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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Taking a look at how green energy is working in Europe and America

As the United States grapples with conflicting ideas about whether and to what extent man causes global climate change, the zealous movement to do away with using fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas to produce electricity and switch to “green” sources like wind and solar energy goes forward, full speed ahead.

Far ahead of the U.S. in this campaign are some nations in Europe that some policymakers tout as having adopted smart energy policy. They think the U.S. should follow the lead of countries like Germany and Spain and more heavily subsidize renewable energies like wind, solar, biomass, etc. and tax fossil fuel users more heavily.

Now that Europe’s green energy policies have been in place for several years, a look to see how they have worked might help us decide whether this is a good plan for the U.S. to follow.

From Canadafreepress,com comes information about Germany’s energy policies. The news here is not so good; green energy policies are driving up energy prices and forcing hundreds of thousands of people into energy poverty. Specifically, a study of Germany’s experiences found:
  • Residential German electricity prices are nearly three times higher than electricity prices in the U.S. 
  • As many as 800,000 Germans have had their power cut off because of an inability to pay for rising energy costs. 
  • Germany’s feed-in tariff scheme provides lavish subsidies to renewable energy producers. 
  • On-shore wind has required feed-in tariffs that are in excess of 300 percent higher than market prices. 
  • Germany’s Renewable Energy Levy, which subsidizes renewable energy production, cost German households $9.6 billion in 2013. 
  • The cost to expand transmission networks to integrate renewables stands at $33.6 billion, which grid operators say accounts “for only a fraction of the cost of the energy transition.”

Information from the Institute for Energy Research produced some data on the effects of Spain’s push for green energy that began in 1994. The program involved tariffs, quotas and subsidies, and has earned kudos from international leaders, including President Barack Obama.

The Spaniards have seen increases in electricity rates from 2005 to 2011 of 92 percent for domestic users and 78 percent for industrial users, while during that same period the U.S. saw rate increases of 24 percent for domestic users and19 percent for industrial users from fossil fuel produced electricity.

Here is a comparison of Spanish and American rates per kilowatt-hour:
  • Spain – Domestic $29.46 and Industrial $14.84 
  • U.S. - Domestic $11.69 and Industrial $6.81.

While prices were increasing in Spain the level of carbon dioxide actually rose, rather than declining, increasing 34.5 percent from 1994 to 2011. As a result of this the Spanish government confessed in 2012 that it can’t afford to continue subsidizing green energy.

Meanwhile, the French energy and environment minister, Segolene Royal, who was appointed to the position last spring, plans to create 100,000 jobs by 2017 with her green energy growth initiative. She wants to reduce France’s 75 percent reliance on nuclear energy for electricity production to 50 percent by 2025 by investing in wind, solar, biomass and marine energy sources. She also plans to help 500,000 low-income families add insulation to their homes.

Writing on HotAir.com Erika Johnsen points out that to accomplish these high-minded goals France will have to throw “gobs and gobs of money” into the mix through subsidies, tax credits and/or consumer quotas, which inevitably end up being paid by consumers through higher prices, higher taxes, or increasing France’s national debt, which is already a serious problem. The French economy is weak, much weaker than Germany’s, and we have already seen what happened in that grand green experiment.

In apparent ignorance of these horrid experiences from our European brothers and sisters, the ideologically blinded Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is driving the U.S. toward green energy use. The EPA does this not through the natural evolution of increased efficiency and value of green energies that gradually supplant older and dirtier fuels, but by punishing the existing producers of the major fuel sources of coal and natural gas that account for 66 percent of our electricity production.

This approach is responsible for killing jobs and harming local economies, and producing higher prices for consumers as the EPA goes merrily along, oblivious to the destruction in its wake, and to the misery the thoughtless drive for green energy has produced for Spain and Germany.

The administration’s “feel-good” emotional support for three risky green companies cost three-quarters of a billion taxpayer dollars. Solar energy companies Solyndra and Abound Solar wasted $529 million and $70 million respectively, and last December hybrid carmaker Fisker Automotive filed for bankruptcy adding another $139 million to the tab.

And now climatologist John L. Casey warns of a shift in global climate, a cold spell to last 30 years, and it has absolutely nothing to do with carbon dioxide emissions. It’s due to the sun. “All you have to do is trust natural cycles, and follow the facts; and that leads you to the inevitable conclusion that the sun controls the climate, and that a new cold era has begun," he said.

Perhaps the EPA will forsake the “green fantasy” in favor of reality.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The election of 2014 is over. What did we learn? Where do we go?

Last week’s mid-term election results surprised almost everyone in some way. Republicans won control of the US Senate, increased their majority in the House of Representatives by 13 seats, and won a number of other victories, as summarized here by The Washington Post:

  • Net gain of 8 legislative chambers, increasing from 59 to 67 out of a total of 98 (Nebraska is technically unicameral, but it is dominated by Republicans as well).
  • This sets a record for the modern era, breaking the one in 2012.
  • Republicans now have total control of 24 states, controlling legislative chambers as well as the governor’s office.
  • Republicans have supermajority status in 8 states.
  • Control is split in 17 states (3 of whose governors flipped from Democrat to Republican).
  • Republicans now have four lieutenant governorships due to defeating Democrat incumbents.
  • Democrats have total control in 6 states.

Given the broad and deep defeat of Democrats across the nation it is apparent that the country disapproves of what liberal Democrats have been doing. Those who voted elected Republicans in big numbers, and those that didn’t vote made a strong statement of non-support for the radical policies of liberal Democrats.

A day after the election, President Barack Obama was defiant, showing no inkling that he understood that his policies and the direction he and his fellow liberals had set were to blame for what happened the previous day.

“What we’ve seen now for a number of cycles is that the American people just want to see work done here in Washington,” he said. “They’re frustrated by the gridlock. They’d like to see more cooperation, and I think all of us have a responsibility, me in particular, to try to make that happen.”

That sounds promising, but no more had he sounded the trumpet of cooperation than he committed to going around Congress with a plan to stop deportations and allow as many as 5 million illegal aliens to stay in the United States, at least temporarily. Given that he did nothing on immigration for the first six years of his tenure, except weaken border security, why is this so important now?

His position not only is a slap in the face of Congressional leaders, but also of the American people. Seventy-four percent of voters said in an exit poll by The Polling Company that President Obama should work with Congress rather than go around Congress on immigration.

The Polling Company results showed that "majorities of men (75 percent), women (74 percent), whites (79 percent), blacks (59 percent), and Hispanics (54 percent)," oppose an executive amnesty, and that opinion was shared by Republicans (92 percent) and Independents (80 percent), and even by a majority of Democrats (51 percent).

He is also on the wrong side of the Obamacare issue. The Real Clear Politics Average of polls conducted in October shows that nearly 52 percent of those polled are opposed to Obamacare, while only 38 percent favor it.

Nevertheless, "On healthcare, there are certainly some lines I'm going to draw," Mr. Obama said on Wednesday. "Repeal of the law I won't sign," and he will resist efforts to improve the bill, such as by getting rid of the individual mandate.

This election was certainly not a mandate for Congress and the president to work together to pass the same kinds of legislation that liberal Democrats favored before the election. The people want change.

The mission statement for the new Republican majority should be “First, do no harm.” That means no amnesty, and fix or repeal Obamacare, among other things.

The federal government is too big, too expensive, too intrusive; it is out of control and a danger to the freedom of the American people: Government must be reigned in. That is what the election meant.

Participants in a nationwide CBS News poll in late October were asked what was the most important issue that would affect their vote in the upcoming election. The stagnant economy topped the list at 38 percent.

To get the economy moving we have to cut tax rates across the board, both corporate and personal, which will put millions of dollars in the hands of people and businesses to spend as they see fit.

And then:

  • Cut government spending. There’s more than enough waste in administrative agencies to “pay for” tax cuts.
  • Repeal the tax on medical devices imposed by the Affordable Care Act that punishes companies developing needed technology.
  • Approve the XL Pipeline, and both create jobs and help end dependence on foreign oil.
  • Reign in the EPA, remove the shackles on domestic energy production. Defund it, if necessary.
  • Secure the borders and stop the influx of illegals, drug cartels and other criminals from Mexico, and potential terrorists. Deport or jail the criminals among the illegals.
  • Start restoring our military to its former strength, and try to reacquire those seasoned officers driven to retirement by the Obama administration.
  • Restore selection of US Senators to state legislatures, as it was originally designed.


Tuesday, November 04, 2014

One investigative reporter’s intriguing trials and tribulations

Sharyl Attkisson is an award winning television journalist who until recently worked for CBS News. She received two Emmy nominations in 2010 and another in 2011 for investigating members of Congress and the government’s wasting of tax dollars. Her reporting of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) “Operation Fast and Furious” debacle won CBS News the Investigative Reporting Award from Accuracy in Media in 2012, and also won CBS Evening News the Radio and Television News Directors Association's National Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Video Investigative Reporting.

You may remember “Operation Fast and Furious,” although it received much less coverage than it deserved. That was the name attached to the ill advised, poorly conceived, and error-ridden misadventure devised by ATF, an effort to shut down the flow of U.S. guns to Mexican drug cartels. The idea was to allow guns to be put in the hands of Mexican drug traffickers for the purpose of tracking them to cartel members and arresting them.

Not only did ATF botch tracking the weapons, but people who were armed with two of those “Gun Walking” weapons and were illegal aliens that the ATF had not arrested, killed Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry on the U.S. side of the Mexican border. While it is certainly possible to dream up a more preposterous plan than this one, “Fast and Furious” richly deserves the Dubious Achievement Award.

While working for CBS News in 2013, according to huffingtonpost.com, Ms. Attkisson told a Philadelphia radio station that "[t]here has been an issue in my house and there has been an issue with my computers that's gone on for quite a long time that we're looking into.” The issues, she said, had been occurring for about two years. An investigation by CBS News confirmed that, indeed, an external third party had accessed her computer numerous times.

Further problems were outlined by Erik Wemple on washingtonpost.com: “By November 2012, writes Attkisson, disruptions on her home phone line were so frequent as to render it unusable: ‘I call home from my mobile phone and it rings on my end, but not at the house. Or it rings at home once but when my husband or daughter answers, they just hear a dial tone. At the same time, on my end, it keeps ringing and then connects somewhere, just not at my house. Sometimes, when my call connects to that mystery-place-that’s-not-my-house, I hear an electronic sounding buzz,’ reads one passage in [her new book]. She also alleges that her television set ‘spontaneously jitters, mutes, and freeze-frames.’ The home alarm, too, ‘sounds at a different time every night’ and when she checks with the alarm system, it indicates that there’s ‘trouble with the phone line.’”

Who had the motive and the means to do such things?

Could it have been a competitor network? Perhaps. But would a competitor have strong enough motivation to take on such a project? How about a foreign entity, like China? China has the wherewithal, but would it be interested in the subjects Ms. Attkinsson was investigating? Probably not.

How about the CIA, FBI, NSA, DOJ or other government department? Well, given that she was looking into misbehavior of members of Congress and the “Fast and Furious” mess, yes, both motive and wherewithal exist in administrative agencies. However, the Justice Department denied any involvement, so we can just follow the lead of the mainstream news media and put that suspicion to rest, can’t we?

Ms. Attkinsson did yeoman’s work investigating and reporting on the “Fast and Furious” government screw-up, but CBS’ interest ran out before the story was over, as did the government’s interest in explaining to the American people how such a thing happened.

You would probably use more than all your fingers and toes counting the prominent media outlets that share a grand lack of curiosity for epic blunders, bungles, fiascoes and miscalculations by our government over the last few years, like the Benghazi security failure, the Solyndra financing boondoggle, the IRS targeting non-profit applicants, the NSA mass spying project, the failure to secure the southern border, and the Justice Department spying on reporters’ private communications.

Finally, however, after more than five years a few media outlets have started to notice and point out the administration’s many shortcomings, and to ask questions about these things.

Ms. Attkinsson left CBS News this year due to what she said is the network's liberal bias and lack of dedication to investigative reporting. She has written a book, Stonewalled: One Reporter's Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama's Washington, published by Harpers, and focusing on difficulties she has experienced in reporting on the Obama administration.

Sharyl Attkinsson epitomizes what the Fourth Estate is supposed to be: the people’s guardian against government misbehavior. A responsible and determined news media provides the public the information it needs to properly evaluate what its government and elected officials are doing, and as such is an indispensable tool for a free society. This function has been largely missing since January of 2009. Maybe if a Republican is elected president in 2016, the function will be revived.



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

This year’s election can help change the direction of our country

Next week’s election provides an opportunity to take a big step toward correcting the numerous wrongs afflicting America.

The federal government is too big, too expensive, too oppressive, and too intrusive. Some of those who work for us in Washington and elsewhere misbehave: they lie, cheat and steal, put politics ahead of service and pay no penalty for it. Sometimes, they are rewarded for their treachery.

They believe it is their job to decide what we should eat, what kind of toilet to buy, what kind of light bulbs to use, what we can and cannot say, what health insurance we must buy, which industries should be shut down, how our electricity should be produced, how we may utilize our own private property, the minimum amount employers must pay the least experienced and least knowledgeable workers, who we can do business with. They want to know who we talk to and what we think, and think they can tell religious organizations they must violate their principles or face penalties, and they waste our money on frivolous projects that often fund their friends.

What ever happened to being able to like or dislike anything at any time for any reason, or for no reason? What happened to “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone?” People invest their money, mortgage their home to fund a business, only to find they are not actually in charge of it; they must follow sometimes-foolish government rules, or suffer the consequences.

The excesses, corruption and wrongdoings of the federal government are much worse than those of state governments, which in turn are much worse than those of county and municipal governments. Why? Because the smaller and closer government is to the people it serves, the more responsive to and respectful of those people it is.

It has not helped that our federal government is staffed by career bureaucrats who often take on a sense of power and privilege beyond their limited authority, and it is run by career politicians, many, perhaps most, of whom at some point shift their focus from good and faithful service to being re-elected.

Flipping channels the other night I came upon a replay of the Communist Party USA convention in Chicago last June on C-SPAN3.

Party Chairman Sam Webb was speaking: “Here are my two cents. What is needed is nothing less than the restructuring of the economy and the consistently and deeply anti-corporate and eventually socialist direction.”

Among the things Mr. Webb favors are “a guaranteed livable income for all and the reduction of the workweek with no cut in pay” … “and major expansion of every aspect of the public sector to education, housing, retirement security, health care, elder care, and so forth.” He supports raising the minimum wage, and the idea that everyone who isn’t doing well – the underpaid, underemployed, unemployed, the discriminated against, struggling families, students, the underwater homeowner, the bankrupt city” – are victims of capitalism.

He favors moving “government priorities away from military spending.” And he wants the wealth amassed by the evil 1 percent to be transferred into “public hands, our hands.”

He sounded just like big government American liberals, who prefer to call themselves “progressives,” presumably to describe their drive toward socialism/communism.

Mr. Webb might have listed the countries that have thrived after implementing these ideas, but he didn’t, because there aren’t any. Though heaven knows many have tried: Cuba, North Korea, China, Vietnam, Laos, et al. They exist as repressive nations forcing their ideology on their citizens and killing or imprisoning those who disagree, and usually have to adopt some capitalist market characteristics to survive.

Under our Constitution, which designed the government that led the United States to levels of greatness and a degree of individual freedom never before imagined, the federal government was never supposed to be what it has become: an obese and controlling machine that is blind to or unconcerned with its harmful effects on the people it is designed to serve.

Much authority was deliberately left to the states and to the people, as so stated in the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

From 1955 until 1980 Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, also from 1987 to 1995, and again from 2007 to 2011. Since 1955 Republicans controlled both houses of Congress for only 10 years, during the period 1995 to 2007, while Democrats were in control for 50 years. During this period of Democrat dominance, government has grown into a gargantuan monstrosity that threatens our freedom, and indeed our very survival today.

Capitalism and limited government got us where we were when the United States was on top. Liberal Democrats took us from there to the low point where we are now. The devolution will continue unless we put a stop to it. The Republican Party is the only viable mechanism to slow or stop the headlong slide toward socialism/communism we have witnessed over the last few decades.

Vote Republican in this election.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

So, the Republicans decreased funding for the CDC’s Ebola research

An ad produced and being run by the Agenda Project Action Fund says Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funding has been cut by $585 million since 2010 and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) saw its budget cut by $446 million. Interspersed along the way are brief visuals of various Republicans who at some time in their public life uttered the word “cut,” and have had that split-second of their life included in this ad: “cut,” “cut,” “cut,” “cut.”

And then the CDC director, Dr. Thomas Frieden, is shown saying that there are disease outbreaks that his agency is not able to act against “as effectively as we should be able to.” And finally disturbing images of Ebola sufferers appear, followed by the words “Republican cuts kill” just prior to advising people to “Vote.”

We can forgive Dr. Frieden for ending a sentence with a preposition, which is at worst a minor slip-up, but we cannot forgive the Agenda Project for flagrantly lying that Republicans – or anyone – cut funding for the CDC and the NIH, preventing them from developing a vaccine for Ebola.

For verification of that assertion we look to one of the most liberal of voices, The Washington Post. It gave the ad its gold seal: Four Pinocchios, which the Post categorizes as “Whoppers.”

The Post story explains “For NIH, since 2006, there has been relatively little change in the size of the budget, going from about $28.5 billion in 2006 to $30.14 billion in 2014. … (The agency also received a $10 billion windfall in 2009 from the stimulus law.)”

“As for the CDC,” the Post continues, “you will see a similar pattern. The numbers have bounced around $6.5 billion in recent years. (CDC receives both an appropriation from Congress and, since 2010, hundreds of millions of dollars from the Prevention and Public Health Fund established by the Affordable Care Act.) Before 2008, the agency received less than $6 billion a year. In fiscal year 2013, the White House proposed a cut in CDC’s funding, but Congress added about $700 million. In 2014, the administration again proposed reducing the budget, but Congress boosted it to $6.9 billion.” In case you aren’t aware, the House of Representatives is under control of Republicans, and has been since 2010.

However, even if the CDC and NIH budgets had been cut, every manager in the public sector is obligated to spend the available funds in the smartest and most beneficial way; put whatever funds you have where they are most needed, and if necessary seek authorization to do so.

How well did the managers of these agencies do with the billions of taxpayer dollars they have at their disposal? The NIH thought that studying the sex life of fruit flies at a cost of $1 million took precedence over Ebola. Likewise, spending $1.5 million studying why lesbians have a tendency to be overweight, while gay men don’t was more important than an Ebola vaccine. As was spending $688,000 to determine why people watch “Seinfeld” reruns and $355,000 on a study of how quickly husbands and wives calm down after an argument.

For its part, the CDC’s mission statement says in part, “Whether diseases start at home or abroad, are chronic or acute, curable or preventable, human error or deliberate attack, CDC fights disease and supports communities and citizens to do the same.” In support of that lofty goal, the CDC used some of its billions studying seat-belt use and infant car seats, built a second finely appointed visitor center in Atlanta to the tune of $106 million, spent $10 million more on furniture for the new building, and helped Hollywood devise medical plots to the tune of $1.7 million. And of the more than $3 billion CDC received from the Affordable Care Act to research dangerous diseases, it has spent only $180 million on that project, but not on Ebola.

And after asking Congress for extra funding in 1999 for a syphilis project, and receiving double the amount of funding it requested, the CDC responded by hiring porn stars and strippers to speak at public events, all the while the number of reported syphilis cases had doubled by 2005. Oh, and the CDC spent $25 million of our money on bonuses for employees over recent years.

Both agencies spent millions to study that mysterious bacterial infection, “gun violence.”

If you want to know why the CDC doesn’t have a vaccine for Ebola and why it hasn’t prepared the nation’s hospitals to handle people infected with the Ebola virus, you probably ought to look to the party whose backside the Agenda Project is trying so desperately to cover, the one that was elected to run the government efficiently. Incidentally, Republicans are not in charge of the CDC or the NIH.

With an important mid-term election two weeks away, the message at the end of this sleazy ad to vote should be heeded. However, voters should remember dishonest ads like this one that attempt to cover up the gross incompetence in administrative agencies, along with the other scandals that still exist, but that the mainstream media has kept below the radar.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ebola infected West Africa – Will it now infect the United States?

President Barack Obama said the following on September 16 at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta: “First and foremost, I want the American people to know that our experts, here at the CDC and across our government, agree that the chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low. We’ve been taking the necessary precautions, including working with countries in West Africa to increase screening at airports so that someone with the virus doesn’t get on a plane for the United States. In the unlikely event that someone with Ebola does reach our shores, we’ve taken new measures so that we’re prepared here at home. We’re working to help flight crews identify people who are sick, and more labs across our country now have the capacity to quickly test for the virus. We’re working with hospitals to make sure that they are prepared, and to ensure that our doctors, our nurses and our medical staff are trained, are ready, and are able to deal with a possible case safely.”

Four days later the “unlikely” occurred: the first person infected with Ebola arrived in the U.S. from Liberia, where he had assisted an infected woman, become contaminated, but did not tell anyone about it in order to get on a plane and travel to Dallas, Texas. It took three different flights for him to get here and no one along the way apparently knew he had been in Liberia, or was able to determine that he had been infected, since he was asymptomatic until after he got here.

After developing a fever, he visited Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, was treated and sent home, despite having recently been in Liberia. He was staying with relatives in Dallas and as the disease progressed he got sicker and became contagious, and after that he returned to the hospital and was diagnosed with Ebola. Several days later, he passed away.

His relatives were exposed to Ebola, and the residence and outside areas were contaminated. Who knows how many others were exposed to the virus?

Mr. Obama said we can handle this, should the need arise. But the need arose, and a well-respected hospital didn’t handle the first infected person very well at all.

The first airport screenings began Saturday at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Other airports were to begin screenings this week. Screenings at African airports and another screening at U.S. airports, the president said, would make it unlikely that someone infected with Ebola will get to the U.S.

Given the botched handling of the first Ebola patient in our country, can we believe Mr. Obama? “No matter how many of these procedures are put into place, we can’t get the risk to zero,” said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Martin Cetron, director of the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine. He told a news conference that these new measures wouldn’t necessarily have detected Ebola in the patient who traveled to Dallas.

Complicating an already unnerving situation, a second case of Ebola at the Dallas hospital has now been confirmed. A female nurse who had cared for the Ebola patient prior to his death was assessed on Friday, CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said, and on Sunday it was confirmed that the nurse has Ebola.

The nurse’s infection is blamed on a breech of protocol. One report said that when removing the protective clothing she was wearing, the nurse inadvertently touched her cheek with her gloved hand, a glove that was contaminated with the virus. And now she has Ebola. And now, the disease has a small, but troubling presence in America.

This second error at this hospital has put other hospital personnel at risk, and may have infected one or more of them. Raise your hand if you believe the U.S. healthcare system really is prepared to deal with Ebola patients.

Even without these errors in handling Ebola in Dallas, it simply makes no sense either to bring potential or actual Ebola patients here, or allow people from countries where the disease exists to come here. Why take the chance of exposing Americans, particularly healthcare workers, to this vicious disease?

Columnist Thomas Sowell outlines the situation: “There was a time when an outbreak of a deadly disease overseas would bring virtually unanimous agreement that our top priority should be to keep it overseas. Yet Barack Obama has refused to bar entry to the United States by people from countries where the Ebola epidemic rages, as Britain has done. In other words, the safety of the American people takes second place to the goal of helping people overseas.”

President Obama has a giant blind spot when it comes to protecting the country from illegal entry of who knows who through the southern border, and now that blind spot extends to failing to stop people potentially infected with Ebola from coming into the U.S.

In situations like this one, we need to be smart, not compassionate. We can help the unfortunate West Africans by sending medical supplies and assistance without needlessly putting ourselves at risk. And we must.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

The left wants to shut down opposition, rather than debate issues

Not everyone on the left is intolerant of contrary ideas, or afraid of open debate of ideas, or so convinced of their own superiority that they deem civil and informed debate unnecessary, but many of them are.

Back in 2010, thirty liberal organizations, including the Center for Media Justice, the Rainbow Push Coalition, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, and Common Cause, among others, supported an effort to have the Federal Communications Commission clamp down on so-called “hate speech” on talk radio, the internet, and the cable television news networks. The imagined “hate speech” resulted from support by those media outlets for Arizona’s illegal immigration bill, which those trying to limit the debate characterized as “one of the harshest pieces of anti-Latino legislation in this country’s history.”

The law, SB 1070, passed in 2010 by the Arizona legislature and signed into law by the governor, created state penalties relating to immigration law enforcement, and included trespassing, harboring and transporting illegal immigrants, alien registration documents, employer sanctions, and human smuggling among the things Arizona declared to be state issues.

Given the negligence of the federal government to provide border security, and the harm to residents of border states like Arizona from drug dealers and other thugs and hoodlums who easily move back and forth across the border, passing laws to protect residents against the harm that often results from illegal immigration might be the right thing to do. 

Unless you are one of the intolerant liberals. They basically said that if you support that law, you are a hater and a racist, and being unwilling or unable to discuss the issue in a civil manner, they resorted to: “we say we are right, and that’s the end of the story.”

And then there is Robert Kennedy, Jr. who wants organizations that disagree with the idea that human activities are responsible for global warming or climate change to lose their business charter.

As Mr. Kennedy wrote for The Huffington Post last October, “corporations which deliberately, purposefully, maliciously and systematically sponsor climate lies should be given the death penalty. This can be accomplished through an existing legal proceeding known as ‘charter revocation.’ State Attorneys General can invoke this remedy whenever corporations put their profit-making before the ‘public welfare.’"

He wants to intimidate those organizations – which include both corporations and think tanks – to discourage them from acting in their own best interest or advocating policies they think are beneficial, and/or opposing those policies that would harm them or that they believe are harmful. But not all organizations; just the ones that support or oppose the “wrong things.” 

Coal mining companies would be punished for pointing out the fraud committed by global warming activists, like some of the International Panelon Climate Change scientists, and for challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s water quality standards that are so severe that Evian bottled water and apple juice would be ruled unsafe, but organizations that followed the politically correct line would be left alone. 

Mr. Kennedy is one of the many who is willing to punish Americans who disagree with his ideological mania, so long as it helps him further his narrow ideological goals, and nothing must stand in the way. 

He has forgotten, or perhaps never learned, that freedom of speech is guaranteed to enable Americans to say things that may be unpopular with some or many, and specifically to protect political dissent. But disagreement, debate and discussion of political issues, whether by individuals or by organizations like corporations and think tanks, form the path to informing the public, thus yielding a greater possibility for sensible policymaking and better government.

Mr. Kennedy, like many leftists, is more than happy to force his ideas on the rest of us, and it matters not whether the truth is on his side, or whether a majority agrees with him.

It isn’t difficult to picture him regaling himself in the court of some tin-pot dictator, like North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, gleefully ordering “off with their heads” for those who have the temerity to indulge in independent thought.

Steven F. Hayward, inaugural scholar in conservative thought and philosophy at the University of Colorado at Boulder, says of the left’s tendency to shut down dissent, “These inclinations to rule certain issues out of bounds by denouncing dissenters with moral calumny rather than argument is not a sign of health in liberalism.  It is a sign of ideological senescence.”

Perhaps liberalism is old and tired, which would explain why its adherents gave up that term in favor of “progressivism.” But whatever they call their ideology, the left cannot persuade others to their way of thinking through the power and logic of their ideas, and is why they have to resort to shutting down and shutting up their opponents. 

We see today in America a situation where groups that advocate some idea or action have employed exaggeration, deception and other nefarious means to gain far more influence than their causes warrant. This is wrong on several levels, but more than just wrong, it is a threat to our liberty.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Scottish “slam poet’s” sad story of her abortion while a teenager




“I Think She Was a She” is a poem written by “slam poet” Leyla Josephine, in which she talks about the abortion she had as a teenager.

Before getting into the content of this poem, you might like to know just what a “slam poet” is. “A slam itself is simply a poetry competition in which poets perform original work alone or in teams before an audience, which serves as judge,” according to poets.org, the online site of the Academy of American Poets. “The work is judged as much on the manner and enthusiasm of its performance as its content or style, and many slam poems are not intended to be read silently from the page.” 

This slam poem was delivered via an online video. “I think she was a she,” the poem begins. “No, I know she was a she, and I think she would have looked exactly like me,” Ms. Josephine declares. With a heavy Scottish brogue that is sometimes difficult to understand she then goes into much detail, explaining how that as a mother she would have taken pains to protect her baby daughter, would have talked about her grandfather when the daughter was older, and would have taken pains to teach her all the things the poet’s mother had taught her.

The poem is touching and almost melancholy, something that might have been written by the mother of a child unfortunately lost before birth. But, of course, that is not what this poem is about. Here, Ms. Josephine condemns the cultural shame forced on her ever since making that fateful decision.

The tone of the poem then takes a sharp turn: “But I would’ve supported her right to choose; to choose a life for herself, a path for herself. I would’ve died for that right like she died for mine. I’m sorry, but you came at the wrong time."

Ms. Josephine is not sadly recounting a miscarriage; instead she is proudly describing why she had an abortion and how it was truly the right decision for her. “I am not ashamed. I am not ashamed. I’m so sick of keeping these words contained. I am not ashamed," she says of her decision to abort her child. She said that the child she created with the “boy I loved” was just too much responsibility for her as a teenager.

Lines of rationalization follow, as she tries desperately to justify what she did. She stubbornly claims dominion over her own body. And she regurgitates the statistics on how many abortions occur in a year in order to justify hers as just one more. And then this, in conclusion: “But this is my body, and I don’t care about your ignorant views. When I become a mother, it will be when I choose.”

Let’s review some of what she said.

Ms. Josephine states, "I would have died” for her aborted daughters right to choose, “just like she died for mine." The right to choose what? Aren’t we told abortion is just the process of eliminating a mass of unwanted cells, like having a tumor excised?

But she said her daughter had “died” for her right to choose, tacit recognition that her baby was living person; that abortion ended the life of her child. In which case abortion is murder, the deliberate killing of the child she and her lover created through a willful act.

"I'm sorry, but you came at the wrong time." You “came” at the wrong time? The child decided to create itself without first checking with mom and dad? Among the three persons in this story, the child, as the creation of mom and dad, had no choice whatsoever in this situation.

However, the artfully designed words that are intended to justify what she did in fact subvert that effort. She and her boyfriend willingly indulged in a sexual act, likely unprotected. For her, abortion is nothing more than a way to be rid of the consequences of her behavior.

Abortion is not a crime only because it has not been legally established that life begins at conception or at some point prior to birth. However, Ms. Josephine admits abortion ended her child’s life.

But her statement that she lacks shame at the same time reveals the contempt she holds for the life she created, and her comfort with being able to wash away that inconvenience at will.

Once accepted as a solution for inconvenient situations, abortion takes on even more bizarre forms.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sees abortion as a means to reduce the number of poor children. 

“Frankly I had thought that at the time [Roe v Wade] was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion.” … “It makes no sense as a national policy to promote birth only among poor people.” 

That is a stunning perspective from an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and helps explain why our country is in such deep trouble today.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Honorable service and integrity are requirements for good government

The anniversary of the United States Constitution passed by relatively unnoticed last week, but politics as usual went along apace. That marvelous document – born of discontent that sparked revolution, and which was followed by discord, debate, trial and error, and ultimately yielded triumph – set forth a form of government unheard of in human history. It created a government empowered by the people, a government that expects and depends upon people of integrity following the rules, because doing so benefits the whole of the American people. It is a form of government designed to operate above the muck and mire of petty politics.

A nation so constituted is obligated to the people that empower it to operate efficiently, responsibly, honestly, and to identify its mistakes, own up to and bear responsibility for those mistakes and take steps to assure that those mistakes are not repeated. This element is never more important than when government failure results in the unnecessary loss of life of Americans serving their country.

Such a government and the people of integrity that operate it do not allow political considerations to prevent the truth from being found. It requires people in government, whether put there as an act of faith through the electoral process, or whether put there as hired hands, all work for the people, and all owe a duty to the people to act lawfully and with integrity. Anything less is treasonous, perhaps not by the letter of the law, but certainly in the spirit of the law.

As that revered date passed by, so did another: a date marking the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001, and the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya in 2012.

We well remember the first of those dates, when Muslim terrorists hijacked four airliners and crashed two into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, and passengers scuttled the fourth before it could reach its target, but these acts resulted in killing nearly 3,000 innocent people. Not since Pearl Harbor had the United States seen an attack of such magnitude.

On the latter date, Islamic militants attacked the Benghazi consulate. In that attack U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, a Foreign Service information officer, and Tyrone S. Woods and Glen A. Doherty, two former Navy SEALs working as security personnel at the consulate died. This is an event many want simply to forget, and move on. “Dude, that was two whole years ago!”

The Benghazi attack occurred on the watch of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, neither of whom has any appetite for providing answers to the several serious questions about security failures that they are obligated to provide to their bosses, the American people.

The tragedy of Benghazi resulted from a grossly failed episode of government that puts some public servants in a very, very bad light. But people who put good government above sordid political concerns understand that the many unanswered questions of Benghazi deserve –require – answers. Honest and complete answers.  Mrs. Clinton’s shameful response to a Congressional committee, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” simply does not cut it.

And the longer Americans are left wondering which of the public servants in our government made decisions, or failed to make decisions, that led to the murder of four brave Americans serving their country, the more tawdry details leak out.

In a lengthy story for the Daily Signal online, Emmy award-winning investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson reported that as the House Select Committee on Benghazi prepared for its first hearing on the scandal last week, former State Department diplomat Raymond Maxwell alleged that confidants of Hillary Clinton took part in removing some damaging documents before they were turned over to the Accountability Review Board investigating the security lapses prior to and during the terrorist attacks on the consulate.

As Ms. Attkisson reported: “Maxwell says the weekend document session was held in the basement of the State Department’s Foggy Bottom headquarters in a room underneath the ‘jogger’s entrance.’ He describes it as a large space, outfitted with computers and big screen monitors, intended for emergency planning, and with small offices on the periphery.”

Mr. Maxwell said that he observed boxes and stacks of documents, and that a State Department office director, whom he said was a close advisor to Mrs. Clinton was there. The office director actually worked for Mr. Maxwell, but he said he was not consulted about her working on this weekend assignment.

The office director explained that the assembled staff were to go through the stacks of documents “and pull out anything that might put anybody in the [Near Eastern Affairs office] or seventh floor [where the Secretary of State and top advisers are] in a bad light.

 “I asked her, ‘But isn’t that unethical?’ he said. “She responded, ‘Ray, those are our orders.’”

These State Department employees were more concerned with following orders than with acting honorably and legally, something that should concern everyone. 

For that reason, and for the memory of those four brave Americans that died needlessly, we must pursue the truth about Benghazi.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Potpourri: Comments on the passing scene

From the “Aha” department: Judicial Watch reports that “Department of Justice attorneys for the Internal Revenue Service told the organization on Friday that Lois Lerner’s emails, indeed all government computer records, are backed up by the federal government in case of a government-wide catastrophe.”

However, attorneys also said it would just be too dad-gummed hard to go through the backup files to look for evidence of possible criminal behavior. Imagine that: an emergency backup of the entire government, so that if the entire government computer system were to be destroyed, all the information is protected, but it’s so disorganized that you can’t easily find anything. Doesn’t that make the backup essentially useless? Was this system designed and built by the same people that gave us healthcare.gov?

Do you suppose that none of the people at the IRS who claimed the emails had been forever lost knew about this backup? Really? 




*****

Raising the minimum wage by $2.85 an hour to $10.10 an hour effectively imposes an “unskilled labor tax” on employers of $6,170 per worker, according to the American Enterprise Institute’s Mark J. Perry. That includes not only the increase in wages, but also increases in FICA, Medicare and unemployment taxes.

A survey of 400 U.S. Chief Financial Officers conducted by Duke University finance professor Campbell Harvey shows that a substantial increase in the minimum wage will, as so many have said for so long, cost jobs, as well as reduce job benefits and increase outsourcing.

The survey showed that in response to a $10 per hour minimum wage:
    •    Sixty percent of the firms said they would lay off employees.
    •    Forty percent said they would slash benefits to employees.
    •    Seventy percent said they would increase contracting, outsourcing, or moving actual production outside the United States.

A report on the study by the National Center for Policy Analysis notes that, “Businesses will not simply absorb these costs; they will look for ways to minimize the $6,000 tax by reducing the number of workers they employ, cutting workers' hours, halting additional hiring or finding ways to use automation to replace work done by employees. Employers may also cut employees' non-monetary fringe benefits rather than eliminate their positions.”

*****

Since President Barack Obama ended the War on Terror, America’s new efforts to combat, er … fight, umm … deal with terrorism has a new name: “comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.” This strategy has already produced more than 150 airstrikes in Iraq that killed ISIL/ISIS fighters, destroyed weapons, and allowed Iraqi and Kurdish forces to reclaim key territory. Thank goodness we are not involved in another war.

The president announced that with allies and Congress, America will lead a broad coalition in a counter-terrorism strategy called Operation Double Bogie to roll back this terrorist threat (from behind?).

*****

While drug smugglers and who knows what other filth sneak in and out of the U.S. over the non-existent southern border, Border Patrol agents busy themselves making birthday cakes for illegal aliens who have crossed the border into the country.

This information comes via Pinal County, Ariz. Sheriff Paul Babeu, who appeared on Neil Cavuto’s “Your World” program last Thursday on Fox News Channel.

The sheriff said, “I can give you a window into this administration because just a month ago, while all this was going on, we heard, myself and countless sheriffs in Fort Worth, Texas, heard … how wonderful it was these Border Patrol agents, federal law enforcement, had a birthday cake for this 13-year-old Honduran, and he’s never had a cake ... I called him on that, and said, ‘how on earth have we arrived at this point where it’s become the job of our Border Patrol agents, who their sole purpose should be to protect our country and secure our border, is to do what you just said, to have a birthday cake for a 13-year-old Honduran?’”



*****

From the Nervous Hospital, Unhinged Ward: Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.) claims that Democrats are not “fear-mongers;” but said on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” “It would be very important for the Democrats to retain control of the Senate,” she warned. “Civilization as we know it today would be in jeopardy if the Republicans win the Senate.”
 

*****

Earlier this year came news from Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that we face increased risks from human-induced climate change. These new risks are, of course, the result of CO2 in the atmosphere, which now has more CO2 than it previously had. Over the last 100 years the number of CO2 molecules in a given quantity of air is up from 3 to 4.

No wonder they are concerned: that represents a 33 percent increase in CO2!

That sounds like a really serious problem, until you realize that the quantity of air in this equation is 10,000 molecules. We now have 4 molecules of CO2 per 10,000 air molecules, instead of 3. The amount of CO2 in the air is now 4 ten-thousandths (.0004), up from 3 ten-thousandths (.0003). Catastrophe has descended on us; we are surely doomed.

Thursday, September 11, 2014



Editors Note: What follows originated in 2006, and is repeated in 2014.

2,996 is a tribute to the victims of 9/11.



On September 11, 2006, 2,996 volunteer bloggers joined together for a tribute to the victims of 9/11. Each person payed tribute to a single victim.We honor them by remembering their lives, and not by remembering their murderers.

So reads the introductory material on the 2996 Web page. I was assigned James Arthur Greenleaf, Jr. I was the 1357th blogger to sign up for the 2,996 Tribute project.

The name of each 9-11 victim was been assigned to a blogger.

This project was a very moving one for me. In searching for information on Jim Greenleaf’s life, I was deeply touched by who this young man was.

James Arthur Greenleaf, Jr., age 32, native of Waterford, Conn. Mr. Greenleaf was a foreign exchange trader at Carr Futures and died at the World Trade Center. He was a resident of New York, N.Y. Mr. Greenleaf was a 1991 graduate of Connecticut College, he was the son of Mr. And Mrs. James Greenleaf, Sr., and the former husband of Susan Cascio, a 1992 graduate of Connecticut College.


The following was posted by Mr. Greenleaf’s mother on Legacy.com

April 6, 2002

My Dearest Jim,

Almost 7 months have passed and not a day goes by that I don't think about you. Some days I pretend that I just haven't seen you in long time and that you will be visiting soon. I know that it will be a long time till we see each other again, but it does help on the bad days.

Just this week Dad and I received 2 letters from old friends of yours recalling some great times that they spent with you and they wanted us to know what an impact you had on their lives. One letter we received said that she had children of her own and just hoped that some day they might grow up to be the kind of person that she remembers you as being. What a
wonderful tribute to the fine man that you were. You touched so many people and I'm sure that you had no idea of how others thought of you.

I know that I kissed you and told you how much I loved you every time I had the opportunity to, but I wanted to say it to you today again.


I love you so much,


Mom


Peter, Bryn and I talk about you all the time and remember all the wonderful times we spent together.
(Patricia Greenleaf, Waterford, CT)


Quilt graphic thanks to Kim at United in Memory

The James A. Greenleaf, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund has been established to honor and remember a dear family member and friend who lost his life as a result of the catastrophe which occurred in New York City in 2001. The fund will be used to provide financial assistance to students attending St. Bernard High School.


Dave McBride also hopes to help others by honoring the memory of his long-time friend with the 5th Annual 5K River Run For The Fund. The race, which takes place this Saturday, May 13th at Ocean Beach Park in New London, is part of the Greenleaf Memorial Foundation, which also incorporates an annual Golf Tournament and a Memorial Dinner. McBride and James Greenleaf were best friends since high school, graduating from St. Bernard in 1987.

Sadly, Greenleaf lost his life because of the terrorist acts that occurred as he was working in New York City on the morning of September 11th, 2001. In a tribute to Greenleaf, his family and friends created the James A. Greenleaf, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund, Inc., with proceeds used to award full book scholarships for 8th grade students to attend St. Bernard High School. The organization received approximately 30-40 scholarship applications annually, which require a formal essay and teacher recommendations that are reviewed by the Foundation’s Board of Directors. The fund also hopes to increase its scholarship offerings either to St Bernard students or other local students who will be attending college.


 Leave a message in honor of James Arthur Greenleaf Jr.

From: Lisa LaGalia Date: 11/19/2004 Message: Hi babe it me. Still not better without you. Can't you take me there where you are. We should be together
From: Maureen Griffin Balsbaugh Date: 08/29/2005 Message: At every one of your events. We know you are there in spirit....laughing.

This comment was left just a few days ago:

Thank you for posting information on Jim Greenleaf. We went to high school together. During the three years, we played football and ran track together. We ate many lunches together. 

 
With my return to the US in 2007, I have been able to attend the annual golf outing twice. The outpouring of help given by friends of Jimmy is very inspiring. His scholarship is helping many children attend St. Bernard H.S.

Thank you for the great site.
John

PS As an aside, we lost another high school friend that day, Eric Evans. He was in one of the towers when they fell. Both gone but not forgotten.



Jim Greenleaf, rest in peace.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2014

When you are self-absorbed, you can’t see the forest for the trees

Life provides lessons for us in unusual ways. Occasionally, it is someone totally missing something obvious that provides the lesson. Here is a very good example of that.

A photograph posted on Facebook shows a woman holding up a sign. The sign says: “I have a Master of Arts degree in Women’s Studies. However, the only job I can find is as a bartender at a local restaurant. I owe over 60k in student loans. I am forced to rely on food stamps and WIC to support my son. Is this the ‘American Dream’ I worked so hard for? I am the 99 percent occupywallstreet.org.”

The lesson is there for all to see, but the woman – let’s call her “Ms. OWS,” – not only didn’t learn from her experience, she didn’t even suspect there was a lesson there. That experience was only an opportunity to complain that America hasn’t provided a better life for her.
The lesson that unless you are independently wealthy or have someone to support you while you go to school, you don’t borrow 60 grand to pursue a degree in a subject area that will not equip you to support yourself and your child and pay for the education that you have just received totally escaped her notice.

Like the make-believe class college kids used to joke about, “Underwater Basket Weaving,” Women’s Studies, is not a viable career field. To prepare for supporting yourself you study accounting, engineering, computer technology, law, medicine, chemistry, elementary or secondary education, or one of the other majors where jobs are available. But Ms. OWS, probably without a gun to her head, instead chose Women’s Studies.

The Occupy Wall Street movement with which Ms. OWS so closely identifies, includes some pie-in-the-sky idealism, like:
    •    The right to economic justice, including a living wage for all, regardless of the job, or the level of skills or experience one has
    •    Debt forgiveness for all debts
    •    Free college education
    •    Open borders

These goals are not merely unrealistic; they are dangerous. None would be good either for the country or for its inhabitants. Someone has to pay for the higher wages, the free college education, and the debt forgiveness, and that won’t be the people who think about life like Ms. OWS does; it will be the people who approach adulthood responsibly, and prepare to take care of themselves.

Movements like Occupy Wall Street seem to attract those disaffected souls who, for whatever reason, have not learned what life is about, expect to be provided for, and become indignant when life does not provide to them the rewards to which they believe they are entitled, due to nothing more significant that they were not aborted and draw breath.

Like Ms. OWS, they float through life indulging in the things they like, neglecting to seek out things that will prepare them for life as a responsible citizen, and then contributing to society and the wellbeing of our country.

Perhaps it’s not entirely their fault. We have a segment of our society that imagines it is possible to achieve Utopia, and a large group of pandering vote-seekers all too willing to promise it to them, and who provide a few goodies at taxpayer expense in return for votes and a cushy career in government.

And then there’s government, itself, at all levels. Even in cases where young people show some initiative, and take steps to help themselves, they are often thwarted by bureaucratic absurdity, as in these examples reported by The Daily Signal:

** Chloe Stirling started a business in her kitchen called “Hey, Cupcake!” In addition to selling her goods to friends and neighbors, she donated some to charitable events, including a fundraiser for a student with cancer, and delivered cupcakes to residents in a senior home. Not good enough! Illinois health officials declared that she lacked the necessary permit to operate and told her to close up shop.

** A zoning official in Holland, Mich. shut down a 13-year-old’s hotdog stand because he was supposedly competing with nearby restaurants.  Nathan Duszynski had planned to sell hotdogs to raise money for his disabled parents. The boy’s mom has epilepsy and his dad has multiple sclerosis. Within minutes of opening his stand, a zoning official ordered him to cease operating because he lacked a license.

Bah! Humbug!

Is this a great country, or what? On the one hand there’s a substantial number of people who think they are entitled to whatever they think they are entitled to, and lack the motivation to get off their duffs and earn their rewards, and on the other hand people in government stupidly apply rules to punish young people who take the initiative to earn something through work.

But then there was a pleasant breeze of tolerance and common sense wafting its way north from Dunedin, Fla. where 12-year-old T.J. Guerrero operates a lemonade stand to raise money for summer activities with his friends and family. After one neighbor complained to the city, Mayor Dave Eggers visited the stand, enjoyed some lemonade, and praised the youngster’s initiative.

Perhaps all is not lost. But we must be vigilant.