Keep in mind that reviews and investigations had been carried out, and none of them had concluded that the pipeline posed any real danger. The editors also make charges answered effectively by Samuelson in his column, such as the false claim that it would “cause far more greenhouse gas emissions” than if it was not built. They also argue that much of the refined oil would “be destined for foreign export.” On this issue, Samuelson counters that “this would be a good thing.” The exports would go to Latin America, keep refining jobs in the U.S., and reduce our trade deficit in oil.

So what, then, explains the president’s veto of the project? Here are my thoughts on the answer to this conundrum.

Recall the article appearing a few weeks ago, noting that the Democratic Party has decided to write off the votes of the white working-class in the 2012 election, which it has judged is going to overwhelmingly go to the Republicans. Instead, it has decided to try and increase the vote of the suburban upper-middle class and coastal elites, as well as the vote of college students who had been so enthusiastic about Obama in 2008. Without such an increase to make up for the loss of working-class votes (once a Democratic mainstay), the Democratic policy wonks believe Obama will lose.

On the campuses, and among East and West coast types, environmental activism is the big cause of the day. Unlike working-class voters and even the unions that represent them and put jobs and the economy as their first concern, they like that their hero Al Gore puts nature and the environment first, and always paints a more deadly picture about the condition of the earth than is warranted by the facts. A prime example of this is the column on Huffington Post by the actor-activist Robert Redford, who praises Obama for “standing up” to Big Oil.

In Redford’s eyes, it’s all about Big Oil lobbyists paying off members of Congress to vote for the folly of an environmentally disastrous pipeline. The actor has not one word about the wide breadth of support for the pipeline, including from the AFL-CIO unions that support Obama on almost everything else. But Redford is precisely the kind of Obama supporter whose votes the administration is courting and that they deem as essential for a 2012 victory at the polls.

Killing the pipeline would be financially beneficial to billionaire Warren Buffett, a strong supporter of President Obama. Buffett’s holdings include Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC, the railroad company that would transport oil through the region in the absence of the new pipeline. I have seen the BNSF trains hauling 100 tank cars loaded with refined oil and ethanol across Nebraska and Iowa.

So if the unions supported the pipeline, as they did, why are they so silent2012-01-20-digest-cartoon-2 now that the president has turned against a proposal they backed? The answer is that I suspect a private deal was made last week: The unions would downgrade their disappointment at the veto of Keystone XL, in return for the president unconstitutionally using his powers to override the Constitution and put in pro-labor recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the same board that tried to penalize Boeing for wanting to move its new facility to South Carolina from the state of Washington.

For the unions, a pro-left-wing NLRB is more important for Big Labor to attain all of its goals even if it hurts the spread of corporations to a more hospitable climate where new jobs would be created. This kind of clout as well as promises to support other labor demands that Congress might not sanction but which the president would try to implement by executive fiat are more important in their judgment than having the pipeline built at this moment.

And, in the process, Obama would try to energize the left-wing base in Hollywood and the campuses, which care little about the needs of the working-class and the unions, but respond with passion to the clarion calls of Al Gore, Robert Redford, and Laurie David.

So the president makes his move, and leaves the pipeline for the future while instead he makes his stand in an orchestrated speech to be given at Disney World’s “Main Street,” as far away as possible from any real American main street, and where the ghost of Walt Disney is turning over in his grave to learn what his beloved theme park is being used for.

The president, I think, will need a lot more to win next November than pandering to an invited Florida audience at the nation’s number one dream factory after those in Hollywood.

Mark Alexander writes in the Patriot Post:

“The interesting wrinkle is that Barack Obama, still firmly beholden to envirofascists, continues proving himself greasier than even the pipeline's oil, by giving Congress the Heisman stiff-arm (more accurately, the stiff finger) on its law requiring him to make a decision on Keystone. Since the rejection is technically a "rejection," the Executive Clown Act has technically "decided," fulfilling the letter of the law. However, since the door remains open for reapplication pending development of the alternate route, the rejection is really just semantics, not substance. In other words, Obama voted "present" yet again.

Of course, this Road Runner-vs-Wile-E-Coyote escape perfectly highlights how Republican leaders in Congress continually demonstrate their keen ability to never blow an opportunity to blow an opportunity. The vain hope that caving on the 60-day "payroll tax holiday" bill in exchange for a bill provision that would force the president to make an up-or-down call on Keystone XL proved once again how pathetically malleable these "leaders" are in Obama's hands. Now if Republicans want to force Obama into a decision on the new application, they will have to do so through yet another bill -- one unlikely to pass through both chambers and be signed by the president without more concessions and unchecked Democrat spending, if history is any guide.

All of these antics have underwhelmed a nonplussed Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who will travel to China next month to discuss "Northern Gateway" options to export oil to China in light of continued U.S. stall tactics (so Canadian oil will likely end up in China rather than America). Harper noted that the U.S. should prefer to deal with a "friendly neighbor" to help meet its energy needs and to create thousands of jobs. Meanwhile, it's obvious we're in an election year, as the administration just released a report touting its ardent support for natural gas "fracking" and fossil fuels. Apparently, however, the Hope-&-Changelings have lost their fracking minds, because for the past three years they have done nothing but try to destroy these industries, from $40 billion tax hikes to EPA over-regulation and meddling to Interior Department foot-dragging on permits. In any case, one thing is for sure: this is yet another Keystone Cop Out.”

This issue should be exploited by the Republican candidates in lieu of their constant bickering over who paid more of less taxes and who worked as a consultant for this firm or that organization.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience.” — Albert Camus

I have not written a book review since I was in high school and then I did not like to it because I did not like reading the book. Most of the books we were assigned in our 11th grade English literature class I found dull and uninspiring so I would get the Classic Comics version and use that as the basis for my report.

That was then and this is now. After reading Mark Levine’s Liberty and Tyranny I became a Levine fan so I was anxious to download his latest book Ameritopia to my newly purchased iPad. Boy, am I glad I did.

Ameritopia is not an easy or a fast read. It’s like the Bible in the sense that you have to read a bit and allow it to germinate in your mind. This is book loaded with political philosophy ranging from Plato’s Republic to the influence of Charles de Montesquieu on the framers of or Deceleration of Independence and Constitution.

Like Liberty and Tyranny Ameritopia is a well-researched and accurate book with adequate end notes to back up Levine’s writings. Ameritopia should be required reading in all high schools (if the students can read). There are more facts and details than I've seen in any other source.

Ameritopia is divided into three parts. The first part delves into the philosophy of governance and the masterminds push towards a utopian society. Its chapters are titled:

Chapter 1: The Tyranny of Utopia

Chapter 2: Plato’s Republic and the Perfect Society

Chapter 3: Thomas More’s Utopia and Radical Egalitarianism

Chapter 4: Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan and the All-Powerful State

Chapter 5: Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto and Class Struggle

In Part two Levine defines Americanism and the philosophers who most influenced the Framers. It chapters are:

Chapter 6: John Locke and the Nature of Man

Chapter 7: The Influence of John Locke on the Founders

Chapter 8: Charles de Montesquieu and Republican Government

Chapter 9: The Influence of Montesquieu on the Framers

Chapter 10: Alexis de Tocqueville and Democracy in America

In part three Levine examines the effects of utopianism in America and how we have drifted away from the intent of the Framers over the past 100 years beginning with Woodrow Wilson. Its chapters are:

Chapter 11:Post-Constitutional America

Chapter 12: Ameritopia.

Levine ends the book with an epilogue and 22 pages of end notes.

In the last chapter Levine wraps up all of the political philosophy in the book by showing how the quest for the utopian society has brought us to the brink of losing our Constitution and our freedom. After reading the first 11 chapters you will understand with absolute clarity what Levine is talking about.

In his Epilogue Levine writes:

“MY PREMISE, IN THE first sentence of the first chapter of this book, is this: “Tyranny, broadly defined, is the use of power to dehumanize the individual and delegitimize his nature. Political utopianism is tyranny disguised as a desirable, workable, and even paradisiacal governing ideology.”

Plato’s Republic, More’s Utopia, Hobbes’s Leviathan, and Marx’s workers’ paradise are utopias that are anti-individual and anti-individualism. For the utopians, modern and olden, the individual is one-dimensional—selfish. On his own, he has little moral value. Contrarily, authoritarianism is defended as altruistic and masterminds as socially conscious. Thus endless interventions in the individual’s life and manipulation of his conditions are justified as not only necessary and desirable but noble governmental pursuits. This false dialectic is at the heart of the problem we face today.

In truth, man is naturally independent and self-reliant, which are attributes that contribute to his own well-being and survival, and the well-being and survival of a civil society. He is also a social being who is charitable and compassionate. History abounds with examples, as do the daily lives of individuals. To condemn individualism as the utopians do is to condemn the very foundation of the civil society and the American founding and endorse, wittingly or unwittingly, oppression. Karl Popper saw it as an attack on Western civilization. “The emancipation of the individual was indeed the great spiritual revolution which had led to the breakdown of tribalism and to the rise of democracy.”1 Moreover, Judaism and Christianity, among other religions, teach the altruism of the individual.

Of course, this is not to defend anarchy. Quite the opposite. It is to endorse the magnificence of the American founding. The American founding was an exceptional exercise in collective human virtue and wisdom—a culmination of thousands of years of experience, knowledge, reason, and faith. The Declaration of Independence is a remarkable societal proclamation of human rights, brilliant in its insight, clarity, and conciseness. The Constitution of the United States is an extraordinary matrix of governmental limits, checks, balances, and divisions, intended to secure for posterity the individual’s sovereignty as proclaimed in the Declaration.

This is the grand heritage to which every American citizen is born. It has been characterized as “the American Dream,” “the American experiment,” and “American exceptionalism.” The country has been called “the Land of Opportunity,” “the Land of Milk and Honey,” and “a Shining City on a Hill.” It seems unimaginable that a people so endowed by Providence, and the beneficiaries of such unparalleled human excellence, would choose or tolerate a course that ensures their own decline and enslavement, for a government unleashed on the civil society is a government that destroys the nature of man.

On September 17, 1787, at the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Delegate James Wilson, on behalf of his ailing colleague from Pennsylvania, Benjamin Franklin, read aloud Franklin’s speech to the convention in favor of adopting the Constitution. Among other things, Franklin said that the Constitution “is likely to be well administered for a Course of Years, and can only end in Despotism as other Forms have done before it, when the People shall become corrupt as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other.…”2

Have we “become corrupt”? Are we in need of “despotic government”? It appears that some modern-day “leading lights” think so, as they press their fanatical utopianism. For example, Richard Stengel, managing editor of Time magazine, considers the Constitution a utopian expedient. He wrote, “If the Constitution was intended to limit the federal government, it sure doesn’t say so.… The framers weren’t afraid of a little messiness. Which is another reason we shouldn’t be so delicate about changing the Constitution or reinterpreting it.”3 It is beyond dispute that the Framers sought to limit the scope of federal power and that the Constitution does so. Moreover, constitutional change was not left to the masterminds but deliberately made difficult to ensure the broad participation and consent of the body politic.

Richard Cohen, a columnist for the Washington Post, explained that the Constitution is an amazing document, as long as it is mostly ignored, particularly the limits it imposes on the federal government. He wrote, “This fatuous infatuation with the Constitution, particularly the 10th Amendment, is clearly the work of witches, wiccans, and wackos. It has nothing to do with America’s real problems and, if taken too seriously, would cause an economic and political calamity. The Constitution is a wonderful document, quite miraculous actually, but only because it has been wisely adapted to changing times. To adhere to the very word of its every clause hardly is respectful to the Founding Fathers. They were revolutionaries who embraced change. That’s how we got here.”4 Of course, without the promise of the Tenth Amendment, the Constitution would not have been ratified, since the states insisted on retaining most of their sovereignty. Furthermore, the Framers clearly did not embrace the utopian change demanded by its modern adherents.

Lest we ignore history, the no-less-eminent American revolutionary and founder Thomas Jefferson explained, “On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.”5

Thomas L. Friedman, a columnist for the New York Times and three-time Pulitzer Prize recipient, is even more forthright in his dismissal of constitutional republicanism and advocacy for utopian tyranny. Complaining of the slowness of American society in adopting sweeping utopian policies, he wrote, “There is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we have in America today. One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century.”6 Of course, China remains a police state, where civil liberties are nonexistent, despite its experiment with government-managed pseudo-capitalism. Friedman’s declaration underscores not only the necessary intolerance utopians have for constitutionalism, but their infatuation with totalitarianism.

It is neither prudential nor virtuous to downplay or dismiss the obvious—that America has already transformed into Ameritopia. The centralization and consolidation of power in a political class that insulates its agenda in entrenched experts and administrators, whose authority is also self-perpetuating, is apparent all around us and growing more formidable. The issue is whether the ongoing transformation can be restrained and then reversed, or whether it will continue with increasing zeal, passing from a soft tyranny to something more oppressive. Hayek observed that “priding itself on having built its world as if it had designed it, and blaming itself for not having designed it better, humankind is now to set out to do just that. The aim … is no less than to effect a complete redesigning of our traditional morals, law, and language, and on this basis to stamp out the older order and supposedly inexorable, unjustifiable conditions that prevent the institution of reason, fulfillment, true freedom, and justice.”7 But the outcome of this adventurism, if not effectively stunted, is not in doubt.

In the end, can mankind stave off the powerful and dark forces of utopian tyranny? While John Locke was surely right about man’s nature and the civil society, he was also right about that which threatens them. Locke, Montesquieu, many of the philosophers of the European Enlightenment, and the Founders, among others, knew that the history of organized government is mostly a history of a relative few and perfidious men co-opting, coercing, and eventually repressing the many through the centralization and consolidation of authority.

Ironically and tragically, it seems that liberty and the constitution established to preserve it are not only essential to the individual’s well-being and happiness, but also an opportunity for the devious to exploit them and connive against them. Man has yet to devise a lasting institutional answer to this puzzle. The best that can be said is that all that really stands between the individual and tyranny is a resolute and sober people. It is the people, after all, around whom the civil society has grown and governmental institutions have been established. At last, the people are responsible for upholding the civil society and republican government, to which their fate is moored.

The essential question is whether, in America, the people’s psychology has been so successfully warped, the individual’s spirit so thoroughly trounced, and the civil society’s institutions so effectively overwhelmed that revival is possible. Have too many among us already surrendered or been conquered? Can the people overcome the constant and relentless influences of ideological indoctrination, economic manipulation, and administrative coerciveness, or have they become hopelessly entangled in and dependent on a ubiquitous federal government.”

Take a look around at the sad state of our nation. In the 100 years since the self-proclaimed "progressive" Woodrow Wilson was President of these United States Americans have slowly but surely been ceding their rights and liberties to the state. The "masterminds" in our government, those who are so cock-sure that they know what is best for the rest of us, have been systemically consolidating their power and building a mammoth bureaucracy designed to control nearly every aspect of our lives. Then in 2008 the American people elected Barack Obama who promised to "fundamentally change America". Obama has taken the "statist" agenda to a whole new level and most Americans have become increasingly alarmed at the direction this country is headed in. The battle lines have been drawn and the 2012 election will no doubt prove pivotal in the ultimate direction our nation will take. Those of us who favor the traditional American values of hard work, freedom of speech and free enterprise are going to have to articulate our case in the best possible way to a wider audience of our fellow Americans in order to win the day. Lawyer, author and syndicated radio talk show host Mark R. Levin has given us all a huge assist in this regard with the release of his powerful new book "Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America". Drawing on the writings of the great philosophers on both ends of the political spectrum Levin provides his readers with a plethora of devastating arguments against the direction Obama and the progressives in both political parties are taking this nation. It is a truly compelling read!

I think that it is fair to say that most Americans have only a passing knowledge of the writings of philosophers such as Plato, Thomas More, Thomas Hobbes, Karl Marx, John Locke, Charles de Montesquieu and Alexis de Tocqueville. Some would attribute this to the "dumbing down of America" that has been inexorably taking place in our schools over the past half-century or so. But the truth is that all of these individuals as well as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels have exerted a great deal of influence over American political thought in the 235 years of our nation's existence. Plato, More, Hobbes and of course Karl Max all come down on the side of "collectivist" or "utopian" states whereby individuals must necessarily become subservient to the interests of the state. In such an environment individuals "must be managed and suppressed by masterminds for the greater good." There is no tolerance for individual self-interest or even self-preservation. A person's labor and property belong to the state or are controlled by the state. Citing lengthy excerpts from the extensive writings of each of these individuals, Levin points out the obvious flaws in this line of thinking. Mr. Levin succeeds in arming his readers with the ammunition they will need to refute the arguments offered by the leftists and statists in this country on a wide variety of issues like universal health care, the progressive income tax and an ever-expanding and intrusive federal government. To paraphrase an old boxing expression "in this corner we have the Barack Obama's, Nancy Pelosi's, Harry Reid’s and Chuck Schumer's of the world."

Part Two of "Ameritopia" hones in on the writings of John Locke, Charles de Montesquieu, and Alexis de Tocqueville who all champion a much smaller, less intrusive government. John Locke in particular had an enormous influence on our Founding Fathers as they went about the rough and tumble business of fashioning the Constitution. It is an indisputable fact that for most of the history of the world mankind has been ruled by despots and repressive governments. The Founding Fathers wanted something much different. John Locke wrote that "laws made by men and governments without the consent of the government are illegitimate and no man is bound to them." Regarding personal property rights Locke explained that there is always going to be an unequal distribution of property resulting from the manner in which a man applies his labor. This is just plain common sense. "As much land as a man tills, plants, improves, cultivates and can use the product of, so much is his property. He by his labor does, as it were, enclose it from the common. He gave it to the use of the industrious and rational; not to the fancy or covetousness of the quarrelsome and contentious." Amen! Meanwhile, another major influence on the thinking of the Founding Fathers was the French philosopher Charles de Montesquieu. Montesquieu warned of "the dangers of a republican government attempting to transform a civil society — including superseding the effects of religion, family, commerce, traditions, customs, mores etc. through legal coercion." Sounds like a page from the Saul Alinsky handbook does it not? Finally, Montesquieu goes on to observe that "There are two sorts of tyranny: a real one, which consists of the violence of the government, and one of opinion, which is felt when those who govern establish things that run counter to a nation's way of thinking." Many of us would argue that this is precisely what has been going on for the past three years. This tyranny is bolstered by today’s main stream media, a media comprised of indoctrinated “journalists” devoted to the progressive cause.

In the final section of "Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America" Mark Levin explains how the statists have advanced their agenda over the past eight decades and why the 2012 elections stand as a watershed in American history. The choices we face have never been clearer. If you are one of those people still sitting on the fence I urge you to read "Ameritopia". Meanwhile, if you are someone who is largely in agreement with the principles espoused by our Founding Fathers I would wholeheartedly encourage you to pick up a copy of "Ameritopia" as well. Mark Levin's compelling book will help to crystallize the arguments in your mind as your attempt to educate your friends, relatives and neighbors in the coming months leading up to the election. Kudos to Mark Levin for an extremely well thought-out and well-executed project. Very highly recommended!

You can preview the various sections of the book by clicking here.

The State Of Confusion Speech

“Utopianism has long promoted the idea of a paradisiacal existence and advanced concepts of pseudo “ideal” societies in which a heroic despot, a benevolent sovereign, or an enlightened oligarchy claims the ability and authority to provide or all the needs and fulfill all the wants of the individual – in exchange for his abject servitude” — Mark Levine, Ameritopia.

Last night the utopian-in-chief, Barack Obama gave his third state of the union address. Like the previous two SOTU address this 6,988 word campaign speech was filled with more government programs and intrusions in our lives that the menu in a Chinese restaurant. And like any utopian dictator it was loaded with the personal pronoun Obama loves the best –“I”.

John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

Barack Obama’s State of the Union is all about letting you know that government is going to do everything for you and when it can’t keep its promises, it will take from the successful and give to you.

1000 days without the Democrats passing a budget, the President never really even brought it up last night. Then there’s healthcare. The President spent two sentences – a mere 44 words – talking about his greatest legacy, now headed before the Supreme Court, 5 justices from which sat in front of him last night. The first reference didn’t come until 39 minutes into his speech. I thought he was proud of it.

The first half of his speech was about centralized power in Washington and the second half was about devolving power to the states and deregulation — trying to be all things to all people. But his actual proposals were one size fits all federal fiat with offerings to unionization and swing states. He must be really worried about North Carolina given how many shout outs that state got.

President Obama, in his State of the Union address, was light on the details of his laundry list, but at essence embraced the title of Food Stamp President that Newt Gingrich has given him. He wants a public and business community dependent on Washington. He wants a devalued high school diploma and an over-valued college degree priced out of reach of the average person except through government run programs and subsidies.

The happy class warrior is off to ensure fairness not at the starting line, but by punishing those who cross the finish line first or with more. But “teachers matter”, he got Osama Bin Laden, and kids won’t be able to drop out of school anymore — they’ll just clog the system.

Immediately after Obama’s speech the Associated Press published a Fact Check List:

President Obama's array of plans in his State of the Union speech was light on a key piece of context -- namely, that his hands are so tied until after the election that it is doubtful many if any of them can be done in the remainder of his term. There can be little more than wishful thinking behind his call to end oil industry subsidies -- something he could not get through a Democratic Congress, much less today's divided Congress, much less in this election year.

A look at Obama's rhetoric Tuesday night and how it fits with the facts and political realities of the day:

OBAMA: "We have subsidized oil companies for a century. That's long enough. It's time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that's rarely been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that's never been more promising."

THE FACTS: This is at least Obama's third run at stripping subsidies from the oil industry. Back when fellow Democrats formed the House and Senate majorities, he sought $36.5 billion in tax increases on oil and gas companies over the next decade, but Congress largely ignored the request. He called again to end such tax breaks in last year's State of the Union speech. And he's now doing it again, despite facing a wall of opposition from Republicans who want to spur domestic oil and gas production and oppose tax increases generally.

OBAMA: "Our health care law relies on a reformed private market, not a government program."

THE FACTS: That's only half true. About half of the more than 30 million uninsured Americans expected to gain coverage through the health care law will be enrolled in a government program. Medicaid, the federal-state program for low-income people, will be expanded starting in 2014 to cover childless adults living near the poverty line.

The other half will be enrolled in private health plans through new state-based insurance markets. But many of them will be receiving federal subsidies to make their premiums more affordable. And that's a government program, too.

Starting in 2014 most Americans will be required to carry health coverage, either through an employer, by buying their own plan, or through a government program.

OBAMA: "Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that's built to last - an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values."

THE FACTS: Economists do see manufacturing growth as a necessary component of any U.S. recovery. U.S. manufacturing output climbed 0.9 percent in December, the biggest gain since December 2010. Yet Obama's apparent vision of a nation once again propelled by manufacturing -- a vision shared by many Republicans -- may already have slipped into the past.

Over generations, the economy has become ever more driven by services; not since 1975 has the U.S. had a surplus in merchandise trade, which covers trade in goods, including manufactured and farm goods. About 90 percent of American workers are employed in the service sector, a profound shift in the nature of the workforce over many decades.

The overall trade deficit through the first 11 months of 2011 ran at an annual rate of nearly $600 billion, up almost 12 percent from the year before.

OBAMA: "The Taliban's momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home."

THE FACTS: Obama is more sanguine about progress in Afghanistan than his own intelligence apparatus. The latest National Intelligence Estimate on Afghanistan warns that the Taliban will grow stronger, using fledgling talks with the U.S. to gain credibility and stall until U.S. troops leave, while continuing to fight for more territory. The classified assessment, described to The Associated Press by officials who have seen it, says the Afghan government hasn't been able to establish credibility with its people, and predicts the Taliban and warlords will largely control the countryside.

OBAMA: "On the day I took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse. Some even said we should let it die. With a million jobs at stake, I refused to let that happen. In exchange for help, we demanded responsibility. We got workers and automakers to settle their differences. We got the industry to retool and restructure. Today, General Motors is back on top as the world's number one automaker. Chrysler has grown faster in the U.S. than any major car company. Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants and factories. And together, the entire industry added nearly 160,000 jobs."

THE FACTS: He left out some key details. The bailout of General Motors and Chrysler began under Republican President George W. Bush. Obama picked up the ball, earmarked more money, and finished the job. But Ford, which Obama mentions as well, never asked for a federal bailout and never got one. It's managed to get along on its own. Also, as part of its restructuring, Chrysler is not really a U.S. automaker anymore. Italian automaker Fiat now owns a 30 percent share, and it will eventually go to 51 percent under terms of the U.S. bailout and its bankruptcy restructuring.”

Don't worry, America. There's nothing that ails this country that can't be made right by a catalogue of piddling proposals that will be forgotten tomorrow--and oh yeah, more taxes on the rich. Such was the message of President Obama's State of the Union address.

It made Bill Clinton's notoriously endless lists of poll-tested banalities look like artistry by comparison. It was light and forgettable, so insubstantial it could have floated off the teleprompter. It was spend more here, create a new program there, carve out a new subsidy in the tax code over there--and repeat as necessary, for over an hour.

The president steered clear of some of the nation's gravest domestic questions. You would never know we are accumulating debt at a $1.3 trillion annual clip. You would never know that health care costs are soaring and a vast political and constitutional fight is ongoing over his health care law (mentioned once, only very briefly, in passing). You would never know that Medicare and Social Security will soon be groaning under the coming wave of baby boomer retirements. You would never know the tax code is a hideously complex, economically inefficient monstrosity.

He talked about our natural gas industry and how we had 100 years of the supply of natural gas and made no mention of the Keystone XL pipeline. Of course he forgot to mention the thousands of mile of pipelines that carry that natural gas across the country — pipelines that Obama and his environmental friends think are harmful to our environment.

All of that was left aside, so the president could strike an uplifting, inoffensive tone proposing a raft of superficially unobjectionable new government actions. It was one thing for Bill Clinton to take this tack in the late 90s when the economy was roaring. It was evasive and irresponsible for President Obama to do it now in our current straits.

Yet, it could have been worse. I was expecting an "Occupy" State of the Union, an address so dependent on the themes of the anti-Wall Street protests that you could almost hear the drums and smell the body odor. Yes, he invoked fairness and he devoted a passage to calling for more taxes on the rich, with the obligatory invocation of Warren Buffet's secretary, sitting beside Michelle Obama. But this didn't define the speech, which struck a more upbeat tone. The president rightly hailed the killing of Osama bin Laden, noted the signs of economic recovery and forcefully pushed back against the notion of American decline. It wouldn't strike most people as a particularly divisive or partisan speech.

It was cynical all the same. The president piled clichés ("teachers matter"), on top of nice-sounding new initiatives (a Trade Enforcement Unit, a Financial Crimes Unit), and insincere bows to the other side (like a call for regulatory restraint after signing the regulatory behemoths of ObamaCare and the Dodd-Frank financial bill). This was not the speech of a president interested in anything other than the politics of his re-election — yet another way in which it wasn't noteworthy.

As a liberal, President Obama is a firm believer in recycling, apparently in areas in which one doesn't normally expect to see recycling. Check below the break for a great video that shows just how often he uses the exact same themes and even phrases in his speeches.

At the very least, is it possible that some of the trillion dollars Obama's spent could go toward paying someone else to write at least one other speech? But, he did take credit for curtailing the import of Chinese tires, something we cannot manufacture in this country due to the EPA regulations.

According to Real Clear Politics Obama has a 2.3 point deficit in his approval ratings (46% approve, 48.3% disapprove) and 65.3% of the public believe the country is heading in the wrong direction. Obama may get a slight bump in the polls from his SOTU speech, but I believe will not last beyond the Super Bowl. No speech can disguise his miserable record of failed policies.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Endless Debating Season

"Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience." — George Washington.

With the football season drawing to a close as we approach Super Bowl Sunday the political debating season goes on and on and on. As the debating season goes on the four candidates for the Republican presidential nomination is culled to four — Gingrich, Romney, Santorum and Paul. These four have been winnowed down from the original ten (Bachmann, Perry, Huntsman, Johnson, Pawlenty, and Cane). This is like an Agatha Christie novel (And Then There Were None).

The latest South Carolina Primary was a complete surprise to the Republican establishment with Gingrich winning by 14 points and taking 41% of the votes and delegates.

Newt Gingrich won South Carolina big. If you had bet me last Monday morning you would own my house, my car and my cat. I thought Romney had a lock on South Carolina. But, this last week was the best political week for a major candidate I have ever seen. It was all Newt. Newt's performance in last Monday's debate was so good that every candidate for any office, prepping for a debate, should be forced to watch it and learn from it. On Thursday, Newt knew he was going to have to answer a question about his ex-wife's allegations. You know all about that. Newt went back to his early-debate tactic of attacking the question and the questioner — in this case CNN's John King — and he didn't just wipe the issue off as a negative, he turned it into a major positive. Outside of Hogwart's that's a piece of political magic I would not have believed possible. This last week was also the worst political week for a major candidate I have ever seen — not counting weeks that included a woman claiming sexual harassment. It was all Mitt. In Monday's debate Romney got involved in an argument with Rick Santorum over voting rights for felons. Voting rights for felons? And Santorum did pretty well. Then Romney stumbled over another question about his taxes and his company, Bain Capital, and he more-or-less played to a draw. Romney has the political infrastructure and the money to be able to operate in multiple states at the same time. ... But ... Romney has to make it happen."

Newt Gingrich routed Mitt Romney in South Carolina because he routed the media first. A Public Policy Polling survey of likely South Carolina primary voters completed on Friday revealed that 77 percent said they had an unfavorable opinion of the media. Among the most conservative South Carolina primary voters, fully 89 percent had an unfavorable opinion of the media. The same poll showed Gingrich beating Romney in the primary, 37 percent to 28 percent — fairly close to the actual outcome. Conservatives not only resent the liberal media for trying to pick the Republican nominee but they also resent Republican politicians who, once elected, spend their careers appeasing the media while abandoning conservative principles. Conservatives want a president whose attitude toward the media matches the attitude Gingrich has shown in recent debates. A president with that kind of attitude, they hope, might actually govern as a conservative.

Newt played rough in South Carolina and won big. That ought to tell the GOP something. Romney has to learn from this stunning defeat: The base is itching for a fight with everything the Obama Democrats stand for and they don't much care who gives it to them, just as long as somebody does.

Romney needs to show some passion for the winning the presidency. Politics is not the same as a board meeting where you sit around being polite and reviewing balance sheets and reports. It’s about getting people to vote for you and energizing them to work for your election. Both Romney and Gingrich need to lay off the beating on each other and focus on Obama.

I do not want to hear about Romney’s taxes and Newt’s consulting. I do not want to hear about how many jobs Romney created or how Gingrich work with Reagan to create jobs. This is all past and part of their résumés. This stuff can be used to attest to the candidate’s bona fides and experience. While necessary to get in the game it is not what the electorate wants to hear over and over again.

One of my main jobs while working for a consulting engineering firm was to obtain contracts for our services. This was always a two-step process. Step one consisted of preparing a package of something called a statement of qualifications. This SOQ usually contained résumés and curriculum vitaes of the key personnel that would make up the team, related project experience sheets, and information on the stability of the firm. This SOQ would be reviewed by a potential client. After the client review a short list would be compiled of the qualified firm.

Step two, and the most important step, would be the oral interview. This is what would allow the client to select the firm and team they wanted to work with on the project. It was during this oral interview where the consulting firm presented the key team members and explained how they would approach the client’s project and extoll the benefits of that the consulting team would bring the client. It was also a time where the client would question the consultant team on their concerns.

During this presentation you did not rehash the SOQ. The client had the written document sitting before them. They already had reviewed you qualifications and invited you for the interview. If they had questions regarding the SOQ they would ask them during the Q&A portion of the interview.

The client’s panel wanted to hear and see three things in order to make their selection. The first thing they wanted to hear was how you would approach their project. What was you plan. How would you work as a team and interface with the client’s project manager. The second thing they wanted to hear was what each team member would do and what benefit they would bring to the client. And the third thing they wanted to hear was some passion for the project. To the client the project is a big deal. They are spending a lot of money and they want to be successful. They want to hire a team that is as dedicated to their project as they are.

It time for the Republican candidates to move to step two. They already have their qualifications on the record. This constant hammering on each other’s qualifications is only creating fodder for the Democrats. Some experts claim this is a tempering process for the candidates to prepare them for Obama’s onslaught in the fall. While this may be true and the candidates will no doubt face a vicious attack from Obama’s minions and his left-wing press all of the tempering in the world will not armor them against these attacks. They will come no matter how tempered they are.

Ideas and the philosophies of governance will go further than resume experience. John McCain hammered on his experience and lost because he did not show a passion for the job and really had no firm plan for his presidency. On the other hand Obama had no experience and focused on one theme — hope and change.

It’s time to begin taking on Obama issue by issue and laying out their philosophy on governance and how they will begin to turn this ship of state back to constitutional government and allow the citizens of this nation to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness without the government telling us we need to live or lives and control our property.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Boehner Losses Again

“Socialism has no place in the hearts of those who would secure the fight for freedom and preserve democracy.” Samuel Gompers, American Federation of Labor, 1918.

John Boehner and the House Republicans lost another battle to the duplicity of Barack Obama. Yesterday Obama thumbed his nose at Congress by nixing the XL Pipeline project. The Washington Post reported yesterday:

“The Obama administration will announce this afternoon it is rejecting a Canadian firm’s application for a permit to build and operate a massive oil pipeline across the U.S.-Canada border, according to sources who have been briefed on the matter.

However the administration will allow TransCanada to reapply after it develops an alternate route through the sensitive habitat of Nebraska’s Sandhills. Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns will make the announcement, which comes in response to a congressionally-mandated deadline of Feb. 21 for action on the proposed Keystone pipeline.”

After months of playing political ping-pong with 20,000 potential (mostly union) jobs, the Obama administration decided on Wednesday to kill the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would have carried crude oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.

According to a State Department release [emphasis added]:

“Today, the Department of State recommended to President Obama that the presidential permit for the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline be denied and, that at this time, the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline be determined not to serve the national interest. The President concurred with the Department’s recommendation, which was predicated on the fact that the Department does not have sufficient time to obtain the information necessary to assess whether the project, in its current state, is in the national interest.

Since 2008, the Department has been conducting a transparent, thorough, and rigorous review of TransCanada’s permit application for the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline project…”.

For more than three years, the State Department has conducted its “transparent, thorough, and rigorous review.” However, apparently, the Obama Administration believes that three years wasn’t enough to be transparent, thorough, or rigorous enough.

As Forbes’ Christopher Helman noted in November:

“In the process of selecting the proposed route, TransCanada plotted and studied 14 different pipeline paths and submitted 10,000 pages of environmental studies. They’ve already studied this thing to death.”

What’s worse is the fact that Obama’s purely ideological decision does not serve the national interest at all. In fact, since China will be the likely recipient of the Canadian oil, in addition to the destruction of possible jobs, Obama’s decision harm—not help—the nation’s interests.

As a result of the Obama’s job-destroying decision, Laborers’ union president, Terry O’Sullivan issued a blistering statement:

The score is Job-Killers, two; American workers, zero. We are completely and totally disappointed. This is politics at its worst,” LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan said. “Once again the President has sided with environmentalists instead of blue collar construction workers – even though environmental concerns were more than adequately addressed. Blue collar construction workers across the U.S. will not forget this.”

The project would create thousands of good jobs at a time when unemployment in the construction industry is 16 percent with 1.3 million men and women jobless.

Environmental groups have used the Keystone XL as a disingenuous proxy for arguments about global warming. The pipeline would carry up to 900,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada’s Tar Sands to the U.S., reducing reliance on oil from hostile nations. While environmental groups decry Tar Sands development, the Canadian government and Trans-Canada, the company developing the Tar Sands, have made clear the oil will be developed – and possibly sold to China – regardless of whether Keystone XL is built.”


The Administration and environmentalists have blown the whistle on workers trying to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads,” said O’Sullivan. “Instead of celebrating their victory by hugging a tree they should hug a jobless construction worker because they’re the ones who are going to need it.” [Emphasis added.]

Below is Speaker John Boehner’s reaction to Obama’s decision

As usual the Republicans in Congress cut deals with Democrats. The Republicans’ favorite reporters and pundits tell us just how awesome those deals are. Then those deals blow up in our faces.

More tragically, then the same Republican leaders who negotiated those deals go back and negotiate the next deals and the same reporters and pundits at the same publications who told the last ones were so awesome tell us these are so awesome and then these deals too blow up in our faces. Conservatives always raise the alarm. The Republicans always run to the usual suspects to spin their way out of the mess.

On Facebook yesterday, Senator Jim DeMint noted this folly. Republicans were supposed to have big wins on the debt ceiling and on the Keystone XL Pipeline. They told us they had played the Democrats. Instead, we played ourselves.

“The two political victories leading Republicans planned on celebrating today only showcase how much we have to lose by compromising with the Democrats.

The non-binding vote of disapproval on the debt ceiling increase held in the House today and the Obama Administration’s decision not to authorize the Keystone Pipeline were supposed to be excruciating political exercises for the Democrats. They turned out to be a walk in the park.

Instead of generating a great public uproar over the debt, economy, and jobs, all President Obama had to do was reiterate his long-held positions—that the debt ceiling should be increased and the Keystone Pipeline should not be authorized.

Giving the President exactly what he wants and then asking him to remind the public that he wanted it after the fact isn’t a strategy to win. It’s a strategy to cover-up a stunning loss under the guise of a compromise.”

So the Obama administration rejected Keystone XL. Oh sure, they want us to think it’s just a delay, a kicking of the Keystone can down the road. Officially, the state department just sent TransCanada (NYSE:TRP) back to the drawing board to look at a variety of other pipeline routes that do their best to avoid the Sandhills in Nebraska and areas overlaying the Ogawalla Aquifer. But don’t be fooled. This is a rejection plain and simple.

In the process of selecting the proposed route, TransCanada plotted and studied 14 different pipeline paths and submitted 10,000 pages of environmental studies. They’ve already studied this thing to death. So when the state department says this new review could be done by early 2013, can we really expect any different outcome than more delays?

Robert Redford, the actor, was happy with today’s announcement. In a statement released by the Natural Resources Defense Council today Redford said, “This is American democracy at its best: a President who listens to the voice of the people and shows the courage to do what’s right for the country. Thank you, Mr. President, for standing up to Big Oil. Thank you for standing up for us all.”

Frances Beinecke, the president of the NRDC ladled on more praise. “President Obama is displaying leadership and courage in putting the interests of the American people before those of Big Oil. He has taken another significant step in the fight against climate change and in our march toward a clean energy future, which will mean healthier lives for all.”

The only response I can summon to that is a big … whatever. If they really wanted to protect the land and the water of the Midwest they would focus on stopping the agribusiness giants from pouring mountains of hydrocarbon-derived fertilizers directly onto the land, chemicals that trickle down into the water table and through watersheds into the Mississippi and the production of Ethanol.

Besides, it’s not as if delaying a pipeline from Canada will do anything to hurt Big Oil. The United States will continue to consume 19 million barrels of petroleum products per day and will continue to import roughly 10 million barrels per day from the rest of the world.

That oil, wherever it comes from, will be traversing continents in pipelines that likely aren’t built to the specifications that the government would demand of TransCanada. That oil will be shipped to the United States in tankers that belch into the air the exhaust of millions of tons of bunker oil. Great victory Mr. Redford!

The environmental freaks, like Redford sitting in the comfort of his Aspen mansion, need to realize is that oil is not only used for powering our SUVs. It’s used for everything from the making of pharmaceuticals to the clothes you wear. Oil to modern civilized society is as needed as much as food and water.

Meanwhile, what happens if someday Israel decides to bomb Iran and Iran moves to block oil shipments out of the Persian Gulf? The U.S., without a pipeline like Keystone XL, will be in more of a pickle when it comes to securing oil supplies.

And what if someday Venezuela’s ailing President Hugo Chavez dies and is replaced by civil war in Venezuela instead of a more reasonable man who reinvigorates Venezuela’s oil production? The U.S., without a pipeline like Keystone XL, will have a tougher time replacing the million barrels a day we get from Venezuela.

And what if Mexico fails to stem its declines in oil production and stops exporting oil to the U.S.? It’s ok, we’ll just use less, and pay more, and suffer slower growth and fewer jobs as a result.

Wouldn’t you rather have a superfluously good supply chain, a wealth of logistical options in a time of plenty — instead of facing shortages in an emergency?

Yes, any pipeline needs to be built to the highest possible standards. Yes, any material leakage from any pipeline is unacceptable. Yes, crude from oil sands does have a higher “carbon footprint” because of all the processing that goes into it. But as long as Canada is dedicated to developing and using the resource, the U.S. would be insane not to build the strategic infrastructure to buy it.

The White House and the State Department understands and appreciates this. It’s too bad that they find it easier to just say no than to pledge publicly to work with TransCanada to build the safest, most reliable pipeline the world has ever seen

Hey Mr. Redford according to Pennwell Map Search, a leader in the GIS industry, there are over 1 million miles of petroleum carrying pipelines in theoil-pipeline-300x236 United States. How much leakage and how many accidents have there been? Virtually none! As a professional land surveyor and GIS manager I and my firm have provided surveying, engineering, right-of-way, and GIS services for the oil and natural gas industry. You cannot believe the scrutiny and restrictions these pipeline builders work under. From the U.S. Department of Transportation to their own internal risk managers these companies build these pipelines to the strictest standards and each inch of the line is part of a national GIS database and can be monitored on a minute by minute basis. The TSA should be a fraction as efficient as the oil and gas industry.

The XL Pipeline begins in Alberta Canada. Do you think for one minute the Canadians want a faulty pipeline running through their pristine farm lands? I think not. This is insanity fostered by the radical, left-wing environmental groups who have gone off the rails with their environmental tyranny. They are the new Communists. They are like watermelons, green on the outside and red on the inside. This is the group Obama is playing to.

As for jobs the usual prediction is 20,000 jobs. I believe it is much more than that. These are not burger-flipping jobs. They are high paying jobs, both union and non-union, that average $70,000 to $100,000 per year. If you doubt my numbers just ask a few of the people who worked on the Alaska Pipeline. These fellows went north to Alaska for a few years and came back home and bought a house and car for cash. These are the folks Obama is screwing in favor of his left-wing environmental, government union, and SEIU service workers union base. Obama doesn’t give a damn about construction workers. Why, because many of them are independents and conservatives. Their union bosses may contribute to the Democrats, but the rank and file vote for Republicans. They know it takes capital to build projects, not rhetoric and social programs.

Obama has played to his left-wing base at a high cost to the American people and the construction industry, one of the driving engines of our economy. The Republicans in Congress have been deceived and taken to the cleaners by the most socialist president in our history. They rolled over on this pipeline. They would not force Obama to approve the pipeline as a condition of passing the payroll tax deal. They wanted to be liked and were fearful of alienating the people who will not vote for them anyway. When will they learn that you cannot make a deal with a liar and a socialist?

The Canadians claim they will refile for pipeline approval with the hope of having a Republican in the White House next year. I hope they are successful on both counts. If not it’s a shorter distance from Calgary to Vancouver than from Calgary to the Gulf of Mexico.