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Trump Trumps Never-Trump

The Perpetually Re-elected Progressive Elite, the Corporations Once Known as the Mainstream media, and their pet poodle pundits make fun of Trump by calling him a “Reality TV Star.”  They just don’t get it. Half the country wishes they were reality TV Stars.  They say he is brash, uncouth, and disrespectful to the army of political hacks he has been and will confront. They just don’t get it. People want someone who will stand up for the Country Party in the face of the Government Party that has controlled both major parties for so long.

The list of disconnects between the imperial rulers in Chicago-on-the-Potomac and the great unwashed out here in fly-over country is massive.  It is easily more than enough to define a complete breakdown in the social contract of a limited government.  A social contract forged in the Declaration of Independence and enshrined in the Constitution which defines the legitimacy of the current regime.

The Progressive megaphones tell us this is the strongest economy in American History and that President Obama is the greatest chief executive of modern times.  They even fantasize about the “Obama Boom.”  Working people laugh when you try to sell them this obvious propaganda. The government tells us that we have reached full employment.  Anyone who reads should know that over ninety-three million able bodied Americans no longer work and only a little over 150 million are working.  Yet the government tells us there is 5% unemployment when the numbers say it is closer to 40%.  Our leaders tell us there is no inflation no matter how many trillions of fiat dollars they print, and all of us who shop for our own food, buy our own clothes, or pay utility bills know otherwise.

They tell us we won the war in Iraq.  We may have won it by the time King George II left but since Prince Obama got his hands on it ISIS tells us we haven’t.  Our leaders say we have won in Afghanistan.  Everyone in the world knows that the minute we leave the Taliban roll right back into Kabul and the sock puppets we have been supporting all these years as the leaders of a democratic Afghanistan will be flying to Switzerland in 747s filled with American taxpayer’s cash.  We are told Obamacare is a great success. Anyone who had insurance before it started knows that if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor has to be tempered by increased fees, increased deductibles, increased co-payments, and decreased covered services.

They tell us and they tell us and they tell us, we just don’t believe them anymore.

If these belchers of beltway bromides think every day working Americans swallow any of this they have seriously underestimated our intelligence, our interest, and our attention spans.

I have the opportunity to travel the country throughout the year.  I take what some call back roads, the secondary roads that parallel America’s vast Interstate system and that still goes through small towns instead of bypassing them and homogenizing everywhere in to anywhere.  I try to stop at Mom-and-Pop restaurants and take every opportunity possible to talk with people about the issues of the day.  Here’s what I find, Trump, Trump, Trump.

I believe the polls are skewed.  Perhaps people don’t want to say they are for Trump because they know the pollsters will look down on them as simple country bumpkins, racists, or reactionary supporters of old dead white guys.  Perhaps they are talking to those who are at home when the workers are busy working.  Whatever the reason I believe, and I predict that Trump is going to beat Hillary like a drum.  He is going to win in a landslide, and he is going to drag the Republican Party that tried to reject him along for the ride.  I am predicting that due to his wave election coattails the Republicans will increase their majorities in the House and the Senate.

What is the cause of this phenomenon?  Generations of politicians who run as outsiders and who become insiders as soon as they enter the moral and patriotic black hole and before they start swirling in the DC drain to their life-time pensions.  Generations of politicians who sold us out in so-called free trade deals that gave others a free pass into our markets while keeping their own locked to us.  Generations of politicians who have spent us into oblivion, printed more money that there is paper, and borrowed so much money from other nations that we are now the world’s greatest debtor.

So who is to blame for the coming over throw of the twin headed bird of prey that is the Government Party of Power: the politicians themselves. Living in their bubble asking why those who have no bread don’t eat cake they have no idea of what is coming.  Their pollsters are polling themselves and providing the information their paymasters want to see.  And all the while out here in the Heartland a tsunami is brewing that will wash them all away.

To paraphrase what Phil Ochs said so long ago,

In tattered tuxedos they faced the new heroes
And crawled about in confusion
All the hands raised, they stood there amazed
In the shattering of their illusions

Many of the nattering nabobs of negativism who dominate the 24 hour news cycle have been waiting expectantly for Trump to make one mega-gaff that will destroy his campaign.  To hear them crow you would believe he made it when he resurrected the phrase, “America First.”

First used as the name of a widely based organization that sought to keep us out of World War Two.  Then it was used in the nineties by Pat Buchanan in his prescient campaign to save America from the one-worlders.  The left has done their best to make this a catch phrase for defeat because they hate not only what it says but what it implies.  The Elite political class has sought to make it an unutterable phrase condemned by political correctness and exiled because in their minds to even say America First is to defile their one world religion.  They may believe they have tarnished the concept with 75 years of negative propaganda and indoctrination but still 57% of American citizens believe in America First, they want an America First foreign policy, an America First trade policy, and an America First immigration policy.  They want an America First president.

My prediction: After all is said and done, after all the dust settles, after Crooked Hillary goes home to lick her wounds, after the neo-con talking heads and their K-Street financiers realize the prize has slipped from their hands it will end up that Trump Trumps Never-Trump.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2016 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

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”.

It’s Always Darkest Before the Dawn

Honesty is always the best policy because when you’re fooling yourself you’re not fooling anyone else.  The recent election should have been a wake-up call for everyone committed to the traditional principles of our great Republic: constitutionally limited government, personal liberty, and economic freedom.  The weeping has lasted for a night, and now it is time to be honest with ourselves to face the cold clear light of day and to prayerfully find our way in this brave new world.

Obviously the dismal election results have captured the attention of everyone who hoped to avoid the triumph of the Progressives and their utopian statist agenda.  Every conservative pundit whether neo or old school either on the only non-progressive news channel or online is evaluating the election results and offering their prescription to heal the weaknesses of the Grand Old Party.  Some say embrace amnesty with limits, some say moderate the abortion plank, others say come out for legalization of drugs.  In other words continue the slide of the one-time bastion of traditional values into a mushy, touchy-feely Democrat-Lite.

This commentator is taking a different route.  I believe it is time to abandon the Republican Party as the empty shell it has become. Personally after a lifetime as a card-carrying, active, and contributing member of the GOP, I quit the Party back in the 1990s after the Congressional majority I had worked so hard to help achieve slid into tandem with Bill Clinton giving us a bigger government and sham surpluses.

I endorsed Mitt Romney in the recent election for the one reason I repeated over and over, he might have driven us to the poor house a little slower giving patriots some more time to rally round the flag.  That didn’t happen, and instead we are on the Obama Express to Fascism disguised as an American version of Euro-Socialism.  This may sound harsh to anyone who is unfamiliar with the actual definition of Fascism: socialism with a capitalist veneer.  It is typified by private ownership and government control, crony capitalism and the exploitation of the productive for the benefit of protected and promoted classes loyal to the regime.

Patriots may brand this as un-American and say that the American people will never accept the regimentation and control needed to implement such a system; however, the truth is the majority of the voting public just voluntarily chose it instead of a blatant appeal to free markets and love of country.  It is time to accept the new normal; generations of progressives have educated generations of Americans not only to believe they are entitled to cradle-to-grave government support but also to demand it as their right.  Combine these home grown supporters of free stuff over freedom with the import-a-voter immigration policies since the Kennedy Immigration Bill of 1965 and the Democrat entitlement machine has finally achieved the permanent majority they have been making down payments on since FDR.

Either through neglect or a stubborn belief that it can’t happen here we have stood by while the Progressives successfully changed our nation from one founded upon a rock-solid constitution to one built upon the sand of a living constitution which is a dead letter.

How do we put the tooth paste back in the tube?  How do we changeAmericaback to what it was?  The only way to do it is one mind at a time.  We must concentrate on raising our children with a clear understanding of limited government and personal freedom.    We must work to gain influence in our local school boards and communities so that we can ensure that the knowledge of American History and our heritage of freedom isn’t lost or corrupted.  And I believe we must abandon the GOP as the shadow of its former self that it has become.

Personally, I identify most closely with the Constitution Party.  This party states its mission clearly:

The mission of the Constitution Party is to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity through the election, at all levels of government, of Constitution Party candidates who will uphold the principles of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of theUnited   States, and the Bill of Rights. It is our goal to limit the federal government to its delegated, enumerated, Constitutional functions.

There are other parties that we as freedom loving Americans can join and I encourage everyone to explore their options.  One option I reject is re-arranging the deck chairs on the good ship GOP-Titanic as it pulls further into the Progressive harbor.

That is the political side of a conservative way forward.  And while the political side is filled with work and hope for a better tomorrow the spiritual side is filled with joy, opportunity, and eternal reward.

The victory of the secular humanists and the triumph of the political expression of their man-centered philosophy: Progressivism, will empower their war against faith in general and Christianity is particular.  This will increase the soft oppression which works to remove every vestige of Christ from the public square.  It may also usher in the type of persecution that generally accompanies the fall of a Christian nation to the secular religions of the Left, Socialism, Communism, and Fascism.

All of which will open the greatest door for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the memory of any living American.  Evil may come in like a flood, but the Lord will raise a standard against it.  We don’t need to worry about evil doers for they may flourish for an hour but they will also fade like a flower.  Proclaim Christ as the One who not only lived to show us the way but who is Himself the Way, who died to pay the price for our sin and who rose to give us life.  If we will confess Christ before men He will confess us before His Father who is in heaven.

This night may be dark, the way may be perilous, but joy comes in the morning.  If we remain true to Him no one can snatch us out of His hand.  Stand up for the freedom Christ has won for us!  Refuse to be silent in the face of tyranny!  Share the History of our great Republic and shout from the rooftops, Jesus is Lord!

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2012 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

 

 

 

Not Worth a Continental

The Federal Reserve System (the Fed) was established in 1913 as one of the cornerstones of the Progressive agenda.  They said it was a way to stop the boom and bust cycle which has always been a fixture of capitalist economies.  The Fed is America’s third Central Bank.  The First and Second Banks of the United States were born out of Alexander Hamilton’s ideas as expressed in his famous Second Report on Public Credit in 1790.  The first bank was allowed to expire and the last was ultimately killed by Andrew Jackson in 1833. Jackson believed the Bank had too great an influence politically and economically.

TheUnited   Statesgrew to become the greatest industrial power on earth in the next eighty years without a central bank.

Established in 1913, the Federal Reserve is America’s central bank.  It is semi-independent/semi-public depending on which role is needed to justify its actions.  It is run by a board of seven Governors.  These Governors are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.  Led by a Chairman who is also appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate these eight people control a system of twelve Regional Federal Reserve Banks which have numerous branches throughout theUnited States. The Fed can expand or contract the money supply in many ways.  They print money both physically and digitally, they set interest rates, they can loosen or tighten the regulations for lending, and they can purchase debt from the Treasury.  Most of these measures are neither understood nor noticed by the general public.  This helps build and maintain the impression of a mysterious institution behind a curtain pulling levers and pressing buttons secretly controlling the economy.  In many ways this impression is correct

Ben Bernanke is the current Chairman of the Federal Reserve.  Some believe that this is the most important post in the United States because the Federal Reserve controls our economy through its control of the money supply.  Mr. Bernanke acquired the nickname Helicopter Ben from a speech he delivered in 2002 entitled, “Deflation: Making Sure “It” Doesn’t Happen Here.”

In this famous speech he said, “The sources of deflation are not a mystery. Deflation is in almost all cases a side effect of a collapse of aggregate demand – a drop in spending so severe that producers must cut prices on an ongoing basis in order to find buyers. Likewise, the economic effects of a deflationary episode, for the most part, are similar to those of any other sharp decline in aggregate spending–namely, recession, rising unemployment, and financial stress.”  This is a well stated summation of the problem of deflation.

As a defense against the ravages of deflation the future Chairman of the Federal Reserve never actually said he would drop money from a helicopter.  What he said was, “The U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press (or today, its electronic equivalent), that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at no cost.”  Which was coupled by later analysts and pundits with the statement, “A money-financed tax cut is essentially equivalent to Milton Friedman’s famous ‘helicopter drop’ of money.”

In the popular imagination this has been shortened into the oft misquoted belief that he said he would get in a helicopter and drop bales of money to combat deflation.

The collapse of the Housing Bubble in 2008 brought the American economy to a standstill and threatened to escalate into a systemic collapse of major banks and other financial institutions.  To stop the wheels from coming off the commercial cart the politicians reacted with unusual speed and vigor.  George Bush famously said, “I’ve abandoned free market principles to save the free market system” when he advocated and passed the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) which was designed to buy mortgage backed securities in an effort to inject money into the American banking system and thus restart the economy.  This 700 Billion dollar fund (later resized to 475 Billion) was eventually used instead to bailout major banks, AIG, and buy GM and Chrysler with only 22 billion ever going to buy toxic assets.

This was followed by President Obama’s stimulus bill which cost another 800 billion and was supposedly designed to kick start the economy by providing jobs.  The Congressional Budget Office eventually evaluated that these shovel-ready jobs cost 4.1 million each.  But then again as our President later joked, “Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected.”

Spending government money to prime the economic pump cannot work.  The government doesn’t produce anything.  It must either take the money out of the economy through taxation taking from the productive for the benefit of the unproductive or print the money thus causing inflation.  All the government can do is redistribute wealth; it does not create it.  And when the government is in the business of picking winners and losers we all lose freedom, liberty, and opportunity.

Inflation is a rise in the general level of prices related to an increase in the volume of money and the resulting loss of value of currency.   The Progressives didn’t invent inflation.  The Obama Administration isn’t the first to resort to inflation to keep the ball rolling without the pain of tax increases.  America was born in inflation.  During the Revolution one of the greatest problems was how to finance the war.  America was effectively blockaded by the massive British fleet and unable to trade with the rest of the world.  So the government printed the money they needed, and printed and printed and printed until the money was effectively worthless coining instead of wealth the shameful saying, “Not worth a Continental.”  These early ancestors to our dollar were eventually redeemed at 100 to 1.

Helicopter Ben has already overseen two rounds of monetary inflation referred to by the mysterious name of Quantitative Easing (QE) which is a fancy way of saying the Fed floods the banks with money.  The staggering size of these have only now begun to come to light showing that since the 2008 collapse the Fed has flushed more than 16 trillion dollars out of the pockets of taxpayers and into the hands of banks and corporations both foreign and domestic designated by the Federal Government as too big to fail.  That is more money in four years than the entire national debt which has taken 236 years to accumulate and QE 3 is on the way.

While running for office and telegraphing his distributive goals Mr. Obama said we need to spread the wealth around. Chairman Bernanke has said the government can produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at no cost.  However, no matter what these two wannabe puppet masters may believe there is no free lunch.  In their insolated ivory-tower gated community world they may never have to pay the tab for their misguided attempts to create wealth with the wave of their hand.  Those of us who work for a living who live in the world of family budgets will.  The money we earn will be worth less and less and less until it is worthless.  The money we have saved will lose value day by day.  Someday people may not say, “It’s not worth a Continental.” They may instead say, “It’s not worth a dollar.”

The problem with getting older is you can remember when what we now pay at the pump was a car payment, and what we now pay for groceries was a house payment.  The central-planers behind the curtain in OZ may tell us there is no inflation, but our eyes and our wallets tell us something else: the truth.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2012 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens

 

Hunker in the Bunker and Wait for the Rain

As those of you who follow these wandering pages know I have recently re-aligned my life to turn and face the strange changes that are overtaking Western Civilization with ever increasing speed.  Like ripples whose shape and size shifts but never leave the stream, change is the only constant in a society careening towards a cliff.

The descendants of those who built the empire no longer produce enough children to man the walls. The will to win and the desire to excel has been replaced by a complacency bred of bread, circuses, and entitlement checks distributed by a perpetually re-elected legislature designed to keep the marks from catching the con. A series of lack-luster presidents set the stage for collapse.  One declares a new world order and then loses his bid for re-election to a saxophone playing party-boy.  This surprise president sets the morality bar so low his scurrilous actions and obvious lack of character corrupt the very fiber of our nation.  The next two expand the government and spend us into oblivion.

Empires rise and empires fall.  That is the way of the world and the lesson of History.  From the 15th century through the 20th Western Civilization used a temporary advantage in technology to conquer the world.  Where our military conquered we imposed our culture.  Where we didn’t gain political control the vision of our seemingly invulnerable strength and our unstoppable progress led local leaders to discard much of what was theirs to imitate what they coveted of ours.

For five centuries Western Civilization ruled supreme.  It was our way or the highway so in our pride we decided ours was theHigh Way.  Then in two spectacular bouts of societal suicide, World War I and World War II, we killed, maimed, and butchered ourselves.  We wasted the accumulated riches of centuries and showed the millions of colonial subject people who were brought in to help kill whoever the enemy happened to be that Westerners weren’t invulnerable, weren’t unconquerable, and weren’t even smart enough to avoid the slaughter or hide the evidence.

The destruction of the economies and populations of the various colonial powers inevitably led to the break-up of the empires and the rise of a bi-polar world that pitted a world-wide Communism that was inimical to everything Western Civilization stood for against a united West now led by the newest edition to their ranks: the United States.

We had allied ourselves with the Communists to defeat the Fascists.  However the victory of 1945 vanished into fifty years of a Cold War that flashed hot enough times to kill many tens of thousands.  This epic struggle brought the Communists to their knees and us to the edge of bankruptcy.  As we defeated Communism its less threatening little brother Socialism crept in the back door.  We adopted the tenants of socialism: equality of outcome financed by expropriation and wealth and re-distribution to pacify our population through the long war.  Today we are fast becoming all we have fought against for the last sixty years: a centrally-planned economy, a regimented society, and a totalitarian state.

This century long series of debilitating wars sapped our will to reproduce just as technology gave us birth control and lax morals gave us abortion.  This unholy trinity turned into a demographic time bomb that ensures the eventual submerging of the peoples of the West beneath waves of immigrants swarming in to take their place. The moral rot swilled out fromHollywood, and a reality show culture exemplified and condoned by the political elite inspires and reflects a hedonism that would have made Caligula blush.  The entitlement mentality foisted and fostered by buy-a-vote-with-benefits governments has sapped people of the drive and desire to do anything more than sit on a couch and dream of their chance at the golden ring of fifteen minutes of fame.

Sounds like a dismal picture doesn’t it?  The most depressing part of the whole thing is that it is true.

Empires rise and empires fall and it is our lot to live on the declining end of Western Civilization: the greatest empire of all time (so far).

No one ever gets to live in the world they were raised in.  Time moves on and things change.  However most generations don’t watch the inversion of the world they grew up in.  Today things we thought were wrong are now right.  Things we thought were right are now wrong.  What made you healthy yesterday kills you today.  The wisdom of the ancients was once sought after in a world of constants today obsolesce often proceeds production in a microwave throw-away culture.

The world has been turned upside down.

Just as a British general marched out of Yorktown to surrender to a rag-tag bunch of summer soldiers, so we the children of those who stormed the beaches on D-Day to free Europe and end the darkness that was Nazism will wonder how were we defeated  by those we had once so easily dominated?

The answer will be the same as it was for the British in the Revolution and for the Nazis in World War II: we defeated ourselves.  Our over confidence and our desire to have it all led us to forsake the values that brought about our success and the principles that made us who we were.  While the Socialist Progressives march us off to the shabby future they have centrally-planned perhaps instead of the World Turned Upside Down we should sing a paraphrase of a line from the sixties, “In tattered tuxedos they face the new heroes and crawl about in confusion.  All the hands raised; they stand there amazed at the shattering of their illusions.”

We stand at the edge of the abyss.  We know not what will be only that it will not be what it has been.  Do not despair.  Do not lose hope.  Have faith in Christ.  Follow Him and He will guide you to a safe harbor amidst the storm.  I have found my place. I am preparing every day for the coming crescendo. My best advice is find Christ, find your place, and hunker down.

Keep the faith.  Keep the peace.  We shall overcome.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2012 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens

 

Our BOY BARRY

Yet Another Energy Department Aid Recipient has Filed for Bankruptcy Protection

Ener1 — a lithium-ion battery-maker whose EnerDel subsidiary received a $118.5 million grant from DOE as part of the 2009 stimulus — has filed for Chapter 11 protection, the company announced Thursday.

Ener1 owns 80.5 percent of EnerDel, while 19.5 percent is owned by the auto parts manufacturer Delphi, according a company press release last week.

The news comes just as President Barack Obama tours the country touting his energy plan. It’s also exactly a year since Vice President Joe Biden visited the company to highlight Obama’s 2011 State of the Union promise to put 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015, a plan that has largely fallen by the wayside.

Ener1’s filing, in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, is part of a “pre-packaged” plan that will restructure the company and bring in as much as $81 million in new capital.
The plan is designed to keep the Ener1’s operations going and not lose any jobs, according to the company.

But House Republicans are already up in arms over the failures of Solyndra and Beacon Power, which received loan guarantees under a different DOE program, and say the latest news fits a pattern.

“Instead of producing thousands of ‘clean energy’ jobs, the administration’s loan guarantee and grant programs are yielding another bankruptcy and the squandering of taxpayer dollars,” said Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight panel. “This is another reason why the White House should not be picking winners and losers among American manufacturers.”

Stearns also questioned the timing of the announcement, which came just days after Obama touted renewable energy during his State of the Union address.
“It is interesting that Ener1 made the filing after the president touted subsidies for batteries given that the administration asked Solyndra to hold off the announcement of job losses until after the 2010 elections,” Stearns said.

In November, House Republicans released emails in which an adviser to Argonaut Private Equity, a major backer of Solyndra, wrote that DOE officials “did push very hard for us to hold our announcement of the consolidation to employees and vendors to Nov. 3,” the day after the midterm elections. The adviser added that “oddly they didn’t give a reason for that date.”

DOE stressed that Ener1 is not going under and said its technology is sound.
“This grant is part of the department’s efforts to commercialize promising vehicle technologies that will help America to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and ensure U.S. companies can compete in the global auto industry,” DOE spokeswoman Jen Stutsman said in an email. “While it’s unfortunate that Ener1, the parent company, has entered a restructuring process, the new infusion of $80 million in private capital demonstrates that the technology has merit.”

DOE has paid out almost $55 million of the grant. It stopped payments last year after Ener1 began faltering and was pulled from trading on NASDAQ.
Stutsman said DOE will pay out the remainder of the grant dollar for dollar to match the company’s investments.

EnerDel also received some federal contracts during the George W. Bush administration, including a $6.5 million contract in 2007 with DOE and a consortium of auto manufacturers that shared half the cost, and a $4 million battery R&D deal in 2008 from the Defense Department.

“Our business plan was impacted when demand for lithium-ion batteries slowed due to lower-than-expected adoption for electric passenger vehicles,” Ener1 CEO Alex Sorokin said in a statement. “We believe that the restructuring plan will enable us to address our business and financial challenges comprehensively, quickly and efficiently, and position us to compete much more effectively in the energy storage market.”
The company said all of its creditors are on board with the plan, which a district bankruptcy court must approve.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0112/72032_Page2.html#ixzz1kfko4wyF

A simple lesson about debt

Americans instinctively understand that Washington needs to stop borrowing money.

Every public opinion poll done last year showed overwhelming support for freezing the debt limit. Republican voters were in favor by about 80 percent, but even a majority of Democratic voters wanted to see this drastic action taken.

Nevertheless, Congress, including the House Republicans, voted overwhelmingly to give Barack Obama all the money he needed to keep bankrupting America through the end of his term.Americans instinctively understand that Washington needs to stop borrowing money.

Every public opinion poll done last year showed overwhelming support for freezing the debt limit. Republican voters were in favor by about 80 percent, but even a majority of Democratic voters wanted to see this drastic action taken.

Nevertheless, Congress, including the House Republicans, voted overwhelmingly to give Barack Obama all the money he needed to keep bankrupting America through the end of his term.

Click here to learn more about the “Red Ink Campaign”
and how it can help stop congress from raising the debt limit.

In 2011, U.S. tax revenue equaled about $2.2 trillion. Washington politicians didn’t think that was enough to do all the good work they needed to do. So they agreed to spend $3.8 trillion, borrowing another $1.65 trillion in the process. To do that, they voted to increase the debt limit beyond $14.3 trillion.

That’s how America lost its top credit rating. But most of the politicians still don’t get it. In fact, they claimed that the top credit rating would be lost if they didn’t raise the debt limit. In fact, almost immediately after they took that action, the credit rating was lowered.

But America has a lot more to worry about with debt than a lower credit rating. Our entire way of life depends on getting borrowing under control.

There is only one solution: Cut spending – by about $1 trillion a year. Instead, Washington cut planned spending by only $38 billion. If you want to understand how insignificant that cut was, let me put it in perspective.

Speaker of the House John BoehnerLet’s say your family income is $21,700 a year, but you spend $38,200 using credit cards. Obviously, you can’t go on much longer living like that. But instead of cutting up the credit cards and living within your means, you decide to cut spending by only $385 a year.

That’s what Washington did in 2011.

Another way to understand it is like this: Let’s say there’s a sewer backup in your neighborhood that causes your house to be filled up with sludge.

What do you do?

1.Raise the ceilings of your house?

2.Pump out the sludge?

I think the choice is pretty obvious. Most of us would pump out the sludge. But that’s not what Congress and Barack Obama did. Instead, they decided to raise the ceilings.

We can’t go on like this much longer.

The day of reckoning is coming. Congress is about to raise the debt limit again this year, and Republicans have already compromised away their 100-percent authority to stop it with the silly compromise last year to cut only $38 billion. There’s not much we can do about that right now. But we can start a massive brushfire throughout this country to ensure that Republicans get their heads on straight in 2013 and say no more to borrowing.

You simply can’t address this explosive debt bomb by continuing to borrow, while claiming to be working on a balanced budget five years from now or 10 years from now. We don’t have five or 10 more years.

The debt has reached about $15 trillion already – exceeding the total gross domestic product of the U.S.

Worse yet, by allowing Washington to borrow, we allow them to destroy the Constitution and its strict limits on what the federal government can do. If Washington can spend whatever it wants without accountability to the people, we no longer have constitutionally limited government – and tyranny is right around the corner.

That’s why I need your urgent help in my “No More Red Ink” campaign – the only grass-roots lobbying effort around focused on freezing debt and forcing responsibility on Washington in the short term.

Click here to take part today and send every Republican member of the House majority a letter putting them on notice that you expect them to freeze the debt in 2013 and return our country to constitutionally limited government and a balanced budget next year. So far we have generated 1 million letters. We may need to generate 10 million. But it’s simple, fast and very inexpensive to participate.

Where To Make Cuts

Federal stimulus money for Oregon jobs hired foreign workers

By Charles Pope, The Oregonian

WASHINGTON — At least $7 million in federal stimulus money intended to provide jobs to unemployed Oregonians instead paid wages to 254 foreign workers, federal investigators have concluded.

The money was for forest clean-up jobs in central Oregon where thousands of experienced workers were idle. When the contracts were announced in 2009, Oregon had the third-highest unemployment rate in the nation at 11.1 percent, with rates in the state’s rural forest counties nearly 15 percent and higher.

Even so, the contractors told federal regulators they could not find enough local workers for the jobs.

That came as a surprise to local officials, who said they often got hundreds of responses to every job opening.

“This is a timber area and we hadn’t been cutting trees for years,” said state Sen. Chris Telfer, R-Bend. “It really ticked off a lot of people here.”

In a report on the investigation this week, the Department of Labor’s Inspector General found that contractors who brought in foreign workers violated no laws or regulations, but used legal loopholes to hire foreign workers.

While legal, the hiring practices appear to violate the spirit and purpose of the $840 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, better known as the stimulus, which was designed to create jobs that would jumpstart the country out of recession.

“The goal of the stimulus bill was to put Americans back to work, not foreign nationals,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., who asked for the investigation in September 2010.

“It is obscene that U.S. companies were rewarded for abusing our American workers and immigration laws to undercut competition and squeeze more profits out of contracts,” DeFazio said. “Oregonians have been logging for over a century, our workforce is one of the best in the world, and these contracts should have been awarded to companies that hire Oregon loggers.”

The federal investigation looked at 14 contracts to clear federal forests in central Oregon. The contracts were controlled by four Oregon companies: Medford Cutting Edge Forestry, Summitt Forestry, Ponderosa Reforestations, and G.E. Forestry. All hired foreign workers, according to the report, though they didn’t all handle hiring in the same way.

The contractors applied for H-2B visas allowing them to hire workers for seasonal jobs, according to the report. In order to get clearance, contractors must prove the jobs can’t be filled with local residents and that pay won’t dilute local prevailing wages.

But there is a loophole. Under federal rules, notice of the job openings must be made where the job “originates.” And while the bulk of the work took place in Oregon, smaller jobs originated in other states.

According to reports by The Bend Bulletin, which revealed the foreign hires in a series of stories last year that triggered DeFazio’s call for an investigation, contractors advertised the jobs in tiny newspapers in California and Washington state for several days.

“Employers were not required to recruit U.S. workers in Oregon, and we were provided no evidence that they did,” federal investigators said. “Workers in Oregon were likely unaware that these job opportunities were available.”

In fact, although 146 U.S. workers were contacted for possible employment, investigators found that none was hired.

Contractors used another regulation to dampen response from Oregon residents, the report said. The visa regulations allowed the contractors to do all their hiring four months before work started. That made unemployed workers who needed jobs immediately reluctant to commit to temporary jobs four months later.

Despite the barriers, 29 U.S. workers learned of the jobs and asked about employment. The report did not say if they were from Oregon.

“We verified with the employers that none of these workers actually began employment with them,” the report says.

The reason?

“We spoke with two workers who reported that the employer used discouraging language, such as references to age and inquiries about speaking another language, which are not valid conditions of employment,” the report says.

The report does not address the nationality of the workers who were hired.

As required, the employers also notified state workforce agencies of the openings. But just as with obscure newspaper ads, the state postings were far-afield, with the notices sent to Arizona, California, Idaho, Washington and Wyoming.

The Labor Department did not respond to a request for comment, but agency officials have announced plans to revise regulations dealing with H-2B visas.

Congress is likely to act, too. Aides to DeFazio said he is closely monitoring the Labor Department’s proposals for fixing the problems and is not ruling out other action. And in the Senate, Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden said he is watching as well.

“Right now there are 14 million job seekers in the U.S. and three million job openings.” Wyden said. “Given those numbers, there is absolutely no reason why hard-working Oregonians should be passed over en masse for Oregon jobs in favor of foreign workers.”

— Charles Pope

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