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The Myth of Islamic Extremism

Those who study such things point out that Islam is not the problem; the radical element, the extremists, who make up only about 20% of the Muslims of the world, actually support terrorism. ONLY, 20% of the 1.6 Billion Muslims comes out to 320 million people who believe you must either convert to Islam or be killed. The fight to end extremism and terrorism in the Islamic world is not being conducted by our moderate friends in Islamic nations. In fact the overwhelming financial support as well as toleration of extremist training camps and radical mosques comes from our “friends” in the Muslim world.

So this 20% represents all the radicals and terrorists. Yet the Pew research polls show that in much of the Islamic world overwhelming majorities (87% Egypt, 82% Jordan, 79% Afghanistan, 77% Pakistan, 66% Palestinians) believe that one who leaves Islam should be executed, and that beating, disfiguring, and removing limbs by religious leaders is appropriate punishment for those who break either religious rules or civil law, and these are not numbered among the terrorists but are main-stream Muslims. Extremism and terrorism only exist because the majority in the Islamic world allows it to exist, they do nothing to prevent or punish this so-called “high-jacking of Islam” by extremists.

Think about how we would accept this if it were 20% of Southern Baptists who believed that those who leave their church for another religion, or because they no longer believe at all, should be executed and actually carried out the execution. How would you feel if Baptist ministers were determining when a person should be beaten or stoned for sinning, or when their hand would be chopped off for stealing? Would you argue that the government should be tolerant of their religious rights?

We are told there is a strong moderate movement in Islam. Then where is it and what is it doing about the problem? The problem is that even these moderates know that they are apostates from Islam, because they are standing against the fundamental teachings of Mohammed upon which all Islam stands. The very concepts of God-given rights to liberty, choice of religion, right to express your opinion, and virtually all our constitutional rights are a violation of Islam and are offensive to those who believe the Koran. There cannot be a faithful moderate Muslim, because to be so is to go against the very teachings of the Prophet, so is punishable by death.

We will know when there is a moderate Islam, when Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, or Buddhists can freely teach their religion in Islamic countries and Muslims can freely choose to accept those teachings without any punishment. As it now exists, and as it has from the beginning, Islam is an extreme system of tyranny. Or government should impose the same standard of religious tolerance for Islam that is granted in Islamic countries. That would mean there would currently be no Islam practiced here except for non-citizens, and then under the watchful eye of the FBI.

It will someday come to this if individual liberty is to survive in the world. Liberty cannot coexist with “accept my religion, or be a tribute-paying vassal, or I will kill you.” This is not an extremist view it is doctrineIslam Europe from the base teachings of Islam.

Nothing But Down-side to Top-Two Primaries

There was a strong push in the last Arizona election cycle to disenfranchise political parties by turning the Arizona Primary election into a “round one general election” in which there would be a single ballot with all candidates listed on it without regard to party affiliation, but only the top two vote-getters from the Primary would be on the General Election ballot.  Some very good political thinkers were involved at least in conceptualizing this ballot proposition.  The proposition failed by a two to one margin

military voting

The main thing the proposition was designed to do was to give independents (voters not affiliated with any party) a greater say in the primary.  There are certain good things about today’s party system; it allows people with common political views to identify their positions on issues (platform) and to select candidates who will run for office in the general election.  The founding fathers were not fond of political parties; but parties in their times were specific special interest factions such as merchants, or lawyers, or veterans, or bankers, or planters.  The political parties spoken of by Washington and his contemporaries were what we would now call lobbyists or political action committees (PACs).

Today’s parties are made up of voters with diverse professions, economic stations, races, educational levels, and lifestyle, and serve primarily as a vetting process for candidate selection. party) more say in Primary elections.  To me that alone doesn’t make any sense because primary elections are elections in which political parties nominate their candidates.  Independents are independents because they don’t support party politics.  Arizona already does something that I think is very bad in that they allow independents to vote in one primary of any party they wish. To me nobody except party members should have a say in who the party nominates..  I’m glad it did because I think it was a very bad idea.

Even minor parties have played a significant role in shaping our politics.  By presenting their views to the public they have caused the two major parties to adjust to attract those voters.  Two examples are the Socialist Party who originated the idea of vast social programs and redistribution of wealth, and the Libertarian Party who has pushed for a more stringent compliance with the constitution and lest government involvement in the lives of citizens.  Both of these minor parties have never reached the number of supporters needed to enact their policies, but the Democrats have adapted many of the aims of the Socialist Party, and the Republicans have adjusted to the right in response to the ideas of the Libertarian Party.

One problem with a top two primary is that it does not give the voter more choices but limits them to only two in the general election.  A second problem is that in a district in which one party dominates, no other party has a chance to make it on the ballot, both general candidates could be from the same party.  It would virtually illuminate all minor party candidates from ever getting on a general ballot.

Many independents say there is no difference between the two parties; however, even the most cursory review of their stand on issues reveals that as false. The main causes of independent discontent with the two major parties can be categorized as: 1) They are all professional politicians who are mostly concerned with feathering their own nest and being reelected, and 2) They can’t work together to get anything done.

I think Item one is partly true; I do believe that many people in congress have a genuine desire to do what’s right, but their view may differ from that of many of their voters.  They have elevated themselves to a special class that is paid much more than the average voter, has amazing perks and benefits, and gives them special exceptions to things the rest of us live with every day.  When congress was first given an annual salary in 1855 it was $3000; comparing the consumer price index of 1855 to 2012, that equates to under $12,000 per year in today’s dollar.  Then, being in Congress was a part time job, they spent a couple of months a year mostly approving a budget.

This brings us to item two.  As the founders intended, the federal government dealt with relatively few departments and programs, they didn’t enact many new laws every year, they took care of business and got back their farm, store, law officer, parsonage, etc.  For the last 80 years congress has gotten along too well, they have passed way to many laws, creating way too much government, and spending way too much public revenue.  Any congress that refuses to raise expenditures or increase taxes is a good congress.  Democrats want to keep using the public revenue to buy votes, and Republics want to reverse that process.  In a nutshell that is the difference between the two parties.  I will vote for the senator or representative who refuses to go along with government programs, trillion dollar deficits, and forever increasing taxes.  A “do-nothing” congress is better than a “do-something” congress unless the something being done is cutting spending, cutting government, and cutting taxes.

So since the main accusation is that Democrats and Republicans are the same, you better look again.  And if you want to save the country you better hope the “do-nothings” outnumber the “do-everythings”.

Part 2 Protecting Against Mass Murder: A Workable Armed Security Plan

SchoolsThere are things that make schools particularly attractive targets for evil men or crazies who want to inflict harm on others or who want to hurt society: Schools contain large numbers of helpless children and a few adults who can pose no threat to an attacker; Being gun-free zones, schools guarantee that the will be no armed person in a school, with the possible exception of a school resource officer; and, once the slaughter starts, the attacker knows that it will take several minutes for the police to be called and to respond. The attacker also knows that if there is a single policeman assigned to the school, he could get rid of that threat to him by simply removing the officer or distracting him in some way; and even if the officer is not disabled the attacker would simply have to begin his attack in one of the more remote classrooms. For these reasons our children are like lambs in a slaughterhouse
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The only real protection against a terrorist (and no matter their motive, the people who stage these attacks are terrorists) is to have numerous people in all parts of the school who can be first responders to an attack. The outcome at Sandy Hook Elementary School would have been very different had the first teacher who confronted the attacker, and the Principle who confronted him had done so with a gun.
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Schools should be Attack Free Zones; meaning that if an unauthorized person enters a school they are considered a deadly threat and if they do not immediately surrender, they will be shot. This means that schools would have to have the ability to control all access to the school and to identify and control visitors or those on authorized business.
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The two most rational objections to arming school personnel are 1) that they would create a confusing battlefield for police who respond- it would become difficult for the officers to identify the perpetrators as opposed to the armed school personnel; and, 2) School personnel are not trained in the needed skills and procedures. I think there is some valid concern on both points. However, if the arming of school personnel is done properly both these points become moot.
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First the personnel would have to pass the normal gun ownership background checks, second, they would have to pass the concealed carry class, and third they would be required to be trained and sanctioned by the local police department, and would operate under direction of the police department as a reserve unit of the police. This takes away the concern about qualification.
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There are probably several employees at most schools who are already competent marksmen and trained in gun safety. There are likely military veterans or reservists, concealed carry permit holders, reserve officers, or shooting hobbyist on the school staff. These people would be the obvious first class of trainees. The goal would be to have most employees, including administrators, teachers, classified staff, custodians, and bus drivers qualified and armed. Since the reasons schools are such enticing targets for evil or crazy people is because they know they will easily be able to do great harm, having this type of reserve protection would take away that primary attraction as a target.
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The second valid concern is identification of school police reservists. First, since they are under the direction of the police, trained by them, and mingle face to face with officers they would be known by sight to the police. Second they would be provided with a recognizable police vest which they would don in the event of an attack anywhere on the school. The teachers in classrooms would lock down their classroom, direct the children to take cover, and then take a defensive position to stop the attacker from entering.
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Teachers involved in other activities with students would move them to designated safe areas and take up a defensive position to protect the children. Administrators and other non-teaching personnel would don their vests and move quickly to the trouble area, firing on an attacker at the moment they are encountered.
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The reserve officer school personnel would be organized into rank leadership based on competency and training and the senior officer (who might be a teacher or a janitor rather than an administrator) would assume command of the crises until a ranking police officer is on the scene.
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Chances are, that in most cases based on this scenario by the time police arrived all school reservists would be “in uniform”’ the threat would be neutralized, and all arms would be holstered, avoiding the chaos envisioned by detractors.
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Chances are good that this would prevent injury or loss of student life; or at the worst would limit the number of such casualties.
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I will cover reestablishing a healthy American gun culture in Part 3.

Protecting Against Mass Murder -Part 1

RiflesMass murder has unfortunately always been a part of human history; among the worst of these are attacks on children. It is easy to buy into the idea that what we have witnessed in the last decade is a worsening of mass violence in the US. But the reality is that it is no worse than it has ever been. In fact the worst single act of school violence in the US happened in 1929. “There is no pattern; there is no increase.” (James Alan Fox, Ph.D. The Lipman Family Professor of Criminology, Law and Public Policy, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts) It seems like there is more because we have it clearly brought to us by the media, we see the horror and feel the loss and desire to take action.

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It is also common to blame firearms for mass murder, but the worst American attacks have been by explosives or arson. The worst school massacre was by explosives at the hand of a school board member who lost the election. In fact gun violence has declined to about half the rate it was in the 1990’s. The violence against students dropped from 54 to 13 per 1000 during that period. At the same time there was a huge increase in gun ownership. Not only was there a general increase in gun ownership, but the increase in semiautomatic rifles has even had a greater increase.

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How could we change gun laws to make society safer?  We could rescind them and stop infringing on the right of our citizens to own and bear arms.

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Gun laws that limit ownership do not make society safer. What these laws do is limit the good citizens’ right to self-protection; while the criminals and crazies don’t care if the gun they use is legal or not.

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Likewise, Gun laws that prohibit private ownership of guns do not make society safer. They take away the good citizens’ right to self-protection; criminals and crazies don’t care if the gun they use is legal or not.

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One of the arguments for disarming citizens is that in countries where guns are banned the murder rate is lower than in the United States. England is the most touted example. Gun ownership in England is practically forbidden and they have a lower gun murder rate than the US. However, the correlation of gun ownership is irrelevant because England had a lower murder rate than the US when both countries had no limits on gun ownership. In fact the murder rate was lower in England in the 1950’s before gun control, than it is now with complete gun control.

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Australia recently passed draconian gun laws confiscating millions of guns from their citizens. Since disarming the populace, violent crime of all types, including murder has skyrocketed.

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Switzerland, Israel, and Finland have very lenient gun laws (Switzerland actually requires each home to have and assault rifle), yet their murder rate by citizens is lower than that of the US.

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Gun ownership is much higher in American smaller cities and towns and in rural areas, yet the murder rate is lower. Gun ownership is much lower in black communities than white communities, yet the murder rate is much higher among blacks, and almost all murders of blacks are committed by blacks; mostly young males killing each other.

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In the US cities like New Orleans, Chicago, Washington DC, New York, and Los Angeles have strict gun laws, yet they are the most violent cities in the US, with the highest gun murder rates.

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Instead of worrying about guns in the hands of responsible citizens we should be addressing how to identify and neutralize the threat posed by potentially violent people. We should first figure out how to prevent them from doing harm, then figure out how to reduce the pool of those with mental problems or other violent tendencies, and how to reduce their access to potential victims.
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We should consider measures that will reduce potential damage that can be done in our schools by a nut with a backpack of homemade bombs, flammables, automatic weapons, a machete, or a steel bar. Once such a murderer is inside a “gun free” school and police are called, dozens of children can be heinously murdered.

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Even if you have a policeman on the campus at all times, the criminal only has to have two minutes to massacre a roomful of children. It can take longer than that for a resource officer to identify where the problem is and respond. Because the terrorists in Israel aggressively targeted children they have trained and armed teachers, administrators, and other school workers. This means that the damage that can be done will be limited because response will be immediate and massive.

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If there had been two concealed carry citizens in the crowed when Rep. Gifford was attacked, chances are good that many could have been saved. If the teacher and principle had been armed at Sandy Hook, there could have been many innocent lives spared.  Guns in the hands of good people is a good thing.  Guns in the hands of bad people is a bad thing.  It is the bad people that need controlling, not guns.

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In part two I will discuss how such a security plan could be properly established without creating chaos.

Liberal Hypocrisy

One of the complaints lodged against conservatives by liberals, often even by libertarians, is that in matters such as abortion, drug laws, and marriage laws “you can’t legislate morality,” they claim that though they personally oppose one or all these things, it really comes down to a personal choice of the individual and the government should stay out of it. But their hypocrisy is exposed when you talk about some of the things they want to legislate, such as requiring all to pay into government “charity” in the form of welfare, limiting access to firearms, dictating what type of medical insurance you can or must have, what kind of food your children can have, and a myriad of other “nanny state” doctrines.

This liberal ideology forces people to do and/or pay for things that they are opposed to, and takes away their personal choice. So how do they justify this? By saying it is “right,” “just,”, “fair,” meaning of course, moral. So they are perfectly willing to legislate morality, as long as it is their brand of morality. I have even heard a Christian liberal in my church say that these things are all in alignment with Christ’s command to love others and to care for them. I guess he doesn’t mind that forced charity is not charity at all, or that free will was endorsed by Christ, or that there are better ways of doing this than having the government do it.

My libertarian friends on the other hand would tend to agree with the liberals on the items in the first paragraph, and with me on the items in the second paragraph. And that is good in that it is at least consistent. However, libertarianism is pretty much “anarchy-lite;” it is basically opposed nearly all laws and to anything that presumes to define what is acceptable or unacceptable in society.

A conservative looks at all laws and taxes with a critical eye, yet they recognize that to have civil society requires some laws and the taxes to support them. All but a true anarchist agree that laws are needed to protect against violence, define protected property rights, provide for honest commerce, and protect against government abuse of personal rights. Conservatives recognize that there are legitimate reasons to have other civil laws, such as highway standards, building codes, professional certification, and traffic laws.

The real hypocrisy of saying that you can’t legislate morality is the simple fact that any law that protects people from the rule of the strongest is in fact a legislation of morality. Morality is the core basis of civilization.

What Do You Know About Your Federal Income Tax?

There is more to know than you see on your check stub, more than you see on your tax return, more than you see on your quarterly estimated taxes, more than you see at the gas pump. The following numbers from usrevenue.com bring some clarity to taxes in the US.

Federal Budgeted Revenue 2011 (Federal Government Income)

Income Taxes: 1.154 Trillion
SS/Med/Ins .806 Trillion
Ad-Valorem .133 Trillion
Business/Other .079 Trillion
Fees/Charges .001 Trillion
Total: 2.173 Trillion

53% is from personal income taxes paid by citizens
37% is from personal & employer SS, Medicare, or Gov. Ins. paid by citizens & employers
6% is from ad valorem: Fuel, Inheritance, Tariff, Leases, and other value-based taxes
3.6% is from corporate/business taxes
0.04% is from use fees or charges

53 % of all federal revenue is paid up front by us
16 % is deducted from our pay for social insurance
21 % is paid on our behalf by or employer, but ultimately it is passed back in the cost of products
6 % is paid by companies and passed on to us in the cost of products
4 % is paid by companies and passed on to us in the cost of products
Use fees or charges are paid by citizens directly to federal agencies, for the privilege of using (our) public land.

The fact is that we as citizens and consumers pay either directly or through hidden taxes the full $2 trillion in annual federal revenue. Business pays nothing, because they have to cover the cost of taxes in the price they charge for the products or services, which we pay. In addition they must bear the administrative costs for reporting and paying the taxes, again a cost coming to us in the price of the product or service.

There are a total of 311 million citizens, so the average citizen is paying $6987.00 this year in federal taxes. For a family of four the average is $27948.00. Averages however can be deceptive, for taxes are not paid evenly, in fact over 40% of all federal taxes are paid by just 1% of taxpayers, those in the highest income bracket, and a full 97% of taxes are paid by 50% of taxpayers, those of average income and above. Only 3% of taxes are paid by those in bottom 50% of the income scale.

It is just plain ignorance that people believe the rich should pay more taxes; each of us who make less than $410,000.00 are already being heavily subsidized by those who earn more than that.

Those that would increase corporate taxes to “redistribute the wealth” obviously don’t understand that a business tax is just a hidden tax on the consumer, and an overhead cost that takes investment and growth money out of businesses.

To foster a robust economy there should be no taxation of business. People should not have to send their social services money to the government; it should go into their personal accounts. There should be no hidden taxes; citizens should know exactly what they pay in taxes. Business would boom, prices would decrease, consumer power would increase, and personal wealth would increase.

Republican Outlook 2012 – Part 4 – Ranking My Favorite Candidates

In my last article (Part 3) I evaluated the two presidential candidates from the 2008 Republican primary, Mike Huckabee, and Mitt Romney, giving Romney the edge on both his business experience and his governorship. Today we will look at the remainder of my favorite candidates, Jon Huntsman, Sarah Palin, and Allen West, ending with a ranking of my favorite five potential candidates.

Jon Huntsman, Jr. Huntsman gave the vice-presidential nominating speech for Sarah Palin, and has all but been endorsed for a presidential run by John McCain. To most of America Huntsman is an unknown. He has been an insider in Washington since the 1980s serving in the Reagan, G.H.W Bush, and G.W. Bush administrations as (respectively) White House Staff Assistant, Deputy Secretary of Commerce then Ambassador to Singapore, and Deputy US Trade Representative. He is currently serves in the Obama Administration as Ambassador to China.

He was Governor of Utah for two terms, winning the second term with almost 78% of the vote. The Cato Institute rated him the top governor on tax policy, and the fifth highest on overall fiscal policy. During his administration Utah was listed as the best run state government by the Pew Center on the States.

His business experience includes an executive with the Huntsman Corporation, an international Chemical Company with annual revenues topping $8 billion and over 10,000 employees; and CEO of Huntsman Family Holdings Company. He has also headed major philanthropic organizations including the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, the Utah Opera, Envision Utah, and The Family Now Campaign.

His stand on fiscal matters, taxation, and business is strongly conservative. He is more mixed on his social positions, being strongly conservative on abortion, and gun rights, but he has liberal positions on climate change, same sex domestic unions, the Department of Education, and the Obama Stimulus. He signed Utah up in the Western Climate Action Initiative, basically a western states cap and trade arrangement. He has shunned the Tea Party conservatives but has broad appeal to old school Republicans.

Sarah Palin The candidate for vice-president on the 2008 McCain ticket has a strong appeal to deeply conservative Republicans, the religious right, Libertarians, and the Tea Party movement. The fact that she shared the ticket with McCain has given her some standing with moderate and old-line Republicans.

Upon becoming Governor of Alaska, Palin embarked on two gutsy missions: To clean out corruption in Alaska politics and to cut spending; she did this with gusto rooting out criminal activity and cronyism not just from the state government, but even within her own party. She pared back government programs, size, and waste starting with getting rid of the perks of the office of the governor.

Besides being governor, Palin served on the town council, then as mayor of Wasilla, and as a member of the Alaska Oil and Gas Commission.

Her time on the commission gave her a good practical insight into natural resource issues. Her political position is solidly conservative on both fiscal and social issues. She has experience in operating family businesses and has worked as a correspondent on Alaskan TV Stations. She has shown a great sense of fiscal responsibility and is business friendly.

Because of her run for vice-president, authoring two books, hosting an excellent documentary series on Alaska, being supportive of and responsive to the Tea Party movement, and being a frequent topic of conversation and controversy on talk shows and news commentary she is now well known. In fact, she might be too well known; she is as disliked by the left as she is liked by the right.

While I really like her positions on all the issues, she doesn’t have the level of leadership that most of the other candidates have, and certainly not the degree of financial education and experience of most of them.

Allen West  The newly elected congressman won his seat on the strength of Tea Party support. Some would point to this, his only elective office, as being not enough political experience. However, one does not work as a battalion commander in a war zone without learning a lot about practical politics. He holds a master’s degree in political science from Kansas State and a master’s degree from the Military Command College in political theory, military history, and military operations. So is probably better versed in political processes and institutions than 90% of congressmen.

He served twenty-two years as a commissioned officer in the military including both Gulf Wars serving in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He earned a bronze star, Meritorious Service Medal (2 oak clusters), Army Commendation Medal (2 oak Cluster, Valor Device), Army Achievement Medal (1 oak cluster), Valorous Unit Award, Air Assault Badge, and Parachutist Bade, as well as ten service medals. After his retirement he worked as a high school history teacher, a college ROTC instructor, and a regional director for a military consultancy to the Afghan army.

West is both a fiscal and social conservative. He sees the last fifty years of liberal social programs and policies as trapping the poor in a culture of welfare and dependency. He has an overriding respect for the U.S. Constitution and is a deeply committed patriot. He has probably the clearest understanding of any person in Congress of the Muslim religion and the threat of both conquest by migration and conquest by aggression that exists from the radical elements of the faith. He has great clarity of thought and a direct and unapologetically sincere mode of speech. He is a motivator and is himself very motivated – he is able to think on his feet, does not need a teleprompter, and is unafraid of debate and discussion.

So the way I rank my favorite five candidates is:
1. Mitt Romney
2. Allen West
3. Sarah Palin
4. Mike Huckabee
5. Jon Huntsman

I could happily support a ticket that has any two of these five on it, but feel the strongest ticket would be Mitt Romney and Allen West, because they nearly perfectly complement each other with their individual strengths. Romney is excellent in economics, business, fiscal responsibility, Administration, and practical day to day politics. West is excellent in international politics, national security, the military, crisis management, and Middle East issues, a critical gap in the current administration.  It is important that the ticket have truely qualified candidates, that they form a strong team, and that they appeal to voters accross the broad spectrum of Republican politics.  To win the must pick up independents, Libertarians, and Democrats.

If this ticket should come about, I could see Palin as Secretary of Interior, Huntsman as Secretary of State, and my preferences for Huckabee include chairman of the FCC (this wouldn’t be possible if he still has ownership in radio and TV stations), or as a white house assistant for reducing government, combining and eliminating cabinet positions and moving functions that belong to the states back to the states, or as transitional Secretary of Education or Energy to transition the department out of existence.

The final segment, part 5, of this series of blogs, will look at those not on my list who are considered or are considering becoming candidates.

Republican Outlook 2012 – Part 3 – My Candidates

Many good potential Republican candidates for the 2012 presidential election are beginning to attract attention. Some of my favorites are, in alphabetical order:

Mike Huckabee, making his second run for president, has experience as a Minister, Educator, Author of several best selling books, televangelist, television station owner and producer, and was a conservative Lieutenant Governor and Governor of Arkansas, a highly Democratic state, is an ABC Radio Commentator, and hosts a talk news show on Fox News Channel. He has very strong conservative stands on economic and social issues, respects the Constitution, and is deeply patriotic.

Jon Huntsman, Jr. is the son of a billionaire industrialist and philanthropist. He served as CEO of the Huntsman Corporation, a successful businessman and philanthropist, served in three Republican presidential administrations, as Governor of Utah, and is currently the US Ambassador to China. He has very strong conservative stands, respects the Constitution, and is deeply patriotic.

Sarah Palin, candidate for vice president in the last election and a cultural icon, TV reporter, author, business woman, commercial fisherman, served as city council and mayor, Governor of Alaska, and has starred in a documentary TV series on Alaska. She tackled corruption in state government, and even within her own party. Young, brash, quick on her feet, she has gained a strong following as well as many detractors. She is conservative both socially and economically, respects the Constitution, and is deeply patriotic.

Mitt Romney, making his second run for president, is the son of the multi-term Governor of Michigan, has served as a lay minister, is a highly successful business man, and was brought in as chairman of the US Olympics to salvage them from scandal and financial ruin, served as conservative Governor of highly Democrat Massachusetts. He has very strong conservative stands on economic and social issues, respects the Constitution, and is a deeply patriotic American.

Allen West, currently a freshman congressman from Florida, is a Career US Army Officer, who grew up in Atlanta Georgia in a military family. His father served in WW2 and made a career of the military, his mother was a civilian employee of the Marine Corps, and his brother, also career military, served in Viet Nam. He is recipient of valorous and meritorious service decorations including a bronze star. He has taught high school history and college ROTC. He is a social and fiscal conservative, and is passionately patriotic.

There are other good people out there, but these are the ones that I favor. In this post I will begin evaluating candidates and end up with a ranking of most favored to least, starting with the two candidates from the 2008 primary:

Huckabee vs. Romney. On issues, these two are almost identical, so either one of them would be a good choice for conservative voters. While I like Huckabee’s stand on issues, I have doubts about his character. I was very disappointed at his attacks on Romney’s religion during their presidential run.

Huckabee is trying to make an issue of the Massachusetts Healthcare bill. Health care is not a federal responsibility. Whether a state will provide healthcare and how they will choose to do is a state issue, and if the citizens of a state want to create a program, it is their prerogative to do so.

I have been put off by Huckabee’s apparently deceitful use of statistics to attack Romney on healthcare. First he notes that Massachusetts has the highest health care premiums in the country since Romney signed health care into law as Governor; this is not a lie, but it is deceitful, because that state already had the highest premiums of any state before the law was passed. Second he used statistics in to show that state health care costs had increased from 16 percent to 35 percent after the law was passed; again technically not a lie, but the law was passed in 2006 and the 16 percent figure is from 1990 – the cost of national health care rose nearly 300% during that period, yet Massachusetts increase was only 220%, so was considerably less than the national increase during that period. He sources this from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Association, yet that organization says the costs “have been relatively modest and well within initial projections… the health care costs are not a problem” and the program is “a great success.”

Beyond the mudslinging approach that Huckabee has chosen, I give Romney the edge on meaningful leadership experience. While both have been governor, Massachusetts has double the population of Arkansas. Romney won two elections there running on a ticket of fiscal conservatism because the tax burden and state budget were in a state of near disaster. He turned the state around reducing programs, eliminating waste, balancing the budget, and initiating private insurance based healthcare without increasing taxes.

On the matter of electability, consider some more differences between the two states. While both states are majority-Democrat states, Massachusetts Democrats outnumber Republicans 3 to 1 and are among the most liberal of states – For the last dozen or so elections they have gone Democrat; whereas Arkansas has voted Republican in the last three presidential elections. The voters in Arkansas are conservatives, both socially and fiscally. Romney based on his fiscal performance was reelected to a second term in a state that a conservative should not have a chance.  He was elected based on performance.  He has proven he is highly electable. So my rating so far:

1. Romney
2. Huckabee

In my next post, I will compare Huntsman, Palin, and West with Romney and Huckabee.

The US Can (and Should) Be Energy Self-Sufficient

The United States has had an extremely difficult time perfecting an energy policy that makes sense. The bill forming Department of Energy was signed into law in 1977. There are some good things that came out this in the form of standardization and unification of power distribution into the regional, national, and (with Canada) international power grid. However, one of the main goals given the DOE at its formation was to lead the US to energy self-sufficiency.

After more than a quarter century, we are more dependent on foreign oil than ever.

This wouldn’t be surprising if we had no energy resources. However, we are one of the most energy-rich countries in the world. We own more in-the-ground fossil fuel, than any country. We own vast deposits of uranium. We have great potential for more hydroelectric production. We have many resources for other alternative sources of energy. To understand our place in the energy world, consider these facts:

Total US Oil Reserves:
21 billion barrels proven reserves (CIA World Factbook)
134 billion barrels other estimated recoverable reserves (US Dept. of Interior)
0.727 billion barrels strategic petroleum reserves (CIA World Factbook)
155.727 billion barrels total US recoverable reserves

Other Fossil Fuels
2,175 billion barrels of recoverable oil in shale (Bureau of Land Management)
4116 billion equivalent barrels of oil in recoverable US Coal reserves (US DOE)

Total Worldwide Reserves
1350 billion barrels of oil reserves world-wide (CIA World Factbook)

Adding the estimated recoverable reserves to the proven reserves, the United States ranks third among all nations in the size of our oil reserves, slightly behind Saudi Arabia, and Canada.

The US contains the largest coal and shale oil deposits in the world. The US has 161% more oil in shale than in the total world oil reserves. Even more amazing, there is enough energy in known US coal reserves alone to eclipse that of all the oil on earth by 400%.

Processing petroleum from oil shell involves mining the oil-bearing shale, crushing the stone, and passing it through a high temperature retort. We currently have the technology to do this, but because it is only competitive when the petroleum price is high, the technological development has not yet advanced into research on reducing the cost of production.

One technique that may make the process competitive with deep well petroleum is that of in situ retorting in which the oil shell is reached by drilling shafts through which heat is pumped releasing the oil which is then pumped to the surface. Certainly, as world oil prices go up oil shell will not only be viable, but attractive.

The myth that oil from coal is not economically feasible has been disproven by South Africa. During the years of the world trade embargo against apartheid, coal-rich South Africa developed a process, and built several plants, each of which produce about 100,000 barrels of oil per day. The Chinese are in process of building as many as 27 of these plants in various parts of China.

Beyond the possibility of converting coal to gasoline, coal holds the spot as the number one producer of electricity in the United States. Even with the huge environmental burden, taxation, and political interference coal still remains the mainstay of the electric industry and one of the most important sources of heat for buildings. When the battery and quick charge technology is finally perfected to have total electric vehicles, it will be coal energy in the form of power grid electricity that drives those cars.

So why can’t we do what South Africa did? Why can’t our oil reserves produce the in range of Saudi Arabia or Canada? Why can’t we get research going to make our Shale oil reserves competitive?

I don’t think it is the fault of the DOE. I think it is the fault of some bad policy coming out of other parts of our federal mega-bureaucracy.
Politically and militarily we had strategic reasons to buy from other countries – if we use their oil, we are saving ours for future use, and we became such a valuable customer to oil producing countries they became our “friends” during the cold war. Both of those are probably valid strategies, and both served their purpose; but they also helped drive us to foreign energy dependency.

However, that was not the reason that US oil production dropped precipitously over the years. The main reason was environmental. In part this was caused by regulations by the EPA, and by such things as species protection. But way beyond that was the general liberal mindset against profits from big companies, distribution of wealth through taxation, excessive time and legal interference on new permitting, and outright banning of drilling in large tracts of known oil reserves. It became too costly and extremely time consuming to do exploratory drilling and to sink new wells into currently producing fields. The Global Warming fiasco with the almost unanimous blind support of the left just about did in the fossil fuel producers in America.

If we had taken half the so called “stimulus” money and put it directly into increased domestic fuel production, we would have seen the economy turn around, and energy cost, thus the cost of everything else, going down. Our number one priority should be to become energy independent as soon as possible, and number two should be to start advancing our energy technologies in all areas.

Republican Outlook 2012 – Part 2 – Resisting Infighting in the Conservative Family

Politics and religion are important and dangerous topics, and they often have an impact on each other. It grates on me to hear a candidate disparaged for his religious beliefs. There is not much that is more un-American than to do so. Religious intolerance within the Christian community threatens the power of Conservatism.

Polls show that 82% of Americans identify themselves “Christian.” This large percentage of believers belong to or attend literally “thousands” (according to adherents.com) of different denominations from the largest, Catholic, to the smallest single-congregation denomination. An outsider might ask, why so many different kinds of Christians? The answer is simple, beginning with the protestant reformation to the current day, believers have compared their church to the writings in the Bible; and often when doing this they discover some discrepancy, so they split off and start a new church that they feel is modeled more on that of the Biblical description of the church Christ organized during his mortal ministry.

Some of these splits have come about due to disagreement over such things as the mode of baptism, the necessity of baptism, the version of the Bible that is used, the way tithes and offerings are collected or administered, predestination vs. free will, the use of products such as alcohol, makeup, or meat, the use of musical instruments, female preachers, and many more such items.

Even with these divisions, the basic doctrine of Christianity remains in these churches. I studied religion in college, and I read a great deal on contemporary religion. I have not found any denomination that does not have certain basic beliefs as part of their doctrine:

  • Jesus of Nazareth was the only begotten Son of God; He lived without sin, gave Himself to pay for the sins of all humans, and is the Savior of the World, the only way back to God
  • The First and Greatest Commandment – Love God with your might, mind, and strength
  • The Second Greatest Commandment -Love your neighbor as yourself
  • The Ten Commandments

These are certainly not the only commonality between Christian denominations, but it is sufficient to illustrate that a Christian who proclaims belief in Christ is a Christian. If I believe that baptism by emersion in a requirement, and you do not, that difference does not give me the right to say you aren’t really a Christian. Whatever else you believe, because you believe in those four items above, nobody can rightly say you are not a Christian.

Religious tolerance means that you give each person the right to worship and serve God in the way they believe is right, whether it matches your belief or not. There is a limit on this tolerance in that the United States Constitution and the body of law resulting from it, including those from state and civil governments, is the only law allowed to deal with mandatory fines, seizure of property, incarceration, physical punishment, or execution for wrong doing. Other than that each church has the right to allow in or remove from membership whomever they wish and to conduct their worship and church business how they choose. And each member has the same right to participate or not.

Each Christian attends the church of their choosing because they believe it is the best church for them, or because they enjoy the fellowship, convenience, or programs. It is not fair to others to say they are not Christian because they don’t see religion in exactly the say way we do. Jesus told His apostles, “For he that is not against us is on our part.” All these churches believe the four things listed above, they are on our part.

As long as they honor the Constitution and obey the laws of the land, a candidate should not be criticized for being a “born again”, Catholic, Episcopal, Mormon, or an unaligned Christian. With the same Constitutional stipulation mentioned in the previous sentence, the same is true for non-Christian religious bodies as well. It speaks well to a person’s character that they respect t and honor their religious beliefs and are kind to others in theirs.

We need to honestly throw away religious bias and select candidates on the strength of their record, education, public service, their stand on issues, and their personal character. In the next of this series, I will exam the three candidates most know for their religious beliefs: Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and Jon Huntsman.