Category Archives: Pork
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
There is a feeling of deep unease in America today. That is especially so among those of us who keep and eye and an ear on the secretive power hungry Obama Administration.
Things are happening within the Obama Administration that should cause American’s to sit up and take notice. Many have. But not enough, not nearly enough.
Over the weekend the conservative side of the blogosphere was abuzz with concern over Obama’s most recent Executive Orders.
Alan Caruba’s “Executive Tyranny” hit the Internet as a bomblet then exploded into a full-sized bombshell explosion as it raced through the binary code scorching its way onto news sites, blog sites and into in-boxes. If you haven’t read it we recommend you do so right away. You will find it at:
Then, early Sunday morning, the Drudge Report posted a notice of yet another Obama Executive Order which in effect gives the President the power to take control of all modes of communications within America. If you haven’t read the report on the newest Executive Order, may we suggest you read the text at the government’s website here:
The White House
This is all very troubling, coming as it does just weeks before the most important election in the history of America.
It has the hallmark of a massive power grab by Obama and his cadre of socialist/Marxist apparatchiks within the American government. It looks, for all the world, like a quiet take-over of the government of the United States — a quiet coup de tat –American style.
These moves by Obama are MASSIVE in size and scope and will affect every single American in ways a formerly free American citizen cannot grasp.
In his article, Mr. Caruba says: “Obama is putting in force everything a tyranny requires to replace the Republic.”
The power of the Presidential Executive Order, in our opinion, is being abused by President Obama. The executive orders we noted above give the President the power to literally take-over the country (including all modes of communications) and rule it as a one man government … dare we say it … as a dictator. With the stroke of the Presidential pen the American Republic could be wiped out and in its place a new Socialist/Marxist dictatorship with Obama as the American “strongman” at the top.
Before you dismiss this as just another conspiracy theory, do a bit of research.
Don’t count on the mainstream media to inform you about any of this. They are known to be “in the tank” for Obama and news that will shine anything but flattering light on their Supreme Leader will not make it into the pages of their publications nor into any of the blocks of their TV news shows. So, dear reader, you are on your own.
These are perilous times for America. A country is at its most vulnerable when it finds itself in economic conditions such as America is enduring today. People become desperate and they do desperate things. Note how history records the ease with which Hitler came to power in Germany during a period of desperate economic times in that country.
There are always men of great ambition willing to use a crisis to their advantage. Remember: “Never let a crisis go to waste?” There are always men who believe they are the smartest and strongest among us and, somehow, (in their warped minds) they believe it is their fate in life to step in and take over and set things aright. Often those people are insane.
They are dangerous people. Such leaders have cost millions of lives, destroyed countries and continents, right up to their last breath. And it is still happening today.
Americans have gone to war on more than one occasion to stop such men and liberate their enslaved people. Never did Americans think it could happen to a country so blessed as America.
But it can — and it may be happening right before our eyes.
The American form of democracy, the American constitutional representative republic, was created for an honorable people. The Founders knew it could not survive otherwise. Unfortunately, honor is not one of the virtues in vogue in America these days, In fact, it is not even understood among most of America’s citizens in the twenty-first century. It is a code of conduct forgotten in a world driven by instant gratification, greed, and narcissism.
The men who founded this nation and drew-up the founding documents were honorable man and it never occurred to them that Americans would ever elect men without honor to high offices in the land. But, as we now know, they were wrong.
As a result, Americans are facing a threat to their freedom, their liberty, and their country.
At the risk of sounding trite: WAKE-UP, AMERICA! Reclaim your destiny as a free people. Reclaim your birthright of liberty. Reclaim your country.
If we can manage to wrest control of our government from the grasp of the social progressives now suffocating freedom and liberty in America, we stand a chance at restoring American freedom. If we fail, I see no future for a free America.
Much of the “free” is now gone from the “land of the free.” But how much “brave” is left in the “home of the brave?” I ask, because it is going to take courage to confront the power hungry leftists. Battle lines are drawn from City Hall to the White House. No matter where you are in America — you are on the front lines.
Will freedom loving Americans bolt in retreat or stand and fight? That is the determining question. What will we do? What will YOU do?
If we are lucky, we have until November to decide to reclaim our birthright. Even if we try and fail it will have been worth it. Freedom is always worth the price. ALWAYS.
J. D. Longstreet
- Executive Tyranny (papundits.wordpress.com)
- Obama Has Signed 923 Executive Orders In 40 Months (johnmalcolm.me)
The Community Development Block Grant program is a perfect example of the blurring of responsibility between the federal government and the states. The program’s roots go back to the Great Society and the wishful belief that the problems of urban Americans could be solved with handouts from Washington. Instead, the program “has degenerated into a federal slush fund for pet projects of local politicians and politically connected businesses.”
That quote comes from Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) who introduced an amendment this week to terminate CDBGs. As McClintock explained to his House colleagues, it is not the federal government’s responsibility to fund purely parochial activities:
Even in the best of circumstances, these are all projects that exclusively benefit local communities or private interests and ought to be paid for exclusively by those local communities or private interests. They are of such questionable merit that no city council is willing to face its constituents and say, this is how we’ve spent your local taxes. But they are more than happy to spend somebody else’s federal taxes.
Unfortunately, McClintock’s words fell upon deaf ears as his amendment was voted down 80 to 342. Not a single Democrat supported the amendment. But it was the 156 Republicans who voted against the amendment that doomed it. Among those Republicans voting “no” was House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). Worse, only 33 percent of the GOP “Tea Party Freshmen” voted to terminate a program that is completely at odds with the principles of limited government.
As I noted back in May, many of the GOP freshmen have switched from tea to Beltway Kool-Aid. Take, for example, tea party favorite Allen West of Florida. On West’s congressional website, he states that “As your Congressman, I will curb out of control Government spending.” He also says that “we need to challenge the status quo in Washington and stop the floodgates of government spending” and that he will “carry the torch of conservative, small government principles with me to Washington.” West, however, voted to save the CDBG program and he also voted back in May to save the Economic Development Administration, which is another parochial slush fund. In April, he accused Democrats of being communists. That’s pretty rich given that he proceeded to vote to protect programs that engage in central planning.
- Freshman Republicans Switch from Tea to Kool-Aid (cato-at-liberty.org)
- Republicans Join Democrats to Save Corporate Welfare (Again) (cato-at-liberty.org)
The Obama administration’s energy policies have been a disaster for America. Obama appointed a Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, who shared Obama’s desire that fossil fuel prices increase, so that it would be more expensive for you to drive your car, heat your home, buy groceries, power your laptop, and so on. Obama wanted higher prices in order to reduce carbon emissions and to enrich the Democratic Party fat cats who dominate the “green” energy industry. The administration has carried out its policy of higher fossil fuel costs by reducing exploration for oil on federal lands, imposing draconian standards on coal-fired power plants, banning normal light bulbs, and countless other measures large and small.
Now, however, Obama’s re-election campaign is in trouble, in large part because voters aren’t happy about being impoverished by Obama’s anti-energy policies. So, in an absurd turnabout, Obama has postured himself as an advocate of “drill, baby, drill.” In order to defend himself, Obama has repeatedly and consistently lied about his own administration’s policies and about America’s energy resources. That is a harsh characterization, but there is simply no other way to put it.
Dear Secretary Salazar:
We are concerned with the veracity of statements you made in recent weeks regarding domestic energy production on our federal resources. These statements are similar to claims made by other members of the Administration including the President himself. As you may know, the federal government owns almost 2.5 billion acres of mineral estate, an area larger than the entire land mass of the United States. As director of the Bureau of Land Management, Robert Abbey, testified this month, oil production on our federal property is actually down 14% and offshore production from federal areas is down 17% from only a year ago. Just last week, the Congressional Research Service issued a report revealing that 96 percent of the increase in domestic oil production since 2007 has occurred on non-federal lands. It further revealed that in 2011 production on federal public lands has actually declined by an average of 275,000 barrels per day. Oil production on private lands is indeed up year-over-year, but the Administration does not manage private lands and should not attempt to take credit for private market decisions.
Oil production on federal lands increased in 2009 and 2010 as a result of leasing and permitting decisions made before your Administration took office. However, the falloff in leasing and permitting actions under the Obama Administration is apparent, and even your own Energy Information Administration anticipates continued falloff in production in 2012 and beyond.
We also ask that you rectify the President’s claim that we only have 2% of the world’s oil. Nothing could be further from the truth, as even the Washington Post reported last week. He bases this statement on U.S. “proved reserves” but the U.S. Energy Information Administration has stated that proved reserves is “not an appropriate measure for judging total resource availability in the long-term.” As Secretary of Interior, surely you are aware of the vast oil resources we possess both onshore and offshore that are currently off limits due to this Administration’s combined actions. America is endowed with resources that exceed a TRILLION barrels of oil.
According to the Institute for Energy Research, “USGS estimates that unconventional U.S. oil shale resources hold 2.6 trillion barrels of oil, with about 1 trillion barrels that are considered recoverable under current economic and technological conditions. These 1 trillion barrels are nearly four times the amount of oil resources as Saudi Arabia’s proven oil reserves.
We provide the following examples of what we would view as further inaccurate statements by the Administration regarding the state of federal energy production and resources:
1. Claim: “Expanding offshore oil and gas production is a key component of our comprehensive energy strategy to grow America’s energy economy, and will help us continue to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create jobs here at home.” Secretary Ken Salazar, DOI Press Release 1/26/2012
Fact: You made the two most pivotal decisions to shrink domestic offshore energy production over the last three years that could have been made. First, you eliminated the 2010-2015 OCS lease plan that would have opened areas of the Atlantic, four geologic basins off S. California, one geologic basin off N. California, while expanding areas in Alaska, including the Cook Inlet. Instead, you have proposed a new 5-year plan that excludes all of the areas of the OCS where the moratorium was lifted in 2008, and reduces the number of planned lease sales by roughly half. Essentially, the moratorium lifted by President Bush and a Democrat Congress in 2008 will continue in effect for a decade under your plan.
2. Claim: The proposed 5-year offshore lease plan will “make more than 75 percent of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas estimated on the OCS available for development.” Secretary Salazar, DOI Press Release 11/08/2011
Fact: These numbers distort the facts. The Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) is 1.76 billion acres. Of that 1.76 billion, less than 35 million acres are actually leased (less than 2%). Your proposed 5-year lease plan does not open a single new lease planning area, and therefore we have no way of knowing what estimates of “technologically recoverable” oil in all of the areas that remain off limits are because you have chosen to keep them off limits. Most of our OCS has not been explored for decades, and providing access to only a fraction gives us no clue what is truly there.
A more accurate statement is that your 5 year plan opens 75% of the oil and gas in areas where we think it exists because we have drilled there. We don’t know about the vast majority of the OCS that isn’t leased, much of which has not been assessed with the benefit of new information for a quarter century.
3. Claim: “Since we put in place new safety standards in the wake of the Gulf oil spill, we have approved more than 400 drilling permits. In fact, we are now permitting at levels seen before the spill, all while meeting these important new standards.” Secretary Ken Salazar, 3/12/2012
Fact: There exists no evidence that permitting for production has indeed reached pre-moratorium levels. In fact, the families impacted in the Gulf are still reeling from the impacts of the slowed pace of permitting. Exploration and permitting have yet to recover to pre-2010 levels on account of the moratorium and ensuing permitorium on shallow and deepwater permits. According to one recent study, “Prior to the deepwater drilling moratorium, the U.S. oil and natural gas offshore industry was forecasted to grow significantly due to identified prospects, mostly in the deep water. With the establishment of the moratorium and the subsequent slowdown in the issuance of drilling permits at all water depths, an estimated $18.3 billion of previously planned capital and operational expenditures did not occur in 2010 and 2011.” The study further concludes that the permitting challenges have already cost 90,000 jobs. It is of importance to note that the moratorium was never endorsed by the National Academy of Engineers, as you had attempted to represent. An Inspector General investigation was required to uncover the political influence and misrepresentation by the White House and your office in an important scientific document.
4. Claim: “The fact of the matter is that we are producing more from public lands, both oil and gas, both onshore as well as offshore, than at any time in recent memory. And when you look back at the years of 2009, 2010, and 2011, we’ve continued to make millions and millions of acres of the public estate available both on the land, as well as on the sea.” Secretary Ken Salazar, 3/12/2012
Fact: As we pointed out earlier in this letter, there is significant lag time to production after the process of leasing. Presumably this is the reason for your repeated observation that “there is no immediate fix” for higher gas prices. After a company has leased property they then have to explore, develop and produce, with each stage requiring new permits and compliance with federal processes. The production gains we saw in 2009 and 2010 were the result of leasing and permitting that occurred in the Clinton and Bush Administrations, and was just beginning to come online. However, by 2011 we began to experience the impacts from the moratorium and falloff of leasing and permitting under your leadership. Total oil production on federal lands is down 14% over the previous year, offshore is even worse at down 17%, and federal lands saw the fewest number of new onshore leases since 1984. You also failed to hold a single offshore lease sale in fiscal year 2011.
As a further example, in 2008 the industry spent $2.6 billion to obtain 487 leases in the Chukchi Sea for production offshore Alaska. So far, not a single well has been drilled on any of these leases. There have also been numerous new regulatory roadblocks and permit withdrawals from federal onshore production since you took over leadership of the Agency. Examples of onshore leasing challenges include your withdrawn and slowed leasing in the West, including Montana and the Dakotas.
In July of 2008, then as a United States Senator, you had an opportunity to support increasing domestic energy production, if the price of gas increased beyond a certain threshold. You repeatedly objected to increasing domestic energy production, even if the price of gas were to have reached $10 per gallon.
Although gas prices are not $10 per gallon, they are increasingly impacting our economy and fellow Americans, particularly low-income and middle-class families. We are hopeful that similarly to Secretary Chu, you have reevaluated your position on gas prices and will redirect your efforts to alter what the agency has done to limit future production, and will instead work to develop our truly vast domestic oil resources, resources that well exceed “2%” of the world’s oil.
 NORTH AMERICAN ENERGY INVENTORY, Institute for Energy Research, December, 2011.
 The State of the Offshore U.S. Oil and Gas Industry, An in-depth study of the outlook of the industry investment flows offshore, Quest Offshore Resources, Inc., December 2011.
Of all the reasons why it is imperative to bring the Obama administration to an end in January, its pervasive dishonesty is near the top of the list.
- Obama’s Oily Pipeline Lies (papundits.wordpress.com)
- U.S. Oil Production Increases In Spite of Team Obama’s Best Efforts (pjmedia.com)
- President Obama’s Domestic Energy State Of Delusion (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Obama’s Oil Tycoon Tour (whitehouse12.com)
- Critics Hit Obama’s Energy Move (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Obama’s Words Don’t Match with Action on Oil and Gas (mb50.wordpress.com)
Michael Blood, AP | Mar. 25, 2012, 4:14 PM
VICTORVILLE, Calif. (AP) — On a dusty, rock-strewn expanse at the edge of the Mojave Desert, a company linked to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants to build a bullet train that would rocket tourists from the middle of nowhere to the gambling palaces of Las Vegas.
Privately held DesertXpress is on the verge of landing a $4.9 billion loan from the Obama administration to build the 150 mph train, which could be a lifeline for a region devastated by the housing crash or a crap shoot for taxpayers weary of Washington spending.
The vast park-and-ride project hinges on the untested idea that car-loving Californians will drive about 100 miles from the Los Angeles area, pull off busy Interstate 15 and board a train for the final leg to the famous Strip.
Planners imagine that millions of travelers a year will one day flock to a station outside down-on-its-luck Victorville, a small city where shuttered storefronts pock the historic downtown.
An alliance of business and political rainmakers from The Strip to Capitol Hill is backing the project that could become the first high-speed system to break ground under President Barack Obama’s push to modernize the U.S. rail network – and give the Democratic president’s re-election prospects a lift in battleground Nevada.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has publicly blessed the train – it means jobs, he says – and it’s cleared several regulatory hurdles in Washington.
Yet even as the Federal Railroad Administration considers awarding what would be, by far, the largest loan of its type, its own research warns it’s difficult to predict how many people will ride the train, a critical measure of financial survival, an Associated Press review found.
There are other skeptics, as well.
“It’s insanity,” says Thomas Finkbiner of the Intermodal Transportation Institute at the University of Denver. “People won’t drive to a train to go someplace. If you are going to drive, why not drive all the way and leave when you want?”
Construction cost projections have soared to as much as $6.5 billion, not including interest on the loan. Some fear taxpayer subsidies are inevitable.
Reid and other supporters point to research that shows 80,000 new jobs, but FRA documents show virtually all those would be temporary – no more than 722 would be permanent.
Victorville Mayor Ryan McEachron envisions a bustling transportation oasis with a hotel, restaurants, maybe even homes, on the proposed station site. He believes drivers can be enticed out of their cars, even in a region where the notion of rail travel can seem as distant as a New York subway.
The company is “going to have to market and market hard in order to get the ridership they need to support paying back the loan,” the mayor says. “I think you can change the thinking.”
Along with Reid, the president’s most influential Democratic ally in Congress, the plan is being advanced by casino developer and contractor Anthony Marnell II, whose credits include building the Bellagio and Wynn Las Vegas and who heads Marnell Companies, the majority shareholder in DesertXpress; project consultant Sig Rogich, a Republican adviser to two presidential campaigns who founded Nevada’s most influential lobbying and advertising company; and Canadian transportation giant Bombardier, a DesertXpress strategic adviser that wants to supply its rail cars.
A decision on the loan is not expected until mid-year, but the company has spent some $30 million sharpening its plan and refining ridership projections. Rising gas prices and increasing traffic congestion could help ticket sales, and the company is touting reduced air pollution from fewer cars on the road.
“It’s Victorville that makes the project work,” says chief executive Andrew Mack.
Far from being a train from nowhere, company planners see the struggling city of 115,000, once a stop on storied Route 66, as a collection point for millions of drivers heading north to Las Vegas. Bringing the line deeper into the populous Los Angeles area would raise formidable challenges, Mack said, from crossing numerous freeways to finding space for track.
The lot now stippled with spindly creosote bushes has room for 15,000 parking spaces. Bags would be checked through to hotel rooms. At peak hours, trains would depart every 20 minutes. Mack says an average round-trip fare could be as low as $75, though documents estimate $100.
Mack says the train will deliver convenience – and for a price, luxury – that studies show passengers want.
DesertXpress officials once boasted they would build the line with private dollars, but they now plan to rely on FRA financing to cover the bulk of the cost. Mack didn’t directly answer if the company turned to the FRA because private investors were unwilling to take the risk, but said the loan terms are attractive.
“When somebody comes and tells me I will build a system that pays for itself, I’m suspicious,” said Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of the Southern California Association of Governments, which questioned ridership potential in a report last year. “There is no high-speed rail system in the world that operates without subsidies.”
The company is still arranging as much as $1.6 billion needed to cover its share of the construction bill for the roughly 200-mile line. Investments could hinge on the loan approval, which requires the company to convince the FRA that taxpayers won’t get stiffed. In a worst-case scenario, the train would become government property if the company fails.
The low-interest loan would be about three times the combined amount the FRA loaned 32 other projects through the Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing program since its inception in 2002.
If successful, the train could be a forerunner in a national high-speed rail network, while bringing a rich return for investors and delivering visitors to Vegas. It would also give Nevada residents an option to Southern California, albeit many miles from tourist hotspots like Hollywood or the beaches.
The company is seeking funds at a time when a proposed high-speed train running from San Francisco to Southern California has been questioned because of ballooning costs and fear it will sap taxpayer dollars.
Early company research projected the train would lure away nearly one in four car, bus and airline travelers, initially about 4 million people annually. The company now pegs first-year ridership at about 3 million, but that projection was trimmed to 2.5 million by government analysts who urged more study.
The risks are summarized in a 2007 study commissioned by ACS Infrastructure North America, a division of a global construction company that DesertXpress says is seeking a role in the project, that found most travelers were “broadly happy” going to Las Vegas by car or airline. While most travelers would be open to riding a train, the report warned the company would need to lure riders with pampering.
On clear roads, the 270-mile drive from downtown Los Angeles to Las Vegas takes about four hours. Planners say the train ride from Victorville to Las Vegas would take about 80 minutes, but it’s debatable how much time would be saved after parking, boarding the train and reaching a Las Vegas hotel.
Round-trip flights from Los Angeles to Las Vegas can be booked for under $100.
The dream of uniting Southern California and Las Vegas by high-speed rail has been discussed for decades. In the mid-1980s, Las Vegas officials predicted a line would be running by 2000. DesertXpress, which would roughly parallel Interstate-15 on a pair of new tracks, has predicted for several years that it would soon break ground.
Reid initially backed a rival project that planned to use magnetic power to reach Orange County, but he jumped trains shortly after Rogich became co-chair of Republicans for Reid, a Nevada group with ties to the gambling industry that helped Reid win re-election in 2010.
The senator’s office disputes any connection between his flip and Rogich’s involvement in the campaign. Spokeswoman Kristen Orthman says Reid’s decision was based on the viability of DesertXpress, while the magnetically powered project languished.
Marnell, another member of Republicans for Reid, is president of one of several companies under the DesertXpress corporate banner. He and his son, M Resort, Spa and Casino President Anthony Marnell III, are also investors.
Federal records show the elder Marnell has donated at least $15,000 to political committees connected to Reid since 2010, including a $5,000 donation in May to the senator’s Searchlight Leadership Fund.
According to federal records, the company has spent at least $270,000 since 2006 lobbying at the House, Senate and federal offices.
Other investors include North Dakota businessman Gary Tharaldson, who donated $10,000 to a Reid committee in March, and transportation expert Tom Stone, who organized DesertXpress with partner Mack in 2005.
Nevada records show DesertXpress HRS Corp., headed by the elder Marnell with his son as a director, was authorized to issue 25,000 shares of stock. DesertXpress declined to say who held those shares, if issued, and in what amounts.
Not everyone in the high desert is on board with the project.
Thirty miles northeast of Victorville on I-15, officials in Barstow fear they’ll lose 2,300 jobs. The impact will be “unsustainable,” Mayor Joe Gomez wrote to LaHood in October 2010, according to a letter released under a public records request.
To appease those concerns, McEachron said the station’s proposed location was moved about halfway to Barstow. The patch of vacant land is so remote the city would have to annex it.
U.S. Department of Transportation – Countdown to DesertXpress begins
- Now Obama Wants To Build A $5 Billion Bullet Train From Las Vegas To Nowhere (businessinsider.com)
- Last stop Sin City: Plans for $4.9 billion California bullet train straight into heart of Las Vegas (dailymail.co.uk)
- AP Enterprise: Vegas rail: a gamble or good thing? (sfgate.com)
- Amanda Carpenter destroys Harry Reid’s “Rail Solyndra” – in 140 character chunks (erickbrockway.com)