A new international example for bad energy policy

August 30, 2016 · Posted in Business and industry, Marita Noon, Radical Green · Comment 

Commentary by Marita Noon

If a country’s goal is to decrease carbon emissions by increasing reliance on renewable energy, it only makes sense to install the new equipment in the location with the best potential – both in geography and government.

For Australia, which has a national Renewable Energy Target (RET) of 33,000 gigawatt hours of electricity generated by defined renewable sources by 2020, South Australia (SA) is that place. According to SA Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis, who is also the Energy Minister, the federal government had determined that SA is where “the best conditions for wind farms” could be found. The state government was amenable, with SA Premier Jay Wetherill promising to make Adelaide, its capitol city, “the first ‘carbon neutral’ city by 2050.” The state’s RET is for 50 percent renewable energy by 2025. Wetherall, in 2014, claimed: “This new target of half of the state’s power to be generated by renewable sources will create jobs and drive capital investment and advanced manufacturing industries.”

In reality, SA has now found that talk is cheap, but renewable energy isn’t.

The decision to set a 50 percent renewable target is now being called “foolish,” by Tony Wood, an analyst at think-tank Grattan Institute, and “complete naivety and foolishness” according to Lindsay Partridge, chief executive at Brickworks, one of the nation’s leading providers of building products.

Now the largest producer of wind power, SA has enough installed capacity that, under ideal conditions, it could meet 100 percent of the current electricity demand. “However, wind generation tends to be lower at times of maximum demand,” according to the Australian Energy Regulator. “In South Australia, wind typically contributes 10 percent of its registered capacity during peaks in summer demand.” In fact, on some days, Jo Nova explains, they actually “suck electricity instead of generating it.”

Last month, SA experienced an energy crisis that The Australian, the country’s largest newspaper, blamed on “an over-reliance of untrustworthy and expensive wind and solar.” The paper warned that the federal RET “will force other states down the path taken by South Australia, which has the highest and most variable energy prices in the national electricity grid.” Nova adds: “South Australia has more ‘renewable’ wind power than anywhere else in Australia. They also have the highest electricity bills, the highest unemployment, the largest number of ‘failures to pay’ and disconnections. Coincidence?”

In July, the confluence of several factors resulted in a huge spike in electricity prices – as much as 100 times the norm.

In May, pushed out of the market by subsidized wind, SA’s last coal-fueled power plant was closed. Even before then, The Australian reported electricity prices were “at least 50 percent higher than in any other state.” According to the Australian Energy Market Operator, the average daily spot price in SA was $46.82 per megawatt hour. After the power plant was turned off: $80.47. In June: $123.10 – more than double the previous year. In July: $262.97.

Fred Moore, CEO of SA components manufacturer Alfon Engineering, addressing the electricity price hikes that are smashing small and medium business, says his latest electricity contract had increased by almost 50 percent. Until the end of May, his businesses electricity bill was about $3,000 a month and is now about $4,500 a month. He says: “I don’t know how long the company is going to be able to afford it.”

As a result of the loss of coal, when there’s no wind or sun, SA is now reliant on natural gas generation and from coal-fueled electricity being imported through a single connector from neighboring Victoria.

In part, due to a calm, cold winter (weather that is not favorable to wind farms), natural gas demand is high and so are prices. Additionally, the Heywood interconnector was in the midst of being upgraded – which lowered capacity for the coal-fueled electricity on which SA relies. Because of SA’s abandoning coal-fueled electricity generation and its increased reliance on wind, The Australian reports: “The national energy market regulator has warned that South Australia is likely to face continued price volatility and ‘significantly lower’ electricity availability.”

Then came the brutal cold snap, which caused more folks to turn on their electric heaters – thus driving up demand. The left-leaning, Labour state officials were prompted to plead for more reliable fossil-fuel-generated power. With the connector constrained, the only option was to turn on a mothballed gas-fueled power station – a very expensive exercise. The gas plant had been shut down because of what amounts to dispatch priority policies – meaning if renewable energy is available, it must get used, pushing natural gas into a back-up power source. This, combined with the subsidized wind power, made the plant unprofitable. The Australian Financial Review (AFR) explains: “Energy experts say South Australia’s heavy reliance on wind energy is compounding its problems in two ways, first by forcing the remaining baseload generators to earn more revenue in shorter periods of time when the wind isn’t blowing, and secondly by forcing baseload coal and gas generators out of the market altogether.”

Big industrial users, who are the most affected by the power crisis, are “furious about the spike in higher power prices.” According to AFR, Adelaide Brighton Cement, one of the few energy-intensive manufacturing industries still operating in South Australia, said the fluctuating price was hurting business. “As a competitor in a global market, it is essential for us to have access to the availability of uninterrupted economically competitive power.” In The Australian, Jacqui McGill, BHP’s Olympic Dam asset manager, agrees: “We operate in a global market…to be competitive globally, we need globally competitive pricing for inputs, of which energy is one.” The report adds that some major businesses in SA warn of possible shutdowns due to higher power prices – the result of a rushed transition to increased renewable energy. The Adelaide Advertiser reported: “some of the state’s biggest employers were close to temporarily closing due to surging SA electricity prices making business too expensive.” Not the job creation promised by Wetherall.

“Of course, if you were some sort of contrarian eccentric,” writes Judith Sloan, Contributing Economics Editor for The Australian, “you could argue that escalating electricity prices, at both the wholesale and retail level, have made manufacturing in Australia increasingly uncompetitive and so the RET has indirectly contributed to the meeting of the emissions reduction target – but not in a good way.”

The SA energy crisis serves as a wake-up call and a warning to the other states, as the problem is, according to Koutsantonis, “coming to New South Wales and Victoria very soon.” But it should also, as the Financial Times reports: “provide lessons to nations rapidly increasing investment in renewables.”

Malcolm Roberts, CEO at the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, called the situation in SA a “test case” for integrating large scale renewable energy generation into the electricity grid. According to Keith Orchison, former managing director of the Electricity Supply Association of Australia (from 1991 to 2003), now retired and working as a consultant and as the publisher of Coolibah Commentary newsletter and “This is Power” blog, current policy is driven by “ideology, politicking and populism.”

Roberts added: “No technology is perfect. Coal is great for base-load power, but it’s not so great for peak demand but gas is well suited for meeting peak demand. You need gas as an insurance policy for more renewables.” Even the Clean Energy Council’s chief executive, Kane Thornton, in the AFR, “conceded conventional power generation such as gas would most likely be needed as a back-up.”

Perhaps the best explanation for SA’s energy crisis came from the Australian Energy Council, formerly the Electricity Supply Association of Australia, which called it an: “accidental experiment in how far you can push technologies such as wind and solar power in to an electricity grid before something breaks.” According to Orchison: “The council says that intermittent renewables at scale reduces carbon emissions but ultimately increases end-user prices and system reliability risks.”

On August 13, The Economist, in an article titled It’s not easy being green, addressed the three goals of Germany’s energy transformation: “to keep energy supply reliable; to make it affordable; and to clean it up to save the environment, with a target of cutting emissions by 95% between 1990 and 2050.” All three of which, Clemens Fuest, of the Munich-based Ifo Institute think tank, says, “will be missed.” He calls Germany “an international example for bad energy policy.” Now we can add South Australia, and, perhaps, most of Australia, as another.

This is the result, Orchison says, of “pursuing a purist view at the political expense of power reliability.”

The question remains: will America learn from these bad examples, or will we continue down the path President Obama has pushed us onto – spending billions, achieving little environmental benefit, and raising rates on households and industry? The result of November’s election will provide the answer.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy - which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

A position of power for Andy Harris?

In the middle of reading a story about a possible breakup between two conservative factions in the House, I found what should be a very, very fascinating tidbit to folks in these parts. According to Phillip Wegmann at the Daily Signal:

“I’ve heard of no mass exodus (from the Republican Study Committee),” a GOP aide said, “just a few members here and there who don’t feel they use the resources [RSC] provides often enough to justify paying the dues.”

The right candidate for RSC chairman could change that dynamic though, the aide speculated. “I’d imagine a Chairman Andy Harris would make (House Freedom Caucus) folks more likely to stick around.”

Harris, a Maryland Republican, is a potential candidate for RSC chairman, according to multiple Capitol Hill sources. He has remained tight-lipped about his plans, however. Harris’ office did not respond to multiple requests by email and phone from The Daily Signal.

The race for RSC chairman will officially be decided after the November election, but members have been talking about it at least since July when Flores announced this year’s process. When lawmakers return in September, interested candidates will meet with the study committee’s founders. Because the House is in recess all of October and most of November, that only leaves next month for campaigning.

No congressmen have declared their candidacy officially, but a senior GOP aide told The Daily Signal that both Harris and Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., are building support inside the caucus for a bid. (Emphasis mine.)

I realize we are going by the word of an unnamed “GOP aide” – for all we know, he or she may work for Andy – but assuming this is true, it is an intriguing prospect for Andy’s national profile. Because he is far more conservative than most Maryland voters are perceived to be (and certainly Democrats are happy to help that perception along) it’s quite likely that a statewide position isn’t in the cards for Andy. However, he does represent a conservative district that is quite pleased with his record based on the fact he’s received over 75% of the primary vote each time since his 2010 election against challengers who ranged from neophyte to crackpot to serious enough to have some name recognition in portions of the district.

While the RSC has maintained a reputation as the conservative hangout for the House, the fact that membership includes the vast majority of the Republican caucus seems to give a perception that the RSC is now the “establishment.” At the beginning of the current iteration of Congress, the more conservative members decided they needed their own group because they felt the large size of the RSC was watering down its conservative message – hence, the House Freedom Caucus was born. While Harris wasn’t a founding member of that group, he is one of 42 members of the Freedom Caucus as well as an RSC participant.

As leadership will likely be rearranged in the wake of November’s election, Andy Harris may be presented with a number of opportunities. Given that the state’s blatant gerrymandering has placed Harris in an exceptionally safe seat, he has used the opportunity to try and build up the GOP farm team in his district – but now could be a spokesperson on a larger stage. (However, I am holding him to something he promised when first elected – six terms and out.) Love him or hate him, we will see if the back half of Harris’s Congressional service becomes a springboard to a leading role in the national conservative movement.

Racist

By Cathy Keim

(Editor’s note: Cathy thought I should share the credit, but all I did was add a few finishing touches. She did the hard part.)

The fear of being called a racist has frozen people into a defensive crouch for most of my lifetime. In modern America it is a ridiculous threat – yet it still keeps people immobilized from taking any action that might open them to being called racist.

Why is it a ridiculous threat? Because it just hasn’t been true for many years now. It is hard to find a family that isn’t filled with in-laws, stepchildren, adopted children, cousins, and more that are from a different race or ethnic group. Being old enough to have attended a segregated public school and then living through integration and finishing my public school education in an integrated high school, I can attest to the huge strides forward made in this country towards a color blind society.

Sadly, that is all being turned back by the purposeful hyping of our society into tribalism. It is more beneficial for some politicians to divide us by race or ethnicity than it is to emphasize our common beliefs as Americans.

These common beliefs are what made America so unique in the world. We were not bound together by our tribe; instead we were bound together by our consent to believe in the principles and laws set out by our Constitution and Founding Fathers. Despite the obvious concession we have to make that America has not been perfect and that there have been blemishes on our record, we can admit to those flaws but as a whole still be proud of our principles and our nation. After all, no nation led by human hearts and minds will ever be perfect – but we are charged in our Constitution to strive “to form a more perfect Union.”

Unfortunately, our youth are not being taught the good that is America, but to magnify the flaws and warts that are still items to be worked on – a distorted picture of the truth. This cultural manipulation of our story has been going on for decades in order to benefit those politicians that want to keep power over the people.

When I first became active in the Tea Party, I quickly recognized that being called a racist, bigot, or homophobe (and combinations of the three) would come with the territory. It didn’t take me long to learn that, rather than trying to defend myself from the spurious charges, it was better to keep on making the case for the rational ideas and policies that I believed in. One’s defense against being called a racist usually falls flat, anyway, because how can you prove a negative or defend yourself against liars? No matter what you tell them, they will continue to lie and even make up new charges if necessary.

It would seem that some of the Republicans are waking up to this idea. Recently the front page stories have been the ones between Trump and Hillary, but I was interested in the sidebar story on the governor of Maine refusing to be called a racist.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage went ballistic Thursday after several Democratic politicians labeled him a “racist” over comments he made about the demographic makeup of drug trafficking suspects in his state.

LePage went on a profanity-laced tirade in a voicemail message in which he challenged Democrat state legislator Drew Gattine to prove he was a racist, the Portland Press Herald reported.

“Mr. Gattine, this is Gov. Paul Richard LePage,” a recording of the governor’s phone message says. “I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you (expletive). I want to talk to you. I want you to prove that I’m a racist. I’ve spent my life helping black people and you little son-of-a-bitch, socialist (expletive). You… I need you to, just friggin. I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you.”

It would seem that GOP Presidential nominee Donald Trump is leading the way for others to take the offense when accused of racism, as Michael wrote on Friday:

But speaking Wednesday in Jackson, Mississippi, Trump took a more accusatory approach. “Hillary Clinton is a bigot who sees people of color only as votes, not as human beings worthy of a better future,” he shouted. It’s an approach that won’t win any friends at The Washington Post, but the message wasn’t aimed at them.

The race baiters have frequently called for the need for a dialogue on race, but they have wanted to control the terms of the discussion – otherwise, we are a “nation of cowards” on race. In light of the incitement to tribalism from our elites, it is past time for regular Americans to have the discussion publicly.

I want for people to respond to each other as fellow citizens based on their actions. If you obey the laws, work hard to support your family, contribute to your community, and stay out of trouble, then we can all get along together. Notice that none of that depends on your tribal affiliation.

The recent upturn in protests by La Raza (the Race) and Black Lives Matter point to the urgent need for Americans to embrace our common heritage before we descend into the full-blown tribalism that has plagued the rest of the world for centuries. Americans of all races have enjoyed a higher standard of freedom, security, and living than any other nation, while other nations – particularly those deemed “Third World” countries in Africa, Asia, and the Americas – have all been plagued with violence, graft, and corruption as warring factions seek control of their natural resources and people.

Over the last few years we have seen the rise of factions in our nation as well. Both Black Lives Matter and La Raza are inherently racist and un-American. They are being manipulated to further destroy the fabric of America.

Moreover, the Democrat party has thrived for years by fomenting the distress of the minority Americans. They have not alleviated the problems, but instead have created further issues on so-called “poverty plantations” while calling conservatives or Republicans racists, bigots, and haters, accusing them of holding minorities back.

But take a look at the cities that are boiling over with hatred – they are all controlled by Democrats and have been for decades. The liberal Great Society policies of the 1960s served to dismantle the black family and replace the father with government subsidies, and they have been the most devastating attack on the inner cities possible. More recently, the government policies of bringing in low-skilled immigrants through the refugee resettlement program, the H2B temporary workers visas, and illegal immigration have all contributed to the loss of jobs for minority workers and have caused wages to stagnate.

There are many Black and Hispanic citizens that are integrated into our communities and are thriving, but the focus is always on fomenting the discontent and exploiting the rage of the minorities that are trapped in the underclass. Trump is finally asking those Americans what the politicians have done for them? It is about time that more leaders stand up and state the truth: our current government is not here to help you, because it is to their advantage to keep you down.

All of America loses if we revert to ethnic and racial tribalism rather than joining together to declare that in America all men are created equal and all can participate in our society.

I will close with a quote a recently-published book my son enjoyed and recommended, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger. He begins this passage by quoting neuroscientist and traumatic stress expert Dr. Rachel Yehuda of Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City.

‘If you want to make a society work, then you don’t keep underscoring the places where you’re different – you underscore your shared humanity… I’m appalled by how much people focus on differences. Why are you focusing on how different you are from one another, and not on the things that unite us?’

The United States is so powerful that the only country capable of destroying her might be the United States herself, which means that the ultimate terrorist strategy would be to just leave the country alone. That way, America’s ugliest partisan tendencies could emerge unimpeded by the unifying effects of war. The ultimate betrayal of tribe isn’t acting competitively – that should be encouraged – but predicating your power on the excommunication of others from the group. That is exactly what politicians of both parties try to do when they spew venomous rhetoric about their rivals. That is exactly what media figures do when they go beyond criticism of their fellow citizens and openly revile them.

Reviling people you share a combat outpost with is an incredibly stupid thing to do, and public figures who imagine their nation isn’t, potentially, one huge combat outpost are deluding themselves.

So what is a flip-flop?

It predates my writing career, but back during the 2004 Presidential campaign much hay was made over Democrat John Kerry’s attempts to be on both sides of various issues, including voting for something before he was against it. If you ask me, though, Kerry was by no means alone in terms of trying to cover all the bases and be all things to all people – the truth is that the further you go in politics, the more likely it is you will run across situations where your current action may well contradict something you did 10 years ago.

People are allowed to change their minds on issues, and I can use myself as an example: for a time I held the orthodox libertarian view that term limits artificially restrict voter choice and should be eliminated. While that makes a lot of sense on a philosophical level, in practice voter choices are more limited by the amount of money that naturally accrues to incumbents and by rules about ballot access that tend to favor the two major parties, enabling them to get their message out more effectively (and in turn more likely to succeed.) In keeping with the idea espoused by our Founding Fathers that representatives were only supposed to stand for election and do that public service for a term or two before returning to private life, I now feel that making it more difficult for people to make a career out of elected politics through term limits would bring us closer to the original intention. (Nor should we forget that only the House was supposed to be elected by the people directly - Senators were appointed through the respective state legislatures until the 17th Amendment was adopted in 1913.*) There is a compelling argument to be made, though, which contends that if term limits were adopted then control of the government would be placed in the hands of the unelected bureaucrats that write the rules and regulations. But I also believe that if elected officials are relieved of the constant fundraising to stay in office they may come up with more bold ideas and real solutions to problems – not lip-service intended to keep government bureaucrats in place perpetually.

I could probably spend a couple thousand words pursuing that digression, but my real intention in putting pixels to screen today was to discuss the immigration “flip-flop” of Donald Trump in relation to other issues. I put the phrase in quotes because to me it was already baked into his campaign, and those who truly believed he would be a hardliner on immigration were being played for suckers. Early on I knew about the “big, beautiful door” and “touchback” amnesty so what was one of his strongest points when I analyzed all of the GOP Presidential hopefuls almost a year ago became more and more watered down as time went on.

The difference to me between a “flip-flop” and a legitimate change of heart, though, comes down to whether the words remain consistent and are followed by appropriate actions. Obviously as a challenger in a political campaign Donald Trump doesn’t have a record of votes to compare nor has he had to address the myriad issues that someone in political office is confronted with on a daily basis. As a case in point for the latter: a week or so ago I put up a Facebook post asking why utility trucks such as those operated by Delmarva Power have to go through truck scales (as I had observed that day) with my thought being: what if they were going to repair a major power outage? I can almost guarantee you that no other constituent had that thought in mind in the year or two my local Delegates have been in office, but to me the question was worth asking for the reason stated.

Let me use Trump as an example in two areas: immigration and abortion. As I see it, the recent statements from Trump on the prospect of amnesty represent a flip-flop of a rhetorical kind, although some may consider it the usual running to the center a Republican candidate is supposed to do after he or she runs right for the primary. It’s more magnified for Trump, however, because of the ferocity of his initial statements such as ”(Mexico is) sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” In the weeks immediately after Trump’s announcement, the murder of Kate Steinle by an illegal immigrant who had been repeatedly deported yet kept returning into the United States buttressed Trump’s point. So the rhetoric remained hardline, thus, there is a certain element of Trump’s support base that probably feels completely sold out but will revert to reassuring themselves “he’s not Hillary” rather than admit buyer’s remorse from being sold a bill of goods.

It should be noted this Trump pivot, which may or may not bolster his standing among Hispanic voters, also comes at a time when he is also making a parallel push for black voters on a more legitimate question: what have the Democrats done for you lately – or for that matter since the Great Society era and civil rights struggles a half-century ago? Obviously he’s not going to the Obama/Clinton position of just letting any immigrant in, but this more recent concession is quite a different tone than the initial Trump ”build a wall and make Mexico pay for it” stance. Those who wanted a “pause” to immigration are surely disgusted with the turn of events over the last week or so, but there are enough Trump skeptics out there who can say nativists were warned regarding Trump and immigration.

Yet on abortion I think Donald Trump had a more legitimate change of heart toward being pro-life, a move he claims came from a personal experience. Of course, those who are farther along on the pro-life spectrum still question Trump’s bonafides based on his support for Planned Parenthood, but that is not the be-all and end-all of the movement – Planned Parenthood is more of a symptom of the disease than the disease itself. Certainly Donald Trump is not one who has led a monogamous lifestyle – and only God knows if any of his trysts have led to pregnancies eventually terminated - but small victories are still small victories nonetheless. Over the course of the campaign Trump has not shifted a great deal on the issue, with the horserace watchers more focused on the aspect of which evangelical leaders are backing Trump despite his faults and which ones are simply sitting this election out or voting for a more strictly values-based candidate, either on the ballot or as a write-in, as I may.

But there remains a trust issue with Trump that makes writing pieces like this necessary. (Not being able to trust Hillary Clinton any farther than they could throw her was already factored in for millions of voters, simply based on the litany of scandal and questionable decisions she’s made over a quarter-century.) I’ve argued before that 2016 is the election of the flawed individual, but perhaps character doesn’t count in America anymore. While the Clintons, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama have major character flaws, only Kerry lost the popular vote on Election Day – and conspiracy theorists still blame Diebold for that 2004 loss. So perhaps Republicans now believe that “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” and selected their own person of questionable character just to pick up that long-desired W on Election Day.

And if you discount character, you quickly understand why there are people who walk among us that would say or do whatever is necessary, flipping and flopping on their beliefs and values, to get what they want – anything from the modest “15 minutes of fame” to the most powerful political office in the country. Upon that realization, it’s just a short step to pondering about the fate of this very republic we live in. America will survive, but with the leadership we seem to be attracting who will want to live there?

Women and men of values, character, and principle, please make yourself known. Your nation needs you, now more than ever.

*Ironically, Delaware and Maryland did not ratify the 17th Amendment until 2010 and 2012, respectively. In Maryland, only eight members of the House of Delegates properly voted against ratification – and one of the eight switched his vote to be against it only after it passed.

Shorebird of the Week – August 25, 2016

August 25, 2016 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comment 

Returning to the Shorebirds’ fold after a trip to the disabled list and month-long reassignment to Aberdeen, Jake Bray picked up pretty much where he left off by tossing two scoreless innings against Lakewood on Monday.

Injuries such as the oblique strain that kept Jake out for 6 weeks are, unfortunately, nothing new for him. He got off to a promising start after being a 12th round pick in 2013 out of California’s Feather River College with 12 solid GCL innings but was out for the entire 2014 season. Bray basically had to start all over in 2015 and did so impressively, with matching 0.87 ERAs at both the GCL level (20 2/3 innings) and Aberdeen (10 1/3 innings.) Even more eye-popping is 11 career walks in 66 innings pitched – in his first 24 pro appearances a walk blemished his linescore just twice, in 2015. (Bray allowed zero walks in 2013, in 12 outings.) One can argue that he’s strictly a one- or two-inning relief pitcher so walks are minimized in those situations, but thus far Jake has managed to have good control yet not give up a lot of hits. (49 in 66 career innings – so his career WHIP is under 1.)

So in recovering from his latest setback down in Aberdeen, Bray had some uncharacteristically high numbers, such as a 5.06 ERA in eight appearances there. Much of that damage, though, came in one bad outing July 23 (4 ER in 1 1/3 innings.) Here with Delmarva Bray has managed to keep his numbers in line with his career means, with a 1-0 record and 1.46 ERA in 9 appearances covering 12 1/3 innings. SAL batters are a little more selective, though, as Bray has allowed five walks in that span (but no more than one in any appearance.) However, Jake has given up only 9 hits while striking out 14, so his stuff is still playing well at this level.

Bray will turn 24 over the offseason, and it’s unfortunate the injury bug got him again because this level seems to be a good test for him. I think there may be some more innings in store for him post-season in the instructional league – he’s probably not quite ready for the Arizona Fall League, but that could come next season if he can repeat his success in keeping his control numbers going.

Jake is the penultimate Shorebird of the Week – next week will bring the series to a close after 11 seasons, with the Shorebird of the Year season review the following week and picks and pans wrapping up the season September 15. With the likelihood of playoff baseball getting slimmer by the day, Delmarva’s long offseason will be setting in September 6.

The totalitarian religion of peace?

August 23, 2016 · Posted in Cathy Keim, Culture and Politics, National politics, Politics · Comment 

By Cathy Keim

Totalitarian

adj.

Of, relating to, being, or imposing a form of government in which the political authority exercises absolute and centralized control over all aspects of life, the individual is subordinated to the state, and opposing political and cultural expression is suppressed: “A totalitarian regime crushes all autonomousinstitutions in its drive to seize the human soul” (Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.)

Totalitarian government. (n.d.) American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. (2011).

We are used to thinking of totalitarian ideologies as the two horrors that the United States fought in the 20th Century: Nazism, which we defeated in WWII, and communism, which we supposedly defeated through the Cold War. We now face a third form of totalitarian ideology, but due to our advanced immersion into politically correct thinking we are no longer able to mount a coherent defense. The new threat is Islam – not radical Islam, but Islam.

As I was researching this piece, I was looking for people that were willing to state that Islam is a totalitarian ideology equal to, but not the same as, communism and Nazism. What I found was that when these two ideologies first popped up, they were compared to Islam to explain their totalitarian thrust.

In an excellent article, Geert Wilders, Western Sages, and Totalitarian Islam, Andrew Bostom, who I had the pleasure of meeting last January at a conference, shows that contemporaneous with the advent of Bolshevism and Nazism, people were making the connection. I find this interesting because due to the PC mindset we are currently controlled by, you don’t see many of our political leaders or media personalities being willing to admit to this rather obvious connection.

Why do I find this connection so important? Because this gives us an historical precedent for resisting a totalitarian ideology. Our current leaders are unable to state the truth. The George W. Bush administration hid behind the Radical Islam moniker, stating that Islam was a religion of peace and the radical jihadists were not reflective of the great world religion, Islam. Under President Obama, this concept has morphed into the more ridiculous position that we cannot even call terrorist attacks perpetrated in the name of Allah, Islamic terrorism. Jihad is transformed into an internal spiritual battle rather than the violent struggle to subdue the kafir that it really is.

The distinction as to whether Islam is a religion of peace being perverted by evil men or whether Islam is a totalitarian ideology committed to subduing the entire world to a one world government (caliphate) under sharia law makes a huge difference in how you deal with practical matters, particularly immigration.

If it is the former, then you can try to screen out potential terrorists by checking on their backgrounds like you would a criminal. If it is the latter, then you have a much different problem on your hands. Would it be wise to bring in thousands and thousands of adherents to this totalitarian ideology and hope that they will become peaceful Americans?

First, let’s look at a lengthy quote from Dr. Bostom’s article where Karl Jung and then Karl Barth compare Nazism to Islam:

[D]uring an interview conducted in the late 1930s (published in 1939), Karl Jung was asked: “ … had [he] any views on what was likely to be the next step in religious development?” Jung replied, in reference to the Nazi fervor that had gripped Germany:

We do not know whether Hitler is going to found a new Islam. He is already on the way; he is like Muhammad. The emotion in Germany is Islamic; warlike and Islamic. They are all drunk with wild god. That can be the historic future.

Also published in 1939 was Karl Barth’s assessment (from The Church and the Political Problem of Our Day) of the similarity between Fascist totalitarianism and Islam:

Participation in this life, according to it the only worthy and blessed life, is what National Socialism, as a political experiment, promises to those who will of their own accord share in this experiment. And now it becomes understandable why, at the point where it meets with resistance, it can only crush and kill — with the might and right which belongs to Divinity! Islam of old as we know proceeded in this way. It is impossible to understand National Socialism unless we see it in fact as a new Islam, its myth as a new Allah, and Hitler as this new Allah’s Prophet.

Next Dr. Bostom presents the contemporary comparison between Communism and Islam:

Jules Monnerot’s 1949 Sociologie du Communisme was translated into English and published asSociology and Psychology of Communism in 1953. Monnerot elaborated at length upon a brief but remarkably prescient observation by Bertrand Russell, published already in 1920, which compared emerging Bolshevism to Islam. Russell had noted in his The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism:

Bolshevism combines the characteristics of the French Revolution with those of the rise of Islam. … Those who accept Bolshevism become impervious to scientific evidence, and commit intellectual suicide. Even if all the doctrines of Bolshevism were true, this would still be the case, since no unbiased examination of them is tolerated. … Among religions, Bolshevism is to be reckoned with Mohammedanism [Islam] rather than with Christianity and Buddhism. Christianity and Buddhism are primarily personal religions, with mystical doctrines and a love of contemplation. Mohammedanism and Bolshevism are practical, social, unspiritual, concerned to win the empire of this world.

These quotes show that prior to our politically correct environment, Islam was viewed as a totalitarian ideology on par with fascism and communism. So, how did we deal with them?

We fought WWII to crush the evil of fascism and we waged the Cold War for decades to curb the expansion of communism, declaring victory with the dissolution of the USSR and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

After the 9/11 attacks, the United States attacked Afghanistan and Iraq to destroy the governments that were giving shelter to terrorists. Due to our need for oil, we never identified the correct problem, nor the correct solution. Instead our leaders spoke of bringing democracy to the Middle East. We ousted the governments of Afghanistan and Iraq and installed new governments with constitutions based on sharia law.

If our leaders had bothered to understand the problem, they would not have ever uttered the words democracy and sharia law in the same sentence. Next came the Arab Spring, which was hailed as a breaking out of democracy all over the Middle East. In the ensuing years, the chorus of joy on the parts of our elites has changed to the cry to bring in refugees by the thousands as they flee the war, chaos, and starvation that has followed.

Libya is a dysfunctional state now controlled by terrorist factions. Syria is rent by a brutal civil war. Iraq is being ravished by ISIS with its Christian and Yazidi populations facing genocide. Egypt was sinking under the control of the Moslem Brotherhood until the military seized control. Turkey is faltering as Erdogan pushes it ever closer to sharia fundamentalism. Iran has made kidnapping pay and is released from any restraints on its rush to nuclear weapons.

Islam, like the Nazis and the communists, is never content to peacefully coexist with its neighbors. Its only mandate is to conquer, kill, subjugate, and then move on to the next territory until the entire world is prostrate beneath them.

Dr. Bostom continues with a quote from Bernard Lewis explaining the goals of Islam and Communism.

Quite obviously, the Ulama [religious leaders] of Islam are very different from the Communist Party. Nevertheless, on closer examination, we find certain uncomfortable resemblances. Both groups profess a totalitarian doctrine, with complete and final answers to all questions on heaven and earth; the answers are different in every respect, alike only in their finality and completeness, and in the contrast they offer with the eternal questioning of Western man. Both groups offer to their members and followers the agreeable sensation of belonging to a community of believers, who are always right, as against an outer world of unbelievers, who are always wrong. Both offer an exhilarating feeling of mission, of purpose, of being engaged in a collective adventure to accelerate the historically inevitable victory of the true faith over the infidel evil-doers. The traditional Islamic division of the world into the House of Islam and the House of War, two necessarily opposed groups, of which the first has the collective obligation of perpetual struggle against the second, also has obvious parallels in the Communist view of world affairs. There again, the content of belief is utterly different, but the aggressive fanaticism of the believer is the same. The humorist who summed up the Communist creed as “There is no God and Karl Marx is his Prophet” was laying his finger on a real affinity. The call to a Communist Jihad, a Holy War for the faith – a new faith, but against the self-same Western Christian enemy – might well strike a responsive note.

Now that the Middle East is in shambles and hordes of refugees are overwhelming Europe and heading towards the United States, it would be helpful if our leaders would find the backbone that our forefathers had and would come up with a strategy based on the reality before them to deal with Islam, rather than continuing to murmur lies about a religion of peace and how we should welcome the stranger.

From fracking to flatulence: the all-out assault on methane

Commentary by Marita Noon

What is the “biggest unfinished business for the Obama administration?” According to a report from Bill McKibben, the outspoken climate alarmist who calls for all fossil fuels to be kept in the ground, it is “to establish tight rules on methane emissions” – emissions that he blames on the “rapid spread of fracking.”

McKibben calls methane emissions a “disaster.” He claims “methane is much more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide” and that it does more damage to the climate than coal. Methane, CH4, is the primary component of natural gas.

Apparently, his progressive friends in California agree, as they are now, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ): “seeking to curb the natural gas emanating from dairy farms” – more specifically cow manure and flatulence. The August 12 editorial says that the California Air Resources Board “suggests that dairy farms purchase technology to capture methane and then sell the biogas to customers.” It acknowledges that the supposed cure would only be cost-effective with “substantial government subsidies and regulatory credits.” WSJ points out that while California’s proposed regulations might produce the “least GHG intensive” gallon of milk in the world, it would also be the “most expensive.”

To buttress his anti-fracking argument, McKibben is selective on which studies he cites. He starts with a paper from “Harvard researchers” that shows increased methane emissions between 2002 and 2014 but doesn’t pinpoint the source of the methane. He, then, relies heavily on “a series of papers” from known fracking opponents: Cornell scientists Robert Howarth and Anthony Ingraffea. Within his report, McKibben mentions Howarth’s bias, but, I believe, intentionally never mentions Ingraffea’s. Earlier this year, in sworn testimony, Ingraffea admitted he’d be lying if he said that every one of his papers on shale gas was “entirely objective.” Additionally, a group that Ingraffa co-founded and for which he serves as Board Chair, Emeritus: Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, received, at least, tens of thousands of dollars in coordination with wealthy foundations to support the broad movement of opposition to shale gas drilling.

Because of bias, McKibben claims to reach out to an “impeccably moderate referee”: Dan Lashof. Mckibben then goes on to report on Lashof as having been “in the inner circles of climate policy almost since it began.” In addition to writing reports for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and crafting Obama’s plan to cut “coal plant pollution,” Lashof was the “longtime head of the Clean Air Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council” and he now serves as COO for “billionaire Tom Steyer’s NextGen Climate America.” Lashof is hardly an “impeccably moderate referee.”

Because McKibben goes to great lengths trying to appear balanced in his conclusions, a casual reader of his report might think the research cited is all there is and, therefore, agree with his cataclysmic views. Fortunately, as a just-released paper makes clear, much more research needs to be considered before cementing public policy, such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s “tight rules on methane emissions.”

In the 28 peer-reviewed pages (with nearly 70 footnotes) of Bill McKibben’s terrifying disregard for fracking facts, Isaac Orr, research fellow for energy and environment policy at The Heartland Institute, states: “Although McKibben – a journalist, not a scientist – accurately identifies methane as being exceptionally good at capturing heat in Earth’s atmosphere, his ‘the-sky-is-falling’ analysis is based on cherry-picking data useful to his cause, selectively interpreting the results of other studies, ignoring contradicting data, and failing to acknowledge the real uncertainties in our understanding of how much methane is entering the atmosphere. In the end, methane emissions aren’t nearly as terrifying as McKibben claims.”

In the Heartland Institute Policy Brief, Orr explains why it has been difficult to achieve consistent readings on methane emissions: “Tools have been developed only recently to measure accurately methane emissions, with new and better equipment progressively replacing less perfect methods.” He then details the various methods:

  • Direct measurement of emissions, on-site, identifies methane emissions from specific sources;
  • Ambient Air Monitoring uses aerial surveys, allows large areas to be surveyed, with results affected by uncertainties;
  • Life-Cycle Analyses draw on multiple sources to provide an integrated measure of emissions from the entire natural gas value chain; and
  • Meta-Analyses combine the results of multiple studies using different methodologies or databases to search for overarching trends, recurring facts, and robust findings.

Throughout the section on methodology, Orr draws attention to the results of the various techniques – which he says shows “great uncertainty about how much methane is entering the atmosphere, how much is produced by oil-and-natural gas production, and how emissions can be managed in the future.” He also points out that more than 75 studies examining methane emissions from oil and gas systems have been done, yet “McKibben chose an outdated study [Howarth/Ingraffea] that used unrealistic assumptions and reached inaccurate conclusions.” Additionally: “Natural gas producers have a powerful economic motive to reduce methane leakage and use technologies that capture methane emissions during the drilling and well completion phase.”

Orr calls McKibben’s assertions that methane emissions are from the oil-and-gas sector: “simplistic” and “inappropriate.” Regarding the Harvard study, he explains: “Estimating the contributions from different source types and regions is difficult because there are many different sources of methane, and those sources overlap in the same spatial area. For example, methane is produced naturally in wetlands – and it is worth noting that environmentalists support ‘restoring’ wetlands despite the increases in methane emissions this would cause. Methane also is produced by agriculture through growing rice and raising livestock, fast-growing activities in developing countries. This makes it difficult to calculate exactly where methane is coming from and what sources should be controlled.”

Based on McKibben’s approach, other sections of The Heartland report include: Methane and Global Warming, Repeating Gasland Falsehoods, and What’s the Fracking Alternative – with the latter being my favorite.

Because McKibben’s ultimate goal is to keep fossil fuels in the ground, he goes to great lengths to support how wind and solar – the fracking alternatives – have progressed (an argument that Orr takes apart). However, a careful read of McKibben’s version of the story reveals that he acknowledges that his preferred energy sources are uneconomic. Within his report, McKibben admits that fracking has “brought online new shale deposits across the continent.” He sarcastically derides politicians who viewed fracking as a win-win situation by suggesting they were cynically saying they “could appease the environmentalists with their incessant yammering about climate change without having to run up the cost of electricity.”

McKibben even attacks President Obama’s support of natural gas – made abundant thanks to the companion technologies of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. (He’s not too happy with Secretary Clinton’s efforts either.) Here are a few of the key phrases McKibben uses in that paragraph: (Note: McKibben sees these as negatives.)

  • “The fracking boom offered one of the few economic bright spots”;
  • “Manufacturing jobs were actually returning from overseas, attracted by newly abundant energy”; and
  • “The tool that made restrictions on coal palatable.”

Combine these McKibben statements and he is clearly aware that his plan will take away one of the few economic bright spots; that due to higher priced electricity, manufacturing jobs will leave our shores; and coal regulations will be unpalatable. While McKibben touts the oft-mentioned line about Denmark generating 42 percent of its power from wind, Orr reminds us that the figure only accounts for electricity – not total energy. When factoring in all of Denmark’s energy consumption, wind, solar, and geothermal only account for 5 percent of the energy mix and, as Orr explains, Denmark has the highest electricity rates in Europe and is still dependent on fossil fuels for the vast majority of its energy.

I am often asked why the anti-fossil fuel crowd has so recently turned against the decades-old technology of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that has provided such economic and environmental benefits and has become even safer due to ever-increasing advances. In his report, McKibben states what is essentially the answer I often give: “One of the nastiest side effects of the fracking boom, in fact, is that the expansion of natural gas has undercut the market for renewables.” It has upset the entire world-view of people like McKibben who’d banked on oil and natural gas being scarce – and therefore expensive. In that paradigm, wind and solar power would be the saviors. Now they are an expensive redundancy.

Worrying about whether methane emissions come from oil-and-gas activities, from agriculture, such as cow flatulence or rice farming, or from naturally occurring seeps may seem irrelevant to the average energy consumer’s day. However, when you consider that long-term, expensive public policy is being based on this topic, it is important to be informed fairly and accurately – and to communicate with your elected officials accordingly.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy - which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

Immigration: the downstream problems

August 21, 2016 · Posted in Cathy Keim, Culture and Politics · 1 Comment 

By Cathy Keim

The whole immigration debate is being presented by the elites and the media as a simple choice: The big hearted Americans should open their cities and homes to welcome the underprivileged, needy people from around the world, but especially from areas like Syria that are wracked by war. Liberal churches jump on the bandwagon preaching the need to love the stranger and welcome him.

If anyone tries to mention any concerns or ask for caution, they are shouted down and denounced as racists, bigots, haters, un-Christian, and selfish. The debate is especially problematic for Christians, as Christians in America are under attack on every front. The conservative Christian’s stance on abortion, marriage, and gender ensure that he is already classified as a hypocritical, bigoted hater. The politically correct war on religious speech is in full attack mode to silence anybody who dares to resist the prescribed agenda.

Due to this tenuous position, Christians are leery of pointing out that Islam is not compatible with American principles. Although America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, the elites in control now prefer to reject that information. The new attitudes on gay marriage, gender identity, and the sanctity of life are being used to portray Christians as dangerous right-wing kooks capable of blowing up buildings and people. At the same time those same elites are pushing Islam on America in the form of immigrants and refugees. This doesn’t make a lot of sense, since the Sharia adhering Muslims are against gay marriage and transgender individuals. It does begin to fit together when you realize that the elites are not concerned with the welfare of the gays, transgenders, or the Muslims. They are merely using them to gain positions of power by destroying the existing social order.

Since this nation was founded on Christian principles, then it follows that to destroy our nation the Christian foundation must be destroyed. While the number of gay and transgender people is relatively small, I think that the elites may be making a strategic error in their importation of Muslims to change America by changing her people. Muslims show no sign of assimilating and becoming decadent progressive westerners.

Christians know that religious liberty is under assault. They realize that if they make any moves to restrict the growth of Islam, the elites will be all too ready to try and restrict the liberties of the Christians. The key difference that needs to be repeated and repeated is that Islam is a totalitarian political ideology not a religion, a subject I will address in my next blogpost.

Until the elites notice their error, the rest of the country must live with an increasingly belligerent Muslim population. There are two factors which the elites may be missing or ignoring:

  1. Muslims are commanded to migrate to spread Islam. This is called the hijrah.
  2. Second generation Muslims, even though assimilated more so in America than in Europe, are still more likely to become radicalized than the first generation Muslims.

All of the talk about vetting the Syrian refugees to screen out ISIS plants is not going to solve the bigger issue of the hijrah. The FBI has already acknowledged that they cannot screen the refugees well since they are refugees. They have fled cities that were razed, bombed, and burned and they didn’t bring their birth certificates with them as they fled for their lives. However, they do bring their belief in sharia law and their centuries old prejudices against Christians, infidels, women, and homosexuals.

The first generation of refugees or immigrants may be happy to have escaped from the terror and deprivation that was their homeland, but many in the American-born second generation show a distinct desire to embrace radical jihadism. The FBI has over 900 active cases of people they are watching, and we don’t know how many more need to be watched. The Orlando nightclub killer was a second generation Muslim. The San Bernardino killer was a second generation Muslim. One of the Garland, Texas attackers was a second generation Muslim. The Ft. Hood massacre was perpetrated by a second generation Muslim.

Clearly, just vetting the people that we let into the country does not prevent the second generation from becoming jihadists. Since we can show that in America we have not forced the Muslims into ghettos and not allowed them to partake fully in our society as is the excuse given for the Muslim attacks in France, then what are we to do to protect ourselves?

First, our elites need to educate themselves on what is really happening and quit believing that since their hearts are pure and they want to feel good about themselves and how generous and unselfish they are that it will all turn out well. The progressives that think that their generous thoughts are all that matter and the catastrophic consequences that follow their foolish policies are not their problem, need to wake up. Equally guilty are the other elites who believe that crony capitalism is their ticket to power. They facilitate the influx of Muslims as cheap labor for industry. This group really irritates me because they are selling us out for money and power while lying to us that they are pro-Constitution and will fight for American values.

These two groups of elites have flooded our country with illegal immigrants, legal immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers since 1965. We are a big country, but we cannot absorb all the illiterate, unhealthy masses that have been flooding the USA for decades when the elites are tearing down all American patriotic beliefs. The invaders are not asked to adhere to the principles that define America. We are a diverse people, but we are united by our belief in the American Dream, the laws of the land, and our founding documents. This is being replaced by the centuries-old ethnic, racial hatreds that separate us into warring tribes.

We need to halt immigration until we can assimilate those that are here. We need to enforce our immigration laws that are on the books. We need to revise the refugee system. Currently, the UN is picking our refugees for us from their camps. The Christians that are fleeing from ISIS do not go to the UN camps because they are persecuted there by the fleeing Muslims. Since the Christians do not go to the UN camps, the UN doesn’t pick them to come to America.

Now you know why hardly any Christians have been amongst the refugees that have arrived already and why there will not be any in the future unless our politicians wake up. Politicians never wake up until they are forced to do so. Our political system has succumbed to crony capitalism and progressive utopian schemes. There are very few leaders in DC speaking for the common man.

Shorebird of the Week – August 18, 2016

August 18, 2016 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comment 

It’s a little ironic that I select Ricardo Andujar as the SotW the day after the Red Sox swept the Orioles in a two-game series at Camden Yards. While the losses did damage to the Orioles in the pennant race, perhaps someday they can get a little revenge in knowing they took a solid player from the Boston fold. In June of 2012, Ricardo began a two-season stint in the Dominican Summer League as a Red Sox prospect, but after hitting just .214 in two seasons there the Red Sox let him go. Baltimore signed him for the next summer (2014), Ricardo figured things out (hitting .318 in 63 games), and two seasons later with a stop at Aberdeen thrown in, Andujar is one of the better hitters on the Shorebirds with a .255/2/20/.627 OPS slash line in 87 games.

Granted, Ricardo is old for this league (he turned 24 earlier this month) and was a comparatively late Dominican signing as he started pro baseball at the age of 19. But he fills that gap that teams need as a utility infielder with speed – so far in 2016 Andujar has made 36 starts at third base, 28 at shortstop, and 23 at second base. Judging by statistics, he’s probably best suited for second base but has managed to find plenty of playing time from his fellow infielders by being a reasonable alternative at the three positions. And while he won’t wow you with his power, Andujar seems like the kind that might sneak in a half-dozen dingers a season but is more likely to swipe a couple dozen bases. Between Andujar and center fielder Cedric Mullins (25 steals) they have about 3/4 of the stolen bases among those on the active roster.

If it seems like Andujar has snuck up on you, it may be true. At the end of May he was stumbling with a .225 average, but since the first of July he’s hit an even .300 in 34 games to push close to his career mark of .263 overall. With about three weeks to go in the season, he has a decent shot to finish with a batting mark right around .263 and earn a shot at the next level. As I’ve mentioned before, a high batting average is not as necessary for success at the big league level if you have the versatility to play multiple positions. A little work in the outfield in coming seasons and Ricardo can have a long career as a jack of all trades. We’ll see how he develops.

Woe unto them that call evil good: a frank discussion about life issues and the party platforms

By Cathy Keim and Michael Swartz

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Isaiah 5:20, KJV

This fall in Maryland we will have four parties on the ballot: not just the Republicans and Democrats, but also the Libertarians and the Green Party. All four of them are represented on the Presidential ballot, with three also contending for United States Senate and for our First District Congressional seat. (There is no Libertarian running for Senate and no Green Party candidate in the First District. Around the state, there are six Libertarians and five Greens running for the House.)

As one who has a passionate interest in the subject, Cathy Keim sat down to take a look at the four parties and where they stand on life issues, particularly abortion. Most of us aren’t single-issue voters, but I think I speak for Cathy when I contend we are both convinced that the way a party looks at the subject of life is an indicator of how it interprets the intersection of liberty on the one hand and faith on the other – or, as I would put it, the location of the guardrails on America’s path.

The Declaration of Independence states our unalienable rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. One cannot partake of these unalienable rights if they are murdered in the womb, so to us it is just that simple that an American that believes in the founding principles of our nation must also embrace a pro-life position.

To approach this, we have decided to lay out each party’s platform on the subject and provide our take on it afterward. These will be placed in alphabetical order so the Democrats go first.

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Securing Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice

Democrats are committed to protecting and advancing reproductive health, rights, and justice. We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion – regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured. We believe that reproductive health is core to women’s, men’s, and young people’s health and wellbeing. We will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers, which provide critical health services to millions of people. We will continue to oppose – and seek to overturn – federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment. We condemn and will combat any acts of violence, harassment, and intimidation of reproductive health providers, patients, and staff. We will defend the ACA, which extends affordable preventive health care to women, including no-cost contraception, and prohibits discrimination in health care based on gender.

We will address the discrimination and barriers that inhibit meaningful access to reproductive health care services, including those based on gender, sexuality, race, income, disability, and other factors. We recognize that quality, affordable comprehensive health care, evidence-based sex education and a full range of family planning services help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions.

And we strongly and unequivocally support a woman’s decision to have a child, including by ensuring a safe and healthy pregnancy and childbirth, and by providing services during pregnancy and after the birth of a child, including adoption and social support services, as well as protections for women against pregnancy discrimination. We are committed to creating a society where children are safe and can thrive physically, emotionally, educationally, and spiritually. We recognize and support the importance of civil structures that are essential to creating this for every child. (Page 37 here.)

Also, on Page 46:

We will support sexual and reproductive health and rights around the globe. In addition to expanding the availability of affordable family planning information and contraceptive supplies, we believe that safe abortion must be part of comprehensive maternal and women’s health care and included as part of America’s global health programming. Therefore, we support the repeal of harmful restrictions that obstruct women’s access to health care information and services, including the “global gag rule” and the Helms Amendment that bars American assistance to provide safe, legal abortion throughout the developing world. (Emphasis ours.)

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Cathy: How can the Democrat Party write such drivel with a straight face?  They define reproductive health as including abortion and proceed to say that reproductive health is core to women’s,  men’s, and young people’s health and wellbeing.  Except for the baby that is murdered in the womb.  The aborted baby’s health and wellbeing is certainly not benefited by legal abortion.

Once upon a time, they pretended that the baby was just a blob of tissue, but now they declare that even if life begins at conception, they would still demand that abortion be legal. Despite their claim that they want abortions to be safe, they have blocked and overturned any laws that have been passed to require abortion mills to conform to accepted standards of safety. You would be horrified if your vet subjected your dog to the kind of unsanitary, unsafe conditions that abortion mills routinely conduct their procedures under.

The Democrat Party plank on abortion definitely falls under the category of calling evil good.

Michael: What I can’t get over is the sheer hypocrisy of the Democrats standing for “creating a society where children are safe” when the one place you would think would be the safest is fair game for a mother’s ill-informed “choice.” And does it not reek of the same sort of eugenics made famous by Margaret Sanger (founder of Planned Parenthood) that the Democrats want to promote abortion “throughout the developing world?” Why not just call them “human weeds” while you are at it?

And once again they give their whole-hearted support to Planned Parenthood by claiming they “provide critical health services.” So do thousands of other facilities that don’t make millions of dollars performing abortions or stand accused of selling baby parts for profit.

Next we will turn to the Green Party, which recently finalized its 2016 platform.

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Women’s rights must be protected and expanded to guarantee each woman’s right as a full participant in society, free from sexual harassment, job discrimination or interference in the intensely personal choice about whether to have a child.

Women’s right to control their bodies is non-negotiable. It is essential that the option of a safe, legal abortion remains available. The “morning-after” pill must be affordable and easily accessible without a prescription, together with a government-sponsored public relations campaign to educate women about this form of contraception. Clinics must be accessible and must offer advice on contraception and the means for contraception; consultation about abortion and the performance of abortions, and; abortion regardless of age or marital status.

We endorse women’s right to use contraception and, when they choose, to have an abortion. This right cannot be limited to women’s age or marital status. Contraception and abortion must be included in all health insurance policies in the U.S., and any state government must be able to legally offer these services free of charge to women at the poverty level. Public health agencies operating abroad should be allowed to offer family planning, contraception, and abortion in all countries that ask for those services. We oppose our government’s habit of cutting family planning funds when those funds go to agencies in foreign countries that give out contraceptive devices, offer advice on abortion, and perform abortions.

We encourage women and men to prevent unwanted pregnancies. It is the inalienable right and duty of every woman to learn about her body and to be aware of the phases of her menstrual cycle, and it is the duty for every man to be aware of the functions and health of his and his partner’s bodies. This information is necessary for self-determination, to make informed decisions, and to prevent unintended consequences. Unplanned conception takes control away from individuals and makes them subject to external controls. The “morning-after” pill and option of a safe and legal abortion need to remain available. (This is under the heading of “Civil Rights.”)

Under “Health Care“:

The Green Party unequivocally supports a woman’s right to reproductive choice, no matter her marital status or age, and that contraception and safe, legal abortion procedures be available on demand and be included in all health insurance coverage in the U.S., as well as free of charge in any state where a woman’s income falls below the poverty level.

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Cathy: The Green Party seems to think that reproduction refers to the right to prevent or terminate a child. This is changing the meaning from good to evil. A child is to be prevented from being conceived (I find this hard to believe) by the woman knowing her menstrual cycle! This sounds rather like the rhythm method. Why bother when you can have a free morning after pill or a safe abortion on demand? Every part of this plank is geared towards preventing future citizens. Women are only equal if they do not get pregnant.

“Unplanned conception takes control away from individuals and makes them subject to external controls.” I would think that that sentence should read makes them subject to internal controls since the baby is inside the mother’s womb!

This whole conversation is ignoring the right of the baby to exist. They try to hide that by talking about prevention, but in the end, the right to abort the baby must be universal. Since any baby can be aborted, then there can be no protection for a baby that has Down’s syndrome or any other problems. This means that there is no call to prevent sex-selection abortions. What if the baby has a cleft palate which can fixed by surgery? Once the sanctity of life is broken, there is no end to the mischief that results.

The Green Party fails completely on the abortion issue, but that didn’t surprise you, did it?

Michael: The scariest part of their platform to me is the fact that they actually say abortion is a “right (that) cannot be limited to women’s age or marital status.” As I read this, they are perfectly fine with a 10 year old getting an abortion, whether the parent knows or not. There IS a surefire way to prevent unwanted pregnancies, but then it would eliminate the choice a woman would have to sleep with a man. If the choice is made to engage in sexual activity, then there is a risk of pregnancy. Even if a woman is “aware of the phases of her menstrual cycle” there’s no guarantee that a time she thinks she’s safe is really a safe time. (Nor does this account for the inevitable failure of contraceptives.)

In essence, they are perfectly willing to absolve the women of all responsibility for their actions in the name of “individual rights.” And that leads us to the Libertarian Party.

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1.5 Abortion

Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.

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Cathy: The Libertarian Party takes a dive with their disingenuous attempt to leave abortion up to the individual.  If life is an unalienable right, then you cannot leave the choice up to the individual.  We do not leave it up to the individual to decide whether to murder someone, so why should we suddenly pretend that this is different?  The only difference is the size of the citizen.

Michael: They definitely punt on this question, and not in the least because “people can hold good-faith views on all sides.”

I believe that the Founders placed “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” in that order intentionally. It is difficult, if not impossible, to pursue happiness without liberty, but it is impossible to enjoy liberty without life. And this is why I believe a true libertarian would by necessity be pro-life. Rather than argue about the point of viability for the unborn, I presume that they enjoy the right to life upon conception and their right to life trumps the mother’s liberty, as expressed in the phony “right to privacy” the majority in Roe v. Wade made out of thin air.

I can agree that the federal government should be kept out of the abortion matter, because I believe it’s properly debated and adjudicated in the several states.

Finally, we get to the Republican Party, which has been traditionally the home of the pro-life movement.

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The Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life  

Faithful to the “self-evident” truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or fund organizations which perform or advocate it and will not fund or subsidize health care which includes abortion coverage. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life. We oppose the non-consensual withholding or withdrawal of care or treatment, including food and water, from people with disabilities, including newborns, as well as the elderly and infirm, just as we oppose active and passive euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Republican leadership has led the effort to prohibit the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion and permitted States to extend health care coverage to children before birth. We urge Congress to strengthen the Born Alive Infant Protection Act by enacting appropriate civil and criminal penalties on healthcare providers who fail to provide treatment and care to an infant who survives an abortion, including early induction delivery where the death of the infant is intended. We call for legislation to ban sex-selective abortions - gender discrimination in its most lethal form - and to protect from abortion unborn children who are capable of feeling pain; and we applaud U.S. House Republicans for leading the effort to protect the lives of pain-capable unborn children in the District of Columbia. We call for a ban on the use of body parts from aborted fetuses for research. We support and applaud adult stem cell research to develop lifesaving therapies, and we oppose the killing of embryos for their stem cells. We oppose federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

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Cathy: The Republican Party plank is pretty good.  It covers a lot of areas that need to be protected.  However, it stops short of stating that from conception to natural death, life should be protected.  This includes children with Down’s syndrome, birth defects, and babies conceived by rape.  The baby should not be punished for the sins of the father.

Michael: It’s a very comprehensive platform. I think Cathy’s concern is covered somewhat by the opposition to “withholding or withdrawal of care or treatment…from people with disabilities.” But I especially like the mention of judges, who are vital in the effort to provide protection to the unborn – how many common-sense laws have been overturned by the unelected federal judiciary? Ask the state of Texas, which had a perfectly valid law regarding abortion clinics overturned by judicial fiat.

Yet with such a great platform one has to ask just how much the nominee believes in it, given his statements on Planned Parenthood and relatively recent conversion to a pro-life stance. I understand people can honestly change, but the proof is in the pudding and this nominee sometimes has difficulty keeping a story straight.

Cathy: If you are a person that believes that abortion is wrong, then the party platforms reduce the viable candidates immediately.  If you further look at which party has a chance of winning, then there is only one party that works for the pro-life individual.

Voters that are concerned with “social issues” are frequently reprimanded for being single issue voters or for holding the party back from success.  I hear those arguments, but they don’t hold much water if you are not allowed to ever draw your first breath.  The pro-life position is so basic that it leaves no room to discuss other policies.  Once we have determined that our future citizens have the right to safety in their mother’s womb, then we can talk about the other issues.

The Republican Party does many things that I do not always agree with, but they have still managed to hang onto their pro-life plank.  I also understand that not every candidate will fully support every plank, but from my survey of the candidates listed on the Maryland ballot, they all claim to stand on abortion where their parties’ plank would put them.

Consider this as you choose which candidate will receive your vote.

The few, the loud, the anti-fossil fuel crowd

Commentary by Marita Noon

If you get your news from the mainstream media, you likely think the views expressed by the environmental activists represent the majority of Americans. After all, their highly visible protests against the Keystone pipeline – sit-ins in front of the White House, locking themselves to the White House fence and then being arrested for it, and parading down the National Mall carrying a huge inflated tube emblazoned with the words: “Just say no to Keystone” – were effective. Despite repeated polling that showed a majority of Americans supported the pipeline, with a small minority opposed, the loud theatrics of the anti-fossil fuel crowd eventually won out. After years of stall tactics, President Obama finally bowed to their demands and said no to the job-creating infrastructure project.

Earlier this year, the usual group of suspects, led by well-known anti-fracking activist Bill McKibben, planned a “global wave of resistance” called BreakFree2016 - scheduled to take place from May 3-15 – on six continents. The event’s website announced the various activities, including an appearance and speech by McKibben, a Vermont resident, at the Colorado rally that promised: the “largest mass mobilizations for climate action in the history of Colorado.” It confirmed that there would be “civil disobedience.”

Did you hear about it? Probably not.

A news report of the planned Colorado activities said: “And on May 14, 350 Colorado is planning a day of speeches, live music and activities protesting oil and gas developments close to neighborhoods and schools in Thornton. The goal is to draw 1,000 people to the upcoming events.” The website, post-event, states: “about 800 people joined the action throughout the day” with “about 30-40 people” still there at the end of the day for the dramatic “frack-site” invasion. Yet, as even their own Facebook page photos indicate, not even 100 were present for the big McKibben speech. Without vendors and media, he may have had no audience at all.

After flying in to Denver, and then being driven to the protest site in a limousine, McKibben jetted off to Los Angeles, California, where he was joined by the greens’ “Daddy Warbucks,” billionaire political campaign donor Tom Steyer – with much the same results: a few hundred protesting fossil fuels and, as Energy In Depth reported, “the very social and economic underpinnings of liberal democracy.” The typical anti-everything protestors were present – but only a few.

In Iowa, as I addressed last week, a meeting of the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition – which according to the organizer includes those with “concerns about the impact it could have on the environment, farmers who worry about their cropland and religious groups who view expanding use of fossil fuels as a moral issue because of climate change” – expected a crowd of 200. Instead, according to the Ottumwa Courier, “only 40 or so were seated when the meeting began. Others trickled in as the meeting progressed.”

Now, Colorado is ground zero for “one of the biggest environmental fights in the country this year,” as Lauren Petrie, Rocky Mountain region director for Food and Water Watch, a Washington, D.C.-based group advocating for safety in food production and oil and gas production, called it. Two ballot initiatives, 75 and 78, have the potential to, according to Colorado regulators, “effectively halt new oil and gas development in as much as 90 percent of the state.” In order to get the initiatives on the ballot, 98,492 valid signatures needed to be turned into the Colorado Secretary of State by August 8 – no later than 3:00 p.m.

In June, The Tribune reported that Tricia Olson, who has pumped in most of the funding for a group backing initiatives 75 and 78, hoped to “collect 160,000 signatures to account for the invalid signatures that inevitably pop up.” (Politico just announced: “recent campaign finance reports were filed with the Colorado secretary of state, the Sierra Club gave $150,000, making it the largest single reported contributor to the anti-fracking effort.”)

Because the Colorado Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision on May 2, declared local fracking limits “invalid and unenforceable,” as state law trumps local ordinances, Olson sees the ballot initiatives as their “last ditch effort.”

On Monday, August 8, exercising stagecraft, at 2:30 p.m., dozens of supporters emptied a U-Haul truck and delivered box after box of signatures to the Secretary of State’s office. They celebrated their “victory.” 350 Colorado, one of the groups behind the measures, proclaimed: “We did it! Over 100,000 signatures delivered on initiatives to limit fracking!” – not the 160,000 originally hoped for, and likely not enough to get on the ballot in November.

By CBS Denver’s accounting about 105,000 signatures were turned in – most in half empty boxes. Lynn Bartels, Colorado Secretary of State Communications Director, tweeted: “Proponents of fracking measures turned in lots of boxes with very few petitions in them.” Once the petitions were consolidated, there were roughly 50 empty boxes. Simon Lomax, an associate energy policy analyst with the conservative Independence Institute in Denver and a consultant who advises pro-business groups, said: “To make it look more impressive they added a bunch of empty boxes, or boxes with very few petitions. It just sort of shows, these groups don’t do substance, they just do deceptive publicity stunts.”

On CBS Denver, former Secretary of State Scott Gessler explained that since you need about 98,000 signatures to get on the ballot because, for a variety of reasons, at least 30 percent are rejected, you need to submit at least 140,000. He says that for the 105,000 signatures turned in to qualify would be “unprecedented,” something that “has never occurred in Colorado for a ballot initiative.” According to Gessler, the effort is “doomed” – though we will not know for sure until next month when the final counts are released.

Noted election reporter and national affairs columnist for the National Review, John Fund, told me: “If there is enough public support for an issue to get the votes needed to pass, getting a surplus of signatures to get it on the ballot is an easy task.”

Many Democrats, including Governor John Hickenlooper, support hydraulic fracturing and have come out against the ballot initiatives. Politico posits that because mainstream environmentalists “fear that their movement will suffer a demoralizing defeat if the two proposals make it in front of the voters,” they “hope the ballot initiatives will die instead.”  Additionally, “A decisive referendum on oil and gas production would increase calls for [Hillary] Clinton to explicitly take a side.” She’s previously aligned with 75 and 78 – which could spoil her attempts to attract moderate Republicans she’ll need to win the state.

Despite their drama and declared “victory,” it doesn’t seem that the Colorado anti-fossil fuel crowd has enough signatures, or support, to make it onto the November ballot. They may be loud, but, alas, they are few.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy - which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

The price to pay

It really wasn’t my intention to write about this election very much, as I would rather try to shape post-Trump conservatism, but there is an occasion here for a lesson to be taught.

Late last week we began hearing the rumbles about a letter to the RNC, signed by a number of concerned party members, urging them to stop financially supporting the flailing Trump campaign and concentrate their declining finances on saving the House and Senate from a Democratic takeover. The latter was already a strong possibility thanks to the sheer number of Republican seats in play – the TEA Party wave election of 2010 comes home to roost this year in the Senate. Among those signing are onetime Maryland YR chair Brian Griffiths and my “partner in crime” Heather Olsen, who resigned earlier this summer as county chair in Prince George’s County because she, too, could not support Donald Trump as the GOP nominee.

While I have had my differences with Griffiths over the years, it’s more rare that I disagree with my friend Heather. Yet I believe there are two good arguments for keeping Trump in the GOP financial loop, despite their (likely correct) contention that it’s “throwing good money after bad.”

First of all, those who climbed aboard the Trump Train early on were completely and utterly convinced that he would absolutely steamroller Hillary Clinton just as he has built up his business empire. But now that the polls being reported on a near-daily basis continue to find Trump not only losing nationally but putting several “safe” GOP states in play, these backers not only claim the polls are “fake” but also point to other (non-scientific) polls showing Trump has a “YUGE” lead and analysis saying he’ll win in a “landslide.” So apparently this money is going to a good cause, right? These militant Trumpkins are going to be covered regardless – either he wins and then the purge of the #NeverTrump group from the GOP begins, or he loses because he said early on “I’m afraid the election going to be rigged.”

So if you withhold the GOP money from Donald Trump, it’s just going to be another thing to blame his loss on. “We had these huge rallies and we knew we had this election in the bag,” they will wail, “but Reince Priebus and the GOP establishment wouldn’t give us any support – they must have been in cahoots with Hillary.” Don’t you dare give them that excuse.

As for the second reason, the Republican Party simply needs to be taught a lesson on its own and sometimes the only way to get the point across is letting them utterly fail. They had the chance, several times, to do something to avoid this situation – closed primaries, penalties for skipping debates and insistence on participation to the end, or allowing convention delegates to vote their conscience, as examples - but they did none of these things, allowing a candidate with far less than 50% of the Republican vote to skate off with the nomination. (This doesn’t count the policy failures of Republicans in Congress.) As I have said before: you break it, you bought it. Give Trump the money he’s due, and when the election is lost all of those involved will hopefully resign in disgrace for what they have done to a great party and a great country.

So when I get my appeals for donations to the national Republican party (and even the state version) I’m not giving them a dime. This is actually nothing new for me, since I would rather give to the individual candidate I believe in than a party organization that will be as likely to support a candidate edging left of center as it would a conservative (and perhaps more.) And too often they place their thumb on the scale in a primary even though it’s against their policy to do so. (Heather surely recalls Rule 11 being used for Maryland in 2010.)

It looks more and more likely that a bitterly divided Republican Party will endure electoral disaster unseen in a decade this November. (Maybe it’s years ending in 6, since the last several of those have been horrible for national Republicans – they lost all of Congress in 2006, Bob Dole lost in 1996, they lost the Senate in 1986, and Gerald Ford was defeated in 1976. 1966 was the last successful one.) But just as the Democrats are now split between the radical progressives that backed Bernie Sanders and the establishment which went for Clinton, the GOP is rent asunder by the schism between conservatism and the alt-right populism best expressed by Donald Trump (and, to a certain extent prior to that, Sarah Palin.)

Once we get to 2017, the question will be that of who blinks first. After the new Congress and administration is sworn in, it will be time for the GOP to get together and select new leadership. If things go as expected in November, the January RNC meeting will be must-see TV for political junkies as the fate of the resistance is determined.

But if the right people are placed in charge, the few million dollars wasted on Trump at the expense of Congress will be a memory because many may be willing to open their wallets again. In that respect, perhaps the Trump candidacy will be the catharsis the GOP needed to begin on a path to a post-Trump conservatism. We can only hope.

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