Gas Prices and the Energy Bill That Wasn’t

Even though I am not a huge fan of George W. Bush, I always took great offense at those who attacked him and Dick Cheney for crafting policy that would enrich their oil buddies at the expense of the American taxpayer, charges often without a shred of proof. But as the price of crude and gasoline soar to new heights, I’m beginning to think those folks were on to something, even though they couldn’t prove a thing. For the Bush administration has done next to nothing to alleviate the growing problem of rising fuel costs, a threat that could swallow up the middle class and destroy any economic growth we might now be experiencing. The Bush silence on this issue is deafening.

Yet just recently the president signed a massive, do-nothing “energy” bill, running over 1,700 pages and providing some $14.5 billion in tax breaks and other incentives, an act Michael Economides, writing in the Houston Business Journal, labeled “worse than no legislation at all.” This bill, which our good friends at Citizens Against Government Waste say adds another $66 billion in federal spending, does absolutely nothing to lower the price of gasoline, a serious energy problem plaguing everyone. Which forces us to ask the question: Does Bush actually want to lower the price? It doesn’t seem like it to me. The president even stated while signing it that it is “not going to solve our energy challenges overnight.” So Mr. Bush, what are you going to do about our current problems?

The Energy Policy Act might provide some long term solutions, but we need relief now! For starters, the president should do everything within his power to lower the ever-increasing price for a gallon of fuel. This should include pumping out the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to add supply to the market, which Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has recently advocated. Critics of this idea within the administration argue that the reserve should be saved for emergencies, like disruptions in overseas imports. Yet oil is continually being added to the reserve as we speak, rather than being pumped out of it, and prices continue to rise.  A repeal of the gas tax would also greatly aid consumers.

Bush should also work to break up the OPEC cartel rather than fully supporting it. We’ve done quite a lot for our friends in the Middle East (as well as Mexico) and it’s high time they paid up! Yet instead of confronting Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, our president is seen walking hand-in-hand with the now deceased Saudi King Faud, a sickening sight! This was one argument for leaving Saddam Hussein in power in Iraq. While there, he posed a significant threat to the Saudis, as well as to the entire region. But he did not dare move on anyone with the U.S. defense umbrella in place and most of his offensive capabilities smashed during Desert Storm and the continuing Allied air patrols over the no-fly zones. We could always use that as leverage when we needed it, but no more.

And while on the subject of Iraq, why should we have liberated them free of charge? We have spent hundreds of billions of dollars and have lost over 1800 of our brave soldiers with another 13,000 wounded to secure for the Iraqi people at least the possibility of living in a free and democratic society. There is nothing wrong or immoral about being repaid with oil. America is always generally concerned with human rights abuses around the world and we usually end up paying in either blood or treasure (or both) to help fix it, but have you ever noticed that no one is ever concerned with our problems? The Iraqis, along with the people of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, ought to be down on their hands and knees thanking us profusely for liberating their region of a dangerous tyrant and should gratefully offer to repay us in kind!

As far as long term solutions go, opening up ANWR was a good start, but a beginning only. We should stop listening to environmental extremists who know nothing about the environment or oil production and open up other closed areas for drilling as well, like the oil rich Gulf of Mexico. Though it takes years to accomplish, we have the technology and the resources to end our dependence on foreign oil altogether. Remember, before the age of environmentalism, the United States was an oil exporting nation!

But instead of using some of these solutions, the president signs a bill that does not address any of our current woes. Maybe he doesn’t think they are problems at all. But plenty of middle and lower income working families certainly think so. Fuel inflation will devastate economic growth and progress, something that Bush obviously does not want to see happen. So let me give you some friendly advice, Mr. President. If you want to see the American economy boom, then work to lower the cost of fuel and the results will amaze you!

It’s Immigration Stupid!

With the recent terrorist attacks in London and the latest threats from Al Qaeda, Americans should finally learn a vital lesson that has been lost on our illustrious leaders in Washington since September 11, 2001. The problem with Islamic terrorism is not security but immigration. Liberal immigration policies for decades by the West have placed our enemies among us and left us open and vulnerable for another deadly attack, one that many predict could be very soon. We are even told, from time to time, that it is not a question of if but when. Yet instead of doing what is right, such as profiling Arabs in our midst, and busting up terror cells and kicking preachers of hate and violence out of the country, we are more concerned with not offending certain groups than we are with actually protecting our people. This is a recipe for disaster.

Restricting immigration is nothing new for the United States. At the turn of the 20th century, America was faced with internal threats from terrorists, namely anarchists from Eastern Europe. On September 6, 1901, nearly 100 years before 9/11, President William McKinley was shot and killed by an immigrant terrorist, Leon Czolgosz. McKinley’s successor, Theodore Roosevelt, never hesitated in demanding that Congress restrict immigration and rigorously punish those who preach hate and violence toward the United States.

In his First Annual Message to Congress three months after McKinley’s death, TR urged the House and Senate to “take into consideration the coming to this country of anarchists or persons professing principles hostile to all government and justifying the murder of those placed in authority. They and those like them should be kept out of this country; and if found here they should be promptly deported to the country whence they came; and far-reaching provisions should be made for the punishment of those who stay. No matter calls more urgently for the wisest thought of the Congress.” And no matter is more urgent for our country today but we need the political will to do it.

Roosevelt and those of his day had the will to do what was both right and necessary. They did not concern themselves with hurting anyone’s feelings and only concerned themselves with what was right for the United States of America . Later in his administration a bill called the Immigration Act was passed that curbed immigration from “problem” nations.

Later, during Woodrow Wilson’s administration, Communists began using bombings and other acts of terrorism to target political leaders and other influential Americans. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, along with Deputy J. Edgar Hoover, launched the “Palmer Raids,” which netted thousands of Reds, who were then either incarcerated or deported. All those found to be foreigners were taken to the docks and put on the first boat home! Though many, then and now, criticize the raids as too harsh on civil liberties, Palmer and Hoover acted in defense of our nation and its government against foreign influences that were a serious threat and because of their work the violence stopped.

But today in our era of political correctness, we would never consider doing anything of this sort because we might offend someone! How foolish is this! If this is going to be our attitude, we should change the name of our country to the United States of the Offended. It seems as if most everyone has their feelings on their shoulders, which are very easily knocked off. We should put our feelings aside and act to protect our nation.

Liberals also tell us that we cannot act out against such persons because they have rights in this country too. But they have no right to threaten our very existence as a nation and advocate violence against our people. Those that do have no right to be here. There are such things as treason and sedition!

Our current policy, however, is to infringe on the civil liberties of our citizens, in clear violation of the Bill of Rights, while seemingly protecting the foreigner. Talk about having things upside down and backwards! We are spending billions of dollars on the federal, state, and local level for heightened security and, at the same time, stripping away the freedom and liberty of American citizens. The Patriot Act passed to the delight of many so-called conservatives but is an abomination to Constitution. We get harassed in airports, have our bags searched while getting on the subway, and can even have our library records examined – all in the name of protection and security.

But, ask yourself this question, who is the real threat to America at the present time? Native citizens or immigrant Arabs? The choice is obvious. So why do we have to get harassed and treated like criminals? It’s time we put a stop to the erosion of our rights, freedoms that have been paid for by American blood, and focus on the real problem – immigration. This is not to say all Arabs in this nation are bad but we need to place them under a much stronger microscope because we simply cannot take any more chances. And if our politicians are too afraid to act out against the enemies within because of someone’s feelings, then maybe its time to change leaders and begin to elect those who possess the intestinal fortitude to do what is right.

Let us stop and remember the words of one of our great Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, who warned us that those “ who would give up essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty nor security.”

CAFTA: Another Free Trade Disaster

Last week the House of Representatives, following the action of the Senate, and using a variety of arm-twisting and brow-beating tactics, passed yet another free trade package that promises to be a boom to the U.S. economy. CAFTA, or Central American Free Trade Agreement, would open the American market to six Latin American nations – Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic. In essence this is an extension of NAFTA, which has been far more damaging to our economy than advertised and this new deal will be no different.

President Bush has been behind this effort for years. At first he wanted a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), a NAFTA-style pact that would stretch from the Arctic to Argentina, but that did not have much of a chance of passage so he convinced enough numbskulls in Congress to go along with this scaled-down version. It seems as if the free trade fools are going to attempt to put it in piecemeal. And now they have another piece of their destructive puzzle in place. With three million manufacturing jobs lost under the Bush administration, you would think they might have learned something by now.

But like his father, Bush is convinced that free trade is the path to American prosperity. He has not learned, or has not wanted to learn, that NAFTA, which his father pushed but Clinton enacted, did not achieve it and will never achieve it. Regardless of what one thinks about Ross Perot, and his giant sucking sound analogy, he was exactly right about free trade with Mexico, where we saw a trade surplus disappear almost overnight and millions of jobs shipped south of the border. This trend has continued under GATT and will only get worse under CAFTA. Free trade might look wonderful on paper but can never work in the real world and the realities of political economics, where the nation, and not just the consumer, is taken into consideration.

Yet we get the same drivel from the administration every single time a deal like this is put forward. As Bush declared in a statement on CAFTA’s passage, “CAFTA helps ensure that free trade is fair trade.” How can it Mr. President, when our workers here in this country are put in direct competition with workers making a fraction of American wages; where there are no environmental and safety standards and regulations; and where American production can so easily be undercut. The agreement, continued Bush, “will level the playing field and help American workers, farmers and small businesses.” Yeah, just like NAFTA! The only help this agreement will give is to the many large corporations, a major portion of GOP campaign cash I might add, who are standing by ready to uproot more factories and move them to Latin America. This, coupled with millions of immigrants, both legal and illegal, pouring into the country to take more American jobs, its no wonder our wages are stagnant and have seen no real rise in decades. American workers lose again!

But the administration assures us that the markets of these six nations will be wide open for consumption of American goods duty free, products such as agriculture crops and even manufactures like tractors from Illinois, we are told. Yet the standard of living in these nations is very low. How many tractors, or Dell computers, or Ford automobiles, for that matter, can the folks in the Dominican Republic really buy? Not many! Most of them don’t have two dollars to rub together at any one time. Pitiful situations to be sure, but not our mission to resolve, as some have argued.

But to make matters worse, as well as more irritating to a nationalist, many so-called conservatives, in and out of Congress and the White House, have been pushing for this agreement for months and using arguments that border on economic treason. Take for example Charles Krauthammer. His column on June 24 of this year argued that the United States needed to enter into a free trade pact with Latin America, not to help us but because of the low living standards and the “widespread poverty” in the Central American region! “If we have learned anything from the last 25 years,” he writes, “it is that open markets and free trade are the keys to pulling millions, indeed hundreds of millions of people, out of poverty. The Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) is a chance to do the same for desperately poor near-neighbors.” Mr. Krauthammer, what about our people? It is not the responsibility of the United States of America to pull the world out of poverty. Many nations around the world are in that situation because of their own stupidity and we should not throw open our markets to cheap imports that will cost us important jobs!

So you see the hypocrisy of free traders: on the one hand they argue that these foreign markets will be open to American goods but then on the other hand try to argue that free trade deals will help these impoverished regions. How can they buy our goods if they are so poor?

 But Mr. Krauthammer is not done. No, he continues his argument, not by citing great American leaders of years past, but a foreign one! Krauthammer cites British economist David Ricardo in attempting to prove that trade between two nations “based on relative efficiency of production is always beneficial to both countries.” But Mr. Krauthammer does not bother to tell us how it will benefit the U.S. economy, just like no one could tell us how NAFTA would be a benefit, except by useless generalizations.
Our Founding Fathers well understood the importance of economic nationalism and self-sufficiency. Beginning with Washington and our great economic architect Hamilton, and later with Jefferson, Clay, Lincoln, and TR, our nation placed its own economic interests first and would have never signed onto an agreement like CAFTA that would hurt the American economy and its workers to the benefit of the Third World. America maintained a policy of economic nationalism for well over 150 years and built the greatest economic machine the world has ever known; a financial and industrial giant that single-handedly fought a two-front war in the 1940’s to bring down Fascism and later Communism. It was not free trade that paid for these victories but that now-dirty word – protectionism. Mr. Krauthammer stands with the British and David Ricardo. I’ll stand with America and Alexander Hamilton.