Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Declaring Our Independence From Environmental Tyranny

Energy is essential to our way of life and our economy. Without energy, nothing happens. The availability of abundant, cheap energy has given us the highest standard of living in the world and enabled our economy to generate wealth on a scale the world has never before seen. Cheap energy is a blessing to us all.

My father and grandfather were coal miners in Virginia and West Virginia. My father was born in Dante, Virginia in the early nineteen hundreds when Dante was a booming coal town. He never graduated from high school. He met my mother when she went to Dante as a schoolteacher. After getting married, they went to Caretta, West Virginia where he worked at the mine for twelve years. They moved to Narrows when he got a job at the Virginian Railway power plant there, which is where I was born.

I graduated with Distinction from the University of Virginia with a degree in electrical engineering, and went on to get a Master’s Degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. I entered the work force right at the beginning of the computer revolution, ending up in the high tech Mecca of Silicon Valley where I ultimately became Vice President of a software company.

After my first year in college, I was fortunate enough to get a summer job at AEP’s Glyn Lyn power plant. It was my first real job, and I was very glad to have it since I needed the money. I was paid $2.05 an hour, and thought I was raking it in.

The environment is now cleaner than it has ever been. To cite just one example, AEP has reduced pollution from its power plants by 80%.

But no matter how much progress is made, no matter how much the environment is cleaned up, it’s never enough. Restrictions must be made ever tighter and new bogeymen must be found.

So, the EPA has issued new emission rules for coal-fired power plants, and AEP will have to close five plants at a cost of 600 jobs and another ten to fifteen percent increase in electricity rates on top of the sixty-six percent increase that has occurred over the past few years.

The environmental extremists are overjoyed, just ecstatic, that finally those plants will be closed and electricity rates can go up. Diana Christopulos, president of the Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition, has been quoted as saying, ”This is truly good news ----“ . The Roanoke Times could barely conceal its glee in an editorial on June 16.

Another local resident made a fool of himself recently in a screed against Rep. Morgan Griffith. This person makes the absurd argument that new EPA rules will actually create hundreds of thousand of new jobs. Closing power plants will create jobs? Also in his piece, he rants about toxic pollutants, spewing, poisoning our environment, etc. But the picture of the Glen Lyn power plant included with his article shows a pristine surrounding environment. The air is clean, the river is clean, there are lots of green trees and lush vegetation, right there beside the power plant that is so terrifying to him! Comical.

Environmental extremists are tyrants. No matter what the cost, they demand that we drive cars that they approve of; that we use forms of energy that they approve of; that we use light bulbs, water faucets, washing machines, windows, etc. that they approve of; that we use public transportation; that we live where they dictate (in sustainable “hubs”); and it goes on and on. They arrogantly tell us that we are guilty, that we have been “complicit”.

Even worse, if we don’t willingly follow their mandates, they try to use the government (EPA) to force their environmental tyranny upon us.

We Virginians have a long and storied history of standing up to tyrants, going all the way back to the American Revolution. Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Our state flag shows a depiction of Liberty vanquishing Tyranny, with the words, ”Sic Semper Tyrannis”. “Thus Always to Tyrants”.

I am tired of sanctimonious, self-righteous, pointy-headed environmental do-gooder elitists who live in ivory towers telling the rest of us how to live our lives because they said so.

It’s time we Virginians started dealing with the environmental tyrants the same way we have dealt with all tyrants who have wanted to take away our freedoms. We must now declare our independence from them, and send them packing.

It starts here and now.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

2012 Republican Strategy Starts To Take Shape

At a three day party rally in New Orleans (June 16 – 18), a Republican strategy for the 2012 Presidential election started solidifying: Hang the economy, unemployment, federal budget deficit, out-of-control spending, Obamacare, stimulus, TARP, bailouts, and unending wars around Obama’s neck like albatrosses and let them rot there until November, 2012. This will all be put against a backdrop of patriotism and American exceptionalism.

Much to the chagrin of the liberal media elites and the Democrats, the Republican candidates for the party’s nomination in 2012 are not attacking each other, but rather are so far unanimously focused on attacking Obama. The Republicans’ opposition are praying that the Republicans will have a vicious street fight for the nomination so that whoever emerges will be bloodied to the point of being a weak candidate. It does not appear as though that will happen.

Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi but not a presidential candidate, said that the 2012 election will be about Obama’s record. He said bigger government means a smaller economy. On energy, he pointed out that energy is 100% of the American economy, but yet Obama wants to drive up the price of the domestic supply. He also called for party unity, saying whoever the Republican nominee turns out to be, he/she will be many times better than Obama. His final advice for Republicans between now and November 2012 was to remember that, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing”, meaning Obama’s record.

Herman Cain played off of the “I have a dream” theme, saying he was taught to believe in God, yourself, and America. He took a jab at the media by saying that the people are going to elect the next President, not the media. He focused on the economy and “common sense solutions”. He recounted that the Founding Fathers gave us a new form of government based upon the exceptional idea that our human rights come from God, not from the king or the government, and that now it is up to us to be the “Defending Fathers” to preserve that.

From Michele Bachman we heard that peace comes from strength. She also pointed out that the per capita share of the national debt has gone from $35,000 to $46,000 so far with Obama, a 31% increase. She talked about fiscal conservatism and social conservatism, and noted that she had founded the Congressional Tea Party Caucus.

Rick Santorum is in a class by himself. He talked about the economy, as did all the others. He also explained how the Marcellus share in Pennsylvania and elsewhere contains the largest natural reserve in the world. But after talking about those and some other specific issue, he moved into something like a spiritual realm. He started taking in a whisper, and the room became so quiet that you could literary hear a pin drop. He said things like, “In 2012, we don’t need a President we can believe in, we need a President who believes in us”. “Passionate” is not the right word to describe him, although he is that. Maybe ethereal. I don’t think being President is his destiny, but he does seem to have one.

Ron Paul called for abolishing the Federal Reserve.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich promised to end the 80 year rule of the left in the United States.

Former Louisiana Governor and current bank CEO Buddy Roemer decried money in politics. He wants to downsize government (e.g., eliminate the Department of Energy), reduce spending, and enact the fair tax. He also talked about “greedy” corporations, a little odd juxtaposed with his other comments. He is a declared candidate for the presidential nomination, but is given little chance.

Jeff Landry, Representative from Louisiana and not a candidate for the nomination, said, “As government expands, liberty contracts.”

Texas Governor Rick Perry is not a declared candidate but will probably soon be. He emphasized his work as the longest tenured Governor of Texas ever. He lambasted Obama, at one point saying, “The arrogance of the Obama administration is an affront to every freedom-loving American and to every private sector job in this country.”

Mitt Romney, considered by some to be the frontrunner for the nomination, did not attend. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman did not attend either; he declared his candidacy after the conference.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Palin Derangement Syndrome

She’s baaaack!

The effect that Sarah Palin continues to have on liberals and the media elites is astonishing. They are obsessed with her. They are moths drawn to light; they can’t help themselves from following her around even though they detest her. It’s worse than that. It’s gotten to the point of being psychotic, as though they are possessed by some demon that forces them to do irrational and downright foolish things. I have a vision of them rolling on the floor, sputtering: “Puh --- puh --- puh ---- Palinnnnnnnnnnn, why dost thou torment us?” Sarah stretches out her arm in that signature wave of hers and says, “Media, get thee behind me.”

Mrs. Palin has been on a bus tour recently. As of this writing, she has not announced that she is running for office, but she is drawing huge crowds everywhere. And the media has flipped out.

Palin’s aides have refused to publish the tour’s itinerary, forcing anyone trying to cover it to engage in a Keystone Cops routine of chasing her bus down the freeway in order to be there when she gets out and says something. At one point, fifty (yes, fifty) reporters pressed her unsuccessfully for details of future stops. Mrs. Palin said she didn’t think she owed anything to the media. That’s putting it diplomatically, considering the despicable manner in which the media has treated her and her family for the last three years.

Sarah has now completely turned the tables and is actually playing with them. The bus tour circus may have reached its apogee in Gettysburg when Mrs. Palin used the tour bus as a decoy to lure a bunch of reporters to the back door of her hotel while she went quietly out of another entrance to visit the battlefield. The bus, meanwhile, was driving around in circles, followed by a caravan of reporters and others. Eventually, Sarah did get on the bus and headed for Dillsburg with media vehicles in hot pursuit. As she neared Philadelphia, the media caravan still following, a couple of local news helicopters flew overhead to film the spectacle.

This is from the very same media which called her an idiot, stupid, ignorant, a yahoo, etc. If any of that is true, why do they care where she goes or what she says?

MSNBC’s Martin Bashir made a complete fool of himself recently when he told viewers that Palin’s bus tour is illegal because the bus has American flags painted on it! He really said that, on national TV. You see, there is some federal law that says the U.S. flag can’t be used in advertising, or something like that. No more Fourth of July fireworks sales, I guess. According to Mr. Bashir’s logic, the flag will also have to banned from all political rallies from now on since they raise money at those events.

That’s what seeing Saran Palin riding around in a bus painted with images of the Stars and Stripes does to the media elites; they turn into blithering idiots.

There’s more. On, Kasie Hunt published a piece that lambastes Palin and her bus tour because the two SUV’s Palin uses locally, get ready , “--- flew right past a flashing sign informing them they were going 45 in a 35 mph zone.” That’s right, the bus tour is a rolling menace. According to the Politico, it’s horrors include speeding; making sudden lane changes; not giving turn signals; almost hitting a biker; running stop lights; creating traffic jams. Strangely enough, amidst all of this hell on wheels from Mrs. Palin’s bus tour, the police have issued no tickets.

Chris Matthews in his June 2 “Hardball” show on MSNBC (Why are so many of these nut cases on MSNBC?) said that Sarah Palin is the most divisive figure since Abraham Lincoln “caused” the Civil War. Matthews fulminated that “Sarah Palin went right into New Hampshire, serving as a human grenade -----.” This is “Palin Derangement Syndrome” on full display.

Here’s how good Sarah Palin has become at this political game. One hour before Mitt Romney made his official announcement, in New Hampshire, that he was running for President, Sarah Palin was in Romney’s home state of Massachusetts criticizing Romneycare, one of Romney’s signature achievements as governor of that state. Then Saran Barracuda, the Pit Bull with lipstick, “went right into New Hampshire”, as Matthews put it, to annihilate Romney’s big announcement. And she isn’t even running.

There was a large article by Kimberly Strassel in the June 3 edition of the Wall Street Journal on Sarah Palin. Ms. Strassel goes on at length about how Mrs. Palin has not taken advantage of the time since 2008 to “redefine herself”. She hasn’t boned up on the issues; she hasn’t educated herself; she hasn’t built a “brilliant” team; she hasn’t accomplished anything (never mind that million seller book and TV series).

They’re talking about Palin on ABC, where Good Morning America correspondent John Berman dismissed her bus tour as a “magical mystery bus”, and went on to say she makes Romney appear as a “more safe, a more secure, a more reasonable candidate”. Let’s see, now, was that before or after she blew up his announcement?

She ate pizza with The Donald. She went to a clambake in New Hampshire. Who knows where she will pop up next? It’s all so terrifying! No one is safe! Aughhhhhhhh!

Here’s what we learn from all of this. Either the liberal media is deranged when it comes to Sarah Palin, or they discern something in her that they see as a serious threat to their anointed candidates.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sabato's Crystal Ball

This is interesting, but keep in mind that the author is a liberal Democrat. Copy and paste the link.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Diversity of the Republican Party

The presidential campaign season is upon us. On the Republican side, the field is crowded and wide open. Watching and reading about all of these contenders, it struck me that this is a very diverse group of people. And the more I researched the candidates, the more intriguing it became. There are some top tier candidates, so to speak, but no “crowned princes/princesses”. Many of the candidates represent what is best about America: Ordinary people who have achieved extraordinary things; people who through their God-given talents and their own hard work, have gone far in life. Some of the candidates are lawyers, of course, but we also have everything from the college professor to the air force pilot to the doctor to the beauty queen to the real estate mogul to the corporate CEO to the Godfather of pizza (whose mother was a cleaning lady, by the way).

Here is a synopsis of the background of most of the candidates or potential candidates.

Mitt Romney (64)
Romney was born and raised in Michigan. Romney is a corporate executive turned politician. He is the son of a corporate CEO and former governor of Michigan. He is highly educated and very successful in the corporate world, and he is quite wealthy. He is a Mormon and is married with four children.

Romney ran for U.S. Senate against Ted Kennedy and lost in 1994. In 2002, he was elected Governor of Massachusetts. He improved the state’s finances via spending cuts and increases in fees. One of his signature accomplishments as governor was the landmark Massachusetts health care reform, which provided near-universal health access via subsidies and state-level mandates.

In 2008, Romney ran for the Republican Presidential nomination and did well, but dropped out (McCain became the nominee).

Tim Pawlenty (51)
Pawlenty is a lawyer who got into politics at an early age and has been there ever since. He has lived his whole life in Minnesota. He is married with two daughters. He was raised as a Roman Catholic but converted to Evangelical Christian, probably due to his wife.

His career includes Eagan City Planning Commission, Eagan City Council (at the age of 28), state Representative (four terms), and Governor of Minnesota (two terms). He eliminated the state budget deficit by cutting spending and using earmarked funds. In 2007 and 2008, he served as the chairman of the National Governor’s Conference.

Pawlenty was closely involved with McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008, and began early steps for his own run in late 2009.

Rick Santorum (53)
Santorum was born in Winchester, Virginia, and grew up in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. He is married with seven children. His wife also had another child born prematurely that lived only two hours. He is Roman Catholic.

Santorum has BA, MBA, and JD degrees. He practiced law for four years in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania before being elected to the House of Representatives in 1990. In 1994, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, at the age of 36. In 2006, he failed to win re-election in an election fraught with much controversy.

Sarah Palin (47)
Palin was born in Idaho but her family moved to Alaska when she was a few months old, and she’s been there ever since. In 1984, she came in third in the Miss Alaska beauty pageant. She attended a number of colleges and community colleges, ultimately receiving a BA from the University of Idaho in 1987. She worked briefly as a sportscaster and sports reporter. In 1988, she eloped with her high school sweetheart; they now have five children.

Starting in 1992, she was elected to the Wasilla City Council twice, then she was elected mayor of Wasilla for two terms. From 2003 to 2006, she held various appointed positions in Alaskan government. In 2006, she became the state’s first female governor and the youngest governor in Alaska’s history. In 2008, she was the Republican nominee for Vice President on the McCain ticket.

Her book Going Rogue has sold more than two million copies.

Herman Cain (45)
Cain was born in Memphis, Tennessee and raised in Georgia. His mother was a cleaner and his father was a chauffer. Cain received a BA in math and a Master’s degree in computer science while working full time for the Department of the Navy. He worked for Coca-Cola, Pillsbury, Burger King, and ended his corporate career as CEO of Godfather’s Pizza. After turning Godfather’s around, he lead a group of investors that bought Godfather’s Pizza. He was a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and it’s Chairman. In 1996, he became CEO of the National Restaurant Association. He hosted The Herman Cain Show on talk radio until February, 2011.

He is married with two children, and is a Southern Baptist.

Ron Paul (75)
Ron Paul is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and graduate of Gettysburg College and the Duke University School of Medicine. Paul served as a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force from 1963 until 1968, during the Vietnam War. He worked as an obstetrician and gynecologist in Texas in the 1960s and 1970s. He was first elected to Congress in 1978. He has the most conservative voting record of any member of Congress since 1937. He has run for President three times. He has been described as a conservative, Constitutionalist, and Libertarian.

He is married with five children, and is a Baptist. His son, Rand Paul, was elected Senator from Kentucky in 2010.

Newt Gingrich (67)
Gingrich is a college professor turned politician. He was born in Harrisburg, PA in a military family. The family moved a number of times while he was growing up; he graduated from high school in Columbus , Georgia.

Gingrich has been married three times. He was a Southern Baptist but converted to Catholicism.

Gingrich represented Georgia’s 6th congressional district from 1979 to 1999. He served as Speaker of the House form 1995 to 1999. In 1995, Times Magazine selected him as “Person of the Year” for his role in leading the Republican Revolution in the house, ending 40 years of the Democrat Party being the majority. In the 1994 campaign season, Gingrich came up with the “Contract With America”, which contained ten policies that Republicans promised to bring to a vote on the House floor if they won the election, which they did. Congress fulfilled Gingrich's Contract promise to bring all ten of the Contract's issues to a vote within the first 100 days of the session, even though most legislation was initially held up in the Senate. Many aspects of the proposal were implemented in subsequent legislation.

By 1998, Gingrich had become a highly visible and polarizing figure in the national public's eye, due to political ethics lapses and events in his personal life .Gingrich announced on November 6, 1998 that he would not only stand down as Speaker of the House, but would leave the House as well. He had been handily reelected to an 11th term in that election, but declined to take his seat. He has since maintained a career as a political commentator, public speaker, and author.

Rick Perry (61)
Perry is a fifth generation Texan. He grew up on a ranch in West Texas and attended Texas A&M. After graduation, he was commissioned into the Air Force and flew C-130’s in the U.S., Middle East, and Europe. In 1977, he returned to Texas and went in to the cotton farming business with his father.

Perry served in the Texas legislature as a Democrat starting in 1984. In 1989, he switched to the Republican Party. He also was elected as Texas Agricultural Commissioner, and Lieutenant Governor. He became Governor in 2000 when George Bush resigned to become President. Perry holds all records for Texas gubernatorial tenure. He was elected to full terms in 2002, 2006 and 2010, an unprecedented feat in Texas political history. He served as Chairman of the Republican Governors Association in 2008.

Perry is married to his high school sweetheart; they have two children. He is a Methodist.

Michele Bachman (55)
Bachman was born Michele Marie Amble in Waterloo, Iowa into a family of “Norwegian Lutheran Democrats”. After her parents divorced, she was raised by her mother. She graduated from Winona State University and received law degrees from Oral Roberts University and William & Mary. She worked as a tax attorney for the IRS from 1988 to 1993. She left that position to become a full time mother.

Bachman has been a tea party, pro-life, and defense of marriage activist. In 2000, Bachman defeated an 18 year incumbent to be elected to the Minnesota Senate. Since 2007, she has served in the U.S. House of Representatives. She is a founder of the House Tea Party Caucus.

Donald Trump (64)
Trump is the fourth of five children of Fred Trump, a real-estate tycoon and developer based in New York City. Donald was inspired to follow his father into real-estate development, and began working on projects for his father's real-estate firm while still in college. Upon his graduation from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in1968, Trump formally joined his father's company, Elizabeth Trump & Son. He took the helm in 1971 and renamed it The Trump Organization.
His extravagant lifestyle and outspoken manner have made him a celebrity for years.

Trump has done many real estate deals in New York City and elsewhere. He saw early success, but then ran into some financial and legal difficulties. These matters were worked through and he has had a resurgence in the last few years.

His television show “The Apprentice” is highly successful; he is now one of the highest paid TV personalities. In 2007, Trump received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Trump has dropped out of the race, but then said he might get back in if no “suitable” candidate emerges.

There are others I haven’t mentioned: Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City and the 13th richest person in America; Mitch Daniels, Governor of Indiana (who has dropped out of the race); Ron Hunstman, Governor of Utah; Paul Ryan, the man who tackled the federal budget.

This race is going to be fun ----- let ‘er rip!!!!!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Too Big To Fail: What A Joke!

I can’t be the only one growing tired of the constant barrage of the use of the word “crisis” by elected officials and the media, especially when it comes to issues regarding our economy and future prosperity. Let’s consider what “We The People” have been through, and been told, over the last three years.

George W. Bush came to us first during the financial “crisis” and told us that the banking system in the United States was on the verge of collapse. His advisors, and talking heads on television, began to tell us that if we didn’t cough up a lot of cash, then the system would collapse and we would enter into a second Great Depression. Because of all the bad loans on the books, and financial companies leveraging their assets to ridiculous levels (mostly due to subprime mortgages), and terrible business practices the term, “too big to fail” was introduced into our daily lives. We were told that if companies that had taken on too much risk were allowed to fail our economy would collapse as the media painted pictures of Depression-era bread lines.

So then President Bush and his advisors told us that we would have to pay for a program called TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) to the tune of about $700 billion, you know…to bail out those companies that are inefficient and make bad decisions. In 2008 the good folks on Main Street that pay taxes were already hard pressed with a slowing economy, and now this hit the fan. GM and Chrysler were also collapsing because of bad decisions by management regardless of how many cars they sold. AIG was on the verge of going under and two of Wall Street’s legendary firms, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, were the first two to officially close their doors. That was enough to scare Wall Street, Washington, and many investors. The stock market collapsed about 50% from the fall of 2007.

We were told that the taxpayer would probably make money from the massive bailouts over time as the economy recovered and the “toxic” assets on bank and corporate balance sheets were sold. And the government may have recouped a big portion already, but I don’t see an equivalent amount of tax cuts going to Americans. The same tax structure was voted on to be kept in place. However, Neil Barofsky, Special Inspector General for the TARP fund went on record to say, “Inadequate oversight and insufficient information about what companies are doing with the money leaves the program open to fraud, including conflicts of interest facing fund managers, collusion between participants and vulnerabilities to money laundering.” All of a sudden I didn’t feel so confident that the American people would ever know the truth about whether they lost money or made money. Even if they made money, I don’t see Washington willing to cut taxes one bit to send that money back to the taxpayer that foots all the bills.

Then when we supposedly got out of the mess of the bailouts President Obama and other elected officials quickly sold us on why we needed to pass a nearly $1 trillion dollar stimulus bill to pump up the economy. Financial analyst and economist hit the airwaves telling us that if we didn’t pass the bill then the unemployment rate would skyrocket. We had just gone from one crisis to another. And if we passed the stimulus (an amount never heard of before) then we would keep our national unemployment rate under 8%. In hindsight that is completely laughable. The rate went to well over 10% (by Washington’s calculations) and still remains above 9% now. Many economists will tell you that the real unemployment rate, when you consider the underemployed and those that have stopped looking for work, is closer to 15%. I agree with that number, although it might even be higher. What was supposed to kick start the economy only ended up giving it a light shove.

So after expanding the debt level enormously, officials in Washington, primarily with the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department, told us that the economy needed a strong jolt, so they began the cycle of quantitative easing. I highlighted this topic in my previous commentaries on debt, and spelled out the dangers of such action and how it has failed when tried in other countries such as post WWI Germany and more recently in Argentina.

The second round of the FED’s quantitative easing is coming to an end, and it only cost you an additional $600 billion. It has been an absolute failure. Did it create some jobs? Yes. Analysts (according to a article) estimate that it helped to create about 700,000 jobs at a cost of about $850,000 each. Does that sound like a success to you? After all, you pay taxes and you have to eventually foot the bill for this, too. The quantitative easing also threw a lot of cheap money out there that has propped up the stock market, but not the economy. It has certainly helped to increase inflation despite what those at the Federal Reserve tell you. We were told that it was vital to do this in order to jump start the economy. How’s the economy looking from your point of view?

This summer we’ll be upon another instance where the word “crisis” will be tossed around. This time it will be over the budget. I’d bet a nickel that our elected officials will cry wolf and insist on raising the debt ceiling again. The only problem is that they will never stop. Either they make tough choices now and tackle serious issues, or at some point in the near future those around the world will be talking about America’s debt the way we are talking about Greece…a default and total economic collapse.

J.C. Schweingrouber, Portfolio Manager
Virginia Financial Innovation Corporation
(276) 623-2654