At throats

February 27, 2017 · Posted in Culture and Politics, Personal stuff · Comment 

Some thoughts at large:

Is it just my imagination, or have the last 20 years simply escalated the tension in this country between political factions?

Once we were told that politics and religion were two subjects that really weren’t suited for dinner table conversation. In days of old, I’m sure the women who used to trade gossip over the back fence as they hung the laundry out to dry and the guys who bowled together on Tuesday nights couldn’t care less about who their neighbors and teammates voted for because they had so much more in common than they did differences. Conversations were more about how to best ward off the Fuller Brush man coming to the door or needing to throw two strikes and count on the fill shot in the tenth frame to win the series and avoid having to buy the final round, not whether the President needs to be impeached for some real or imagined slight.

Fast forward a few decades and now people are selective with their friends and associates, preferring to be in their own information silo. Needless to say, that information silo exists because we’ve come to a point where people consume their news and information almost exclusively from sources they believe are true, and that element of truth comes from being aligned with their worldview. If you had one belief style, you would believe that Ronald Reagan was a dunce whose best acting job was becoming President, the Bushes came from a crooked, out-of-touch family dynasty, Bill Clinton was hounded by overzealous prosecutors and everything against him was just about sex, and Barack Obama was the best thing since sliced bread because he gave us health care. On the other hand, you could also be convinced that Reagan was worthy of sainthood, the Bushes were a true American family dedicated to public service, Bill Clinton was a crook who got away with murder, and Barack Obama was a communist plant who was really born in Kenya. There doesn’t seem to be much of an in-between, and people were made even more passionate by the Trump-Clinton election of 2016.

So now everyone has to be on a side, or you will be assigned to one. If you were #NeverTrump, you had to be a Hillary Clinton supporter. If you think climate change is real but mankind has nothing to do with it, you are still a “denier.” And so on and so forth through a host of political topics and issues – it’s my red team or blue team, wrong or right.

If you have been here since the beginning or known me for any length of time, you know that I’m not a completely neutral observer, although I try hard to be objective as a reporter. I have a set of beliefs and I defend them; however, I’ve been working more on stepping out of the information silo because the research will make for a more interesting book when I finally finish it. When discussing the TEA Party, there is the perspective from conservative media (it was a grassroots movement), the liberal spin (Astroturf set up because a bunch of racists hated a black President), and the truth (they were mainly people who were truly scared about their future and didn’t want the government taking so much money, power, and control.) Such a movement will attract a handful of true racists but really attracts the charlatans trying to make a score via the political topic of the day. I say this about just one subject, but there are myriad others with the same sort of arguments on both sides.

Perhaps a reason I needed a break from politics and its associated idea that you have to be either on the red team or the blue team is the realization that the game is on a completely different field. We argue about how much influence Uncle Sam should have on paying for our health care when the argument should be regarding their involvement in general, for example. To speak to anything else is to rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic.

That being said, I’m glad that some people I know had a good time at CPAC this year, but I had no desire to go. They told me that getting out of politics would be liberating, but they didn’t say how much. It’s more fun to discuss issues and try to break through the silos on social media than to go cheer for one candidate or another.

I think it was said that if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. Politics will make you a lot of friends, although when you leave you notice there are fewer. But taking a stand in this day and age will get you a lot of enemies, and I don’t think they ever forgive or forget. There are lots of reasons friendships break up, but isn’t being for a presidential candidate other than your own a pretty stupid one?

monoblogue music: “White Oak & Kerosene” by Justin Allen and the Well Shots

February 25, 2017 · Posted in Music Reviews · Comment 

There are two things Justin Allen has going for him in my estimation: like me, he’s from Ohio but set out to make his fortune someplace else, and the other thing is that he’s a talented songwriter who seems to have found a niche at the intersection of rock and country. Of course, I don’t think he’s the only guy to ever try this combination.

But when the “someplace else” Justin chose to travel to is Nashville, it’s a natural that he would lean just a shade to the country side. Yet it’s not quite the modern country that’s giving the genre a bad name; instead there’s just enough other flavor to keep the listener’s interest. A good case in point is the lead video from Justin’s five-song EP release from last month, called Angelina.

I have to admit, the video itself is a little bit strange but then again a guy who’s worked as a pedicab driver yet can write a song lyric like “I don’t care if we go to hell/And Bon Scott greets us when we arrive” – he’s definitely not your average Joe. (That track, called Feeling Alright, is a rockabilly song with a definite influence from – and vocal style of - old John Cougar.) In fact, the best asset of “White Oak & Kerosene” is the variety of styles put into the compilation, which checks in at over 24 minutes for a five-song EP. Justin certainly doesn’t cheat on song length.

The country aspect comes through more on Angeline and also Come A Little Closer, but like I said earlier these aren’t exactly the modern country anthems that seem to be all about drinking beer, driving pickup trucks, and chasing women, in one order or another. Whether it’s the hint of western swing that Angelina has, the country-fried blues of the title track, or the more heartfelt Come A Little Closer, those who like country can enjoy this sampler.

But since I come from a rock n’ roll background I really got more into the other two songs: the aforementioned Feeling Alright and the lead track, Hard Luck Man. That song slowly builds up a head of steam but by the end you’ll want to crank it up.

Now if I had a quibble about this album, which is the debut for Justin and his band, it’s that he seems to oversing some of the songs. It sounds to me like he exaggerates the drawl a little bit for effect, so it comes out as if he’s trying to be a parody of a Southern rock singer. Perhaps in a live setting he lets it naturally flow a little bit more, which will improve the songs over time. As singers gain experience, they also learn to shape the songs to their singing style and I think Justin will, too.

And speaking of live shows, Justin and his very tight backup band, the Well Shots, have played a few dates already as support for the EP and it wouldn’t surprise me if they wandered this way. I’d be interested to hear what songs they cover to fill out the show; something tells me they wouldn’t be what one would expect. But don’t take my word for it, as they have three of the five songs up on their website so you can listen for yourself. If you like them, sign up for the mailing list and it may pay off in a tour stop – you never know.

Speaking up about speaking out

There was a little bit of play in the news over the last few days about the refusal of Congressman Andy Harris to hold a live townhall meeting, instead opting to hold “tele-townhall” meetings where constituents in certain parts of the district can be on a conference call with their concerns. Naturally, the handful of liberals and Obamacare lovers (but I repeat myself) are calling Harris a chicken who’s afraid to come before those he represents. (And they know about calling Harris chicken. This is an oldie but goodie.)

So I had a comment on social media about this.

The (Daily Times) letter writer is misrepresenting the idea of why Andy Harris is holding back on in-person townhall meetings. First, it’s been stated in news reports that he wants to have a GOP replacement plan in place before he discusses the subject in an open forum, which makes sense in that respect – anything else is purely speculative. Obviously there is sentiment for keeping the ACA around, but there are also some who want the repeal without the replace.

And it’s also worth pointing out that Harris, far from being “a paid tool of the pharmaceutical industry,” received more in individual donations during the last election cycle than PAC donations. 62.5% of his contributions were individual, according to FEC records. Compare this to a Congressman like Steny Hoyer, who received only 28.2% of contributions from individuals, and ask yourself who’s being bought and paid for by special interests.

Yes, the writer tossed that Big Pharma tidbit in, so I had to set things straight once again.

Speaking of setting things straight, there is a pro-Obamacare group who is putting together a series of what could be called “empty chair” townhall meetings through the First District. Since they already knew Andy’s stance on having townhalls under the logical circumstance of not having a bill to discuss, what better way of sandbagging him than to have meetings and making him out to be afraid to face his constituents?

Yet I am quite confused about the one in Salisbury, which is scheduled for sometime this Friday. (One Facebook page says 3 p.m. but the other info says 6 p.m. Of course, they must know my calendar because I have a church event so I can’t make it.) If it’s at 6 p.m. there’s a pretty good chance the media will cover it.

But since the true intent of these sponsors is not just to keep the Affordable Care Act around, but allow it to morph into their true dream of single-payer, cradle-to-early-grave government health care for the masses (imagine the VA and its issues on steroids) it may be a good idea for some of the folks who provided the opposition at last Saturday’s pro-illegal immigration rally to show up at this event and ask our own questions about the not-so-Affordable Care Act. I’d like to have their excuses for why it’s failed in its intention to insure all Americans, why the exchanges set up in state after state have gone bankrupt, and why the insurance that’s been deemed acceptable has to cover so much when many in the market were pleased with their catastrophic-event plans? I’m sure you can think of others, not to mention that obvious lie about being able to keep your plan and doctor.

Anyway, we know the Left is still completely butthurt over Donald Trump becoming President – so much so that they are taking inspiration from the TEA Party.

I sort of stumbled across this site, which is a clearinghouse of town hall events held by members of Congress. It sounds innocent enough, and yes there is a public service aspect to it. But if you go to their “about” page, you find the real idea is distributing “a practical guide for resisting the Trump agenda.” So I downloaded my own copy of the “Indivisible Guide” for reference, and right up front the writers admit the following:

The authors of this guide are former congressional staffers who witnessed the rise of the Tea Party. We saw these activists take on a popular president with a mandate for change and a supermajority in Congress. We saw them organize locally and convince their own MoCs to reject President Obama’s agenda. Their ideas were wrong, cruel, and tinged with racism — and they won.

We believe that protecting our values, our neighbors, and ourselves will require mounting a similar resistance to the Trump agenda — but a resistance built on the values of inclusion, tolerance, and fairness. Trump is not popular. He does not have a mandate. He does not have large congressional majorities. If a small minority in the Tea Party could stop President Obama, then we the majority can stop a petty tyrant named Trump.

To this end, the following chapters offer a step-by-step guide for individuals, groups, and organizations looking to replicate the Tea Party’s success in getting Congress to listen to a small, vocal, dedicated group of constituents. The guide is intended to be equally useful for stiffening Democratic spines and weakening pro-Trump Republican resolve.

Of course, an event like Friday’s isn’t quite the same as a Congressional townhall because the panelists aren’t worried about re-election – and quite frankly, the vast majority of those who will be there wouldn’t vote for Andy anyway. In this case, the idea is to sow just that little bit of doubt in the minds of those who are otherwise strictly given a dose of propaganda. Notice that the event is targeting to a community that is more dependent on Obamacare and government assistance than most.

In this day and age of trying to eradicate the Obama agenda against America, the left is fighting the rear-guard action they didn’t think they would have to. The fun thing about the Indivisible page is their “action page” where “Actions are listed provided their hosts agree to resist Trump’s agenda; focus on local, defensive congressional advocacy; and embrace progressive values.” Front and center on this page are these area events, so the truth is out.

So let me ask a question: where’s their complaints about our esteemed Senators? Where is their local townhall meeting?

Perhaps the “silent majority” that elected Donald Trump better start speaking up.

Point and counterpoint in Salisbury: some observations

Earlier today I spent a little time at the “No Ban No Wall No Registry” rally in downtown Salisbury, which was countered by a (more or less) silent protest on the outside. I was only there about 45 minutes, since I had more pressing family business to attend to, but I think my stint there gave me the flavor of the event. So I have some pictures and quotes I jotted down from representative speakers.

My obligatory crowd shot. I believe the event was supposed to begin at 1:00, so I took this about a half-hour into it.

On such an event as this my basis of comparison is the Tax Day TEA Party I attended at that very same location in 2009. Considering that prior event was held on a rainy, chilly weekday afternoon and this one was on an unseasonably warm February weekend (a holiday weekend to boot) the turnout seemed rather small – maybe 300 people. Also note that perhaps 75 of these people were there for the “Resist the Resistance” counter-rally, so my estimate is of about a 3:1 ratio of rallygoer to protestor.

This second crowd shot above came about 20 minutes later, from across the street. Notice the police car parked there, as there were perhaps 4 or 5 pairs of Salisbury police officers surveying the group from different vantage points. Overall, the gathering was rather peaceful and the event organizer only chastised the counter-group once when I was there for being disrespectful. This is a sampling of the counterpoint; however, they were more scattered around the outside. The cheers and chants weren’t coming from them.

As with any protest worth its salt, there were signs expressing a variety of points of view.

I’m surprised the bearer wasn’t asking for the birth certificate. Oh wait, wrong president. But this wasn’t necessarily supposed to be an anti-Trump rally.

Well, then again… but to be fair, this was spotted on a car in the nearby parking lot. I would presume the person who slapped it on wasn’t at the library, though.

True, but many do illegal acts, and in the case of our subject matter crossing the border without permission, identity theft – which many “undocumented migrants” do in order to secure work authorization – and overstaying visas are criminal acts.

I agree with this one as well, particularly with regard to the below sign.

Radical Islam is more of a threat to that light than a temporary pause in accepting refugees and immigrants from particular nations. Shari’a law is not compatible with our Constitution. And looking at the other sign in the top photo, I didn’t think global warming was a concern with this one. Today’s global warming feels pretty darn good, actually. And, by the way, spellcheck is your friend.

Rather than take a photo of the kids drawing on the posterboards (making more signs?) I took this shot. They’re not old enough to know better, although I fear that what they are exposed to isn’t going to lead them in a positive direction.

I did not write down the names of the speakers, so forgive me on that. More important than the names, though, was their sentiments. One high-school age girl who claimed she was brought up in a mixed home (Muslim and Catholic) was afraid she would be “hated and harmed by those misinformed” and that with continued scapegoating of various groups America will unmake itself.

I recall this girl talked about the internment of the Japanese in America during World War II, which was primarily because FDR considered them a threat as we were fighting their homeland. Yet no one is talking about rounding up Middle Eastern males and putting them in a camp – the idea is just to have more “extreme vetting” of a group which has been proven to have a propensity toward committing acts of terror both here and elsewhere.

Another woman (most of the speakers I saw were women, particularly college-age and below) exhorted the audience to educate themselves and not to believe various news sources, including blogs. Hey, I resent that remark – come tell me I’m lying. I certainly will cheerfully admit my bias toward limited, Constitutional government, and I believe Trump’s action regarding immigrants is within his purview. (The Washington judge and Ninth Circuit got it wrong. The law – which dates from the 1950s - clearly states Trump can take this action, just as the last six presidents have.)

I’m not sure if it was the same speaker, but it was noted as well that the Likovich family (the organizer is local college student Molly Likovich) has received “a lot of hateful words.” I don’t condone that tone, either, but please remember hateful words aren’t the exclusive province of the Right.

Something I noticed in further remarks was when a speaker was talking about having respect for all religions, including those who choose not to follow any religion, that last part got the loudest cheer. What someone does with their immortal soul is between them and God, but I found, sadly, I wasn’t surprised by that sentiment there.

I also heard the opinion that we all have blanket stereotypes of people as human beings. But by the same token, this speaker said “Ignorance is not bliss, and knowledge is power.” We had to admit to ourselves these stereotypes and try to change our behavior. The question I have, though, is change it to what? Should we just accept the false notion that all cultures are equal and just let things go? That’s not possible in a civilized society. And while she asked us to “never stop fighting for humanity,” the question becomes which behaviors and cultures are assets to humanity and which are detrimental.

But the last speaker I heard before I departed the scene took the cake.

Thanks to my erstwhile fellow WCRC officer Jackie Wellfonder, I found out this speaker’s name is Amber Green, and yes she is sporting a BLM shirt. Jackie had a video of Amber’s whole speech up on her social media, so I listened again.

Amber was very riled up, which is fine, but when she told the older generation “it’s time for you guys to sit down” and let the younger generation take over because “we have a lot to say,” well, from what they had to say I don’t think they have the maturity or common sense to take over yet.

To show how naïve these people are, remember that one of the speakers said humans have “blanket stereotypes” about each other. Young lady, that cuts both ways. Unfortunately, there is a group of relatively young humans out there who use the blanket stereotypes given to them by their religion as an excuse to murder and maim people, in the belief that dying themselves in the act is their surest way to 72 virgins in paradise. Again, I will admit that I heard only a portion of the remarks but I don’t recall any of the speakers condemning that behavior. Instead, we had to be tolerant of their beliefs because they have the notion that there is moral equivalence between all cultures and religions. So if someone came to the event with a Confederate flag, would they be as forgiving because - remember - all cultures are equal?

I also recall one of the speakers revealing that Molly and several of the other event organizers participated in the Women’s March last month. At least this rally didn’t feature the pink hats, which did little but make those women look foolish.

Good thing there was a little levity about the place, not to mention the bottled water on the table above the sign.

Maybe what we need is a beer summit, and apparently from what I read on social media several of the pro-Trump people went to this establishment to have a few adult beverages. Yet it’s the organizers who need it so they will figure out a little bit of common sense. Lord knows they need something to get through the next four to eight years because they’ll have to deal with Donald Trump and Mike Pence for that long. Despite Michael Moore’s fantasy, Hillary Clinton is nowhere on the succession list.

But do you know what was most silly about this rally? These people have already forgotten something I observed during the 2016 campaign: the more extreme the rhetoric and vitriol toward Donald Trump, the more people embrace him. All this affair did was sow the seeds of division in our nation deeper, but that may have been the goal all along. And despite the glowing coverage in local media, it will just take one terror attack in the name of religion to obliterate the points made today.

The uprising

Saturday could be an interesting day in Salisbury.

I’m sure you know I am writing a book on the TEA Party (more on that in a bit) so one restore point I like to return to in my political memory was the first Tax Day TEA Party we had out in front of the Government Office Building. On a rainy Wednesday afternoon there were probably 400 to 500 people in attendance. Three months later we celebrated Independence Day with a gathering of perhaps 200 to 300. (Sadly, I wrote great pieces on both events but the demise of my photo repository means the photos are dead links. Someday I will rectify that – but I have to find the photos on my old external hard drive, which I also have to find! *sigh*)

Anyway, Saturday could be the flip side of the TEA Party since there’s a completely different protest planned, called the “No Ban No Wall No Registry” Salisbury rally. And unlike the TEA Party of yore, this one will have a counter-protest called the “Resist the Resistance” rally. I’m guessing that the opposition to Trump will have the larger numbers, if only because they’ve secured a little bit of publicity for their event and it’s something that indeed unites certain segments of the community.

Yet I have to question their sincerity, since they haven’t batted an eyelash when the last six presidents have put up a similar ban of some type against particular countries, not to mention the recent change in policy toward Cuban refugees. (However, I may give them the benefit of the doubt if they chastise Trump’s predecessor for that change.) I also have to question their reasoning as to why we should not secure our borders, which is our right as a sovereign nation. Once upon a time we were more secure in the fact that two oceans and inhospitable terrain shielded us from the world, but no more. By the same token, is it not our right to know who is visiting the nation and for what purpose? If only they were against a registry for firearm owners, we may be on to something.

While I agree that Donald Trump is a lowering of the standard one should expect from the President, so was Hillary Clinton. (Thus, I voted for the Constitution Party nominee.) I can’t promise anything because I also have a family commitment that day, but if I have the chance I may wander down there to see what’s going on and maybe play reporter once again. Lord knows I haven’t been much of a blogger lately because I’ve spent a lot of time working on The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party.

So it’s on that front I’m going to make my final point of the night. I had envisioned the book being done by this fall, but recently I have had a different opportunity placed before me that I think is worth pursuing for some other personal and professional goals I have. At this time, it will take a significant portion of my already limited free time so in order to give this a fair shake I think a more realistic timetable for the book is now the first half of 2018. I’m going to put it on pause for a few months, with the hope that this opportunity may morph into something else that would give me the time back.

One other benefit: it can give me a chance to see how this resistance movement pans out and how it compares to the grassroots TEA Party. So there is that, and Saturday will be the first chapter of that story.

Thoughts on renewable energy and handouts

With the whole Trump transition, controversy over various nominees, and other distracting background noise, there are a lot of subjects which have been placed on the back burner – one of them is renewable energy.

I noted a few days back that two pipelines stalled under the previous administration were kicked back into gear once Trump came into office, but at the very end I alluded to two battles shaping up in the Maryland General Assembly. One was the overturning of Governor Hogan’s proper veto of the “sunshine tax,” which I discussed a lot on the Facebook page of the Maryland Climate Coalition (a motley crew of environmentalist wackos, leftist faith-based groups, and a union or two.) The other is their misguided attempt to ban fracking in the state (SB740/HB1325) which has 23 of the 47 Senators as co-sponsors and over 60 members of the House of Delegates.  (Think of the sponsor lists as a handy guide for voting for their opponents in 2018.)

A couple days later, I received an e-mail from someone at the National Council for Solar Growth (NCSG), which I gather is a non-profit because she wrote “We’re in a dash to get as much exposure as possible in fear that our funding may soon be pulled. :( ” According to their website, they are a 501 (c)(3) organization “with a mission to educate homeowners and businesses about the economic and environmental benefits of PV solar,” and some of the benefactors listed are the Departments of Energy and Housing and Urban Development, along with the Global Solar Council and PACENow, which is a financing mechanism that adds an assessment to your property tax bill.

One thing that is worth reading on their website is a case study on return on investment, using a home in Massachusetts as an example. This family spent $55,000 on a 10 kW system, which is probably double the amount some homeowners would require. But once you knocked off rebates, tax credits, solar renewable energy credits, and net metering, supposedly the cost came down to just under $30,000. Realize, of course, most of this “savings” is a subsidy by state and federal governments. In Maryland’s case, the “sunshine tax” that Hogan vetoed would increase the number of solar renewable energy credits utility companies have to purchase – basically they created an artificial market where none existed. In the case of this Massachusetts family, their upfront cost was defrayed by $3,725 and it would continue at that pace for another nine years.

All told, the family would put in about $30,000 but taxpayers and ratepayers would kick in $54,750 – $21,225 up front and $33,525 over the next nine years. The case study also said the family was receiving income of about $350 monthly from the utility company for net metering. It seems like a sweet gig, which is probably why I see Solar City trucks all over the place. But would they be as prevalent if the public money spigot were shut off? I think not, and remember our friend was fretting about NCSG losing their funding. The market may not be sustainable at this point, nor will it become so. Over time, the panels will begin to lose efficiency and may not end up saving them anything.

And then I started thinking about some of those who have been financing the Left over the years, particularly a “green energy” guy like Tom Steyer. Instead of working to mature the market and taking the risks inherent in building it while allowing people to choose whether they wish to participate or not, those financing Radical Green have instead been backing the idea of forcing people to adapt via government fiat. Don’t want to buy a solar energy system for your house? Well, we will just make the utility companies pay for it and they’ll just pass the cost onto you. Can’t find enough private financing to build the market? We’ll just lobby for our own carveouts and earmarks in the name of “saving the planet.” Instead of assisting those interested, they impose their preferences on everyone.

I think a great example of this is the electric car. Once upon a time, way back when, there were rudimentary electric cars produced. But people found it was cheaper and easier to use the internal combustion engine, and the American love affair with the automobile began. As opposed to mass transit, for one thing the automobile equates to freedom of movement: you are not at the mercy of waiting for the next train or bus nor are you restricted to going only to places they serve.

So I suppose it’s a concession from the Left that they decided electric cars are worth an “investment.” The problem is that they aren’t necessarily suited for freedom of movement in the respect that they have a limited range – it’s almost like you have a leash on yourself unless you know of places you can charge up, and that’s not even really an option because, as opposed to five or ten minutes at the local Wawa filling up, you would need at least a half-hour to charge enough for 90 miles. But the government is still trying to bring that market up to speed, to turn a phrase.

Consider the Chevy Bolt, which GM bills as an all-electric vehicle with a range per charge of 238 miles. It’s built on the same platform as their sub-compact Spark, but instead of setting you back about $17,000 as a Spark would a Bolt retails for $37,495. (Some of that is returned in a federal tax credit of $7,500 – again, no one is giving tax credits on the regular Spark. My older daughter and son-in-law would love that, since they both own a Spark.) But to do things right, you would need to install a home charging station, which costs about $1,000 – of which 30% is rebated in another federal tax credit. It requires at least 40 amp, 240 volt service so a rule of thumb is that you will use about 30 kWh to go 100 miles. Driving 1,500 miles a month (not uncommon around here) and that means additional electrical consumption of 450 kWh, which is about 50% of a typical home’s usage for a month. So much for net metering.

So let’s recap: you’re using far more electricity, limiting your range of motion, and costing taxpayers about $8,000 for dubious gain. (And I haven’t even discussed how they get the materials for the battery – hint: it’s not very eco-friendly.)

In essence, what has been going on for the last thirty years is that we have transferred billions of dollars from hard-working taxpayers to those who profit from a belief that mankind can save their planet from the scourge of climate change, which is laughable on its face. As I have said for years, I have no real issue with energy efficiency but that should be sought on a market standpoint, not because we are forced into it or made to pay for it. There are certain things which create abundant energy quite cheaply and reliably: coal, oil, and natural gas. At one time – before my time – we were told (falsely, as it turned out) that nuclear power would be so cheap they wouldn’t have to meter it.

With a government that’s spending $4 trillion a year, isn’t it time to let these giveaways to Radical Green go away? And before you argue about Big Oil and its “subsidies,” read this. America’s economic engine needs reliable and inexpensive energy to run at peak efficiency, and on this cloudy day with relatively calm winds I’m not seeing much from those other sources.

Prayer requests?

February 8, 2017 · Posted in Personal stuff · Comment 

This will be more of a faith exercise than anything political.

As I get deeper and deeper into my faith, I find that a lot of people request prayers for things, which I think is perfectly fine. I believe that God answers all prayers; however, this comes with the caveat that you may not necessarily like the answer. Setbacks will occur in life in order to test our faith.

But something we stress at our church and in our small group study* (which is actually where I’m at as this posts) is that prayers need to be made with authority. I can’t pray for something and believe it will occur on my own, but with God all things are possible. (Not just a reference to Matthew 19:26, but the motto of my home state.) So we end our prayers with an invocation of Jesus’s name. The phrase I would use in writing this out (since I text out the prayer request reminders for small group) goes something like “this I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

You may also know I am writing a book on the TEA Party, which has nothing to do with prayer or faith except that I pray it sells well and have faith it will then spread the message I’m writing on to a wider audience. But one facet of the TEA Party’s rise was the introduction of the Twitter hashtag #TCOT (for Top Conservatives on Twitter), which made it easy to find relevant information for those who were conservatives looking for worthy reading or messages to pass along. Since then, we’ve often heard about hashtags as shorthand for movements, like #MAGA for Donald Trump supporters. (It stands for “Make America Great Again,” Trump’s slogan.)

So it dawned on me: if we want to share our prayers and give them authority, perhaps a hashtag of our own would be good for collecting and sharing. It’s a little clunky, but if you take the first letters in my phrase you have #TIPIJNA. I think it’s a good idea if we can somehow make it viral, so you would write something like this on social media.

I give thanks to You, Lord, that we have a small group for prayer and fellowship each week, and pray that more parents come to our small group to learn for themselves about raising Godly children in a lost and dying world. #TIPIJNA

I think I went over 140 characters there, but you get the idea. Give it a try. It may be our little secret for awhile, but it can’t hurt and may help.

__________

* Instead of doing the usual Bible study as the rest of our church is doing on the Book of Colossians, as parents of teens in our church youth group our small group (led by our youth pastor) is studying and discussing the parenting book Shepherding A Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp. I’m sure we will return to the next small group study, whatever it is, since over the spring and fall we tackled the Books of James and Philippians. (In summer we do “Picnic on the Go,” which features more fellowship and testimony, instead of a formal study.)

If you live in the Salisbury area, let me know and I can give you the information.

The replacement

For whatever reason, these days I get a lot more e-mail from the Democratic Party than I do the Republicans. (Perhaps the GOP stuff ends up in my junk mail somehow?) A lot of the time the Democrats’ stuff is comedy gold, although they are getting more than enough mileage out of vilifying the already easy to vilify Donald Trump.

Now I’m going to do something I try not to do here, and that is accept their word as gospel for the sake of argument. Lord only knows what kind of Astroturf George Soros, Peter Lewis, and other big-money far-left donors can gin up for rent-a-mobs, but as I said this can suffice as their case. This is an excerpt from an e-mail I got today.

Republicans are frantically trying to dodge their constituents who want answers about what’s going to happen to their health care.

Virginia Congressman Dave Brat recently complained that “since Obamacare and these issues have come up, the women are in my grill no matter where I go.” Another Virginia Republican, Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, skipped out on “office hours” with her constituents after dozens showed up to ask about her Obamacare replacement plan.

When Arkansans showed up at Senator Tom Cotton’s office to ask about their health care, staffers locked the door and turned them away. Sixteen constituents showed up at Congressman Peter Roskam’s office in West Chicago to voice their concerns about repealing the Affordable Care Act and were told their meeting had been abruptly canceled. Congressman Mike Coffman from Colorado was caught on camera sneaking out of a constituent event through a side door to avoid his constituents’ questions about health care.

After more than 200 people submitted questions for a Facebook town hall with Sen. Thom Tillis, the senator logged off 11 minutes into the 30-minute event.

The Affordable Care Act is more popular than ever. Millions of Americans are reaping the benefits of access to affordable care — and 30 million stand to lose their health care if the law is repealed.

Again, this all may be “fake news” but here’s something that’s not fake: those who don’t want Obamacare repealed are probably the few profiting off of it at the expense of the many, which constitutes a great deal of working America. Since the RCP average has tracked the question in 2009, there has never been a majority in favor of Obamacare. To say it’s “more popular than ever” is true to the extent that it’s less of a dog than it has been.

And the other “fake news” is that oft-repeated claim that Americans will lose their health care if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, and that’s not so. It’s federal law that emergency care has to be provided regardless of ability to pay. Nor is this considering how many people have decided to take their chances with the tax penalty since it would be less expensive than health insurance.

So this is a message to Republicans who are getting cold feet about repealing Obamacare: find yourself a fire and warm them up – let’s do this thing. The Democrats are so full of crap their eyes are brown: America wants Obamacare to be gone!

Yet there is the question of cost, because medical expenses are, well, expensive. I have a theory on that, though, and it relates to a similar phenomenon in another aspect of life.

Look at the cost of college tuition as an example. To some, the cachet of a degree at a prestigious university is irresistible, and they will pay whatever it takes to get it. Some people who are more academically suited to a state university still demand to go to an Ivy League school, and those schools know this. They also know that a) these students will likely go many thousands in dollars in debt, and b) they get paid up front by the federal government. Whether the student pays back his or her loans or not is immaterial to them because they got their money, and because of that these schools are padding their tuition and fees because they can. Maybe it’s to increase their endowments, but oftentimes it’s to provide non-educational amenities.

Let me share a story with you. I went to college from 1982-86 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. It was selected because it had the program I sought to major in and was in-state so my tuition was lower – although higher than most others, as it had the reputation of being the best state school in Ohio academically. (So there was a little bit of cachet factor, too.) Very nice campus, relatively solid education. I would have been happy to see my older daughter go there, but she had other plans.

My wife at the time was a non-traditional student who had gone to another school before having the older daughter in question (I’m her stepdad.) So, after we married, she enrolled at the University of Toledo, which is more of a commuter school. Yet one thing they had was a state-of-the-art recreation center, paid for by the state since UT is a state school, too. I got to enjoy the facilities on occasion since my ex was a student, and they were nice. Soon enough, all of the other state schools were getting in line to have similar facilities put up and sometime in the 1990s, well after I graduated, Miami got theirs. While it may have been beneficial for the small percentage of those who majored in physical education, the real reason these were put up was so each of these state universities would have something to attract students. More students = more tuition and fees = job security for the thousands of university employees. And as I said: they got their money up front, never mind the students were saddled with debt for a decade or more. (As I recall, I didn’t finally pay my student loans off until 2001 or so.)

Now look at the medical field. Obamacare placed it in a similar position to that of state universities because it was flush with federal cash – as originally envisioned, people would either have their medical care paid for directly by the federal government (Medicaid) or they would give insurance companies a captive audience with relatively few choices via the exchanges. Insurance companies, in turn, were supposed to have “risk corridors” and other accounting tricks and bailouts to make them whole – the only people who would be left holding the bag would be the ones who actually paid for the insurance, and many of them on the individual market received subsidies from Uncle Sam, too as well. No wonder it cost a trillion dollars a year.

The weakness of the Obamacare system is that there’s no real incentive to cut costs. Yet there are two groups of beneficiaries who stand to lose the most if the ACA is repealed: those who are getting the subsidies or “free” insurance from the government and those providers who have been able to just keep raising prices because there’s a massive pot of money they want to get their paws into. Therein lies the rub: Obamacare is now in a place where it cannot be just cut cold turkey – there has to be a year or two transition period, and of course that gets into election time.

It’s worth reminding readers that Obamacare has its roots in what some dubbed Romneycare: the insurance mandate Massachusetts put into place several years before. To be quite honest, that is where the solution lies. Perhaps it would be appropriate to block-grant funding to states for a interim period of up to three years and allow them to tailor their own programs and set up funding mechanisms. States can choose to have all the bells and whistles or they can choose to invest their resources elsewhere, and that’s the way it should be. I think this would take care of most (but not all) of those who are getting the largest benefits. The others can vote with their feet if they so choose: government is not supposed to be all things to all people.

On the cost side, I think any and all federal insurance coverage mandates should be scrapped, allowing states to set their own systems and priorities. Now it can be argued that having 50 different systems would be difficult for a health insurance provider to navigate, but auto insurers already do this. There are advocacy groups out there that suggest how states can streamline the process by being similar to other states, so I suspect most states will have health insurance requirements that are fairly similar. Maryland may have the extreme in required coverage on one end while Texas may be the flip side. Because of this, I’m not sure selling insurance across state lines is necessarily doable in the respect that I can’t buy a Texas policy living in Maryland. But states should be encouraged to allow insurance products that reflect everything from the catastrophic coverage health insurance was originally to the Cadillac plans that pay for everything, even your hangnail or gender reassignment surgery.

So, the replacement for Obamacare is a more free market and freedom of choice to participate. Sorry, Democrats, but Obamacare has to go to help make America a healthy nation again. If Andy Harris has a townhall, hopefully he will stand his ground and make the case for repeal.

monoblogue music: “The Asheville Symphony Sessions” by various artists

February 4, 2017 · Posted in Music Reviews · Comments Off 

For decades it’s been rare to see symphonic music on the mainstream record charts, and as a genre classical music has been banished to isolated corners of the radio dial, such as public radio. But at the same time purveyors of popular music have seen the need to “legitimize” themselves as artists by collaborating with classical ensembles: two prime examples are the Moody Blues 1967 album “Days of Future Passed” (which spawned the single Tuesday Afternoon), and two decades later Metallica’s performance of many of their most popular songs to that point with the San Francisco Symphony, recorded live and released as the album “S + M” in 1999.

The concept behind the Asheville Symphony Sessions wasn’t precisely the same, though. Instead, it was more of a collaboration between a wide variety of artists spanning a number of genres with a musical ensemble that has performed in that region of North Carolina since 1960. In some respects, it was a very glorified jam session as some of the bands took previously released songs and others made new music for the occasion.

Perhaps the most famous of these groups in their own right is Steep Canyon Rangers, a Grammy-winning group that’s also known for backing comedian (and banjoist) Steve Martin in his musical exploits. They contributed the already-haunting song Blue Velvet Rain, with the orchestra actually smoothing some of the rougher edges of it.

On the other hand, the song For Now, We Are by Matt Townsend sounds like something he envisioned from the start, as if it was just natural that the mood of the song needed the touch of the ASO to succeed. I realized after looking into this that I have previously reviewed an album Matt did with his band as one of the first few reviews I did. He still has the distinctive voice but has further perfected the craft of writing to it.

The artists determined how much of an effect the various ensembles had on their music. In some cases, such as the songs No Expectations by soulful singer Shannon Whitworth or the world music beat of Circle Round The Flame from Free Planet Radio (featuring singer Lizz Wright), a light touch was all that was really needed. The melody the ASO provided for the Doc Aquatic song Last Monday also made that song better. Yet to me where the collaboration really shone was on two tracks: a solid alternative tune called Pontiac from the Electric Owls and this almost Beatle-like track from Lovett called Don’t Freak Out.

The video also gives an idea of just what went into this compilation, which I’m sure was fun for both sides and gave everyone involved a chance to musically stretch their legs.

Out of the eight tracks, the only one I didn’t get any enjoyment out of was (unfortunately on my listening source) the very first track. It’s an anti-capitalist screed by a female duo called Rising Appalachia called Filthy Dirty South. (They did an EP with that name some years back, if my checking their website is correct.) I just had a hard time reconciling protest music with the beauty of a symphony – it was a track that didn’t work well.

All in all, this was an interesting project that showcases the artistic community of a relatively small city (about 80,000 call the city home) and brings it to the attention of others who may marvel at its outsize influence on the musical world. There aren’t many places twice the size that could pull this off, so the effort is commendable to say the least.

A discussion on immigration

February 3, 2017 · Posted in Cathy Keim, Culture and Politics, National politics, Politics · Comments Off 

By Cathy Keim 

The topic of immigration is huge because we have so many areas to cover. Just for starters, there is legal immigration, asylum seekers and refugees, temporary visa holders for work or education, and illegal immigration. Then we could go deeper into family reunification policies, green cards, health issues, and security issues. Despite reading on the topic for years, I am not an expert, but I have formed some opinions and probably you the reader have too.

First and foremost, it is okay to discuss this issue despite the elites, the media, the politicians, and the academics trying to make it taboo. If you raise any concern, no matter how small, about immigration you are instantly labeled xenophobic, Islamophobic, and all the other usual epithets like racist, bigot, and hater.

It is the government’s job to protect its citizens. One of the ways to protect the citizens is to control who comes in and out of the country. For the open borders types, I would ask them if they lock their doors on their houses? I can remember when most of us didn’t bother to lock our doors, but that was a long time ago when I was a child. Today, most people lock the doors to their home whether they are home or away because they want to control access to their possessions and more importantly to themselves.

In most of our nation, a simple lock is sufficient, although security systems are popular if you go by the signs posted discreetly in front yards. In the Middle East, South America, and Mexico homes of the upper class are more like forts with walls, iron bars on the windows and even armed guards for protection. May we never reach the point where each of us must build a fortress to feel safe.

However, that day may come if our government continues to fail in its duty to secure our borders and control who comes into our country. So now is the time to have the discussion about immigration and to speak our minds freely without regard to the “pure of heart” liberals that try to impose their “religion” of tolerance upon us.

Christianity is hated by the liberals and yet they whip it out of the bag to beat us over the head with how we should be kind and loving to the refugees. They are hypocritically calling upon us to obey their interpretation of Christianity which just happens to mean open the gates and let everybody in.

Christians are called to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, but that is an admonition to individuals, not for government policy making. The liberals purposely blur the lines between the government’s duty to protect its citizens and the Christian obligation to be kind.

The Bible is clear that it is the duty of the Christian to take care of their own family, then to reach out to others. One way of taking care your family is to be sure that they are fed, housed, and safe. Even the liberals would call in child protective services if you left your child (or dog) in an unsafe environment, yet they want to turn the entire country into an unsafe environment by bringing in refugees that cannot be vetted due to the turmoil in their home countries.

There are an estimated 60 million refugees around the world. Exactly how many of those refugees do the open borders people want to bring to America? What are the principles that they use to select who should come? Why do they tell themselves that they are “pure of heart” for wanting to save the refugees, when they do it with money that is confiscated from taxpayers by force?

We the taxpayers are xenophobic, etc. etc. ad nauseum, if we do not cheerfully pay our taxes and watch them be used to bring in people that do not want to assimilate and live by our laws and customs. Why are the feminists that were so nasty at the Women’s March not protesting against Sharia law which says that women are not equal to men, that honor killings are fine, and the female genital mutilation is great? Why, as a Christian, should I stand aside so that these great evils can be brought into our culture on equal footing with our Judeo-Christian Western values?

All cultures are not equal. All religions are not equal. This must be acknowledged before we can have a reasonable discussion of how our nation should proceed. I absolutely want my elected representatives to have the backbone to state clearly that America is founded on Judeo-Christian principles and we want to continue to function under them. That implies that we should not import people en masse who do not believe in our country’s laws and customs and have no intention of assimilating.

Because we are a good and kind nation, we can most certainly send aid to war torn countries including doctors, nurses, teachers, and missionaries that volunteer to go. We have done exactly that throughout our history. At present, we are being hectored by the nine non-governmental agencies that bring in refugees to continue and even increase the number. If you will look at Ann Corcoran’s Refugee Resettlement Watch blog, you will see that Ann has documented over and over again that these NGO’s are almost completely funded by the American taxpayer and therefore, they cannot share the gospel of Jesus Christ with any of the refugees they help.

One of the arguments being foisted upon Christians by the left is that because we are bringing Muslims to America in great numbers, we can more easily preach the gospel to them, except that the supposed Christian organizations bringing them cannot speak the name of Christ due to the government funding. Besides, where does it say in the Bible that preaching the gospel should be convenient?

John Quincy Adams, our sixth president, spoke about Islam almost two hundred years ago. If we were more aware of history we would realize that this assault by jihadists upon Western culture is nothing new.  His observations are still worth heeding.

The precept of the Koran is, perpetual war against all who deny, that Mahomet is the prophet of God. The vanquished may purchase their lives, by the payment of tribute; the victorious may be appeased by a false and delusive promise of peace; and the faithful follower of the prophet, may submit to the imperious necessities of defeat: but the command to propagate the Moslem creed by the sword is always obligatory, when it can be made effective. The commands of the prophet may be performed alike, by fraud, or by force.

I will acknowledge that many Muslims do not want to be constantly warring with their neighbors, but that doesn’t change the truth that this is baked into their belief system.

I will close with an illustration from an incident I read about in Tampa, Florida years ago. You may remember Sami Al Arian, who was finally deported to Turkey for helping fund terrorists. Before he became a well known name for his terrorist activities, he came to Florida to teach at the University of South Florida. He and his fellow jihadists went to a nice little neighborhood mosque and beat up the faithful and took over the mosque. The Muslims who had started the mosque were forcibly removed from leadership and the mosque became the al Qassam Mosque as it is still named. Al Qassam was a Palestinian terrorist, an apt name for a mosque that was taken by terror from its rightful owners.

This article in the St. Petersburg Times states:

In May 1987, more than a dozen people stormed a Ramadan service at the mosque that would later become a spiritual and political base for Sami Al-Arian, accused of being the North American leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The dissidents tried to drive out the worshipers, according to a Hillsborough County sheriff’s report. A woman identified as Hala Al-Najjar swung a large purse, knocking over a pregnant woman who later miscarried.

At the time, this newspaper called it a “scuffle between two Moslem sects.” In hindsight, the “scuffle” was one in a dramatic series of struggles at mosques throughout the country between fundamentalist and moderate Muslims.

(snip)

It is unclear whether Al-Arian would call himself a Wahhabist, but in taking over the Tampa mosque, his disciples appeared to follow the Wahhabi script. They drove out moderates, handed title of the mosque to the Islamic trust, and received secret funding linked to Saudi Arabia, documents show.

My point in relating this incident from almost 30 years ago is that when push comes to shove, it is the violent sect of Islam that rules. The bully rules the schoolyard. Thus by importing Muslims en masse into our country, no matter how peaceful the first ones are, we are opening our doors to increasing strife.

In fact, Nonie Darwish, the director of Former Muslims United, says:

Muslims need to know that the world does indeed have a justifiable and legitimate concern about Islam and actions done in the name of Islam by Muslims. Muslims need to look at themselves in the mirror and see the world from the point of view of their victims. Instead, the West is sacrificing its culture, values, laws, pride and even self-respect. Muslim culture needs a wake-up call telling them that, sooner or later, non-Muslim nations will close their doors to any kind of Muslim immigration if the jihad culture continues. That will also be a strong message to Muslims already in the West who still believe in jihad.

Unfortunately, Islam does not lend itself to a reformation.  To the jihadists, Islam still exists as John Quincy Adams described it:

In the seventh century of the Christian era, a wandering Arab of the lineage of Hagar, the Egyptian, combining the powers of transcendent genius, with the preternatural energy of a fanatic, and the fraudulent spirit of an impostor, proclaimed himself as a messenger from Heaven, and spread desolation and delusion over an extensive portion of the earth. Adopting from the sublime conception of the Mosaic law, the doctrine of one omnipotent God; he connected indissolubly with it, the audacious falsehood, that he was himself his prophet and apostle. Adopting from the new Revelation of Jesus, the faith and hope of immortal life, and of future retribution, he humbled it to the dust, by adapting all the rewards and sanctions of his religion to the gratification of the sexual passion. He poisoned the sources of human felicity at the fountain, by degrading the condition of the female sex, and the allowance of polygamy; and he declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind. THE ESSENCE OF HIS DOCTRINE WAS VIOLENCE AND LUST: TO EXALT THE BRUTAL OVER THE SPIRITUAL PART OF HUMAN NATURE. (capitals in the original.)

The immigration debate needs to be held publicly and it looks like the Trump administration is going to do so. Each citizen needs to be informed and contact their leadership from the president down to local officials as to what they think the correct policy should be.

A good week for American energy (and American jobs)

I was sitting on some stuff from my old friends at API for awhile, but I decided it was getting a little too stale and broomed it. Luckily for both of us, events and more concise blogging make for a far better analysis, to wit from the Energy Tomorrow blog and Mark Green:

President Trump’s executive orders clearing the way to restart the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines are welcome indeed. Both projects represent great opportunity for U.S. jobs, consumer benefits, economic growth and strengthened energy security.

At the same time, the significance of the White House’s action goes beyond a pair of important energy projects. It’s a signal that long-needed energy infrastructure will once again be able to advance in this country – under regular-order reviews and approval processes – providing broad benefits to millions of Americans. That’s huge.

Both projects had become political footballs, with political agendas trumping science, factual analysis and careful, lawful governmental review.

Keystone XL was reviewed five times by the U.S. State Department, which said the pipeline and the Canadian oil sands it would deliver to U.S. refiners would not significantly impact the environment. It enjoyed strong, bipartisan support from the American public, which saw the privately financed project as a job creator and economy grower. The builders of Dakota Access followed regular permitting and approval processes – only to see politics prevail over the rule of law – with the 1,172-mile pipeline just 1,100 feet from completion.

President Trump’s executive orders allow both projects to get on track again. API President and CEO Jack Gerard:

“We are pleased to see the new direction being taken by this administration to recognize the importance of our nation’s energy infrastructure by restoring the rule of law in the permitting process that’s critical to pipelines and other infrastructure projects. Critical energy infrastructure projects like the Keystone XL and the Dakota Access Pipelines will help deliver energy to American consumers and businesses safely and efficiently.”

I find it amazing just how little of the DAPL was controversial: it would be like driving from here to Key West to stay free at a Gulf-front cottage for a week only to find the last bridge is out and no repairs are scheduled for the month.

While I’m sure the folks in the media work hard to keep a sharp eye out for pipeline mishaps in this day and age, the fact that there’s a “dog bites man” quality to these stories means that they’re a pretty safe way to get oil and natural gas from one place to another. To hear Radical Green tell it, we should have totally contaminated Gaia ten times over by now, so the fact that we haven’t means either we do a good job of keeping environmental damage to a minimum (which, in the long run, pays dividends for these energy companies) or Mother Nature does a pretty good job of healing itself. (Consider the Deepwater Horizon from the more immediate perspective to that of more recent vintage, when those studying had to speculate on mental health of residents because the seafood coming from the Gulf was deemed safe.)

There won’t be a whole lot of jobs from DAPL now (since there’s less than 1/4 mile remaining to be built) but there will be jobs with Keystone. More importantly, this commentary from API reflects their optimism that the Trump administration will be more amenable to their interests, something that was missing over the last eight years despite the industry’s relative prosperity.

Closer to home, here’s hoping that streak continues: there’s been a full-court press on the Radical Green side to keep Democrats in line regarding Governor Hogan’s veto of the “sunshine tax” but also, more behind the scenes, there’s a call for a permanent fracking ban in Maryland. For that I have two words: big mistake. Our options should remain open, particularly since the regulations are being finalized.

America has abundant energy in many places, so if you have it you may as well use it for our good. No need to keep it in the ground – that’s the place for the pipelines to go. Let’s get to work.

March for Life 2017

By Cathy Keim

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Jeremiah 1:5 (KJV)

The 44th March for Life was held this past Friday. I was able to go on the bus from St. Francis de Sales Parish here is Salisbury, as they graciously opened their extra seats to several of us fellow pro-lifers that were headed to the biggest pro-life gathering in the world. Many of the hardy souls on board the bus had been to the March for Life for years.

The mood was upbeat as we rolled towards D.C. Not only was the weather mild for January, but there was excitement that change was possible. After eight years of the most relentlessly pro-abortion president in our history, there was now a new administration that was showing itself to be aligned with the pro-life movement.

The ladies that organized the bus had the whole operation down to a science after years of practice. We were all issued matching hats that the Loving Life Committee had made so that we could keep together. There was a big bow on a fishing pole to keep an eye on when the masses started moving. Best of all, there were fabulous home baked cookies for the trip home when we were cold and tired. I don’t think that I could have made the trip with a nicer bunch of people. As the photo above shows, we represented both young and old.

The bus dropped us off near the Washington Monument and we tried to get through the security perimeter. This was a new addition to the event and it was not able to process the mass of people quickly enough to get us in there for the opening speeches. However, we could see them on the big screens and hear them over the loudspeakers.

Kellyanne Conway and Vice President Mike Pence were there to bring greetings from President Trump and to assure the crowd that President Trump was behind the pro-life movement. Once they had finished and departed, the security scanners were abandoned and we could enter.

There was a large group of politicians on stage, but due to the time given to Vice-President Pence, they were not even introduced by name. Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mia Love (R-UT) and Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) spoke for the group and pledged that they would defund Planned Parenthood.

Additional speakers were:

Archbishop of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Baltimore Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson, former Planned Parenthood Director and founder of “And Then There Were None” Abby Johnson, Mexican Telenovela star Karyme Lozano, author and radio host Eric Metaxas, [and] Bishop Vincent Matthews of the Church of God in Christ, who advocates for adoption in the African-American community.

Without the loudspeakers and the big screen, I would have seen and heard nothing since the crowd was so large. The organizers did an excellent job of planning and keeping the event on schedule, especially with the huge surprise of Pence appearing.

Next was the actual march to the Supreme Court. The crowd was so massive that I could not really get a feel for the crowd until we hit the upslope at Capitol Hill. I took a picture in front of me and one behind me and this is what I saw.

The crowd was good natured and happy to be moving after standing in the cold. There were many young people present, which brought a vibrancy that was often missing at Tea Party events. We finished the march at the Supreme Court, then everybody disbanded to head for home.

My thoughts as we stood in front of the Supreme Court were about how wicked the men were that made the decision to declare open season on all the babies in America with their faulty ruling in Roe v. Wade. About 57 million babies are estimated to have been murdered in the womb since 1973 and millions more will continue to be murdered unless the politicians get the courage to stand up and end this atrocity.

In the third debate between Hillary and Trump, the topic of abortion came up. Hillary spoke glibly about women and their rights. The words rolled off her tongue as she had clearly rehearsed the answer to achieve this polished response, complete with a heartfelt plea for the mothers.

A quick point of my own is that if a mother is truly concerned about her health being compromised by the pregnancy, she is just as able to have a C-section as she would be to have an abortion. The pregnancy is terminated either way, but the obvious difference is that the baby lives on rather than dying. That is the whole point of the abortion discussion. It is not the health of the mother; it is that the desired result is the death of the baby, wiped away as just another inconvenience by the pregnant woman.

Next Trump took on the issue and compared to Hillary’s polished wording, he sounded clumsy. At the time, I was struck by the difference between the deceptive smoothness of Hillary’s words and the blunt, jarring words blurted out by Trump. Watch for yourself.

I knew that many people would mock his defense of life including many on the pro-life side, because they were not convinced that he meant it. I have also heard pro-lifers rail against leaders that have gotten caught in the media storm of a poorly-worded answer about abortion. The pro-lifers are so concerned that their cause will be set back by an unguarded answer, that they will turn on any poor soul that makes a misstep and is dragged under by the media storm. Does the name Todd Akin ring a bell?

The fear of the media has caused many a pro-life politician to tone down their beliefs and to use euphemisms rather than upset voters. At the third debate, Donald Trump expressed the dismay that any normal person should feel at the horror of a baby being murdered in its last day in the womb. I took note right then and there that he might be the man to stop the abortion industry in its tracks.

President Trump observed the Women’s March the day after his inauguration and then sent his senior advisor, Kellyanne Conway, and his Vice-President, Mike Pence, to personally represent him at the largest pro-life march in the world less than a week later because, in all truth, the Women’s March was about one thing: abortion. Once again, Donald Trump does not sit back and take the abuse. He counterattacked by endorsing the pro-life movement.

The mood was upbeat at the March for Life because people knew that there finally was a president who was not afraid to take the political risk of standing boldly for life. He has stated that he will nominate a pro-life Supreme Court justice.

The Washington Times reports:

President Trump signed an executive order on Monday barring federal funds from organizations that promote abortion around the world, including the International Planned Parenthood Federation, in what activists say is the president’s first major pro-life action while in office.

Suddenly the impossible seems possible. Could we as a nation finally overturn the grave injustice of Roe v. Wade?

No ordinary politician could make the effort without being hammered to the ground by the media, the opposition, and his own party. Despite the GOP having a pro-life plank, there are plenty of Republican politicians that would love to avoid the issue completely.  Now is the time for the politicians that have only paid lip service to pro-life issues in the past to develop some backbone, stand up, and be counted. I would remind them that  they are elected to serve our country, to stand on principle, and to protect the citizens’ rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They should seize this opportunity to pass laws protecting babies!  Instead of cringing before the Planned Parenthood lobby and the media, they should act. It is better that they stand for life at this crucial moment than to worry about their re-election, for courage is doing the right thing in the face of evil. It is better to strike the blow for life than to miss the moment and retain your seat for years to come. Abortion destroys the lives of the women that choose abortion, their babies, and their families.

When our nation returns to its roots and declares that all lives are valuable from conception until natural death, including the disabled, then we will be able to say that we stand for liberty and justice for all.

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