Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Conservative Viewpoint
- Do We Really Need Partisan Politics?

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

Partisan politics is defined by Webster’s, Wikipedia and others in a number of different ways including the ardent and enthusiastic support of an individual or political party that stands for a specific set of ideals or beliefs that they would like to see advanced through the political process, at times without regard to fairness.

Others might suggest it is any candidate or party opposing the status quo of the sitting candidate or controlling party irrespective of any criticism, new ideas or vision that the potential “newbie’s” may be injecting into the political discourse.

And sadly it can also be about those in control for years wanting to stay in control at any cost, including discrediting the loyal opposition by spreading falsehoods, rumor, innuendo and character assassination.

I’ve often asked why politicians at all levels of government at times appear desperate to keep their death grip on the armrests of the seat of power. I suspect prestige and ego may be one reason. An additional source of income may be another.

Another reason is influence. When you’re an incumbent sitting in the “catbird seat” this seemingly intangible commodity is the most significant source of control an elected official can exercise both within and without their immediate sphere of influence.
I’m a firm supporter of term limits. Many might say that by imposing tenure limits we are losing experienced legislators. Others will say we have term limits now. They’re called elections.

But it’s often the “experienced” legislators that concern me. When you examine elected officials involved in scandal and corruption it’s difficult to recall many, if any, involving a freshman or two-term legislator. Conversely, there is an infinite list of those who’ve been in power for numerous terms who have gone astray.

And then there is the power of the incumbency. The longer they serve, the more name recognition they have, the bigger their donor lists become and as a result, the more favors they owe. An election then boils down to popularity contests between powerful, well-known and well-financed incumbents vs. the usually under-financed and less known idealists whose narrow resources limit their ability to have their message heard.

In local elections, incumbents often go unchallenged by the opposition party’s inability or unwillingness to field a candidate. In some cases there is no opposition party, or not one that is active. Without a two-party system in place the recipe for innate unfairness and demagoguery is ripe. A two party system insures debate as well as a system of checks and balances to oversee and protect the interests of the folks.

A controlling one-party system can easily sew the seeds for potential corruption, influence peddling, nepotism, favoritism and cronyism. Yes, state and federal government officials are big-time players in this winner-take-all sweepstakes, but many local town and county governments that have been controlled for decades by the same players or their relatives and minions can be even more troublesome.

How can voters change a system that is so firmly entrenched that it becomes increasingly difficult to think it can ever be changed? One of the best ways to help insure that it can is to see that no elected seat is uncontested.

In the U.S. there are two major political parties and neither is perfect. They do however, offer the only real chance we currently have to exercise any control over the destinies of our world, our nation, our state, our communities and thus, ultimately, ourselves.

Our freedom to vote is not only our constitutionally divine right but our solemn responsibility and duty. We all believe in something. Most of us should be able to find a home within one party or another, with each representing its own set of ideals, values and vision. Our active participation within this system allows us to partake in the shaping of those principles that will guide our individual party’s platform and its selection of candidates.

Labeling anyone as a “partisan politico” may seem to some as mean-spirited. But in truth we’re all involved in partisan politics, whether we see ourselves as Republican, Democrats, Libertarians or Independents. Any party or individual striving to offer a choice in candidates, ideology and vision is involved in partisan politics.

Bi-partisan cooperation, that great ideal that is expected by the electorate, can only become reality when the interests of all are respectively presented and considered through the prism of partisan viewpoints. This serves as a catalyst for discussion, negotiation and eventually productive compromise that should result in legislation in the best interest of the people.

You can say what you want about partisan politics being mean spirited or unnecessary, but without it we risk becoming mindless droids wandering in the wilderness of a political landscape we neither understand nor have the ability or means to change. It’s not partisan politics that’s bad; it’s the lack of dialogue, cooperation and ultimately compromise among the elected, that is.

This is a great summation of the problem we have here in Eastern North Carolina. We have one party rule, and anything that any Republican tries to accomplish is called partisan. This year it looks like we are headed to one party rule on the national level. The last time we had that was during the Carter years.

Though some tried to pretend Jimmy Carter was a "good decent man", the reality is that he was socialist and his term of office was a disaster. He gutted our military and gave away the Panama Canal which is today controlled by Communist China. The regime in power in Iran today was put in power by Jimmy Carter. Millions are living in terror on a daily basis because of Jimmy Carter. When Iran gets nuclear bombs and sets them off in Israel, it will be compliments of Jimmy Carter. When they give them to Islamo-fascsists and they set them off in American cities, the ultimate responsbility will be Jimmy Carters. For more than a generation, the legacy of his 4 years has been haunting our nation.

And yet the American people are about to again give control to a global socialist. Barack Obama will be as much of a disaster for freedom as Jimmy Carter. We have paid for Carter's socialist anti-American policies for more than a generation. We will be paying for the legacy of Barack Obama for much longer than that.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Civil War Era Maritime History

This presenation by the Carolina Living History Guild was a lot of fun. Displayed on the 1767 Chowan County Courthouse Green in Edenton, it was a great use of the Historic Edenton Site.

Andrew Duppstadt (above) speaks with one of the visitors about the history displayed.

Chris Grimes (above on right) explains some of the history of an ironclad ship whose model was on display.

Al Mitchell (above on right) talks with another of the volunteer costumed actors for the Guild who were representing the period.

One of the first uses of land mines was during the Civil War. Above is a simulation of how the fields of land mines was marked so friendly forces did not blow themselves up.

It was a great exhibit and I hope you did not miss it. If you did, make sure you go next year!

Click on the title above to see more about the guild.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Conservative Viewpoint
- McCrory vs. Perdue: Expect The Unexpected

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

Two days prior to the North Carolina primary, my wife and I followed our usual Sunday ritual of attending church and then gathering with friends for lunch at a popular eatery in Edenton. We aren’t the only folks to observe this weekly practice where friends and family get together to share everything from faith and fellowship to politics and punditry.

Leaving the restaurant, I was greeted by an acquaintance whose wife chairs the local Democratic Party. He was particularly talkative and seemed intent on keeping me engaged in conversation. I soon discovered why.

A car approached and stopped. Out of the backseat emerged an attractive, middle-aged woman with blonde hair and with her hand extended to greet me. “I’m Bev Perdue and I’m running for governor” she said with all the enthusiasm of a well-seasoned, polished campaigner. My acquaintance, who is keenly aware of my conservative politics, thought this was a hoot. Taking Perdue’s hand I said: “On behalf of the Chowan County Republican Party, welcome to Edenton.” Perdue appeared a bit stunned as she said “thank you” and then proceeded into the restaurant to meet with local Democrats.

With her win over State Treasurer Richard Moore two days later, Lt. Gov. Perdue would appear to be the favorite. Given the Democrats dominance in Raleigh for most of the last century, the odds would seem to support that. Her opponent in November is Republican Pat McCrory, the 51 year-old, seven-term mayor of Charlotte.

But I wouldn’t place a wager on Perdue just yet. In politics what sometimes seems like a sure thing at the outset can prove in the end to be anything but.

Late last summer, the national Democratic Party establishment’s candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.NY.) seemed to have a lock on the nomination for president. Today, she is clinging on by her proverbial fingernails. Sen. Barrack Obama (D.IL.) now appears to have the edge in this epic battle between the first woman and the first black candidate.

And talk about the unexpected; Republican John McCain, thought initially to be the front runner only to see his campaign and bank account tank late last year, resurrected himself and is now the party’s presumptive presidential nominee.

In the GOP race for governor it appeared it would be either Fred Smith or Bill Graham heading the ticket this November. But after Pat McCrory jumped into the race in January and then won the primary, he became the state Republican standard-bearer.

With few ideological differences between candidates within the same party, campaign strategists look for anything to give their contender an edge. It may even come in the form of attack-ads. This is risky, especially given the chance of blow-back in the general election.

The recently concluded campaign between Beverly Perdue and Richard Moore had vicious ads flying from both sides. Charges of the opponent’s lack of credibility were raised by each candidate. It’s uncertain if Moore’s ads have impacted Perdue’s credibility with the general electorate.

The GOP candidates for governor focused on issues while avoiding the slime of the politics of personal destruction. This could bode well for McCrory.

Nationally, Obama has made the call for “change” his rallying cry. Significant numbers of voters appear to be buying it.

But in Beverly Perdue’s case any argument she may try to make for change could fall upon deaf ears. She does after-all represent this state’s Democratic machine and is herself a long-time government insider. In the wake of the recent corruption scandals involving members of her party, how can she be trusted to deliver the kind of real change North Carolinians expect and deserve?

McCrory is campaigning as an outsider emphasizing his many accomplishments as the mayor of Charlotte, including vetoing property tax increases three times. This in a state that has the highest over-all taxes in the southeast. He also points to his distance from Raleigh, both literally and figuratively.

This too could be an advantage for McCrory over Perdue, who as Lt. Governor helped preside over the oft-referred to “culture of corruption” that breeds in the hallways of our state capitol.

Yet McCrory will still have a difficult time defeating Perdue in the east where the Democrats hold a firm grip on the reigns of power. But he should run strong everywhere else. In fact, Scott Rasmussen, an independent public opinion pollster, recently conducted a poll showing McCrory with a six-point lead over Perdue.

Voters are looking for leadership and tangible results attained through corrupt free government. But they are also wrestling with their individual prejudices, whether ideological or unfortunately, sexist or racial. Given that uncertainty, we can expect the unexpected to continue right up to Election Day.

I have little confidence that anything will stop the Democrat Party this year. It is very difficult to see what Republicans stand for. Huge numbers of former NC Republicans have registered as “unaffiliated” and a larger number simply sat out the recent elections. These actions are in response to so-called conservatives who backed liberals like Walter Jones. One example is the populist Newt Gingrich. His support for Jones forever labels him a bigot and a liar when he claims he is a conservative. He is not. Like our President, George W. Bush, he is a populist. Gingrich will support anyone or any issue that is popular, with no regard for the long term consequences to our nation. Our party means nothing to Gingrich except a way to claim to represent a large group. It is a personal thing with him, not idealogy or consistency. It is how he makes his living.

At Gingrich's behest, so-called Republicans voted for Walter Jones. They also voted for Republican turncoats like Richard Morgan. Morgan destroyed the momentum of the Republican Party when it took over our NC legislature. Morgan sold that control for personal power, stripping the rights of the majority of our state in the process.

Currentlyl there is no reason to expect that anyone can stand up and proudly say they are a Republican. For who can say what that means?

Bob, is that what you mean when you say expect the unexpected?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Conservative Viewpoint
- Energy Independence - Congress Must Act

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

The United States currently imports 60 percent of the oil we consume. And with the price of gasoline approaching $4 a gallon, many Americans are suffering. We see ourselves as victims in a cruel conspiracy caused, in part, by our nation’s involvement in an unpopular war in the oil-rich Middle East.

Others say it’s the oil companies that are responsible. They feel consumers are being taken advantage of and accuse oil companies of price-gouging.

Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and John McCain suggest that Congress temporarily suspend the 18 cents-per gallon federal gas tax this summer to give consumers relief. This could do more harm than good. The proposed tax holiday would reduce the collecting of tax revenue that is sorely needed to repair, expand and restore our nation’s ageing roadways and bridges.

Forty years ago, world oil reserves were largely owned by international oil companies based primarily in the U.S. Today, 80 percent of the world’s oil reserves are controlled by foreign governments. Only six percent of reserves are held by private companies.

The emerging economies of China and India compete with us for oil in the world market. Add the declining value of the dollar against other currencies and American consumers pay more for crude than countries with stronger currencies.

It’s not just a matter of supply and demand. Other factors come into play in determining the cost for a barrel of crude, like the war in Iraq, civil unrest in Nigeria and political uncertainty in Venezuela – all sources of foreign oil we depend on. Even hurricanes have affected U.S. and Mexican refinery operations.

As the world’s demand for oil increases – by 1.3 billion barrels of oil per day by next year – we are faced with making difficult decisions. We can either continue going down the same irresponsibly dependent path we’ve been on for decades or we can more aggressively pursue energy independence.

Increasing taxes on the big oil companies is not the answer. In fact according to the American Petroleum Institute (API) only 1.5 percent of industry shares are owned by company executives. Tens of millions of middle-class stockholders own the rest.

Anyone with money invested in a 401-K or a mutual-fund likely has oil company shares in their portfolio. When politicians like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama talk about taxing “Big Oil” on their “record profits,” they’re talking about taxing us.

Increasing oil company taxes would restrict the money needed to search for new oil and natural gas reserves to meet our ever-increasing demand.

The oil we’re using today is a result of exploration and investment made by oil companies’ years ago. Billions of dollars are spent in search of new sources of supply that, if discovered, may not reach the marketplace for nine or ten years. The largest share of oil company earnings is spent on exploration and adding new property and more technically-advanced equipment to its operations.

Although no new refineries have been built in the U.S. since 1976, technological upgrades have increased our existing refining capacity by 20 percent since 1985. Current domestic refining capacity is projected to increase by 800,000 barrels per day within two years.

Building new oil refineries or expanding existing ones is among the most affordable and reliable ways to increase supplies and lower prices, according to H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow with the National Center for Political Analysis. But he states that it’s the emission controls and clean air regulations that have forced some refineries to close and made building new ones difficult. Construction of a new refinery in Arizona has been delayed since 1997 over concerns over its impact on air quality, even though it has received the required permits.

Oil companies also continue to spend billions researching alternative sources of energy such as wind, solar, geothermal and landfill digester gas. Even if all of these potential alternative energy sources come to fruition it is still predicted that by 2030 more than half of the world’s energy demands will continue to be met by oil and natural gas.

To lessen this country’s dependence on foreign oil our government needs to adopt an energy policy that emphasizes conservation while allowing oil companies access to the abundant supplies of oil and natural gas we have here. Reducing our oil imports would have a major affect on the sensitivity of the U. S. economy to global oil conditions.

It is estimated by API that there are 112 billion barrels of oil potentially available in the U.S. That’s enough to power 60 million cars for 60 years. Those same areas are estimated to contain 656 trillion cubic feet of natural gas or enough to heat 60 million homes for 160 years.

Consider this: If our government allowed us to start drilling at home tomorrow in areas like Alaska, the offshore Gulf, Atlantic and the Pacific regions, along with the onshore regions within our borders, we still would not realize the benefits for several years. But doing nothing guarantees we will remain hostage to foreign sources of oil indefinitely.

Eight years ago, President Bush asked Congress to allow opening up the aforementioned regions to drilling. Had Congress acted then, new supplies of oil and natural gas would be coming to market today, prices would be less volatile here and abroad and we would be further along the road to energy independence. Now Congress needs to get it right.

Bob has only overlooked one aspect of this problem. The knee jerk reaction of the enviro-extremists who demand we cannot participate in the world wide search for oil for environmental reasons. The short sighted premise that our nation, being the sole nation not drilling for oil, somehow improves the creation of greenhouse gases problem is not a credible argument. Other countries are drilling for oil as fast as they can and searching for oil diligently. Brazil recently discovered 3 of the largest oil fields in the world, off their Atlantic Coast. They have every plan to develop them as quickly as they can. America not searching for or drilling for oil, the long term demand of the Democrat Party which has left us with this problem, simply leaves us subject to energy blackmail by Chavez and other tyrants on the left. Nothing is accomplished by our not searching and drilling except national damage to America.

However the premise man is causing global warming (on which this stupid agenda is based) . . . is even more ignorant. The slanderous insults hurled by enviro-extremists at anyone who dares to question the argument that man is causing global warming should be a clear sign that it is not, as these extremists claim, “settled science”.

Before anyone continues to argue the case that greenhouse cases cause global warming they should be morally required to answer the following questions.

Since Mars is warming up also, how is man causing that?

Since we are not yet at the temperatures reached during the renaissance, a period of man’s great moves forward due to the longer growing season dramatically increasing food production, why will warmer temperatures (even if they happen) not be a good thing?

Why do all the global warming advocates exclusively build their models on recent temperatures of the last 150 years, a period when we were still coming out of the "little ice age" and therefore certain to be increasing, ignoring the multi thousand year models and multi million year models that prove their theories are bunk?

Why, after repeated proof that their models generate the same results when fed bogus and contradictory data as they do when fed actual data, do they pretend their models are not fraudulent attempts to con the populace?

There are no answers to these questions that do not prove the global warming is caused by man extremists have a political agenda that they are hiding from the people. There is no truth to their claims.

Short term, we need to stop buying oil for the strategic reserve, accept a summer suspension of gas taxes at both federal and state levels, fund this suspension by cutting back on other than transportation expenditures and abandon the food shortage inducing bio-fuel insanity.

Medium term we must advocate a rational program of building refineries and standardizing the gasoline formulas across the states to return to a national market (eliminating spot shortages) as a critical step to energy independence.

Long term we must search for oil on the Atlantic Coast, Eastern Gulf of Mexico, Pacific Coast and in Northern Alaska to stop our reliance on oil producers dedicated to the destruction of our nation. In addition we need to push for increasing use of clean coal, conversion of oil sands and shale oil, and invest in proven nuclear plant designs on an expedited basis. We should even search for cost effective alternative energy sources. The key here is cost effective. Any attempt to subsidize expensive energy and call it cheap is simply a fraud on the American people.

All these actions are needed. However there is little chance this will happen until more people join the battle to denounce the global warming fanatics. This is the most critical part of the short term need. A total lie has been sold to a huge part of America’s public. Until that idiocy has been refuted, there will not be the political will to do any of the things Bob or I propose, short, medium or long term.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Navy Holds Gates County OLF Scoping Meeting

Citizens against OLF was present in force at the Navy Scoping meeting, and as noted on the group's web site, the Navy was not happy with their presence. The Navy tried to have Citizens against OLF moved away from their meeting.

The purpose of the Navy being in Gates County was to present the Navy side of the story. The Citizens against OLF were there to make sure the Navy knew of the strength of the opposition.

There was a great turnout, 617 who registered (and I know that a few were reticent to register, so it was actually more). Here are some of the pictures I took at the meeting.