Monthly archives "April 2014"

Greens, Reds & Blues

Stephen Moore is an economist with the Heritage Foundation and appears frequently on Fox News.   With the recent and latest postponement of a decision on the Keystone Pipeline, Moore makes the case in the May American Spectator that Green is the new Red–the radical Environmentalists are really Marxists.   I was in graduate school on the first Earth Day in 1970.   It is not an accident that the date chosen, April 22, was Vladimir Lenin’s birthday.

To understand what has become of a movement that rightly wants clean water and clean air (we all do) one must understand that we humans are incurably religious.  Lenin is noted above.   He was the leader of the Red Revolution in Russia that established the godless, Communist state in 1917.   At his death in 1922 Vladimir Lenin was reading a pamphlet entitled, “What is the Meaning of Christianity?”   One day Red Chinese leader Mao tse Tung was in a tedious meeting.  He began to doodle as the meeting droned on.   His doodles were rescued from the refuse and these were the inner musings of his mind:   “Who created the universe?”   The brilliant Founding Father , Benjamin Franklin, was a secular man.   But on his death bed he asked for a portrait of Christ, a Cross and to receive Holy Communion.  We are made for worship and we will worship Someone or something.  Even the secular mind knows that something is missing without the Lord.

The radical environmentalists have made their choice–they worship the created, not the Creator.  Thus, they wish our God-given resources of coal, oil and natural gas left in the ground–though the shale gas revolution has done much to reduce U.S. carbon emissions.   What is their answer to our energy needs?   Their call is for wind and solar though windmill blades kill more than 83,000 hunting birds every year.    This is 83,000 more than are killed by coal mines, oil refineries or fracking.   But somehow Green is cool and development is bad.    This is what happens when we worship false gods rather than our Creator.   And the radical Greens are some of the least happy, most mean spirited people in the world.

There is a third color that needs be noted.   The Greens who are really Reds are hurting the Blues as in Blue-collar workers.   It is estimated that Keystone would add 20,000 high paying jobs for union workers and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.   Who would be opposed to that?   The Greens who are really Reds oppose.   Who opposes?   Democrat elites who make over 100,000 dollars/year oppose.  Stephen Moore notes that Keystone makes little difference to millionaires or university professors.   But Keystone and other sensible plans for energy development will help the blue-collar worker a great deal and will lower energy costs for all of us.

What should we do?   First, I would suggest we learn from the Germans who are dropping their green wind and solar plants as quickly as they can to save their economy which is the strongest in Europe.   Millions of tax-payer dollars poured down the drain on Solyndra should have taught us the same.

Second, Republicans must find more fearless men like Ted Cruz who understand that blue-collar and middle class individuals care more about their families and jobs than the snail darter or the prairie chicken (and we can save both jobs and creation).   And those leaders must pound away at the fact that Greens like Nancy Pelosi and the Sierra Club do not care about the working poor–whatever their rhetoric.   Republicans need to expose the dirty little secret that the modern Green movement has become a luxury for the super rich and the working poor pay the tab–a tab they can ill afford.   The GOP has an opportunity to win over again the Reagan Democrats.   And we might add that the Reagan Democrats do not tend to be for abortion or against traditional marriage.

Unfortunately, Republicans of late have not been especially good at connecting the dots between radical Leftists–Greens who are really Reds and who are giving  all of us the Blues.  Let us pray to God for wisdom and strength for our leaders and ourselves as well.   If they can find that wisdom and strength, the job they save may be their own and yours and mine as well.   And, as a serendipity, we might even save a great nation along the way.   Dear God, let it be so!


The GOP: 2014 & 2016

Indications are that the Republicans will pick up the U.S. Senate in 2014 but lose the White House again in 2016.   Democrat Senators are vulnerable in AK, AR, MT, NC, MI and LA, and Republicans have strong candidates in OR, CO, and NH as well.   VA and MN are also in play.

So 2014 looks good;  2016 does not look as bright.   Hillary Clinton appears poised to win in two years.   However, she is not without vulnerabilities.    She looked to be a lock in 2008 for the Democrat nomination but lost to Barack Obama.    And in that election the Democrats were strong in part due to the unpopularity of George W. Bush.   The financial collapse of 2008 sealed the fate of the Republicans.

In 2016 it is a Democrat President who is unpopular and Hillary was his Secretary of State. A recent FOX News poll has Benghazi still on the radar of a majority of Americans who feel the Obama Administration is hiding something on this tragedy.   Indirectly this implicates Hillary. Many conservatives wonder why the House has not appointed a select committee to look into this and there have been calls for a special prosecutor though that route seems out of fashion.

William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, notes that the FOX New poll in 2008 gave Obama a 57-39 favorable rating.   Right now Hillary Clinton is 49-45.   In short, her numbers are not great.   And it is likely there will not be great enthusiasm for a Clinton Presidency in 2016 as most Americans feel we are a nation on the wrong track.   This is a legacy of liberalism.

All of this gives the Republicans a chance in 2016 if they run against that legacy.  To do so means that the GOP nominee must be a man or woman who sets forth a clear agenda for governing and changing direction in 2016 just as Ronald Reagan did in 1980.   It is a mystery why, other than Ted Cruz, the Republican field seems to lack individuals who want to even be like Reagan.   It is as if Washington, D.C. poisons the spirit of conservatives and inoculates them to standing against the evil we see all about us today.

Barack Obama is a failed, disappointing President domestically and in foreign policy.  He has the Press in his hip pocket which obscures his weakness.   But even ill informed voters can see the contempt strong man Vladimir Putin has for Obama.   The 2016 Republican nominee must tell how we will stand up to the Russian and for the freedom loving world-wide.  We must have a person who will not apologize for America and who understands our role in the world.   Jimmy Carter should have taught us that a weak American President weakens not only our country but makes the world unsafe.

We need a strong conservative who knows how to win just as Ronald Reagan did.  We are running out of time as we are led by one who is simultaneously comically incompetent and radically dangerous.   Even a great power and a world hungry for strong American leadership can stand this only so long.   Let us hope we begin to recover in 2014 and 2016 is a turning point as was 1980.

We just observed the greatest day of hope in the Christian year–Easter.   Jesus Christ conquered death and came back to tell us heaven is real.   But before there was Easter there was Good Friday.   From one side this was the greatest crime in history.   But from God’s side the cross was the instrument of our salvation.   God help us once again on to the road of recovery–which is more than we deserve.   But we boldly ask just the same.   Praise be to God!


Ex-ing the Export-Import Bank

Crony Capitalism is a term employed to describe an economy that finds success in a cozy relationship between business people and government officials.  It is often used interchangeably with corporate welfare, which was popularized by Ralph Nader in 1956.  Nader felt that corporations were receiving favorable treatment from the government which would be better reserved for the poor.  Charges of Crony Capitalism are finding their way into discussions of the Export-Import Bank which will come up for renewal in 2014.

The Export-Import Bank began with an executive order of FDR in 1934 (80 years ago) to facilitate trade between the United States and other nations.  It would later help finance the Marshal Plan to rebuild Europe devastated by WWII and to assist newly independent nations after the collapse of communism in 1989.

More recently, however, the Bank has been employed to back failed Green Energy plans to the tune of millions of dollars.  It works in a most insidious fashion.  For example, First Solar is a solar panel manufacturer and a failing company.  It has thrown away 215 million dollars in solar panels that fail at high temperatures.  Solar panels that cannot stand heat.  Comically tragic isn’t it?

But First Solar has a trump card.  Our failed President Barack Obama likes failing solar companies and other Green Energy debacles.  And First Solar is a member of the Business Alliance–a secret clique of corporate donors to the Center for American Progress (CAP).   CAP lobbies Capitol Hill for First Solar without disclosing the financial support gained by the failing company.   Let us pause to get this straight. The Export-Import Bank secures funding for First Solar, in the form of tax payer-backed loan guarantees.   First Solar gives some of that money to CAP who lobbies Congress for more money for the failing company.   As we said–insidious.

I am reminded of a more humorous story of a factory worker who stopped in front of the local jewelry store every morning and set his watch before walking on to the factory.   Finally, the jeweler came out and inquired:  “Each morning you stop and set your watch by my clocks.   Why is that?”  The laborer replied, “Part of my job at the factory is to blow the whistle at 8 to begin and at 5 to quit.   I set my watch by your clocks and then know when to blow the whistle.”   The jeweler responded, “These clocks are set to your whistle.”  Round and round we go.   Where is the ultimate authority?   Where is the accountability?

Those who support the Export-Import Bank say it provides capital for ventures unable to attract conventional funding–like Solyndra.  Remember that name?   If something is too risky for conventional funding, perhaps it is too risky for tax payer dollars also as there is little chance of repayment.  After the Solyndra boondoggle, former Obama adviser, Larry Summers, acknowledged, “The government makes a terrible venture capitalist.”   Summers employed somewhat more colorful language.

Among the nation’s failing financial institutions the Export-Import Bank has received little notice.  But as the House and Senate approach the 2014 reauthorization of the Bank, it is time for a serious look at doing away with this outdated mercantilist institution.  Ian Murray has written in The American Spectator: “It may be time for the Export-Import Bank to become simply the Ex-Bank.”


Lincoln Finds a General

On March 8, 1864, an unassuming military man and his 13 year old son stood to register at  the Willard’s Hotel in Washington, D.C.   So worn was his uniform and so common were generals that someone said if you hurled a rock through the lobby you would likely hit several shoulder straps  bearing stars.   The clerk, barely looking up, said he could probably find a room for them somewhere on the top floor.  But this changed after the general signed in and the clerk flipped the registry and saw the name, “U.S. Grant & Son, Galena, IL.”   In fact, there was a fine suite on the second floor for the man who was to become only the third Lt. General to command all our Armies in our nation’s history.   The first was a General named George Washington and the second was General Winfield Scott who commanded all our forces in the Mexican War.   As his nickname, “Old Fuss and Feathers,” implies, he was not unassuming.

One can guess that U.S. Grant did not care whether the room was spare and on the top floor or a suite on the second.   After all it was only for sleeping and, in any case, he did not intend to stay long.   He had business to tend to down in Virginia. 

Grant had done things far from Washington that led President Lincoln to summon him to the Capitol.   He had won at Shiloh, Vicksburg and Chattanooga.   The Eastern Theatre of the Civil War had known mostly defeat for the Union forces at the hands of the Army of Northern Virginia and its commander, Robert E. Lee.    In fact, Grant’s initials had come to stand for “Unconditional Surrender” as he had come to believe that the Union could be saved only by complete conquest of the South.   Geoffrey Norman is a writer from VT who contributes articles on the Civil War to The Weekly Standard.   He notes that Grant’s subordinate, General William Sherman, also understood this aspect of the war, and indeed, modern warfare in general.   Thus, there would be Sherman’s march to the sea destroying not only armies and crops but the Southern will to fight on.

U.S. Grant’s string of victories were unbroken and conclusive.   This was in contrast with the Army of the Potomac under George McClellan (Lee said he was the most able of the Union generals but seemed to fear a fight), Ambrose Burnside, Joseph Hooker, and George Meade.  Their Army of the Potomac out numbered Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia by as many as 50,000 but they seemed always outmaneuvered by the brilliant General Lee.   Meade did prevail at Gettysburg, the most celebrated battle of the war (July 1-3, 1863), but he failed to pursue and crush Lee’s army, which would have effectively ended the war.   Instead it would drag on another two years.

At last in U.S. Grant, Abraham Lincoln had found the right commander.   Grant was not without his critics, of course.   He was accused of spending too much time with the bottle.   It may not be entirely apocryphal that the President is reported to have said, “Find out what brand of whiskey Grant drinks.  I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals.”   Others said that he was too reckless with the lives of his men.   Indeed his losses against Lee nearly equaled the size of the Confederate general’s entire army at that point in the war.   But Lincoln responded, “I cannot spare this man; he fights.”    And we can add from history–he wins.

The man who would become Lt. General Grant arrived at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C.  150 years and one month ago.   When he and Lincoln met for the first time, the President found him to be a man without vanities who was anxious to get on with the business of winning the war.   Lincoln said, “For the first time I have a General.”   Grant’s approach was rather simple:   “We will not fear them.   Let them fear us.    We will not worry about what Lee is going to do.  Let him worry about what we will do.   And there will be no retreat.”    Robert E. Lee learned this final lesson about Grant also.    No matter how hard the Army of Northern Virginia hit the Federal Army, Grant did not withdraw as others had done.   He moved ever forward until Lee had to give in to “Unconditional Surrender” Grant.

What can we learn from U.S. Grant and President Lincoln a century and a half after Lincoln found his general?    Is it not refreshing in light of all the “Fuss and Feathers” at the White House and in Washington in general today, to reflect on a man more interested in action than words?    How many times have we heard President Obama say he is going to focus on the economy or the IRS scandal or Fast and Furious and nothing happens.   I would suggest too many times to take him seriously anymore.   The man disappoints.

Geoffrey Norman notes that if there were one word to describe U.S. Grant that word would be “audacity.”    Obama wrote a book on The Audacity of Hope.   This has been reduced to the Arrogance of Hype as the President talks tough about Red Lines in Syria and about Putin but the Russians are in Crimea and, perhaps poised to go further into the Ukraine.  The President says we cannot let Iran have a nuclear weapon but ends the sanctions that were biting into their economy to the point of exhaustion.

Thus, we can learn also learn that strength breaks the will of the opposition just as weakness invites aggression.  Grant defeated Lee because he would not back down and retreat as generals before him had done.   Jack Kennedy faced down the Soviets in the Cuban Missile Crisis because he stood strong in the blockade of the island.   Jimmy Carter saw our people held hostage in Iran for over a year because he was seen as weak.   And Vladimir Putin clearly has only contempt for Barack Obama and John Kerry and Hillary Clinton’s reset button.

After Jimmy Carter there was Ronald Reagan.   After Barack Obama let us hope for a President not afraid to lead at home and abroad.  Let us hope for a man or woman who is proud of our nation;  a leader who says “Of course we can do it.   After all, we are Americans,” rather than a small man who says, “You didn’t build that.”     Let us hope for a Ted Cruz or another who cares not what his critics say but, like Teddy Roosevelt, knows the arena is the place to be.   Above all let us hope for a leader who honors and trusts God rather than his own rhetoric.   In March 1864 Abraham Lincoln found a General.  In November 2016 let America find a President.