Saturday, April 30, 2011

Herman Cain Blogger's Call, April 29th

Potential Presidential Candidate Herman Cain
Thursday evening I had the opportunity to sit in on the blogger’s conference call for potential presidential candidate Herman Cain, who was in New Hampshire engaging in what he termed “retail politics”.

The call began with his Communications Director Ellen Carmichael  informing us that, including the Tax Day Tea Party rallies he had attended, Mr. Cain had made 12 speeches, in 10 states, in 8 days.

In addition she let us know that Cain had won the Presidential Straw Poll held during Congressman Steve King’s Conservative Principles Conference in Des Moines, Iowa back on March 26th.
Ms. Carmichael concluded her introduction by telling us that Mr. Cain had been featured on ‘Special Report w/Brett Baer’ earlier in the evening on Fox News Channel and that his “mainstream media star was rising”.

Then the potential candidate himself made his opening remarks, telling those on the line that in his travels around the nation he was getting a very positive response to his message and that he was not simply making speeches and talking to people, but also listening to the people.

What he said he’s hearing is that the American people are frustrated with the lack of leadership they’re seeing from the current occupant of the White House. In particular the frustration with the lack of leadership from the administration on a subject that affects every American, everyday, the price of gas.

He was asked many questions about how bloggers could help get his message out. One blogger asked if he could be sure to get at least one Tweet out per day, which he said he would do. Apparently since the profile on ‘Special Report’ his Twitter following has increased significantly. As of 11:50 PM, April 29th his followers on  @THEHermanCain numbered 22,445.

Asked what his message to the youth of America was he said, “Don’t stay on the sidelines because when you become a productive adult, there may not be any sidelines.”

When my turn came I asked Mr. Cain about specific federal departments he would eliminate to cut the budget. He didn’t want to get too specific, saying that he’d like to do a detailed assessment of all the cabinet departments to identify which ones needed improvement or elimination.

Not completely satisfied with that answer I asked him more specifically about two cabinet level departments created under the Carter Administration, the Department of Energy and the Department of Education and I asked him whether either of them had achieved the purposes they were intended to.

To his credit Mr. Cain chose to address the two departments individually, saying of the Department of Education that he’d like to “unbundle it”. He went on to say that any program he identified that had unfunded mandates would be “unraveled” or he would “disband it”. He also said he would ask the States what was working and what wasn’t. I would characterize him as wanting to use a scalpel rather than a chainsaw on the department.

In terms of the Department of Energy, he addressed the EPA. He called the EPA “the most abusive agency in Washington, DC, hindering our economic growth, second only to the IRS”.

He also said that, “We have gone regulatory crazy”. And that he would appoint a regulatory reduction commission to address the EPA, IRS, the Department of Labor and the Department of Commerce.

He closed out the call by thanking the bloggers “for being patriots” and ended the call by saying “It’s not about us, it’s about the grandchildren”.

Monday, April 25, 2011

US Energy Policy Simplified For Politicians To Understand (Updated 4/28/11)

With the price of food and other commodities on the rise and the national average for a gallon of gasoline at about $3.85 and climbing, Americans are feeling the pinch and getting angry. Yet the President says there’s no “silver bullet” that will quickly bring down gas prices. In addition the government tells us that inflation is low, because it excludes food and energy from the calculation.

Well the President and the administration are lying to the American people and many of us are fully aware of it. They tell us with a straight face that the US only possesses about 2% of the world’s energy reserves. They also tell us that more domestic drilling would have little affect on the price of gasoline and that any new drilling wouldn’t affect supply for at least 10 years. All lies!

The truth is the US has more untapped energy reserves than any other nation, especially if you include ANWAR, the outer-continental shelf, the Gulf of Mexico, untapped reserves in the mountain states and reserves of coal, natural gas and oil shale. The US has 8 times more oil in the form of shale alone, than exists in all of Saudia Arabia.

If we had started additional domestic drilling 5 years ago, the last time the national average for gasoline was approaching $4 a gallon, that crude would be flowing by now. And anytime a US President says that we are going to drill for more US energy, the price of crude immediately drops. Much of the speculation on oil futures is emotionally driven. If traders believe that supplies will increase in the future, the price falls.

So here is the very simple plan for US energy policy going forward for any politician, or dare I say leader, bold enough to follow it:

1. Stop printing money. Oil is traded in US dollars. When the dollar is weakened and devalued by printing too much currency, the price of oil rises.

2. End altogether subsidies for all “green energy” (i.e. wind turbines, solar panels, ethanol, bio-diesel, etc.).

Wind turbines only work when there is wind, they kill birds & bats so environmentalists hate them.

Solar is only good when the sun is shining and it takes vast farms of solar panels to generate a profitable amount of energy, so again environmentalists hate them and complain about them marring the landscape.

Making ethanol puts 37% of our corn crop into our gas tanks, raising the price of feed for livestock and in turn for food. It also takes more energy to produce a gallon of ethanol than you can extract from it. This means the more ethanol the government mandates the oil companies to blend into our gasoline, the less miles per gallon you get for increasingly expensive gas. (SEE UPDATE BELOW).

Ironically in many areas of the world deforestation is occurring to make more farmland to grow more corn to produce ethanol. This has the affect of increasing carbon dioxide levels that environmentalists would have us believe are contributing to “manmade climate change".

If these “clean” energy technologies can be made efficient and profitable, so be it. But the government should not be subsidizing them to artificially prop them up.

3. Phase out all tax credits for oil, natural gas and coal companies while simultaneously phasing out oppressive regulatory structures. These are all well established industries. Without subsidies propping up the “green” energies these industries should be able to be profitable, without tax credits from the government, if unnecessary and cumbersome regulations are removed.

4. Build more refineries in the United States and make it easier to modernize the existing ones. The US has not built a new refinery in more than 30 years and modernizing the existing ones is a regulatory nightmare. We don’t have enough refining capacity to meet our growing needs.

5. Open up more of ANWAR for drilling. The Trans-Alaskan Pipeline as been proven safe and the caribou love it, they snuggle against it for warmth. The area in question is relatively small but has much energy to yield.

6. Issue more leases for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico in both shallow and deep water, including 7-10 miles off the coast of Florida. If we enforce our safety regulations and put in place the equipment to mitigate any spill it is safe to drill for oil, much safer than shipping oil from half way around the world on tankers, where most accidents actually happen.

7. Disband the US Department of Energy. The Department was created during the Carter Administration allegedly for the purposes of creating a coherent US energy policy and making the US more energy independent. It has done neither, but has cost the American taxpayers billions of dollars over the course of the past 3 decades, while creating no solutions and a vast wasteful bureaucracy.

8. Reign in the EPA and end the lie that carbon dioxide is a pollutant or “greenhouse gas”. Al Gore’s convenient lie is that carbon dioxide levels have historically risen AFTER a corresponding increase in global temperatures, not before. The very idea that humans and animals exhaling pollutes the atmosphere defies all logic and common sense and is not supported by science. It is quite simply green-propaganda.

9. Inform Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait and other OPEC nations that, since we are now producing our own domestic sources of energy, we will no longer be held hostage by their cartel. Those countries that we have freed or shielded from aggression with our military can sell us oil at a fair market price or lose our protection and the right to buy our military hardware. We should not and will not be buying oil from countries like Venezuela and Iran that are hostile to US interests and support terrorism against our allies and/or us.

10. Build more nuclear power plants in the United States, taking care to build them in areas that are geologically stable and relatively seismically inactive. If the French cansafely get 80% of their electricity from nuclear energy, the United States should be able to achieve similar results.

11. Free American innovators and entrepreneurs to explore other alternative energy sources that we haven’t even thought of yet. When left to it’s own devices the American entrepreneurial spirit can achieve more than any government program ever could.

None of this is complicated; it’s just common sense and good economic policy, foreign policy, national security policy and environmental policy as well.

It requires genuine leadership and the willingness to put the interests of the American people and our nation before the interests of foreign dictators and so-called “environmentalists”.

Steven Rosenblum is the host of 'Conservative Republican Forum' & 'CRF Weekdays' on BlogTalkRadio and the USA Talk Radio Network. He was also the 2010 GOP nominee for Florida State House-District 89.

UPDATE (4/28/11): We interviewed Congressman Steve King (R-IA) this afternoon on 'CRF Weekdays' and asked him about the amount of corn being used to produce ethanol and ending subsidies for it. Congressman King gave an excellent and in-depth answer on the subject of producing ethanol, with more up-to-date information than I had when I originally wrote this article.

He explained that the corn being used to produce ethanol is not corn grown for human consumption, but for livestock feed. He also explained that the starch is used to make ethanol, while the protein is used to make high quality feed. Therefore the amount of loss is negligible and does not affect food prices.

In addition, he explained that while it was true in the early days of ethanol production that the process was inefficient and it required more energy to produce a gallon of ethanol than you could extract from it, that is no longer the case. In fact, it now requires less BTUs to produce a gallon of ethanol than it does a gallon of gasoline.

Furthermore, since the ethanol industry can now compete with the oil industry, both he and the ethanol producers now favor a "soft landing" for ethanol subsidies. In other words they want to phase them out.

You can hear the complete interview with Congressman King by clicking HERE.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

atlas-shrugged-movie-poster_e.jpgStarring: Taylor Shilling, Grant Bowler, Matthew Marsden, Graham Beckel, Edi GathegiJsu Garcia and Michael Lerner
Directed by: Paul Johansson
Rating: PG-13
**** (out of 5 stars)

Atlas Shrugged- The Movie Part 1 opened, appropriately enough, on April 15th. Based on the 1957 book by Ayn Rand this movie has been greatly anticipated by conservatives since its production was first announced.

I say appropriately enough because April 15th (Federal Income Tax Day) is the day that the productive members of American society provide the funds for progressives and those that believe in “Social Justice” to redistribute.

The underlying themes of Atlas Shrugged are the dangers of an overreaching government, the loss of respect for those that produce and what happens when individual achievement is demonized in favor of equal outcomes.

Having not read the book, I had no preconceived notions of what to expect when I saw this movie. I was pleased to find well-developed characters and stellar performances all around.

The central characters: are Dagny Taggart- played brilliantly by Taylor Schilling, Henry Rearden- played by Grant Bowler, James Taggart- played by Matthew Marsden and Ellis Wyatt- played by Graham Beckel (the older, smarter brother of Bob Beckel).

Dagny Taggart and her brother James are the owners of Taggart Transcontinental, the largest remaining railroad company in America. Dagny is hardworking and interested only in running the company to make it successful. James is more interested in using his contacts in Washington, DC and the reputation of the company their father left them to slide by.

Henry Rearden owns and operates Rearden Metal, which is unveiling a new and untested metal, which holds the promise of revolutionizing the steel industry. He and Dagny cut a deal to rebuild the century old Taggart rail line in Colorado to create a reliable transportation corridor for Ellis Wyatt’s oil company.
Behind the scenes there are sinister, progressive forces moving to destroy the innovation and entrepreneurial efforts of these three characters for their own ideological reasons.

All the while, the best and brightest employees of the biggest and most innovative companies are vanishing. The only clue to their disappearances is one question: “Who is John Galt?” By the end of the first third of Ayn Rand’s tale you will know the answer to that classic question.
That is the question.

You will recognize themes in this 54-year old story that are pertinent to the issues we face today:
• Unions complaining that large companies need to provide jobs for workers, even as they create a climate where those same large companies cannot provide those jobs.
• Government regulations designed to prevent entrepreneurs from profiting from their labors.
• The idea that equal outcomes are more important than compensation for doing the best work or producing the best product.

I found the performance of Graham Beckel especially satisfying. The smarter, conservative brother of Fox Newscontributor Bob Beckel, provides a very enthusiastic performance as oil titan Ellis Wyatt. Wyatt is exploiting vast untapped reserves of oil and natural gas in Colorado, the only state in the union that is still productive in Atlas’ fictional (but eerily realistic) 2016.

For viewers that enjoy looking for cameos, keep an eye out for Andrew Breitbart (of Big GovernmentBig Hollywood fame).

Overall this movie is well worth the price of admission and I would suggest that conservatives try to bring their liberal friends and family along. Don’t tell them it’s a political story. You can tell them honestly that it is a great drama, with an excellent plot that includes mystery and romance as well.
Atlas may have shrugged, but at the end of the 102 minutes, you will applaud.

Note: The producers have said that they will only make Parts 2 and 3 if Part 1 draws enough people to the theatres. So get out to the movies and see ‘Atlas Shrugged- Part 1’ and if you enjoy it as much as I did… See it 2 or 3 more times!