Friday, May 31, 2013

Biology, the Bible, and Breadwinners

This week, political pundit (and known pursuant of a passport to MILF-istan, if Governor Palin is in charge) Erick Erickson made some rather absurd and poorly phrased statements regarding a recent study indicating that more and more women have become the primary breadwinner in their families:
“I’m so used to liberals telling conservatives that they’re anti-science. But liberals who defend this and say it is not a bad thing are very anti-science. When you look at biology — when you look at the natural world — the roles of a male and a female in society and in other animals, the male typically is the dominant role. The female, it’s not antithesis, or it’s not competing, it’s a complementary role.”
Erickson seems to be conflating providing for one's family as being "dominant", and it is a horrible choice of words. If he had chosen the rhetoric and tone of the last sentence of the above excerpt, he wouldn't be hit by even those of us on the Right like he is right now.

In "biology", since that's the term Erickson wants to use, there are a wide range of family structures. Very few species are monogamous. Bald eagles are among the few. Additionally,despite popular belief to the contrary, the female African lion does more hunting than the male lions. In other words, they are the primary breadwinners of the pride. Heck, in one species--the seahorse--the male carries the fertilized eggs! So much for pointing to biology for an example to prove so called male "dominance".

Erickson later posts at a RedState a supposed clarification of his comments, yet he emphasizes the concept of males being "dominant". Perhaps it is just semantics, but it is a poor way to try to simultaneously emphasize "complementary" roles in marriage.

Erickson professes to be a Christian, and the Bible says a lot about men's and women's roles in a marriage and in a family. There is a lot about women being breadwinners alongside their husbands. There is the oft quoted "Woman of Noble Character" described in Proverbs 31, where the woman acts as clothing designer, cook, land trader, farmer, and merchant in addition to her roles within the her family. In Acts, the author Luke discusses the roles of Priscilla and Acquila both as tentmakers, not just Acquila. When the apostle Paul discusses the roles of men and women in marriage, he writes to the church in Ephesus:
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.  
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.  
 -Ephesians 5:22-33
The role of the husband is not one of dominance, but of devotion to his wife. However, often lost when this passage is referenced is the verse that comes before the above excerpt, which reads, "submit to one another out of reverence for Christ". Submission is not limited to a wife's relationship to her husband. It is a call for selflessness in all who profess Christ.

I grew up in a home where my mom's role was as a "domestic engineer", as she called it. Between church, my sister's and my school, and the community, my mom probably volunteered the equivalent weekly hours of a full time job. After having kids, she did not have a paying job until I was in high school. Even then, my dad was still the primary breadwinner. It is my personal belief that, more often than not, two parent homes provide much greater spiritual, emotional, and financial stability. However, there are many bad situations where both a mom and dad are present, and there are a lot of good situations where there are single parents involved. Erickson does recognizes this to an extent in his clarification, but it gets lost in the "dominance" rhetoric and sweeping generalizations.

Broken marriages and homes are symptoms of a fallen man, and they cannot be fixed by political punditry. There is opportunity for spiritual renewal in America that can provide a better society for politics to operate, but we cannot fix such problems with politics. Otherwise, we just become social conservatives wanting government to be god. We must face societal realities in solving economic and political problems. Personally, I like the way Representative Marsha Blackburn responded to the news of the "female breadwinners" study when she tweeted:
Continue to remember that economic problems are just that, economic problems. That isn't to say that the importance of a strong family structure can't be noted, but when the rhetoric of "dominance" dominates,then the rhetoric of complementary roles is overshadowed. Otherwise, conservatism, a movement founded in independence and real equality, becomes mired by paternal rhetoric.

 Crossposted here and here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Exelon Receives Another Deal from the Obama Administration

It is encouraging to see increased American development of energy having a worldwide impact. However, such impact should not come at the expense of subsidies and loans footed by the American taxpayer or special deals. Exelon, the largest nuclear energy company in America, has a diverse energy production portfolio. They also are involved in liquefied natural gas production and solar energy. With the current natural gas glut, prices are quite low, which has cut into Exelon's profits. These low prices also make natural gas power plants competitive with Exelon's nuclear plants. Never fear for Exelon though! The Obama administration is on the way! As an article at Crain's Chicago Business reports: 
Exelon Corp. got a win last week when the U.S. Energy Department allowed a group of investors to build a facility in Texas that will export liquefied natural gas to countries without free-trade agreements with the U.S. 
Don't see the connection? Every cubic foot of natural gas that's liquefied and shipped overseas is a cubic foot that doesn't get sold at rock-bottom prices to gas-fired power plants that compete with Exelon's nuclear plants. Low gas prices enable gas-fired plants to sell electricity cheaper, bringing down prices in wholesale power markets. 
Exporting to non-free-trade countries requires special permission from the Department of Energy. Heated debate over the policy has erupted in recent months. Natural gas producers are pushing for more freedom to export, while environmental groups and big gas users like Dow Chemical Co. defend the current restrictions. 
Some see last week's decision on the Texas facility as a sign President Barack Obama is leaning toward a looser export policy. It's a little early to draw that conclusion. Rather than articulating a broad policy shift, the administration says it will evaluate proposed non-FTA export facilities on a case-by-case basis. Until Friday, the DOE hadn't approved one since 2011. Nineteen applications are pending.
Seeing the implication that President Obama is going to loosen policy on anything related to non "green" energy development is a surprise. There is perhaps reason to evaluate such special situations for export to non-free trade countries, but when a company like Exelon receives a deal, it is suspect. Exelon has a reputation for being an energy giant, but it also has a reputation for its ties to President Obama.

 As a Senator, Obama watered down an anti-nuclear energy bill to help Exelon. Why? In 2008, Exelon was Obama's four largest donor. Additionally, Exelon has spent tens of millions of dollars for lobbying since President Obama took office. This lobbying has paid off. An Exelon acquired solar energy company received a $646 million loan from the Department of Energy in 2011 to build a solar energy plant.

It is exciting to see that natural gas production is booming in such a way that producers have opportunity to energize America and have opportunity for export. It is discouraging that "case-by-case" export opportunities are going to companies who have the political connections and clout to continue to receive special deals.

Crossposted here and here.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

President Obama's Trickle Down Perpetual Campaign

During the 2008 presidential campaign, then candidate Barack Obama was asked to compare his experience to that of Vice Presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin. Obama made a disingenuous comparison by only referencing Palin's mayoral experience, but he also tried to bolster his executive credentials by referencing his ability to manage  "large systems" and millions of dollars in campaign funds:

It is now nearly five years later, and little has changed. The President's executive experience still lies in running a campaign, but not one that comes at the expense of his donors (and actually often to his donors' benefit) . He has turned his executive branch cabinet level departments into components of this perpetual campaign at the expense of American taxpayers.

President Obama 's Treasury Department has turned into a campaign opposition research department by targeting Tea Parties, religious groups, and pro-life groups and combing through every detail of these groups and their memberships. When this department got their hands caught in the cookie jar, the President scapegoated the already lame duck IRS commissioner who wasn't even in the role of commissioner when these targeted audits were being performed.  His Department of Justice has also contributed to this effort by bugging the cloak room in the House of Representatives and seizing phone records of AP reporters who cover the GOP majority House. His elected colleagues, his constituents, and even his pals in the media became his political opponents.

During his campaign, the President would often offer a special opportunity for a donor to meet him. As President, he has done the same kind of thing, but on a much larger scale and at the expense of the American taxpayer and the American energy consumer. Instead of offering an expenses paid meeting, he is offering millions in taxpayer dollars and special favors. 80% of his Department of Energy stimulus loans went to companies tied to his donors. Meanwhile, the President has stalled on the development of Keystone Pipeline.  Several of his donors stand to benefit financially from the Canadian Sands Oil regardless of whether or not the pipeline is built, and just last week, scores of the President's donors are sent a letter petitioning him to not build the pipeline. Moreover, the President is not only trying to turn return the favor to his actual political donors, his Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is essentially acting as a fundraiser to promote the President's healthcare policy agenda. The President is repaying his donors with political favors and asking political favors to implement his policies.

Throughout the President's perpetual campaign, he has tried to redistribute the blame of the burgeoning scandals. Rather than being a leader and taking responsibility, he has allowed his politically driven administration to trickle down the blame. Four rogue IRS employees are being blamed for the targeted Tea Party audits, yet IRS employees are claiming they were only following orders. In trying to make sense of the attacks on the Libyan consulate last September, the Obama administration--the White House, the State Department, and the CIA-- has woven a complicated web of blame and responsibility in the midst of a presidential campaign.

When it comes to the President's campaign claim of being able to manage "large systems", it seems Obama has been disproved by his own former campaign adviser David Axelrod. In trying to defend the President's ability to deal with multiple, simultaneous scandals, Axelrod inadvertently made the case for smaller government when he said that there is only so much a President can know "because the government is so vast". The President has proven that when executive experience is manifested in a hybrid of small leadership and big government, it only perpetuates a campaign cycle that trickles down the blame.

Crossposted here and here.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Meanwhile in Cincinnati: When Tyranny Is around the Corner

Last week, President Obama gave the commencement address at Ohio State University where he mocked those who warned against the potential tyranny of overreaching government "around every corner" and accused such critics of "gumming up the works":

In recent days, leaks from a soon-to-be released inspector general's report have shown that the IRS targeted Tea Party groups starting in March of 2010 and that the IRS's chief counsel knew as early as 2011 that such groups were being targeted. The targeting of Tea Party groups included in depth questioning from IRS officials ranging from inquiries regarding interactions with the media to predicting event revenue, expense, and other details of future rallies. Despite earlier claims from the Obama administration aiming to pin responsibility on low level field agents, it has become clear that IRS offices in Washington and at least two other offices were involved in the targeting of conservative groups.  Additionally, IRS officials based in Cincinnati (just 100 miles from where President Obama gave his speech mocking government skeptics) disclosed confidential documents from Tea Party groups to Pro Publica, a left-leaning media group whose main funders also fund the Soros-backed Center for American Progress. 

The news of the last two weeks alone has proven that those who support limited government have reason to question the size and scope of government and how such a large, over-reaching government can truly be held accountable. The Obama administration has been able to feign ignorance over the dealings of several of his own cabinet departments. He has claimed no previous knowledge of IRS targeting of conservative groups, calling the IRS an "independent agency". The Obama administration has claimed only a stylistic role in the editing of Benghazi talking points by his own State Department and CIA. This evening, press secretary Jay Carney claimed that the Obama administration was unaware of that the Department of Justice obtained phone logs of AP reporters, again calling an executive branch entity like the Department of Justice, "independent". All of these examples are proof that government has become too big and leadership has become too small to take responsibility for its own failures. The Left hand doesn't know what the Left hand is doing.  

Late Leftist historian Howard Zinn quipped during the Bush administration that dissent was the highest form of patriotism. Now, dissent in the name of patriotism means that groups undergo harsh scrutiny from the government they wish to help restore to its proper purpose and size. Pardon us, for "gumming up the works", Mr. President.  We simply want our government to abide by the charter of liberties you swore an oath to uphold. We won't be silenced.

Crossposted here and here

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Climate Change and the "Green" Light District

"It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first." - President Ronald Reagan
Last week, Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee and others passed a resolution stating that climate change disproportionately affects women and may drive them to engage in "transactional sex" (i.e. prostitution). There is a nugget of truth in Lee's ridiculous resolution. Climate change itself may not drive women to prostitution, but the farce of climate change has driven some men (and probably some women as well) to essentially engage in political prostitution.

Yesterday, a Bloomberg article noted that Al Gore is now worth upwards of $200 million. Gore has derived his wealth from several avenues, but many of these are tied to his peddling of green Henny Penny nonsense. The Bloomberg article notes that Al Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth", led to speaker's fees of around $175,000 a pop. Additionally, as has been often noted, Gore's sale of Current TV to Al-Jazeera netted him $100 million by itself. Gore also has his hand in green investing, which has ultimately padded his own pocketbook. In 2004, Gore joined with former Goldman Sachs managing director David W. Blood to form Generation Investment Management (GIM), as Bloomberg notes (emphasis added):
By the time of the Capricorn investment, he was already starting to rake in cash from Generation Investment Management - - a fund that incorporates “sustainability” into its investment approach. Gore co-founded GIM in 2004 with former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Managing Director David W. Blood. 
Public filings show that in 2008 through 2011 London-based GIM racked up almost 140 million pounds ($218 million) in profits to be split among its 26 partners. Gore and Blood as founders are thought to have the largest equity stakes
Not of all of Gore's investments have been successful though. GIM later partnered with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers on "green" investments. Kleiner Perkins backed Fisker, an electric car company, which received more than half a billion dollars in government loans in 2009 only to lay off about 75% of its staff last month. When Gore's "investments" have been unsuccessful, often its the American taxpayer--non-consenting investors--who lose.

The American people became non-consenting investment partners in billion of dollars of Department of Energy grants and loans from President Obama's 2009 stimulus package and other efforts over the last few years. Roughly 80% of those DOE loans went to companies tied to President Obama's donors. The Obama administration has invested hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars in biofuels for the US Navy. A biofuel company that received a more than a half a billion contract, Solazyme, has ties to former Obama adviser and donor, T.J. Glauthier. Solazyme's contract is equivalent to $16 a gallon for fuel, about four times as high as traditional fuels. Even as the Navy's budget is being cut by sequestration, they are continuing to make this expensive type of fuel a priority.

At best, climate change and its cause are unproven. Some cite a summer of higher temperatures as proof of climate change. Others say that man-created pollution may be the cause of a cooler spring. Even if anthropogenic climate change was true, the methods of mitigating its effects are unhelpful. Electric cars are often charged by coal powered electricity and are prone to catch on fire (more carbon emissions!). Biofuels, like wood and grain-based ethanol and algae based fuels, have proven to be inefficient in both their production and their consumption. All this "green" light district business does is fill the bank accounts of the politically connected at the expense of the American taxpayer...and proves President Reagan right once again.

Crossposted here and here.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Politics of Emotion and the Role of Government

Instead of leaders who offer real solutions, we have leaders who practice the politics of emotion. Now, emotion is a good and necessary thing, but we have politicians exploiting emotion for their own agenda. 
Emotion won’t make anybody safer. Emotion won’t protect the good guys’ rights, and emotion is not leadership. The politics of emotion? It is the opposite of leadership. It is the manipulation of the people by the politicians for their own political ends. 
We have these tragedies like Aurora, and immediately, the question raised in Washington is, “well, what can we do to limit the freedom of the people?” But, it’s the wrong question! The question better asked is, “what can we do to nurture and support a people capable of living in freedom?"                                                         
                                                                                 -Sarah Palin May 3, 2013
As I listened to Governor Palin’s speech at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum on Friday, I couldn't help but think of a quote from Aristotle, “law is reason unaffected by desire”, often stated as “law is reason free from passion”. This is not the kind of “law” that the Left aims to write, however. The Left uses horrific evils like the Newtown shooting to attempt to pass background check laws, when background checks don’t prevent murderers from stealing guns to kill. They ignore areas like Chicago with extremely strict gun control laws, yet high levels of gun crimes and murders, because it does not fit their narrative. The Left believes they know better than the people, and therefore must dictate a set of restrictions and mandates. Aristotle also once noted in his writings that “both oligarch and tyrant mistrust the people, and therefore deprive them of their arms.” Aristotle realized that in order to win a political battle or a revolution, as was the context of the above quote, the oligarchs and tyrants must disarm people. This example isn't histrionics, nor is it an emotional counterpoint to the Left’s emotion. Instead, it is simply an example of how an over-reaching government can take away constitutionally protected rights by conflating rights with government-determined needs.

Aristotle was a student under Plato, but ultimately became one of Plato’s greatest critics. In his book Ameritopia, Mark Levin provides a good overview of Plato’s book The Republic. Plato’s "republic" is a “utopia” where everything is provided by the Ideal City (i.e. the state), while at the same time, everything is taken by the state (i.e.there is no private property). In the Ideal City, the nuclear family structure is not allowed, eugenics is promoted, and an elitist class system is created. The Guardians, as Plato called them, were the ruling class of philosophers who dictated to the people of the Ideal City. In some ways, the Left wants to pursue a similar "utopia". As has been highlighted by Melissa Harris-Perry’s recent comments, the Left wants to move away from the concept of family to a concept of children belonging to the community, rather than their partents. Washington has become the new “Guardians”, an elitist class who selectively impose laws on the American people that they themselves do not have to follow. This is the kind of government that Governor Palin warns against.

In her book Going Rogue, Palin wrote:
"At its most basic level conservatism is a respect for history and tradition, including traditional moral principles. I do not believe that I am more moral, certainly no better, than anyone else, and conservatives who act "holier than thou" turn my stomach. So do some elite liberals. But I do believe in a few timeless and unchanging truths, among those is that man is fallen. This world is not perfect, and politicians will never make it so. This, above all, is what informs my pragmatic approach to politics. 
We don't trust utopian promises from politicians. The role of government is not to perfect us, but to protect us--to protect our inalienable rights. The role of government in a civil society is to protect the individual and to establish a social contract so that we can live together in peace." 
--Governor Sarah Palin 
Going Rogue page 385-386 (emphasis added)
The above excerpt helps answer the challenging question that Governor Palin posed in her NRA speech--what can we do to nurture and support a people capable of living in freedom? It is to recognize what government's (and the Law's) role is and what government's role is not. Government's role is to adhere to the Constitution that protects unalienable rights. Government's role is not that of a god-- a provider or an arbiter of good and evil. A government and a cultural that understands this can help nurture freedom.

Crossposted here and here.