The rule of law
Call us obstreperous, call us nitpicker, but we are a little more than upset by Pres. Barack Obama’s presidential edict setting aside the name of Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America.
We understand that renaming it – or rather accepting the name that locals have always called it, Denali – is extremely popular with Alaska’s own half a million inhabitants. And we also appreciate that the renaming, or the adoption of the traditional name, has the support of Alaska’s elected officials including its Congressional delegation. We also appreciate that while McKinley was an honored and martyred chief executive, he never set foot in Alaska and to our knowledge, never had much to do with that then huge territory in his time.
But the fact is that the designation of the mountain’s name for our 25th president [January 29, 1843 – September 14, 1901] was an Act of Congress passed in 1917. An Act of Congress is a statute proclaimed by our national legislature and one of the most important acts of the federal government and all governing institutions. It can either be a Public Law, relating to the general public, or a Private Law, relating to specific institutions or individuals, as in the case of naming the mountain. But until rescinded or inactivated by their irrelevance or noncompliance they are a sacred trust.
Obama’s presidential set-aside is a much too common imperial action which has increasingly marked his presidency. In this instance as in a number in the recent past, it flaunts the legislative prerogative of the Congress and violates the sacred principle of separation of powers unique to the U.S. Constitution. That’s the principle involved here.
But there is more in a commonsense view of our history. Contrary to what probably would be the vague memory of most of us for earlier presidents, McKinley was not an insubstantial figure. After a Congressional career and a very successful governorship in Ohio, in 1896 he beat his Democratic rival, the flamboyant orator William Jennings Bryan, with a “front porch” campaign. Nor was he indecisive about his principles: contrary to Bryan’s famous speeches calling for a currency based on silver and dire warnings that the country was being “crucified on a cross of gold”, McKinley strongly advocated “sound money” [a gold standard unless altered by international agreement] and high tariffs. Those policies worked, or at least, McKinley’s administrations were marked by rapid growth of the economy and his policies were given credit for it.
Furthermore, his first and second abbreviated presidency were chocked full of important international events. He led the country in the short but decisive Spanish-American War of 1898 which brought the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam under American control, and he promised that Cuba where the war had begun, its eventual independence. The Kingdom of Hawaii came under America’s control under his aggressive foreign policy.
McKinley defeated Bryan again in the 1900 campaign focused on discussions of imperialism, protectionism, and free silver which were strongly debated. Our current anemic discussion of issues would do well to imitate those debates. But his life and his presidency were cut short on September 6, 1901, when Leon Czolgosz, a second-generation Polish-American and professed anarchist, shot and hilled him.
We are among what seems to be a dwindling minority who believe that history is history. That it must not be set aside, for all the reasons of academic scholarship, but even more so because we attempt – however haltingly – to learn from our past. [We rarely can learn from others’.] But history must be history, tragedies and successful outcomes, wounds and scars, unpleasantries and ecstasies.
The current movement to set bits and pieces of it aside, whether removing Confederate flags or now to destroy commemorative statues to the Confederate dead, is a travesty History must be studied, with all its ambiguities and transgressions, if it is to be appreciated and learned from.
We therefore urge the Congress to clean up this bit of minutiae, if nothing else by formally renaming the mountain, and perhaps designating a new monument to an honored president.
Tag Archives: Alaska
The rule of law
Again, and again, we must return to energy, the mother’s milk of the economy where the Obama Administration’s ham-fisted tactics are strangling the baby of recovery in the crib.
In his June 29th press conference, the President again singled out rebates to push U.S. fossil fuel production in his demand for tax increases for an economy already threatened by double-dip recession. The proposal compounds regulatory mischief: blocking oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico while Chinese and other foreign companies drill off Cuba almost within sight of Florida beaches, forfeiting 250,000 jobs. “Regs” threaten West Texas fields contributing 20% of U.S. new production because of an obscure lizard. The White House dallies over a pipeline to bring Canadian oil sands crude to Texas refineries. While Moscow pushes Arctic prospecting, Juneau can’t get Washington to open up 14.7 million acres of state land with the critical Alaskan pipeline faltering from declining throughput.
Mr. Obama’s token strategic oil release – into the international crude pool rather than reducing U.S. pump prices – was one more feint in Mr.
Obama’s ideological war on fossil fuels. [Never mind ignoring the reserve’s national defense character; it was never meant as a price instrument – nor political toy.]
All this is done under the rubric of protecting the environment. “Junk science”, as many highly qualified skeptics believe, may underpin claims fossil fuels consumption decisively impacts climate change. It will take decades to know, given our shallow data for changing climate through the ages.
But “junk economics” is all too evident in the Administration’s energy strategies. Granted, impediments to cheap energy were inherited from previous governments and imperfect markets. But Mr. Obama’s drive for “renewable sources” mimics earlier Carter Administration’s abandoned “alternative energy” skeletons still littering the landscape.
Mr. Obama’s wind power subsides are indeed producing jobs – for China and Spain – with transferred American companies’ technology. Chinese windmills and solar panels are exported to the U.S., often replacing American manufacture.
The vignette of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger entertaining the possibility of Chinese “high-speed rail” proposals with federal stimulus funds – just before California all but bankrupted — is quintessential of a mind set. High salaried propagandists for tax free non-governmental organizations [NGOs] promote “the environment” through advocacy of “mass transit”, citing China’s example. They fail to note deficit-ridden Chinese government railways – whose two top executives recently were arrested for stealing tens of millions – blackmailed European and U.S. companies for technology transfers in exchange for a phantom Chinese market. Now Beijing attempts exports while their own projects operate with anemic passenger loads — at lower speeds because of faulty engineering. The misrepresentation is all too typical of limitless, mindless propaganda pumped out on a daily basis, for example on that other Washington subsidized enterprise, National Public Radio, by the Obama cheering section.
In fact, a whole new era in fossil fuels is beginning. So-called “peak oil”, the crisis posited when diminishing reserves supposedly would meet rising consumption, has vanished. New vistas have developed worldwide with expanding deep-water drilling technology – a Norwegian billion-dollar floating platform in deep water off Rio de Janeiro, a good example. New fields await discovery in our own Gulf of Mexico – the less than cataclysmic British Petroleum oil spill notwithstanding. Recovering Iraq with the world’s second largest reserves, many yet untapped, is returning with 10 million barrels a day.
Even more spectacular, a new era for natural gas suddenly has emerged with new technology exploiting vast shale reserves lying deep below rock formations in a dozen countries, not the least the U.S. [An ironic comment on priorities: Beijing is investing government billions into American companies to get at that technology.] Of course, there already has been a half-baked university “study” by enviromentalistas arguing “fracking” – the process of getting at that gas – would poison ground drinking water. The study produces not a single instance nor does it explain the risk with most such deposits lying well below aquifers.
“Politically correct” spokesmen and the mainstream media promise black magic energy solutions, for example, electric cars, ignoring almost three quarters of our electricity for recharging batteries is met with coal and gas – much less the enormous costs and problems of grid expansion required for a massive changeover.
This conjuror’s trick has gone wrong; Mr. Obama is actually cutting the beautiful young lady in half as he cripples the energy sector.