Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Washington warned us. We forgot his warnings, and are paying for it.

In his farewell address at the end of his second term as president on September 19, 1796, George Washington warned the nation of the problems with political parties “in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.”

The “spirit of party” has its roots in the “strongest passions of the human mind,” he said, and exists in all governments, to varying degrees, being stifled, controlled or repressed in most. But even in the young nation he had led, perhaps because of the high degree of freedom provided by its Constitution, “is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.”

Looking across the political landscape today, Washington’s words are brought to life. And he can objectively address the issue of political parties, as he is the only president to have had no party affiliation. Washington had to be persuaded to seek a second term, and refused to run for a third term, despite great popular support for him to do so.

Essentially, parties are dangerous because they are collections of persons who share passions, and inevitably passion creates ideas that do not fit within constitutional guidelines.

Perhaps there exists a circumstance that prompts the party to encourage expanding the meaning of the General Welfare Clause to deliver “welfare”; to imagine the need for a federal department to dictate the kinds of light bulbs or toilets we should buy; or to reinterpret the plain language of the Second Amendment “for the common good.” None of these actions are legitimate under the processes set forth by the Constitution. Such ideas may highjack party members, and shift their attention from strict adherence to the principles of the Constitution.

“Well,” the members may say, “the Founders could not have foreseen this development. The Constitution does not address this.” The party starts to rationalize how to achieve these things without following the methods provided to change the Constitution.

Maybe this perspective results from a sincere desire to fix a significant problem; maybe it is merely means to an end. Either way, it is a step away from the intent and the letter of the law of the land. Devising circuitous routes to somehow find a way to do what the Constitution does not say you may do is objectively wrong, yet our government has grown absurdly large and expensive and immorally oppressive as a result of precisely these types of activities, and is what Washington warned of.

 “[T]he common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it,” Washington advised. “It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions.”

America’s elected leaders have seemed to be more concerned with the activities of political parties – the spirit of party – than with focusing on the principles of the governing document. This has made a mishmash of a once-clearly defined government structure. It is a tribute to the government structure the Founders’ created, however, that even after these attacks on its foundations, it still remains singularly better than any other nation on Earth. That may not be true for much longer, however.

Were all Americans focused laser-like on following the U.S. Constitution when addressing national issues, would political parties form? Would there be a need for a formal organization to defend the Constitution? Does not the very existence of political parties signal motives other than strict adherence to the Constitutional principles?

The idea of originalism, the dedication to the language and intent of the Constitution, will draw strong disagreement from those that maintain that a document created more than 200 years ago cannot possibly apply satisfactorily to today’s circumstances. Which proves Washington’s point rather well, as it is primarily ideologically driven political parties and their adherents that want to loosen the specific language espousing the principles of the Founders, so that it means what they want it to mean, rather than what is says.

Neither major political party any longer strongly represents and defends the founding principles. The Republican Party – which once fairly strongly defended the founding principles, and still outperforms the Democrats in that category – has let spirit of party rule its integrity.

The leadership of the Democrat Party long ago adopted liberalism/socialism in stronger and weaker forms, and many/most of its goals run headlong into Constitutional prohibitions.

So liberals in both parties have decided that rather than properly change the Constitution through amendments or a constitutional convention – either of which is a long, difficult path to follow – they will instead sneak through the back door, pretending that the Constitution is outdated and must therefore be reinterpreted, all the while aided in their subversion by like-minded liberal judges.

It is unlikely we can do away with political parties, but given what they have done to the country, “wouldn’t it be loverly?”

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A look at the world’s largest solar energy production facility

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, built by Bechtel, is a joint effort of NRG, Google, and BrightSource Energy, and is said to be the largest state-of-the-art renewable energy production project of its kind.

Ivanpah is a $2.2 billion solar project in the California desert consisting of three solar thermal power plants on a 4,000-acre tract of public land near the Mojave Desert and the California-Nevada border. The facility was financed in part by $1.5 billion in federal loans, utilizes more than 170,000 mirrors mounted to the ground that reflect sunlight up to three 450-foot-high towers topped by boilers that heat water to create steam, which in turn is used to generate electricity.

The green energy and climate change lobbies are, of course, excited about from this dream-come-true example of how the U.S., and eventually the world, can survive and thrive without pollution-causing coal-burning and natural gas-burning electricity production facilities.

But their hopes have exceeded reality, as is so often the case with these idealistic dreams. The project has three major problems, one of which has produced a huge rift between the left’s internal factions. While green energy folks are ecstatic over the huge solar plant, other environmentalists are outraged that the plant has killed thousands of birds, many of which are fried to death.

The second problem is that the so-called green energy plant is not as green as you might expect: It burns fossil fuels and produces pollution. Ivanpah burns natural gas each morning for start-up, up to 525 million cubic feet of natural gas annually, and reportedly burned 867,740 million BTU of natural gas, which is enough to power the annual needs of 20,660 Southern California homes, and it emitted 46,084 metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2014.

Furthermore, it has so far failed to produce the expected power it is contractually required to deliver to PG&E Corp. As a result, the solar plant may be forced to shut down unless the California Public Utilities Commission gives permission for PG&E to overlook the shortfall and give Ivanpah another year to sort out its problems.

The Wall Street Journal reported that spokesmen for Ivanpah’s operator, BrightSource, and NRG declined to comment on its future, but NRG said it has taken more than a year to adjust equipment and learn how to best run it. The Journal also reported that the Energy Department supports giving the plant, which started operating in early 2014, more time.

Advocates also paint an over-positive picture of solar energy job creation. The Solar Energy Industries Association touts spectacular job growth in the solar industry, boasting “the solar industry continues to support robust job growth, creating 35,052 new jobs in 2015, a growth rate of approximately twelve times greater than that of the overall economy.”

The overall job creation rate was a pitiful 1.74 percent, and 12 times that figure means roughly 21 percent for the solar industry. That sounds pretty good, but fast job growth during new industry “booms” is not unusual. Touting such growth is good PR, even when it exaggerates reality.

But when you analyze this project, it quickly becomes clear that government has more to do with this increase than does the actual market demand for workers in solar energy. You, the taxpayer, heavily subsidized this industry, and when taxpayer money pays the bills, an industry can and does create jobs without a real demand for them.

Under President Barack Obama, the federal government has wasted billions of dollars of hard-earned taxpayer money on green energy efforts that failed, or under-performed, even as it enacted policies that punished Americans working in the coal industry and related businesses with substantial unemployment, created income problems in the economies of coal producing states, and burdened all Americans with higher energy prices. The administration’s tunnel vision on reducing the non-existent or miniscule effects on the environment of fossil fuel energy production that have powered the U.S. and most of the world for decades, has caused untold misery.

The heralded Solyndra debacle put 1,100 people out of work when it closed down, and wasted $535 million in government loans. And, the Abound Solar plant, which got $400 million in federal loan guarantees in 2010, when the Obama administration sought to use stimulus funds to promote green energy, filed for bankruptcy two years later. That facility sits unoccupied, is littered with hazardous waste, broken glass and contaminated water, and will require an estimated $3.7 million to clean and repair the building for use.

None of this pain and suffering was needed; the normal progress of technological advancement would eventually have gradually replaced fossil fuels as the primary source of electricity, when those less polluting methods were up to the task, like the automobile replaced the horse and buggy.

Once the left gets an idea, however, it dives in head first, eyes closed, with a “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” approach that generally produces more harm than good.

Barack Obama lets nothing get in the way of his ideological fantasies, least of all reality. Any harm and destruction that occurs is regarded as necessary collateral damage on the way to his socialist Utopia.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

We must restore conservative principles to the courts

The raging controversy over filling the Supreme Court vacancy of Justice Antonin Scalia, whose tragic death unleashed a political firestorm over whether President Barack Obama should nominate his successor, or whether the next president should make the nomination, must be looked at in perspective.  It is a true waste of time giving more than a bemused passing notice to the ranting of Democrats, who accuse the Republican-led Congress of all manner of wrong-doing in its opposition to a nomination by Obama, all the while hypocritically ignoring their own precedent-setting actions over the last 10 or so years, when they wrote the book on how to oppose Supreme Court nominations. This process is and has long been a political exercise.

And, at least one high-ranking judge proclaims that the High Court itself is politicized. Judge Richard A. Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, explains this in a commentary published by The Washington Post, where he wrote, “Rather, the significance of the Senate’s action lies in reminding us that the Supreme Court is not an ordinary court but a political court, or more precisely a politicized court, which is to say a court strongly influenced in making its decisions by the political beliefs of the judges.”

We expect Congress to be heavily political, and while the president belongs to a political party and is chosen through a political process, we expect the administrative agencies to apply regulations and laws in a fair, neutral, non-political manner.

Judges at all levels are expected and presumed to be impartial in applying the law and are sworn to follow the precepts of the U.S. Constitution. They must resist allowing their personal ideals or political leanings to affect the rulings or opinions they produce. The Constitution created three co-equal branches of the government, therefore all branches must employ restraint in order to remain within their Constitutional boundaries.

Posner excuses the tendency of judges to fall back on their personal and political beliefs because there is no clear instruction from the Constitution in situations the Framers could not have foreseen more than 200 years ago. Justice Scalia, however, had little trouble following the Constitution’s language when deciding his position on cases before the Court.

Scalia, you see, was a “conservative” judge, an “originalist.” According to the Oxford Dictionaries “conservative” means: “Holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation.” Applied to the federal judiciary, as viewed by believers in strict constructionism and originalism, the term means adhering to the meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights as they were understood by those who wrote those documents at the time they wrote them.

Thus, judicial conservatives rely on the original language and intent of the Constitution, while judicial liberals assert that the Constitution must be a “living” document, the exact meaning of which changes with the times or depends upon who is interpreting it. Such a view allows for “judicial activism.”

“Judicial activism occurs when judges write subjective policy preferences into the law rather than apply the law impartially according to its original meaning,” according to a definition from the Heritage Foundation. “As such, activism does not mean the mere act of striking down a law,” it also means making law from the bench.

But the Constitution gives Congress the authority and responsibility to make law, not the judicial or executive branches, and that plainly stated Constitutional principle is clear and unmistakable.

Judges should consider things like whether Jefferson, Franklin, Madison and the others would have approved of the size, power or cost of the federal government, given the abuses that produced the Revolution and the deliberate efforts to restrict all of those features. Or, whether they would have allowed the Supreme Court or the executive branch to misappropriate the law making authority of the Congress.

If you still doubt that the Supreme Court has become an activist court, consider this tidbit from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who told The New York Times that “she was fully engaged in her work as the leader of the liberal opposition on what she called ‘one of the most activist courts in history.’”

Making laws from the bench and judicial expansion are not products of judicial conservatives, whose adherence to original intent maintains a stable legal foundation. That is unpopular among judges who want to expand the authority and power of the courts.

The Supreme Court must not reinterpret the Constitution. If what might prompt the activists to vote in favor of one side or the other in a case before the Court is something that is indeed a good thing for the country, and passes the standard of constitutionalism, then it must be sanctioned by an act of Congress, not the courts.

The growth of activist judges argues for restoring judicial conservatism to the nation’s highest court. President Obama is unlikely to nominate such a person. Reports say that the list of potential nominees for the Scalia seat on the Court has been reduced to five, and four of them contributed to Obama campaigns.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016


The Republican Party is a mess. It has:
    •    Lost its way as a political force;
    •    Largely abandoned American traditions and founding principles;
    •    Become “Democrat lite,” because Republicans nowadays so often think and vote like Democrats;
    •    Failed to listen to its members.

With the GOP disintegrating there is little to halt or slow the devolution of the United States into just one more failed socialist state, something Barack Obama has worked tirelessly to achieve, and which either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders would continue.

Donald Trump leads conventional Republican candidates in the primaries and caucuses, which surprises and confounds the party elite, who thought he would be a flash in the pan, and would soon fade away, leaving them to continue abandoning their party’s role in protecting the American way of life, and ignoring the concerns of their voters. This effectively demonstrates how badly they have misjudged the level of anger and disgust with the current state of their party that rank and file Republicans feel today, as well as the high degree of dissatisfaction they and a host of non-Republicans have with the federal government.

Trump’s behavior is at once energizing and destructive. It has won him a large following, and at the same time has exaggerated the party’s fracturing, pitting candidates against him and against each other in an elementary schoolyard brawl. But his tactic of saying things others are afraid to say, and ignoring the stupid but daunting rules of political correctness, has energized millions of dissatisfied Republicans, and has attracted non-Republicans, including blacks and Hispanics, to his campaign.

The “establishment” Republicans – those whose weak-kneed perspective has transformed the party to Democrat lite – are working to subvert the primary process, disenfranchising the Republican primary/caucus voters. The establishment’s behavior over recent years is precisely why things are as they are, and hardly anything could be worse than ignoring the plain message sent by the voters in the primaries and caucuses that substantial change in the GOP is needed. It is difficult to imagine that the Republican Party will be able to survive if it betrays the loud voices of those who make up the party telling them to man up, and still remain a viable political entity.

A perfect example of the tone-deafness of the party elite is the blistering condemnation of Donald Trump by 2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who turned backflips to make Trump seem like the Devil incarnate. If that doesn’t seem strange, consider that during the campaign four years ago, following Trump’s endorsement, Romney effusively praised him, and then proceeded to lose the election by failing to be as strong in his opposition to Obama as he was in his praise of Trump.

It is another tribute to the failure of the GOP establishment that it regards Romney’s foolish trashing of Trump more highly than the candidate now leading the party’s nominating process.

Peggy Noonan, who was Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan and now a political columnist for The Wall Street Journal, wrote last week, “I think we are seeing a great political party shatter before our eyes. I’m not sure I see a way around or through.” Of the spectacle of last Tuesday’s debate in Detroit she noted that the current GOP crisis is “something bigger than 1976, that traumatic year when a Republican insurgent almost toppled the incumbent Republican president. Bigger too than 1964, when Goldwater conservatism swept the primaries and convention and lost the country.”

She asserts that what is happening now is more serious and less reparable because it is not about political philosophy. But it seems that the party’s abandonment of conservative principles is precisely what this is about.

By ignoring the increasing frustration of the rank and file over Republicans in Congress failing to stand up against liberalizing of government policies and recent executive branch excesses, the party elite set the stage for Donald Trump’s stunning dominance among those seeking the party’s nomination.

Where Trump is concerned the party elite is damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If they allow the process to play out and he wins the nomination, someone believed by millions to be neither a Republican, a conservative or suitable to be president will carry the Party banner into the election.

If they continue the plot to subversively prevent Trump from getting the nomination, they will alienate millions of otherwise dependable Republican voters.

It seems likely at this stage that the Republican Party will endure, but not as a meaningful political force equal to the Democrat Party. The Republican establishment will be left holding the tatters of a once-Grand Old Party while conservatives move on to greener pastures.

Disaffected Republican voters and others dissatisfied with the status quo that might have stuck with or joined a conservative GOP now will seek an organization that honors and defends the U.S. Constitution not only in word, but also in deed.

The question is whether without a viable opponent to Hillary or Bernie, or a split among those opponents, will it be possible four or eight years later to repair the damage likely to result from another liberal/socialist in the White House?

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

The left turns to thuggishness and indoctrination to sell its poison

College campuses, once a garden where divergent ideas flourished, are more and more becoming known for their ideological imbalance and even outright censorship of ideas, and a recent incident demonstrates just how weed infested that once diverse garden has become.

The Daily Caller online reported that conservative writer Ben Shapiro had been scheduled to speak on behalf of Young Americans for Freedom, a registered student organization at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA). Following complaints by some students, the institution’s president, William Covino, tried to cancel the appearance, favoring an event with a broader set of topics, but the Young Americans group persisted, and the president backed down. The event was funded by the CSULA student government organization.

As the audience tried to enter the auditorium for the program last Thursday, liberal protesters had linked arms in a human chain to block entry, and video of the protesters shows a lot of pushing and jostling at the entrance, including the pushing and shoving of police officers, and epithets such as “racists” and “white supremacists” were reportedly shouted at those wanting to attend the event.

People eventually did enter the auditorium, but only by being escorted to a back door by police, and eventually that entrance also was blocked by protesters. During the speech, someone pulled a fire alarm, although Shapiro and the audience ignored it.

What topic would produce such a radical reaction? Was he to talk about doing away with student loans, or education grants, or argue against free tuition? No, nothing so inflammatory as that. What got the mob all up in arms was the idea that an institution of higher education would allow a speech titled, “When Diversity Becomes a Problem.” Apparently, diversity is only a problem when it involves ideas that some students don’t like.

Unsurprisingly, getting out of the auditorium afterward was as hard as getting in, as the diversity protesters also blocked the doors after the event ended. Shapiro and his audience had to wait to leave until police could clear demonstrators, allowing them safe exit.

This episode is both a symptom of the poison that has spread throughout the country, and particularly on campuses, a growing idea that anyone offended by anything outside of their narrow set of beliefs is entitled to some make-good effort when their delicate feelings are injured, but it also is a measuring stick showing how far down the road to ruin America has traveled.

Looking at why we are so far down that road leads to the conclusion that it is largely through deliberate efforts to subvert two of our most basic and most important societal functions: educating the younger generation and providing information to the people. These critical areas are largely keys to the heart and soul of America, as they are vehicles through which its ideals and traditions are communicated to the populace, and give people the information they need to discharge the duties of citizenship responsibly.

In America today the traditional family, that once was where children learned the basics of life and how to function in a complex society, has been heavily damaged through social liberalism, so that many or most children now receive their basic education and cultural footing not in the home, but in public schools. And public K-12 education and higher education have changed dramatically over recent decades. Today, the federal government has a great degree of influence over public education, replacing control and oversight by states and localities, and leftist indoctrination has crept into textbooks, curricula and faculty, with far too little resistance.

Thus, when kids graduate from high school and enter college, if they weren’t already indoctrinated with liberal drivel, they are heavily at risk of falling victim to it on campus. The criminal behavior of leftist students at CSULA, suffering under the false belief that what they think is more important than what others think, supports that idea.

And news journalists and the organizations they work for, too frequently manage the news to serve an ideological purpose, providing not the pure information the people need and depend upon, but a slanted version designed to strengthen a set of liberal ideals.

Some good news on this front comes from recent opinion polls. A Gallup poll showed that six in ten Americans have little or no confidence that the national media report the news fully, accurately and fairly, and a survey by the Pew Research Center showed that 65 percent believe that the news media have a negative effect on the nation.

Such insecure behavior has at its foundation the knowledge that if Americans are provided with the pure information they deserve, they would reject the left’s narrow and destructive ideas, which is why they must employ dishonesty and indoctrination.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

America is increasingly a nation of delicate personalities, self-made victims and government dependents. These trends serve the needs of those who prefer socialism to freedom, our liberal fellow citizens. To see where this leads, look at Venezuela.