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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics
is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato
Saturday, June 14, 2014
3 Charts Show How Unpopular EPA Carbon Regulations are in Coal States
Survey tells us that voters aren’t happy with EPA’s attempt to push coal out of the energy picture, and there are serious political risks for politicians who support the agency’s efforts.
by Sean Hackbarth, Contributing Author: It should be expected that people living in states that rely on coal for jobs and to keep the lights on wouldn't like EPA’s proposed carbon regulations. A poll for the National Mining Association gives us some data backing up that intuition.
Magellan Strategies polled eight states that are either significant producers or consumers of coal: Arkansas; Colorado; Georgia; Kentucky; Louisiana; Michigan; Montana; and North Carolina. Three charts sum up Magellan’s findings:
1. More People Oppose the Proposed Carbon Rules than Support Them
In the aggregate, 47% oppose the proposed rules, while only 37% support it. Only one state, Michigan, did support top opposition.
2. When Told Regulations Will Mean Higher Electricity Costs, Opposition Grows
When those surveyed were told that EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy admitted the proposed regulations would result in a “short –term hit” to electricity cost (meaning increases), 59% said they were more likely to oppose it, while only 18% said they’d be more likely to support it.
3. Senate Candidates that Support Carbon Regulations Will Be Hurt
The states that Magellan Strategies polled also have competitive U.S. Senate races. How will the proposed carbon regulations play out in the fall? Those surveyed are more likely to oppose a candidate who supports the proposed carbon regulations. Even in Michigan, where support for the proposed carbon rules tops opposition, nearly half of respondents said they’re more likely to oppose a candidate who supports them.
Here’s one last data point. Seventy-six percent of respondents said they would prefer that President Obama focus more on creating jobs and growing the economy than imposing new regulations on power plants.
This survey tells us that voters aren’t happy with EPA’s attempt to push coal out of the energy picture, and there are serious political risks for politicians who support the agency’s efforts.
------------ Sean Hackbarth is a policy advocate and blogger at U.S Chamber of Commerce. He is a contributing author at the ARRA News Service and Twitters at @seanhackbarth Tags:3 charts, EPA Carbon Regulations, Magellan Strategies, poll, eight states, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina Sean Hackbarth, U.S. Chamber of CommerceTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Tags:Editorial Cartoon, AF Branco, National Interests, trading 5 Top Taliban terrorists for a military deserter, failing to allow Keystone pipeline and job creation To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Flying in the teams, trainers, equipment, World Cup personnel, and the estimated 500,000 plus tourists will consume enormous volumes of jet fuel. Powering the stadiums on game day, moving millions of people around Brazil, and transmitting the event to billions worldwide will send millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Consider this: the World Cup will burn through enough energy to fuel almost every single car and truck in the United States for a day. Put another way, a week's worth of Bakken crude oil would not be enough to stage the 64 soccer matches in Brazil this summer. And each individual match at the World Cup will consume 4.79 million gallons of gasoline.
Every time I turn on my television set, I'm using World Cup-related energy. And that's just the start. Flying in teams, trainers, equipment, World Cup personnel and the estimated 500,000-plus fans will use enormous volumes of jet fuel.
Add to that powering the stadiums on game days, moving millions of spectators around host-country Brazil, and transmitting the event to billions of viewers worldwide, and you end up with millions of tons of carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere.
So while the 2014 World Cup is going to be bigger than ever -- it's shaping up to be the most watched, most lucrative and expensive tournament in soccer history -- it's also going to be one of the biggest energy-consuming, greenhouse gas-spewing World Cups in history.
Think about this as the music blasts through the stadium and the fans cheer and scream and the players race up and down the field chasing the ball: The 2014 World Cup tournament will burn through enough energy before it's over to fuel almost every one of the 260 million cars and trucks in the United States for an entire day, or the equivalent of what 560,000 cars use in a year.
Estimating the total energy required to mount such a massive operation with any precision is a fool's errand, but let's take a look at some numbers to get a sense of scale.
FIFA did its own fascinating study of the carbon footprint that will be created by setting up and running its broadcast television operation. It found that the biggest contributor – 60 percent – is international flights for staff members. The other 40 percent comes from all the trucks needed to transport cables, cameras and furniture, and the energy required to operate all of the electronics.
FIFA also tried to estimate its carbon footprint for staging the tournament's matches, which wraps in the electricity needed for stadiums, fan festivals, banquets, concession stands, training sites, travel for ticket holders, and team hotels. That number came to 2.72 million tons of CO2 equivalent. That's like using up 306 million gallons of gasoline or burning 1.46 million tons of coal.
What's the point of the study? FIFA says to figure out where it can do better next time. Just a 10 percent decline in international staff, for example, reduces the carbon footprint by 6 percent.
TVs and Tea Kettles
None of these numbers include other sources of Cup-related energy use, like building new transportation infrastructure and stadiums.
And speaking of stadiums, while everyone would probably love to attend the final match in Rio de Janeiro's famous Maracana stadium, the vast majority of us will be watching at home. Which means we're contributing to the Cup's carbon footprint, too.
A spike in energy use is likely to occur in places when millions of people turn on their TVs at the same time to watch a match. For example, in the United Kingdom, the record for an energy surge during a TV program occurred during the 1990 World Cup, when England went to a shootout against West Germany in the semi-final. (Incidentally, West Germany prevailed and went on to win the trophy. West Germany's title run was led by Jurgen Klinsmann, who is now coaching the U.S. national team.)
During that match, the UK National Grid experienced a spike of 2,800 megawatts of demand, as people across England tuned in to watch the game's climax. Other significant power surges in the UK occurred during England's 2002 quarter-final match against Brazil (2,570 MW surge), and the 2011 royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton (2,400 MW surge).
In fact, it's relatively common for the UK to experience a spike in power demand during big soccer matches. National Grid operators have become accustomed to forecasting higher electricity demand during games, according to its operations manager, Jon Fenn. Not only does electricity consumption spike from millions of TV sets, a surge is felt most acutely during halftime or just after the final whistle, when everyone heads to the kitchen to turn on electric tea kettles or grab a snack from the fridge.
"It must be one of the few jobs where watching World Cup matches is essential to your work rather than a distraction, because we need to know to the second when half time and full time occur to be ready for the surges in demand," Fenn told The Telegraph in an interview before the 2010 World Cup.
The 2014 World Cup will be transmitted to every country in the world and could potentially be the most watched sporting event in history.
Now we know it could set new records in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, too.
----------------------- James Stafford, Editor, OilPrice.com contributed this article to the ARRA News Service. OilPrice.com, the leading online energy news site. Nicholas Cunningham is a Washington DC-based writer on energy and environmental issues. You can follow him on twitter at @nickcunningham1. Tags:2014 World Cup, Brazil, Soccer Tournament, FIFA, Carbon footprint, energy consumption, comparison, U.S. energy usage, data, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Ken Blackwell. Contributing Author: Dr. Cornel West is a leading liberal public intellectual. He gave an interview to NewsOne immediately following the 2012 Election that was nothing if not provocative. Dr. West said he was happy Romney didn’t win, but far from satisfied with the Obama record and especially with the just-ended presidential campaign:
So we end up with such a narrow, truncated political discourse, as the major problems—ecological catastrophe, climate change, global warming. So it’s very sad. I mean, I’m glad there was not a right-wing takeover, but we end up with a Republican, a Rockefeller Republican in blackface, with Barack Obama, so that our struggle with regard to poverty intensifies.
Say that again? If one of my conservative colleagues had dared to say anything remotely like that, he (or she) would have been charged with racism of the worst sort. Still, it is worth considering the merits of Cornel West’s argument.
Has President Obama really been so disappointing from a genuinely Left-wing perspective? I suggest he has not. Nor has he been “incompetent,” as so many of my conservative colleagues are charging. Most recently, some have raised the bar (or, perhaps, lowered it) by claiming that President Obama’s administration is one of “epic incompetence.”
President Obama has seemingly floated above these charges, these criticisms Left and Right. He marches to the beat of a different drummer.
He shrugged off sharp criticism from the Clinton camp in 2008. Recall he raised the hackles of Bill and Hillary then by saying Ronald Reagan was a “transformational” President in a way that Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton were not. The Clintons were enraged. But candidate Obama was exactly right. He was giving the Gipper a left-handed compliment, to be sure. He granted that Reagan had transformed American politics—but in no way that he, Obama, would approve.
In fact, the Clintons and most of the Establishment media missed the real point of Mr. Obama’s statement: He was promising liberal activists to be the kind of transformational President for the Left that Reagan was for conservatives.
And so he has been. His administration began by exercising control over the banks, insurance companies, and major automakers. All this was done in the name of pulling the country out of its economic nosedive. Mr. Obama’s Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers reassured worried corporate leaders that the administration was not going to nationalize everything, but only “the commanding heights of the economy.”
Austin Goolsby seemed blissfully unaware of the Marxian roots of that expression and that tactic. Apparently, it is getting harder to distinguish between classic Marxism and liberal thought in our Ivy League faculty lounges.
After passing a huge, $787 billion stimulus bill that failed to stimulate, Mr. Obama spent the next year driving through the takeover of 1/6 of the U.S. economy. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has been going through the throes of “implementation” ever since.
Millions of Americans feel like they’ve been put on the rack. It is torture. Most of the media coverage has focused on the “botched” rollout of the healthcare.gov website.
The “patient protection” part of the 2,000-page opus is obviously false. Millions who had health coverage have lost it.
The “affordable care” part is likewise clearly false. For millions, the doctors they liked and the plans they could afford are suddenly out of reach.
From a political science perspective, however, that part of the Obama plan least commented upon is the last word in its title: Act. It is not an Act of Congress, at all.
What passes for ObamaCare today is not the bill that was rammed through both Houses of Congress—using Nancy Pelosi’s and Harry Reid’s most questionable tactics. It is not the measure signed with great fanfare by President Obama in an East Room ceremony on March 23, 2010. (Yes, that was the august ceremony that Court Jester Joe Biden told us was a “big f___ing deal!
ObamaCare today is not even the challenged law that was adjudicated and narrowly upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 28, 2012. That was a dog’s breakfast of a ruling, but even that is not the main point
ObamaCare as it is today is vastly different. It is an ongoing process. It is an administrative amoeba, constantly changing, growing, transforming itself--and us. We no longer have laws, we have mandates.
There have been no fewer than 41 major changes to ObamaCare since its initial passage. It is impossible to say today what ObamaCare will mandate tomorrow. But President Obama will nonetheless make tomorrow’s changes mandatory.
President Obama sacrificed much to get ObamaCare through Congress and the courts. But from a fundamentally transformational point of view, it was all worth it.
Most Americans understand this. A recent poll showed that 56% of the American people believe the real purpose of the law is “to control Americans’ lives.” Smart people!
A hint of this could have been gleaned from the last-minute decision to toss an amendment onto the ObamaCare steamroller that would let the federal government take over college student loans.
What has this to do with health care? If you think ObamaCare was actually about health care, the answer is: nothing. College students are among the healthiest portions of the American public. And under Mr. Obama’s legislation, they could stay on their parents’plans until age 26.
But if you think ObamaCare is truly about controlling our lives, then the nationalization of college loans makes perfect sense. It completes the portfolio of the average American family’s major debts—home mortgages, cars, health care, college tuition.
Henceforth, we Americans must look to Barack Obama for his help in each of these vital areas of our lives. That is, unless we repeal ObamaCare.
So, do not look to America’s retreat from the world, or to our obviously lowered profile in the international sphere as unintended by this administration. Creating a socialist republic here with a veneer of democratic legitimacy requires a lesser America on the world stage.
To President Obama, American Exceptionalism is exactly the problem. Ronald Reagan’s vision of America as “A Shining City on a Hill” is the source of this problem. America under Obama will become like Europe—large, placid, contented, cared for. Like a cow. His bumper sticker said it all: Obama Cares.
He means to repeal Reagan. That’s why he needs “greater flexibility” toward Putin’s Russia. That’s why we will lead from behind, if at all. Focus inward, focus on bringing socialism to America. That’s what he means by a nation fundamentally transformed.
------------------------ Ken Blackwell is a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council. He is a contributing author to the ARRA News Service. Tags:President Obama, Fundamentally Transforming America, Ken BlackwellTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Jon Hubbard, Opinion Editorial: There is no doubt that liberals have become empowered by the presence of one of their own occupying our White House. The many attempts to point out the damage already done to this country by the Obama regime have been met with criticism and personal attacks, regardless of how condemning this evidence is. Where Obama is concerned, his disciples listen only to his continued anti-American rhetoric and blasphemy, and common sense becomes lost in the translation.
The time has come, and many say that it is long overdue, that we realize that there are some things that just cannot be changed or corrected, regardless of how hard we try. As an old teaching colleague of mine once said after realizing that even his most determined efforts to teach those who simply refused to learn had been ignored, "You can't fix stupid!!!"
We have waited patiently for liberals to come to their senses and realize what Obama and his globalist agenda are doing to our country, but their complicity with this criminal has become every bit as destructive to America as have Obama’s crimes! With evidence so overwhelming that even the most cynical skeptics could understand, liberals continue to attack every Christian and American principle they can find. These people hate what America stands for so much that their very own anger has poisoned any chance they may once have had for happiness as an American.
How are liberals going to react once America finds the courage to rise above the ashes of Obama’s disastrous policies? Just imagine their grief and confusion when they watch as millions of this nation’s people once again turn to and worship Almighty God. Oh, the utter embarrassment when they find themselves being the only ones at a public event who hasn’t placed their hand over their heart while the Pledge of Allegiance is proudly recited, or when we sing our National Anthem with pride and solidarity! They will stick out like sore thumbs when they try to ridicule and condemn millions of fellow Americans who proudly proclaim that America is once again a Christian nation! Liberals just may find that their own communities are no longer receptive to their anti-American and sacrilegious beliefs and lifestyles.
What a wonderful country America will be again when Judges understand that their role is to see that our laws conform to the US Constitution, not ignore it; or when school teachers can concentrate on designing lesson plans for teaching the real history of America; when the term “illegal alien” refers to someone who has entered this country by breaking our laws; or when Common Core is remembered as just another failed attempt by liberal-socialist educators to brainwash our young people. And, when framed copies of the Ten Commandments are returned to their rightful place on the walls of every classroom in America! How wonderful it will be when the traditional American family is once again recognized as having a proud male Father, a devoted female Mother, and children born to or adopted by these traditional American parents.
What a blessing it will be when our political leaders and judges learn to love, honor, and protect human life at each and every stage of existence and development! America will once again be that great nation envisioned by our Founding Fathers when sporting and other public events are opened with a prayer of thanksgiving to Almighty God, and school days begin with reading the Holy Bible, reciting the Lord's Prayer, and saying the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag! When discipline is returned to the classroom with and under Constitutional authority, America will once again assume its rightful place as world leader in educational performance and accomplishment!
Once America finally rises above the ashes of Obama’s destruction, liberals may realize that an America envisioned by our Founders offers very little for them to enjoy or appreciate, and the time has arrived for them to either reassess their loyalties to this nation, or relocate to a country more accepting of their Socialist-Communist, anti-American beliefs and lifestyles.
Wishful thinking? Maybe so, but when these beliefs were accepted by the American people as true American values, although not perfect, this nation was far stronger and much more stable than it is today. Doesn’t it make good sense to return to those values that made this nation great, rather than to shun them and continue into this globalist death spiral we find ourselves in today?
For those who chose to condemn the same America that gave them the right to protest against and disgracefully denounce this nation, one thing has become abundantly clear. They have proved themselves totally unworthy of our continued willingness to indulge their disrespect of and disdain for America, and true Americans have wasted far too much time showing so much concern for people who just do not matter anymore!
Our duty is very clear! When the American people get back to being Americans, this nation will once again become the America God intended it to be! Our motto henceforth must be, America; Love it or leave it!
---------------- Jon Hubbard is a Christian conservative and former State Representative from Jonesboro, Arkansas. In 2010, he was the first Republican elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives from Northeast Arkansas. He is a former football coach, history teacher, and private businessman. He works with the local Jail Ministry and preaches at area churches. He is author of the 2008 book: "Letters to the Editor: Confessions of a Frustrated Conservative" and is a contributor author to the ARRA News Service. Tags:Jon Hubbard, Rising above the ashes, America, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
The Basic Premise Of The Obama Presidency Was A Fraud From The Start
"What's Cain Saying This Time?"
And Americans need to think more wisely about what we expect from our government.
by Herman Cain: There is so much going wrong in the Obama Administration right now, it’s hard to really keep tabs on it all by doing a three-hour daily radio show or by publishing commentaries on HermanCain.com. If it’s not the Bowe Bergdahl swap, it’s the VA mess, or the IRS scandal, or the Benghazi lies.
And in the midst of it all, we just went through a quarter of 1.0 percent GDP contraction (one more in negative territory would make for an official recession), and of course all the things wrong with ObamaCare could keep us busy for weeks on end all by themselves, and often have.
With so much going in the wrong direction (and honestly, the things mentioned above are just the start), it’s worthwhile to step back and consider if there is one main thing that laid the groundwork for all this disaster. And I believe there is. I believe the entire premise for electing Barack Obama was a fraud, and even now many people haven’t figured that out.
The premise was essentially this: Many wonderful things could be happening for the people of America, but all this requires action by the federal government and right-wing Republicans are preventing this action. Get rid of the right-wing Republicans and replace them with people who believe in activist government, and all the good will come to pass.
Obama was so convinced not only of the power of government, but of his ability to lead it, that he actually talked about the planet healing and rise of the oceans reversing, just because he got elected. It’s astonishing to look back and realize he actually said such things, and perhaps even more astonishing to think people still voted for him.
But as absurd as that statement was, it was consistent with the emotions of the time. People were tired of the Bush Administration, tired of the Iraq War and unsettled over the collapse of the mortgage market. They were ready to believe that an activist government could make things right, even though history offers no evidence that this ever really works in practice.
So Obama got his shot, and we see what happened. An $862 billion spending blowout did not make the economy better, but it did explode annual deficits and the national debt. Ripping up our system of health care finance and constructing a new one under tighter federal control has proven to be a disaster. And much to the surprise of many people, the man who was supposed to make the planet heal is instead abusing the levers of government to attack his political opponents and chip away at the constitutional rights of the American people.
The fundamental flaw was this: Government neither has the power nor the competency to solve all the problems people want it to solve. And the people who think it does – and thus try to become its leaders – tend to be more than a little delusional not only about the power of government but about their own brilliance. They abuse the power of agencies like the IRS because they are convinced their own political survival is the most important thing on the planet, and they concoct justifications for doing whatever they think they need to do.
Worse, because they are so convinced that government under their leadership is the answer to everything, they turn this in their own minds into an unfalsifiable doctrine. If they are not getting the results they want, it has to be because Republicans are afflicting them with so much political resistance, or not letting them spend enough. The answer must always be to tax more, spend more and attack Republicans more. Policy failure is never the result of the policy itself being flawed. It’s always because someone, somewhere, didn’t get on board, and so that person or those people need to be dealt with – and then everything will be fine.
And perhaps worse than any of this, Obama confuses his own political skills with true executive leadership qualities that equip him to actually reshape this country according to his left-wing utopian vision. He actually has no such ability, and as we’ve seen with growing frequency of late, neither do many of those he appointed to serve in his administration. They may be skilled at politics, and at playing the game, but they don’t know how to make an organization function at a high level or how to get tangible results.
The solution to America’s problems was always more complicated than Obama’s proposition that we turn the federal government loose to take bold action. The government is neither that competent nor that resourceful, and Obama personally is absolutely not those things. Real solutions start with the citizenry re-assessing what it expects from itself, and then taking a more sober view of what it thinks government can do.
But it was easy in 2008, at a time when we were stressed out, to just believe in a champion of big-government activism despite all the reasons to doubt he could really do what he was promising. I guess that by the time 2012 came around, not enough of the electorate had learned its lesson.
It’s time we start learning it, though. We don’t have any more time to waste putting our faith in people whose basic proposition is a fraud, and who are so sold on the fraud that they can’t even recognize when they’ve failed. Tags:Herman Cain, bsaic premise, Obama Presidency. Barrack Obama, fraudTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Tags:Obama Immigration policy, flooding America, illegal immigrants, Flood America Gate, editorial cartoon, AF BrancoTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Nick Cunningham: Much has been made about the role that hydraulic fracturing – or fracking -- has played in revolutionizing the energy landscape, unlocking vast new reserves of oil trapped in shale rock. This "tight oil" is pouring into the global pool of oil supplies at a crucial time, preventing oil prices from spiking in an age of high demand and geopolitical turmoil.
But the world still relies overwhelmingly on conventional oil production from existing fields, many of which are in decline. The Middle East has dominated the world of oil for half a century and as the list below shows, it remains king. Here are the top five most important oil fields in the world.
1. Ghawar (Saudi Arabia) The legendary Ghawar field has been churning out oil since the early 1950s, allowing Saudi Arabia to claim the mantle as the world's largest oil producer and the only country with sufficient spare capacity to act as a swing producer. Holding an estimated 70 billion barrels of remaining reserves, Ghawar alone has more oil reserves than all but seven other countries, according to the Energy Information Administration. Some oil analysts believe that Ghawar passed its peak perhaps a decade ago, but Saudi Arabia's infamous lack of transparency keeps everyone guessing. Nevertheless, it remains the world's largest oil field, both in terms of reserves and production. It continues to produce 5 million barrels per day (bpd).
2. Burgan (Kuwait) Just behind Ghawar is another massive oil field located in the Middle East. The Burgan field was originally discovered in 1938, but production didn't begin until a decade later. The field holds an estimated 66 to 72 billion barrels of reserves, which accounts for more than half of Kuwait's total, and it produces between 1.1 and 1.3 million bpd.
3. Safaniya (Saudi Arabia) The Safaniya field is the world's largest offshore oil field. Located in the Persian Gulf, the Safaniya field is thought to hold more than 50 billion barrels of oil. It is Saudi Arabia's second largest producing field behind Ghawar, churning out 1.5 million bpd. Like Saudi Arabia's other fields, Safaniya is very mature as it has been producing for nearly 60 years, but Saudi Aramco is working hard to extend its operating life.
4. Rumaila (Iraq) Iraq's largest oil field is the Rumaila, which holds an estimated 17.8 billion barrels of oil. Located in southern Iraq, Rumaila was highly sought after when the Iraqi government put blocks up for bid in 2009. BP and the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) are working together to develop the giant field along with Iraq's state-owned South Oil Company. The field now produces around 1.5 million bpd, but its operators have plans to boost that production to 2.85 million bpd over the next couple of years.
5. West Qurna-2 (Iraq) Also located in southern Iraq, the West Qurna-2 field is Iraq's second largest, holding nearly 13 billion barrels of oil reserves. The West Qurna field was divided in two and auctioned off to international oil companies. Russia's Lukoil took control of West Qurna-2 and successfully began production earlier this year at an initial 120,000 bpd. Lukoil plans on lifting production to 1.2 million bpd by the end of 2017. The neighboring West Qurna-1 field – operated by a partnership of ExxonMobil, BP, Eni SpA, and PetroChina – holds 8.6 billion barrels of oil reserves. They hope to increase production from 300,000 bpd to more than 2.3 million bpd over the next half-decade.
VA Scandal - National Disgrace - Vets Died In New Mexico - FBI Opens Criminal Probe
Today in Washington, D.C., June 13, 2014
The Senate is not in session today and will reconvene on Monday at 2 PM. At 5:30 on Monday, the Senate will vote on cloture on the nominations of three district judges.
Yesterday, the Senate voted 63-24 to confirm Stanley Fischer to be the Vice Chairman of the Fed, 661-31 to confirm Lael Brainard to be a member of the Federal Reserve System board, and 667-24 to confirm Jerome Powell to be a member of the Federal Reserve System board.
The House reconvened at 11 Am in pro-forma session for two minutes and then adjorned, The House will reconvene on Tuesday at 12 PM.
Along with Obamacare, another story that hasn’t risen to the top of the news much this week is the ongoing scandal at the VA, but it’s worth noting recent developments.
On Wednesday, the Albuquerque Journal reported on the latest revelations out of the VA in New Mexico. “A new effort to contact hundreds of veterans who enrolled for VA medical care in Albuquerque over the past decade but hadn’t had an initial appointment found 21 cases in which the veteran had died. . . . Meanwhile, a national audit released this week may not have provided an accurate picture of average wait times for veterans to see doctors at the Albuquerque VA Medical Center. Dr. James Robbins, the interim medical director, told the Journal on Tuesday there is evidence of an ‘improper use’ of the VA appointment scheduling process in Albuquerque, ‘and that does affect these numbers.’ Asked how the national VA numbers released for New Mexico can be trusted, in light of that practice, Robbins said, ‘That’s a good question.’ The audit report stated that more than 1,000 new patients at the Albuquerque VA medical center had been waiting three months or more for an initial appointment. . . . ‘We know we have a problem with wait times,’ [Robbins] told the Journal. The Journal reported last month that the VA launched an internal inquiry into the scheduling practices at the Albuquerque medical center last fall. The investigation focused on whether employees were directed by supervisors to enter appointment information into the VA computer system so patient wait times appeared shorter than they actually were. . . . Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-New Mexico, issued a statement this week saying she was ‘very skeptical of the audit report because it relies on information provided by the VA that does not match what we’ve been hearing from constituents, at my town hall or in news reports from around the country.’ VA officials reiterated on Tuesday that there was no secret waiting list of patients at the Albuquerque VA medical center – as has been alleged at the VA medical center in Phoenix. However, the Journal has reported that up to 3,000 New Mexico veterans who needed a primary care physician were assigned to a physician administrator who doesn’t treat patients – and that the veterans weren’t told of the practice. For nearly a year, the patients were monitored and their prescriptions refilled, Robbins said. They were referred to a treating physician if they had an urgent need. But they had no primary care doctor assigned. Those patients weren’t placed on the medical center’s official electronic waiting list – the same list considered during the recent VA audit.”
That same day, CNN reported that the FBI has finally stepped in to investigate the VA scandal. “The FBI says it has opened a criminal investigation of the Veterans Affairs Department, which is grappling with a scandal over long waiting lists to provide care and allegations that paperwork was faked to make delays appear shorter. FBI Director James Comey told a House hearing on Wednesday the bureau's Phoenix office has joined an ongoing review by the VA inspector general. The move at least partly satisfies requests from key members of Congress from both parties who have pressed for a full probe by the Justice Department as the scandal accelerated in recent weeks and led to the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki in May. Officials have said the inspector general is sharing findings with federal prosecutors, and the Justice Department could launch a full-blown criminal probe if any of the information meets the standard for doing so. . . . [A] Justice Department spokesman said, ‘At the department's direction, the FBI has instructed agents in its Phoenix office to conduct an investigation into the allegations related to the VA. Federal prosecutors will be working with these investigators to determine whether there is a basis for criminal charges.’”
Speaking on the Senate floor yesterday, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said, “As I’ve said all week, the systemic failures and scandals we’ve seen within the Administration are a national disgrace. When you see 100,000 veterans waiting for care that’s a national disgrace. When you see so many veterans waiting 3 months or longer just to get an appointment that’s a national disgrace. And when you see veterans dying before they even receive care they were counting on, well, it’s completely unacceptable. So this problem needs to be solved. And there’s more to be done too. A lot of the responsibility here resides with the President. He still needs to nominate a capable manager who possesses the necessary skills, leadership, and determination to fix this scandal. . . . And he needs to use all the tools in his toolbox to address the systemic management failures – both the tools he has already, and the new ones we can provide him. . . . Because our veterans have waited long enough for care. They shouldn’t be made to wait any longer.” Tags:VA Scandal, Vets died, New Mexico, FBI Opens Criminal Probe, INSERT TAGSTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Would I vote for Chris Christe? Sure. And I would also be happy to vote for Ted Cruz and Allen West it they were the GOP candidate.~ Alan Caruba
George Washington Bridge
by Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: A fatal crash on the George Washington Bridge this morning caused major backups, trapping commuters for up to three hours and stalling traffic back to the Garden State Parkway and other highways leading to the bridge. After Gov. Chris Christie spent two hours answering every question reporters asked following the revelation that an aide—whom he fired immediately—had engineered a comparable problem, I had no problem believing he had nothing to do with it.
I am New Jersey born and raised, and I have lived here most of my life with time out to attend the University of Miami in Florida and Army service in Georgia. I have traveled all over the U.S., but I always was happy to come home to a little town, a suburb of Newark where I was born. These days I live one town over, having sold my home of more than 60 years because the property taxes here are for many of my generation a burden,
I tell you this because Gov, Chris Christie’s life has a number of connections to my own. He too was born in Newark and his father, like mine, was a certified public accountant. A 1984 graduate of Delaware, he earned his law degree from Seton Hall University School of Law in the community where I have lived for a decade.
Like many in the Garden State I became aware of Christopher James “Chris” Christie when he served as a United States Attorney, appointed to the position by George W. Bush in 2002 and serving until 2008. During that time, he amassed an impressive record of convictions with an emphasis on corrupt politicians along with sexual slavery, arms trafficking, racketeering by gangs, and other federal crimes.
In January 2009, he declared his candidacy for Governor and, in November, he defeated incumbent Jon Corzine who, like his predecessors, had driven up taxes while never really solving the state’s budget problems. In his first term, Gov. Christie drove a number of hard bargains with the state’s civil service unions, primarily the teachers union. When he won reelection to a second term in November 2013, he became the first Republican to earn more than fifty percent of the vote in a quarter-century.
New Jersey is a blue state, heavily Democratic politically, and his reelection quite naturally made Republicans nationwide take notice. He is also a very savvy politician and not one to make every decision along strict ideological grounds.
In his first term, he achieved a remarkably good working relationship with the state’s Democratic legislature. After Superstorm Sandy hit New Jersey n 2012, wreaking heavy damage to shore communities, he was quite visible in the company of President Obama when he paid a visit when he was also campaigning for reelection. That paid off in significant federal funds to help rebuild. Christie agreed to expand the state’s Medicaid problem under Obama’s health law. He vetoed a bill that would sanction gay marriage, but declined to appeal a court ruling that legalized it.
Like other Governors in states with Democratic legislatures, Christie inherited massive budget deficits. In his first term he bargained with the New Jersey Education Association and the Communications Workers of America, two of a dozen civil service unions, to increase their members’ payments toward pensions and medical benefits, but in turn they won bigger payments by the state into their troubled retirement fund.
Faced with yet another budget gap, Gov. Christie proposed taking $2.4 billion meant for the pension system in order to achieve a balanced budget because, as he said, there is nowhere else to find the money other than to raise taxes or reduce spending for schools or hospitals. He bluntly said that the state cannot afford the level of benefits it provides public workers. As this is written, fourteen unions for teachers, police officers, firefighters and state workers have filed lawsuits to stop Christie’s transfer of funds to the budget.
In January “bridgegate” erupted when it became known that one of his aides had apparently urged highway lane closures to the George Washington Bridge as political retribution against a Democratic mayor who did not endorse him for re-elections. In response he devoted two hours to a press conference in which he answered every question, denying any knowledge of the aide’s action and, to date, hearings by the state legislature have been unable to connect him personally to it. The Democratic Party and liberal media saw it as an opportunity to eliminate him as a potential presidential candidate in 2016.
“Bridgegate” is losing traction and is not likely to play a role in any decision he makes to run for President. The cost of defending himself and members of his administration has cost New Jersey taxpayers $3 million in legal fees at this point. In a hearing, Christie’s chief of staff deemed it “a major distraction.”
Conversely, he has remained very popular within the Republican Party, despite ideological divisions. He is currently chairman of the Republican Governors Association, giving him regular access to some of the Party’s leading national donors. He is a welcome speaker at many GOP conferences.
To the question, will he announce his candidacy for the presidency, he remains uncommitted to the decision and, at this point, that’s a wise course of action. Christie has, in his usual blunt fashion, said of any suggestion that being from a northeastern state, “I hear people all the time saying, ‘You wouldn’t play well in the South’ or ‘You wouldn’t play well in Iowa’—It’s all garbage.”
“In the end,” says Christie, “people like people who are genuine and who are real. I think they’re willing to cut you slack even if they don’t agree with you on certain things if they think you’re being genuine and authentic”, adding “I would rather lose than try to pretend to be somebody else.”
Virtually alone among Republicans who might contend for the GOP nomination and the presidency, Gov. Christie is what you see and what you hear. If he does secure the nomination that will be a major factor in 2016 and will guarantee a tough fight for the Democratic candidate.
Would I vote for him? Sure. And I would also be happy to vote for Ted Cruz and Allen West it they were the GOP candidate.
----------------- Alan Caruba is a writer by profession; has authored several books, and writes a daily column, "Warning Signs" disseminated on many Internet news and opinion websites and blogs. He is a contributing author at ARRA News Service Tags:To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
In this excerpt, the editors discuss the symbolic power of the American flag. But the true meaning and significance of the flag cannot simply be discussed and debated, they show. They write, “A good story may be worth a hundred arguments.” And so it is: the story they choose, Willa Cather’s “The Namesake,” is well worth reading.
The preeminent symbol of the United States, as with every nation, is its national flag. It is displayed from public buildings, private homes, ships at sea, and embassies abroad, always in a manner governed by defined protocol. It is saluted on ceremonial occasions and celebrated annually on Flag Day (June 14); it is lowered to mark the deaths of national leaders and to mourn national tragedies; it drapes the coffins of those who have fallen in the nation’s defense. The American flag—“The Stars and Stripes”—has additional and exceptional significance: it is the subject of our national anthem; it, and “the Republic for which it stands,” is the object of our Pledge of Allegiance; and, in its very composition, it symbolically reflects the idea and ideal of E Pluribus Unum, as well as something of our national history.
But knowing the meaning of the symbol does not reveal the symbol’s power—how it affects the hearts and minds of American citizens. The idea of “one out of many” symbolized by the flag is about making one nation out of many states; can the flag also help forge one nation out of many—and highly diverse—citizens? Can it contribute to a felt sense of American identity? Here, a good story may be worth a hundred arguments.
We conclude this anthology with this story (1907) by Willa Cather (1873–1947) about how an American expatriate discovers the meaning of his home country. Lyon Hartwell, the son of an American artist, born abroad and now himself a sculptor living in Paris, habitually entertains his fellow Americans, all the while working on a memorial statue of his late uncle, his namesake, who was killed in the Civil War while still in his teens.
Cather’s story describes a rare episode of self-revelation, as Hartwell tells his compatriots of his epiphany about American identity. How does Hartwell’s insight come? What does he discover? Crucial to his experience is his encounter with his namesake’s copy of Virgil’s Aeneid, inside of which his uncle drew the federal flag and inscribed the opening two lines of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” How and why is Hartwell moved by this encounter? What, for Hartwell, is the relation of the flag to the Republic for which it stands? What is the relation of the flag to our—and to your—American identity?
Seven of us, students, sat one evening in Hartwell’s studio on the Boulevard St. Michel. We were all fellow-countrymen; one from New Hampshire, one from Colorado, another from Nevada, several from the farm lands of the Middle West, and I myself from California. Lyon Hartwell, though born abroad, was simply, as every one knew, “from America.” He seemed, almost more than any other one living man, to mean all of it—from ocean to ocean. When he was in Paris, his studio was always open to the seven of us who were there that evening, and we intruded upon his leisure as often as we thought permissible.
Although we were within the terms of the easiest of all intimacies, and although the great sculptor, even when he was more than usually silent, was at all times the most gravely cordial of hosts, yet, on that long remembered evening, as the sunlight died on the burnished brown of the horse-chestnuts below the windows, a perceptible dullness yawned through our conversation.
We were, indeed, somewhat low in spirit, for one of our number, Charley Bentley, was leaving us indefinitely, in response to an imperative summons from home. To-morrow his studio, just across the hall from Hartwell’s, was to pass into other hands, and Bentley’s luggage was even now piled in discouraged resignation before his door. The various bales and boxes seemed literally to weigh upon us as we sat in his neighbor’s hospitable rooms, drearily putting in the time until he should leave us to catch the ten o’clock express for Dieppe.
The day we had got through very comfortably, for Bentley made it the occasion of a somewhat pretentious luncheon at Maxim’s. There had been twelve of us at table, and the two young Poles were thirsty, the Gascon so fabulously entertaining, that it was near upon five o’clock when we put down our liqueur glasses for the last time, and the red, perspiring waiter, having pocketed the reward of his arduous and protracted services, bowed us affably to the door, flourishing his napkin and brushing back the streaks of wet, black hair from his rosy forehead. Our guests having betaken themselves belated to their respective engagements, the rest of us returned with Bentley—only to be confronted by the depressing array before his door. A glance about his denuded rooms had sufficed to chill the glow of the afternoon, and we fled across the hall in a body and begged Lyon Hartwell to take us in.
Bentley had said very little about it, but we all knew what it meant to him to be called home. Each of us knew what it would mean to himself, and each had felt something of that quickened sense of opportunity which comes at seeing another man in any way counted out of the race. Never had the game seemed so enchanting, the chance to play it such a piece of unmerited, unbelievable good fortune.
It must have been, I think, about the middle of October, for I remember that the sycamores were almost bare in the Luxembourg Gardens that morning, and the terrace about the queens of France were strewn with crackling brown leaves. The fat red roses, out the summer long on the stand of the old flower woman at the corner, had given place to dahlias and purple asters. First glimpses of autumn toilettes flashed from the carriages; wonderful little bonnets nodded at one along the Champs-Élysées; and in the Quarter an occasional feather boa, red or black or white, brushed one’s coat sleeve in the gay twilight of the early evening. The crisp, sunny autumn air was all day full of the stir of people and carriages and of the cheer of salutations; greetings of the students, returned brown and bearded from their holiday, gossip of people come back from Trouville, from St. Valery, from Dieppe, from all over Brittany and the Norman coast. Everywhere was the joyousness of return, the taking up again of life and work and play.
I had felt ever since early morning that this was the saddest of all possible seasons for saying good-by to that old, old city of youth, and to that little corner of it on the south shore which since the Dark Ages themselves—yes, and before—has been so peculiarly the land of the young.
I can recall our very postures as we lounged about Hartwell’s rooms that evening, with Bentley making occasional hurried trips to his desolated workrooms across the hall—as if haunted by a feeling of having forgotten something—or stopping to poke nervously at his perroquets, which he had bequeathed to Hartwell, gilt cage and all. Our host himself sat on the couch, his big, bronze-like shoulders backed up against the window, his shaggy head, beaked nose, and long chin cut clean against the gray light.
Our drowsing interest, in so far as it could be said to be fixed upon anything, was centered upon Hartwell’s new figure, which stood on the block ready to be cast in bronze, intended as a monument for some American battlefield. He called it “The Color Sergeant.” It was the figure of a young soldier running, clutching the folds of a flag, the staff of which had been shot away. We had known it in all the stages of its growth, and the splendid action and feeling of the thing had come to have a kind of special significance for the half dozen of us who often gathered at Hartwell’s rooms—though, in truth, there was as much to dishearten one as to inflame, in the case of a man who had done so much in a field so amazingly difficult; who had thrown up in bronze all the restless, teeming force of that adventurous wave still climbing westward in our own land across the waters. We recalled his “Scout,” his “Pioneer,” his “Gold Seekers,” and those monuments in which he had invested one and another of the heroes of the Civil War with such convincing dignity and power.
“Where in the world does he get the heat to make an idea like that carry?” Bentley remarked morosely, scowling at the clay figure. “Hang me, Hartwell, if I don’t think it’s just because you’re not really an American at all, that you can look at it like that.”
The big man shifted uneasily against the window. “Yes,” he replied smiling, “perhaps there is something in that. My citizenship was somewhat belated and emotional in its flowering. I’ve half a mind to tell you about it, Bentley.” He rose uncertainly, and, after hesitating a moment, went back into his workroom, where he began fumbling among the litter in the corners.
At the prospect of any sort of personal expression from Hartwell, we glanced questioningly at one another; for although he made us feel that he liked to have us about, we were always held at a distance by a certain diffidence of his. There were rare occasions—when he was in the heat of work or of ideas—when he forgot to be shy, but they were so exceptional that no flattery was quite so seductive as being taken for a moment into Hartwell’s confidence. Even in the matter of opinions—the commonest of currency in our circle—he was niggardly and prone to qualify. No man ever guarded his mystery more effectually. There was a singular, intense spell, therefore, about those few evenings when he had broken through this excessive modesty, or shyness, or melancholy, and had, as it were, committed himself.
When Hartwell returned from the back room, he brought with him an unframed canvas which he put on an easel near his clay figure. We drew close about it, for the darkness was rapidly coming on. Despite the dullness of the light, we instantly recognized the boy of Hartwell’s “Color Sergeant.” It was the portrait of a very handsome lad in uniform, standing beside a charger impossibly rearing. Not only in his radiant countenance and flashing eyes, but in every line of his young body there was an energy, a gallantry, a joy of life, that arrested and challenged one.
“Yes, that’s where I got the notion,” Hartwell remarked, wandering back to his seat in the window. “I’ve wanted to do it for years, but I’ve never felt quite sure of myself. I was afraid of missing it. He was an uncle of mine, my father’s half-brother, and I was named for him. He was killed in one of the big battles of Sixty-four, when I was a child. I never saw him—never knew him until he had been dead for twenty years. And then, one night, I came to know him as we sometimes do living persons—intimately, in a single moment.”
He paused to knock the ashes out of his short pipe, refilled it, and puffed at it thoughtfully for a few moments with his hands on his knees. Then, settling back heavily among the cushions and looking absently out of the window, he began his story. As he proceeded further and further into the experience which he was trying to convey to us, his voice sank so low and was sometimes so charged with feeling, that I almost thought he had forgotten our presence and was remembering aloud. Even Bentley forgot his nervousness in astonishment and sat breathless under the spell of the man’s thus breathing his memories out into the dusk.
“It was just fifteen years ago this last spring that I first went home, and Bentley’s having to cut away like this brings it all back to me.
“I was born, you know, in Italy. My father was a sculptor, though I dare say you’ve not heard of him. He was one of those first fellows who went over after Story and Powers—went to Italy for ‘Art,’ quite simply; to lift from its native bough the willing, iridescent bird. Their story is told, informingly enough, by some of those ingenuous marble things at the Metropolitan. My father came over some time before the outbreak of the Civil War, and was regarded as a renegade by his family because he did not go home to enter the army. His half-brother, the only child of my grandfather’s second marriage, enlisted at fifteen and was killed the next year. I was ten years old when the news of his death reached us. My mother died the following winter, and I was sent away to a Jesuit school, while my father, already ill himself, stayed on at Rome, chipping away at his Indian maidens and marble goddesses, still gloomily seeking the thing for which he had made himself the most unhappy of exiles.
“He died when I was fourteen, but even before that I had been put to work under an Italian sculptor. He had an almost morbid desire that I should carry on his work, under, as he often pointed out to me, conditions so much more auspicious. He left me in the charge of his one intimate friend, an American gentleman in the consulate at Rome, and his instructions were that I was to be educated there and to live there until I was twenty-one. After I was of age, I came to Paris and studied under one master after another until I was nearly thirty. Then, almost for the first time, I was confronted by a duty which was not my pleasure.
“My grandfather’s death, at an advanced age, left an invalid maiden sister of my father’s quite alone in the world. She had suffered for years from a cerebral disease, a slow decay of the faculties which rendered her almost helpless. I decided to go to America and, if possible, bring her back to Paris, where I seemed on my way toward what my poor father had wished for me.
“On my arrival at my father’s birthplace, however, I found that this was not to be thought of. To tear this timid, feeble, shrinking creature, doubly aged by years and illness, from the spot where she had been rooted for a lifetime, would have been little short of brutality. To leave her to the care of strangers seemed equally heartless. There was clearly nothing for me to do but to remain and wait for that slow and painless malady to run its course. I was there something over two years
“My grandfather’s home, his father’s homestead before him, lay on the high banks of a river in Western Pennsylvania. The little town twelve miles down the stream, whither my great-grandfather used to drive his ox-wagon on market days, had become, in two generations, one of the largest manufacturing cities in the world. For hundreds of miles about us the gentle hill slopes were honeycombed with gas wells and coal shafts; oil derricks creaked in every valley and meadow; the brooks were sluggish and discolored with crude petroleum, and the air was impregnated by its searching odor. The great glass and iron manufactories had come up and up the river almost to our very door; their smoky exhalations brooded over us, and their crashing was always in our ears. I was plunged into the very incandescence of human energy. But, though my nerves tingled with the feverish, passionate endeavor which snapped in the very air about me, none of these great arteries seemed to feed me; this tumultuous life did not warm me. On every side were the great muddy rivers, the ragged mountains from which the timber was being ruthlessly torn away, the vast tracts of wild country, and the gulches that were like wounds in the earth; everywhere the glare of that relentless energy which followed me like a searchlight and seemed to scorch and consume me. I could only hide myself in the tangled garden, where the dropping of a leaf or the whistle of a bird was the only incident.
“The Hartwell homestead had been sold away little by little, until all that remained of it was garden and orchard. The house, a square brick structure, stood in the midst of a great garden which sloped toward the river, ending in a grassy bank which fell some forty feet to the water’s edge. The garden was now little more than a tangle of neglected shrubbery; damp, rank, and of that intense blue-green peculiar to vegetation in smoky places where the sun shines but rarely, and the mists form early in the evening and hang late in the morning.
“I shall never forget it as I saw it first, when I arrived there in the chill of a backward June. The long, rank grass, thick and soft and falling in billows, was always wet until midday. The gravel walks were bordered with great lilac-bushes, mock-orange, and bridal-wreath. Back of the house was a neglected rose garden, surrounded by a low stone wall over which the long suckers trailed and matted. They had wound their pink, thorny tentacles, layer upon layer, about the lock and the hinges of the rusty iron gate. Even the porches of the house, and the very windows, were damp and heavy with growth: wistaria, clematis, honeysuckle, and trumpet vine. The garden was grown up with trees, especially that part of it which lay above the river. The bark of the old locusts was blackened by the smoke that crept continually up the valley, and their feathery foliage, so merry in its movement and so yellow and joyous in its color, seemed peculiarly precious under that somber sky. There were sycamores and copper beeches; gnarled apple-trees, too old to bear; and fall pear-trees, hung with a sharp, hard fruit in October; all with a leafage singularly rich and luxuriant, and peculiarly vivid in color. The oaks about the house had been old trees when my great-grandfather built his cabin there, more than a century before, and this garden was almost the only spot for miles along the river where any of the original forest growth still survived. The smoke from the mills was fatal to trees of the larger sort, and even these had the look of doomed things—bent a little toward the town and seemed to wait with head inclined before that on-coming, shrieking force.
“About the river, too, there was a strange hush, a tragic submission—it was so leaden and sullen in its color, and it flowed so soundlessly forever past our door.
“I sat there every evening, on the high veranda overlooking it, watching the dim outlines of the steep hills on the other shore, the flicker of the lights on the island, where there was a boat-house, and listening to the call of the boatmen through the mist. The mist came as certainly as night, whitened by moonshine or starshine. The tin water-pipes went splash, splash, with it all evening, and the wind, when it rose at all, was little more than a sighing of the old boughs and a troubled breath in the heavy grasses.
“At first it was to think of my distant friends and my old life that I used to sit there; but after awhile it was simply to watch the days and weeks go by, like the river which seemed to carry them away.
“Within the house I was never at home. Month followed month, and yet I could feel no sense of kinship with anything there. Under the roof where my father and grandfather were born, I remained utterly detached. The somber rooms never spoke to me, the old furniture never seemed tinctured with race. This portrait of my boy uncle was the only thing to which I could draw near, the only link with anything I had ever known before.
“There is a good deal of my father in the face, but it is my father transformed and glorified; his hesitating discontent drowned in a kind of triumph. From my first day in that house, I continually turned to this handsome kinsman of mine, wondering in what terms he had lived and had his hope; what he had found there to look like that, to bound at one, after all those years, so joyously out of the canvas.
“From the timid, clouded old woman over whose life I had come to watch, I learned that in the backyard, near the old rose garden, there was a locust-tree which my uncle had planted. After his death, while it was still a slender sapling, his mother had a seat built round it, and she used to sit there on summer evenings. His grave was under the apple-trees in the old orchard.
“My aunt could tell me little more than this. There were days when she seemed not to remember him at all.
“It was from an old soldier in the village that I learned the boy’s story. Lyon was, the old man told me, but fourteen when the first enlistment occurred, but was even then eager to go. He was in the court-house square every evening to watch the recruits at their drill, and when the home company was ordered off he rode into the city on his pony to see the men board the train and to wave them good-by. The next year he spent at home with a tutor, but when he was fifteen he held his parents to their promise and went into the army. He was color sergeant of his regiment and fell in a charge upon the breastworks of a fort about a year after his enlistment.
“The veteran showed me an account of this charge which had been written for the village paper by one of my uncle’s comrades who had seen his part in the engagement. It seems that as his company were running at full speed across the bottom lands toward the fortified hill, a shell burst over them. This comrade, running beside my uncle, saw the colors waver and sink as if falling, and looked to see that the boy’s hand and forearm had been torn away by the exploding shrapnel. The boy, he thought, did not realize the extent of his injury, for he laughed, shouted something which his comrade did not catch, caught the flag in his left hand, and ran on up the hill. They went splendidly up over the breastworks, but just as my uncle, his colors flying, reached the top of the embankment, a second shell carried away his left arm at the arm-pit, and he fell over the wall with the flag settling about him.
“It was because this story was ever present with me, because I was unable to shake it off, that I began to read such books as my grandfather had collected upon the Civil War. I found that this war was fought largely by boys, that more men enlisted at eighteen than at any other age. When I thought of those battlefields—and I thought of them much in those days—there was always that glory of youth above them, that impetuous, generous passion stirring the long lines on the march, the blue battalions in the plain. The bugle, whenever I have heard it since, has always seemed to me the very golden throat of that boyhood which spent itself so gaily, so incredibly.
“I used often to wonder how it was that this uncle of mine, who seemed to have possessed all the charm and brilliancy allotted to his family and to have lived up its vitality in one splendid hour, had left so little trace in the house where he was born and where he had awaited his destiny. Look as I would, I could find no letters from him, no clothing or books that might have been his. He had been dead but twenty years, and yet nothing seemed to have survived except the tree he had planted. It seemed incredible and cruel that no physical memory of him should linger to be cherished among his kindred—nothing but the dull image in the brain of that aged sister. I used to pace the garden walks in the evening, wondering that no breath of his, no echo of his laugh, of his call to his pony or his whistle to his dogs, should linger about those shaded paths where the pale roses exhaled their dewy, country smell. Sometimes, in the dim starlight, I have thought that I heard on the grasses beside me the stir of a footfall lighter than my own, and under the black arch of the lilacs I have fancied that he bore me company.
“There was, I found, one day in the year for which my old aunt waited, and which stood out from the months that were all of a sameness to her. On the thirtieth of May she insisted that I should bring down the big flag from the attic and run it up upon the tall flagstaff beside Lyon’s tree in the garden. Later in the morning she went with me to carry some of the garden flowers to the grave in the orchard—a grave scarcely larger than a child’s.
“I had noticed, when I was hunting for the flag in the attic, a leather trunk with my own name stamped upon it, but was unable to find the key. My aunt was all day less apathetic than usual; she seemed to realize more clearly who I was, and to wish me to be with her. I did not have an opportunity to return to the attic until after dinner that evening, when I carried a lamp up-stairs and easily forced the lock of the trunk. I found all the things that I had looked for; put away, doubtless, by his mother, and still smelling faintly of lavender and rose leaves; his clothes, his exercise books, his letters from the army, his first boots, his riding-whip, some of his toys, even. I took them out and replaced them gently. As I was about to shut the lid, I picked up a copy of the Æneid, on the fly-leaf of which was written in a slanting, boyish hand,
Lyon Hartwell, January, 1862.
He had gone to the wars in Sixty-three, I remembered.
“My uncle, I gathered, was none too apt at his Latin, for the pages were dog-eared and rubbed and interlined, the margins mottled with pencil sketches—bugles, stacked bayonets, and artillery carriages. In the act of putting the book down, I happened to run over the pages to the end, and on the fly-leaf at the back I saw his name again, and a drawing—with his initials and a date—of the Federal flag; above it, written in a kind of arch and in the same unformed hand:
Oh, say, can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
It was a stiff, wooden sketch, not unlike a detail from some Egyptian inscription, but, the moment I saw it, wind and color seemed to touch it. I caught up the book, blew out the lamp, and rushed down into the garden.
“I seemed, somehow, at last to have known him; to have been with him in that careless, unconscious moment and to have known him as he was then.
“As I sat there in the rush of this realization, the wind began to rise, stirring the light foliage of the locust over my head and bringing, fresher than before, the woody odor of the pale roses that overran the little neglected garden. Then, as it grew stronger, it brought the sound of something sighing and stirring over my head in the perfumed darkness.
“I thought of that sad one of the Destinies who, as the Greeks believed, watched from birth over those marked for a violent or untimely death. Oh, I could see him, there in the shine of the morning, his book idly on his knee, his flashing eyes looking straight before him, and at his side that grave figure, hidden in her draperies, her eyes following his, but seeing so much farther—seeing what he never saw, that great moment at the end, when he swayed above his comrades on the earthen wall.
“All the while, the bunting I had run up in the morning flapped fold against fold, heaving and tossing softly in the dark—against a sky so black with rain clouds that I could see above me only the blur of something in soft, troubled motion.
“The experience of that night, coming so overwhelmingly to a man so dead, almost rent me in pieces. It was the same feeling that artists know when we, rarely, achieve truth in our work; the feeling of union with some great force, of purpose and security, of being glad that we have lived. For the first time I felt the pull of race and blood and kindred, and felt beating within me things that had not begun with me. It was as if the earth under my feet had grasped and rooted me, and were pouring its essence into me. I sat there until the dawn of morning, and all night long my life seemed to be pouring out of me and running into the ground.”
Hartwell drew a long breath that lifted his heavy shoulders, and then let them fall again. He shifted a little and faced more squarely the scattered, silent company before him. The darkness had made us almost invisible to each other, and, except for the occasional red circuit of a cigarette end traveling upward from the arm of a chair, he might have supposed us all asleep.
“And so,” Hartwell added thoughtfully, “I naturally feel an interest in fellows who are going home. It’s always an experience.”
No one said anything, and in a moment there was a loud rap at the door—the concierge, come to take down Bentley’s luggage and to announce that the cab was below. Bentley got his hat and coat, enjoined Hartwell to take good care of hisperroquets, gave each of us a grip of the hand, and went briskly down the long flights of stairs. We followed him into the street, calling our good wishes, and saw him start on his drive across the lighted city to the Gare St. Lazare.
The Intercollegiate Review is a publication by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) on organization for which the ARRA News Service editor, Dr. Bill Smith, has been a Faculty Associate & Campus Representative. ISI has been teaching future leaders the timeless principles that make America free and prosperous—the core ideas behind the free market, the American Founding, and Western civilization that are rarely taught in the classroom. Tags:Flag Day, American Flag, why we celebrate, Namesake, Intercollegiate Review, ISI, Intercollegiate Studies InstituteTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
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