Archive for BigGovernment

NYT: Common Core is Wedge Election Issue for GOP

Though the Common Core initiative was once dismissed as a little-known and tedious education policy issue, the New York Times says that the nationalized academic standards have grown to be a central electoral issue that is separating establishment Republicans from grass roots, limited government activists.

Jonathan Martin, writing for the Times, identifies Common Core as an issue that has already led some Republicans who were once ardent supporters of the standards to abandon them due to the intensity with which grass roots groups of parents and teachers have protested them. Common Core opponents object not only to the highly non-transparent and intrusive manner in which the standards have come upon the American educational scene, but also to some of their strange content that seems to demand problem-solving skills that are not instinctive to students in general.  

According to the Times:

Conservatives denounce it as “Obamacore,” in what has become a surefire applause line for potential presidential hopefuls. Other Republicans are facing opprobrium from their own party for not doing more to stop it. At a recent Republican women’s club luncheon in North Carolina, a member went from table to table distributing literature that called the program part of “the silent erosion of our civil liberties.”

In fact, Common Core has even taken on the language of ObamaCare. Supporters of the centralized standards Rick Hess and Michael McShane of the Gates Foundation-awarded American Enterprise Institute (AEI) sniped at grass roots parents and standards professors, who say Common Core will dumb down America’s students, by charging these opponents “can’t just say no” to Common Core; they must “repeal and replace” it.

The fact is, however, many opponents have been suggesting all along that academic standards considered to be the finest in the nation already existed in states, such as Massachusetts, prior to Common Core. The question of why states or local school districts might not simply adopt those or similar standards of their own choosing has more to do with the social engineering aims of Common Core and an Obama administration that is fully behind that effort.

As grass roots groups of parents have found their voice, however, the Times observes that Republican Common Core champions like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are “becoming a small club.”

Potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates Sens. Ted Cruz (TX), Rand Paul (KY), and Marco Rubio (FL) all have separated themselves from Bush, Christie and other GOP Common Core supporters.

Then there are those Republicans who are attempting to walk on both sides of the Common Core fence.

At the end of last year, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a former champion of Common Core, told his Fox News audience that Common Core had become a “toxic” issue that he could no longer support. One month earlier, however, he urged the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), one of the developers and a copyright owner of the Common Core standards, to “rebrand” the standards.

“Rebrand it, refocus it, but don’t retreat,” Huckabee said.

Since then, some state legislatures and governors have proceeded to simply “rebrand,” or “rename” Common Core to a label with more local flavor.

Gov. Mike Pence (R) of Indiana, who, as a member of Congress, once opposed President George W. Bush’s initiative No Child Left Behind, signed a bill in March that formally made his state the first to abandon the Common Core standards. Indiana’s former GOP Gov. Mitch Daniels actually made the Hoosier State one of the first to adopt them. However, what is considered to be the final draft of Indiana’s “new” standards seems to be either very similar to Common Core or, in some cases, even worse.

In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who was for the Common Core before he was against it, has announced that he will use his executive authority to withdraw his state from the centralized standards and test consortium if the legislature fails to do so on its own.

The Times notes the other big players in the Common Core controversy, namely, Bill Gates, whose foundation has been the primary private source of funding for the nationalized standards, and the Gates-funded U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

The opposition to the Common Core also captures another shift since the Bush administration: While long contemptuous of an expanding federal government, some Republican activists are growing wary of big business, too, including figures like Bill Gates, the billionaire Microsoft founder whose foundation supported the development of the standards.

“There is a legitimate concern about large institutions, be they government or others, who haven’t really delivered the America everybody thought we were on our way to,” acknowledged John R. McKernan Jr., a former Maine governor who leads the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. But, he said, that fear is “totally misplaced” when it comes to the Common Core.

Groups like the American Principles Project (APP), however, the leading national organization fighting against the Common Core system, are not surprised that Common Core has become a major electoral issue.

Jane Robbins, a senior fellow at APP, told the Times that grass roots groups who want education issues decided at the local level are making their demands known to lawmakers who want to be re-elected.

“I think the establishment in the party has been slow to recognize how big this is,” Robbins said.

“The pushback against the Common Core system gains momentum by the day,” Emmett McGroarty, education director of APP, commented to Breitbart News as well. “At its heart are mothers and fathers who are reclaiming control over their children’s education. They are well-informed, and will recognize any attempt to deceive them by trying to re-brand Common Core.”

“The politician who does that will meet his Waterloo,” McGroarty predicted.



Powered by WPeMatico

'He is Risen!' What Christians Believe About Easter, and Why

EasterCrossAP

“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”

—Luke 24:5–6 (ESV)

“He is risen!” For centuries, it was proclaimed in the streets on Easter morning. It was a way that Christians identified each other on this day, as another Christian hearing it would respond, “He is risen indeed!”

Easter was the hope of an eternal existence, and one that has baffled scholars for centuries to explain. It’s hard to come up with a theory that explains it all away.

There was a sizeable group of men and women, whose leader claimed to be divine. They saw their leader arrested, tortured with a series of savage punishments that often proved deadly in their own right, nailed to a wooden cross through his hands and feet by professional executioners who crucified convicts on a regular basis, hung on that cross for hours until he was dead, then one soldier thrust a spear into his chest to confirm his demise before taking him down. The soldiers involved in this process would themselves be executed if a person handed over to them for termination was let go alive, so they tended to be thorough. After that point, his body was wrapped in burial clothes and he was put in a tomb under guard. His followers fled in fear and despair.

Then three days later they say they saw him, and spent time with him over a period of days. They said they spoke with him, ate food with him, and walked with him. Then they say he was taken up before their eyes into heaven. And for the rest of their lives, they would travel the known world heedless of any dangers, talking about Jesus Christ and writing the New Testament of the Bible. They were persecuted and executed one by one, yet still continued with unabated zeal for decades until their last breath.

What could they have seen and experienced that would have led them to do this, something so irrational if it were not true? Why didn’t the authorities just produce a body to prove that Jesus was still dead? Why was the tomb empty? Why didn’t even one of them over the ensuing years admit that they made it up? And what would they gain by such a deception? Why would all these disciples—who had been terrified and abandoned him—now all spend the rest of their lives proclaiming the resurrection, and all but one—the apostle John—giving their lives for it?

As politically incorrect as it is to mention Jesus Christ in modern American culture, the fact remains that Christians believe certain things about Jesus, who he is and what he accomplished. A central part of that is the Bible’s account of the resurrection of Jesus, which for Christians—coupled with the Good Friday story of the crucifixion—is the turning point in human history, one that fundamentally alters the relationship between God and humanity.

Following up on our earlier accounts of the Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday, and Jesus’ death by crucifixion on Good Friday, here’s the story of the first Easter, from the Gospel of Luke:

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angles, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see. And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning with Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.

—Luke 24:1–53 (ESV)

He is risen indeed!

Follow Ken Klukowski on Twitter @kenklukowski.



Powered by WPeMatico

Live Crucifixion Display Ordered Down in Florida

ScreenShotCrucifixion

In Lehigh Acres, Florida, a crucifixion display that featured a man dressed as Jesus tied to a cross to honor Good Friday was ordered to be taken down and moved elsewhere. The display, which was set up near a busy intersection, caused traffic problems as passers-by slowed down to see what was going on and some even took pictures.

Lee county sheriff’s deputies ordered the man imitating Jesus, who was covered with fake blood and wounds, to leave as angry drivers and pedestrians remarked that the display could frighten children and should not be in such a public place. One spokesman for the Lee County Sheriff’s office said the display was a public safety hazard, and one of the display’s organizers said someone from the sheriff’s office informed him, “there were a lot of close calls with accidents and traffic back ups.”

The debate featured strong feelings supporting the display; one display organizer said of the man playing Jesus, “This gentleman has had a passion on his heart to do a representation public.” One female onlooker echoed to the organizers,  ”It’s ridiculous that they’re making you take him down.” A second woman asserted, “I really think we need to recognize and be reminded of what Jesus did for us.  I wish it would have stayed … Jesus is appropriate for everywhere.” A third woman, who snapped a picture of her son with the man playing Jesus, said, “Kids need to see how he was born and hung from the cross for us … And I, yes, I honestly do think it’s appropriate.” A fourth woman added, “I think it’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. I’ve only seen this in books.” 

The man playing Jesus was dead serious about the matter, saying, “Easter is not about bunny rabbits and little chicks. This what our Christ endured for us. For our sins. And to hide that, is to not to live to the true faith of what he did for us.”

The organizers said the choice of venue was deliberate. One said, “It’s a very public place out in the middle of town. When Jesus was crucified, he was done so right on edge of town where everyone would come by.”

The man playing Jesus had a response for those who complained about the spectacle taking place in such a public place, asserting, “It’s just one of those necessities.”



Powered by WPeMatico

Obama Passes on Keystone Decision Once Again, Democrats Left Scrambling

Once again President Obama has bowed to his environmentalist supporters and passed on making a decision for or against the Keystone XL Pipeline. But the President’s refusal to make a decision has left several Democrats running for re-election stammering to explain to constituents why thousands of new jobs are still in limbo.

By constantly putting off any final decision these many years Obama has placated his extreme environmental activist donor base. However, in February the President said he’d have a decision “one way or another” in “a couple of months.” Yet even as it is closing in on two months later, Obama is still refusing to make that final decision.

But by not approving the pipeline, thousands of jobs and millions in economic benefits have also been put in limbo and this loss of income and jobs is not sitting well with many.

Recently a large construction union warned Democrats that they would be targeted for defeat in the upcoming midterm elections due to this failure to approve the project.

Additionally, now that the President has again put off a final decision, several Democrats are finding that this inaction is coming back to haunt their election campaigns.

Several Democrats are trying to have the issue both ways by not coming out with a firm position on the pipeline. These Democrats are trying to keep those interested in the economic benefits of the project hopeful that they will come to support Keystone while at the same time giving environmentalists hope that their hate of the project will win the day.

But this fence straddling is beginning to wear thin, Politico reports.

One Democrat finding the pressure mounting is Senator Mark Udall (D, CO) whose Republican opponent Corey Gardner is a known supporter of the project.

Another Democrat finding her fence sitting becoming an issue is Democrat Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes of Kentucky.

Grimes’ opponent, Senate incumbent Mitch McConnell, released a statement alleging that she, “refuses to tell Kentuckians the truth about where she stands on critical issues like the Keystone XL pipeline out of knowing that her views do not align with the views of the hardworking men and women in the Commonwealth.”

Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu is also finding Obama’s pipeline dithering causing some heartburn. Landrieu is already under the gun for her support of the economic disaster that is Obamacare and Obama’s refusal to come to the support of the Keystone XL Pipeline that will bring so many jobs to the Pelican State is becoming an issue for the incumbent Senator.

National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brad Dayspring slammed several Democrats, including Landrieu, over the President’s failure to act on Keystone. Obama’s delay, Dayspring said in a statement, “reinforces how ineffective, powerless and without influence senators like Mary Landrieu, Mark Begich, Mark Warner and Kay Hagan are. Last week, they urged President Obama to approve the Keystone Pipeline, and he blatantly ignored them by postponing again a week later.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com



Powered by WPeMatico

Chicago Police Accused of Cooking Lower Crime Stats

chi-crime

A loud debate about crime statistics is taking place in Chicago as 2014 gets underway. The Police Department is claiming that it has helped lower crime, as statistics are down all across the board over last year. But others claim that the ultra cold and snowy Winter weather Chicago just experienced is what held crime down, not any particular efforts by the Chicago PD. More ominously, others say the police are actually cooking the stats.

Last week, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy claimed that his department was “making progress” on defeating crime and pointed to the lower rates as proof.

Not everyone is accepting McCarthy’s claims as given.

Many say the weather was the main factor, not the police. Their case is bolstered by the fact that during the first weekend of the year favored by moderate weather, violence in Chicago exploded with 35 shootings in only 36 hours.

But others see something more nefarious in the falling crime rates than just an oppressive Winter. A new investigative report by Chicago Magazine claims that Mayor Emanuel and Superintendent McCarthy are cooking the stats to make it appear that crime is falling when in fact it is not.

The magazine says that murders and violent crimes are being reported in ways that hide them from accumulated statistics.

In one case, for instance, a woman was murdered but because her corpse had so many different injuries the coroner couldn’t determine exactly which one killed her. But instead of classifying the death as a murder, the Chicago police classified the death as a “noncriminal death.” How could a clear murder be called a “noncriminal death”? According to police, it was because they coroner didn’t specify what injury killed her.

“With the stroke of a computer key, she was airbrushed out of Chicago’s homicide statistics,” Chicago Magazine notes.

In another case a man was found severely beaten. He died a few days after being taken to the hospital. Instead of classifying his death as a result of a criminal act, police classified the cause of his death as “diabetes.”

These weren’t the only cases the magazine found, either.

“We identified 10 people… who were beaten, burned, suffocated, or shot to death in 2013 and whose cases were reclassified as death investigations, downgraded to more minor crimes, or even closed as noncriminal incidents—all for illogical or, at best, unclear reasons,” the article says.

The authors also found the same “troubling practice” in the reporting of other crimes, “including serious felonies such as robberies, burglaries, and assaults, that were misclassified, downgraded to wrist-slap offenses, or made to vanish altogether.”

It was all a “betrayal of public trust,” the authors wrote.

Superintendent McCarthy called the article “patently false” and he said the reliance on anonymous sources discredits the findings. “I’m troubled by it because it hurts our credibility while we’re trying to build our credibility,” Chicago’s top cop said.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com



Powered by WPeMatico

No Joke: After Ginning Up 'War on Women' Rhetoric, OFA Uses Ted Kennedy to Tout Obamacare

OFA-Ted-Kennedyjpgjpg

Organizing for America, which likes to gin up the phony “war on women” rhetoric on behalf of Democrats and President Barack Obama, used the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) of all people in an email on Saturday to encourage supporters to add their names to a list of those who support Obamacare. 

The e-mail’s subject is “Ted Kennedy,” and the email uses a quote from Kennedy about health care being a “fundamental right and not a privilege.”

“Health care reform took generations of organizing,” the email says. “Add your name to the permanent record of people who made it happen.” 

Organizing for America, like many Democrats, lionize Kennedy even though he may have been the embodiment of someone who waged war on women. Kennedy drove a car into Chappaquiddick, which resulted in the drowning death Mary Jo Kopechne, and there were numerous on-the-record accounts of Kennedy groping women and making lewd comments about them. Kennedy’s family is also notorious for their serial philandering and treating women with the utmost disrespect. 

The late Michael Kelly wrote about the infamous “waitress sandwich” incident in GQ magazine: 

As Gaviglio enters the room, the six-foot-two, 225-plus-pound Kennedy grabs the five-foot-three, 103-pound waitress and throws her on the table. She lands on her back, scattering crystal, plates and cutlery and the lit candles. Several glasses and a crystal candlestick are broken. Kennedy then picks her up from the table and throws her on Dodd, who is sprawled in a chair. With Gaviglio on Dodd’s lap, Kennedy jumps on top and begins rubbing his genital area against hers, supporting his weight on the arms of the chair. As he is doing this, Loh enters the room. She and Gaviglio both scream, drawing one or two dishwashers. Startled, Kennedy leaps up. He laughs. Bruised, shaken and angry over what she considered a sexual assault, Gaviglio runs from the room. Kennedy, Dodd and their dates leave shortly thereafter, following a friendly argument between the senators over the check.

Eyewitness Betty Loh told me that Kennedy had “three or four” cocktails in his first half hour at the restaurant and wine with dinner. When she walked into the room after Gaviglio had gone in, she says, “what I saw was Senator Kennedy on top of Carla, who was on top of Senator Dodd’s lap, and the tablecloth was sort of slid off the table ’cause the table was knocked over—not completely, but just on Senator Dodd’s lap a little bit, and of course the glasses and the candlesticks were totally spilled and everything. And right when I walked in, Senator Kelly jumped off…and he leaped up, composed himself and got up. And Carla jumped up and ran out of the room.”

According to Loh, Kennedy “was sort of leaning” on Gaviglio, “not really straddling but sort of off-balance so it was like he might have accidentally fallen…He was partially on and off…pushing himself off her to get up.” Dodd, she adds, “said ‘It’s not my fault.’ ” Kennedy said something similar and added, jokingly, “Makes you wonder about the leaders of this country.”

And ABC News reported on Kennedy’s lewd and demeaning remarks to Carrie Fisher, who was Sen. Chris Dodd’s (D-CT) date:

“Suddenly, Senator Kennedy, seated directly across from me, looked at me with his alert, aristocratic eyes and asked me a most surprising question. ‘So,’ he said, clearly amused, ‘do you think you’ll be having sex with Chris at the end of your date?’ … To my left, Chris Dodd looked at me with an unusual grin hanging on his very flushed face.”

Her reply: “‘Funnily enough, I won’t be having sex with Chris tonight,’ I said, my face composed and calm. ‘No, that probably won’t happen.’ People blinked. ‘Thanks for asking, though.’”

His retort: “‘Would you have sex with Chris in a hot tub?’ Senator Kennedy asked me, perhaps as a way to say good night? ‘I’m no good in water,’ I told him.” (A representative for Dodd did not immediately respond to ABCNews.com’s request for comment.)

Obama reportedly promised Kennedy that he would champion health care reform when Kennedy endorsed him during the 2008 Democratic primary over Hillary Clinton. 



Powered by WPeMatico

Easter: To Be Continued

crucifixion-AP

Today, Christians throughout the world celebrate the Feast of Easter. On this day Jesus of Nazareth, crucified and buried two days before, rose from the dead. The entirety of the Christian faith hinges on this fact. Now, this alone would be reason enough for an annual celebration. After all, every nation and culture observes and commemorates its great events. Why not Christian people?

But to reduce Easter to just a yearly commemoration would be to miss the point of the Feast entirely. Easter is not merely the commemoration but the continuation of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection. And this gets at the heart of what all Christians profess.

First, Jesus rose from the dead never to die again. His was no mere resuscitation. He rose triumphant over man’s greatest enemy, death itself: “For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him” (Rom 6:9). Every culture, philosophy, and religion has tried to answer the mystery of death. Christ alone has taken death in His hands and triumphed over it. His victory is not something confined to history, merely to be commemorated. It continues still, for He dies no more. He lives now eternally.

Second, He died and rose not for His own sake but for ours. He had no need to enter into that mortal combat, taking death into Himself and conquering it by His wounds. He did so in order to give us a participation in His victory, a share in His triumph over death. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ therefore is extended throughout the world and throughout history in His Body, the Church. Far from being confined to a remote Roman outpost two millennia ago, the power of the Resurrection continues to reach souls through the preaching of the Gospel, the celebration of the Sacraments, and the lives of Christians.

If the world remains in darkness or doubt about the truth of the Resurrection, it is in part because we Christians have not lived it. Those around us would be swifter to believe in the Redeemer if we lived more like men and women redeemed. This Feast, the most important in Christianity, is therefore a celebration of what has been accomplished for us – and likewise an exhortation to live by its grace, to continue the Resurrection here and now.



Powered by WPeMatico

Who Is Thomas Piketty and Why Has the Obama Admin Rolled Out the Red Carpet for Him?

thomas-piketty-AFP

He has not only been feted recently by White House advisers. He is all the rage at the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations as well.

This 42-year old economist from French academe has written a hot new book: Capital in the Twenty-First Century. A recent review describes him as the man “who exposed capitalism’s fatal flaw.”

So what is this flaw? Supposedly under capitalism, the rich get steadily richer in relation to everyone else; inequality gets worse and worse. It is all baked into the cake, unavoidable.

To support this, Piketty offers some dubious and unsupported financial logic, but also what he calls “ a spectacular graph” of historical data. What does the graph actually show?

Click here to read the rest of the article at AgainstCronyCapitalism.org.

Hunter Lewis is co-founder of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org, co-founder and former CEO of Cambridge Associates, a global investment firm, and author of two recent books, Free Prices Now!, about the Federal Reserve, and Crony Capitalism in America 2008-12.



Powered by WPeMatico

Poll: Thirty-Seven Percent of Voters Afraid of the Federal Government

On April 18th, Rasmussen Reports released a poll showing 37 percent “of likely U.S.  voters now fear the federal government.” 47 percent of respondents said they do not, and “17 percent are not sure.”

Moreover, 54 percent “consider the federal government today a threat to individual liberty rather than a protector.”

Only “22 percent see the government as a protector of individual rights”–which is an eight percent decline from November.  It is a 23 percent decline from December 2012, when “[forty-five percent of voters] said the federal government was a protector of individual rights.” 

Additionally, “seventy-one percent of voters believe that if America’s Founding Fathers came back today, they would regard the federal government as too big.”

Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com.



Powered by WPeMatico

Cliven Bundy and the Origins of the American Abundance Revolution

bundy-ranch-AFP

Today, in the year 2064, as we look back over the last 50 years, it might seem as if the Abundance Revolution was inevitable, since so much wealth was involved. After all, it was wealth just waiting to be unleashed.

Yet paradoxically, on the eve of the Abundance Revolution, many of America’s leaders, on the right as well as the left, were preaching a strict doctrine of overall austerity.

Indeed, as we look back and study the events of 2014, we can see the results of the Green elite’s ideologically-driven effort to squelch even the relatively small amount of prosperity that Americans were then enjoying. That is, it was the Green elites who unwittingly opened the door to the Abundance Revolution and the fantastic increase in wealth that Americans have since realized over the last half-century. 

We can point to three events, all occurring in April 2014.

The first triggering event, now the stuff of lore and legend, was the incident in Bunkerville, Nevada, in which Cliven Bundy, then an anonymous citizen, joined by several hundred supporters, faced down a federal army led by an ally of then-Sen. Harry Reid. The incident began on April 5, 2014, when the federal government attempted to seize Bundy’s property; that attempt, which struck many as overkill, led to a series of confrontations that ultimately inspired national news coverage. 

What highlighted the incident further were the comments of Sen. Reid, who referred to Bundy and his allies as “terrorists.” That seemed such an excessive reaction that observers grew curious as to why Reid felt so strongly.

Some clues as to the government’s behavior were found in an opinion piece on Fox News by Wayne Allyn Root, the future national leader, in which Root asked, “Why is US Senator Harry Reid so concerned with a local Nevada rancher?” Presciently, Root noted that Reid allies were involved in “green energy” efforts, which required vast tracts of land for solar facilities. As Root opined: 

Reid and the BLM [Bureau of Land Management, a now-defunct federal agency] needed a “cover story” to take the land away from the ranchers. So they claim it’s about protecting the “endangered” desert tortoise.

But if the protection of the desert tortoise was so important to the BLM, why did the same BLM kill hundreds of desert tortoises last fall?

If protecting the tortoises was so important, why has the BLM constantly waived rules protecting the desert tortoise for multiple solar and wind projects? If cattle are a danger to tortoises, why are solar panels and wind turbines not a danger?

Root concluded, “There’s much more to this story.” Then he added: 

My educated guess is that someone in the government already has big plans lined up for the Bundy Ranch. Someone is going to make a financial killing with this forceful land grab. Someone powerful in government wants the Bundy family off their land (after 140 years).

Exactly. Root’s suspicions were vindicated, as we know, in surprising ways that made Root famous and left Reid’s career and reputation in ruins.

The second triggering incident occurred a few hundred miles away in Salt Lake City on April 17, 2014. The first of a series of assemblies of local officials and state land commissioners focused on one goal: reasserting state sovereignty over federal lands.

“What’s happened in Nevada is really just a symptom of a much larger problem,” declared state representative Becky Lockhart. At the time, of course, Lockhart was merely Speaker of the Utah House; she had yet to launch her illustrious career in national politics. The manifesto that she and the other leaders agreed to, remembered in history as the Salt Lake Statement, is regarded today as one of the most important writings of the Abundance Revolution.

In the nation as a whole, the states’ lack of sovereignty over their own territory had indeed been scandalous. In 2014, for example, the federal government owned 57 percent of Utah, 84 percent of Nevada, and 69 percent of Sarah Palin’s Alaska. Indeed, Uncle Sam owned 47 percent of the land in the 11 Western states and about 28 of the total land of the US. Back in the 19th century, this federal ownership of land had begun innocently enough, for the simple reason that nobody else wanted the land; it had no economic value, unless it could be “reclaimed” by federal irrigation efforts.

Yet beginning in the 1970s, the federal government’s approach to land management changed dramatically. Whereas once Uncle Sam had supported development where possible, through dams and other kinds of infrastructure, the new federal policy was the opposite: The Greens, gaining control of federal policymaking during the 1970s, saw federal ownership of the land as an opportunity to stop any sort of development or economic growth.

And a key tool for the Greens was the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973. ESA represented a radical expansion of federal power: In the past, the national parks had been set aside to protect endangered species; yet after ESA was passed, the entire country became, in effect, a national park. As a result, in any location where activists could identify an “endangered species,” they could squelch development. And so enforcement of ESA became a kind of racket, in which clever biologists and litigators could team up to block any sort of development and take effective control of any land.

Yet as a reminder of the wisdom that power begets hubris and then nemesis, it was overreaching on the ESA’s power that led to the Battle of Bunkerville; Bundy and other ranchers in Nevada were pushed off their land to protect the desert tortoise, a species that could easily have been protected—if that were really the issue—in zoos or nature preserves. But instead, the Greens got greedy, and that led to the moment when Bundy drew his famous Line in the Desert. 

The repercussions in Nevada and nationwide were seismic in their long-run shock value. Most Nevadans, Westerners, and Americans came to see the folly of—and the poverty of—federal restrictiveness on resource development. As Kerry Picket, author of the classic history of that era, From Bunker Hill to Bunkerville: The Inside Story, observed later, “Everything started to change the moment that Cliven stood up for himself, his land, and his way of life.” Yes, great events came from small beginnings—in this case, a tortoise. (Indeed, the Nevada tortoise population is doing fine; sound management enables four-leggers and two-leggers not only to coexist together, but also to flourish.)

The third triggering incident came on April 18, 2014, when the Barack Obama administration announced that it was delaying, yet again, any decision on the Keystone Pipeline. This move was widely regarded as cynical pandering to a sect of Green billionaires, led by the infamous Tom Steyer of San Francisco. The Obama administration and many Democrats seemed happy enough to bow to Steyer’s wishes in return for campaign cash, but in this instance, the pandering was so flagrant that the decision blew up in the administration’s face. While the liberal media were happy with the Keystone decision, the legacy press was no longer powerful enough to sway public opinion. Instead, the struggle for public opinion was swayed by activists who took to alternative and social media to make the case in favor of Keystone—and against the Reign of Steyer.

One key activist of that era was Phil Kerpen, who launched an aggressive Twitter campaign, pounding away on the seeming corruption of the nexus of the Keystone decision and Green campaign contributions. As Wayne Allyn Root said many years later, “I couldn’t have spearheaded my investigation, let alone my presidential campaign, without Phil’s muckraking.” 

The fourth triggering event was America’s belated realization, during March and April 2014, that Russian leader Vladimir Putin was not a friend. The Obama administration had been notably slow to grasp the full implications of Putin’s incursion into Crimea and eastern Ukraine, but the rest of the world could see the need for an urgent campaign of energy independence from Russia. And that’s what happened: The 2016 presidential election, for example, is remembered as the Energy Election.

So in our review of the origins of the Abundance Revolution, we can cite three domestic events and one foreign event: first, the Battle of Bunkerville; second, the Salt Lake Statement; third, the Obama administration’s last failed attempt to block the Keystone Pipeline; and fourth, the Russian incursion into Ukraine and the beginning of Cold War II.

Yet we must also note a larger trend, which had been building for decades prior to the events of April 2014. And that trend was the greater scientific and technical knowledge that led to a deeper understanding of how to exploit natural resources and use them for ever-accelerating wealth creation.

We might recall that a similar effort in the West against federal control, the “Sagebrush Rebellion” of the late 1970s and early 1980s, had fired up and then fizzled. Looking back now at the Sagebrush Rebellion, we can see that the Rebels had the right idea, but the financial stakes were too low for them to succeed. That is, yes, there were timeless principles of a state’s sovereignty and freedom at issue, but most Americans of the 1970s and 1980s didn’t see that the issue of Western land was that big of a deal.

That lack of appreciation for the value of natural resources did not change, of course, until the fracking boom of the early 21st century. Once fracking started happening on a large scale, and once North Dakota grew to be one of the richest states in the union, people across the country began to realize that fracking could make them rich, too.

Still, it took a while for the political system to absorb the idea that America could be truly rich. In 2009, for example, President Obama launched a “stimulus” program for the economy that completely ignored the idea of expanding energy production—even as a study from the Congressional Research Service found that the US had the greatest energy resources of any country in the world; the study found that American possessed greater energy reserves than Saudi Arabia, China, and Canada combined

Yet the Obama administration, focused on “climate change,” chose to ignore this data; indeed, it did everything it could to oppose greater energy production. The administration instead pursued such nostrums as printing money through the “quantitative easing” monetary process.

Meanwhile, during the Obama presidency, Americans could see that North Dakota wasn’t unique in its energy abundance; it was simply early. News reports began to notice that huge reserves of energy were to be found all through the Midwest and Northeast, in California and everywhere offshore, everywhere, period.

In 2013, the Institute for Energy Research issued a report noting that the total value of oil and natural gas under federal lands and federal waters amounted to $128 trillion. In that era, $128 trillion was more than seven times the GDP of the US, more than 10 times the national debt held by the public, and more than 40 times annual federal revenues. A few observers took note of the report, suggesting policies to make use of that wealth, and yet most figures, in both parties, seemed not to notice the bonanza beneath their feet.

Why this lack of interest? Why this blindness to future gushers of wealth? Looking back to that hinge period, we can see that both major political parties were so heavily invested in their approach to economic and fiscal issues that they didn’t want to see any change at all.

The Democrats, firmly in the grip of their Malthusian wing, were simply not interested in seeing more energy production. It took several election cycles for them to realize that the wealth of Steyer and his Green allies was, in fact, a poisoned chalice.

The Republicans, meanwhile, although receptive to the idea of greater energy production, were slow to fully champion the idea, because they were locked into their priority of cutting federal spending; it seemed that the Abundance Revolution was a threat to their idea of shrinking government. And so it took time for Republicans to realize that rapidly enriching the private sector was a better way to “starve the beast,” at least on a relative basis, than the familiar frontal attack on entitlement spending. It was the prospect of tens of trillions in new wealth in the private sector that eventually motivated the GOP to embrace a truly comprehensive “all of the above” energy strategy. 

In addition, both parties contained a group of well-meaning centrists who worried about “climate change.” Half a century later, the debate over whether climate change was happening back then has never been settled, but as we know, the climate-change issue was mooted by the Carbon Sequestration Revolution of the teens and twenties. And so we could freely burn not only natural gas and oil but also, in addition, coal—and coal added many trillions more to national wealth. 

In other words, technology once again changed the game: Today, when we think of carbon dioxide, we think of such wondrous carbon sinks as high-rises built of carbon nanotubes, thousand-yard-high “Avatar Trees,” and the new Carbon Islands archipelago in the Pacific, which now vies with the Hawaiian Islands as a resort destination.

At about the same time, in 2014, as the US was waking up to the crisis of scarcity, as well as the enticing prospect of energy abundance, Americans also began to realize that we faced other shortfalls, too. 

In particular, we needed to secure our access to Rare Earth Elements (REE). For most of human history, such exotic REE as Lanthanum, Scandium, and Ytrrium were just mineral curiosities. Yet by the late 20th century, human ingenuity had found vital uses for REE in the new information economy. We found that it simply wasn’t possible to run computer chips, lasers, batteries, and other advanced technology without REE.

Yet to our national consternation, we came to realize that the Greens had been drastically restricting domestic REE production, just as they had restricted domestic energy production. In both instances, vast wealth had been locked under federal lands, and not released until big pro-growth political change came to Washington, DC. Just as we didn’t want our allies to be dependent on Russia for energy production, we didn’t want ourselves to be dependent on China for REE.

Today, America is not only exponentially richer than it was 50 years ago, it is also safer and more secure. Powered by cheap energy, we make things here at home, and we use our brains to keep finding more energy, more REE, and more wealth. We enjoy all the wonders that we once thought we could not afford, from first-rate infrastructure and generous old-age pensions to organ regeneration to minimal taxes—even a budget surplus. We are protected by missile defense, even as adventurous Americans embark on deep-space travel.

Yes, it’s been a great half-century for America, and we owe much of our good fortune to the bravery of Cliven Bundy.



Powered by WPeMatico