Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ahead of His Time

Having a summer cold is awful. But if there’s one advantage, it’s that you get to catch up on your reading. Currently, I’m working on White House Ghosts: The Presidents and Their Speechwriters.”

It’s a pretty left-handed book, being that the author, Robert Schlesinger, is the son of JFKspeechwriter, Arthur Schlesinger. Still, I was surprised at the fair treatment he gives Richard Nixon. Every other chapter applauds the Democrats and laughs at the Republicans.

However, Schlesinger writes his chapters on Nixon with a twinge of sadness. When it came to speechwriting and keeping on top of his speechwriters, Nixon knew his stuff. He and Lyndon Johnson had the misfortune to follow in the considerable speechwriting footsteps of Kennedy.

Kennedy and Ted Sorenson were practically roommates, so that Sorenson knew what Kennedy was thinking before Kennedy knew what Kennedy was thinking. The first rule of thumb among presidential speechwriters is that the writer must give the president all the credit for the speech.

The book is full of contrasting presidential styles, backbiting and sniping among the speechwriters, and plenty of good tips for anyone who finds themselves in the position of writing speeches. Above all, the person giving the speech must have buy-in or the speech won’t work.

Every president after FDR found themselves fumbling for the Big Idea, that phrase that would serve as the president’s signature policy. Obviously, FDR’s was the New Deal. Presidents since then had struggled for that signature. Some wore well with the press – The Great Society. And others, with the American Public.

Nixon didn’t like the idea of talking down to the American people. In spite of being, or maybe because he was, a lawyer, he strove for concepts that average people would understand. “Joe Six-Pack” he liked to call them.

He was preparing a speech in 1969 about a proposed build-up in Vietnam. He would have to ask for the support of Americans already tired of the war. During the 1968 campaign, he had spoke about “quiet Americans” and the “quiet majority.” Vice Presidential candidate Spiro Agnew declared that it was “time for America’s silent majority to stand up for its rights.”

Nixon would use the phrase in his Nov. 3 Vietnam War speech. He would talk about ending the war and winning the peace. But it was his reference – in lower case letters in his notes – to the “silent majority” that elicited 50,000 telegrams and 30,000 letters.

The reaction came as a surprise to Nixon. “It was one thing to make a rhetorical appeal to the Silent Majority – it was another actually to hear from them.” If he’d known it was going to catch on that way, he would have put the phrase in capital letters, he said.

He was predicted to win the 1972 presidential election, which he did, by a landslide, only making the whole business of Watergate even more incomprehensible to the Silent Majority he had championed.

The burglars, or “plumbers”, had broken into the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters allegedly in search of proof of foreign contributors to the Democrat presidential campaign. All America really heard was that these guys had broken in and that the President tried to cover up for them (his only actual crime) when, in the opinion of the Silent Majority, he ought to have burned the tapes and let the whole lot of them swing. They’d been trying to blackmail him for more money to keep silent.

It was a sad and foolish end to an otherwise decent presidency, from a president who had a good sense of speechwriting and of the mood of the average American. The Democrats and their propaganda machine – with a good deal of help from Nixon himself – got rid of Nixon.

They didn’t find it quite so easy to get rid of the Silent Majority, though. Seven years later, we would elect a popular, Conservative president. A transition in radio broadcasting from the AM band to the FM left a void which conservative talk radio quickly filled, led by the mighty Rush Limbaugh.

Then cable television began to mature, new enough and underestimated enough for at least one conservative news outlet to take hold. Finally, the Internet was born. The Liberals smugly assumed this was completely their territory, that “older” Americans would never catch on.

Now they’re trying to play catch-up, using their current bureaucratic powers to restrict the content on cable and on the Internet. Kind of like closing the door after the horse gets out of the barn.

I remember when Spiro Agnew used the phrase “silent majority’. I was about nine years old. I was 13 when the Watergate break-in occurred. I remembered Nixon’s words about a New American Revolution, too. I kept them in mind when I stood up with some other students to protest a communist history teacher’s hijacking of our American History course.

Watergate put an end to what might otherwise have been an admirable political career. It didn’t silence the Silent Majority Nixon envisioned, though, or the New American Revolution they would lead.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

EPA - Environmental Politics Agency

Thanks to Michelle Malkin’s column and her reader for revealing the details about the Dutch plan to contain the oil spill.

I knew it. I just knew the EPA was somehow involved in the delay, that they had some idiotic objection to the containment. Billions of gallons of oil are flooding into the Gulf of Mexico and they’re worried about some minor seepage.

Well, guess what? There was an another oil spill from another Gulf rig about a month before this one. They capped it with a dome. However, there is some minor seepage coming from that cap, as tight as they were able to make it.

As I’ve said earlier, oil companies have been at this business for years. The last thing they want is to lose billions of gallons of liquid gold. Forget about oil-drenched sea lions and pelicans. Let’s assume they’re heartless, capitalist monsters. They still don’t want to lose all those profits and they’re going to do whatever it takes to preserve it.

The government on the other hand, not so much. For them the ends justifies the means. While they’re pitchmen are showing us helpless water fowl, the sharks are circling the hapless – or not so hapless, remember the Goldman Sachs executives during the financial “crisis” – oil company executives. My former employer, Exxon, for its part, is not taking this lying down, and good for them.

What are a few water fowl when you’re planning on conquering the entire planet and transforming it to your socially-engineered agenda? What better way to conquer than to claim that capitalist monsters are “exploiting” its resources and polluting its atmosphere?

Rush Limbaugh said on his radio show yesterday that he didn’t think there was any sabotage involved. Certainly, there’s no evidence of it. Sabotage would be pretty difficult to prove that far down in the ocean. But there was plenty of sabotage going on in South America. Saboteurs were openly blowing up oil pipelines and refineries down there, all in the name of social justice. Nigeria was another hotbed of sabotage.

There was a report from some pre-Homeland Security Department that showed a bar graph of terrorist activity around the world, by continent. North America was low. Europe was low. Asia (the Middle East), well it was up there. And then there was South America. It was the Mount Everest of terrorist activity, towering above the other continents and the activity centered around two issues – drugs and oil.

Then ask yourself what other continent shares the Gulf of Mexico with North America.

Transportation is one of the key control factors the Communists/Socialists/Progressives want to dominate. They know oil is the pivotal ingredient in transportation. They know perfectly well that, for the time being, the internal combustion engine is the prime mover of society, particularly its commercial component.

The market will switch to an “alternative” energy source when it’s good and ready and not before. That won’t happen until the energy source can be proven efficient, plentiful, viable, and reliable.

Someday some future scientists may find a way to harness the power of the wind and the sun, in an efficient manner, invent a way to store it, and manufacture an engine that can be powered by it, and deliver it to homes and businesses to use as heat and electricity.

Only the government wants to be in control of that power source, and there’s the real problem. The government shouldn’t be in control of anything. The only fair way to distribute energy is through the free market. The minute the government becomes involved, politics, corruption, and bureaucracy follow, limiting the very progressive they’ve charged the scientists with inventing. Look again at wow many days it took before the EPA finally allowed the Dutch to come in with their container ships.

Obama has virtually shut down the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. We have to feed the poor first, he says. That’s the job of charities, not the government. If NASA were a free market entity, not only would we have factories on the moon by now, but in a few generations, we’d probably be examining shuttle schedules to the nearest star.

Obama is determined that America will no longer be the greatest nation on the earth. It’s time we threw this albatross overboard. There’s nothing we can do about him right now of course. Impeachment isn’t really a viable course. But we can get rid of his Congressional enablers in November. That should clip his socialist wings until we can throw him overboard in 2012.

Once we can disencumber ourselves of all these big government bureaucracies (and if you want a definition of Big Government, that’s what it means – bureaucracies) holding us back, like the EPA, America can get back to work being the greatest nation on earth.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pouring Money onto Troubled Waters

There have been countless oil spills since oil drilling began. In those years, the industry has learned a lot about containment. No matter how deep the well, the water still has to come to the surface and that’s where containment happens. An unprecedented number of gallons of oil have gushed into the Gulf. But then again, it’s been an unprecedented number of days since anything was done about containing the spill on the surface.

Burning off the oil was ruled out and now there’s too much oil for the process to be of any use. Containment ships were sent back due to paperwork. This has been going on since April 20th. Today is June 16th.

“We’re going to make BP pay,” Obama bravely vowed last night. The White House is demanding that the company pay into an escrow account, controlled by government, to pay for the economic costs of the spill.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

The President suggests that BP suspend its dividend, which is crucial to the retirement of thousands of shareholders. BP may decide it is prudent to suspend its dividend while it gets a better handle on its ultimate liability. But the White House has no legal basis to compel such a decision. Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress are preparing to lift their own $75 million liability cap and apply that retroactively to BP, another move of dubious legality.
No wonder Britain's Prime Minister and other officials are alarmed about the fate of one of their country's foremost corporations. This is the kind of treatment that Americans would protest if it were applied to U.S. companies by Venezuela or Russia.
The idea is for BP to turn its assets over to a fund administered by an "independent" trustee who would decide what are legitimate damage claims from Gulf residents and businesses. Senate Democrats have graciously advised BP to start its payments to the fund at $20 billion.
The White House knows it has no legal authority to demand such a corporate ATM card, but it is counting on public anger to coerce BP to go along. The White House also knows BP is currently operating under the Oil Pollution Act, a piece of legislation passed in 1990 by a Democrat Congress.
A comprehensive response to the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, the law was the product of 15 months of Congressional work and earned nearly unanimous bipartisan support. The bill made polluting oil companies responsible for all containment and clean-up costs. The law also established a claims process, which requires that companies compensate businesses or individuals harmed by oil spills.

BP has more than 600 claims personnel working to pay fishermen and others that have suffered economic damage. It has vowed to pay all "legitimate" claims and has worked through 20,000 of 42,000 submitted so far, at a cost of $53 million. BP has also promised it will not limit its payments to the Oil Pollution Act's $75 million cap on these damages, and last month it announced it would hire an independent mediator to review claims. Any claimant denied payment has the right to sue for redress under the law, which means BP has an incentive to get these payouts right.

By contrast, a government-administered fund more or less guarantees a more politicized payment process. The escrow administrator will be chosen by the White House, and as such would be influenced by the Administration's political goals. Those goals would include payments to those harmed by the Administration's own six-month deep water drilling ban. That reckless policy will soon put thousands of Gulf Coast residents out of work, but the White House knows that BP isn't liable under current law for those claims. The escrow account is an attempt to tap BP's funds by other means to pay the costs of Mr. Obama's own policy blunder.

Every $1 spent to pay for damages caused by the moratorium is also $1 less available for the oil-spill victims for which this money was intended. And that's before other interest groups popular with Democrats, such as the plaintiffs bar, plead their cases to the escrow fund's King Solomon.

The President managed to turn the Deepwater Disaster a commercial for his cap and trade agenda, accusing us of being “addicted” to oil. Only now has he begun to talk about repairing the breach in the well. Now that the Gulf Coast is thoroughly coated in oil is he allowing sand berms to be built and container ships to come into contain the oil. Now that he is in control of the damage control and has container legislation in place to soak up all that nice oil money from British Petroleum.

The best way to avoid a disaster of this kind is to not elect legislators who have a vested, financial interest in climate change.  We need to wean ourselves from politicians addicted to our tax money.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Clean Energy, Dirty Politics

“It's just unconscionable what is being done to the once great engine of freedom .” Rush Limbaugh

Americans are troubled and angered by the sight of oil-drenched pelicans along the Gulf of Mexico, as they should be. What should trouble them more is how unnecessary such a dismaying sight was. They should be asking many angry questions, particularly about the oversight of an oil company that contributed so much money to this president’s campaign.

The Media sounds a clarion call as though this were the first oil spill to ever occur, barring the unusual incident of the Exxon Valdez. They tell us no one knows what to do because no one has ever faced a disaster like this.

But there have been other oil spills, particularly back in the 1960s along the California coast. The Torrey Canyon oil spill (an oil tanker accident) off the English coast was another. In fact, there have been quite a number of disasters.

Several months before the Exxon Valdez incident, the Canadian oil tanker Odyssey suffered an explosion and sank 700 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia, spilling 132,157 tons (43 million gallons of oil) into the ocean, four times as much oil as the Valdez spilled. Luckily for the environment, though not so lucky for the crew, the ship caught fire before it sank in bad weather, burning off most of the oil. The rest was dispersed across the Atlantic. Only belatedly did BP try to burn off the oil from Deepwater Horizon.

In December 1976, the Argo Merchant, loaded with 7,700,000 US gallons of heating, sailed for Boston from Venezuela. The ship carried two unqualified crew as helmsmen, a broken gyrocompass, inadequate charts, and an inaccurate radio direction finder. On December 15, in high winds and 10-foot seas, the tanker drifted off course and ran aground on Middle Rip Shoal of Nantucket Island, Mass. The thirty-eight members of the crew were evacuated, but the shallow waters and weather conditions made it impossible to offload the oil or salvage the ship. Six days later, the Argo Merchant broke apart, emptying its entire cargo of fuel oil. Fortunately, northwesterly winds blew the 60 mile oil slick offshore, and coastal fisheries and beaches were spared the worst.

But it was the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill that gave the Liberals the “oil platform” upon which they stand today. A blow-out on Union Oil's Platform A, six miles offshore, in the Dos Cuadras Offshore Oil Field. Over a ten-day period, an estimated 100,000 barrels of crude oil spilled into the channel and onto the beaches of Santa Barbara County in Southern California, fouling the coastline from Goleta to the Rincon and all four of the northern Channel Islands. An estimated 10,000 birds were killed.

The current operator of the platform, along with the other three platforms on the Dos Cuadras field (Hillhouse, B, and C), is the private firm DCOR LLC, of Ventura, California. They acquired the platform from Plains Exploration & Production in 2005. DCOR is the fourth company to run the platform since Unocal sold its Santa Barbara Channel operations in 1996.

The oil spill prompted a Congressional moratorium in 1981 on new offshore oil leasing, with exceptions in the Gulf of Mexico and parts of offshore Alaska, that remained in effect until 2008 when Congress did not renew it.

Oil is not a new energy source. It’s not like it was discovered yesterday. There is no energy source to which Liberals can point where there is no danger or impact on the environment. Coal? They’ll tell you all about the horrors of strip mining. Nuclear, the cleanest energy source of them all, particularly efficient for heating homes. Fughedabouddit! Natural gas? All those terrible pipelines tearing up the wilderness.

We’ve come a long way since the Santa Barbara oil spills and the industry has learned a great deal about containment. Unfortunately, politics have not changed. Within three days, Dutch ships could have been in the Gulf to clean up the mess. But Obama turned down their offer, along with offers from other nations, as well. They didn’t have “the paperwork.” That is, there was some union clause that wouldn’t allow non-union foreign crews to enter American territorial waters to do the job quickly and more efficiently. So much for the pelicans.

Pelicans eat their fish whole – and live – and apparently we’re supposed to swallow this administration’s Liberal oil bilge water in the same manner. This was a ready-made disaster that really makes one wonder what actually happened out there on Deepwater Horizon. Initially, the Media tried to blame the contractor, but that fish didn’t digest well. According to witnesses, the contractor told BP they were making a mistake, that what they were doing was dangerous.

BP’s answer: keep drilling.

Every American should be asking why this wasn’t stopped sooner. The answer is: follow the money. And the bandwagon. Obama is looking to get his cap-and-trade bill passed. Opposition has stopped it. He may have needed that oil to keep flowing and pictures of those oil-drenched birds to plead his case tonight.

He and the Liberals want a permanent ban on all American off-shore oil drilling. The president and the Liberals, including Barney Frank, have a lot of money invested in this clean energy movement. And why shouldn’t they, since they intend to create a captive market that will be forced to buy their product, just as Americans will eventually be forced to buy into government health care.

First, though, they have to convince Americans that they are evil, capitalist consumerists “addicted” to oil, and that this “addiction” is detrimental to the environment. “We” killed all those poor pelicans along the Gulf Coast. We should just slap ourselves into environmental prison right now. If they’re going to shake oiled pelicans at us, why stop there? Why not throw all the poor roadkill that die every year under the bus while they’re at it? Never mind that we have a surplus deer population problem that the car has inadvertently solved.

How else can they get Americans out of their cars? There’s the real problem. It’s not so much that we’re “addicted” to oil, as we’re “addicted” to freedom. Oil and the internal combustion have made that freedom possible.

The Liberals have lied to us before. They told us there was a severe oil shortage. That the oil was running out and that we’d better find alternative sources of energy. This oil rig blowout has revealed that there’s a practically unlimited supply under the earth’s crust, though more difficult to get at it. Every day they don’t cap that well tells us just how much oil is down there.

But oil-soaked pelicans are worth their weight in political capital. The sight of those poor birds will certainly gives us pause when considering a ban on drilling the oil. The longer they suffer, the more likely Congress will get its cap and trade bill passed. Since there’s no one to counter the media picture, nor anyone who can light a fire under this arrogant president and his cohort oil company to cap that well, he may well succeed.

Liberals understand all too well how much Americans love their freedom. There’s no better symbol of that freedom than the car. They’ve managed to seize America’s number one car manufacturer, though they didn’t hook Ford. Now they must go after the fuel source of the internal combustion engine.

What works in their favor is that there are more American women than men. Not only can they be manipulated more easily, but on the whole, they don’t know anything about cars. One of the reasons the internal combustion engine, with petroleum as its fuel source, has been the mainstay of the American road is the fuel distribution infrastructure. Thanks to oil tankers, tanker trunks, and pipelines, there are gas stations all across the country.

Gasoline also has a high energy density per pound of fuel. That means you can go pretty far on a pound of fuel, which is important in a country the size of America. Even in a diesel engine, you still need to stop to fuel up.

The electrical motor the Clean Energy gang proposes can’t produce enough energy for a car to go any appreciable distance. It’s okay for city driving, but get out onto a highway at highway speeds, and you use up your store of energy in no time. The motive power has to be stored in a device, a battery, and it would take a pretty big, heavy batter to store enough energy for long-distance highway driving. The government wants to limit your ability to drive from Point A to Point B, from Atlantic City to Bakersfield – and back – without their knowing about it.

Hybrid vehicles have a wider application in the U.S. because you can use the electric in the city and gas on the highway without the energy winding down and stranding the motorist. The internal combustion engine automatically fires up and the car be driven on the electrical motor, without all the gears and other mechanical devices in a typical internal combustion engine car. It’s just that at the high speeds at which Americans are accustomed to driving, that energy doesn’t last very long.

Performance depends on the size of the motor and batteries. The batteries can be stored in the wheels or in the single, electric motor. Because the car doesn’t need a transmission, it can save weight.

Natural gas is an option to which many large, municipal fleets have turned. Natural gas vehicles run on the internal combustion engine, which emits less pollution. However, the distribution relies on natural gas mains. A station must be attached to one of these mains in order to distribute the fuel, and in some areas, this just isn’t possible.

Propane works well. But the MPG is not as good as gas or diesel. In very cold climates, natural gas and propane vehicles are difficult to get started. They will not vaporize in cold weather. In addition, propane requires a gas combustion to ignite it, then a switch is flipped to start the vehicle.

Diesel engines are notoriously difficult to start in cold weather, something that would be unpopular with cold climate motorists. This another fuel that does not vaporize in cold weather. Diesel fuel gets better mileage than gas because it runs on a very high compression ratio (that means you can squeeze more power out of the fuel). But diesel fuel prices are high because manufacturers are taking advantage of its demand as an efficient fuel. Diesel cars don’t sell well because of their difficulty in starting in cold weather and the pollution that they cause. Manufacturers have spent millions researching exhaust filter systems and experimental fuel injection systems.

The fuel cell is a long way from the finish line in terms of being a practical answer to the internal combustion engine. It’s too early in development. These cells use noble metals, such as platinum and palladium, in their architecture. They’re expensive, fragile, and in limited quantity, making them cost-prohibitive. At the New York City Auto Show, Ford demonstrated a fuel cell engine. It made the car work, but you wouldn’t want to go the moon in it. Apollo 13 had such fuel cells. When the fuel cell exploded, the astronauts were in big trouble.

And that, my blogging friends, is a fuel primer from a knowledgeable mechanical friend.

On his radio program, Glenn spoke about the possibility of some sort of civil war and armed violence, which he deplored. My company held its annual picnic last week. Every year, they feature an antique and classic car show. The employees love it, in lieu of more active antics like hoola hoops and other such frivolity that doesn’t play well in a bad economy. They came flocking out to see the cars in the lot, mostly owned by employees.

As I looked at the so-called muscle cars of the late Sixties and early Seventies, the souped-up Challengers and Barracuddas and what have you, I reflected on how much Americans love their cars and their freedom. Judging by the way they speed down the highway in today’s vehicles and how much they revere the speed cars of the past, the Greenies aren’t going to have an easy time of it squeezing an unconvinced American public into golf carts or taking public transportation that’s less reliable than a Yugo and won’t get them there during an almost-given transit strike. The hybrid car that showed up one year didn’t get as many admirers as the golden 1962 Chevy Corvette or her more sinister-looking younger brothers, the black fastbacks across the lot.

You can huckster Americans into buying flourescent light bulbs, fat-free cheese, and American flags made in China. But try taking away their cars, and the Liberals may just get their armed conflict after all. Electric cars may be all right for the cities – and that’s where populations are burgeoning and incessantly voting for tree-hugging Liberals – but electric cars and alternate fuel cells aren’t going to fly in the suburbs.

The Liberals probably know that and are using the boiled-car method, or in this case, the oiled pelican method (seriously, the poor creatures), to beat their oil drum. The young, weak-minded and impractical will soon succumb. Someone is just going to have to jump into their soaped-up, 1971 Challenger and ride around, Paul Revere-style, crying, “To arms, to arms, the skittish are coming, the skittish are coming!”

Monday, June 14, 2010

Flag Day 2010

"You're a grand old flag, you're a high flying flag and forever in peace may you wave!"

How many national flags get their own holiday? None, that I know of.

Nor is there any other flag that has nicknames: Old Glory, the Stars and Stripes, the Star Star Spangled Banner, or so many songs written about her, in addition to the National Anthem, i.e., my favorite, You’re A Grand Old Flag.

You’re A Grand Old Flag is in my marching band’s music folder. At some point, we switched it for something that wasn’t working. The No. 2 spot and the No. 4 spot (where Grand Old Flag is) never seem to hold their marches for very long.

The spectators love any song. As long as we play – that’s all they care about. But “You’re A Grand Old Flag” is what gets the flags waving and the kids marching in step with us.

I’ve been parading these many years now and I still never get tired of the sight of our American flag at the front of the band and the sea of little American flags waiting to greet it. If I weren’t home sick today with a bad sore throat that’s likely to turn into laryngitis, I’d be marching up and down the halls at work singing her praises.

She’s a dramatic, bold-colored, beautiful flag that streams well in the wind. She looked pretty good going up on Iwo Jima, too, they say. We couldn’t ask for a better standard for our country and the freedom she stands for and protects.