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Santorum’s Arrogance Will Be His Downfall —Again

The deceased had been incredibly beloved: successful businessman, political activist, philanthropist and the ultimate family man. Friends and colleagues from far and wide came to pay their respects to one who had touched their lives.

Predictably, the line at the viewing was long that night — more than two hours. But hundreds dutifully stood, passing the time as best they could under the circumstances. Millionaire CEO’s conversed with blue collar workers, reunited grade school friends embraced, and many reminisced of good memories with their mutual friend. 

Standing for hours while barely moving is tough for anyone, but especially the elderly, as many were.  And yet all persevered, because that is what’s required when paying final respects to a good friend.

Well, almost everyone.

Turns out one person didn’t feel like waiting in line like everyone else.  A person who thought of himself as above the “masses,” someone in a class by himself. Someone to whom the rules didn’t apply.

That person? Rick Santorum.

Instead of honoring his friend by waiting in line, he glad-handed some “politically connected” people in the vestibule while ignoring others who, for some reason, were enthralled to see an ex-senator.  After wrapping up his political agenda at that “event,” Santorum proceeded to walk right down the center aisle to greet the widow and her family — completely bypassing the line snaking all the way around the Church.

Incredibly, to the astonishment of those watching, he then turned around and strode away, winking and waving to those poor souls stuck in line. Total time in and out: less than 15 minutes.

Good thing too, for he had to fly back to Washington to vote on the all-important appropriations bill and defense budget and… oh wait. That couldn’t have been it, since he had lost his senate re-election by a whopping 18 points several years prior.

Santorum’s behavior offered more insight into his true character than any vote could provide.  His selfish actions disrespected every person in that Church, but most of all the deceased, who, despite being a big Santorum supporter, apparently wasn’t worth two hours of Rick’s time.

So why would Santorum deliberately thumb his nose at the hundreds in line, many of whom had been his biggest financial and grassroots supporters?  The same people, by the way, that he would later court for his presidential run.

Arrogance.  Plain and simple. (That’s the second unofficial definition of “Santorum,” and given the vulgarity of the first, we’ll leave it at that.)

In large part, Santorum’s arrogance led to his shellacking in 2006, yet, as we will see, it was a lesson lost.

It was arrogance that led him to publish his book before that election, despite advisors begging him to wait until later, since many parts, they warned, would be taken out of context by his opponent (which they were).

It was arrogance that led him to become a big-spending, big-government Republican while labeling himself a fiscal “conservative.”

It was arrogance to claim he was a “Pennsylvania” senator while effectively living year-round — with his family — in Virginia.

And most damaging, it was arrogance which led Santorum to endorse liberal Republican Arlen Specter over conservative icon Pat Toomey late in the 2004 primary election— which many Pennsylvania Republicans credit as the final push that delivered Specter his razor thin victory.

For those who claim Santorum had to make that glowing endorsement because of his Leadership position, think again. True leaders actually lead because they are following a vision; simply doing the bidding of others makes one a Leader in name only.

More significantly, it was Santorum’s portrayal of himself — contrasted with his subsequent actions — that eventually became a sticking point for so many of his supporters. He asked people to believe in him, selling them on the idea that he was not a typical politician, but instead a man of integrity, for whom principle always came before Party. 

Since political backbone is extremely rare, it’s no surprise that most politicians do exactly what their Party tells them to do.  But Santorum represented himself as something different.  As a result, his repeated failures as a leader — coming up small when he was needed most — run deep, and can be attributed more than anything to an arrogance that playing both sides is a winning strategy. 

Nothing has changed.

Fast forward to 2012.  Lost in the media spotlight of the Iowa Caucuses is the fact that Santorum sold his soul right out of the gate, playing both sides on one of the most important issues to Iowans — ethanol mandates.

Santorum voted against the subsidies his entire legislative career, which included four years as a congressman.  Yet because he felt that he needed the Iowa “corn vote” to be viable, he changed his tune and pathetically pandered to the ethanol crowd in the Hawkeye State.

Forget the fact that corn-based ethanol as a fuel is an unmitigated disaster that has led to higher fuel costs, skyrocketing food prices, inflation, and hunger, since a staggering 40 percent of America’s corn crop is used for ethanol production. And disregard the fact that, primarily because of ethanol mandates, the price of corn hit an all-time high just a few months ago.  And ignore the painfully obvious fact that natural gas — from the virtually limitless Marcellus Shale under Santorum’s now-adopted home state of Pennsylvania — is the single biggest key to solving America’s foreign energy dependence problem.

The biggest red flag for candidate Santorum is not a policy issue but a question of character. No one held a gun to Santorum’s head to run for President, nor to compete in Iowa. So when he made the decision to run, and campaigned as a man of principle, the very least voters should have expected was a campaign of conviction — not a politically-calculated flip-flop right from the get-go on the single-most important issue of our time.

Rather than speaking the truth and advocating a principled stand — which, ironically, are what voters are thirsting for more than anything — Santorum chose the easy way out by becoming that which he claims to abhor. And once one opens the door of political expediency, rationalizing that it’s the only way to achieve the next level, the door never shuts, and the slope becomes too slippery to ever regain one’s footing.

Rick Santorum worked as hard as any of the GOP candidates in Iowa, but much of his “success” in that state’s archaic caucuses was based on a false premise — that he has the character necessary to be a President of true leadership.

Santorum’s sound bite line after the Iowa results was “game on.” But as America learns about the real Rick, it will soon be “Game Over.”

And that’s no corn.

An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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January 5, 2012 at 11:35 am Comments (4)

Freindly Fire’s Biggest Winners Of 2011

It’s that time of year when Freindly Fire heaps praise upon those most deserving.

So in the spirit of consistency, the Biggest Winner of 2011, just like every year, is illegal immigrants. They are granted driver’s licenses, free education – in some cases all the way to college – and free first-rate health care. Not only do they pose a national security threat, but a personal one, as many are criminals released back onto the streets because the government refuses to deport them. Their presence has forced the closure of hospitals, ripped jobs away from American workers, depressed wages and caused taxes to increase sharply.

And let’s not forget that many illegals are voting in our elections. How’s that for irony: foreigners deciding American elections. Maybe that’s why both Parties pander to illegals, including leading GOP candidates Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry.

 And every time the illegals win, the American people lose.

Iran

For a country so incompetent that it took a quarter-century just to build a simple subway in its capital, and equally as long to construct the Tehran airport, Iran sure knows how to gain international attention. Year after year, Iran successfully extorts the West, and the U.S. continues to play the Iranians’ game. Now, Iran is threatening to cut off the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway through which one-sixth of the world’s oil supply passes.

And what does America do?  Prepare for yet another armed conflict — with yet another Muslim country.  That would make Iran the eighth — yes, eighth! — Muslim nation the U.S. has attacked since the Clinton Administration — truly a bipartisan debacle. Despite the insanity of this possibility, in which oil could spike to $200 per barrel and decimate whatever is left of the world economy, some talking heads continue advocating such military intervention. Going to war with random Middle Eastern oil nations isn’t sound foreign policy. It’s lunacy.

Here’s an idea. Maybe if we got off our duff and stopped kowtowing to radical environmentalists who offer no solutions, we could pursue energy independence with the virtually unlimited resources literally at our feet.  And guess what happens when we start producing $2 gasoline and diesel? We wouldn’t give a damn about Iran.  Or Iraq.  Or Libya. Or….

 

Rick Perry

Who’d have thought another Texas Governor could be so entertaining?  From taking 12 hours to come up with a response to Mitt Romney’s $10,000 bet, to shrinking the size of the government (apparently, we have only eight Supreme Court Justices and no Department of Energy), Perry has been in a class by himself.

Of course, not knowing the date of the election nor the correct voting age, while priceless, won’t help Perry stay in the race. But his significant campaign cash just might, which would undoubtedly provide more “Oops, I Did It Again” moments. So hats off to the only politician who could make George W. Bush look like Daniel Webster.   

 

Barack Obama

See “Rick Perry” above.  This election is the GOP’s to lose — and they are well on their way to doing so.

 

 

Occupy Movement

Give credit where it’s due.  The Occupy Movement was able to dupe the media (admittedly, not a very hard thing to do) into providing nonstop coverage of…pictures of tents and filth. How newsworthy.

It was bad enough that Occupy had no organization, no spokesman, and absolutely no message.  But for the media to cover, night after night, lazy hippies who thought it cool to camp out, not work and get free things from idiots who thought it politically correct to patronize hobos was nauseating.

So incompetent was the Orgy — I mean Occupy — Movement that it took the media to inject its own rationale for why the “protests” were occurring — income inequity. Well, here’s a newsflash: there is, and should be, income inequality. As in, the person waking up every day at 6AM to work a 12 hour day, should makes more money than a sloth looking for a handout. 

In the immortal words of The Big Lebowski: “Your revolution is over… Condolences. The bums lost. My advice is to do what your parents did — get a job, sir! The bums will always lose!”

 

Andy Reid

Despite commanding an uber-hyped team whose spectacular failure was surpassed only by the Phillies, the best three-quarter coach in football — and the one who game after game commits bush league mistakes that an eighth-grade coach would never make — will absolutely, put-it-in-the-bank-guaranteed be back leading the Philadelphia Eagles next season. Where he leads them is equally predictable: not to a Super Bowl Championship.  Reid has simply been in Philadelphia too long, and has settled into a comfort level where winning The Big One, while nice, isn’t an imperative. He seems content with the moniker of being the winningest coach in franchise history along with all the other superlatives that don’t mean a bloody thing in a town that bleeds Eagle Green.

Reid has proven his value at turning around a franchise, but that is where his usefulness ends. The Eagles should, but won’t, bring in a closer to seal the deal and get the job done — like Jon Gruden did with Tampa Bay. 

So Reid will win another season where his mediocrity will be on full display, and, this being Philly, will undoubtedly be making this list again next year for all the wrong reasons.

 

Archbishop Wood Football

Their season was full of confidence and hope, a fourth straight Catholic League title and a state championship in their sights. Yet Archbishop Wood stumbled in their opener, losing that crucial first game. Many teams would have folded, finding excuses as to why the season was slipping away (READ: 2011 Philadelphia Eagles). But Wood rebounded, and dedicated their efforts to the memory of former legendary coach Skip Duffy, who lost his battle with cancer in September.

And the rest is history. Wood rolled out fourteen straight wins, racking up average margins of 38 points in the regular season and 41 points in the playoffs, culminating in the total evisceration of perennial powerhouse Bishop McDevitt, 52-0 to win the State Championship.  In doing so, Wood has earned a place as arguably the best Class AAA football team ever.

Perhaps Andy Reid and Company should be taking notes from Wood — not plays and calls, but the intangibles that always, always win Championships. Dick Vermeil’s character in the Vince Papale movie Invincible said it best. ”The team with character will find a way to beat a team with talent…great teams weren’t just playing for themselves. They played for a city. The people of Philadelphia have suffered…You are what gives them hope.”

And in times like these, hope is needed more than ever.  Congrats, Archbishop Wood for demonstrating what so many professionals have long ago forgotten — that character still means something.

 

Freindly Fire’s Biggest Losers Of 2011 will appear tomorrow.

 

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

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December 29, 2011 at 9:33 am Comments (0)

The Political Correctness Of “Merry Christmas” Has Dangerous Consequences

“This is the way the world ends …Not with a bang but a whimper.”

Does that famous quote aptly describe America’s future? Time will tell, but indications are that this nation, the most powerful, benevolent and fair in the world, is crumbling before our very eyes. Like Rome, it isn’t falling from outside invasion, but within. 

 And one of the biggest culprits is political correctness.

It’s all around us, but especially this time of year, as the assault on “Merry Christmas” accelerates.

It used to be a standard greeting, and people would reciprocate with a smile. Your religious denomination didn’t matter, or whether you even had one.  It was simply a friendly expression in a nation where the vast majority celebrated Christmas. And for those who didn’t, most returned the sentiment anyway because it was just a nice thing to do during the jovial season.

But all that changed as Americans’ sense of entitlement exploded. And yes, that included being entitled not to feel “offended” because something may not be to your exact liking.

“Merry Christmas? Well, I celebrate Hannukah or Kwanza or am an atheist, so how dare you presume to wish me your holiday? How offensive and rude!”

But it doesn’t stop there.  Hypocritical retail stores woo Christmas shoppers — you know, the 95 percent who do celebrate Christmas and spend a half-trillion dollars doing so  — but won’t put the word “Christmas” in their ads or on their displays.

It’s the Nativity scenes that are increasingly barred from public places. It’s residents who call the ACLU because a development hangs simple white lights on its trees. It’s office Christmas parties becoming a relic, replaced by generic “holiday” events. And yes, it’s Mayors like Michael Nutter who last year deliberately removed the word “Christmas” from the holiday retail complex near City Hall (but subsequently was forced to replace it).

All of it a brazen attempt to make America a more secular society through political correctness, and those who dare question it are labeled “bigots.” 

Several important points need to be addressed:

1) The push to make all things politically correct has been successful, as it is now entrenched in all aspects of society. Everyone gets a trophy in most youth sports leagues, we don’t keep accurate score when one team is winning over another, and all things must be racially, culturally and ethnically homogenous.

The problem is that’s not how the real world works. And it’s the basic principle that the Occupy movement doesn’t understand. You have to work hard and fight for things you want, but when they are bestowed upon us — without merit — from those who worship at the altar of political correctness, things go downhill fast.  Need proof? Just look at those who engage in PC the most —Europe and the United States. Enough said.

2) This is a not call for “Thought Police” to mandate that everyone say “Merry Christmas.”  Quite the opposite. It’s a call for the silent majority to wake up and shove it right back at the small but extremely loud minority who shout “I’m offended” at every single thing. Saying Merry Christmas behind closed doors doesn’t take guts.  Saying it because you truly believe it and not worrying that such an innocuous greeting will offend does — insane as that is.

3) Most important, Americans need to remember that actions have consequences. And until we connect the dots and see the error of being so PC, those consequences can, and will, have devastating results.

When good folks start looking over their shoulders before saying Merry Christmas for fear of “offending,” it all begins to unravel. 
 
Think the PC stops at that?  Well, think about the fact that the next time you step foot on an airplane, it may be your last day on Earth because your government — we the people — absolutely refuse to non-invasively profile the very folks who openly state their intentions to blow up said aircraft.  And it gets better, as the Transportation Security Administration just announced that children under 12 don’t have to take off their shoes for screening, and will not be subject to routine pat-downs like everyone else

Here’s the $64,000 question. What do we think al-Qaeda will do now? Here’s a wild guess. Start flying a lot more with children? What’s next? Not screening foreign children at all?
  
So when your wife gets incinerated two minutes after takeoff, and the wreckage of a jumbo jet falls on your child’s school because a terrorist put the bomb in his 11 year old’s shoe, courtesy of the red carpet we provided, perhaps we shouldn’t wonder why it happened. 

Or when your son gets his skull sliced in half by a bullet that emanates from a Mosque in Afghanistan which is “off limits” for retaliation for fear of offending the very people who don’t like us anyway, maybe we should think about where it all started coming apart.
Did it start from the reluctance to say Merry Christmas or the refusal to put a Christmas tree on a courthouse plaza? Did it originate from the refusal to acknowledge Christmas on a public school calendar while other religions’ holidays are clearly labeled as such?  It’s impossible to pinpoint, but it really doesn’t matter.  That mentality is here, and has in large part led to the Great Decline.
 
So when the inevitable tragedy happens again — one that could have been prevented — and dumbfounded Americans stand around asking “How and why did this happen?”, well, you’ll know why.  The 40′s and 50′s were certainly not perfect, but people spoke their minds, were respectful, and America was a powerhouse. That attitude put a man on the moon a mere 60 years after the Wright brothers took flight but is now a fleeting memory.  Which is what happens when you bow to the wrong principles.
 
When Rome was at its zenith, it adhered to the simple principle that the well-being of its citizens was paramount. All of them.  In fact, so fervent was that belief that the Romans would literally go to the ends of the Earth to hunt down any thug that violated the rights of just a single Roman. They didn’t let political correctness rule the day, and the Republic thrived.  But when it abandoned that principle, it all came crashing down.
 
They said Rome would never fall, but it did.  Many say the same about America.   Yet the whimper is at our door.

So if we are to ever return to our former glory, perhaps that path could begin by good folks jettisoning political correctness and saying two small but incredibly joyous words without reservation:

Merry Christmas!
 

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

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December 23, 2011 at 11:29 am Comments (2)

Save Sunoco Refineries? Get Politicians Out Of The Way!

Part 1 of a series on saving refinery jobs and getting America working again 

For the tens of thousands whose livelihoods depend on the Sunoco and Conoco-Phillips oil refineries in Philadelphia, Marcus Hook and Trainer, the Grinch arrived early this Christmas, announcing that all three facilities would be closing in the near future.

But unlike the Grinch who delighted in causing misery for the sake of misery, the oil companies seemed to have no choice.  Their hand was forced by a combination of market forces that saw them losing millions every single day.

And now, short of the companies finding buyers, those workers will be thrown out into the cold, unemployed in an America that is plunging further into the abyss. An America that doesn’t make a bloody thing anymore.  An America with the highest corporate taxes in the world.  And an America with trade policies that sell out its own citizens.

Making matters worse, most of the workers will be seeking new jobs in Pennsylvania, one of the least competitive states in the nation when it comes to attracting new companies.

Doom and gloom? No, just the hard truth.  And here’s another one. Short of packing up and moving to refinery-laden Louisiana, most of the laid off workers will never find a job in this region close to the pay scale and skill level which they are leaving.

Welcome to The New America, one that too often puts the interests of its competitors — and even its adversaries — ahead of its own citizens.

Compounding the problem even further (if that’s possible) is the unwanted involvement of those who caused our economic mess in the first place — the politicians.  And, as they continue to demonstrate, they don’t have the slightest clue as to how to right the ship.

Politicians need to be taken out of the equation. Pandering for votes by holding pointless meetings with refinery and union officials isn’t solving anything.  It only gives false hope (while providing them with 30-second sound bites).

But here’s the good news.  There is hope, more than can be imagined. Those refinery workers could not be sitting on a better spot on Earth to reap the rewards of a massive opportunity — the correct utilization of the Marcellus Shale natural gas bonanza. If the politicians do their most important job — and the only one they should be doing — of cutting bureaucratic red tape and slashing stifling regulations, the free market will take hold, creating jobs and wealth of unprecedented proportions.

But that’s a tall order.

*****

Former Governor Ed Rendell, while certainly an affable chap, was never mistaken for a genius, especially when it came to getting Pennsylvanians working again.  His mentality was that a paternalistic government knows best, derived no doubt from the fact that he virtually never held a private sector job in his life. Thus, he was wholly incapable of understanding the difficult decisions that businesses must make to maintain profitability.

So it was no surprise when, in 2009, Rendell inserted his nose where it didn’t belong, publicly excoriating Sunoco for its decision to lay off some of its salaried workforce.  Sunoco officials had stated the move was geared towards remaining competitive, as the company was anticipating a “more difficult economic reality” moving forward.

Taking his criticism even further, Rendell flatly rejected the decision-making of Sunoco’s Chairman and CEO Lynn Elsenhans, arrogantly saying he couldn’t take her at her word. Incredibly, he went so far as to state the “real” reason for the layoffs: “They are solely intended to make a profitable company more profitable and helping pad the dividends paid to shareholders.”

So if Ed was correct (which is always the case – just ask him), Sunoco’s recent decision to shut down its refineries — permanently — must be because it’s just making too much money. 

Or…

Maybe the folks at Sunoco had a slightly better idea than Ed Rendell of the deteriorating market conditions coming down the pike, and maneuvered accordingly to keep its head above water.  Despite their best efforts though, Sunoco did not meet with success, as the closures clearly indicate.

Now the big questions loom — can the refineries be saved, will a buyer be found, can they be converted to refine natural gas, and, of course, what will be the fate of the thousands of families whose livelihoods depend on the refineries?

While Rendell is out of the picture, the involvement of other elected officials still leaves a lot to be desired.

Earlier this week, members of Congress emerged, extremely frustrated, from a meeting with refinery officials, complaining that the company wouldn’t reveal details about highly confidential strategic negotiations with potential buyers.

Earth to Congress: Have We Met? Who do these guys think they are that Sunoco owes them an explanation for anything, let alone sharing privileged information of the highest magnitude? And do we even have to mention that Congress hasn’t been able to keep anything secret in 200 years?

And last month, a bipartisan congressional delegation called on the U.S. Energy Information Administration (along with the U.S. Department of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) to conduct an impact analysis on the potential of the refineries’ closure.

Uh, here’s a not-so-humble message to each member of that delegation: your proctologist called.  He found your head.

Are they serious? Another Blue-Ribbon study to tell us what any sixth-grader already knows? 

It will be bad.  Very, very bad. Jobs will be lost, families thrown into chaos, houses foreclosed, businesses shuttered.  The refining capacity for the East Coast will suffer tremendously (not helped, of course, by the fact that we haven’t built a new refinery in America since 1976). Prices will increase. Volatility will spike. And America will, yet again, find itself bent over the barrel, spending billions more petro dollars buying oil from hostile nations because we (READ: Congress)  will not do the obvious — implement a policy of energy independence.

So let’s save the tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on an absolutely meaningless study, and do something novel: solve the problem!

And to reiterate Step One, the politicians woefully short on private sector experience and who lack the necessary vision to turn an unfortunate situation into a positive one need to get out of the way and let business-savvy entrepreneurs do what they do best: create opportunity.

Energy is the single most important industry in getting America back on her feet again.  And retooling the refineries here in our backyard —the right way, for the right product, to fulfill the right vision — is the blueprint to make that a reality.

And what a Christmas present that would be!

(Part Two will specifically examine what should be done to save the refineries and their jobs).

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

 

 

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December 21, 2011 at 12:21 pm Comments (2)

ABC’s “Made In America” Shows Network Is Clueless

After watching the latest segment of ABC World News’ “Made in America” series, several thoughts come to mind:

1) Don’t view it on a full stomach;

2) Once again, the media has failed to ask the right questions because they, like our elected officials, don’t understand the problem, and

3) Spending more money on a problem sounds great but is never the solution.

The series illustrates the astronomical amount of goods that are made in China, and postulates how great it would be if only we could “buy American.”

Gee, Diane Sawyer and Company, tell us something we don’t know.

Perhaps if the network did a little research as to the real reason why America manufactures virtually nothing anymore, thus identifying the problem, it could then report on the ways to bring back American companies, and the jobs and products they create.

But that would take foresight and initiative.  And when it comes to the American media, those traits are in short supply.

In the latest segment, Sawyer states that the average American family will spend $700 this Christmas season, and that if each just spent $64 on American-made goods, over 200,000 jobs would be created.

If that’s the recipe for success, then why stop at just $64? Well, ABC thought of that. Reporting that total Christmas spending would total more than $465 billion, it stated, “..if that money was spent entirely on U.S. made products, it would create 4.6 million jobs.”

Great idea, if you’re playing make-believe.  But in the real world, things don’t work that way.

First, we live in an ever-increasing global economy, which is perfectly fine, as world trade is a good thing.  But things don’t work out so well when a country owns a mammoth trade deficit, which, in our case, is north of $500 billion per year and exponentially growing.  You don’t need to be an economist to understand that when manufacturing plants move overseas, exports drop significantly while imports shoot skyward.  That trend will only continue until the problem is identified, let alone solved.  But stating a pie-in-the-sky wish that all products should or could be purchased in America is just plain insulting.

Second, throwing more money at the problem won’t solve anything, and in fact makes it worse by masking the real issues. Yet that’s a lesson lost on America, as we continue to fall for the duplicitous line that if we just open the wallet and increase the budget, all will be well.

As a case in point, what do we do about the nation’s abysmal academic achievement, in which U.S. students rank near the bottom of every category compared to their global competitors?  Spend more on “education” — a lot more.  Of course, we’ve been doing that every year at the local, state and federal levels, yet the scores continue to go the wrong way, but so what?  That just means we need to spend even more money!

Too much crime on our streets?  Hire more cops, despite the fact that most municipalities are going under just trying to pay current salaries and exploding pension and benefit costs.  Give no attention that even the most militarized police states still have crime, and that more money (and thus more police) won’t deter crime. Smarter policing, and infinitely more important, smarter kids, will.  But since we still aren’t “spending enough” on education, we continue to open the coffers for more cops.

Not enough jobs?  Again, this wouldn’t be an issue if we had an educated workforce and a solid manufacturing base.  But since we have neither, and refuse to make any meaningful attempt to change that situation, we create money out of thin air, throwing trillions in “stimulus” (aka, “taxpayer”) money at the problem. The fact that it didn’t work has not deterred the politicians, as they seek yet another round of stimulus spending.

And now, ABC would have us believe that spending $64 is the panacea to America’s chronic unemployment problem, and one that will help manufacturers stay in business.

When will we ever learn?

Such news reports only serve to divert attention from the real problems that need addressing: our atrociously unfavorable trade policies, the highest corporate taxes in the world, and the complete lack of an energy policy.  By understanding these problems, we could begin to stave off the total loss of manufacturing.  And here’s a newsflash: no nation has ever prospered, let alone survived, without a healthy manufacturing base. Without that, it’s lights out, and that’s not conjecture, but mathematical certainty.

So what to do? 

-Trade policies need to be wiped clean and re-written from scratch, with one overarching element above all else: America’s interests come first. Period. China looks out for its own interests, as it should.  We need to do the same.  At some point, we may not have that leverage to call the shots, but we do now.  So let’s do it.

-An immutable law of economics is that if you want less of something, tax it — a concept lost on most elected officials. Hopefully that will change with a new Congress that will incentivize companies to keep jobs — and revenue — stateside by slashing the corporate income tax.  It’s easy to paint the CEO who moves operations to more favorable tax environments overseas as greedy, but when faced with the highest tax rates in the world, combined with shrinking profit margins, it becomes a sound business decision. Given the choice, most would rather stay in the U.S., but the government has taken that choice away from many.

-By far, the most effective solution to give manufacturing a permanent rebirth and a competitive edge is simple and easy. It’s energy independence. But it seems that drilling for oil and natural gas, mining clean coal and expanding nuclear power is just too politically incorrect for ABC’s focus. 

America will never compete with the lowest labor costs in the world. So the only way to offset that is to have the lowest energy costs in the world.  And more than any nation on Earth, America can do that, because it possesses the greatest concentration of energy resources on the planet.

Lower fuel costs give manufacturing companies an edge, and that means greater commerce and more jobs. Businesses can take the billions in savings that cheap energy offers, and reinvest it so that operations are expanded, more workers are hired, and new manufacturing doors in America are opened.  

And when all of the ancillary benefits are realized, the economy goes into overdrive — homes are bought, restaurants thrive, small businesses no longer face closure, and untold new ventures spring to life.  All of which leads to higher tax revenue.

Incomprehensibly, too many major media outlets and the majority of politicians in both Parties do not recognize these root causes of America’s economic crisis.  And you can’t solve a problem if you don’t know what it is.

Connect the dots, and America thrives again.  Keep the same policies in place, and we go the way of Europe.

And what a story that would be.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

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December 6, 2011 at 12:27 pm Comments (0)

With Gaddafi’s Death, Is Libya The Next Iraq?

Long oppressed by their strongman leader, the rebels finally had their day. With immense military and political help from the West, they first toppled the regime, and later, the dictator himself.  At long last, “freedom” was theirs, although as we have come to know, one person’s freedom is another’s hell.

And how did the rebels show their appreciation to their liberators? By showering them not with roses, but roadside bombs, bullets and vitriol. Their message? “Thanks — now get out.”

So it was in Iraq, and so it will be in Libya.

Amazingly, Western leaders either don’t read history, or, more likely, do so and arrogantly think they can avoid the same mistakes.

They can’t.

The objective of the US and NATO was to remove Gaddafi. Well, mission accomplished. But once again, the age-old adage applies: Be careful what you wish for…you might just get it. And get it they did, but now what? How much more blood and treasure will be expended to maintain a presence in a country that was a) stable, b) a Muslim “ally” of the West, and therefore c) didn’t need an occupying Western presence?

Sadly, too much.

*****

There was no question why the U.S. became involved in Libya.  It wasn’t about stopping a dictator or civilian deaths.  And it’s wasn’t about democracy and freedom.  It was because Libya produces a lot of oil. Period.

Need proof?  Among numerous examples, just look at Syria.  They continue to massacre their citizens and foment terrorism, but their petroleum production is but a fraction of what Libya pumps out annually. Case closed.

So America once again did much of the heavy lifting, giving its imprimatur for the airstrikes which led to the rebels taking down Gaddafi.   

But it seems that we have forgotten one small thing.  Those rebels — who brutally and gleefully executed Gaddafi in full view of cameras, and are now “running” the country — are the same folks who comprised the largest fighting force outside of Iraq to engage the United States military in that country.

That bears repeating.

We just backed the very same people who have been shooting at us for the past eight years.  A naïve question, to be sure, but did anyone in charge actually bother to think about this before participating in the regime change of a sovereign nation?

The rebels, who are no longer rebels but now governmental “leaders,” have tasted power. They are getting used to carrying out the law —their law — on the spot, administering justice as they see fit. To think that they are just going to lay down their weapons (which we provided) and obey orders from a civilian politician is a fairy tale. Just look at the recent revelation that upwards of 20,000 portable surface-to-air missiles, each capable of downing a jetliner, are missing and feared to be in unfriendly hands. What a shock.

The result will be chaos and armed factions roaming the country.  And when they are pressed further, look for car bombs and oil pipelines to start exploding.

Kind of like…Iraq. 

But the West can’t have that, so by its own admission, it will be sending in ground troops.  And as history shows, that is never a short-term proposition. 

Of course, since European countries are broke and wholly incapable of sustaining any military operation, the United States will inevitably be drawn further into the Libyan quagmire.

In the hope of not repeating past mistakes, there are two lessons that should be heeded by what will hopefully be a new Administration next year:

1) Credibility is everything.  Nowhere is a nation’s word more important than on the world stage. If a country that prides itself on being of high moral character lies and betrays, it’s credibility is shot.  Period. It’s a lesson the United States still hasn’t learned.

For example, America urged the Kurds to rise up against Saddam Hussein at the conclusion of Gulf War I, pledging support to help them overthrow the dictator. But the U.S. reneged on that promise, leading to the needless slaughter of many. Because of our credibility gap, we were forced to expend enormous effort to convince the Kurds to join the coalition in the Gulf War II. 

Fast forward to the present, and it is apparent that lesson has gone unheeded, as the Libyan debacle clearly illustrates.

Moammar Gaddafi was never an angel, not in the beginning of his forty-year reign, nor at the end.  But he showed himself to be a leader with whom the West could effectively work, even if his transformation was rooted in self-preservation.

In no uncertain terms, Gaddafi was told to shape up or face the consequences.  To his credit, he did, and then some.  He admitted complicity in the Pan Am 103 bombing and paid reparations, dismantled his WMD/nuclear program, and stopped harboring terrorists.  As a result of his positive actions, Gaddafi’s nation was removed the Terrorism List by the George W. Bush Administration, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stating Libya was rewarded for its “renunciation of terrorism and the excellent cooperation Libya has provided to the U.S.” in the war on terror.

And yet, despite U.S. assurances to Libya that the two nations would be conditional allies, that “excellent cooperation” wasn’t good enough.  America broke its word by helping to eliminate a leader who had done everything the United States had asked of him.  With that kind of “credibility,” is it any wonder why many leaders have chosen a path at odds with America? Venezuelan General Hugo Chavez comes to mind.

This results in needless roadblocks in diplomatic, political and economic negotiations around the world. The damage from one thoughtless decision can take years to repair, with Libya the latest example.

2) It is time for energy independence.  Despite the inherent common sense of energy independence, both from economic and security perspectives, it remains a policy neither Party chooses to advance.  Sure, the rhetoric is there, but that is where it ends.

Rather than tap into the largest natural gas deposits in the world (the Marcellus and Utica Shales), the vast oil reserves in Alaska, the Bakken Formation in North Dakota, the reserves under the Rockies that may be the largest on the planet, and drill offshore, the politicians continue the disastrous policy of relying on petroleum from hostile nations.

Put another way, if Libya, and the entire Middle East for that matter, wasn’t sitting on huge reserves, America wouldn’t give it a second thought, with the exception of its security guarantee to Israel.

But because neither Party will pursue energy independence in a meaningful manner, job creation suffers, inflation rises, and America’s fighting forces remain in the crosshairs.

So once again, America is involved in yet another conflict with no clear objectives, which will only create more uncertainty in world markets that are already on the verge of collapse.

Common sense is such that America should stop playing policeman to the world, become energy independent, put the interests of its citizens before the people of other nations, and, above all, keep its word.

Don’t hold your breath. As Voltaire said, “Common sense is not so common.”

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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October 28, 2011 at 11:43 am Comments (0)

Why Is The U.S. So Scared of Ahmadinejad?

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to the United Nations has been met with fierce opposition, including a 30-nation walk-out during his address to the international body. That childish protest, led by the U.S., was exactly what transpired during his previous visits when he spoke at both the U.N. and Columbia University.

People can protest all they want.  That’s their right in this country, and Ahmadinejad has certainly provided enough material.  But a distinction has to be made as to what is being protested.

If people want to voice disapproval of Ahmadinejad’s totalitarian policies and inflammatory statements, great. If, however, the U.N. walk-out was to (ultimately) criticize the organization’s decision to allow an unpopular figure to speak, that’s a different story.

Why are we so scared of Ahmadinejad?  What frightens us so much that we demand his viewpoints be silenced?  He is the undisputed leader of a sovereign nation, a man whose words and decisions have significant weight on the world stage.  Like him or not, he’s the President of Iran, and the West has no choice but to deal with him and his government. 

And if the criteria for a walk-out are fanatical statements made by the ranting leader of a second-rate country, then U.N. delegates better get comfortable shoes, because they’ll be doing a hell of a lot of walking.

Walking out on Ahmadinejad is completely counter-productive, as it gives him a public relations bonanza. Like eating the forbidden fruit, Ahmadinejad’s remarks will now be heard by many who otherwise would not have cared, being attracted by the “If it’s bad enough that the U.S. walked out, I must hear what he said” mentality.  And it permits our enemies to label us hypocritcal, jettisoning free speech whenever convenient.

It’s exactly like those who protest KKK and neo-Nazi marches. The louder the protesters, the more energy and media coverage is given to those groups. They feed off the attention. Stay home, and they go away. It’s that simple.

And it’s a horrible example for our children. Don’t like what the professor has to say? Leave. Mom and Dad trying to enforce the rules? Walk out. Disagree with what your political opponent says about you? Throw out some invectives and storm away. 

*****

In 2007, despite getting hammered by protesters and politicians, Columbia played it right by affording Ahmadinejad a platform, but equally important, chose not to give him an award.  It is one thing to allow someone to speak, but quite another when accolades are bestowed upon individuals who don’t deserve them. 

The larger question centers on free speech.  Aren’t we always told that America sets the standard for the free exchange of ideas?  Don’t we teach our young people to keep an open mind and question everything?  Isn’t it invaluable to hear opposing points of view, and ultimately form one’s own opinion?

Failure to maintain an open atmosphere leads to close-mindedness and ignorance.  The world is increasingly “flat,” in that we live in an ever-expanding global economy.  Traditional borders and cultural barriers continue to be dismantled.  Therefore, it’s imperative that Americans understand the value of listening, are open to constructive dialogue, formulate tough questions, and refuse to live in fear.

Narrow-mindedness will only make the road ahead more difficult. 

This is not a call for appeasement, nor is it running from reality.  Iran’s posturing—and actions— have made the West very uncomfortable, and if that nation continues its current path, especially with regard to its nuclear program, the situation may well become bloody. 

Is Iran an “enemy,” whose leaders should be banned from entering America, as some contend?  Depends on your definition.  But if that’s the case, then kick out France, which aided and abetted Iraq leading up to the war (in many cases illegally). And China, since it massacred citizens at Tiananmen Square, among its other heinous transgressions. And Syria, given the ongoing slaughter of its citizens.

And let’s not forget to look in the mirror, as America’s role in overthrowing the sovereign regime in Libya — which we had repeatedly praised as a nation reformed and a partner in rooting out terrorism — was nothing more than an inexcusable oil grab for our European allies. Where do you draw the line? 

We are not at war with Iran.  If Ahmadinejad wants to make ludicrous statements amounting to Holocaust revisionist history, the absence of homosexuality in Iran and who was really behind 9/11, he does so at his own peril.  He needs Western investment and petro dollars to survive, and such rhetoric only undermines his credibility and jeopardizes the economic stability of his country. The more Ahmadinejad speaks, the more he hurts himself.

While he advocates much which we abhor, it is the strength of America that allows him to express himself without fear of repercussion.  That is why we are still the envy of the world.

It’s time to start effectively dealing with Iran —politically, diplomatically, economically, and yes, if necessary, militarily. For that to happen, we need to act like grown-ups and dispense with second-grade games that make Khrushchev’s shoe-banging outburst look respectable.

The United States should run from no one, least of all Mr. Ahmadinejad. In the words of FDR, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com

Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.”

Freind, whose column appears regularly in Philadelphia Magazine and nationall in Newsmax, also serves as a frequent guest commentator on talk radio and state/national television, most notably on FOX Philadelphia.  He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

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September 23, 2011 at 6:23 pm Comments (0)

Ten Years After 9/11, Ground Zero Shows America’s Weakness

Do we really think that if the attacks had hit China, they wouldn’t have erected bigger and better buildings — in a year?

“We Remember.” “Never Forget.”

These phrases have been bantered about endlessly in the weeks leading up to the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

If only they held the true meaning that so many ascribe to them.

But to quote a line recently overheard: There’s what people want to hear; there’s what people want to believe; there’s everything else; then there’s the truth.

It’s time to cut through the emotion and get to the heart of where America really stands a decade later. Be warned: it’s not a pretty picture.  And through it all, no leader has appeared who can steer the nation back on track and take the bull by the horns to avoid another major attack — and, God forbid, if there is one, lead the nation through it.

*****

The Economy

After spending hundreds of billions on homeland security, and over a trillion more on two wars, is America in a stronger position than it was in 2001? Not even close.  In fact, despite the blood and treasure expended, this nation is in perhaps its most precarious state ever.

Manufacturing jobs have been hemorrhaging at an unprecedented rate, the economy is in shambles with absolutely no recovery in sight, the real rate of inflation is significantly higher than the government admits, and the incomprehensibly large debt has America on the brink of insolvency.  

And most of this can be attributed to one thing: the lack of an energy policy.  Or, more accurately, the abject refusal to institute an energy policy that utilizes America’s vast resources.

The result is complete reliance on foreign oil, especially from hostile Middle Eastern oil nations whose regard for America’s interests resides somewhere between zero and nonexistent. 

Mammoth spikes in gasoline, diesel and jet fuel prices continue to drive up costs, which puts companies out of business, citizens on the unemployment rolls, and keeps bank foreclosure executives very, very busy.

Perhaps most tragic of all, American’s immutable sense of pride and nationalism has taken a hit. 

Once, we possessed a “can-do” pioneering spirit that pervaded all aspects of American life, where “impossible” was not in the American lexicon.  That resolve is what vanquished the Axis Powers in World War II.  It’s what opened up the western United States, ultimately making California alone one of the largest economies in the world.  It’s how we put a man on the moon a mere 66 years after the Wright brothers’ famous 120-foot, 12-second flight. And yes, it’s how, under the leadership of Ronald Wilson Reagan, America won the Cold War — and provided freedom for millions.

Failure to achieve success was the exception.  Now it’s become the norm.

The best example of our malaise of mediocrity? Ground Zero.

The most startling aspect of that hallowed ground isn’t that the Twin Towers, once the sentinels of American free enterprise, are gone, but that NOTHING stands there. Sure, there are reflecting pools and trees, and a shell of a building.  But that’s it.

It’s been ten years!

How is that possible? How can a decade have passed with no real progress? How could we have let the enemy win that important part of the battle?

As a comparison, if the Empire State Building had been attacked during World War II, it would have been rebuilt immediately.  No questions asked, and no moral victories for the enemy.

And to those who naysayers who would argue “it’s a different time,” think again. If the September 11 attacks had felled China’s buildings instead of ours, you can bet the ranch that they would have been resurrected — bigger, better, and bolder — in less than a year. Guaranteed.

Why? Because the Chinese took a chapter out of America’s playbook, and are mastering it to perfection. You know — the same playbook that we seem to have relegated to the dustbin.

Are We Safer?

Given the hundreds of billions allocated for our security, are we really safer?

Despite some advances in communications, intelligence and specific security measures, the ultimate answer is no, for there are two gaping holes in our defenses: the borders are wide open and we refuse to profile.  Both are easily rectifiable, but because political correctness wins the day, Americans are living with a false sense of security.

Borders: What good does securing airports do if al Queda can simply walk across the border from Mexico — with a suitcase nuclear weapon? Incompetent as that organization has proven to be, especially now that bin Laden is dead, they’re not dumb.  If they haven’t already smuggled weapons and terrorist cell members into America via our porous borders (fat chance of that, as intelligence experts concede cells are in place), they soon will.

Despite ample funds to build a wall — a clear deterrent to both illegal invaders and terrorists — neither Party chooses to do so for purely political reasons.  So much for real Homeland Security.

Profiling: Grandmothers continue to receive prisoner-like exams at our nation’s airports, while olive-complexioned individuals from the Middle East stroll by, unquestioned, with smirks on their faces.  Why the free pass? Precisely because they look like Arabs.

America’s lawmakers have caved in to a small element that shouts “racist” anytime profiling is employed, especially in, God forbid, airports. Such practice, they claim, singles out individuals just because they appear “Muslim” or “Arab” and, as a result, these flyers feel offended.  

Get over it.

Profiling is simply a tool for law enforcement to determine who and what may be a threat, based on an ever-increasing array of data. Certain packages may be the hallmark container for a bomb – and they should be checked. A specific type of shoe may be the favored choice of shoe-bombers – so that footwear, and the owner, should be closely examined.

And yes, certain Arab and/or Muslim individuals, based on historical events, and along with appearance characteristics, mannerisms, suspect financial transactions and other patterns of behavior, should be singled out for closer inspection.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with profiling in security sensitive areas. Yes, it’s a form of discrimination. So what? All nineteen highjackers on September 11 were Muslim Arabs. And so was the twentieth, Zacharias Moussaoui. The 1993 World Trade Center bombings were also carried out by people of this ethnic group.  As was the trans-Atlantic shoe bomber, the bombers of the U.S.S. Cole, the Madrid train bombers, and the London subway attackers.

What are we missing? Why are we so scared to profile? What will it take for America to demand policies that actually protect, not appease?

Sadly, probably only another terrorist attack.

This is because our elected leaders are, for the most part, too scared to tackle the issue, even though the majority of Americans support such measures. They are counseled to stay away from “hot-button” topics, instead focusing on 30-second soundbites on irrelevant issues.

To be clear, I am not advocating that random people on the street be detained and interrogated, with no probable cause, just because they “look Arab.” This kind of harassment is contrary to the freedoms our country provides.

But it’s time we stop worrying about people’s feelings and reintroduce some common sense into our security measures.

One thing is for sure: al Queda will not stop. And if we continue to give them openings, they will gladly take them. While it’s not possible to guarantee another attack won’t occur, it will be unconscionable if it does — and if it was preventable.

If we truly want to honor the memory of the 3,000 soul who perished on 9/11, we need to jettison political correctness, enter the real world, and combat threats in a meaningful way.

God help us if we don’t.

 

An accredited member of the media, Chris Friend is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com

Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.”

Freind, whose column appears regularly in Philadelphia Magazine and nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a frequent guest commentator on talk radio and state/national television, most notably on FOX Philadelphia. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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September 13, 2011 at 2:17 pm Comment (1)

Marcellus Shale Protestors = Lobbyists For Middle East Oil Barons

And there they were, in all their glory, basking in the attention gained from protesting Marcellus Shale drilling.

Sure, those who were angrily denouncing the gas industry during the Marcellus Shale Coalition Conference in Philadelphia got the attention of the local media. But by far, their biggest cheering section, the folks who were happily paying the closest attention, weren’t even in Pennsylvania.

They’re in the Middle East.

The leaders of those oil nations could not be more thrilled to have such a passionate cadre of protestors, who do everything in their power to ensure the United States remains bent over the foreign oil barrel.  And as an added bonus, American petro dollars are used to fund extremist anti-American programs in those very same Middle Eastern nations, resulting in a new generation of well-funded terrorists.

About the only thing missing is the Middle Eastern oil barons not paying the protestors to be their registered lobbyists, because that’s exactly what they are.

*****

We are witnessing the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind as America needlessly sends trillions to China and the Middle East.  The standard of living in those countries continues to rise, as does their global power, while the United States slowly devolves into a second-world nation with — at least for now — a first-world military.

And here’s the part no one wants to admit but is unequivocally true: it will never again be the way it was, and the American way of life simply cannot improve until the people remove their heads from their derrieres and demand that we utilize our own domestic energy resources.

Absent that, the demise is unstoppable.

A look at any port tells the story: tankers and freighters come to America fully laden, but leave U.S. shores virtually empty. And the reason is simple. We make nothing.  No nation can survive, let alone prosper, if it abandons its manufacturing base. But that is exactly what we did.

Of course, we will never be able to compete with the lowest labor costs in the world. So the only way to offset that is to have the lowest energy costs in the world.  And more than any nation on Earth, America can do that.  How? By utilizing the greatest concentration of energy resources on the planet — a level which dwarfs that of any other nation.

There are vast — almost immeasurable — yet untapped oil reserves off both coasts and in the Gulf of Mexico, in Alaska (especially in the ANWR), under the Rocky Mountains, and in the Bakken Formation in North Dakota.

And that’s just for starters.

America has also been blessed with an overabundance of natural gas, including the Marcellus Shale, which just happens to be the second largest gas deposit in the world. Ironically, many of the gas protestors who describe themselves as “environmentalists” (whatever that means) are opposing the cleanest fuel available.

Natural gas produces virtually no emissions, which not only is good for the environment, but its low price and limitless supply are lessening use of more emission–producing fossil fuels.  It’s a no-brainer.

And since it is less than half the price of gasoline, the wider utilization of natural gas can power the economy in an unprecedented way.  As companies like UPS have realized, lower fuel costs give them a competitive edge, and that means greater commerce and more jobs.

And speaking of jobs, take a look at just one glowing example right here in Pennsylvania of how natural gas can get the economy moving again.  Proctor and Gamble has a substantial manufacturing plant in the state, and as with any such facility, energy costs are always one of the priciest budget items.

Upon discovering natural gas under the plant, the company invested in several gas wells on the property — money that was quickly recouped since their energy bill is now dramatically less.  Businesses in that situation can now take the millions in savings and expand operations, hire more workers at good salaries, and keep its manufacturing doors open in America.

But that’s just the beginning.  It’s all the ancillary effects that result from gas that can jumpstart the economy: homes are built and bought (driving down foreclosures), restaurants thrive, many small businesses no longer face closure, and untold new businesses spring to life.  Estimates are that 100,000 jobs have already been created because of Pennsylvania’s (fledgling) gas industry, and billions in tax revenue have filled municipal and state coffers.

And that is but a mere preview of what’s to come.

Yet the protestors would rather kill all that off, content to keep the status quo of $4 gasoline, rising inflation, and a stagnant economy. Oh, and one more thing: their actions jeopardize the safety of every American by keeping the nation in a state of begging, totally reliant on foreign oil. To say our national security is weakened would be a gross understatement.

Here’s the bottom line. Two plus two always equals four, whether or not one chooses to believe that.  Likewise, black gold and natural gas are the lifeblood of every economy, and that unequivocally will not change for scores of decades, if ever.  Those countries with petroleum resources thrive, while those reliant on rival nations for their energy needs are always at a substantial disadvantage.  It is survival of the fittest, and no amount of fairy-tale fluff will change that fact.

The most ignorant aspect of Shale protestors is that they only harp on the “horrors” of natural gas and oil (most of which are easily debunked myths, but that’s another column), yet offer no alternatives — at least none grounded in the real world.  If they ever do, they will be taken seriously.  But until then, they will be laughed off as extremists trying to achieve a relevance that is simply unattainable.

Solar? Wind? Hydro? Love them all.  And we should continue to utilize them so long as they are cost efficient.  But they do not make even the smallest dent in meeting America’s energy needs. Attempts to argue the contrary are folly.

Nuclear is a different ballgame, and we should be doubling our plants, but in the wake of Japan’s (avoidable) crisis, combined with zero political leadership from either Party in Washington, that’s a pipe dream.

Which brings us back to gas. If not gas and oil, then what?  More reliance from hostile foreign nations while out global competitors gain yet another foothold on America? That’s not a solution. It’s a death sentence.

Natural gas, and the industry itself, are not perfect, but they are most certainly the best option we have to keep our communities safe and prosperous, and our people’s dignity intact.  Criticism for the sake of criticism — with no viable solutions — is simply irresponsible.

Of course, so is cooking one’s meal with propane stoves while protesting a natural gas conference — as some hypocritical protestors actually did.  And that says it all.

It’s high-time the United States of America stops using Chinese as its official language and asking permission from Middle Eastern oil barons.

So come up with something better and get your fracking facts straight, or go pass gas somewhere else. 

An accredited member of the media, Chris Friend is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com

Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.”

Freind, whose column appears regularly in Philadelphia Magazine and nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a frequent guest commentator on talk radio and state/national television, most notably on FOX Philadelphia.  He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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September 8, 2011 at 10:42 am Comment (1)

US Deserves Another Credit Downgrade

On any given day, tens of millions flock to the beach for the sun, sand and surf.  Yet because there have been fifty cases over the last decade of people digging deep holes being trapped in sand cave-ins (including one this week), there is a renewed call to ban digging holes at the beach.  Some towns have already done so (Myrtle Beach) and some are close to following suit (Los Angeles).

It’s such a “serious risk” that the LA Lifeguard Division Chief, when asked by a reporter what advice he would give parents who are heading to the beach, replied, “Don’t let your kids dig holes.”

Talk about burying your head in the sand. 

Fifty cases out of millions is insignificant — and that’s just the equivalent of one beach-going day. Now extend that out over ten years, and we’re talking about creating laws to ban an activity that had negative results for only 50 out of literally billions of beach trips.

Given that this warped mentality is now the norm, it’s no surprise that America just got handed a horrendously bad debt ceiling deal by Congress— one that will only exacerbate the problem — yet is already being celebrated as a necessary step and part of the “solution.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

So what do passing ridiculous laws and debt-raising deals have in common?  Both ignore the real problems, with  bury-your-head-in-the-sand thinking. Bad decisions are rationalized in a paternalistic, group-think way, accomplishing nothing but providing the decision-makers with a false sense of feeling good. 

It’s bad enough that we now make laws to “protect” idiots who want to dig side by side six-f0ot holes and try to tunnel between them. But laws intended to prevent stupidity never work.  So why don’t we instead focus on the real problems that we have, instead of passing do-nothing regulations that only hinder law-abiding folks using common sense? Because it’s the easy way out.

Welcome to the M.O. of the United States Congress.

Let’s look past the rhetoric and ponder the real implications of the debt deal recently passed by Congress and heralded as absolutely “necessary” to save America:

1) If virtually everyone in Washington agreed that the high national debt was a bad thing, then how could those same folks turn around and raise it?  It’s like locking an alcoholic in a liquor store for a week and expecting sobriety.  If the debt was admittedly the problem, then raising it, by definition, would only make the problem worse.  Go figure.

2) How can Congress be expected to solve the nation’s educational failures when its own basic math skills are suspect?  So to cut two trillion in spending, the solution is to add two trillion to the debt? Hmmm.  Granted, columnists are not that smart, but that one just doesn’t seem to add up.

3) A number of Republican Congressmen voted for debt deal “so that the small businessman wouldn’t be hurt” and to avoid a credit rating downgrade. Now, they get the worst of both worlds.  As any high schooler could have told you, the downgrade was coming, since the cuts weren’t nearly substantial enough.  So now faith in America takes a huge hit, interest rates and inflation will rise, and the markets will continue to freefall.  Yep, those things really serve the interests of small business.

4) Who exactly is going to buy the additional trillions in debt?  Sure, there will be foreign nations, investors, and fund managers, but there simply isn’t enough money out there to buy that much debt.  And don’t look to China to buy a whopping share of the new debt, since they aren’t exactly thrilled with the way things are going.  They are nervously watching their current U.S. debtholdings, and don’t want to be holding a worthless bag of goods as the value of the dollar continues to plummet. The Chinese may be a lot of things, but being imprudent with their own money is not one of them. They were cutting back on buying U.S. Treasuries well before this current fiasco.

5) Most significantly, does anyone really have any idea what a trillion is, let alone two, or 17, for that matter?  No, not even the brightest astrophysicists. It is an incomprehensible number.  So to give the debt increase some perspective, we have just given ourselves the green light to borrow more than the twice the entire economic output of Texas, currently the most productive state in the nation in terms of attracting residents and businesses and beating the recession.  For that matter, the debt increase is greater that the Gross Domestic Product of all but four countries — just the increase!

The truth of the matter is that America’s credit rating should have been downgraded quite some time ago, so it is a mathematical certainty that it will be downgraded again in the relatively near future.  And regarding the argument that raising the debt was necessary to avoid default, that’s Washintgton-speak, plain and simple.  There were numerous ways to pay the nation’s bills while not raising the debt ceiling.  Don’t get hypnotized by the “complexities” foisted upon us by a Congress — both Parties — with an insatiable appetite to spend.

They could have fixed the problem. They chose not to.

And the beauty of it all, at least from Congress’ perspective, is that they got what they wanted: more money to spend now, and down-the-road reductions that can, and absolutely will, be ignored by future Congresses. 

So what happens? Given our unprecedented situation, no one really knows for sure, but none of it will be good, and the pain level will be huge.

The West is experiencing its financial bankruptcy in large part because of its spiritual bankruptcy, and until that changes, don’t expect things to “get back to normal” anytime soon. 

But there is one measure of preparedness that will undoubtedly come in handy as the economic storm worsens: when at your foreign owned service station, learn to ask for your Middle Eastern-derived gasoline in Chinese. 

 

An accredited member of the media, Chris Friend is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com

Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.”

Freind, whose column appears regularly in Philadelphia Magazine and nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a frequent guest commentator on talk radio and state/national television, most notably on FOX Philadelphia.  He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

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August 17, 2011 at 1:23 pm Comments (0)

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