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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Reflections on the Dust Bowl

“If we are bold in our thinking, courageous in accepting new ideas, and willing to work with instead of against our land, we shall find in conservation farming an avenue to the greatest food production the world has ever known — not only for the war, but for the peace that is to follow.” — Hugh Hammond Bennett, 1943.

Palm Sunday, April 14, 1935, dawned clear across the plains. After weeks of dust storms, one near the end of March destroying five million acres of wheat, people grateful to see the sun went outside to do chores, go to church, or to picnic and sun themselves under the blue skies. In mid-afternoon, the temperature dropped and birds began chattering nervously. Suddenly, a huge black cloud rising to over 10,000 feet appeared on the horizon, approaching fast.

Those on the road had to try to beat the storm home. Some, like Ed and Ada Phillips of Boise City, and their six-year-old daughter, had to stop on their way to seek shelter in an abandoned adobe hut. There they joined ten other people already huddled in the two-room ruin, sitting for four hours in the dark, fearing that they would be smothered. Cattle dealer Raymond Ellsaesser tells how he almost lost his wife when her car was shorted out by electricity and she decided to walk the three-quarters of a mile home. As her daughter ran ahead to get help, Ellsaesser’s wife wandered off the road in the blinding dust. The moving headlights of her husband’s truck, visible as he frantically drove back and forth along the road, eventually led her back.

The drought hit first in the eastern part of the country in 1930. In 1931, it moved toward the west. By 1934 it had turned the Great Plains into a desert. “If you would like to have your heart broken, just come out here,” wrote Ernie Pyle, a roving reporter in Kansas, just north of the Oklahoma border, in June of 1936. “This is the dust-storm country. It is the saddest land I have ever seen.”

The Dust Bowl got its name on April 15, 1935, the day after “Black Sunday.”images Robert Geiger, a reporter for the Associated Press, traveled through the region and wrote the following: “Three little words achingly familiar on a Western farmer’s tongue, rule life in the dust bowl of the continent – if it rains.” The term stuck, spreading to radio broadcasts and publications, in private letters and public speeches.

The Soil Conservation Service used the term on their maps to describe “the western third of Kansas, Southeastern Colorado, the Oklahoma Panhandle, the northern two-thirds of the Texas Panhandle, and northeastern New Mexico.” The SCS Dust Bowl region included some surrounding area, to cover one-third of the Great Plains, close to 100 million acres, 500 miles by 300 miles. It is thought that Geiger was referring to an earlier image of the plains coined by William Gilpin, who had compared the Great Plains to a fertile bowl, rimmed by mountains. Residents hated the label, which was thought to play a part in diminishing property values and business prospects in the region.

dbmapfinalToday the region comprising parts of the plains states of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and Texas with the geographic center being Boise City, Oklahoma is still known as the Dust Bowl.

Within a week the black dust from the storm had passed over Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington D.C. It was reported that ships in the Atlantic Ocean as far as 300 miles off the coast reported the black dust falling on their decks. The dust fell on the Capital Building and the White House and President Roosevelt reported that he could run his finger across his desk in the Oval Office and trace a line through the dust.

The storm on Black Sunday was the last major dust storm of the year, and the damage it caused was not calculated for months. Coming on the heels of a stormy season, the April 14 storm hit as many others had, only harder. “The impact is like a shovelful of fine sand flung against the face,” Avis D. Carlson wrote in a New Republic article:

“People caught in their own yards grope for the doorstep. Cars come to a standstill, for no light in the world can penetrate that swirling murk. The nightmare is deepest during the storms. But on the occasional bright day and the usual gray day we cannot shake from it. We live with the dust, eat it, sleep with it, watch it strip us of possessions and the hope of possessions. It is becoming real. The poetic uplift of spring fades into a phantom of the storied past. The nightmare is becoming life.”

In the 1910s and 1920s the southern Plains was "the last frontier of agriculture" according to the government, when rising wheat prices, a war in Europe, a series of unusually wet years, and generous federal farm policies created a land boom — the Great Plow-Up that turned 5.2 million acres of thick native grassland into wheat fields. Newcomers rushed in and towns sprang up overnight

The American wheat farmer rode an economic roller coaster from the beginning of World War I to the start of the Second World War. Wholesale prices climbed sharply even before the United States entered World War I and peaked shortly after its end.

The resumption of European farm production flooded world markets in the Twenties, guaranteeing years of low prices. American agriculture was clearly mired in deep depression long before the stock market crash of 1929. By the early 1930s, many farmers were receiving less for their crop than its cost of production — a certain recipe for default and foreclosure

According the USDA 1889-1919 was a Period of farm prosperity. In 1919, after the end of the First World War wheat had skyrocketed to an all-time high of $2.16 per bushel ($28.88 adjusted per the CPI to 2012). This boom in wheat prices caused farmers to rip up more and more acres of the native grasslands, grasslands that had held the soil in place for hundreds of years, and plant wheat. They were using giant tractors pulling up to ten racks of disks ripping the soil in straight lines to make way for rows of wheat. These rows did not follow the contours of the land, but followed the ordinal directions of their section boundaries. It also encouraged so-called “suitcase farmers” to come from the east to buy up as much land as they could for growing wheat. This caused a rapid escalation in the price of the land. Everything was going great until 1929 and the great stock market crash.

As the nation sank into the Depression and wheat prices plummeted from $2.16 a bushel to 38 cents in 1932, farmers responded by tearing up even more prairie sod in hopes of harvesting bumper crops. When prices fell even further, the "suitcase farmers" who had moved in for quick profits simply abandoned their fields. Huge swaths of eight states, from the Dakotas to Texas and New Mexico, where native grasses had evolved over thousands of years to create a delicate equilibrium with the wild weather swings of the Plains, now lay naked and exposed.

In 1931 the rains stopped and the “black blizzards” began. Powerful dust storms carrying millions of tons of stinging, blinding black dirt swept across the Southern Plains—the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, western Kansas, and the eastern portions of Colorado and New Mexico. Topsoil that had taken a thousand years per inch to build suddenly blew away in only minutes.

In 1932, the weather bureau reported fourteen dust storms. The next year, the number climbed to thirty-eight. People tried to protect themselves by hanging wet sheets in front of doorways and windows to filter the dirt. They stuffed window frames with gummed tape and rags. But keeping the fine particles out was impossible. The dust permeated the tiniest cracks and crevices. Through it all, the farmers kept plowing, kept sowing wheat, kept waiting for rain.

By 1934, the storms were coming with alarming frequency. Residents believed they could determine a storm’s point of origin by the color of the dust — black from Kansas, red from Oklahoma, gray from Colorado or New Mexico.

The dust was beginning to make living things sick. Animals were found dead in the fields, their stomachs coated with two inches of dirt. People spat up clods of dirt as big around as a pencil. An epidemic raged throughout the Plains: they called it dust pneumonia.

By the end of 1935, with no substantial rainfall in four years, some residents gave up. Dust Bowlers watched as their neighbors and friends picked up and613px-Farmer_walking_in_dust_storm_Cimarron_County_Oklahoma2 (1) headed west in search of farm jobs in California. They packed their meager belongings and didn’t even bother to shut the door behind them. They just drove away. Banks and businesses failed, churches shut their doors, schools were boarded up. This is the remarkable story of the determined people who clung to their homes and way of life, enduring drought, dust, disease — even death—for nearly a decade. Less well-known than those who sought refuge in California, typified by the Joad family in John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath,” the Dust Bowlers who stayed overcame an almost unbelievable series of calamities and disasters. It should be noted that most of the migrants were tenant farmers from Arkansas (a state not affected as much by the dust storms as the others) who were driven off the land due to the Depression — not the dust. These were known as “Arkies”

In 1936, Dust Bowlers saw their first ray of hope: an innovative plan spearheaded by Hugh Bennett, a leading agricultural expert, to conserve valuable topsoil. He persuaded Congress to approve a federal program that would pay farmers to use new farming techniques. By 1937, the soil conservation campaign was in full swing. By the next year the soil loss had been reduced by sixty-five percent. Though the new techniques were taking root and the situation had improved, the drought dragged on. (See the timeline for the Dust Bowl by clicking here.)

In the early years of the 1930s, the extent of the damage inflicted on the southern plains by the drought and dust storms was little noticed outside of the region. The nation, led by the newly elected Franklin D. Roosevelt, was desperately trying to recover from the shock of the Great Depression. Most citizens were too worried about getting food on their plates to even think about the plight of farmers in the Great Plains. Certain members of Roosevelt’s administration, however, realized that the average American’s fate was closely tied to that of Dust Bowl farmers. One of these was Hugh Hammond Bennett, who would come to be known as “the father of soil conservation.”

Bennett had begun his campaign to preserve the soil by reforming farming practices before Roosevelt became president. He had joined the Department of Agriculture in the early 1900s. His mission to address the problems of land depletion was spurred on by the 1909 Bureau of Soils announcement, “The soil is the one indestructible, immutable asset that the nation possesses. It is the one resource that cannot be exhausted; that cannot be used up.” Throughout his career, Bennett worked to prove just how wrong this statement was.

In 1933 Bennett was made director of the newly formed Soil Erosion Service, which worked to combat erosion caused by dust storms by reforming farming methods. “Americans have been the greatest destroyers of land of any race or people, barbaric or civilized,” he announced, calling for “a tremendous national awakening to the need for action in bettering our agricultural practices.” Although his criticisms of Dust Bowl farming techniques raised the backs of farmers, he saw his reforms as necessary to avoid similar catastrophes in the future.

Bennett gained the support of Congress with the help of a providentially timed storm from the plains that hit Washington, D.C. in May 1934, while he was testifying before a congressional committee. Experiencing a debilitating dust storm for the first time in the Capital, Congress put its weight behind the Soil Conservation Act of 1935, which focused on improving farming techniques.

Bennett was a champion of soil conservation methods, such as crop rotation and replant native prairie grasses, contour plowing, and the planting of wind breaks, to the extent that he favored reverting a large part of the Great Plains back to grasslands. The federal government also bought more than 10 million acres and converted them to grasslands, some managed today by the U.S. Forest Service. He wrote in 1943, “If we are bold in our thinking, courageous in accepting new ideas, and willing to work with instead of against our land, we shall find in conservation farming an avenue to the greatest food production the world has ever known – not only for the war, but for the peace that is to follow.”

When the drought and dust storms showed no signs of letting up, many people abandoned their land. Others would have stayed but were forced out when they lost their land in bank foreclosures. In all, one-quarter of the population left, packing everything they owned into their cars and trucks, and headed west toward California. Although overall three out of four farmers stayed on their land, the mass exodus depleted the population drastically in certain areas. In the rural area outside Boise City, Oklahoma, the population dropped 40% with 1,642 small farmers and their families pulling up stakes.

The Dust Bowl exodus was the largest migration in American history. By 1940, 2.5 million people had moved out of the Plains states; of those, 200,000 moved to California. When they reached the border, they did not receive a warm welcome as described in this 1935 excerpt from Collier’s magazine:

“Very erect and primly severe, [a man] addressed the slumped driver of a rolling wreck that screamed from every hinge, bearing and coupling. 'California’s relief rolls are overcrowded now. No use to come farther,’ he cried. The half-collapsed driver ignored him — merely turned his head to be sure his numerous family was still with him. They were so tightly wedged in, that escape was impossible. 'There really is nothing for you here,’ the neat trooperish young man went on. 'Nothing, really nothing.’ And the forlorn man on the moaning car looked at him, dull, emotionless, incredibly weary, and said: 'So? Well, you ought to see what they got where I come from.’ “

The Los Angeles police chief went so far as to send 125 policemen to act as bouncers at the state border, turning away “undesirables”. The LAPD was operating under a vague law by asking if each family crossing over the Colorado River at Needles on Route 66 had $50.00. If they did not have that amount they were considered as “vagrants” and turned back. Called “the bum brigade” by the press and the object of a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, the LAPD posse was recalled only when the use of city funds for this work was questioned.

John Steinbeck’s story of migrating tenant farmers in his Pulitzer Prize-winning 1939 novel, “The Grapes of Wrath,” tends to obscure the fact that upwards of three-quarters of farmers in the Dust Bowl stayed put. Dust Bowl refugees did not flood California. Only 16,000 of the 1.2 million migrants to California during the 1930s came from the drought-stricken region. Most Dust Bowl refugees tended to move only to neighboring states.

Okies headed west California migrant labor dust bowl great depressionWhile farm families migrating to California during the 1930s, like the fictitious Joad family, were often derided as “Okies,” only one-fifth of them were actually from Oklahoma. (Plus, many of those Oklahoma migrants were from the eastern part of the state outside of the Dust Bowl.) “Okie” was a blanket term used to describe all agricultural migrants, no matter their home states. They were greeted with hostility and signs such as one in a California diner that read: “Okies and dogs not allowed inside.”

Arriving in California, the migrants were faced with a life almost as difficult as the one they had left. Many California farms were corporate-owned. They were larger and more modernized that those of the southern plains, and the crops were unfamiliar. The rolling fields of wheat were replaced by crops of fruit, nuts and vegetables. Like the Joad family in John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath”, some 40 percent of migrant farmers wound up in the San Joaquin Valley, picking grapes and cotton. They took up the work of Mexican migrant workers, 120,000 of whom were repatriated during the 1930s. Life for migrant workers was hard. They were paid by the quantity of fruit and cotton picked with earnings ranging from seventy-five cents to $1.25 a day. Out of that, they had to pay twenty-five cents a day to rent a tar-paper shack with no floor or plumbing. In larger ranches, they often had to buy

As roadside camps of poverty-stricken migrants proliferated, growersla_ca_1115_dust_bowl_ pressured sheriffs to break them up. Groups of vigilantes beat up migrants, accusing them of being Communists, and burned their shacks to the ground. To help the migrants, Roosevelt’s Farm Security Administration built 13 camps, each temporarily housing 300 families in tents built on wooden platforms. The camps were self-governing communities, and families had to work for their room and board.

When migrants reached California and found that most of the farmland was tied up in large corporate farms, many gave up farming. They set up residence near larger cities in shack towns called Little Oklahomas or Okievilles on open lots local landowners divided into tiny subplots and sold cheaply for $5 down and $3 in monthly installments. They built their houses from scavenged scraps, and they lived without plumbing and electricity. Polluted water and a lack of trash and waste facilities led to outbreaks of typhoid, malaria, smallpox and tuberculosis.

Over the years, they replaced their shacks with real houses, sending their children to local schools and becoming part of the communities; but they continued to face discrimination when looking for work, and they were called “Okies” and “Arkies” by the locals regardless of where they came from.

As a person who had driven across Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico (parts of the Dust Bowl) I was intrigued to watch the PBS series on the Dust Bowl last week. The Dust Bowl, a two-part, four-hour documentary series by Ken Burns, that aired on November 18 and 19, 2012, 8:00-10:00 p.m. on PBS The film chronicles the environmental catastrophe that, throughout the 1930s, destroyed the farmlands of the Great Plains, turned prairies into deserts, and unleashed a pattern of massive, deadly dust storms that for many seemed to herald the end of the world. It was the worst manmade ecological disaster in American history.

The film is also a story of heroic perseverance against enormous odds: families finding ways to survive and hold on to their land, New Deal programs that kept hungry families afloat, and a partnership between government agencies and farmers to develop new farming and conservation methods.

The Dust Bowl chronicles this critical moment in American history in all its complexities and profound human drama. It is part oral history, using compelling interviews of 26 survivors of those hard times — what will probably be the last recorded testimony of the generation that lived through the Dust Bowl. Filled with seldom seen movie footage, previously unpublished photographs, the songs of Woody Guthrie, and the observations of two remarkable women who left behind eloquent written accounts, the film is also a historical accounting of what happened and why during the 1930s on the southern Plains.

As a person who does not normally watch anything on PBS due to its progressive leaning agenda I thought the two part series was very well done and gave an accurate portrayal of the period from 1931 to 1947. There were times during the film when Burns drifted into his progressive agenda with his portrayal of Roosevelt and the New Deal. The one main criticism I did, however, have against the film was the repetitive use of photographs from the period and the sometimes too long interview segments. As David Wiegand states in his review of the film in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“But as a film, "Dust Bowl" is sadly lacking. It's in dire need of tighter editing, most of all. Yes, the images from the '30s are powerful, but after a while, their power is diminished by repetition. The script is informative, but it's also so full of itself, you're even more grateful when you get to listen to the people who were actually there, as opposed to the solemn tones of Coyote reading Duncan's bloviated, redundant prose. There's also a section of the film about how the Okies were treated in California. It's interesting for a few minutes, but very soon begins to feel beside the point and, again, in need of editing.

But this is how Ken Burns makes films. He has a template and rarely varies from it. When he gets carried away and isn't sufficiently detached to make needed cuts and to sharpen his focus, we get "The Dust Bowl" or "The National Parks: America's Best Idea," a six-part slog that made you want to fell every tree in Yellowstone.

"Dust Bowl" isn't quite that bad, not just because it's not as long, but because of the people who were there. Their simple words and detailed memories make this film necessary. Even all these years later, you can see and hear how fresh the memories remain, and it breaks your heart.”

I agree with Mr. Wiegand’s assessment of the film when he refers to the overly repetitive use of the vintage photos. This repetition, while interesting and informative, can cause a dulling of the senses and lose the effect of the photographs. With that said I still recommend the film to anyone interested in American History.

There is also a worthwhile article on that explores the ten things you may not know about the Dust Bowl. Take the time to read the article for a quick overview of the effects of the black blizzards.

Some 850 million tons of topsoil blew away in 1935 alone. "Unless something is done," a government report predicted, "the western plains will be as arid as the Arabian desert." The government's response included deploying Civilian Conservation Corps workers to plant shelter belts; encouraging farmers to try new techniques like contour plowing to minimize erosion; establishing conservation districts; and using federal money in the Plains for everything from grasshopper and jack rabbit control to outright purchases of failed farms. This was the beginning of farm subsidies, something we live with today.

In 1944 just as it had thirty years earlier, a war in Europe and the return of a relatively wet weather cycle brought prosperity to the southern Plains. Wheat prices skyrocketed, and harvests were bountiful.

In the first five years of the 1940s land devoted to wheat expanded by nearly 3 million acres. The speculators and suitcase farmers returned. Parcels that had sold for $5 an acre during the Dust Bowl now commanded prices of fifty, sixty, sometimes a hundred dollars an acre. Even some of the most marginal lands were put back into production.

Then, in the early 1950s, the wet cycle ended and a two-year drought replaced it. The storms picked up once more. Bad as the "Filthy Fifties" were, the drought didn't last as long as the "Dirty Thirties." The damage to the land was mitigated by those farmers who continued using conservation techniques. And because nearly four million acres of land had been purchased by the government during the Dust Bowl and permanently restored as national grasslands, the soil didn't blow as much. At least a few lessons had been learned.

But now, instead of looking to the skies for rain, many farmers began looking beneath the soil, where they believed a more reliable — and irresistible — supply of water could be found: the vast Ogallala Aquifer, a huge underground reservoir stretching from Nebraska to north Texas, filled with water that had seeped down for centuries after the last Ice Age. With new technology and cheap power from recent natural gas discoveries in the southern Plains, farmers could pump the ancient water up, irrigate their land, and grow other crops like feed corn for cattle and pigs, which requires even more moisture than wheat.

The Ogallala Aquifer, whose total water storage is about equal to that of Lake Huron in the Midwest, is the single most important source of water in the High Plains region, providing nearly all the water for residential, industrial, and agricultural use. Because of widespread irrigation, farming accounts for 94 percent of the groundwater use. Irrigated agriculture forms the base of the regional economy. It supports nearly one-fifth of the wheat, corn, cotton, and cattle produced in the United States. Crops provide grains and hay for confined feeding of cattle and hogs and for dairies. The cattle feedlots support a large meatpacking industry. Without irrigation from the Ogallala Aquifer, there would be a much smaller regional population and far less economic activity.

The Ogallala Aquifer is being both depleted and polluted. Irrigation withdraws much groundwater, yet little of it is replaced by recharge. Since large-scale irrigation began in the 1940s, water levels have declined more than 100 feet in parts of Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. In the 1980s and 1990s, the rate of groundwater mining, or overdraft, lessened, but still averaged approximately 2.7 feet per year.

Increased efficiency in irrigation continues to slow the rate of water level decline. State governments and local water districts throughout the region have developed policies to promote groundwater conservation and slow or eliminate the expansion of irrigation. Generally, management has emphasized planned and orderly depletion, not sustainable yield. Depletion results in reduced irrigation in areas with limited saturated thickness and increased energy cost in all areas as the depth to water increases.

The future economy of the High Plains depends heavily on the Ogallala Aquifer, the main source of water for all uses. The Ogallala will continue to be the lifeblood of the region only if it is managed properly to limit both depletion and contamination. (For a video explanation of the Ogallala Aquifer click here)

Much has been said about the possible effects of the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline across the state of Nebraska and the potential threat to the Ogallala Aquifer. Today, nearly 25,000 miles of petroleum pipelines exist within the Ogallala Aquifer, including 2,000 miles in Nebraska. These pipelines transport about 730,000,000,000 barrels of crude oil across the aquifer — each year, including nearly 100,000,000 barrels of crude oil transported across the aquifer in Nebraska. After this oil is refined into gasoline, diesel fuel, aviation gas and other products, pipelines transport much of it back across the aquifer for use on Nebraska farms, ranches and roads.

The main pollutants to the aquifer come from the seepage of fertilizer and insecticides into the ground water system. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the state of Nebraska where corn production has skyrocketed due to the demand for corn for the production of ethanol. Corn is a very demanding crop on water and the use of fertilizer. Corn requires over 20 inches of rain per year and the average for the past ten years had been around 14 inches. This puts an increased demand on the ground water system.

Daniel Horowitz writes in his column “Obama’s EPA Continues Handouts for Rich Ethanol Farmers on the Backs of Consumers” in Red States:

“The single most regressive market-distorting policy to ever emanate from Washington is the absurd tendentious treatment of ethanol. Over the past decade, ethanol has been the poster child for the worst aspects of big-government crony capitalism. The ethanol industry has used the fist of government to mandate that fuel blenders use their product, to subsidize their production with refundable tax credits, and to impose tariffs on more efficient sugar-based ethanol from Brazil. These policies have distorted the market for corn to such a degree that 44% of all corn grown in the country is diverted towards motor fuel blends. If we would literally flush half the corn harvest down the toilet, we would be better off than using it to make our motor fuel less efficient.

Now, consumers are stuck with higher food and fuel prices, while rich farmers enjoy the favors of free legislation forcing people to buy their odious product. Although the subsidy has expired, the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), which requires that 10% of all fuel be mixed with ethanol, is still in effect. There is no worse tyranny than using the power of the law to coerce citizens into purchasing an ineffectual product that costs more, and in turn, drives up the cost of everything else along the food chain.

Over the summer, the ethanol debate reached a new tipping point when the severe drought in the heartland destroyed much of the corn crop. At that point, even the obdurate knuckleheads in Washington began to wake up to the reality of the ethanol boondoggle. A bipartisan group of 156 representatives, 8 governors, and 25 senators petitioned the EPA to temporarily waive the ethanol mandate in the Renewable Fuels Standard until we recover from the drought. After dragging their feet for months, the EPA announced today that they have no intention on suspending the mandate for even one day.”

The benefits from ethanol are dubious are best. While being a boon for the corn farmers in Iowa and Nebraska the downside is great:

  • The use of corn for ethanol drives up the prices and demand for corn,
  • The refining of corn into ethanol takes more energy than the ethanol produces as a fuel,
  • As corn is a mainstay in feeding livestock as the price of corn goes up so does the price of beef, pork, and poultry,
  • Corn syrup (fructose) which is used in the production of soft drinks, juices, candy, energy bars, and many other items found on the grocery store shelves. And as corn increases in price so do those items.

In the PBS documentary a minor mention was made of the use of water and the depletion of the Ogallala. In this brief segment Ken Burns neglected to make any mention of the threat from the increased demand for corn and the potential hazards to the Ogallala. Was this due to Mr. Burns’ reluctance to take on a policy put in place by progressive government policies in the farm belt? He paid great heed to arousing the emotions and sympathies of the viewer to the actions of the federal government to alleviating the effects of the dust storms, but did not delve into the unintended consequences of the farm policies that grew during the latter part of the twentieth century.This is one of my problems with Ken Burns.

In driving across Nebraska on U.S. 30 (Lincoln Highway) for almost 300 milesThe Union Pacific Railway paralleling the Lincoln Highway near North Platte, NE<br /><br />,-100.71210000&spn=0.001,0.001&t=k&hl=en all you can see from horizon to horizon are fields of corn and the giant storage silos adjacent to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. You also see UP trains hauling 100 tank cars loaded with refined ethanol traversing the Ogallala Aquifer. Just imagine the damage to the ground water system if there was a major derailment of one of these trains and the ethanol seeped into the soil and down into the water system.

As a Constitutional Conservative I must admit I was very conflicted while watching the PSB Dust Bowl documentary. While viewing the film I had great empathy for the plight of the farmers and residents of the Dust Bowl, but I kept asking myself by what warrant did Congress and the Executive have in using taxpayer dollars to alleviate the effects of the black blizzards and instituting government policies directed from the White House. After research and contemplation I came to the conclusion that the actions taken by the government were in most part justified under the Constitution.

The first place I looked was the Preamble to the Constitution that stated:

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

The words “insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare” were certainly applicable. We were on the verge of a revolution during the Depression and the domestic tranquility was at risk. Another phrase to consider is “provide for the common defense.” Our food supply was in trouble and a great portion of our rich topsoil was blowing away. This was a dangerous threat to our nation as an invasion by an armed enemy. The weapons of an armed invader would have been bombs, bullets, and bayonets while the enemy invading the Dust Bowl was drought, wind, and bad soil conservation. It was the obligation of the government, as George Washington said the first responsibility of the federal government was to protect the security of the nation.

The third phrase in the Preamble was “promote the general welfare”. While over the years this catch all phrase has been used by statist and Progressives to promote everything from welfare to birth control in this case it had a relative meaning.

The next place I looked was in Article I, Section 8.1 which states:

“The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;”

Once again our Founders gave weight to the power of Congress to collect taxes to support the common defense and promote the general welfare.

The final article in the Constitution that I looked at was Article IV, Section 3.2 that states:

“The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.”

While this last reference may be somewhat vague I do believe that during the Great Depression, the dust storms on the Great Plains, and the great migrations there was a definite threat of domestic violence in the nation as people were losing their homes and land and our food production was at risk.

While there was controversy over having the Civilian Conservation Corps plant 100,000 trees as wind breaks and the Works Projects Administration employing Dust Bowl residents to build roads, irrigation, and sanitation projects I believe this was as necessary as our building defenses after the Japanese attacked us Pearl Harbor and German U-Boat sinking our merchant ships in New York Harbor and the Gulf of Mexico. The nation was at great risk and it was prudent for the federal government to take action to preserve the Republic.

The problem I now have is the aftermath of the measures taken to alleviate and mitigate the damage done by the black blizzards of the 1930s. Many of the government agencies we have today are outgrowths of Roosevelt’s and Congress’ policies of those days. Once a government agency is created for a national emergency they do not go away — they grow and expand their power as noted above with the EPA. We now have a plethora of alphabet soup departments and agencies like EPA, FEMA, and the Department of Agriculture that act as corporatist entities in regulating everything from the toilets we can flush to the light bulbs we can use. In many cases these regulations are not only encroaching on our liberties, but bringing about unintended consequences.

To protect fish on the upper Missouri River dams built for flood control are being destroyed. To provide additives for fuel corn production is up causing rising food prices and an increased depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer. Increased farm subsidies have lined the pockets of the big agribusinesses like Archer Daniels Midland while driving the small farmer off the land. These are just a few examples how the federal government has grown in power from those Dirty Thirties.

We will always have threats from nature to our national security and economy. We will have floods, draughts, hurricanes, and oil spills that will damage the economy of the fishing industry in the gulf. While it is the proper role for the federal government to protect against and alleviate these threats from nature we must be vigilant against the growth of government and its intrusion on our liberties.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Real Susan Rice

"I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required.” — Susan Rice, Aftermath of the slaughter of 800,000 Tutsi by the Hutu government of Rwanda in 1994.

In a 2001 article titled Bystanders to Genocide by Samantha Power published in Atlantic Magazine on the incompetence and lack of reaction the 1994 genocide in Rwanda where in the course of a hundred days in 1994 the Hutu government of Rwanda and its extremist allies very nearly succeeded in exterminating the country's Tutsi minority. Using firearms, machetes, and a variety of garden implements, Hutu militiamen, soldiers, and ordinary citizens murdered some 800,000 Tutsi and politically moderate Hutu. It was the fastest, most efficient killing spree of the twentieth century.

Ms. Powers now a close White House advisor to Barack Obama and the hawkish architect of Obama’s intervention into Libya had this to say about Susan Rice, who at the time of the Rwanda genocide was serving in the Clinton administration on the National Security Council as Director for International Organizations and Peacekeeping from in the Clinton administration:

“At an interagency teleconference in late April, Susan Rice, a rising star on the NSC who worked under Richard Clarke, stunned a few of the officials present when she asked, "If we use the word 'genocide' and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional] election?" Lieutenant Colonel Tony Marley remembers the incredulity of his colleagues at the State Department. "We could believe that people would wonder that," he says, "but not that they would actually voice it." Rice does not recall the incident but concedes, "If I said it, it was completely inappropriate, as well as irrelevant."

Susan Rice, Clarke's co-worker on peacekeeping at the NSC, also feels that she has a debt to repay. "There was such a huge disconnect between the logic of each of the decisions we took along the way during the genocide and the moral consequences of the decisions taken collectively," Rice says. "I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required." Rice was subsequently appointed NSC Africa director and, later, assistant secretary of state for African affairs; she visited Rwanda several times and helped to launch a small program geared to train selected African armies so that they might be available to respond to the continent's next genocide. The American appetite for troop deployments in Africa had not improved.”

Rice served in the Clinton administration in various capacities: at the National Security Council from 1993 to 1997; as Director for International Organizations and Peacekeeping from 1993 to 1995; and as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs from 1995 to 1997.

At the time of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, Rice reportedly said, "If we use theSusan_Rice,_official_State_Dept_photo_portrait,_2009 word 'genocide' and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional] election?" Rice subsequently acknowledged the mistakes made at the time and felt that a debt needed repaying.[19] The inability or failure of the Clinton administration to do anything about the genocide would inform her later views on possible military interventions. She would later say of the experience: "I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required. It seems she forgot her promise as she made the rounds of the five Sunday talk shows after the attack on our Benghazi consulate and CIA annex.

Rice supported the multinational force that invaded Zaire from Rwanda in 1996 and overthrew dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, saying privately that "Anything's better than Mobutu." Others criticized the U.S. complicity in the violation of the Congo's borders as destabilizing and dangerous.

In a 2002 op-ed piece in the Washington Post, former Ambassador to Sudan Timothy M. Carney and news contributor Mansoor Ijaz implicated Rice and counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke in missing an opportunity to neutralize Osama bin Laden while he was still in Sudan in 1996. They write that Sudan and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright were ready to cooperate on intelligence potentially leading to Bin Laden, but that Rice and Clarke persuaded National Security Advisor Sandy Berger to overrule Albright. Similar allegations were made by Vanity Fair contributing editor David Rose and Richard Miniter, author of Losing Bin Laden, in a November 2003 interview with World.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has been a longtime mentor and family friend to Rice. Albright urged Clinton to appoint Rice as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in 1997. Rice was not the first choice of Congressional Black Caucus leaders, who considered Rice a member of "Washington's assimilationist black elite". At a confirmation hearing chaired by Senator Jesse Helms, Rice, who attended the hearing along with her infant son, whom she was then nursing, made a great impression on Senators from both parties and "sailed through the confirmation process". Does this seem as racism when Jesse Helms allowed her nomination to go through?

Rice continued to serve as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs until the end of Clinton's term in January 2001.

Rice was managing director and principal at Intellibridge from 2001 to 2002. In 2002, she joined the Brookings Institution as senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program. At Brookings, she focused on U.S. foreign policy, weak and failing states, the implications of global poverty, and transnational threats to security.

During the 2004 presidential campaign, Rice served as a foreign policy adviser to John Kerry.

Rice went on leave from the Brookings Institution to serve as a senior foreign policy advisor to Senator Barack Obama in his 2008 presidential campaign. Rice took a disparaging view of Obama's Republican opponent in the campaign, John McCain, calling his policies "reckless" and dismissing the Arizona Senator's trip to Iraq as "strolling around the market in a flak jacket." In a recent interview she praised Senator McCain for his service to the nation and looked forward to explaining why she lied to the American public. According to a Fox News report Rice stated:

“When discussing the attack against our facilities in Benghazi, I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community," Rice said Wednesday evening to reporters outside the U.N. Security Council.

“Rice said she respects McCain, but says "some of the statements he's made about me have been unfounded, but I look forward to having the opportunity at the appropriate time to discuss all of this with him."

Her duplicity as a Washington insider is unbelievable.

According to Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, at one point Rice gave the "Rockefeller Gesture" to Richard Holbrooke during a meeting with senior staff. This is just another example of Ms. Rice’s decorum and her elitist personality.

Rice continued to serve as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs until the end of Clinton's term in January 2001.

On November 5, 2008, Rice was named to the advisory board of the Obama-Biden Transition Project.

President Obama and Congressional Democrats have gone to great lengths to defend embattled U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s role in the aftermath of the 9-11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Ms. Rice’s defenders claim that her initial public assessment that the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was a spontaneous protest in reaction to a supposed Anti-Islam film on YouTube was based on bad intelligence.

Congressional hearings have revealed that the CIA, under its former director David Petraeus, knew through intelligence on the ground and from assets overhead that this planned attack was carried out by Al-Qaeda. It would appear that Ms. Rice was part of a coordinated effort by unknown elements within the White House to downplay the terrorist aspect of Benghazi attack, which happened on the 11th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks and with less than eight weeks to go before a Presidential election. Her reluctance to using the word “terrorism” is very reminiscent of her reluctance to use the genocide during the Rwandan massacres.

Many people on both sides of the political spectrum are well aware of Ms. Rice’s history of political cronyism and her tactic of twisting truth to protect the political fortunes of the administrations in which she has served. While Congressional Democrats have sought to portray the investigation into Ms. Rice’s role in the Benghazi cover-up as a witch hunt based on racism and sexism, some of these same Democrats have had their own concerns about Ms. Rice’s cronyism in the past.

In a quote for a 2002 book written by Samantha Power, Ms. Rice stated, in her attempted defense of the Clinton Administration’s inaction in response to the genocide that was taking place in the tiny African Nation of Rwanda in 1994, “If we use the word 'genocide' and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November congressional election?" It was later revealed that President Clinton, along with Madeline Albright, Anthony Lake, Warren Christopher, and Ms. Rice were all part of a coordinated effort not only to block U.N. action to stop the genocide, but to work behind the scenes to craft public opinion on the issue by removing words such as "genocide" and "ethnic cleansing" from official State Department and CIA memos.

In 1997, when President Clinton sought to promote Ms. Rice to the position of Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, members of the Congressional Black Caucus objected to the appointment based on her history of being part of the Washington Elite Class. This is the same Congressional Black Caucus who is now in 2012 attempting to defend her with trumped up charges of racism and sexism. Even as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, many inside and outside of Washington questioned Ms. Rice’s tenure, as she worked with certain African dictators with questionable records, reaping praise on herself for doing so.

As President Obama’s U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Ms. Rice has come under fire several times in the past. She has missed key votes, and she has not opposed nations with questionable human rights records heading key U.N. committees. Rice seems to have taken "a go along to get along attitude" at events like the U.N.'s weak response to the Iranian Election Protest of 2009, the ongoing concerns about Iran’s nuclear program, as well as China’s muscle flexing in the East China Sea. Now it would seem that, with President Obama’s reelection behind him, he is preparing to reward Ms. Rice with the position of Secretary of State (as Ms. Clinton said she is not interested in serving a second term) as she helped shape early public opinion on the Benghazi Attack.

If Ms. Rice does receive the appointment of Secretary of State, it will be with even more blood on her resume, as President Clinton rewarded her after misleading the public on the issues of ethnic cleansing and genocide in Africa. This time, her record of shameful political cronyism is now covered in the blood of four Americans, and that is why her defenders are trying to make this about her race and gender — because loyalty to the public is trumped by loyalty to a President and his party.

Susan Rice was a bystander to genocide during the Clinton Administration, and currently in the Obama Administration, she is a cheerleader to genocide. If Obama is elected for another term and she becomes a secretary of state, who knows what she will become.

If one believes that the United Nations is a hopelessly ineffective institution and wants to make sure it stays that way, then perhaps Obama has chosen an appropriate emissary: a woman who prefers to ponder the political implications of inaction — they're going to love her at Foggy Bottom.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Can Republicans Increase Their Share Of The Hispanic Vote?

“When a portion of wealth is transferred from the person who owns it—without his consent and without compensation, and whether by force or by fraud—to anyone who does not own it, then I say that property is violated; that an act of plunder is committed.” — Frederic Bastiat (The Law)

Yesterday I quoted extensively from a Column by Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post. In his column Mr. Krauthammer wrote referring to the future of the Republican Party:

“They lose and immediately the chorus begins. Republicans must change or die. A rump party of white America, it must adapt to evolving demographics or forever be the minority.

The only part of this that is even partially true regards Hispanics. They should be a natural Republican constituency: striving immigrant community, religious, Catholic, family-oriented and socially conservative (on abortion, for example). The principal reason they go Democratic is the issue of illegal immigrants. In securing the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney made the strategic error of (unnecessarily) going to the right of Rick Perry. Romney could never successfully tack back.

For the party in general, however, the problem is hardly structural. It requires but a single policy change: Border fence plus amnesty. Yes, amnesty. Use the word. Shock and awe — full legal normalization (just short of citizenship) in return for full border enforcement.”

While this may or may not be a strategy for winning elections by increasing the Hispanic vote conservatives must take a very cautious approach to this issue. It was Ronald Reagan who followed a similar course, but was sabotaged by Congress when they failed to secure the border allowing millions illegals to cross over our southern border.

Hispanic amnesty activists are expanding their goals beyond the so-called “DREAM Act” youth amnesty, towards a national amnesty for roughly 11 million Hispanic illegals.

President Barack Obama and Congress “need to come together to deliver change on immigration policy, and by that we mean a roadmap to citizenship for our parents and communities,” said Cristina Jimenez, director of an advocacy group, United We Dream.

According to an article in the Daily Caller Jimenez was born in Ecuador and arrived in this country as an illegal immigrant.

“Deporting members of our community is irresponsible and unacceptable,” added Lorella Praeli, the group’s policy director.

Their demand is an opening salvo in a post-election campaign to persuade the House GOP to provide “a path to citizenship” for roughly 11 million illegal immigrants, most of whom are low-skill laborers who compete for jobs against low-skill Americans.

The amnesty goal is supported by many progressive groups, in part, because most Hispanics prefer generous welfare policies, and so usually vote for Democratic candidates.

In contrast, many Republican advocates and legislators favor high-skill immigration, partly because high-skilled workers spur the economy and lower unemployment.

But the issue has been gridlocked because most GOP leaders prefer high-skill immigration, while most progressives believe that continued arrival of low-skill immigrants boosts their political power.

For example, the board of Jimenez’s group includes Josh Bernstein, the “immigration director” for the Service Employees International Union. That union’s membership has been boosted by the recruitment of many foreigners working without legal permission in the United States.

Polls show some support for amnesty, but other polls of working-class Americans in swing states show opposition.

Gov. Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election, in part, because of low turnout by blue-collar workers in Ohio and other states.

The renewed advocacy for an national amnesty comes as the formal unemployment rate among Americans ticked up to 7.9 percent.

Roughly 23 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed. Many additional low-skill workers Americans are paid low wages because employers have many potential job-applicants.

In June, Obama announced a temporary amnesty for roughly 800,000 younger illegal-immigrants.

That move greatly boosted Obama’s political support among Latinos prior to the Nov. 6 election.

Under this so-called “Deferred Action” measure, up to 1.76 million illegal immigrants could get work permits, according to an estimate by the Migration Policy Institute.

Only 6 percent of the eligible illegals have college educations, the MPI estimated.

However, Obama’s June decision isn’t enough, said Sonia Martinez, another young illegal immigrant working with the United We Dream group.

“I’m undocumented [and Deferred Action] is really important for me and my daughter. But we believe that Deferred Action is not enough for us,” she said.

“We’ll be fighting to keep families together,” instead of winning amnesty for younger illegal immigrants, she said.

The call for Republicans to discard their opposition to immigration amnesty will grow deafening in the wake of President Obama’s victory. Hispanics supported Obama by a margin of nearly 75 percent to 25 percent, and may have provided important margins in some swing states. If only Republicans relented on their Neanderthal views regarding the immigration rule of law, the message will run, they would release the inner Republican waiting to emerge in the Hispanic population.

If Republicans want to change their stance on immigration, they should do so on the merits, not out of a belief that only immigration policy stands between them and a Republican Hispanic majority. It is not immigration policy that creates the strong bond between Hispanics and the Democratic party, but the core Democratic principles of a more generous safety net, strong government intervention in the economy, and progressive taxation. Hispanics will prove to be even more decisive in the victory of Governor Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30, which raised upper-income taxes and the sales tax, than in the Obama election.

And California is the wave of the future. A March 2011 poll by Moore Information found that Republican economic policies were a stronger turn-off for Hispanic voters in California than Republican positions on illegal immigration. Twenty-nine percent of Hispanic voters were suspicious of the Republican Party on class-warfare grounds — “it favors only the rich”; “Republicans are selfish and out for themselves”; “Republicans don’t represent the average person”– compared with 7 percent who objected to Republican immigration stances.

It is estimated that each illegal immigrant costs the people of the State of California $22,000 per year. That’s equivalent to the cost of a very good new car each year or a year’s worth of payments on a $200.000 home mortgage. The County of Los Angeles is going broke with the burden imposed by the welfare and health care costs of illegal immigrants, people who have broken our laws by coming here illegally.

To me I cannot understand how giving illegals amnesty will help Republicans as according to the law a person cannot vote in a presidential election unless they are a citizen. This is an issue the Democrats have advanced on a purely emotional level in attempt to get the votes of citizens of Hispanic heritage. It is an issue the Republicans have not adequately explained to Hispanics or the American People on the whole.

According to Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute writing in National Review On “Line Why Hispanics Don’t Vote for Republicans:”

“I spoke last year with John Echeveste, founder of the oldest Latino marketing firm in southern California, about Hispanic politics. “What Republicans mean by ‘family values’ and what Hispanics mean are two completely different things,” he said. “We are a very compassionate people, we care about other people and understand that government has a role to play in helping people.”

And a strong reason for that support for big government is that so many Hispanics use government programs. U.S.-born Hispanic households in California use welfare programs at twice the rate of native-born non-Hispanic households. And that is because nearly one-quarter of all Hispanics are poor in California, compared to a little over one-tenth of non-Hispanics. Nearly seven in ten poor children in the state are Hispanic, and one in three Hispanic children is poor, compared to less than one in six non-Hispanic children. One can see that disparity in classrooms across the state, which are chock full of social workers and teachers’ aides trying to boost Hispanic educational performance.

The idea of the “social issues” Hispanic voter is also a mirage. A majority of Hispanics now support gay marriage, a Pew Research Center poll from last month found. The Hispanic out-of-wedlock birth rate is 53 percent, about twice that of whites.

The demographic changes set into motion by official and de facto immigration policy favoring low-skilled over high-skilled immigrants mean that a Republican party that purports to stand for small government and free markets faces an uncertain future.”

On election night, as the camera panned the audience waiting to hear Barack Obama give his victory speech, what struck me was that the audience was primarily young people and minorities. My thought was, "These are the very people who will suffer the most under a second Obama administration. Don't they know they are voting against their own best interest?"

And then I thought about it and came to the conclusion: "No, they don't." They don't because they are, by and large, uneducated. Oh, some of them may have college degrees or even graduate degrees, but they are still substantially uneducated. I would bet that very few of them know the difference between Keynesian economics and Austrian School economics. I am sure that most of them have never heard of the Laffer Curve. I would guess that most of them aren't familiar with the first principles behind the origin of our country. I doubt that many of them know what evil lies in Socialism or Communism, or unbridled leftism. Or are even aware that Barack Obama is a man of the left, and what that means. They, for the most part, have no idea what the concept of individual liberty is, nor how a big, powerful central government reduces that liberty. I also am pretty sure that they feel that Barack Obama is someone who cares about the poor, women, minorities, and the "middle class," and that Republicans don't. I would stake my substance on the fact that they don't know what is meant by a limited government, or what the Tenth Amendment says. I am certain that most of them don't know anything about Benghazi. Substantially uneducated!

For the past 40 or so years most of our K-12 (and college) educators have been teaching a progressive agenda and class warfare to their students. From kindergarten up they use text books that focus on social issues and downplay our heritage. In many of the urban school districts classes are taught in Spanish so as to provide this progressive agenda without the need for learning English. They are providing these students a crutch, a crutch that will keep them in low paying jobs and poverty so they will be dependent on government for their existence. Also this lack of learning to common language of the United States along with the lack of exposure to our founding principles and heritage tends to keep these immigrants (legal and illegal) in ghettos where politicians can exploit them for their support and votes and they become easy prey for unions like SEIU.

If you live in Germany, France or Italy you need to learn the language to exist. Unlike the United States in these countries official documents are in the native language. You cannot get a license to drive a vehicle unless you take a test in the native language and all ballots are only printed in the native language. The Bundestag or French Parliament does not have a black caucus or Hispanic caucus. Their legislatures are concerned with all of the people not just certain racial or ethnic special interest victim groups. You are either German, French or Italian or you are not.

If you talk with a student in Germany, which I have, they will tell you, in detail, about their history, legal system, culture, and politics. Upper grade students will also tell you a great deal about the American system of government — much more than the average urban black or Hispanic students can.

To summarize — the children in our K-12 urban public school system, for the most part, believe the following:

a) Republicans care about only the rich — the top 1% — and don't care about anyone else.

b) Republicans hate people of color and especially Latinos.

c) Republicans hate gays.

d) Republicans are racist. Many do not know that it was the Republicans under the leadership or Abraham Lincoln who emancipated the slaves and Republicans who advanced the civil rights legislation of the 1960s while the Democrat party led by Al Gore senior, Richard Byrd, and J. William Fulbright who attempted to block it.

e) It is the government that provides jobs. When asked that question many times in classrooms or assemblies — "who is it that creates jobs in America?" The answer is invariably, without hesitation, "the government." This is what they learn from their teachers and parents.

f) Corporations are bad, and profits are very bad. Business shouldn't make profits; they should give any excess money they make to their employees.

g) Taxes are good; they provide the money for the government to take care of people.

h) Government should expand and take care of everyone in the country.

i) America, rather than being a force for good in the world, has been a force for evil.

j) Government has an unlimited source of funds. (When asked "where is the government going to get the money to do all these things you want it to do?," the answer is "taxes.")

These children will soon be voters. How is it, in America, that we are raising children to believe that bigger government is better, that government is the engine that provides jobs, that profits are bad, that Republicans care about only the rich, that we are racist, and that we hate minorities and gays.

This is not something to be ignored. Our country is being changed forever by children who have had this type of indoctrination. We must figure out how to stop it. We need to create a love of country in our children as we once did. We need to have our children say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag every morning or the Preamble to the Constitution (in English), as we once did. We need to teach our children that America has been a force for good in the world. We need to teach them that it is not the role of government to "take care" of people. We need to teach civics once again, and the Constitution. And above all we must stop this culture destroying policy of bi-lingual education. English should not be a second language, but the language of this Republic.

Until this problem is dealt with, and it needs to be soon, we will be raising generations of children who believe in an ever-larger government and who will permanently change America into Greece. There will be no Republican Party or conservative candidates who will win elections as more and more of the population is indoctrinated with leftist thinking. Goodbye to the Home of the Brave and the Land of the Free if we don't act on this issue.

If you look at the county by county map of how this nation voted in this last presidential election you will see how the Democrats dominated the urban population centers while the rest of the nation voted Republican. (You can click on the map for a larger view). You can also see a more interactive detailed view of the California vote for President and Jerry Brown’s enormous tax raising Proposition 30 by clicking the links shown.


In State after State and district after district, Democrats won by promising that government would do something for the people hearing their message. Subsidize their healthcare, pay for their prescriptions, finance their schooling, guarantee their retirement… the list goes on and on. It’s the 21st century version of promising a chicken in every pot.

And, folks, let’s face it. It worked. What happens when a majority of voters are told they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury, if they’ll only put the “right people” in charge?

We saw the answer Tuesday. They’ll stand in line for hours to vote to keep the goodies coming.

It’s going to be awfully hard to outwork, outspend and outvote them. The silent majority is being replaced by a “gimme” society. What’s going to prevent them from dragging this country over a fiscal cliff — and us along with them?

I don’t know. Do you?

Sorry to sound so pessimistic, but I’m stunned and saddened over the results of Tuesday’s elections. I thought it was one of the clearest choices between two different directions for this country I’ve ever seen. And I’m scared to death of the decision a majority of voters just made.

Ah, well, there is one positive thing I can say about the outcome. It will give this humble scribe — and the other conservative and libertarian writers — plenty to write about for the next few years.

Friday, November 9, 2012

What Is The Future Of The Republican Party?

"But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime." — Frédéric Bastiat (The Law)

Conservatives need to take a collective breath and look closer at the numbers before they buy into the idea that GOP nominee Mitt Romney's defeat was due to some kind of national demographic shift that now makes Democrat presidential candidates' armor impenetrable. Before you give in to the hysteria, here are a few things to keep in mind.

First, Barack Obama's re-election showing was actually pretty unimpressive for a guy whose philosophies voters have supposedly adopted. As of this writing on Wednesday, Obama's vote total stood at an unimpressive 60,119,958. That's about what John Kerry got in 2004 (59,028,444). President George W. Bush actually did far better than Obama in his 2004 reelection quest, posting a vote total that was about 2 million higher (62,040,610) than what Obama got on Tuesday. That's hardly a remarkable finish in a country with a population that has increased. In fact, it's a decline of 9 million votes from Obama's 2008 total.

Had Romney (57,425,441) done as well as McCain did in 2008 (59,934,814), he and Obama would have run neck and neck, virtually matching each other's vote totals. That's hardly the stuff of demographic ruin.

The question Republicans and conservatives need to ask is not why voters showed up for Obama, whose turnout wasn't exactly extraordinary, but why millions of their own voters, people who had pulled the lever for Bush and McCain, didn't do the same for Romney or simply stayed home.

Why did Romney get a full 2 million fewer votes than McCain did? Why did those voters pull the lever for McCain, but not for Romney?  Who were they, and where did they go? That is what Republican and conservative strategists need to find out.

Is it possible that Republicans and conservative-leaning independents just weren't that wild about the guy?

Romney, you'll remember, was not exactly popular with the GOP base through two primaries — the first of which he lost outright, and the second of which he won because, quite frankly, all the other candidates were largely unpresentable on the national stage. Remember, Romney won just 52 percent of the votes cast in the primary — hardly a resounding send-off from his own party. Worse yet, Romney carried just 3 out of 43 states with 70-plus percent of the vote, compared to an average of more than 15 states by previous presumptive GOP nominees.

Evangelicals have always been suspicious of Romney's Mormonism. In fact, just days before the election, Paul Ryan had a phone teleconference with Evangelical leaders to rally them. And the exasperation with Romney's flip-flopping habit originated on the right, not on the left, and was well-known. What's more, the GOP's anti-abortion wing has never been entirely comfortable with him the way they were with George W. Bush. And some of the party's base has wandered into the Tea Party and Ron Paul camps, where Romney was never fully welcomed, if embraced at all.

The pundits claim that “Mitt Romney was only the nominee because of a thin primary field." Nonsense, he was the nominee because the entire GOP establishment threw everything it had at all the other candidates, in order to guarantee that it would get the candidate most likely to succumb to their advice and direction. As of September 2012, Romney was the only candidate left in the primary field whom no one had ever described as a conservative, let alone a constitutionalist. That, in short, is why he was the nominee.

The GOP establishment no claims that “Republicans need a candidate who can appeal to moderates". Appealing to moderates means apologizing to voters for not being quite as forward-looking as Barack Obama. It is to set oneself up as the inferior choice. It is to presume that the moderates are with the Democrat candidate by default, and must be peeled off by stealth.

This election was the last chance to spare America the final degradation of ceasing to be a constitutional republic altogether. That battle has now been lost. The things most needed now are clarity and forthrightness. AS Margaret Thatcher said; “first you win the argument, then you win the election.” The danger most imminent now is that, having forsaken the principles of liberty, the nation will simply forget that those principles ever existed. Therefore, from now on, to whatever extent possible, every candidate running against the Democrats in any election must be the most unapologetic, relentless constitutional conservative available. He or she must call out the Democrat as a leftist, a socialist, an authoritarian, and every other simply accurate designation appropriate to the situation. And he or she must be intellectually prepared to prove that case against the Democrat, and to make the moral, constitutional case for individual freedom.

Will this kind of blunt, hard truth lead to victory? Not likely, or not in the short run. The danger, however, is that if the true identity of modern American leftism is swept under the rug in the name of the big lie of "electability" (a word I hope I never hear again), the popular optics will forever belong to the Democrats, who, after all, have actively created a society in their own image and will therefore always appear as the most natural position to their monstrous offspring.

The name of conservatism, and more importantly its proud truths, must never be allowed to slip from the public consciousness. They will do exactly that if the non-Democrat in future campaigns hides from this name and from these truths. Eventually, it will be impossible — realistically, if not legally — to run as a genuine conservative. (I do not use the word "legally" facetiously; the more entrenched authoritarian socialism becomes, the more an advocate of liberty becomes a perceived threat to the nation's basic principles.)

Sarah Palin said in an article in Newsmax that election was not a Rebuke of Conservatism:

“Hang in there, America. Fight for what is right. Don’t look to government or any politician to solve your problems. Government can’t make you happy, healthy, wealthy, or wise. Obama is a master at reading the right ‘soaring’ words fed into his teleprompter, but actions speak louder than words.”

It may very well be possible that McCain got 2 million more votes than Romney because of Sarah Palin. While she invoked passion and hatred from the left and the media she also brought out passion among conservatives — a passion neither McCain nor Romney could do.

The real alternative to leftist authoritarianism (to be labeled as such at every opportunity) must be presented often and with vigor. Politely asking to be forgiven for not being as exciting as one's leftist opponent is the surest path to permanent serfdom. The only way out of this morass is to stand firm on principle and speak proudly of the superiority of one's position. Over time, a new generation may rise up that will find this clear light more appealing than the dull gray of socialism.

Yes, it may take a generation, or more. But it is the only way to victory — not merely electoral victory, which is meaningless without defining principles according to which one can govern, but victory in the name of liberty, of the American Founders, and of civilization.

Michele Bachmann came within an inch of losing her congressional seat. She almost lost in part because she has had the courage to speak out about a host of constitutional issues, from the debt to the Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the government, and her supposed compatriots in the GOP quietly refused to support her campaign in the hope that she would disappear, and take her embarrassing hard truths with her.

It should be noted that Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Deb Fisher, all Tea Party backed candidates were elected to the Senate.

Charles Krauthammer makes a few good points in his latest column in the Washington Post:

“They lose and immediately the chorus begins. Republicans must change or die. A rump party of white America, it must adapt to evolving demographics or forever be the minority.

The only part of this that is even partially true regards Hispanics. They should be a natural Republican constituency: striving immigrant community, religious, Catholic, family-oriented and socially conservative (on abortion, for example).

The principal reason they go Democratic is the issue of illegal immigrants. In securing the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney made the strategic error of (unnecessarily) going to the right of Rick Perry. Romney could never successfully tack back.

For the party in general, however, the problem is hardly structural. It requires but a single policy change: Border fence plus amnesty. Yes, amnesty. Use the word. Shock and awe — full legal normalization (just short of citizenship) in return for full border enforcement.

I’ve always been of the “enforcement first” school, with the subsequent promise of legalization. I still think it’s the better policy. But many Hispanics fear that there will be nothing beyond enforcement. So, promise amnesty right up front. Secure the border with guaranteed legalization to follow on the day the four border-state governors affirm that illegal immigration has slowed to a trickle.

Imagine Marco Rubio advancing such a policy on the road to 2016. It would transform the landscape. He’d win the Hispanic vote. Yes, win it. A problem fixable with a single policy initiative is not structural. It is solvable.

The other part of the current lament is that the Republican Party consistently trails among blacks, young people and (unmarried) women. (Republicans are plus-7 among married women.) But this is not for reasons of culture, identity or even affinity. It is because these constituencies tend to be more politically liberal — and Republicans are the conservative party.

The country doesn’t need two liberal parties. Yes, Republicans need to weed out candidates who talk like morons about rape. But this doesn’t mean the country needs two pro-choice parties either. In fact, more women are pro-life than are pro-choice. The problem here for Republicans is not policy but delicacy — speaking about culturally sensitive and philosophically complex issues with reflection and prudence.

Additionally, warn the doomsayers, Republicans must change not just ethnically but ideologically. Back to the center. Moderation above all!

More nonsense. Tuesday’s exit polls showed that by an eight-point margin (51-43), Americans believe that government does too much. And Republicans are the party of smaller government. Moreover, onrushing economic exigencies — crushing debt, unsustainable entitlements — will make the argument for smaller government increasingly unassailable.

So, why give it up? Republicans lost the election not because they advanced a bad argument but because they advanced a good argument not well enough. Romney ran a solid campaign, but he is by nature a Northeastern moderate. He sincerely adopted the new conservatism but still spoke it as a second language.

More Ford ’76 than Reagan ’80, Romney is a transitional figure, both generationally and ideologically. Behind him, the party has an extraordinarily strong bench. In Congress — Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Kelly Ayotte, (the incoming) Ted Cruz and others. And the governors — Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Nikki Haley, plus former governor Jeb Bush and the soon-retiring Mitch Daniels. (Chris Christie is currently in rehab.)

They were all either a little too young or just not personally prepared to run in 2012. No longer. There may not be a Reagan among them, but this generation of rising leaders is philosophically rooted and politically fluent in the new constitutional conservatism.

Ignore the trimmers. There’s no need for radical change. The other party thinks it owns the demographic future — counter that in one stroke by fixing the Latino problem. Do not, however, abandon the party’s philosophical anchor. In a world where European social democracy is imploding before our eyes, the party of smaller, more modernized government owns the ideological future.

The answer to Romney’s failure is not retreat, not aping the Democrats’ patchwork pandering. It is to make the case for restrained, rationalized and reformed government in stark contradistinction to Obama’s increasingly unsustainable big-spending, big-government paternalism.

Republicans: No whimpering. No whining. No reinvention when none is needed. Do conservatism but do it better. There’s a whole generation of leaders ready to do just that.”

No more apologies. No more embarrassment. No more veiled language when on the big stage. The left won the day by making the most radical, anti-human irrationalism of this epoch seem safe and normal, while portraying freedom and individualism as the dangerous, radical path.

The electoral battle between leftism and liberty is lost, and perhaps will now remain so for a good long time, regardless of the name of the winning party in any given election.

The moral war, however, is still in its early stages. It is an educational war, which means a war of ideas, which means a civilizational war. It is going to get ugly, and we are going to lose more battles than we win. As you know, however, the ultimate victor is the side that wins the last battle.