Obviously there is a group that was unhappy to see Barack Obama go.
The button would have taken you to Organizing
For Action Against America but I left it as a dead link because I don’t deal with statists.
So if you look at the Obama administration as a whole, the overall question is always whether you are better off now than you were x number of years ago. Looking at things as an American, I would answer that question with an emphatic “no!” (Maybe not to the extent of the woman caterwauling at the Trump inauguration, though. I think she was an Obama fan too.) But I live in a nation where the economy has been relatively stagnant, people who used to work full-time have been reduced to holding two or more part-time jobs, “homegrown” terrorism is a threat, those of us who believe in faith-based morality are persecuted and bullied into supporting actions and ideals we consider immoral, and the rule of law is applied unevenly, if at all. These are just tip of the spear things I thought of off the top of my head.
Yes, there are good things that happened as well, particularly in the advancement of technology and development of energy independence. Fortunately, our system has survived an administration that, at times, seemed like it was more than willing to continue abandoning free-market principles – but not to save them.
Thus, I would not categorize America as better or stronger after the Obama administration. I’m not sure things would have been tremendously different had John McCain won in 2008, but I think that had Mitt Romney prevailed in 2012 there would have been sufficient improvement in our nation that he would have dispatched of Hillary Clinton or any other Democrat with ease for re-election. I may not have liked everything that a President Romney would have done, but the stage would have been set for continued success moreso than the morass we have now – and as an added bonus, the so-called “alt-right” would still be under their rocks.
Yet the Democrats are already on message. This was from an e-mail I got yesterday:
No matter what (Donald Trump) said in his inaugural address, we know that his allegiances are to himself — and not in the best interests of the American people.
I will give credit to Obama for one thing – he didn’t seem to act in his self-interest as much as he seemed to do the bidding of liberal special interest groups. But when he had to pick and choose, it seemed like the most radical ones won out. A good example is the Keystone pipeline that pitted Teamster jobs vs. Radical Green, with the environmentalists prevailing because they were farther left and more anti-capitalist. (Similar to that is Standing Rock, with the additional benefit to Obama of inserting race into the issue.)
Yet, having read Trump’s remarks, they are the simple extension of the populism that he won with. Put another way, he placed himself on a different side of the “us vs. them” equation which has seemed to rule national politics for most of the last quarter-century. The “us” to Trump are the “forgotten” people: blue-collar workers, small-town denizens, and those who believe rules should be applied equally and fairly. Yes, some are racist against blacks but I suspect an equal percentage of black Obama supporters have the same animus toward Caucasian “crackers” too. (The whole “white privilege” thing, you know.) Unfortunately, the politics of division doesn’t end the moment a new President enters office and it may take quite a while for the rising tide to lift all the boats – perhaps more than the eight years Trump could be in office.
While Donald Trump is certainly a flawed man, I think Americans considered him to be more their style of leader than an extension of the “pajama boy” that serves as an enduring symbol of Barack Obama. I didn’t support Donald Trump for election, but it’s my hope that he serves as the conduit to better leadership.
Can we make America great again? If we begin by making America good again, then making it Constitutional again, the answer would be “yes, we can.” All Donald Trump has to do is get government out of the way.
I observed on Facebook earlier today that eight years may seem like a long time, but on the other hand my wife and I have only known one administration as a couple: we met just two weeks after Barack Obama took office.
By that same token, today monoblogue moved into its third administration, as I began this enterprise in George W. Bush’s second term and somehow made it through eight years of Barack Obama. Obviously one may conclude that, being a conservative, I would have a lot less to complain about in a Republican administration – but something tells me this will be a Republican administration like no other.
In a lot of the analysis I’ve read about why and how Donald Trump came to the place of being sworn in today as our 45th president, the quick take is that he did it much like Ronald Reagan did: he appealed directly to the people and was effective enough at working around the filter of the media that he succeeded where Mitt Romney, John McCain, Bob Dole, and the two Bushes had failed – and yes, I am aware that George W. Bush was president for eight years (and his dad for four.) But would you consider them successful presidents? I’m not sure that I would. On the other hand, Reagan is fondly remembered by most of America except the hardcore Left.
It’s no secret that I didn’t vote for Trump in either the primary or general elections, and my approach to him at this point is one of a fairly wary optimism. In all honesty, that’s based more on the public perception that things are turning around for the better than any evidence I have that his policies will show us the way to make America great again. (I will say, though, that what I wrote about in today’s Patriot Post did tug the rope slightly more in his favor. But I have to see follow-through.) Yet one thing Reagan had in his favor was his sunny optimism that it was morning again in America, and many of my more conservative friends invoked that sentiment in discussing today’s events. (Of course, those few left-leaning friends of mine will likely feel like the old Li’l Abner character Joe Btfsplk with the black cloud perpetually over his head for the next four to eight years.)
Yet I share in the optimism, if only because my circumstances are improved from the last time around. When 43 became 44, I was out of work – however, I was warned that if Obama was elected our business may be in for a rough ride. He was elected and I was let go a month later. Needless to say, it wasn’t really my mood to give him a chance because I could sense Obama was bad news for America based on the policies he wished to put in place. And I believe I was correct in that assessment because I’m not better off than I was eight years ago, at least in an economic sense. If Obama was a progressive, we desperately need a regressive as far back as the Constitution will let us go. Unfortunately, Trump’s not that guy and the one I thought would be got 200,000 votes nationwide.
In that time, though, I’ve become more convinced that we are under the control of a higher power anyway. If it is His will that America survives, it will indeed do so – if not, I leave my fate up to Him. I’ve been blessed to spend 52 years here in this God-blessed nation, which is something that few who walked on this planet ever got and likely much more than I as a sinner who falls short of the glory of God deserves. So I sort of get this sneaking hunch that the reason I was given the talent I have and placed where I was is to try and preserve the blessing – thus, I will remain on that side of the equation regardless of who is president.
So good luck to President Trump and Vice-President Pence, and best retirement wishes for the Obamas and Bidens. Enjoy being private citizens again. As for me, it doesn’t matter who is president because I am writing for a different reason.
For all the hype and hope that somehow the Trump Train would be derailed over the last year-plus, that engine has reached its destination with the Electoral College formally making Donald Trump the President-elect. Indeed, the guy who many of us thought would have his poll lead evaporate once the field was narrowed down and figured in no way could defeat Hillary Clinton served us a heaping helping of crow. (And it wasn’t the best-tasting stuff, either.)
Perhaps what was most hilarious about the Electoral College vote was that Hillary Clinton had more defections than Donald Trump did. From the state of Washington, four of the twelve electoral votes she was supposed to receive went to others: former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell received three while Sioux tribal activist Faith Spotted Eagle received one from a fellow Native American. (I would imagine she may be the first Native American to receive a Presidential electoral vote.) Also, one of Hawaii’s four electoral votes that were supposed to go to Clinton went to Sen. Bernie Sanders. There were other Democrats who attempted to vote for others in protest but they either changed to Clinton or were replaced by another substitute elector.
Coming off the Trump ledger were two Texas votes: one for Ohio governor John Kasich and the other for former Congressman and three-time Presidential candidate Ron Paul, who finally got an electoral vote in a year he did not run (although his son Rand did.) So if you count the nominal Republican Powell as a member of the GOP, the Republicans got 309 of the 538 votes. (The GOP also picked up an extra vote for the vice-presidency, where Maine Sen. Susan Collins received one of Washington state’s four faithless votes along with fellow Senators Maria Cantwell and Elizabeth Warren. Native American activist and two-time Ralph Nader Green Party running mate Winona LaDuke received the other. No Republican defected from Vice-President-elect Mike Pence.)
So we have much of Donald Trump’s cabinet in place (pending confirmation, of course) and the transition is well underway. But it’s still less than clear to me just what we can expect from a Trump presidency. I will say that, after an initial steep drop, the Dow Jones and NASDAQ have looked favorably upon it and anecdotally I’m hearing the real estate industry is expecting a banner year (although interest rates have finally edged up after a long period of stability.) If perception is reality, perhaps we can get to the 4% GDP growth Trump promised – and the post-election euphoria may help Barack Obama enough to avoid going 0-for-8 on 3% or better growth, as the election happened early enough in the fourth quarter to possibly have a significant impact.
On the other hand, holiday sales results are mixed, as shoppers still have discounts in mind. The turning away from brick-and-mortar stores may lead to some significant closings in 2017, which will be blamed on Donald Trump rather than the continuing trend of shoppers to go online to buy their gifts.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump will certainly be tested on a leadership level, with today’s murder of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey leading some conspiracists to believe it’s the first shot of World War 3. That incident managed to temper the newsworthiness of another truck-based terror attack, this time in Berlin. And don’t forget the president-elect has already spoken out about the drone incident with China over the weekend.
In many respects, the speculation on what Trump’s effect will be has already written the bulk of an annual piece I’ve done, looking ahead at the next year. It’s not quite as short or sweet as last year’s but I suspect the era of Trump sets the tone for 2017 to such an extent that I’m just going to skip that look forward for the year and assume this will suffice.
Assuming no act of God to the contrary, all this will begin in earnest at noon on January 20 when Donald Trump becomes our 45th (and perhaps most accidental and unlikely) President.
By Cathy Keim
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will to men. Luke 2:13-14 (KJV)
Editor’s note: Cathy began her series on reconciliation here.
The holiday season that begins with Thanksgiving, continues with Christmas, and concludes with New Year’s Day is always a difficult time for many who have troubled family relationships. The desire to come together for a meal and to remember the good old days is often marred by contentious jabs and barbed comments by cantankerous relatives.
This year seems to be one of the most difficult of recent memory due to the election of Donald Trump. I keep using the designated terms “deplorables” and pure of heart because the names capture the essence of how one side of the country views the situation and it behooves the other side to grapple with what this means for us and for them.
I started referring to progressives as pure of heart many years ago after a relative told me in all sincerity that she was glad that she didn’t go to bed at night happy that children were starving like I did. I was shocked that this relative who knew me would imply that I happily tucked myself in each night while chortling with glee that children were starving. That was the first time that I realized how deep the divide was between us.
The pure of heart are sure that they are good and that their motives and deeds are correct. They are also sure that anyone that doesn’t agree with them is evil and can only act in wicked self-interest. Because they are pure of heart, they don’t have to do any good deeds. A simple retweet or #hashtag affirming sympathy with the right cause or a Facebook post are sufficient to prove their good standing with the crowd. Despite any good deeds that the deplorables may perform, those who are certain of their purity believe the milk of human kindness is totally lacking from their deplorable hearts. Progressives are convinced the other side doesn’t really mean their acts of kindness, but are just putting on a show for public approval.
The enemy is all around them as evidenced by the bitter clingers and deplorables that refuse to go away. They may ask just who these people are, and the answer is that they are normal Americans, many of whom are Christians. Those folks are busy working, raising their families, going to church, helping in their communities, and minding their own business.
Our country has been purposely fragmented into small, easily manipulated groups based on skin color, gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicity. Christianity transcends all those designations and sets people free to be who they are: individuals created in the image of God with inherent worth due to that very fact. Our Founding Fathers understood that. I keep returning to this basic truth because it is the foundation of our country. Without grasping that truth, our country doesn’t have a way out of our present predicament.
The deplorables and bitter clingers are patriots that understand that America is not built upon progressive ideas and that the progressive Utopian schemes will end in disaster as every utopian scheme always has.
Remember that the deplorables did not make a show of wailing and gnashing their teeth when Barack Obama was elected president. I walked around in a daze for a week after the 2012 election because I could not believe that he had been re-elected, but we didn’t riot. We just continued working, raising our families, going to church, and living our lives. There was a lot of concern for the damage that another four years of progressive policies would cause, but there was no cancellation of classes or public mourning.
Now that the shoe is on the other foot, the response is noticeably magnified. For example, the aftermath of the 2016 election included articles to help us survive Thanksgiving with our families, with helpful tips like this one:
Dr. (David) Nicholson, a clinical and consulting psychologist in Texas, gives a lot of good tips on how to deal with family members on Thanksgiving Day.
“We love each other more than we love our own policies and candidate,” Nicholson said. “Or at least we should.”
This is good advice to keep the family peace when the relatives gather for the holidays. But how do we extend the peacemaking to our extended family, our fellow citizens? I feared for our country for the last eight years as I watched policy after policy enacted without Congressional authority, as the debt ballooned, and our family values were attacked.
Now we have a change of administration coming and a promised change of direction. None of us knows how this change will turn out. It may look like something we have hoped for or it may not, but we are all along for the ride. Unlike the last transition, this one is accompanied with a lot of complaining, moaning, and outright assaults on the election process and the Electoral College. It is not clear that the pure of heart love their fellow citizens and their country more than they love their own policies and candidate.
Sadly, I do not think that the pure of heart are going to decide to buck up and give the new administration a chance to implement their policies. The past efforts to cajole and bribe the progressives have not worked. This time I am thinking that it will be best to just ignore them as you would ignore a two-year old child that is having a tantrum. Just make sure they are safe and leave them there until they realize that the tantrum is not having the desired result.
The federal government needs to be reined in and that is going to cause a lot of pain and anguish. It will be a fight. If any course correction is achieved, it will only be because a lot of tough love is administered by the new leadership. Tough love is painful for the child, but it is possibly even harder on the parent who must demand the correct actions from the child. Parents want their children to be happy. Even when you know that you must remain firm, the wailing and tears tear at your heart.
Get ready, America. The tears and wailing of the pure of heart are only going to increase before the desired result can be achieved. The deplorables must take the role of the parent and make the necessary hard decisions to bring our nation back from the brink.
By Cathy Keim
Congratulations to Michael for eleven years of monoblogue! I am truly in awe of his ability to write on a variety of topics while working fulltime, writing for other venues, and squeezing in some time with his family.
I have been missing in action due to other responsibilities, but I hope to jump back in occasionally to comment on events now that my calendar has cleared a bit.
Today’s topic that got me fired up is the two-pronged attack on the “deplorables” of America.
First, Chip and Joanna Gaines of reality TV fame with their popular show Fixer Upper are under siege for attending a church where the pastor preaches the Bible!
My guess is that Chip and Joanna will do just fine, no matter what the totalitarian progressives throw at them. I think that they will count the cost and then pay the price to continue serving Christ as they see fit even if it means losing their TV show.
On an individual level, we are all called to follow God first. However, I do not believe that this means that persecuting the Gaines family for their religious beliefs should be ignored by the rest of us. Indeed, the progressive bullies will only up their assault on Christians if they get away with this power play.
Since we live in a republic and as citizens have the right to help shape our public policies, then it is our duty to speak up for just and equitable treatment of all. There is no evidence that the Chip and Joanna Gaines have been unjust to anybody.
The second attack on normal Americans is the insult that anybody that didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton must be a racist hater. The Clinton campaign staff accused the Trump campaign staff of winning by appealing to racists while they participated in a ”Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics discussion that was intended to record history by drawing out the internal deliberations of both campaigns.”
One example of the bitterness, as expressed by Clinton advisers Jennifer Palmieri and Karen Finney to Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and adviser David Bossie:
“Are you going look me in the face and say I provided a platform for white supremacists?” Kellyanne Conway asked incredulously. Both Palmieri and Finney nodded and said “yes.”
“I would rather lose than win the way you did,” Palmieri said.
“You guys are pathetic,” Trump adviser David Bossie replied, accusing them of a smear campaign against Bannon.
(Editor’s note: Bossie is also the National Committeeman for Maryland’s Republican Party.)
I understand that many of the progressives have so imbibed their own poison that they really do believe that most of America is inhabited by racist white people. It was completely shocking to hear one of the Bernie Sanders’ campaign staffers, Symone Sanders, share that the Trump voters longed for the days of slavery to return when they say, “Make America Great Again!”
This is the hard part to comprehend. About half of our nation really and truly believes that the other half is composed of horrible, morally corrupt people that long for white supremacy to rule the country. One can only hope that this continued outrageous shouting of racism will lose it power over the populace when no internment camps pop up.
The Left always wants to divide us. They do not see individual people, but only cogs in a wheel to be manipulated by the government for the good of all (which actually means for the good of the elite.) This is the direct opposite to how our Founding Fathers viewed the people of the United States: the people were to be in control of the government.
The rise of the TEA Party was a response to the out of control government. People were motivated by the sheer volume of government excesses to work to stop them.
The spiraling federal debt, the collapse of the housing market, the takeover of health care, the overregulation of businesses, and a myriad of other governmental excesses led people to stand up and say no more! While the eight-year reign of executive overreach by President Obama seemed to say that the TEA Party was impotent, it actually led to the collapse of the Democrat party.
President Obama set the tone for persecuting Americans that didn’t agree with his policies. The IRS abused its power by going after opponents of Obama. The IRS denied tax exempt status to conservative groups and audited opponents of the Obama administration. The Justice Department refused to prosecute voter intimidation charges in Philadelphia because the accused were black. The government picked winners and losers in the corporate world by giving huge loans to Solyndra only to see them go belly up. The message was clear: you will be rewarded if you do what the government wants and you will be punished if you don’t.
It is terrifying to have your government come after you for not supporting the desired policies. Take the case of Roger Pielke Jr., a professor whose research on climate change crossed the politically correct gospel of climate change. Pielke has been harassed by an assortment of left wing groups funded by billionaires, by politicians, and finally by the president’s science advisor, John Holdren, after Pielke’s testimony before Congress didn’t support Mr. Holdren’s testimony.
Mr. Holdren followed up by posting a strange essay, of nearly 3,000 words, on the White House website under the heading, “An Analysis of Statements by Roger Pielke Jr.,” where it remains today.
This is stunning that a private citizen who engages in the public forum in his area of expertise should be pilloried by the White House. Fortunately for Pielke - who notes that he indeed believes in anthropogenic climate change, but doesn’t think the evidence is there to support the theory that it has increased the amount or intensity of catastrophic weather events - he has tenure and the backing of his university. Not all citizens are so lucky.
We should not be seeing Americans as black or Hispanic or white. We should not be calling each other climate deniers, deplorables, and white supremacists without any evidence to back the claim. We should be viewing all Americans as people created in the image of God with unalienable rights given by God, not by the government.
The progressives’ effort to delegitimize everyone who doesn’t believe exactly as they do will not end well for this country. They are so sure that their hearts are pure, but at the same time they are absolutely convinced that the rest of us are black-hearted scum that do not deserve to live. It is hard to see a path to reconciliation for the country when the opposition is that entrenched in their own reality.
I think that I feel pity for the people that are trapped in the world of their own making that is now imploding around them. They didn’t see it coming. All that they have been taught and have heard in their echo chambers of the media, academia, and popular culture has melted away on election night. My pity is tempered by the realization that they are still quite dangerous and that they consider me and my Christian faith to be contemptible.
May God have mercy on our country and bring healing to us because I do not see any other way to mend the rifts between our citizens.
Commentary by Marita Noon
For the past decade, I have been dedicated to fighting bad energy policies. My efforts began in New Mexico, where the organizations I lead are based, and expanded to focus on national issues. When I accepted the executive director position on January 1, 2007, New Mexico had an anti-energy governor and America had a pro-energy president. Two years later that flipped. By then, I’d become deeply committed to what I began to call the “energy makes America great!” message and I’d realized the issues in which I was engaged didn’t stop at the state line.
While I do not come from a background in energy, and have no formal education in it, through my work, I quickly learned about the important role that energy plays in America’s economic prosperity and growth. Because I didn’t know a lot about energy before taking the position, I understood how little the average person thinks about energy – until their power goes out or gasoline prices spike. I believe that if people better understand the role of energy in their lives, they’d make wiser choices when they vote. I have been passionate about the cause.
The election of Donald Trump as our 45th president is a vindication of my work as one of his big campaign messages was about America’s abundant resources and his promise to manage and maximize them – rather than to lock them up.
While I have worked these past ten years to educate people and keep a positive energy message in the public dialog, during the past several months I have specifically engaged in doing everything I could to be sure our next president was pro-energy. I knew I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if Hillary Clinton won, and I hadn’t done everything I could to prevent that from happening. I don’t have the reach of a Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, or Sean Hannity – or even Ann Coulter, Laura Ingram, or Michelle Malkin. But I do have a platform. My weekly column is widely distributed. I typically do dozens of radio interviews each month. And I’ve frequently spoken for many industry, political, and civic organizations.
Because most of my time as executive director was during the Obama years, I’ve fought for the Keystone pipeline and against the many punitive regulations that stem from the green agenda – most specifically the Clean Power Plan that is the cornerstone of Obama’s climate change agenda.
The recent news cycle has been so myopically focused on the presidential election, I suspect few people are even aware of the U.N. climate change meeting going on right now, November 7-18, in Morocco. There green campaigners and policymakers are meeting for talks on implementing the Paris climate agreement. Imagine their shock when they realized that Trump would be our next president. He’s made canceling Obama’s commitment and ending the billions of climate change payments to the U.N. a key part of his stump speech. On November 9, Bloomberg wrote: “Doubts about U.S. support for the accord could stall progress in talks in Morocco this week and next, since other nations wouldn’t trust that any commitments the U.S. made will stick after Trump takes office.”
Truly, getting the entire globe onboard for the plan that would raise energy costs, hurt the poor, and lower living standards was always doubtful. Just last week, China, which gave lip-service to the agreement, announced that it will raise coal power capacity by as much as 20 percent by 2020 – this, despite its climate pledge. Last month news came out of France that it would drop plans for a carbon tax – which was expected to kick start broader European action to cut emissions and drive forward the international climate accord. But now, under a Trump presidency, the Paris climate agreement’s entire future is “doubtful.”
Trump will kill the Clean Power Plan and other key climate policies. He’ll end the war on coal. Coal-fueled power plants that were slated for closure can now achieve their full life expectancy and continue to provide communities with cost-effective electricity. He’ll approve the Keystone pipeline and improve drilling access on federal lands. He’ll roll back regulations and diminish the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority. Wind and solar companies already realize their days of feeding at the government trough are over: immediately following Trump’s victory announcement, stock in the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer “plunged” and solar stocks have been “hammered.”
Trump’s energy policies are my energy policies. Mission accomplished.
Thank you to the thousands of individuals and companies, from coast-to-coast, who have supported this work through notes of encouragement, membership in the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy, and financial contributions. Contrary to what those who send me nasty notes might believe, I do not think the Koch brothers or ExxonMobil even know I exist.
I have used what I call a Field-of-Dreams fundraising model: “If you build it, they will come.” This has mostly worked throughout my ten years at the helm. I’d send out fundraising letters and those who believed in my work sent checks – with an annual average of about $500 each. But then came the downturn in oil prices and coal company bankruptcies – and the accompanying job losses. Suddenly, the pool of people who’d written checks, and could continue to do so, got smaller. Likewise, the types of events where I’ve been a popular presenter no longer have a budget for speakers.
Nearly a year ago, I had to discontinue the services of the DC-based PR firm I’d used to successfully schedule all those interviews. During 2016, there’s only sporadically been enough in the checking account to cover my salary. Because I believed so strongly in the “energy makes America great!” message, I’ve continued without pay – hoping my efforts would impact the election.
It has been a good decade. I’ve gone to some great places and met amazing people – many of whom I will always consider friends. Some of my favorite achievements include: the publication of my book Energy Freedom; being part of the successful effort to keep the sand dune lizard from being listed as an endangered species; meeting with legislators in the Southeast to give them my booklet Solar Power in the US – lessons learned and guidance for policymakers; going to Washington, DC, and working on the effort to lift the oil export ban; and the massive “green-energy crony-corruption scandal” collaboration with Christine Lakatos (and the huge body of work we created including her blog the Green Corruption Files). In fact, the final piece Lakatos and I did together: “Haiti needs electricity, Hillary gives them a sweatshop,” received nearly 15,000 Facebook “shares” from its publication on Breitbart (for comparison, one of my columns a couple of weeks earlier, received 8). Out with a bang!
The original organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy and the companion advocacy arm Energy Makes America Great (founded in 2010) will reemerge in some form – which is still being discussed. But I will no longer be involved (with the possible exception of occasional writing.)
Most of my readers and supporters don’t know that during my executive director tenure, my marriage of 29 years ended. I was single for several years and then married one of those “amazing people” I met in this work. I moved from Albuquerque to Lubbock – where my husband’s work is based. Throughout it all, I never missed writing and distributing my weekly column – even during my honeymoon (my first weekly column was published by Townhall.com in 2011). I’ve done radio interviews from my bed, office, and car; hotel rooms; and airports – and have been honored to be a regular guest on many, many shows.
Will I miss this? Yes. But I am excited about my future. For the first time in my 58 years, I’ve had the opportunity to ask myself: “what do I really want to do?”
In my youth, I majored in interior design because I loved fixing up houses. Over the years, I’ve claimed that I was codependent with houses – not people. People can fix themselves, but when I see a house in need, I feel compelled to fix it – though, until now, that was never an option for me.
When I purchased my home in New Mexico at an auction on the courthouse steps, it was incomplete. Serving as the “general contractor,” I lined up the team to finish the house and did much of the work myself. When I moved to Lubbock in December 2014, my husband and I bought a house that needed TLC. Along with him, I’ve personally planned, painted, and planted. While I’ve always enjoyed my professional endeavors, these hands-on rehab projects have been some of my most rewarding.
In August, I was at my mother’s in Palm Springs. There, I got some work done on her vacation rental - which I manage. It was a bit of an epiphany: this is what I love doing. I came home and had a long conversation with my husband. Together, we’ve now started a real estate rehab business – though he will continue to spend most of his time in his work as a CPA.
I am looking forward to embarking on a new chapter in my life: Triumph Properties Lubbock Inc. This opportunity brings me full circle. I’ve made an offer on my first flip house and, because it is a short sale, I am waiting for the bank’s response. I invite you to keep in touch through Facebook.
I am honored and humbled by your encouragement and support. My work here is finished.
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.
Editor’s note: While I’ve only had Marita on board a fairly short time (I picked up her column starting this past March) I have had the pleasure of reading it before anyone else does to get it ready for publication – I do so as I tweak it slightly to make it look better on WordPress and my website. She is definitely a voice on energy that we need and her departure from full-time writing means I’ll have to begin addressing that topic more as part of my usual commentary on the political scene. But if she passes anything else along I will be certain to make room – after all, now she will become an expert in another vital industry, that of construction.
But her usual Tuesday morning columns will be missed by this writer, and it brings up a different topic I’ll likely discuss at length later this week.
Commentary by Marita Noon
During the 2016 election, both candidates promised to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. Donald Trump made the recovery of jobs lost to China and Mexico a cornerstone of his campaign. Hillary Clinton’s website states: “While too many politicians and experts in Washington gave up on American manufacturing, Hillary never did.”
“The rhetoric,” reports US News, “has struck home with Americans across the country – particularly those currently or formerly employed in the embattled U.S. goods-producing and manufacturing sectors, who have repeatedly borne the brunt of corporate efforts to move work overseas.”
Because many of the lost jobs are due to automation and technological improvements – which have enabled more production from fewer workers – there is skepticism on both sides of the aisle as to whether these lost jobs can actually come back. However, I believe, most Americans don’t want to see more of our jobs disappear. Harry Moser, founder and president of the Reshoring Initiative, which aims to bring manufacturing back home, is optimistic. He told me that we are now losing about as many jobs to offshoring, as we are recovering: “We’ve gone from losing somewhere around 200,000 manufacturing jobs a year in 2000 to 2003 to net breaking even. Balancing the trade deficit will increase U.S. manufacturing by about four million jobs at current levels of productivity.”
According to MarketWatch.com, the percentage of people who work in manufacturing is at a record low of 8.5% – which compares to “20% in 1980, 30% in 1960 and a record 39% during World War Two.”
While there are many factors driving offshoring, lower wages give countries like China and Mexico a competitive advantage. Energy costs, however, give the U.S. an advantage as “manufacturers need a lot of energy to make their processes work,” stated Gary Marmo, director of sales for New Jersey’s Elizabethtown Gas. He says: “A typical office building will use 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 therms a year. A good sized manufacturing plant will probably use that same amount in just a couple of days.” Electricity frequently represents one of the top operating costs for energy intensive industries such as plastics, metals, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals – and, according to a recent study comparing costs in the U.S. and China, electricity is about 50 percent higher in China.
Because manufacturing is energy intensive, bringing industry back to the U.S. and/or attracting businesses to relocate here, will increase our energy consumption. As my column last week on the Clinton Foundation and Haiti makes clear, industry needs energy.
President Obama has derided U.S, energy use: “The U.S. uses far more electricity than its North American neighbors combined,” but the U.S. also does more with our energy. Comparing the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and energy consumption numbers for the U.S. and Canada, for example, both use a similar volume of energy but the U.S. has substantially higher GDP. A study of global energy consumption versus GDP found: “energy is so intrinsically linked to GDP that energy policy more or less dictates how our economy performs.”
Mike Haseler, the study’s author, explains: “rising GDP is an indication of a prosperous economy” – which is why economic commentators cite GDP numbers when they say: “President Barack Obama may become the first president since Herbert Hoover not to serve during a year in which the growth in real GDP was at least 3 percent.” Yet, in the name of climate change, through government policy, many countries are trying to discourage energy use by forcing costs up. Haseler states: “They are cutting energy use as the economy of Europe collapses because European industry can no longer compete with countries where energy prices are not artificially raised by senseless ‘green’ policies.”
The energy advantage is not just an issue between countries, it is a factor in where companies locate within the U.S. “High electricity bills are a strong disincentive to create new jobs associated with a new or expanded product line,” writes Don Welch, president of New Hampshire based Globe Manufacturing Co, LLC. New Hampshire’s electric prices are 55.6 percent higher than the national average. Welch’s company is the leading producer of firefighting turnout gear. He explains: “higher electricity costs not only add hundreds of thousands of dollars to the cost of making our products – firefighting suits and equipment – but it’s money we could otherwise re-invest in the business, including creating new jobs here in New Hampshire. New Hampshire’s high electricity prices are a drag on our economy. It puts New Hampshire companies like mine at a competitive disadvantage compared to companies in other parts of the country.” Because Globe also has plants in three different states, he clearly sees the difference energy costs make in doing business. Welch says: “I already know that the electric bill I am paying at my facility in Oklahoma is half of what I pay in New Hampshire.” If he is going to add a product line, energy costs are a big factor in deciding where to expand.
John F. Olson, president and CEO of Whelen Engineering Company, of Charlestown, NH, and Chester, CT agrees. In a letter to the editor, Olson wrote: “Manufacturers are in competition with other U.S. manufacturers, or even worse, offshore competition in China. New Hampshire manufacturers have the most expensive electricity in the country.”
If we can bring back manufacturing jobs – or at least stem the flow of them from our country – we need to be encouraging low-cost energy and making more of it available. Moser believes: “balancing the trade deficit should be the number 1 national priority.” He told me that would take a 25 percent increase in manufacturing – which would require about a 10 percent increase in energy usage. Yet, climate change policies demand that we take greater cuts than the developing countries like China and India. If our energy costs continue to go up, as they have in New Hampshire, we’ll lose the best competitive advantage we have.
Moser explains: “Manufacturing has the highest multiplier effect among the major sectors. Every job created in manufacturing creates additional jobs in other sectors that supply, support and service manufacturers.”
To bring manufacturing back to the U.S., or encourage expansion, we need energy that is abundant, available and affordable – and we’ll need to use more, not less. If we want to balance our trade deficit, boost GDP, and have a prosperous economy, energy is the key. As I am known for saying: “energy makes America great!”
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.
By Cathy Keim
While reading some news items on Sunday night, I came across this article in the Baltimore Sun. A 64 year old man was sitting in Wyman Park reading a book when he was maced, knifed, and robbed by assailants that posted the attack on Facebook, thus aiding the police in apprehending at least two of the suspected robbers. The statistics of increased crimes in Baltimore are reported:
Across the city, robberies continue to rise. There have been 13 percent more robberies committed so far this year, a rise from 3,126 at this time last year to 3,523 this year. Carjackings are up 43 percent, while street robberies have increased 17 percent, though commercial robberies have declined about 10 percent.
However, what I found incredible was the following quote:
Sandy Sparks, president of the Charles Village Civic Association and a founder of Friends of Wyman Park Dell, said she hoped the crime wouldn’t deter people from visiting the park, which she said is safe. ”We’ve worked very hard to make the dell a beautiful, restful place,” Sparks said. “The last thing we want is to have the impression that it’s not safe to go there.”
A man has just been violently attacked while sitting on a park bench and yet we are told that the park is safe. This is demonstrably not true and the statistics show that Baltimore has a serious problem with crime that is increasing.
It is this kind of incoherent thinking that makes me fear for our country. How could Ms. Sparks even utter those words? I am afraid that she is afflicted with the same disorder that much of our population seems to be succumbing to: stating obvious lies to forward an agenda.
When the media, political leaders, bureaucrats, scientists, and others in authority state nonsense that is obviously not true - while they continue to ignore the facts in front of them – then it is only a matter of time before the public disbelieves anything that they read or see in the press.
President Obama continues to tell us that our economy is great, but over 94 million Americans are not working and more are underemployed or juggling multiple part-time jobs to make ends meet. College grads are living at home because they cannot find jobs that pay well enough to be able to pay their student loans and live independently.
The Republican-controlled House and Senate tell us that they are doing everything in their power to block President Obama’s agenda, but they keep on passing continuing resolutions and omnibus spending bills that fund his every whim.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign says that she has pneumonia two days after she is diagnosed and hours after she leaves the 9/11 ceremony abruptly and almost collapses getting into her van.
Hillary Clinton states under oath that she has turned over all her emails, but additional emails keep popping up.
We are told that we should be happy to accept Syrian refugees because they are being carefully vetted even though we know that cannot possibly be true. How can you vet somebody that has no documents and their hometown has been bombed to the ground?
I could go on and on, but you are aware of all the lies that are constantly being told in a drumbeat of falsehoods.
Trust is a fragile commodity and once it is broken, it is very difficult to restore. As the boy who cried wolf in Aesop’s Fable found out, if you are a known liar, then even when you tell the truth you will not be believed. Aesop wrote his fables about 600 years before Christ, so the concept is not new, but plenty of people seem to think that they can pull the wool over the rest of us and get away with it.
Lenin said, “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” The Soviet Union was known for the disinformation that it spewed out to its citizens and to the world.
We may like to think that we are not like the Soviets, but then ask yourself who said: If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor? This statement has been proven to be a total lie, just like the other fraud: Your health insurance costs will go down.
Our Founding Fathers were acutely aware of man’s weaknesses and flaws, so they wrote our Constitution to separate powers and block any one group of people from gaining complete control of our government. They also listed in the Bill of Rights a series of guarantees to protect citizens from their government. Their system only works, though, if the press reports honestly on what is happening and if the three branches of government actually perform their duties. The last resort is for the citizens to replace their government if necessary.
The executive branch has been overstepping its bounds for the last eight years; a period where Congress has not blocked the executive branch by withholding funds. The judicial branch has exceeded its boundaries at the Supreme Court level by legislating from the bench. Congress has ceded power to the courts because it is easier to let the courts decide tough issues than for the politicians to have to take unpopular stands.
Not only can we not believe what we read or see in the various media outlets, but we are further bombarded with politically correct messages which seek to make any deviation from the party line unacceptable. It is not just considered rude to disagree; it is liable to cost you your job if you refuse to toe the line. (Editor’s note: Just ask current Seattle Mariner and former Oriole catcher Steve Clevenger about that.) The claustrophobic feeling of everyone shunning you if you dare speak out is enough to shut most people down.
Standing up for pro-life positions, traditional marriage, different roles for men and women, and obeying immigration laws will result in your dismissal from polite society in many venues. If you find yourself thinking twice about making a comment that would have been completely non-controversial five years ago, then you are self-censoring. Something as simple as having more than three children is cause for censure in many circles.
Daring to say that Islam means submission, not peace as is widely stated, and that sharia law is not compatible with our Constitution is considered outside the bounds of civility.
Stella Morabito has an excellent article in the Federalist where she states, “These characters from the dystopian novel The Journal of David Q. Little can help us reflect on the choice between individuality or conformity; between living life exceptionally or as a drone.”
Stella has written frequently on the evils of political correctness, but here she really explains what we are up against:
The term “political correctness” had not yet made its way into the lexicon when the book was published. But this passage clearly shows Little feeling the utter loneliness political correctness creates through its force-fed propaganda that sows social distrust and separates people through blind conformity. When there are no outlets for real conversation, you end up in virtual solitary confinement, talking to yourself to preserve your sense of sanity.
As you contemplate what went wrong that we are having so many previously unacceptable activities forced upon us such as boys using girls’ bathrooms, elementary age children having sex change operations, women in combat roles, or why our politicians can’t use the words “terrorist attack” when bombs go off in New York City, then realize that you are being actively manipulated and the only way to resist is to refuse to conform to the expectations being foisted upon us.
Richard Falknor at Blue Ridge Forum suggests that too many Americans are still getting their news from the mainstream media.
Many rely on their local establishment newspapers (most of which, sadly, reflect the perspective of the National Left for choice of stories to cover, as well as what events and public figures to ignore).
Some rely on Fox News (which has a strong GOP Establishment slant, and thus advances a Globalist Message.)
What this means: even many dedicated activists are handicapped by getting limited information on fast-breaking developments they need to understand.
Information has always been controlled and manipulated by the forces in power. Unless you personally were present when an event occurred, then you were dependent on the report from somebody else, whether it be family, friend, or reporter. What is different now is that everything feels like it could be a conspiracy theory because we have lost our trust in the system: our news media, our politicians, our academics, our scientists, and even many of our clergy.
As Morabito explained, this loss of trust leaves us feeling isolated, lonely, and fearful because if no one is worthy of trust who can we rely on? In the end, it all comes down to standing on our principles which for Americans means the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, both of which point to our Creator who gives us unalienable rights. The Founders were pointing directly to the God of the Bible. Thus, In God We Trust!
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.
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.
The mailing had everything needed for the shock value: a worried-looking senior citizen juxtaposed over a stack of paper stamped “DENIED.” “Worried About Government Bureaucracy Restricting Your Medicare?” it asked. If the piece of paper could listen I would tell it that I’m not even counting on having Medicare when I get to that age, but I figured this may be a fun bit of research and exploration to do. “Okay, I’ll bite,” I thought.
The mailing came to both my wife Kim and I as two separate “families” and was paid for by the American Action Network (AAN). So my first question was obvious: who is the American Action Network? According to Wikipedia, the AAN is “a nonprofit issue advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. which promotes center-right public policy. It was established in 2010 by Fred Malek and Norm Coleman as a 501(c)(4) organization.” On their behalf, the AAN argues its “primary goal is to put our center-right ideas into action by engaging the hearts and minds of the American people and spurring them into active participation in our democracy.” So the heart must be the center and the mind must be right?
In essence, it’s a group similar to one I pointed out last week, Americans for Limited Government. AAN may have fancier digs and a larger mailing list and donor base, but they are just another of the thousands of issue advocacy groups orbiting around the capital region – one that has $1.7 million to spend on sending a piece that specifically asked me to, “Tell Congressman Andy Harris to Continue His Fight to Protect Your Medicare.” Since both Kim and I are registered as Republicans, I’m thinking the list was culled to specifically target GOP voters and it wouldn’t shock me if they also narrowed this mailing to only reach those over 50 (as Kim and I both are.) According to AAN, 61 districts in 27 states were targeted for the advocacy campaign, for a total cost (with print and digital ads) of $4.8 million.
To be specific, the mailing advocated the passage of two bills: H.R. 1190, which is better known as the Protect Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act of 2015, and H.R. 5122, which doesn’t have a fancy title but is intended “To prohibit further action on the proposed rule regarding testing of Medicare part B prescription drug models.” Harris (as well as every other Republican present, and 11 Democrats) voted for the former bill last year, but it’s been bottled up in the Senate.
H.R. 1190 has two purposes: one is the termination of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (or, in the words of Sarah Palin, the “death panels”) while the other cuts billions of dollars in spending on the Prevention and Public Health Fund over the next decade. But because Barack Obama isn’t going to agree with this anyway, it’s apparent that the bill will go nowhere in the Senate (they won’t even make it past the cloture vote.)
The second bill, H.R. 5122, would eliminate spending on a proposed rule, which is 33 pages to explain that the Department of Health and Human Services wants to try a new method of payment for certain drugs administered to Medicare patients as a trial program. The overall idea is to encourage the use of lower-priced drugs, since the authors of the rule contend the providers use more expensive medications to take advantage of a flat 6 percent reimbursement rate. As an experiment, the rate would go down to 2.5% plus a flat $16 additional reimbursement. After its introduction the bill has apparently sat in a desk drawer someplace because no vote has been taken on it.
Yet AAN objects to both bills, and ”calls on seniors to advocate for two key legislative priorities: (1) H.R. 5122, to prevent the Obama Administration from changing the Medicare Part B payment policy for treatments, and (2) H.R. 1190, to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). Both bills will block bureaucrats from imposing harmful changes to Medicare that could threaten seniors’ access to care.”
So I investigated further, and found a missive Coleman wrote last month about this and other issues. Among the things Coleman said:
Despite assurances that ObamaCare would be the end all, be all, for health care reform in America, we now know that it is simply collapsing in on itself. Insurers are fleeing the system - premiums are increasing - and recent court rulings have undermined the credibility of the financial assumptions used by liberals to justify the creation of ObamaCare.
All this is true. Yet Coleman goes on:
In the end, America doesn’t need only to reform government.
We need to reform the notion that government is the solution to our problems or the key to our future prosperity.
Again, truer words have never been spoken. But the premise of the AAN mailing is that of protecting a government program by appealing to the beneficiaries. (A subsidiary site operated by AAN and promoted on the mailing makes this clear: DontCutOurMedicare.com.) If government isn’t the solution to our problem, one would think AAN would be looking to repeal Medicare entirely (over a relatively lengthy sunset period, of course) to truly reform the notion that Americans should depend on our government for health care or feel entitled to it. At the very most, the idea of Medicare should be no more than a state-level initiative – if the people of Maryland want a lavish senior care program, let them adopt it as their own. However, those in Delaware may feel differently.
So the definition of “center-right” seems to be the same sore subject that millions of Donald Trump voters used as their excuse to vote against the “establishment.” While they have selected a deeply flawed vessel to amplify their message, it seems those frustrated voters are looking more for the “right” than the “center,” since all the center seems to be is the maintenance of a failed status quo.
On the other hand, one can argue that their objection is not about government involvement, but instead only a complaint about the originator of the idea. They don’t seem to have the same issues with the Medicare Part D program enacted under Republican President George W. Bush – which is, in some respects, similar to the pilot program H.R. 5122 seeks to defund because Part D tends to reward the usage of less expensive medication. It’s still the federal government subsidizing health care, but it was done in the name of a centrist ”compassionate conservatism” instead of the leftward ”fundamental change to America.”
To me, it’s very ironic that a group which wants to back away from the idea that our government is a solution sends out a directive to appeal to our very conservative representative to maintain a costly government entitlement program. Even more so, those who complain “don’t touch our Medicare” would be the first to object to expanding eligibility to cover those over 50 years of age, in part because it’s Hillary Clinton’s idea. (Trump seems to favor the Medicare status quo with a few tweaks, which may explain why much of the AAN target audience is his support base.)
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this is figuring out where they got $4.8 million for the campaign. We have a few clues, but the backers of this group aren’t being very public about it. So if they were looking for exposure, I suppose this piece is added value to them. But I must say: the “center” of their “center-right” really comes out with this one, particularly if you consider the center as our current situation – a President pulling to the left and Congress mildly countering to the right. Then again, to AAN we are only a “democracy” anyway, so at the moment the people want largesse from the public treasury, with AAN’s large donors perhaps trying to preserve their cut of the proceeds.
While those on the Left, such as writer Igor Volsky, celebrated Medicare as a success and believe the issue is settled, I happen to think those Volsky cites who argued against the concept when it was first proposed over 50 years ago were proven correct. Volsky also quotes an exchange between then-Congressman Mike Pence and journalist Andrea Mitchell:
Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) explained his opposition to a new public health care option by arguing that Medicare spending has exceeded actuarial estimates from 1965. As Andrea Mitchell pointed out, somewhat jokingly, “I don’t know if you want to go back to Indiana and campaign against Medicare.”
Obviously those on the center-right don’t want to, so it’s going to take decades of re-education on the concepts of liberty and personal responsibility to counter the effects of the entitlement mentality society we live in today. Some may consider Medicare a success and wish it saved, but to achieve the rightsizing of government we need it’s clear Newt Gingrich was correct: Medicare does need to “wither on the vine.” Given the sheer number of insurance companies that now cater to the senior market, the problem Medicare was created to “solve” can easily be addressed by the private sector.
A few days ago I mentioned the manufacturing advocates the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) in a post regarding their convention plans. I wasn’t surprised to see they were very pleased with Hillary Clinton’s remarks, including a plan to “pass the biggest investment in new, good-paying jobs since World War II.” Ah yes, the old “investment” in infrastructure, where taxpayer money will be shoveled to cronies and unions in an effort to build things we may not need or use (like facilities for public transit, bike paths, and so forth) at the artificial “prevailing” wage. Spend five dollars, waste two or three more – they don’t care because it’s all on the credit card anyway.
It sounds to me just like the promises regarding the “stimulus” package from Barack Obama, officially known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. Those “shovel-ready” jobs actually turned out to be, among other things, government backstopping certain public-sector jobs that may have been destined for the chopping block. Only a small portion of the over $800 billion spent actually went to infrastructure, but ARRA was sold as an investment in infrastructure. So pardon me if I expect little good to come from Hillary’s plan.
Anyway, last night I read a contention that was more interesting (and realistic) from American Enterprise Institute scholar (as well as professor of economics and finance) Mark J. Perry. Here is the money line:
The bottom line is that America’s abundant and low-cost natural gas and electricity have more than offset higher labor costs in the U.S. and have contributed to the strongest profitability in a generation or more for U.S. manufacturers. Within three years, and possibly even sooner, it will be cheaper for most U.S. companies to manufacture goods for the American market at home, compared to producing those same goods in Asia. (Emphasis mine.)
Of course, that prediction is fraught with peril. We could regulate our way out of the energy boom by continuing to mandate the use of expensive, inefficient renewable energy sources (or, in lieu of that, transfer payments from utility providers), we can maintain the oppressive tax climate that has been one of many reasons companies are choosing to go offshore – any bean counter will tell you it’s better to pay 15% tax than 35% – or actually enact the increasing minimum wage that unfortunately Donald Trump is now supporting. Any or all of these are possible regardless of who wins the Oval Office.
And that’s the shame of it all. Over the course of the nation’s history, we have seen America become a great industrial power only to lose its advantage to upstarts like Japan and China. (Then again, we wrested the title from the British in the 1800s so things are always fluid.) These Asian nations took advantage of newer technology and less expensive labor to attract American manufacturing jobs that were in older, less efficient unionized plants, despite the fact these items would have to shipped back thousands of miles to their primary market.
But here we have the chance to get some of this back, and my fear is that too many people want to keep the status quo in place as a political issue rather than solve the problem. We talk about being a free market insofar as trade is concerned, but I contend that we need to work on freeing our own market:
- Toss out these federal and state regulations and carveouts that only benefit special interests or large, established competitors trying to corner their respective markets.
- Encourage the adoption of right-to-work laws so unions are forced to compete and sell the benefits they provide for the cost to workers.
- Instead of debating whether the minimum wage should be increased or not, we should be debating how quickly we phase it out. The true minimum wage is zero, which is what workers who are tossed out of a job when companies can’t afford the increased labor costs will earn.
In reading the GOP platform (and I’m just going to ignore the Democrats on this one, since they aren’t selling themselves as free-market, limited-government types) I saw some attention paid to these issues, although their approach seems to be more of just controlling growth and pruning around the edges than a wholesale reduction. Needless to say, that platform could be completely ignored by the elected members of the party from Donald Trump on down if the idea of enriching their friends, rather than the supporters of the other side that have engorged themselves over the last eight years, remains in place.
Sadly, over most of the last century it hasn’t really mattered which side was in power because government has grown regardless of who was in charge. (The one exception: the Harding-Coolidge era of the 1920s, when the federal budget was drastically reduced – and annually balanced - after World War I. In a time where we are stuck with Trump, Clinton, or maybe Gary Johnson, what we really needed was a Coolidge. Bobby Jindal was probably the closest we had in the GOP field.)
I began this whole process by talking about infrastructure, and there’s a legitimate need for prudent spending on upgrades where it is appropriate. Sometimes there is a need for a new federal or state facility. But I have also seen how the government uses infrastructure to maintain a cash cow, with my favorite example being the Ohio Turnpike I grew up close by.
You see, the original plan was to eliminate the tolls once the bonds to construct the road were paid off in the 1980s. (This was promised when the highway was built in the early 1950s – my dad remembers them staking it out a few miles from his house.) But then they decided that some new exits were necessary (which they were) so they decided to build those. Then it was adding a third lane in each direction between Youngstown and Toledo (a process still going insofar as I know, since I haven’t been that way in a couple years), then renovating all the rest areas (twice in thirty years, and ditto), and so on and so forth. Forget the promise to remove the tolls once the highway was paid off – they constantly spend money on projects that weren’t within the original scope, perpetuating the agency that runs the Turnpike.
In theory, we could spend money from now until doomsday on government-sponsored projects. Some contractors would benefit, but others would be left out in the cold because there’s a certain procedure required to bid on and win public works contracts. But it wouldn’t necessarily be the best use of our funds – and by that I don’t mean the money in the public till but the money that we earn for our collective pockets. If we really want to get manufacturing going and bring it back to America, we need to maximize their potential for meeting our marketplace. They may make mistakes, but that should be up to the market to pick winners and not the government.