Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"I'm 63 and I'm Tired"

"I'm 63 and I'm Tired"
by Robert A. Hall

I'm 63. Except for one semester in college when jobs were scarce and a six-month period when I was between jobs, but job-hunting every day, I've worked hard since I was 18. Despite some health challenges, I still put in 50-hour weeks, and haven't called in sick in seven or eight years. I make a good salary, but I didn't inherit my job or my income, and I worked to get where I am. Given the economy, there's no retirement in sight, and I'm tired. Very tired.

I'm tired of being told that I have to "spread the wealth" to people who don't have my work ethic. I'm tired of being told the government will take the money I earned, by force if necessary, and give it to people too lazy to earn it.

I'm tired of being told that I have to pay more taxes to "keep people in their homes." Sure, if they lost their jobs or got sick, I'm willing to help. But if they bought McMansions at three times the price of our paid-off, $250,000 condo, on one-third of my salary, then let the left-wing Congress-critters who passed Fannie and Freddie and the Community Reinvestment Act that created the bubble help them with their own money.

I'm tired of being told how bad America is by left-wing millionaires like Michael Moore, George Soros and Hollywood Entertainers who live in luxury because of the opportunities America offers. In thirty years, if they get their way, the United States will have the economy of Zimbabwe , the freedom of the press of China the crime and violence of Mexico , the tolerance for Christian people of Iran , and the freedom of speech of Venezuela .

I'm tired of being told that Islam is a "Religion of Peace," when every day I can read dozens of stories of Muslim men killing their sisters, wives and daughters for their family "honor"; of Muslims rioting over some slight offense; of Muslims murdering Christian and Jews because they aren't "believers"; of Muslims burning schools for girls; of Muslims stoning teenage rape victims to death for "adultery"; of Muslims mutilating the genitals of little girls; all in the name of Allah, because the Qur'an and Shari'a law tells them to.

I'm tired of being told that "race doesn't matter" in the post-racial world of Obama, when it's all that matters in affirmative action jobs, lower college admission and graduation standards for minorities (harming them the most), government contract set-asides, tolerance for the ghetto culture of violence and fatherless children that hurts minorities more than anyone, and in the appointment of U.S. Senators from Illinois.

I think it's very cool that we have a black president and that a black child is doing her homework at the desk where Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation. I just wish the black president was Condi Rice, or someone who believes more in freedom and the individual and less arrogantly of an all-knowing government.

I'm tired of a news media that thinks Bush's fundraising and inaugural expenses were obscene, but thinks that Obama's, at triple the cost, were wonderful; that thinks Bush exercising daily was a waste of presidential time, but Obama exercising is a great example for the public to control weight and stress; that picked over every line of Bush's military records, but never demanded that Kerry release his; that slammed Palin, with two years as governor, for being too inexperienced for VP, but touted Obama with three years as senator as potentially the best president ever. Wonder why people are dropping their subscriptions or switching to Fox News? Get a clue. I didn't vote for Bush in 2000, but the media and Kerry drove me to his camp in 2004.

I'm tired of being told that out of "tolerance for other cultures" we must let Saudi Arabia use our oil money to fund mosques and mandrassa Islamic schools to preach hate in America , while no American group is allowed to fund a church, synagogue or religious school in Saudi Arabia to teach love and tolerance.

I'm tired of being told I must lower my living standard to fight global warming, which no one is allowed to debate. My wife and I live in a two-bedroom apartment and carpool together five miles to our jobs. We also own a three-bedroom condo where our daughter and granddaughter live. Our carbon footprint is about 5% of Al Gore's, and if you're greener than Gore, you're green enough.

I'm tired of being told that drug addicts have a disease, and I must help support and treat them, and pay for the damage they do. Did a giant germ rush out of a dark alley, grab them, and stuff white powder up their noses while they tried to fight it off? I don't think Gay people choose to be Gay, but I #@*# sure think druggies chose to take drugs. And I'm tired of harassment from cool people treating me like a freak when I tell them I never tried marijuana.

I'm tired of illegal aliens being called "undocumented workers," especially the ones who aren't working, but are living on welfare or crime. What's next? Calling drug dealers, "Undocumented Pharmacists"? And, no, I'm not against Hispanics. Most of them are Catholic, and it's been a few hundred years since Catholics wanted to kill me for my religion. I'm willing to fast track for citizenship any Hispanic person, who can speak English, doesn't have a criminal record and who is self-supporting without family on welfare, or who serves honorably for three years in our military.... Those are the citizens we need.

I'm tired of latte liberals and journalists, who would never wear the uniform of the Republic themselves, or let their entitlement-handicapped kids near a recruiting station, trashing our military. They and their kids can sit at home, never having to make split-second decisions under life and death circumstances, and bad mouth better people than themselves. Do bad things happen in war? You bet. Do our troops sometimes misbehave? Sure. Does this compare with the atrocities that were the policy of our enemies for the last fifty years and still are? Not even close. So here's the deal. I'll let myself be subjected to all the humiliation and abuse that was heaped on terrorists at Abu Ghraib or Gitmo, and the critics can let themselves be subject to captivity by the Muslims, who tortured and beheaded Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, or the Muslims who tortured and murdered Marine Lt. Col. William Higgins in Lebanon, or the Muslims who ran the blood-spattered Al Qaeda torture rooms our troops found in Iraq, or the Muslims who cut off the heads of schoolgirls in Indonesia, because the girls were Christian. Then we'll compare notes. British and American soldiers are the only troops in history that civilians came to for help and handouts, instead of hiding from in fear.

I'm tired of people telling me that their party has a corner on virtue and the other party has a corner on corruption. Read the papers; bums are bipartisan. And I'm tired of people telling me we need bipartisanship. I live in Illinois , where the "Illinois Combine" of Democrats has worked to loot the public for years. Not to mention the tax cheats in Obama's cabinet.

I'm tired of hearing wealthy athletes, entertainers and politicians of both parties talking about innocent mistakes, stupid mistakes or youthful mistakes, when we all know they think their only mistake was getting caught. I'm tired of people with a sense of entitlement, rich or poor.

Speaking of poor, I'm tired of hearing people with air-conditioned homes, color TVs and two cars called poor. The majority of Americans didn't have that in 1970, but we didn't know we were "poor." The poverty pimps have to keep changing the definition of poor to keep the dollars flowing.

I'm real tired of people who don't take responsibility for their lives and actions. I'm tired of hearing them blame the government, or discrimination or big-whatever for their problems.

Yes, I'm #@*% tired. But I'm also glad to be 63. Because, mostly, I'm not going to have to see the world these people are making. I'm just sorry for my granddaughter.

American Thinker Blog: Climate Alarmist Wants WWII Style Rationing to Save Planet

2060. And that the only fair way to prevent the “floods, droughts and mass migration” such warming will cause is to halt all economic growth in “rich” countries for at least 20 years.

Seriously – that’s his plan. But it gets better.

Anderson says governments should limit citizens’ energy consumption, forcing them by law to turn down heating, turn off lights and upgrade their vehicles and appliances to more energy efficient models. Even the food people eat should be limited to that which requires minimal transport energy.

The nutty professor cites as precedence our last “time of crisis” in the 1930s and 40s:

“The Second World War and the concept of rationing is something we need to seriously consider if we are to address the scale of the problem we face.”

So citizens should be forced to use government issued stamps and tokens to purchase everything from sugar to gasoline?

Anderson’s right when he says America and many allies adopted exactly such a plan during WWII.

But the World War II rationing system was a government response to war-time supply limitations brought about by a real enemy.

How desperately clueless have the warmists become that they would even suggest free and free-thinking people might accept such government-imposed hardships to battle the counterfeit enemy of “manmade climate change?”

Enjoy your beachhead at Cancun, guys. This ideological war stands all but decided -- and the realists are winning.

American Thinker Blog: Your Coal-fired Electric Car

November 30, 2010
Your Coal-fired Electric Car
James Lewis
Rush Limbaugh has coined some of the best words for saving our PC-corrupted public language, but I think this gem should be remembered: Rush says that electric cars are "coal-fired."

Which is exactly correct, and it's funny, too.

Millions of bubble brains in the media think the GM Volt is supposed to be the answer to our energy needs. It is of course a fraud, as GM actually admitted after it hyped the new Volt. It's not a "hybrid electric," as GM lied to the hearty applause of Obama and the New York Times. Rather it's a gas-powered car for 340 miles per tank, and you can run it for 40 miles on batteries that will have to be replaced when they stop taking a charge, as batteries do. That's why your laptop battery has to be replaced after a while. And it will cost you $ 41,000.00 to snoot out the other Green suckers.

But the real fallacy, as Rush points out, is that electrical energy for your hypemobile has to come from somewhere. It's a scientific law called the Conservation of Energy. You start out with 10 million ergs and turn it into 40 miles of driving your putt-putt down the highway. You lose half of your original energy at every step in the chain from your coal-fired generator plant to the rubber wheels moving your shiny new Volt.

In most of the world electrical energy comes from coal, with a lot less from nuclear. Both of those are sinful energy sources. The Greenies imagine the planet slowly dying from all that stuff. But that little Volt you drive around is really fired by electricity from a carbon energy source: coal. It's the "coal-fired car." And it's China that is now building coal-fired plants fast enough to outpace the rest of the world. That's because the Chinese power class listens to engineers, not ignorant headline writers.

Rush dropped that phrase a few weeks ago, and I hope it doesn't disappear down the vast collective memory hole, because "coal-fired" tells the exact truth.

It takes all the steam out of the hypemobile.

It's your coal-fired GM Volt.

Pass it on.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Green economy goes bust

Green economy goes bust
Renewable energies fail to produce cost-effective ventures

When President Obama touts the "green economy," the mainstream media bend over backward to give him extensive coverage, but when "green economy" ventures go bust, they bury the story.

One example is Solyndra, Inc., a maker of solar panels headquartered in Fremont, Calif.

In 2009, Solyndra received a $535 million Department of Energy loan guarantee in a ceremony attended by Vice President Joe Biden, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Then President Obama and California Sen. Barbara Boxer toured the plant, touting the green economy as the future not only of California but also of the U.S. economy.

This month, Solyndra announced it is scuttling its planned factory expansion in Freemont in a move that will stop the company's plans to hire an additional 1,000 workers.

Moreover, just to survive, Solyndra is eliminating 155 to 175 jobs in Fremont, including 135 contract employees and 20 to 40 full-time workers, the Oakland Tribune reported..

ABC News in Freemont reported that the reason for the downsizing is cheaper foreign competition from China in manufacturing solar panels.

Investors have a different explanation.

Axiom Capital Management's solar power analyst Gordon Johnson told Bloomberg that the supply of photovoltaic panels is expected to climb to almost triple the level of demand in 2011, crashing prices in the industry.

"It could be Armageddon," Johnson said. "Demand is about to fall at a time when you're going to have a significant increase in supply. In a commoditized industry, that is a formula for disaster."

Top leftist altruist goes bust on green-energy investments

One year ago, David Gelbaum, a major donor to the Sierra Club and the American Civil Liberties Issue, plus several military assistance foundations with a leftist bent, announced that after donating $389 million to these groups from 2005 to 2009, he had to cut back because his investments in alternative-energy firms "laced me in a highly liquid position," according to the Wall Street Journal.

He made his fortune as a mathematician working in a Wall Street hedge fund, but now his commitment to renewable energy has cost him dearly.

Gelbaum, also a major donor to the Democratic National Party, indicated that the Quercus Trust, the group he runs, was down almost 57 percent over an 18-month period from 2008-2009.

In November 2008, GreenTechMedia.com identified 34 green technology companies that had received Quercus Trust funding.

"Entrepreneurs who have received money say Gelbaum takes a long term, holistic vies of the market and is patient enough to put money into an investment that might pay off well beyond five years," GreenTechMedia.com noted. "He's also not seeing attention."

In January 2009, GreenTechMedia identified that Guercus Trust investments had been placed in 47 green technology companies.

"Entrepreneurs who have received money from the trust say Gelbaum is not investing in these companies as a way to evangelize green or as a form of charity," GreenTechMedia.com reported in January 2009.

That Gelbaum's fortune has not recovered was made clear by a USA Today article last week that listed the military foundations that had gotten Gelbaum money and ran under the title "Donor's millions for military causes drying up."

Limits of green technologies

Red Alert has consistently argued that "green energies," including biofuels like ethanol and other technologies such as solar power and wind turbines, are ideologically driven enterprises, not profit-generating businesses.

Powering New York City by solar panels would require dedicating a landmass equivalent to the state of New Jersey for the project.

Even then, a solar-power grid would require hydro-electric backup simply because the sun does not shine all of the time in New Jersey.

Another investor who lost big on renewable energy is oilman T. Boone Pickens.

Red Alert has reported repeatedly that T. Boone Pickens abandoned plans to build his $2 billion wind farm in Pampa, Texas, a small town in the Texas panhandle, after deciding to throw in the towel to what has to be described as one of the nation's most expensive alternative energy boondoggles.

In May, 2008, Pickens announced that his oil company, Mesa Power LP, would order 687 wind turbines, or 1,000 megawatts of capacity, from GE, at a cost of about $2 billion, the New York Times reported.

By 2014, Pickens planned to expand the wind farm in west Texas to a gigantic 4,000 megawatts, about four times the output of a typical nuclear power plant.

Now, Pickens has decided the idea was a bust, resolving that at best all that might work are small wind farms in limited geographical locations, perhaps in the Midwest and possibly Texas, though Pickens has yet to say where exactly he now considers that wind turbine power might be an economically successful venture.

In January 2010, Pickens cut his massive order for wind turbines from GE by more than half, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Once Pickens failed to convince the federal government or the state of Texas to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to connect the Pickens-built wind farm to the electrical grid in Dallas, he was left with the prospect of a lot of wind turbines blowing unprofitably in the wind of the dusty Texas panhandle.


Passive smoking doesn't cause cancer - official

Passive smoking doesn't cause cancer - official
By Victoria Macdonald, Health Correspondent

Passive Smoking: History Repeats Itself [18 Oct '97] - British Medical Journal

THE world's leading health organisation has withheld from publication a study which shows that not only might there be no link between passive smoking and lung cancer but that it could even have a protective effect.

The astounding results are set to throw wide open the debate on passive smoking health risks. The World Health Organisation, which commissioned the 12-centre, seven-country European study has failed to make the findings public, and has instead produced only a summary of the results in an internal report.

Despite repeated approaches, nobody at the WHO headquarters in Geneva would comment on the findings last week. At its International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, which coordinated the study, a spokesman would say only that the full report had been submitted to a science journal and no publication date had been set.

The findings are certain to be an embarrassment to the WHO, which has spent years and vast sums on anti-smoking and anti-tobacco campaigns. The study is one of the largest ever to look at the link between passive smoking - or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) - and lung cancer, and had been eagerly awaited by medical experts and campaigning groups.

Yet the scientists have found that there was no statistical evidence that passive smoking caused lung cancer. The research compared 650 lung cancer patients with 1,542 healthy people. It looked at people who were married to smokers, worked with smokers, both worked and were married to smokers, and those who grew up with smokers.

The results are consistent with their being no additional risk for a person living or working with a smoker and could be consistent with passive smoke having a protective effect against lung cancer. The summary, seen by The Telegraph, also states: "There was no association between lung cancer risk and ETS exposure during childhood."

A spokesman for Action on Smoking and Health said the findings "seem rather surprising given the evidence from other major reviews on the subject which have shown a clear association between passive smoking and a number of diseases." Roy Castle, the jazz musician and television presenter who died from lung cancer in 1994, claimed that he contracted the disease from years of inhaling smoke while performing in pubs and clubs.

A report published in the British Medical Journal last October was hailed by the anti-tobacco lobby as definitive proof when it claimed that non-smokers living with smokers had a 25 per cent risk of developing lung cancer. But yesterday, Dr Chris Proctor, head of science for BAT Industries, the tobacco group, said the findings had to be taken seriously. "If this study cannot find any statistically valid risk you have to ask if there can be any risk at all.

"It confirms what we and many other scientists have long believed, that while smoking in public may be annoying to some non-smokers, the science does not show that being around a smoker is a lung-cancer risk." The WHO study results come at a time when the British Government has made clear its intention to crack down on smoking in thousands of public places, including bars and restaurants.

The Government's own Scientific Committee on Smoking and Health is also expected to report shortly - possibly in time for this Wednesday's National No Smoking day - on the hazards of passive smoking.

Obama to bypass Congress?

Obama to bypass Congress?
Leftist think tank recommends president rule by executive order

The Center for American Progress, a leftist think-tank based in Washington, D.C., and headed by former Clinton administration Chief of Staff John Podesta, has issued this month a series of recommendations regarding how President Obama can implement a progressive agenda in complete disregard of Congress, now that the Republicans control the majority in the House of Representatives.

In a daring expose that openly advocates utilizing presidential executive decisions without regard to new laws passed by Congress or the will of the American people, Podesta and his Center for American Progress staff and senior fellows issued this month a report titled "The Power of the President: Recommendations to Advance Progressive Change."

"In the aftermath of this month's midterm congressional elections, pundits and politicians across the ideological spectrum are focusing on how difficult it will be for President Barack Obama to advance his policy priorities through Congress," Podesta wrote in a foreword to the report. "Predictions of stalemate abound. And some debate whether the administration should tack to the left of the center and compromise with or confront the new House leadership."

Podesta suggests ignoring Congress and the American people altogether, recommending instead that Obama enact a leftist agenda through executive action, utilizing the following prerogatives of the presidency:

* executive orders;

* rulemaking through executive branch administrative agencies;

* agency management;

* convening and creating public-private partnerships;

* commanding the armed forces; and

* diplomacy

"The ability of President Obama to accomplish important change through these powers should not be underestimated," Podesta stressed. "Congressional deadlock does not mean the federal government stands still.

What Podesta makes clear is the concept of elevating the presidency into the status of the first among the three U.S. branches of government and expanding the powers of the presidency with an imperial resolve remain alive and well in the Obama White House.

Public policy by executive dictum

In what amounts to formulating public policy by executive dictum, the Center for American Progress urged President Obama to implement executive decisions in a wide range public policy initiatives in complete disregard of Congress.

To get a feel of the imperiousness of the Podesta report consider just a few of the recommendations:

* Energy policy: President Obama should instruct the secretary of commerce and the secretary of defense to determine if continued high rates of oil imports threaten to impair national security. If they do make that determination, President Obama should invoke authority under the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 to levy a $2 per barrel fee on the nearly two-thirds of U.S. oil imported from foreign sources. This would raise $9.5 billion to reduce the federal deficit or to use the funds for clean energy investments. The levy would raise gasoline prices by an estimated 2 cents per gallon.

* Jobs: Under the Small Business Jobs Act signed into law last September, President Obama should takes steps that would increase deficit spending by executive action in creating a $30 billion Small Business Lending Fund to provide capital to community banks to increase lending, funding $1.5 billion to state programs designed to lend to small businesses, and convening a series of Small Business Investment Summits with lenders, small businesses, venture capital lenders and others to promote job creation.

* Foreclosure crisis: President Obama should direct the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Treasury to coordinate with the Federal Housing Administration, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to identify clusters of foreclosed homes that can be converted from bank "real-estate owned" to portfolios of rental properties that can be sold to private investor groups, with appropriate government subsidies.

* Illegal immigration: President Obama should continue directing the Department of Homeland Security not to deport illegal immigrants unless they have committed a crime in the United States, over and above having entered the country illegally. President Obama should instruct DHS that illegal immigrants who have not committed additional crimes in the United States should be released on their own recognizance, rather than held in detention.

* Sexual agenda: President Obama should direct the many federal bureaucracies collecting data to use Data.gov to develop high-quality data on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans to better serve LGBT communities and individuals.

In foreign policy, the Podesta report recommended a series of presidential directives to advance the interests of gays in the military and to support the Palestinian authority to expand governance programs and maintain strong economic growth.

EPA to impose carbon taxes on U.S. economy

The Podesta report helps put into context Obama's decision to impose carbon taxes through the Environmental Protection Act given that obtaining cap-and-trade legislation through a Republican-controlled House is a near impossibility.

In December, the Environmental Protection Agency, acting under the authority of the Clean Air Act, took steps to control carbon emissions blamed for global warning from power plants, factories and refineries, without waiting for Congress to act on cap-and-trade.

The EPA ruled that greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, endanger human health under the Clean Air Act, despite the fact human beings exhale carbon dioxide that trees and other plants absorb.

The EPA decision opened the door for the Obama administration to impose restrictions on the use of carbon-based fuels in the United States, even if Congress never passes the administration's proposed cap-and-trade legislation.

The Associated Press reported that the EPA would require industrial plants that emit 25,000 tons of greenhouses gases a year or more to install technology to improve energy efficiency whenever a facility is changed or built.

The EPA has also delayed 79 coal-mining permits in four states, arguing the planned coal mining operations would cause significant damage to water quality and the environment under the specifications of the Clean Water Act.

In his nationally televised press conference in the wake of the midterm elections earlier this month, President Obama indicated that carbon taxes may be imposed on the U.S. through regulations promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency, in a move designed to bypass Congress altogether.

"The EPA is under a court order that says greenhouse gases are a pollutant that fall under their jurisdiction," Obama said. "And I think one of the things that's very important for me is not to have us ignore the science, but rather to find ways that we can solve these problems that don't hurt the economy, that encourage the development of clean energy in this country, that, in fact, may give us opportunities to create entire new industries and create jobs that – and that put us in a competitive posture around the world."

In other words, Obama intends to pursue the ideological cause of reducing carbon emissions despite growing doubt in the international scientific community about the validity of anthropogenic climate-warming theories.

"Cap-and-trade was just one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way," Obama said at the press conference. "And I'm going to be looking for other means to address this problem."


Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Thanksgiving Message to All 57 States

A Thanksgiving Message to All 57 States
by Sarah Palin on Thursday, November 25, 2010 at 6:46pm

My fellow Americans in all 57 states, the time has changed for come. With our country founded more than 20 centuries ago, we have much to celebrate – from the FBI’s 100 days to the reforms that bring greater inefficiencies to our health care system. We know that countries like Europe are willing to stand with us in our fight to halt the rise of privacy, and Israel is a strong friend of Israel’s. And let’s face it, everybody knows that it makes no sense that you send a kid to the emergency room for a treatable illness like asthma and they end up taking up a hospital bed. It costs, when, if you, they just gave, you gave them treatment early, and they got some treatment, and ah, a breathalyzer, or an inhalator. I mean, not a breathalyzer, ah, I don’t know what the term is in Austrian for that…

Of course, the paragraph above is based on a series of misstatements and verbal gaffes made by Barack Obama (I didn’t have enough time to do one for Joe Biden). YouTube links are provided just in case you doubt the accuracy of these all too human slips-of-the-tongue. If you can’t remember hearing about them, that’s because for the most part the media didn’t consider them newsworthy. I have no complaint about that. Everybody makes the occasional verbal gaffe – even news anchors.

Obviously, I would have been even more impressed if the media showed some consistency on this issue. Unfortunately, it seems they couldn’t resist the temptation to turn a simple one word slip-of-the-tongue of mine into a major political headline. The one word slip occurred yesterday during one of my seven back-to-back interviews wherein I was privileged to speak to the American public about the important, world-changing issues before us.

If the media had bothered to actually listen to all of my remarks on Glenn Beck’s radio show, they would have noticed that I refer to South Korea as our ally throughout, that I corrected myself seconds after my slip-of-the-tongue, and that I made it abundantly clear that pressure should be put on China to restrict energy exports to the North Korean regime. The media could even have done due diligence and checked my previous statements on the subject, which have always been consistent, and in fact even ahead of the curve. But why let the facts get in the way of a good story? (And for that matter, why not just make up stories out of thin air – like the totally false hard news story which has run for three days now reporting that I lobbied the producers of “Dancing with the Stars” to cast a former Senate candidate on their show. That lie is further clear proof that the media completely makes things up without doing even rudimentary fact-checking.)

“Hope springs eternal” as the poet says. Let’s hope that perhaps, just maybe, they might get it right next time. When we the people are effective in holding America’s free press accountable for responsible and truthful reporting, then we shall all have even more to be thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

- Sarah Palin

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Original Thanksgiving Proclamation

General Thanksgiving
By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houfes of Congress have, by their joint committee, requefted me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to eftablifh a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and affign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of thefe States to the fervice of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our fincere and humble thanksfor His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the fignal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpofitions of His providence in the courfe and conclufion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have fince enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to eftablish Conftitutions of government for our fafety and happinefs, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are bleffed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffufing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleafed to confer upon us.
Click Here!

And also, that we may then unite in moft humbly offering our prayers and fupplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and befeech Him to pardon our national and other tranfgreffions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private ftations, to perform our feveral and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a bleffing to all the people by conftantly being a Government of wife, juft, and conftitutional laws, difcreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all fovereigns and nations (especially fuch as have shewn kindnefs unto us); and to blefs them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increafe of fcience among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind fuch a degree of temporal profperity as he alone knows to be beft.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand feven hundred and eighty-nine.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

GOP win dims prospects for climate bill, but Obama eyes Plan B ahead of U.N. talks

GOP win dims prospects for climate bill, but Obama eyes Plan B ahead of U.N. talks

The Obama administration sought a bill to cap emissions such as those from coal-fired power plants, but it died in the Senate in 2009.

By David A. Fahrenthold and Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, November 21, 2010

This is what the 2010 midterm elections will change about U.S. climate policy: Cap-and-trade was dead. Now it will be deader.

And that may be it.

The Republican rout on Nov. 2 swept in dozens of new representatives and senators opposed to using a cap-and-trade scheme to tackle greenhouse gas emissions. By one estimate, almost half of GOP freshman legislators don't even believe there is sound science behind the theory of man-made climate change.

But, observers say, the election may do relatively little to alter U.S. climate policy before United Nations climate talks begin in Cancun on Nov. 29.

The Republican wins will finally bury the Obama administration's Plan A, which included passing a landmark climate bill in Congress.

But that plan was, in essence, already defunct. And the new GOP majority will have few easy options for undoing the White House's Plan B, a set of new regulations that will cut emissions from power plants and factories.

This Plan B is "not sufficient for the level of emissions reductions that the administration wanted to make," said Robert Stavins, a professor at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

At the Copenhagen climate talks, at the end of 2009, Obama said the United States would reduce its emissions "in the range of" 17 percent below 2005 levels. The administration says that Obama still stands by that goal.

"We're not going to get there," Stavins said. "But we are going to get somewhere."

Uphill battle

The midterm elections were the latest in a long series of setbacks for U.S. environmentalists and their (mostly Democratic) allies in Washington.

The high-water mark for many environmental groups came in the summer of 2009, when the House passed a massive bill that would have reduced U.S. emissions.

But that bill never found traction in the Senate, in part because of worries that it would burden the economy by making high-polluting fossil fuels cost more.

And then came the rise of the tea party movement, including some groups heavily backed by corporate money. Many of its activists asserted that climate change itself was in doubt.

That attitude, once relegated to the fringes of Washington's debate, will now have a solid caucus on Capitol Hill.

The liberal Center for American Progress estimates that 43 out of 98 new Republican legislators question climate researchers' conclusions.

Sen.-elect Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has said that "I don't think there's the scientific evidence to justify it."

And Sen.-elect Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said, "I think anyone who makes an absolute conclusion is probably overstating their conclusion."

The impact of their election will certainly be felt in Cancun.

For years, climate negotiators have said that a lack of action in Washington on regulating emissions has stalled global talks. They fear now that if U.S. efforts lose steam, that could provide cover for another huge emitter, China, to do nothing.

"I disagree with [the new U.S. legislators], and I think it is not [a] responsible way of handling risks," said Jens Stoltenberg, the prime minister of Norway. "Is it responsible to listen to those who are saying that this isn't dangerous, instead of listening to the majority who are telling us this is really dangerous?"

But in the short term, the expectations for Cancun are already fairly low.

"The mood may be a little down," said Eileen Claussen of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. "The actual decisions may be the same."

Piece by piece

Environmentalists now say their best hope in Cancun is not for a grand global deal - which was the ambition they brought to Copenhagen - but rather for a series of small agreements on how to pay for measures such as reducing deforestation or how to help poor countries adapt to a warming climate.

The United States could participate in small agreements such as these, experts said, without having to get a treaty through a skeptical Congress.

Looking beyond the Cancun meetings, the White House is laying out plans to attack climate change without help from the legislative branch. After the election, President Obama said that a cap-and-trade bill "was just one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way. It was a means, not an end."

Another means, administration officials have said, might be to negotiate an agreement with major electric utilities to lower their emissions, emulating a similar pact with automakers last year.

Also, next year the Environmental Protection Agency will begin requiring states to limit the greenhouse gas emissions from major sources such as power plants and factories. That idea has raised ferocious opposition from industry groups.

But for now, the bureaucratic wheels are still turning: A recent survey found that only one state, Texas, was not preparing to issue permits as the EPA has demanded.

Middle ground?

For Republicans, the countermove to this Plan B would be to pass resolutions negating the EPA regulations.

Even before the midterm elections, Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) had already tried this tactic.

More attempts will likely be made, but experts said these are still unlikely to succeed, because President Obama could veto them.

If Obama and the Republicans seek grounds for agreement, they might look at a package of subsidies for a variety of energy sources: "green" power, such as wind and solar; nuclear power; and perhaps research into "clean coal" technologies.

But that idea might also run into opposition from new legislators elected with tea party support, who have pledged to cut federal spending across the board.

"Fossil fuels and nuclear and clean coal have become to the right what wind and solar are to the left. And I think that's where you could see some sort of agreement," said Nick Loris of the Heritage Foundation.

His group, which favors free markets and small government, would object to any such funding: "We don't believe that the taxpayers should be subsidizing special interests."

fahrenthold@washpost.com eilperinj@washpost.com

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Earmark Donor States | Cato @ Liberty

Earmark Donor States

Posted by Brandon Arnold

I have an op-ed in Politico about “earmark donor states.” It’s a term I invented to highlight a rarely discussed side of earmarking: public choice economics.

As public choice theory would predict, the earmarking process operates under a system of concentrated benefits and diffuse costs. Based on an analysis of 2009 data, 16 states receive a disproportionately large percentage of the earmark pie and can be labeled “earmark beneficiary” states. The other 34 states and the District of Columbia are “earmark donors,” as they receive fewer earmark dollars than they proportionally should.

To determine which states win and lose in the earmarking game, I looked at the share of taxes each state sends to Washington and compared it to the share of earmarks that each state receives.

In the op-ed, I use Colorado, one of the biggest earmark donor states, as an example:

Colorado taxpayers contribute about 1.6 percent of total federal taxes, but they receive just over two-tenths of one percent of earmarked funds—proportionally speaking, less than a third of what it should be getting. This works out to more than $200 million dollars that Coloradans are spending to subsidize earmarks in other states – hardly chump change. So while Colorado’s representatives might pat themselves on the back for securing funding for an occasional municipal bus or bioenergy plant, their earmarking rivals in other states like West Virginia and Hawaii obtain funding for larger and more expensive projects and send the bill to the Centennial State.

Below is a table with additional data indicating which states are earmark donors and recipients. The key column is the “earmark ratio.” The lower the figure, the smaller a state’s share of earmarks is relative to the amount of taxes its residents and businesses pay. A state with an earmark ratio below 100% is a donor state. As you can see, Utah is the first state on the table that receives slightly more than its proportional share of earmark funds. Mississippi, the last state on the list, remarkably receives 11 times more than its proportional share.

Also note that the most populous states in the country are earmark donors – almost 90 percent of Americans live in earmark donor states.

State TOTAL FEDERAL TAXES % of Total Taxes Proportional Share of Earmarks (millions of $) Earmarks Received (millions of $) % of Total Earmarks Earmark Ratio % of Delegation on Approps
New York 193,446,916 8.2% 1642.75 418.71 2.1% 25.5% 12.9%
Illinois 116,130,852 5.0% 986.18 252.19 1.3% 25.6% 14.3%
Nebraska 16,200,400 0.7% 137.57 41.53 0.2% 30.2% 20.0%
Colorado 38,484,608 1.6% 326.81 106.15 0.5% 32.5% 11.1%
Connecticut 44,684,141 1.9% 379.46 124.83 0.6% 32.9% 14.3%
New Jersey 103,548,696 4.4% 879.34 319.06 1.6% 36.3% 13.3%
Arizona 32,372,226 1.4% 274.91 102.00 0.5% 37.1% 10.0%
Ohio 103,638,344 4.4% 880.10 345.98 1.7% 39.3% 25.0%
Georgia 59,486,251 2.5% 505.16 203.94 1.0% 40.4% 13.3%
Minnesota 67,646,589 2.9% 574.46 233.10 1.2% 40.6% 10.0%
Texas 200,521,512 8.5% 1702.83 695.59 3.5% 40.8% 17.6%
California 264,868,391 11.3% 2249.27 971.05 4.9% 43.2% 14.5%
Indiana 42,108,854 1.8% 357.59 156.44 0.8% 43.7% 9.1%
Massachusetts 70,108,079 3.0% 595.36 265.75 1.3% 44.6% 8.3%
Wisconsin 38,642,363 1.6% 328.15 171.34 0.9% 52.2% 20.0%
Carolina 63,348,252 2.7% 537.95 288.11 1.4% 53.6% 6.7%
Pennsylvania 106,613,979 4.5% 905.37 488.57 2.5% 54.0% 14.3%
Tennessee 44,047,939 1.9% 374.06 208.02 1.0% 55.6% 27.3%
Michigan 56,050,689 2.4% 475.98 279.99 1.4% 58.8% 5.9%
Florida 110,156,809 4.7% 935.45 556.55 2.8% 59.5% 14.8%
Delaware 13,683,353 0.6% 116.20 69.38 0.3% 59.7% 0.0%
Oklahoma 24,297,410 1.0% 206.33 123.91 0.6% 60.1% 14.3%
Oregon 21,736,643 0.9% 184.59 111.85 0.6% 60.6% 0.0%
Virginia 58,598,281 2.5% 497.62 312.80 1.6% 62.9% 15.4%
Wyoming 3,833,691 0.2% 32.56 21.33 0.1% 65.5% 0.0%
District of
Columbia 19,487,689 0.8% 165.49 111.59 0.6% 67.4% 0.0%
Missouri 44,310,000 1.9% 376.28 256.45 1.3% 68.2% 18.2%
Washington 48,587,720 2.1% 412.61 287.22 1.4% 69.6% 18.2%
Maryland 44,484,984 1.9% 377.77 304.09 1.5% 80.5% 10.0%
Kansas 20,374,354 0.9% 173.02 141.68 0.7% 81.9% 33.3%
New Hampshire 8,739,838 0.4% 74.22 62.40 0.3% 84.1% 25.0%
Louisiana 34,882,848 1.5% 296.23 272.57 1.4% 92.0% 22.2%
Arkansas 25,727,268 1.1% 218.48 202.37 1.0% 92.6% 33.3%
Rhode Island 10,909,205 0.5% 92.64 87.58 0.4% 94.5% 50.0%
South Carolina 17,806,603 0.8% 151.21 145.36 0.7% 96.1% 0.0%
Utah 14,270,839 0.6% 121.19 131.18 0.7% 108.2% 20.0%
Idaho 6,859,632 0.3% 58.25 63.27 0.3% 108.6% 25.0%
Nevada 13,770,576 0.6% 116.94 129.88 0.7% 111.1% 0.0%
Kentucky 23,313,696 1.0% 197.98 248.74 1.2% 125.6% 37.5%
Maine 6,105,799 0.3% 51.85 73.04 0.4% 140.9% 25.0%
Iowa 17,614,407 0.8% 149.58 336.88 1.7% 225.2% 28.6%
Alabama 20,093,422 0.9% 170.63 424.18 2.1% 248.6% 33.3%
Vermont 3,366,627 0.1% 28.59 81.97 0.4% 286.7% 33.3%
Montana 4,136,011 0.2% 35.12 101.02 0.5% 287.6% 66.7%
South Dakota 4,888,826 0.2% 41.52 135.48 0.7% 326.3% 33.3%
New Mexico 8,188,815 0.3% 69.54 235.09 1.2% 338.1% 0.0%
North Dakota 4,115,943 0.2% 34.95 136.79 0.7% 391.3% 33.3%
Hawaii 6,747,592 0.3% 57.30 270.74 1.4% 472.5% 25.0%
Alaska 4,670,157 0.2% 39.66 227.81 1.1% 574.4% 33.3%
West Virginia 6,332,264 0.3% 53.77 336.92 1.7% 626.6% 20.0%
Mississippi 9,603,121 0.4% 81.55 900.57 4.5% 1104.3% 16.7%

IRS: http://www.irs.gov/taxstats/article/0,,id=206488,00.html
Taxpayers for Common Sense
Author’s calculations

Suspecting that the disparity between states is a product of political clout, I calculated the percentage of each state’s congressional delegation serving on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. The graph below shows the correlation between this metric and the earmark ratio of each state. The closely tracking trend lines suggest there is a connection between a state’s representation on the Appropriations Committees and earmarks. The correlation between these figures is 0.264, which is especially strong when you consider that earmarking proponents often argue that the process is entirely merit-driven and apolitical. To be sure, this is a very rough indicator – earmark recipient states like Alaska and West Virginia were long represented by earmark champions Ted Stevens and Robert Byrd, neither of whom is included in the figure. Also, it should be noted that Hawaii and Mississippi are represented by Daniel Inouye and Thad Cochran who, respectively, are the chairman and ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee. As such, they carry significantly more clout than the average appropriator. Additionally, Nevada’s status as an earmark beneficiary state despite its lack of appropriators might be explained by Senator Harry Reid’s influence as Senate Majority Leader.

I also evaluated the correlation between earmark ratios and median income. Based on the arguments of earmark proponents, one would expect a very strong negative correlation here as earmarking is intended to direct federal funds to needy, underserved parts of the country. The strength of that correlation is -0.255, which is slightly weaker than the political-based correlation. This suggests that in the earmarking process, political power is more important than financial need.

The connection between political power and earmarking prowess is hardly surprising. More startling is the disparity between the shortchanged earmark donor states and the earmark beneficiary states. Perhaps politicians from donor states are unaware of the extent to which their constituents subsidize out-of-state projects. More likely, most congressmen are successfully pulling off a political sleight of hand – trumpeting their occasional earmark project and hoping it distracts their constituents from the disproportionately large number of earmarks in other states.

After all, the vast majority of Americans would be far better off if Congress stopped earmarking and removed itself from spending decisions that should be made by local governments and private entities.

I must acknowledge several of my colleagues who helped with this analysis – many thanks to Kurt Couchman and Andrew Mast.

Friday, November 19, 2010

RealClearPolitics - Political Fables

September 7, 2010
Political Fables
By Thomas Sowell

President Barack Obama boldly proclaims, "The buck stops here!" But, whenever his policies are criticized, he acts as if the buck stopped with George W. Bush.

The party line that we are likely to be hearing from now until the November elections is that Obama "inherited" the big federal budget deficits and that he has to "clean up the mess" left in the economy by the Republicans. This may convince those who want to be convinced, but it will not stand up under scrutiny.

No President of the United States can create either a budget deficit or a budget surplus. All spending bills originate in the House of Representatives and all taxes are voted into law by Congress.

Democrats controlled both houses of Congress before Barack Obama became president. The deficit he inherited was created by the Congressional Democrats, including Senator Barack Obama, who did absolutely nothing to oppose the runaway spending. He was one of the biggest of the big spenders.

The last time the federal government had a budget surplus, Bill Clinton was president, so it was called "the Clinton surplus." But Republicans controlled the House of Representatives, where all spending bills originate, for the first time in 40 years. It was also the first budget surplus in more than a quarter of a century.

The only direct power that any president has that can affect deficits and surpluses is the power to veto spending bills. President Bush did not veto enough spending bills but Senator Obama and his fellow Democrats in control of Congress were the ones who passed the spending bills.

Today, with Barack Obama in the White House, allied with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi in charge in Congress, the national debt is a bigger share of the national output than it has been in more than half a century. And its share is projected to continue going up for years to come, becoming larger than national output in 2012.

Having created this scary situation, President Obama now says, "Don't give in to fear. Let's reach for hope." The voters reached for hope when they elected Obama. The fear comes from what he has done since taking office.

"The worst thing we could do is to go back to the very same policies that created this mess in the first place," he said recently. "In November, you're going to have that choice."

Another political fable is that the current economic downturn is due to not enough government regulation of the housing and financial markets. But it was precisely the government regulators, under pressure from politicians, who forced banks and other lending institutions to lower their standards for making mortgage loans.

These risky loans, and the defaults that followed, were what set off a chain reaction of massive financial losses that brought down the whole economy.

Was this due to George W. Bush and the Republicans? Only partly. Most of those who pushed the lowering of mortgage lending standards were Democrats-- notably Congressman Barney Frank and Senator Christopher Dodd, though too many Republicans went along.

At the heart of these policies were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who bought huge amounts of risky mortgages, passing the risk on from the banks that lent the money (and made the profits) to the taxpayers who were not even aware that they would end up paying in the end.

When President Bush said in 2004 that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be reined in, 76 members of the House of Representatives issued a statement to the contrary. These included Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters and Charles Rangel.

If we are going to talk about "the policies that created this mess in the first place," let's at least get the facts straight and the names right.

The current policies of the Obama administration are a continuation of the same reckless policies that brought on the current economic problems-- all in the name of "change." Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are still sacred cows in Washington, even though they have already required the biggest bailouts of all.

Why? Because they allow politicians to direct vast sums of money where it will do politicians the most good, either personally or in terms of buying votes in the next election.

Copyright 2010, Creators Syndicate Inc.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New article dismantles government's Obamacare taxing power argument - PLF Liberty Blog

November 17, 2010
New article dismantles government's Obamacare taxing power argument

Author: Daniel Himebaugh

In 2009, before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (colloquially, "Obamacare") became law, President Obama was asked whether a monetary penalty assessed against people who do not buy government-approved health insurance is a "tax." The president, perhaps recalling his campaign pledge to avoid raising taxes on the middle class, said no. However, when numerous lawsuits emerged challenging the constitutionality of the PPACA, the president's lawyers decided that they could more easily defend the penalty if they described it as a "tax" for purposes of constitutional analysis. This taxing power argument, reported The New York Times, became the "linchpin of [the federal government's] legal case in defense of the health care overhaul and its individual mandate."

In a new law review article, The Individual Mandate and the Taxing Power (Northern Kentucky Law Review, forthcoming), tax law professor Erik M. Jensen thoroughly rebuts the claim that Congress's constitutional taxing power authorizes the PPACA's individual mandate provision. Jensen systematically rejects the government's taxing power argument, and outlines how (1) Congress's taxing power provides no authority for requiring the acquisition of health insurance; (2) the penalty for failure to acquire health insurance should not be treated as a tax at all; and (3) if the penalty is treated as a tax, it is an unconstitutional capitation tax.

In one of the more entertaining passages, Jensen remarks:

The argument under the Taxing Clause is being advanced because of nervousness about whether the Commerce Clause provides sufficient authority for the individual mandate. The argument smacks of desperation. If, despite the extraordinary expansion in the scope of the Commerce Clause in twentieth-century jurisprudence, proponents of the mandate are still nervous about constitutional questions, we should all be nervous.

In addition to Jensen's article, you can learn more about why the government's taxing power argument fails by reading PLF's amicus brief in support of Virginia's health care challenge.

Sarah Palin's happiness is what really irks liberals

Sarah Palin's happiness is what really irks liberals

S.E. Cupp

Wednesday, November 17th 2010, 4:00 AM

This past weekend, I traveled to Chicago to speak at the Conservatives4Palin meetup, where Mama Grizzlies, Palinistas and "ordinary barbarians," as she's now taken to calling her followers, gathered to hear speeches, talk about conservative issues, celebrate a hypothetical Palin 2012 campaign and generally worship at the altar of Sarah Palin.

At one point during the program, Palin made a surprise phone call to the group, patched through one of the organizer's cell phones and played over a loudspeaker. The room burst into spontaneous applause and frenzied yelping as she launched into a warm and cheery 20-minute "thanks for all your hard work" chat.

I returned to New York from the Chicago gathering to find Palin again, not in my ear but on my television screen, bouncing gleefully around Alaska on her new TLC documentary series, "Sarah Palin's Alaska." She and Todd (her "neat husband," as Phyllis Schlafly put it recently) went fishing, rock climbing and bear spotting in between appearing on Fox News and ducking from their nosy new neighbor, who moved in just to write about Alaska's former first family.

It seems everyone wants a piece of Palin these days. Some are fans, some are hostile foes. But regardless, we just can't stop talking about her. Will there ever be a time when we decide that we've figured her out and there's nothing else to say?

And then it hit me. The reason Palin has become such a lightening rod, a kingmaker and a punching bag, a celebrity and a power player, is simple. It's because she's so gosh darn happy.

For her fans, like the ones I had the pleasure of meeting in Chicago, she's refreshingly upbeat and resilient, the bubbly friend from childhood who was always great at cheering you up and cheerleading you on.

But for her detractors, nothing raises the ire of cynical liberals more than a happy-go-lucky, totally unburdened, freethinking and self-assured conservative woman who has everything she wants and then some. And without anyone's help.

Sure, she'll tell you that Todd, her parents and her children are an invaluable support system. But after eight years of hearing that George W. Bush was a nepotism experiment gone wrong, Sarah Palin has made it here (wherever this is) on her own. John McCain's imprimatur certainly launched her into the national spotlight, but she became the youngest and first female governor of Alaska all on her own.
How dare she?

Liberalism, after all, needs to imagine an unhappy populace. Passing sweeping entitlement programs and convincing voters that big government is the answer only works if people are frustrated with their stations in life.

Thus Palin is a real threat to front-office operations.

And Sarah Palin, more than almost any other public political figure, represents the "can do" rugged individualism and self-reliance that liberals fear most. She's not just running her household. She ran her state! And in her new documentary series, we see that independent streak clear as glacier water. Whether she's casting for salmon or scaling the rockface at Denali, she's smiling - and just won't quit.

It isn't the angry, antiquated feminism of a Barbara Boxer. Or the pushy defiance of a Nancy Pelosi, who refuses to go quietly into that dark night. Or even the brash "I can make you regret being born" argumentativeness of an Ann Coulter.

It's the kind of ambition that comes from confidence in her convictions and the security of knowing that no matter what happens to her in the press, she's got a happy home life and everything she needs to survive in the wild - the Washington wild, that is.

If Palin's critics really want her to go away, they don't have to worry about her politics, her faith or her folksy rhetoric. They need to worry about her boundless happiness which, like her favorite hunting weapon, is poised to be a warm gun for anyone who dares cross her path.

S.E. Cupp, whose column appears on Wednesdays on NYDailynews.com and often in the print edition of the newspaper, is a political commentator and author of the book "Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media's Attack on Christianity." She is also co-author of "Why You're Wrong About The Right." S.E. has a regular feature at The Daily Caller and is a contributing editor at Townhall magazine. She lives in New York City.


Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2010/11/17/2010-11-17_sarah_palins_happiness_is_what_really_irks_liberals.html#ixzz15Y9ZkpfH

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

George Gilder: California's Destructive Green Jobs Lobby - WSJ.com

California's Destructive Green Jobs Lobby
Silicon Valley, once synonymous with productivity-enhancing innovation, is now looking to make money on feel-good government handouts.


California officials acknowledged last Thursday that the state faces $20 billion deficits every year from now to 2016. At the same time, California's state Treasurer entered bond markets to sell some $14 billion in "revenue anticipation notes" over the next two weeks. Worst of all, economic sanity lost out in what may have been the most important election on Nov. 2—and, no, I'm not talking about the gubernatorial or senate races.

This was the California referendum to repeal Assembly Bill 32, the so-called Global Warming Solutions Act, which ratchets the state's economy back to 1990 levels of greenhouse gases by 2020. That's a 30% drop followed by a mandated 80% overall drop by 2050. Together with a $500 billion public-pension overhang, the new energy cap dooms the state to bankruptcy.

Conservative pundits have lavished mock pity on the state. But as America's chief fount of technology, California cannot go down the drain without dragging the rest of the country with it.

The irony is that a century-long trend of advance in conventional "non-renewable" energy—from wood to oil to natural gas and nuclear—has already wrought a roughly 60% drop in carbon emissions per watt. Thus the long-term California targets might well be achieved globally in the normal course of technological advance. The obvious next step is aggressive exploitation of the trillions of cubic feet of low-carbon natural gas discovered over the last two years, essentially ending the U.S. energy crisis.

The massive vote against repeal of the California law—62% to 38%—supports an economy-crushing drive to suppress CO2 emissions from natural gas and everything else. In a parody of supply-side economics, advocates of AB 32 envisage the substitution of alternative energy sources that create new revenue sources, new jobs and industries. Their economic model sees new wealth emerge from jobs dismantling the existing energy economy and replacing it with a medieval system of windmills and solar collectors. By this logic we could all get rich by razing the existing housing plant and replacing it with new-fangled tents.

All the so-called "renewables" programs waste and desecrate the precious resource of arable land that feeds the world. Every dollar of new wages for green workers will result in several dollars of reduced pay and employment for the state's and the nation's other workers—and reduced revenues for the government.

Most destructive of all is the bill's stultifying effect on America's and California's most important asset: the venture capital industry, which accounts for the nation's technological leadership, military power, and roughly a fifth of GDP.

Led by Al Gore's investment affiliate, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers, the campaign to save AB 32 raised $31 million—more than three times the $10 million that the oil companies raised for repeal. Pouring in millions were such promethean venturers as John Doerr and Vinod Khosla of Kleiner Perkins, Eric Schmidt and Sergei Brin of Google, and the legendary Gordon Moore and Andrew Grove of Intel. The campaign even managed to shake down a contribution from the state's public utility, Pacific Gas and Electric, and gained the backing of the GOP's eBay billionaire gubernatorial candidate, Meg Whitman.

What is wrong with California's plutocratic geniuses? They are simply out of their depth in a field they do not understand. Solar panels are not digital. They may be made of silicon but they benefit from no magic of miniaturization like the Moore's Law multiplication of transistors on microchips. There is no reasonable way to change the wavelengths of sunlight to fit in drastically smaller photo receptors. Biofuels are even less promising. Even if all Americans stopped eating (saving about 100 thermal watts per capita on average) and devoted all of our current farmland to biofuels, the output could not fill much more than 2% of our energy needs.

In the past, Kleiner Perkins funded scores of vital ventures, from Apple and Applied Materials to Amazon and Google. But now Kleiner is moving on to such government- dependent firms as Miasole, Amyris Biofuels, Segway and Upwind Solutions. Many have ingenious technology and employ thousands of brilliant engineers, but they are mostly wasted on pork catchers.

Other venturers plunged into solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, which received some $500 million in federal subsidies and a campaign visit from Barack Obama before laying off 17% of its work force and giving up on a new factory that was supposed to create 1,000 green jobs.

Many of these green companies, behaving like the public-service unions they resemble, diverted some of their government subsidies into the AB 32 campaign for more subsidies. Virtually every new venture investment proposal harbors a "green" angle that turns it from a potential economic asset into a government dependent.

A partial solution is a suit by four attorneys general outside of California. They argue that the California law violates the Constitution's interstate commerce clause because of the limits it places on electricity generated by out-of-state, coal-fired power plants. But ultimately the new Congress must act. The Center for American Progress has found that 50 out of 100 or so new Republican congressmen elected earlier this month are "climate-change skeptics." But Republican leaders such as incoming Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor show dangerous gullibility in the face of environmentalist claims.

Co-sponsoring a disgraceful bill introduced in September to force utilities to expand their use of "renewable energy" to 15% by 2021 are Republican Sens. Sam Brownback and Susan Collins. Republican politicians are apparently lower in climate skepticism than readers of Scientific American, which recently discovered to its horror that some 80% of its subscribers, mostly American scientists, reject man-made global warming catastrophe fears.

Republicans may delude themselves that the U.S. can undertake a costly, inefficient and disruptive transformation of the energy economy, estimated by the International Energy Agency to cost some $45 trillion over 40 years, while meeting our global military challenges and huge debt overhang. But the green campaign wastes scarce and precious technological and entrepreneurial resources indispensable to the nation's future. Now it is debauching America's most precious venture assets. It must be defeated, not appeased.

Mr. Gilder is a founding fellow of the Discovery Institute.

Monday, November 15, 2010

American Narcissus

American Narcissus
The vanity of Barack Obama
Jonathan V. Last
November 22, 2010, Vol. 16, No. 10

Why has Barack Obama failed so spectacularly? Is he too dogmatically liberal or too pragmatic? Is he a socialist, or an anticolonialist, or a philosopher-president? Or is it possible that Obama’s failures stem from something simpler: vanity. Politicians as a class are particularly susceptible to mirror-gazing. But Obama’s vanity is overwhelming. It defines him, his politics, and his presidency.

It’s revealed in lots of little stories. There was the time he bragged about how one of his campaign volunteers, who had tragically died of breast cancer, “insisted she’s going to be buried in an Obama T-shirt.” There was the Nobel acceptance speech where he conceded, “I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war” (the emphasis is mine). There was the moment during the 2008 campaign when Obama appeared with a seal that was a mash-up of the Great Seal of the United States and his own campaign logo (with its motto Vero Possumus, “Yes we Can” in Latin). Just a few weeks ago, Obama was giving a speech when the actual presidential seal fell from the rostrum. “That’s all right,” he quipped. “All of you know who I am.” Oh yes, Mr. President, we certainly do.

My favorite is this line from page 160 of The Audacity of Hope:

I find comfort in the fact that the longer I’m in politics the less nourishing popularity becomes, that a striving for power and rank and fame seems to betray a poverty of ambition, and that I am answerable mainly to the steady gaze of my own conscience.

So popularity and fame once nourished him, but now his ambition is richer and he’s answerable not, like some presidents, to the Almighty, but to the gaze of his personal conscience. Which is steady. The fact that this sentence appears in the second memoir of a man not yet 50 years old—and who had been in national politics for all of two years—is merely icing.

People have been noticing Obama’s vanity for a long time. In 2008, one of his Harvard Law classmates, the entertainment lawyer Jackie Fuchs, explained what Obama was like during his school days: “One of our classmates once famously noted that you could judge just how pretentious someone’s remarks in class were by how high they ranked on the ‘Obamanometer,’ a term that lasted far longer than our time at law school. Obama didn’t just share in class—he pontificated. He knew better than everyone else in the room, including the teachers. ”

The story of Obama’s writing career is an object lesson in how our president’s view of himself shapes his interactions with the world around him. In 1990, Obama was wrapping up his second year at Harvard Law when the New York Times ran a profile of him on the occasion of his becoming the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review. A book agent in New York named Jane Dystel read the story and called up the young man, asking if he’d be interested in writing a book. Like any 29-year-old, he wasn’t about to turn down money. He promptly accepted a deal with Simon & Schuster’s Poseidon imprint—reportedly in the low six-figures—to write a book about race relations.

Obama missed his deadline. No matter. His agent quickly secured him another contract, this time with Times Books. And a $40,000 advance. Not bad for an unknown author who had already blown one deal, writing about a noncommercial subject.

By this point Obama had left law school, and academia was courting him. The University of Chicago Law School approached him; although they didn’t have any specific needs, they wanted to be in the Barack Obama business. As Douglas Baird, the head of Chicago’s appointments committee, would later explain, “You look at his background—Harvard Law Review president, magna cum laude, and he’s African American. This is a no-brainer hiring decision at the entry level of any law school in the country.” Chicago invited Obama to come in and teach just about anything he wanted. But Obama wasn’t interested in a professor’s life. Instead, he told them that he was writing a book—about voting rights. The university made him a fellow, giving him an office and a paycheck to keep him going while he worked on this important project.

In case you’re keeping score at home, there was some confusion as to what book young Obama was writing. His publisher thought he was writing about race relations. His employer thought he was writing about voting rights law. But Obama seems to have never seriously considered either subject. Instead, he decided that his subject would be himself. The 32-year-old was writing a memoir.

Obama came clean to the university first. He waited until his fellowship was halfway over—perhaps he was concerned that his employers might not like the bait-and-switch. He needn’t have worried. Baird still hoped that Obama would eventually join the university’s faculty (he had already begun teaching a small classload as a “senior lecturer”). “It was a good deal for us,” Baird explained, “because he was a good teaching prospect and we wanted him around.”

And it all worked out in the end. The book Obama eventually finished was Dreams from My Father. It didn’t do well initially, but nine years later, after his speech at the 2004 Democratic convention made him a star, it sold like gangbusters. Obama got rich. And famous. The book became the springboard for his career in national politics.

Only it didn’t quite work out for everybody. Obama left the University of Chicago, never succumbing to their offers of a permanent position in their hallowed halls. Simon & Schuster, which had taken a chance on an unproven young writer, got burned for a few thousand bucks. And Jane Dystel, who’d plucked him out of the pages of the New York Times and got him the deal to write the book that sped his political rise? As soon as Obama was ready to negotiate the contract for his second book—the big-money payday—he dumped her and replaced her with super-agent Robert Barnett.

We risk reading too much into these vignettes—after all, our president is a mansion with many rooms and it would be foolish to reduce him to pure ego. Yet the vignettes are so numerous. For instance, a few years ago Obama’s high school basketball coach told ABC News how, as a teenager, Obama always badgered him for more playing time, even though he wasn’t the best player on the team—or even as good as he thought he was. Everyone who has ever played team sports has encountered the kid with an inflated sense of self. That’s common. What’s rare is the kid who feels entitled enough to nag the coach about his minutes. Obama was that kid. His enthusiasm about his abilities and his playing time extended into his political life. In 2004, Obama explained to author David Mendell how he saw his future as a national political figure: “I’m LeBron, baby. I can play on this level. I got some game.” After just a couple of months in the Senate, Obama jumped the Democratic line and started asking voters to make him president.

Yet you don’t have to delve deep into armchair psychology to see how Obama’s vanity has shaped his presidency. In January 2009 he met with congressional leaders to discuss the stimulus package. The meeting was supposed to foster bipartisanship. Senator Jon Kyl questioned the plan’s mixture of spending and tax cuts. Obama’s response to him was, “I won.” A year later Obama held another meeting to foster bipartisanship for his health care reform plan. There was some technical back-and-forth about Republicans not having the chance to properly respond within the constraints of the format because President Obama had done some pontificating, as is his wont. Obama explained, “There was an imbalance on the opening statements because”—here he paused, self-satisfiedly—“I’m the president. And so I made, uh, I don’t count my time in terms of dividing it evenly.”

There are lots of times when you get the sense that Obama views the powers of the presidency as little more than a shadow of his own person. When he journeyed to Copenhagen in October 2009 to pitch Chicago’s bid for the Olympics, his speech to the IOC was about—you guessed it: “Nearly one year ago, on a clear November night,” he told the committee, “people from every corner of the world gathered in the city of Chicago or in front of their televisions to watch the results of .  .  . ” and away he went. A short while later he was back in Copenhagen for the climate change summit. When things looked darkest, he personally commandeered the meeting to broker a “deal.” Which turned out to be worthless. In January 2010, Obama met with nervous Democratic congressmen to assure them that he wasn’t driving the party off a cliff. Confronted with worries that 2010 could be a worse off-year election than 1994, Obama explained to the professional politicians, “Well, the big difference here and in ’94 was you’ve got me.”

In the midst of the BP oil spill last summer, Obama explained, “My job right now is just to make sure that everybody in the Gulf understands this is what I wake up to in the morning and this is what I go to bed at night thinking about: the spill.” Read that again: The president thinks that the job of the president is to make certain the citizens correctly understand what’s on the president’s mind.

Obama’s vanity is even more jarring when paraded in the foreign arena. In April, Poland suffered a national tragedy when its president, first lady, and a good portion of the government were killed in a plane crash. Obama decided not to go to the funeral. He played golf instead. Though maybe it’s best that he didn’t make the trip. When he journeyed to Great Britain to meet with the queen he gave her an amazing gift: an iPod loaded with recordings of his speeches and pictures from his inauguration.

On November 9, 2009, Europe celebrated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was kind of a big deal. They may not mention the Cold War in schools much these days, but it pitted the Western liberal order against a totalitarian ideology in a global struggle. In this the United States was the guarantor of liberty and peace for the West; had we faltered, no corner of the world would have been safe from Soviet domination.

President Obama has a somewhat different reading. He explains: “The Cold War reached a conclusion because of the actions of many nations over many years, and because the people of Russia and Eastern Europe stood up and decided that its end would be peaceful.” Pretty magnanimous of the Soviets to let the long twilight struggle end peacefully like that, especially after all we did to provoke them.

So Obama doesn’t know much about the Cold War. Which is probably why he didn’t think the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall was all that important. When the leaders of Europe got together to commemorate it, he decided not to go to that, either. But he did find time to record a video message, which he graciously allowed the Europeans to air during the ceremony.

In his video, Obama ruminated for a few minutes on the grand events of the 20th century, the Cold War itself, and the great lesson we all should take from this historic passing: “Few would have foreseen .  .  . that a united Germany would be led by a woman from Brandenburg or that their American ally would be led by a man of African descent. But human destiny is what human beings make of it.” The fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War, and the freedom of all humanity—it’s great stuff. Right up there with the election of Barack Obama.

All presidents are hostage to self-confidence. But not since Babe Ruth grabbed a bat and wagged his fat finger at Wrigley’s center-field wall has an American politician called his shot like Barack Obama. He announced his candidacy in Springfield, Illinois, on the steps where Abraham Lincoln gave his “house divided” speech. He mentioned Lincoln continually during the 2008 campaign. After he vanquished John McCain he passed out copies of Team of Rivals, a book about Lincoln’s cabinet, to his senior staff. At his inauguration, he chose to be sworn into office using Lincoln’s Bible. At the inaugural luncheon following the ceremony, he requested that the food—each dish of which was selected as a “tribute” to Lincoln—be served on replicas of Lincoln’s china. At some point in January 2009 you wanted to grab Obama by the lapels and tell him—We get it! You’re the Rail Splitter! If we promise to play along, will you keep the log cabin out of the Rose Garden?

It’s troubling that a fellow whose electoral rationale was that he edited the Harvard Law Review and wrote a couple of memoirs was comparing himself to the man who saved the Union. But it tells you all you need to know about what Obama thinks of his political gifts and why he’s unperturbed about having led his party into political disaster in the midterms. He assumes that he’ll be able to reverse the political tide once he becomes the issue, in the presidential race in 2012. As he said to Harry Reid after the majority leader congratulated him on one particularly fine oration, “I have a gift, Harry.”

But Obama’s faith in his abilities extends beyond mere vote-getting. Buried in a 2008 New Yorker piece by Ryan Lizza about the Obama campaign was this gob-smacking passage:

Obama said that he liked being surrounded by people who expressed strong opinions, but he also said, “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.” After Obama’s first debate with McCain, on September 26th, [campaign political director Patrick] Gaspard sent him an e-mail. “You are more clutch than Michael Jordan,” he wrote. Obama replied, “Just give me the ball.”

In fairness to Obama, maybe he is a better speechwriter than his speechwriters. After all, his speechwriter was a 27-year-old, and the most affecting part of Obama’s big 2008 stump speech was recycled from Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, with whom he shared a campaign strategist. But it’s instructive that Obama thinks he knows “more about policies on any particular issue” than his policy directors. The rate of growth of the mohair subsidy? The replacement schedule for servers at the NORAD command center? The relationship between annual rainfall in northeast Nevada and water prices in Las Vegas?

What Scott Fitzgerald once said about Hollywood is true of the American government: It can be understood only dimly and in flashes; there are no more than a handful of men who have ever been able to keep the entire equation in their heads. Barack Obama had worked in the federal government for all of four years. He was not one of those men. More important, however, is that as president he shouldn’t be the chief wonk, speechwriter, and political director.

David Remnick delivers a number of insights about Obama in his book The Bridge. For instance, Valerie Jarrett—think of her as the president’s Karen Hughes—tells Remnick that Obama is often bored with the world around him. “I think that he has never really been challenged intellectually,” Jarrett says. “So what I sensed in him was not just a restless spirit but somebody with such extraordinary talents that they had to be really taxed in order for him to be happy.” Jarrett concludes, “He’s been bored to death his whole life.”

With one or two possible exceptions, that is. Remnick reports that “Jarrett was quite sure that one of the few things that truly engaged him fully before going to the White House was writing Dreams from My Father.” So the only job Barack Obama ever had that didn’t bore him was writing about Barack Obama. But wait, there’s more.

David Axelrod—he’s Obama’s Karl Rove—told Remnick that “Barack hated being a senator.” Remnick went on:

Washington was a grander stage than Springfield, but the frustrations of being a rookie in a minority party were familiar. Obama could barely conceal his frustration with the torpid pace of the Senate. His aides could sense his frustration and so could his colleagues. “He was so bored being a senator,” one Senate aide said.

Obama’s friend and law firm colleague Judd Miner agreed. “The reality,” Miner told Remnick, “was that during his first two years in the U.S. Senate, I think, he was struggling; it wasn’t nearly as stimulating as he expected.” But even during his long, desolate exile as a senator, Obama was able to find a task that satisfied him. Here’s Remnick again: “The one project that did engage Obama fully was work on The Audacity of Hope. He procrastinated for a long time and then, facing his deadline, wrote nearly a chapter a week.” Your tax dollars at work.

Looking at this American Narcissus, it’s easy to be hammered into a stupor by the accumulated acts of vanity. Oh look, we think to ourselves, there’s our new president accepting his Nobel Peace Prize. There’s the president likening his election to the West’s victory in the Cold War. There’s the commander in chief bragging about his March Madness picks.

Yet it’s important to remember that our presidents aren’t always this way. When he accepted command of the Revolutionary forces, George Washington said,

I feel great distress, from a consciousness that my abilities and military experience may not be equal to the extensive and important Trust. .  .  . I beg it may be remembered, by every Gentleman in the room, that I, this day, declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the Command I am honored with.

Accepting the presidency, Washington was even more reticent. Being chosen to be president, he said, “could not but overwhelm with despondence one who, inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpracticed in the duties of civil administration, ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies.”

In his biography of John Quincy Adams, Robert Remini noted that Adams was not an especially popular fellow. Yet on one of the rare occasions when he was met with adoring fans, “he told crowds that gathered to see and hear him to go home and attend to their private duties.”

And Obama? In light of the present state of his presidency, let’s look back at his most famous oration:

The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth. This was the moment—this was the time—when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves and our highest ideals.

The speech was given on June 3, 2008, and the epoch-making historical event to which “this moment” refers throughout is Barack Obama’s victory over Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries.

A senior writer at The Weekly Standard, Jonathan V. Last covered the Obama campaign in 2008.

George F. Will - What's driving Obama's subsidies of Chevy's Volt?

What's driving Obama's subsidies of Chevy's Volt?

By George F. Will
Sunday, November 14, 2010

"Every single great idea that has marked the 21st century, the 20th century and the 19th century has required government vision and government incentive."
- Joe Biden, Oct. 26

General Motors, an appendage of the government, which owns 61 percent of it, is spending some of your money, dear reader, on full-page newspaper ads praising a government brainstorm - the Volt, Chevrolet's highly anticipated and prematurely celebrated (sort of) electric car. Although the situation is murky - GM and its government masters probably prefer it that way - it is unclear in what sense GM has any money that is truly its own. And the Volt is not quite an electric car, or not the sort GM deliberately misled Americans into expecting.

It is another hybrid. GM said the Volt would be an "all electrically driven vehicle" whose gas engine would be a mere range-extender, powering the Volt's generator, not its wheels: The engine would just maintain the charge as the battery ran down. Now GM says that at some point when the battery's charge declines, or when the car is moving near 70 mph, the gas engine will power the wheels.

The newspaper ads proclaim, "Chevrolet Runs Deep." Whatever that means, if anything, it does not mean the Volt runs deep into a commute or the countryside just on electricity. At the bottom of the ads, there is this, in microscopic print: "Volt available in CA, TX, MI, NY, NJ, CT and Washington, DC, at the end of 2010. Quantities limited." Well.

Quantities of everything - except perhaps God's mercy, which is said to be infinite - are limited. But quantities of the Volt are going to be so limited that 44 states can only pine for Volts from afar. Good, because the federal government, which evidently is feeling flush, will give tax credits of up to $7,500 to every Volt purchaser. The Volt was conceived to appease the automotive engineers in Congress, which knows that people will have to be bribed, with other people's money, to buy this $41,000 car that seats only four people (the 435-pound battery eats up space).

Mark Reuss, president of GM North America, said in a letter to the Wall Street Journal: "The early enthusiastic consumer response - more than 120,000 potential Volt customers have already signaled interest in the car, and orders have flowed since the summer - give us confidence that the Volt will succeed on its merits." Disregard the slipperiness ("signaled interest" how?) and telltale reticence (how many orders have "flowed"?). But "on its merits"? Why, then, the tax credits and other subsidies?

The Automotive Engineer in Chief - our polymathic president - says there will be a million plug-in cars in America by 2015. This will require much higher gasoline prices (perhaps $9 a gallon) and much bigger bribes: GM, which originally was expected to produce as many as 60,000 next year, now says 10,000 for all of North America.

GM says that, battery-powered, the Volt has a 40-mile range. Popular Mechanics says 33. Thomas R. Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute, the trade association of the electric utility industry, is, understandably, a Volt enthusiast: This supposedly "green" vehicle will store electric energy - 10 to 12 hours of charging on household current - produced by coal- and gas-fired power plants.

The federal government, although waist-deep in red ink, offers another bribe: Any purchaser can get a tax credit of up to 50 percent of the cost (up to $2,000) of an extra-powerful (240-volt) charger. California, although so strapped it recently issued IOUs to vendors, offers a $5,000 cash rebate for which Volt buyers are not eligible but purchasers of Nissan's electric Leaf are. Go figure.

In April, in a television commercial and a Wall Street Journal column headlined "The GM Bailout: Paid Back in Full," GM's then-CEO Ed Whitacre said "we have repaid our government loan, in full, with interest, five years ahead of the original schedule." Rubbish.

GM, which has received almost $50 billion in government subventions, repaid a $6.7 billion loan using other federal funds, a TARP-funded escrow account. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) called this a "TARP money shuffle." A commentator compared it to "paying off your Visa credit card with your MasterCard."

Meretricious accounting and deceptive marketing are inevitable when government and its misnamed "private sector" accomplices foist state capitalism on an appalled country. But those who thought the ethanol debacle defined outer limits of government foolishness pertaining to automobiles were, alas, mistaken.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Format Dynamics :: CleanPrint :: http://www.coloradoan.com/article/20101107/NEWS01/11070342/Whirlwind-awaits-new-representative

Whirlwind awaits new representative

BY BOB SCHAFFER • Special to the Coloradoan • November 7, 2010

Editor's Note: The Coloradoan asked former U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer of Fort Collins to identify the biggest challenges Rep.-elect Cory Gardner will face in his first few weeks in Congress. This is his response.

Today, Cory (Gardner) is booking airline tickets for organizational meetings and orientation sessions in (Washington, D.C.)

Already, he's in the middle of various leadership and committee-chairman campaigns involving new colleagues he doesn't presently know.

He'll have about a week to learn their personalities and decide who will be the best leaders for the U.S. House. Unwittingly, his choices will define him as belonging to various sub-coalitions and aligned with certain leaders within the GOP conference for the rest of his time in Washington, D.C.

Members of the House who have volunteered to come to Colorado to campaign for . Gardner probably revealed their underlying interests starting Tuesday night when they made their midnight congratulatory phone call. These calls in sum go like this:

“Congratulations, congressman. Boy, that sounds good doesn’t it? Congressman Gardner? You ran a great race and you’ll be an outstanding member of Congress. Say, by the way, I’ve got the chairmanship of (fill in the blank) almost in the bag, but I wanted to make sure you’re on my team. You know, I really enjoyed campaigning with you out in Lovemont — was that the name of that little place? — and I’m glad my visit helped you win your race. When you get back to Washington, D.C., I’ll have my chief of staff get in touch with you to set up a meeting right away to map out a plan for how you and I are going to work together. OK? Oh, again, congratulations to you and your wife Jane (staffer interrupts)... I mean Jamie.”

Keep in mind, incumbent GOP members of Congress have been working on these inter-party campaigns for months, sometimes years. Gardner will be negotiating them next week.

There will be no rest after Tuesday night’s contest. . Gardner just finished a marathon and now has to gear up for a different kind of campaign. He’ll be contending with, among and against the nation’s best campaigners.

A smart freshman will rely heavily on advice of his Colorado colleagues. Reps. Mike Coffman, Doug Lamborn, Diana DeGette, Jared Polis and Ed Perlmutter will become valuable advisers and establish their leadership credentials within the congressional delegation by genuinely assisting the newest members of it (regardless of party).

Simultaneously, Gardner has to campaign for good committee assignments. This means forming an alliance with other freshmen members, mapping out a campaign plan for targeted committees and assessing what other members want for their own assignments.

There is a House Steering Committee. When I was there, there were 35 votes on this committee. It determines the committee assignments for all GOP members.

The speaker gets multiple votes — I think four. You need 18 votes to get your assignments. The final roster is voted on as a package, but all the preceding votes involve casino-style wheeling and dealing among members of the Steering Committee. These meetings are closed to the public.

Within the next few weeks, Gardner and his new colleagues will meet in half-day caucus meetings (both parties meet in different rooms of the Capitol building at the same time) where members will learn which committees they get. These assignments tend to lock you into the topical and issue specialties that will define you for the rest of your career.

While all this is going on, Gardner will be getting stuck with what’s left of the most undesirable offices by lot. He’ll be scrambling to find a competent staff of about 18. He’ll need to work with the Capitol staff to get desks, file cabinets, computers, printers, etc.

He’ll be figuring out how to absorb district offices, ongoing casework and projects from Rep. Betsy Markey.

His first appointments in Washington, D.C., also will include a freshman-orientation meeting. Here, an ethics-committee chairman will plop a 1-foot pile of books, reports and forms (all in tiny print) in front of him with a recommendation like this: “Read all these rules if you want to stay out of jail.”

The rules deal with every nit-picking detail of how to handle mail, how to buy paperclips, how to hire staff, how to order airline tickets, how to reimburse yourself for mileage, how to accept a speaking engagement, how to assist charities, etc., — legally.

The truth is, these rules are so overwhelming, it’s impossible to contemplate anyone being 100 percent compliant. I guarantee every member of Congress has mailed the wrong letter in the wrong kind of envelope under the wrong postage mark — without realizing it.

The ethics briefing makes every new member wonder, “what have I gotten myself into?”
By next week, Gardner also will be meeting with his colleagues in the context of the National Republican Cong-ressional Committee — the political branch of the GOP conference.

This meeting takes place off the Hill and is not considered “official business.” Here, he’ll be given a fundraising goal for his own re-election effort in 2012. He’ll be assigned a mentor member to keep him on track to re-election.

He’ll learn about his “dues” to the NRCC — probably in the neighborhood of $50,000 in his first term. It grows from there. This is his obligation to the NRCC. Fulfilling it will entail budgeting time to work the phones calling complete strangers and inviting them to big dinners and gatherings — for thousands of dollars per ticket — to raise money for the NRCC so it can win more races in 2012.

This process is identical to the Democrats’.

There will be a new-member retreat to Williamsburg (Va.) in a week or two featuring 12-hour days of briefings with some of the best experts on the planet.

Through all of this, the freshman class will begin getting organized. The idea of a freshman class might sound like high-school stuff, but a member’s class is a formalized and important cohort.

For example, the class gets one vote on the Steering Committee. One freshman will be on the speaker’s leadership team. One will get a seat on the Policy Committee. Since none of them have seniority, they’ll find that banding together, when prudent, makes new members relevant faster.

Gardner will get a week off for Christmas. He’ll spend most of that time answering calls from you and other reporters, reading the suitcase full of manuals, reports and papers he will haul home from Washington, D.C. That time will be interrupted by phone calls from a hundred or so campaign volunteers who now want their kids to go to military academies, the government to pay for their stuff, give them jobs, etc.

The new Congress meets in January and will start at full speed.

About that time, some Democrat will announce he’s going to run against Gardner, requiring him to begin organizing his 2012 campaign team sooner than he thought he’d need to.

You’ll provide glowing, ample and generous column inches, flattering photos and prime story placements to make sure the challenger is favorably introduced and promoted to Fort Collins voters. This will force Gardner to get cracking on funding his 2012 campaign by at least February.

In August he’ll have a month of vacation to rest a little, but he probably won’t take more than a weekend for R&R.

He ought to use some of that time to wade into foreign-relations issues. The cost of ignoring these issues is enormous and too many Members shy away because joining a congressional-delegation trip to Saudi Arabia, for example, sounds too much like fun when mischaracterized by an opponent.

In one year, the youngish Gardner’s hair will be gray. You’ll want a new stock photo because he’ll actually look different than he does now. Proof: See your photo library of Jim Johnson, Hank Brown, Wayne Allard, Bob Schaffer, Marilyn Musgrave and Betsy Markey.

Gardner will grow into the position quickly and will be a serious member of Congress.

Democrats will see this and work hard to defeat him as quickly as possible.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, despite his pretensions for being bipartisan, will devote enormous resources and energy to gerrymandering the 4th Congressional District (based upon the 2010 Census) by pulling half of Boulder County into the new district — possibly even drawing Yuma (Gardner’s home) out of it. Gardner will need to “lawyer up” to survive this part of the campaign, too.

Bob Schaffer served in the House of Representatives from 1997-2003 and is chairman of the State Board of Education.