My AIRA Life Part 4

 

 

After meeting with Suman Kanuganti of AIRA and Chris Penrose of AT&T I was asked to return the later that week to be interviewed by Amy Blankson with Forbes.  My wife Kelly recognized the name because Amy’s brother, Shawn Achor, had written one of Kelly’s favorite books, “The Happiness Advantage,” a book we had recently given to our son Zach on his recent visit to Dallas.  Along with being a Journalist with Forbes, Amy is also an accomplished author herself. She wrote “The Future of Happiness.” Which is a book we happen to be reading before I got the call for the interview. I told Amy that this was going to be fun because we were familiar with her brother’s work as well as hers adding that Kelly and I were true fans of “Happiness.”  We spent some time talking about the subject and how we soaked up any and all material that enlightened people on their path to happiness.  It is important  to us as individuals and as parents and grandparents because you lead by example and we want to be happiness leaders. I found Amy to be one of the most positive people I have met and someone who in fact leads by example.  This was “Fixin” (a Texas word) to be a fun interview! 

Amy began by complimenting my writing, something I am uncomfortable with, it’s a long story and this isn't the venue to discuss the judgement writers have when it comes to their work.  She asked what life was like before AIRA and I told her the best explanation of that was contained in my original AIRA story which we talked about at a deeper level. She then walked me through what lead up to me getting the AIRA glasses, what my impression was of the technology, how it fit, how it worked for the user, was the user experience seamless or difficult? Then she asked about my, “#whatsnext” tagline that I had put on my article.  Her next question was naturally, “What was next for me?”  I explained that I had many dreams, maybe to travel, finally by myself.  I told her that I had a grandson, Colton visiting and I wanted to read him a bedtime story.  Yes, Kelly and I went out and bought two new books and yes, I will be practicing reading them with an AIRA agent.  I hope to share the video of that with y’all in the future. 

Amy wanted a demonstration of how the tech worked so I dialed into AIRA and Monica answered.  I proceeded to take the group on a walking tour of the floor we were on stopping to look at art as Monica described it, windows overlooking the city again with full rich descriptions of what was being seen through the glasses.  Monica guided me flawlessly around the floor dodging people, making turns and avoiding landmines like coffee tables, trash cans, those things that always seem to rise up to bite me.  Monica took us back to the conference room we had started in and I said my thanks and ended the AIRA session.  Amy was simply blown away, fascinated, and continued to ask questions, mainly about the original story I had written.  This time with a new sense of what exactly had happened.  At this point I want to tell you that hopefully I will be able to share that original story with you soon, the article that sent me on this “Magical Mystery Tour” I am now on.

Now came the interesting part.  Amy ended the interview by asking me an “Out of the box” question.  “Eric, now that you have used this technology, what other applications do you see for it other than just being a tool for the blind.”  Remember, to this point in time nobody had asked a question like that.  As a matter of fact, every single question revolved around little old me and what the glasses meant to my life.  I sat back in my chair and thought.  My father, who is a Doctor, came to mind and almost immediately after that thought a young lady by the name of Maria popped in my mind as well.  Maria Lensing leads the sales team in their AT&T healthcare segment.  I had met her when I went to the Global Accessibility Awareness Day event a couple days earlier and she interviewed me for a weekly video she sends out to her team. So, this is what my mind came up with.  There were two use cases that didn’t involve the blind.  The first was imagining a rural Doctor who ran a simple family practice.  Maybe he has a patient who comes in and presents with something unfamiliar to the family Physician.  He could put on the glasses, dial into a service to be connected with another doctor maybe a specialist, for a consult. The specialist could see in real-time the patient and like in most things two heads working on a problem is better than one.  But wait, I wasn’t done, my mind was now fully engaged in full idea mode.  I then said, “What if….”  What if every ambulance had a pair of these glasses in their ambulance or paramedic vehicle. I was aware of the “Golden Hour” which is the first hour of an accident during which time if the patient can be stabilized their chance of survival goes up exponentially.  I imagined the paramedic could put on a pair of these glasses and be immediately connected to the doctor on call at the Trauma center or hospital ER where the patient would be transported. The doctor could help the paramedic stabilize the patient, they would know exactly what was going to be coming through the door and all of this because of the real-time abilities of AIRA. There were more use cases racing through my mind.  There I sat, a blind man with Tech that was changing his life imagining the potential this could have in so many areas.  The moment is indelibly marked, stamped on my brain that the glasses covering my eyes could open the mind’s eye to limitless possibilities apart from their original purpose. It made me feel good since as someone who has been in the business world in a previous life, alternative use cases increase the long-term viability of a product.  As we wrapped up the interview I hugged Amy and expressed my appreciation for her taking the time and having the interest to talk with me.  The Forbes interview which has since been published, is linked below.

But my day didn’t end there.  Later, I was interviewed by Jonathan Moore who works in Employee Communications at AT&T.  Jonathan was writing and article for “The Insider”, an internal communication for the entire AT&T organization. This interview was fun since it was done via an audio bridge across the pond.  Jonathan is in the UK and as we talked I learned that he is Scottish, which was fun for me since my father has traced our family’s history and we do in fact have Scottish origins.  So, on one of the top executive floors at AT&T with what I was told was a phenomenal view of the city I sat, talking to my fellow “Scotsmen,” sharing with him many of the same points you have already read about to this point. This was an exciting interview for me since the announcement had been made that AIRA was going global.  I belong to many blind and visually impaired groups with many friends living in other countries so the prospect of these blind compatriots having this Tech available to them on the horizon is simply sublime. 

I am sure that there will be more interviews, more interactions moving forward but this brings to close this series on “MY AIRA Life.”  Don't get me wrong, along the way I will continue to write about what AIRA is doing for me.  An example of that is telling the story of reading a book to one of my grandchildren for the first time in my life, or heading to the airport to travel solo.  The most important takeaway I want you all to understand is that AIRA has given me a new confidence, a sense of freedom and spontaneity.  This is something that the blind person loses, something that is a regret, however, with AIRA, the doors are open.  Check back to read the story that kicked all of this off.  I hope to publish here soon.  If you haven’t yet read the stories before this series, please hit the back button and find the series called Building Walls.”  It chronicles a piece of my life before AIRA. If you have any questions or requests, visit the portion of the website with the “Contact Me” option, I promise to always answer.

Special thanks to Amy Blankson from Forbes, it was an awesome pleasure to meet you and be part of your “Happiness!”  Also, special thanks to Jonathan, thanks for having the patience with me that you did.  And last but by no means least, thank you to Lori Bachovchin, AT&T External PR and Meghan Danks, AT&T Corporate Communications for coordinating these interviews.  These are the people behind the scenes who never seem to get the credit they deserve, you are all awesome!

@aira #aira  #myairalife  #onmyterms #whatsnext  #jabfund

Forbes Article by Amy Blankson

https://www.forbes.com/sites/amyblankson/2018/05/31/a-vision-for-the-future-iot-solution-gives-sight-to-the-blind/#83cd59e26c7d

 

Amy Blankson a Journalist for Forbes and the Author of "The Future of Happiness" and I.  And yes that is a photo I took of Kelly setting up the bridge for the interview with Jonathan Moore in the UK!!  The truth is I had to take 50 pictures to get one good one!

Building Walls

With all the talk about building “The Wall” these days, quietly and below the radar a wall has been built right here in Dallas.  This wall doesn’t engender the passions of partisan political activists, it isn't divided along partisan lines and it doesn’t pit the right against the left.  This wall exists as a matter of unintended consequences. It is the result of good and perhaps even noble intentions gone horribly awry. You may not recognize the wall as being a wall, and some call it a necessity and progress, or the wave of the future while others call it trash and unnecessary. If you don't like the building blocks to this wall there are those out there who sneer and call you a troglodyte. They look down their noses from an elitist perch and accuse you of being stuck in the old ways and call you an impediment to progress. Without regard to why I feel the way that I do, without understanding my point of view and rational for my opposition I am left feeling judged from a perch high on the mountain of political correctness by those unaware of the unintended consequences. 

If you have driven the streets of Dallas or walked the sidewalks you’ve all seen the building blocks of this wall and I am sure you have your opinions on the efficacy and wisdom, the void that they fill.  Or perhaps you see them as a nuisance, trash and something that contributes to urban blight.  You see something, I don't because you see, I am blind. The building blocks in the wall that I am speaking of are the legion of bikes that have been deposited on the streets of Dallas, sans regulations, rules or in my opinion any real thought for those who like me, have mobility issues.  The wall that I am speaking of is a result of a population that uses them only to carelessly leave them as landmines for those of us who have mobility challenges. 

I am writing this because I am angry, angry that my freedom, my limited freedom has been thoughtlessly taken from me.  I am angry because two days before the New Year I found myself lying on the ground with a knee and ankle injury because some thoughtless individual decided to park one of these bikes in the middle of the sidewalk.  More often than not it isn't just one bike, attached to this letter is a picture my wife took.  I don't need to tell anybody who takes the time to read this who lives here in Dallas that our streets and sidewalks leave a lot to be desired.  They are uneven, buckled and cracked.  For most people, this isn't that big of a deal, for me it is a very big deal and when you add to the difficulties that exist by littering the sidewalks with bikes you have effectively constructed a wall for those of us who have mobility issues. I have reached out to my city leaders.  My representative, Mr. Kingston has yet to even respond.  I did receive a cookie cutter email from the staff of TC Broadnacx and I was less than impressed.  I have written the editorial boards of the newspapers and contacted the news.  For the most part I have received no acknowledgement other than a contact and interview from NBC 5’s Samantha Chatman.  She was gracious and took the time to talk with me.  Because of her one of the bike companies (VBike) showed up with flowers and candy, they cleaned up the mess in my neighborhood.  Progress, right?  No, within days I found myself once again navigating the landmines frequently tripping, and bumping into bikes left on the ground and parked in the middle of the sidewalk. 

To those who operate the bike sharing companies and to our city leaders, clean this mess up or the next letter the city receives might come from a lawyer suing for injuries incurred. To those of you who use these bikes, keep in mind that outside yourself, there are others out there who need the sidewalk.  And to everybody reading this here is my challenge, walk a mile in my shoes because I can’t ride a mile on your free bike and then tell me how you view this program.

E.L. Burton, I reside in the Bryan Street neighborhood in Dallas

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Part 2 of Building walls

In December, I suffered a pretty serious injury as a result of the thoughtless actions of some here in Dallas. I reached out to my local officials, wrote and op-ed and even contacted the news. NBC 5 here in Dallas at least came out to interview me. As of today the interview has not aired but in my communications with them they seem to be interested in airing the story and my plea to the city to step in and solve this problem impacting the disabled.  This is important to me since my contacts with the city, the print media, organizations purporting the support of the disabled and anybody else who would listen have gone largely ignored. 

As an example of how time may change but things tend to remain the same today, having some mobility back, I ventured out only to crash and burn on the same careless landmines left scattered on the sidewalks of Dallas. Dropping my shopping bag and my cane to brace myself from the fall I got back to my feet and thankfully only my ego was bruised. At that moment, a very kind man rushed across the street to see if I was ok. Other than a bruised ego, this time, I was fine. He went on to say that he hated these bikes and I asked that he simply call the city, contact his local representatives. He responded that he had. I do want to thank him, for at least caring enough to see if I was ok.

I am told that there is a meeting today about this issue, has anybody reached out to me or members of my community to listen to our concerns, no. As someone who is blind you exist in a world where we don't see you and apparently you choose not to see us. This story has been told, told in the very first piece I wrote, “Building Walls” and like I have stated shared with everybody. So claiming that you haven’t heard a dissenting opinion or concerns is not believable.  I feel compelled to reiterate that I am not doing this, drawing attention to this as a selfish act or taking the position that I am some aggrieved individual who is bent on ending this program.  To be honest, during my interview with NBC 5 I made the point that mine was merely a cautionary tale offered to raise public awareness.  I do not want to end this program, I want this program to work because I do see it as a benefit to the city, a way to ease traffic congestion and serve the general public.  However, I also want to raise awareness to the fact that when these bikes are parked or dropped in the middle of the sidewalk, discarded casually they represent a clear and present danger for those with mobility issues. This is not about me, it is about those in wheelchairs, on crutches, blind or just simply struggle with mobility.  I will continue to speak out and write about this and I ask that you continue to share this with friends, with folks here in Dallas, with city officials and with the media because public awareness has to be raised. Sorry, I am just at my wits end with this bike sharing freebie program in which apparently there are no regulations, requirements or solutions. As I stated in the op-ed (that was never picked up), walk a mile in my shoes because I can’t ride even 10 feet on your free bike, then see how you like the 18 THOUSAND plus bikes dumped on the streets of Dallas making us the largest repository of landmines for those with mobility challenges. Today this is an issue for the disabled in Dallas, tomorrow it may be the plague visiting your city.

As a post script to this latest piece.  The result of the meeting that I referenced taking place today, the end result was an announcement that they would hold off until the Fall to resolve it.  The Fall, how many disabled or mobility challenged will actually “fall” before eyes are opened?  Here is a link ( http://www.dallasobserver.com/news/dallas-bike-share-regulations-to-wait-until-the-fall-10414712 )  to an article that speaks to the ignorance and arrogance of those sitting in seats of power.  Everybody on that council has heard from me, they have received thousands of complaints about this program.  This begs the question, why?  Why have those charged with serving the public chosen to do nothing, to ignore the challenges of the disabled?  I have my theories, my beliefs on this but rather than launching into a rant I will simply ask that we, the public, continue to raise this issue and force those charged with serving us to make this program work for everyone rather than to take a sit back and wait approach.

 

 

Part 3 of Building Walls

Since I began this quest for a resolution to the ill-conceived roll out of a bike sharing program here in Dallas I have reached out to every conceivable entity in the hope that someone would listen and take to heart the impact on the mobility challenged community.  For the most part, the correspondence I have received from city leaders and officials has been disappointing, and that is saying it kindly.  I have been met with platitudes, willful obtuseness and an apathy that kicks me in the gut.  To be fair, the timetable for resolutions seems to have been accelerated a bit with possible fixes promised sometime in May.  Maybe this lone voice coupled with those of you out there who were as offended as I was provided some sense of urgency which if true I want to thank those of you out there who joined me in beating the drum.

However, this is just one battle, one issue that has exposed a problem that is endemic within government and even within business. Through this process I learned that neither the city nor the companies involved in this debacle have someone who is mobility challenged sitting in an advisory role, sitting at the table negotiating, planning or being involved in the process.  I had the chance to share a back and forth with Jared White, a manager for the City of Dallas and someone who has been called the “Mobility and Transportation Czar” of Dallas.  Below is the last email I sent him: 

 

Dear Mr. White:

 First let me say that when I begin these letters to you I feel like I’m quoting a character from a Tarantino movie.  I know that you are a busy man, and my issue may seem trivial and I freely admit that in my last communication I had too much passion and not enough reason.  So, here we go, “Take-2,” Mr. White.

 Frankly I am a bit stunned.  I was hoping to learn that you possibly had someone on staff or in an advisory capacity who is mobility challenged. When you look at just my community, those who are blind or visually impaired and look at the number of Dallas citizens, 150,000, that are served by the Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind it becomes clear that there is a very large and active disabled community.  Active is the key word here.  Our ability to “Be” active is the point that I want to drive home with the city of Dallas and the companies vying for space in the Bike Sharing possibilities of the city.  From the beginning, I have expressed to the print and on-air media that I am not opposed to this program.  In fact, I see the efficacy and value as Dallas is growing at an exponential rate and programs like this can and will ease the traffic concerns experienced by the city.

 That being said, one man’s cure is another’s disease.  This solution represents a problem for the mobility challenged.  Those of us who use the sidewalks as our roads, our path to basic freedom of movement.  My fear is that if you do not include those with disabilities in forming solutions you are creating a new problem.  I say this from personal experience.  I find myself leaving my home solo less often instead relying on others because of the obstacles that have been introduced.  I know there have been more concerns than those you received from me and an individual in a wheelchair.  I have listened to and read many stories of people with guide dogs who are not trained or prepared for this eventuality.  The same is true for those in wheelchairs, those who suffer from muscular degeneration and are forced to walk with crutches.  Not including these people in this process, proactively including them and giving them a voice will force them to retreat from society because of a lack of freedom of movement. 

 You ask me to make some recommendations that might assist you in establishing the rules and regulations. I read an article earlier where you anticipate possible fixes as early as May.  I agree with several of them however you are still missing what I feel is a very key demographic. So, let me offer you this single, simple fix.  Introduce the voice of the disabled to the negotiation table, listen to their concerns and yes even their solutions.  This isn't a foreign subject to us, we have battled for ways to be heard and to be seen as contributing equals to society.  Believe me when I say that you just might be surprised by what it would mean if you extended an olive branch to a community impacted by the direction we are heading.  As you speak with these companies I would also recommend that they also seek advice from the disabled communities they plan to go into.  I believe that both you and these companies will be able to find common ground, a new path and a new direction that isn't reduced to a simple statement like “One man’s cure is another man’s disease.”  Now here comes a little of that passion leaking out of me, I will continue to bang the drum on this until I feel the message is resonating, until rather than being ignored and marginalized we are included as partners helping to shape transportation and mobility issues as full citizens of this great city.  Thank you for reading this, for taking the time and I truly hope it helps.

 Sincerely

 Eric L. Burton

 

The simple fact that these companies as well as the City of Dallas “Did Not” include as a matter of common practice, input from a large section of their respective communities shows where my frustration blooms from. I want everybody to stop for a moment and understand that the reason this is important is because today it is the disabled Vs the government and bike sharing companies in Dallas, tomorrow it could be something in your backyard, an issue in your community that impacts your personal freedom or that of someone you know and love.  My battle, my frustration, my desire to be seen, heard and then treated like a full citizen of my city will be your battle or perhaps it already is.  The point is, change only happens when we grab it, shake it out of the security of its own well-crafted comfortable bubble.  We are responsible for making our voice be part of the conversation as well as part of the solution.  When we sit idly by hoping that others will surely take our situation into consideration then we fall into the old saying repeated to us as children, “When you assume you are just making an ass out of you and me.”  Those who are disabled are not assuming that everybody should accommodate them to the exclusion of everybody else, they just want to be part of the conversation, part of the planning and part of solving issues.  Of course, that is just my take.

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Part 4 of Building Walls

 

This is a conclusion to my series on Bike Sharing Vs. The Blind and Mobility challenged here in Dallas.  As is usual, the solution or end to this story doesn’t come in the form of a bureaucrat Knight riding in to save the day on their government issued white horse.  Nope, not today, today the conclusion of this story comes in the form of an entrepreneur, a visionary who is striving to bring sight to those who lack it.  Suman Kanuganti, founder and CEO of AIRA along with AT&T found their way into my life.  Cue the dramatic musical score, in a move reminiscent of Reagan standing at the Berlin Wall telling his Russian counterpart to “Tear down this wall,” along comes AIRA.  AIRA is tearing down walls that society has built leaving the blind to fight their own cold war.  A lot has happened since that fateful day in December of 2017.  Laying on my back nursing a torn-up knee and ankle I began a journey to implore my local government to take those with mobility challenges to heart as they embarked on ambitious ventures like implementing a “Bike Sharing” program.  In a move that was either just plain stupid or simply lacked any thought we saw some 18,000 plus bikes dumped on the streets of Dallas.  This was done without considering the impact such a program would have on a very large segment of the population.  This program that had no rules, regulations or structure, it was just the Wild West when it came down to it. Those who were blind were left to navigate the minefield, those left in wheelchairs or disabled and on crutches were left without a clear path too life.  All of this because of an ineffective government blind themselves to the struggles of those they serve.

 

Now, over the next several weeks I will be writing about my new life in this year of “YES” for me.  I will share just how AIRA along with AT&T cleared a path, a new path for me in my life.  Special thanks to Matt Howerton at WFAA Channel 8 here in Dallas for coming out to see me and my new “Specs.”  The moral of this story is simple, never surrender to a government that doesn’t see you except when they pander for your vote.  Look beyond government to the visionaries and entrepreneurs who are engaged with companies to solve social issues.  Believe in something greater than the worst that has happened to you and have faith that somewhere out there exists the solution.  This is the year that I decided to say “YES.” To believe that I am the captain of my ship, the author to my life story and for me the glass isn't half full, it is overflowing.

 

 

 

 

Navigating the "Bike Minefield" with AIRA!

A Statesman in Waiting

You don't have to dig too deep to discover the lure that draws an individual into the world of politics.  Notoriety, power and greed, the promise of easy money has replaced the nobility of becoming an elected representative of the people.  You see it in the laws passed that favor “Them” over us.  Rules and laws that exempt them and protect them from laws designed to punish you and I.  They, as employees, decide when they should get a raise and trust me they see to it that they are paid and paid very well.  Right here in my home state in Texas, a commissioner in Montgomery County earns more than the actual governor of the entire state of Texas.

So, imagine my surprise when I see this ad for a candidate running for a seat on the Commissioners Court in Houston’s Montgomery County.  Gregory Parker while “On Air” declared that if elected, one of his first actions would be to cut his own pay.  Let that sink in, he wants to cut his own potential salary returning the savings back to the taxpayers, back to the community he hopes to serve.  Now Mr. Parkers platform is broad, it covers many issues and if you live in Montgomery County Precinct 2 I would encourage you to check out his platform.  He has common sense reforms for issues like Toll Roads, taxes, budgets, emergency management and response, eminent domain and many more critical issues to voters. However, for now I want to focus on this issue because it represents an attitude missing in public service today. 

From local elected representatives to those sitting in Federal office you can find examples of individuals who went into office with meager savings, businesses limping along or in some cases with no actual job before the election to the seat they now occupy.  Fast forward a few years and you see individuals flush with cash, personal cash.  Take a moment out of your day and look at some of the financial disclosures of those you elect.  What you will find will astound you.  People elected to serve the public are among some of the wealthiest among us.  Ex Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid went into office with a few thousand dollars to his name and now has a net worth that exceeds $30 million.  Former House Speaker Denny Hastert, a former wrestling coach before becoming a congressman, just settled lawsuits and paid vast sums to victims of abuse.  Right here in Texas there are examples of this and it isn't a right and left, conservative or liberal phenomenon, it is an endemic reality in our current political structure. The question must be asked, how do individuals, earning a public service salary, grow their nest eggs at a rate that is unfathomable and unavailable to you and I?  It is because the era of statesman, the era of serving the public interest has given way to the era of personal gain at “We the peoples” expense.  Hucksters now proliferate the ballot gaming a system they created.  Good intentions of some are twisted into submission by lobbyists and easy money.  In the end, the price for admission is betraying the public trust. 

So, again, imagine my surprise as I sat and listened to Mr. Parker pledge to work on cutting his pay in favor of returning that money to his community.  It is a simple yet powerful statement that tells me this is someone who understands the role of a public servant, someone elected to office to represent those who voted for them.  Webster’s defines a Statesman as:

 “1: one versed in the principles or art of government; especially: one actively engaged in conducting the business of a government or in shaping its policies

2: a wise, skillful, and respected political leader “

When you picture those sitting in the seats of power at home or serving you federally, ask yourself, do you consider them Wise?  Do you believe they serve your interests?  Do you believe they use their skill to serve you or do you see what I see, individuals serving themselves?  Do the policies they pursue serve the public good? Do you respect them or, like me do you know at your core the system is broken and elected representatives have become distant and disconnected?  Election season is upon us.  Now is the time we look over the menu of candidates seeking to represent us. Those asking We the People to entrust them with not just our hard-earned money but our future as well.  I don't live in Houston’s Montgomery County, I live in Dallas but I can tell you that as I look at those asking for my vote I will refer back to the words and the pledge of Gregory Parker to his constituents as a litmus test of sorts.  I want to elect those who fit the definition of “Statesman” and I believe that if we demand better, if we expect more and if we find those with the values and promises of Mr. Parker, we can turn our collective wayward ships out of the current self-serving storm of personal gain into the calm waters of a new and prosperous future for We the people.  Of course, that is just my take. 

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Taking a Knee

When I say, “Taking a knee” what comes to mind?  What image do you see?  I’m blind.  I wasn’t born blind, my blindness is both a curse and a blessing.  A curse because from the time I was around 8 I knew something was different about me.  My parents confirmed that feeling when I was 12.  It was a blessing because as a result of slowly losing my vision I was able to collect a vast library of images, a kind of archive for me to refer to now.  So, when I hear the phrase, taking a knee my mind always inserts the image of George Washington kneeling in the snow next to his horse at Valley Forge. That print hung in my father’s den for as long as I can remember, to this day I imagine. My wife knew that I loved that picture so as a gift one year she presented me with a beautifully framed and matted print that hung in my home for many years.  That print now hangs in the home on the wall of my first-born child, given as a gift to my son in law who as a veteran of the armed services who had admired it.  I hope one day it is passed on to his son, my grandson. 

To me, taking a knee has and always will represent reverence.  It represents a man yearning to be free.  It represents a man willing to lead a nation.  It represented a man Humble enough to believe in something greater than himself, to ask God for strength in battle.  To ask of his Creator safety for his men and for victory over their oppressor, a King who felt they should be subjects rather than a free people. That simple picture of a uniformed man with his head bowed on one knee represents the beginning of our struggle to be here today.  This was a struggle that has left on the field of battle the broken, bloodied and dead of generations willing to pave the way to where we all are right here, right now.  This nation is not perfect.  We carry our imperfections, we learn from our darker moments the lessons many around the world are still subject to. We have come a long way, we still have a good piece of the road ahead before we can rest but right here, right now, we are doing pretty good.  Because of men like George Washington we are a country, because of men like Jefferson, Madison, Franklin and others we have a document that to this day is the basis of our Republic.  A document with the wisdom to stand the test of time because as those before us have lived they have Amended the imperfections to refine the document, the Constitution.  Are we perfect? No.  But do we live in a land where improving our current conflicts can be worked out? Yes.

So, I will ask you the question again, what comes to mind when you hear the phrase, “Taking a knee?”  Maybe if you could see what I see you would find the hope and the promise of a better way.  Maybe you will take the time to really learn about our history, about how we got here and see where it is possible for us to go.  We have had our differences over the years, fought a few wars over those differences but in the end, we lived, and we live in the greatest nation on earth.  We may sit on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to this kneeling thing, but we are all Americans, we all benefit from that one single word, American.  It should be enough to unite us, compel us to resolve the issues that divide us.  I refuse to harbor ill will or harsh feelings over this NFL vs. America argument.  Instead, when I hear the phrase “Taking a knee” I see the picture below and my heart swells with pride, it is filled with love and I believe in the words of the brilliant writer Charles Dickens who in 1841 penned these words in his novel, Barnaby Rudge.

“The thoughts of worldly men are forever regulated by a moral law of gravitation, which, like the physical one, holds them down to earth. The bright glory of day, and the silent wonders of a starlit night, appeal to their minds in vain. There are no signs in the sun, or in the moon, or in the stars, for their reading. They are like some wise men, who, learning to know each planet by its Latin name, have quite forgotten such small heavenly constellations as Charity, Forbearance, Universal Love, and Mercy, although they shine by night and day so brightly that the blind may see them; and who, looking upward at the spangled sky, see nothing there but the reflection of their own great wisdom and book-learning…

It is curious to imagine these people of the world, busy in thought, turning their eyes towards the countless spheres that shine above us, and making them reflect the only images their minds contain…So do the shadows of our own desires stand between us and our better angels, and thus their brightness is eclipsed.”

Please, read that quote more than once and then look at my vision of taking a knee.  We are all Americans, please don't let the darkness and shadows stand between us and our better Angels.  Of course, that is just my take

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Existential Threat

We have all heard the term “Existential Threat.”  If you watch the talking heads that propagate digital screens large and small like mosquitos after a hearty summer rain in the south or if you listen with any regularity to the pontificating politicians as they spend more time bloviating rather than actually solving problems you’ve heard it.  It is a phrase uttered casually with the aim of inducing maximum fear.  North Korea and the regime of Kim Jung -un, ISIS, Al Qaeda. Iran, Russian meddling into our elections even our President have all been labeled with this life ending apocalyptic end of humanity phrase.  But here is the thing, existential threats are real, they exist but when you cheapen the phrase by calling everything you don't like as the end to everything we know and love then nothing is a threat. 

So, why am I even writing this?  I am writing this because the real existential threat, the one that threatens you, me, our kids and the future generations is not those mentioned above, it isn't some shady group halfway around the world or some rogue regime or some bad actor nations.  The real existential threat are the politicians who like the great Wizard of Oz, sit behind a curtain pulling levers, blasting smoke and noise as a means of distraction rather than action.  They do little to advance our society and everything to divide it.  They Gerrymander safe districts, enrich their own lives while claiming to serve the public.  They play to their individual bases ignoring those who don't serve their thirst for yet more and more of your money as they collaborate to steal more and more of your liberty.  Example, they talk about reducing the deficit, a clever way of convincing you that spending less year to year is somehow not tied inextricably to our national debt.  Most people don't even know nor could they explain the difference between the deficit and our debt. Rather than focusing like a laser on those things that truly threaten us, they utilize a clever three card monte style of distraction to shift your attention away from what matters.   The sad truth is that most Americans suffer from what I call “Battered Citizen Syndrome.”  We have all been beaten so badly that we have retreated to our own safe spaces, a place where we huddle with those who like us, have been beaten into submission.  We feel like the poor soul next to us, we sympathize with one another and speak quietly of our abuse.  We don't invite others in, we protect each other, validate each other and draw some kind of broken weird strength from our fellow survivors, those sitting in our camp.  We huddle around the little fires careful not to let it burn to brightly for fear that we will be discovered by the other camps of abused citizens locked in their version of this collective nightmare.

This is the cleverness of the Wizards of our Oz, they distract and divide and steal from us our freedom, our voice and we let them. We have forgotten that these Wizards were elected to serve us, they are our employees.  The existential threat we should fear has coopted the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of our government.  We have allowed 545 Wizards of our Oz, 435 in congress, 100 in the senate, 9 on the supreme court and one in the white house to subjugate us, 325, 145,963 million Americans. As I write this, polling shows that collectively both Houses of Congress have an approval rating that averages approximately 20%, the President’s approval rating 40% and the Supreme Court’s approval rating is 49%.  The collective Wizards of our Oz share an average approval rating of 36.333%.  Let that sink in for a minute.  We, the people, all 325 million plus have been bamboozled into thinking that somehow this is what our version of democracy looks like.  We accept that our representative republic is just fine humming along with an approval rating of 36%.  So, here is the bottom line, the question that begs for an answer, Who or what is our greatest “Existential Threat?”  Is it some obscure terror group, some third world Tin Pot Dictator?  Does our greatest threat exist outside our borders or is it right here at home where no amount of regulations or some wall can protect us?  Or is our greatest existential threat those we elect to represent us?

Every good story has a hook and then a swerve.  The hook in this story is to present you with a boogeyman, the villain, our collective victimizer and in this case, it was the 545.  Now for the swerve. I have looked deeply into the abyss that is my government and shouted loudly at it and the reflection I saw, the voice that I heard echoing back was mine.  It was said by greater and smarter men than I that “we get the government we deserve” and that “the greatest threat to democracy is an ill informed and ignorant electorate.”  I fear that our greatest existential threat is us.  We are responsible, we are not victims, we are willing participants foolishly handing our power to those we approve of 36% of the time. Where else in life do we accept such low expectations?  Where else would you follow someone who you only approved of 36% of the time?  In the end, the problem is staring back at us when we look in the mirror.  It exists when we surround ourselves in the echo chambers and individualized bubbles of self-reflection.  We buy their version of snake oil in the form of distrusting those who don't look like us, feel like us, believe as we believe.  We sign our duties and responsibilities over because apathy is King, we are either too busy or too bored with managing what we mistakenly view as the minor details of our existence.  The divide will continue to grow, our liberty will continue to shrink and until our expectations are raised to exceed the aspirations of those diligently working to subjugate us we can expect no better than approving a mere 36% of the time.  Of course, that is just my take.

        

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The Interview

 

What does it mean to elect a President?  In the end it is a job, the candidate is the interviewee and “We the People” conduct the interview.  So s you read this I want you to put on your “Business Owner” cap, put yourself across the table from a prospective employee, someone you are hiring to fill a position in your company. If you have a job to fill then you already know the criteria necessary to fill that job, the qualifications you are looking for.  You have a set of questions ready, questions that will enable you to evaluate whether or not the person you are interviewing has the chops to get the job done.  No think back over your life and over every interview you ever had, remember the bad ones, the great ones, the ones you nailed and the ones you failed.  Close your eyes and picture it and now picture Donald Trump sitting across from you interviewing for a job.  You would begin the interview by asking a very simple open ended question, something like this:

Donald: tell me a little about you.

Donald:  Well, I am awesome, people love me.  I am very smart, very smart.  I’m also rich, very rich.  People love me, especially women, I cherish women and I am very popular with women.  If you hire me I will make great deals for your company. Lets face it, you’re company is run by stupid people getting ripped off by much smarter people

Why do I know this? Because I’m very smart, smart and rich and people like me, obviously you like me because I am here and the person you had sitting here doing this job is a stupid person, I think that this company is being run by very stupid people but I am a winner who can make this company great again.

You:  Donald, what are your qualifications?

Donald: I am very smart, I went to a very prestigious school and in case you didn’t hear me I am very smart. I don't need this job really, seriously I don't but I can tell you this, I believe that I can make this company great again.  Some very stupid people have been running this place and the other guys you are interviewing are low energy not smart people.  And did you see the face on that one lady out there?  Seriously, do you see that face running this company?  And that little crippled guy out there, what is his story, he was captured and held as a prisoner of war, really?  That guy is a loser, I like people who weren’t captured by the enemy.  I was never captured by the enemy I can promise you that.  The bottom line is this, I want to make this company great again, I can do that and I think you should hire me.  And I know what you are thinking and the answer to the question you are going to ask is YES, yes this is actually my real hair, go ahead, touch it, its real, its real and its my hair. 

You:  Donald, let me give you a scenario, we have had a lot of break-ins lately and it is causing an impact to our bottom line.  What would you do to address this problem?

Donald:  I would build a wall around the building, it would be the best wall ever built.  I’m a great builder of things, built many buildings and hired many people.  Did I mention that I am both smart and very rich?  And the wall wouldn’t cost us a penny, not one cent because I would get the criminals to build it and they would pay for it.  The criminals are smart, smarter than you guys, I respect them but guess what, they respect me and I could get a great deal and they would like my deal I can promise you that.

You:  Ok Donald, our biggest competitor is killing us out there, their top guy John Smith has been meeting with Steve Johnson of XYZ Corp and they are working together.  How can you help us get a handle on maintaining our market share.

Donald:  What’s with the gotcha questions, you’re a third rate interviewer. First I know John Smith, he is a friend of mine, he loves me, did I mention I am rich and I know how to make great deals.  Speaking of great deals did you know I wrote a book called “The Art of the Deal?”  Great book, very great book.  I would do exactly what I did when I wrote that book, be awesome.  Then I would call John and this Steve guy whoever he is into my office, did I mention that I had a TV show called “The Apprentice” best show ever on TV, it was really great.  So, I would get these guys into my office and we would do a deal, the best deal ever.  Tis deal would be so amazing, just wait and see, it will be a great deal and this company will be great again, I can promise you that,

You:  What about dealing with our debt to income ratio, how would you resolve lowering our debt and restructuring our company more efficiently?

Donald:  The first day in office I would call everyone in, everyone and then I would say, Your Fired, like I did on my hit TV show “The Apprentice.”  I would fire everyone and then I would hire some amazing people to do amazing things and we will make this country Great again I can promise you that.  I would build such an amazing team that no other company would mess with us.  We would be so strong and so amazing that babies not even born yet will be afraid to start a business that might compete against us.  This company will be so great, so strong so amazing, I can promise you that.

You:  So how would you pay for this?

Donald: I would go after our top customers, these guys are ripping us off and I would charge them more and they would like it, I would make such a great deal with them that they will want to fund anything and everything I propose because I am smart, they are stupid but I respect them and they respect me because I know how to do deals.  I wrote the book on how to do deals. Smart people, me, doing great deals will make this company great again and everyone will prosper I can promise you that.

 

I could go on and on but here is my point.  At the end of the day we are electing not just a president but also a leader of the free world.  These are serious times, our nation is in crisis, debt has ballooned; wages are stagnate at best declining in reality.  The Middle East has fallen apart, it has become a black hole of despair and the lack of anything that resembles leadership has resulted in an explosion of anti-Americanism.  Relationships once tenuous at best have turned hostile, Russia, China, North Korea to name a few.  Here at home we are more divided today than at any point in recent history.  Divided along ideological, racial, economic and cultural lines with no one or nothing on the horizon delivering a uniting message.  Hope is disappearing as battle lines are being drawn between progressives, liberals, conservatives, black, white and brown, gay, straight legal, illegal and every other designation you can dream of.  So what is my point?  Why the interview parody?  To wake up those people who are falling in line with a candidate who says a lot but offers nothing in the way of tangible practical policy, real solutions for very real problems.  Donald Trump has offered nothing in the way of reality for me, this is my country, I love this country and I take very seriously the weight of my vote and the value of that vote.  If Mr. Trump hopes to earn my vote then he needs to offer more than hyperbolic rhetoric and canned phrases.  He needs more substance and less ego. I will be watching the debate tonight to see if the Titanic Trump mans the helm and begins to steer his ship out of the turbulent waters of self centered grandiosity and into the calm waters of real solutions for very real problems.  Of course that is just my take.

 

Texas Independence

There is a reason they call it running for office…  You can’t walk into office, you can’t have it handed to you, or be appointed to it and expect to just glide in, you have to run and I have been running every day and will not stop until I cross the finish line so any reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated…

I am here to speak today on Texas Independence.  Anytime the topic is raised you are required by Texas law (Ha Ha) to reference the battle at the Alamo.  On March 2nd 1836 Texas declared her independence this declaration occurred because Texans sought one thing and one thing only, FREEDOM, freedom from the oppressive hand of dictatorial rule.  This is a story that has been repeated across this country and around the world but the test of time has elevated the story of Texas’s independence and the bravery of those who stood and died at the Alamo as one of the greatest Stories ever told.  Our story will endure and stand as a testament to mansdesire to live free andlive a life of self determination.

 On February 24, 1836, the Mexican dictator, Antonio López de Santa Anna began laying siege to the Alamo.  On January 19th 2009 President Barack Obama began laying siege on the country he was elected to lead.  Armed with the power of the pen he began to dismantle what has been built with the blood, sweat and lives of those who have come before.  Just as Santa Anaa fired relentless shots at the Alamo this administration has relentlessly attacked the very foundation of this country.  Through oppressive regulations and job killing mandates this administration has weakened our great nation and done more to harm the cause of liberty than to fortify it.  They have taken the hard fought freedom our ancestors earned and replaced it with the bitterness of class warfare by sewing the seeds of discontent.  These actions have made this country less independent and more dependent, the antithesis of the sacrifices made right here in Texas.  

The days of building forts and defending them against armed invasion by foot soldiers with cannons, muskets and bayonets is an era we find in the rear view mirror.  Today we face new challenges and new weapons.  Our forts are now our homes. We fight to defend our individual property rights and our individual liberties, the freedom to enter into the marketplace and exchange goods and services freely.  What is under assault are those basic rights.  Individuals are now battling the forces of the very government we have elected to protect our rights.  Agencies like the EPA are the weapons being leveled and pointed directly at us.  No longer are we free to operate openly in the marketplace.  Instead the powers that be have made the determination that government knows what is best.  Government has the solutions and that my fellow Texans is exactly the battle that was fought in 1836.  History shows us that people must remain vigilant or risk the overreach of government and make no mistake, government is overreaching and it is time that we make a stand and defend our freedom, our liberty.

Remember that the morning of April 21, 1836, it is a metaphor for where we stand today.  That morning dawned and awakened a new day and a new nation.  We saw seven hundred fifty troops under Sam Houston engaged on the field of battle with one thousand two hundred troops under Santa Anna. Outmanned, outgunned, fresh of a crushing defeat they fought and in 18 minutes the Mexican dictator had been defeated. 

Ladies and gentlemen, we are the underdog in this battle.  We stand as proud Texans against the agencies like the EPA, against the oppressive job killing regulations that consistently flow from this nations capital, against the notion that government is the solution.  We know a thing or two about the fight for freedom and the struggle that exists between a government bent on controlling its people and a people yearning to be free.  

I embrace the idea that our government exists to serve the people rather than people existing to serve the government.  It is for that reason I am seeking to fill the seat of my friend ___________ s on the _____________.  I want to stand tall and represent the citizens of Texas and serve their needs and interests.  I want to do what is best for Texas and its citizens by fighting to keep government out of the business of determining winners and losers.   

Right here, right now, this is our fight for independence.  Years from now future generations will tell the story of Texas and its people, a people who never stood still, a people who stood tall and proud and never backed down, a people who gave everything to preserve freedom and truly understood the cause of liberty.

My name is ______________, I am seeking the office of __________________ and I am asking you to trust me and fight with me.  I am asking you for your vote.

Thank you and may God continue to bless America and may His light always shine brightest on Texas.

Sincerity or A Speech for “Restoring Honor Rally 828”

(Insert an introduction and thank appropriate people)

Let me just say in all sincerity that I am honored to be here today.

Frederick Douglas wrote that "Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without plowing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."  

We are in a struggle, that is why each one of you are here today, like Frederick Douglas we agree that power concedes nothing without a demand and I guess that you could say that this rally represents our demand that honor be returned to American politics. 

There are 9 guiding principles and 12 values that combine to give us the 9-12 Project.  This is a bold initiative to bring together Americans as we once were not so very long ago.  In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks for a brief moment on 9-12 we all saw this country through the same lens, a lens once fogged by ideologies that separated into right and left, red states and blue states became crystal clear with the realization that we were all equal in our sorrow as well as in our pride.  A once fractured nation polarized by two sides afraid to give an inch for fear of losing position became a united America intent on protecting what generations past had assembled into the single greatest nation ever created.  I wish that today we could somehow resurrect the common bond created that day in wake of tragedy and in a perfect world that wish would easily be granted but we don’t live in a perfect world.  We live in a world where our people grow weary of a government that has ceased attending to the will of the people, a government that seems to have abandoned its citizenry in favor of self interest and feigned celebrity.  We have endured long enough, we have strived to maintain the harmony once thrust upon us only to have it spat back at us by those in government who see personal benefit in times of collective tragedy and sorrow.   

It is evident to me that since you are all here listening to me today that you think we are heading in the wrong direction, that we have strayed off course.  The truth is that we are all witness to the things that have led us to this moment in time, a moment when the government has turned from serving the people to serving its own interests.  The question becomes where do we go from here?  The 9-12 projects desired outcome is to resurrect , “That same feeling – that commitment to country is what we are hoping to foster with this idea. We want to get everyone thinking like it is September 12th, 2001 again.”  To understand where we go from here we must first understand what the 9-12 Project is all about, what are the 9 principles and the 12 values?  I have been given the privilege today to talk about one of the key values Sincerity “SINCERITY.”  Whenever I am asked to speak about a subject I love to research the definitions, look up quotes and other writings on the subject.  For the definition I decided to go with “Dictionary.com” and their description of sincerity: 

Freedom from deceit, hypocrisy or duplicity; probity in intention or communicating; earnestness.” 

For those of you wondering like I did “Probity” basically means decency or honesty, but I digress.  I also like to check out the synonyms for a word to help me understand it even better.  Words like, truth, candor, frankness and honor are among sincerities friends.   So in defining the word and looking at the words associated with it we now understand that sincerity is a quality that we should see, expect and believe our elected officials possess.  Instead we see the opposite, rather than being free from deceit, hypocrisy and duplicity we find ourselves being held captive by them.  Rather than seeking probity or honesty in their communications from on high we hear lies and accusations that amount to our ignorance in the face of their self righteous posturing.  On issue after issue we are told that we just don’t understand.  If you don’t agree with the individual mandate in the new healthcare reform legislation it isn't because it may be unconstitutional it is because you just don’t understand.  If you don’t agree with the current administration on a wide array of topics it isn't because you might have knowledge that makes it wrong or a belief that it is wrong it is because you just don’t understand it.

A British Pastor by the name of Charles Spurgeon wrote that “Sincerity makes the very least person to be of more value than the most talented hypocrite.”  Ladies and gentlemen standing here with me in San Marcos Texas, we are that “Least” person Spurgeon speaks of.  We are the moms and dads, the laborers, business owners, entrepreneurs and most of all the taxpayers.  We have more value in our sincerity as it is represented by this gathering in Texas and others around the country than the most talented hypocrites adorning the hallways of our nation’s capital.  Take a minute and look around you, look at the people standing here with you today and understand that this simple act is sincerity in action.  You are here expressing a sincere love for those who are gathered with you today, for a country that has made everything and anything possible for you and for your children.  You aren’t being paid to stand here; you aren’t here because your leaders commanded you to be here.  You are here because you know that in order to effect change action is required.  You know that if you were to do nothing, nothing would get done.

John McCain once uttered this phrase, “I don't doubt the sincerity of my Democratic friends. And they should not doubt ours.”  The mainstream media and the left leaning pundits will surely mock the sincerity of each and every one of you gathered here today as well as everyone else gathered for this 828 Restoring Honor Rally. It is my hope that as we all have been witness to their sincere promise to bring about a fundamental change they will not doubt our sincerity as we stand together in protest.  We do not agree with their outdated belief that government is the answer, that government is capable of bringing about economic harmony in one hand while creating deficits with more zeros than the mind can comprehend in the other.  That my friends is hypocrisy, duplicity and intellectually bankrupt, the complete opposite of sincerity, honesty, and probity in communication, there’s that fancy word again…..  

Now don’t get me wrong, I do not stand before you proclaiming that ALL politicians are detestable or ALL the endeavors of government are colossal failures.  Surely we have programs created by government that have improved the quality of this great nation.  Without a doubt we have elected representatives who embody service and are sincere in their approach to government and its role, many of them are standing on this stage today and on stages around the country.  I believe that they have strived in their political life to be sincere in their service and like me I believe that they want to be part of a new beginning, part of restoring honor to a government that seems to have lost its way.  

Our mission here today and in the elections to come will be to seek out those politicians, those individuals who are genuinely sincere when it comes to being an elected representative, a servant of the people.  This has been our destiny, our purpose since the inception of this country.  The great men who first conceived the possibility of America and then fought to see that vision realized, men like Thomas Jefferson asked that we, “Come forward, then, and give us the aid of your talents and the weight of your character towards the new establishment of republicanism.”   Throughout history we have had individuals come forward to serve, some hove served with sincerity and honor while others have found comfort in pursuing self interests or perpetuating personal ideologies and as Thomas Jefferson asked that we come forward he also cautioned us with statements like, “Public offices were not for private convenience.”  Therefore, it is up to each one of us educate ourselves so that we can discern the difference between those seeking to serve from those who want to be served.  Rally’s like this one serve as a platform for a new breed of elected representatives, people answering Jefferson challenge to come forward bringing with them their character and their honor. 

In closing let me say that this is our time, this is where we draw the line in the sand and proclaim that the restoration of honor begins here and now.  We know what is wrong, we know that we are on the wrong path, the only question that remains is will we answer the call and become be united in our pursuit of restoring honor to our government or will allow ourselves to continue to bebe deceive and divided by partisans seeking to sustain the status quo?  In case you haven’t already, please take a minute and review the 9 Principles and 12 Values that form the 9-12 Project then ask yourself, Am I better off today than I was a few years back?  Is this country better off?  Will my kids inherit a better America?  If the answer is no, to any or all of the above then it’s time to make a stand for America.  In one loud voice let them hear a united America, we will not shrink, we will not lower our voice we will not go quietly but we will restore honor with a sincere pledge to demand a return to a government that is by the people and for the people.  

Thank you and may God continue to bless America and the Great State of Texas.

Speech: EPA Praised by Obama for Growing the Economy . . . Really?!?

In January of this year in a speech to employees of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) President Obama commended the agency for facilitating growth and fostering an environment that helped lead the economy forward.  He told them, “The main reason that I am here is simple, I just want to thank you.  I want to say thank you to each and every one of you, because the EPA touches the lives of every single American every single day.”  Now I don’t know what you think but that scares me to death.  I believe the EPA has done more to hinder economic growth and stifle job creation than anybody could have envisioned.  This administration using agencies like the Department of Energy and the EPA have taken money out of the free market, wastefully shoveling it into the boondoggle market known as “Green and Renewable Energy.”  We have replaced fiscal sanity with fiscal insanity putting at risk the good name, full faith and credit of the United States and her citizens.  Our country fiscal health is teetering and close to flat-lining.  The reality is that through destructive policies based on ideologies that are at best flawed and at there worst by design, control has been taken away form “We the People” and turned over to government.  

So, why is it imperative that we return the fiscal health of this country to “We the People” and take it out of the hands of the Obama administration?  For the simple reason that pursuing the flawed model of the government picking winners and losers is bankrupting us as a nation and these policies have done little to bring down the cost of energy or reduce our dependence on foreign oil.  Chasing “Green” science and “Green” jobs has removed precious capital from the free market.  President Obama has employed the strong arm of the EPA to crush the free market that has propelled this nation for decades.  It has used the Department of Energy and the Treasury to give away YOUR tax dollars to THEIR friends in the “Green” movement.  This administration does not care where and with whom they spend YOUR hard earned money.  

A123 Systems recently announced they would be implementing lay-offs, cutting significant number of its employs.  This after receiving a combined $390.1 million dollars to pursue green energy through it battery plant in Michigan.  However, the executives at A123 Systems gave themselves a hefty pay raise before the layoffs, pay raises that are courtesy of the American Tax Payer.

Who can forget Solyndra, a green boondoggle that continues to reveal rampant criminality and fraud?  The company was drowning in debt and based on a poor business model yet the Obama Administration saw fit to practice crony capitalism in the name of “Clean, Green Energy” and they pumped $500 million of tax payer dollars into this floundering and now bankrupt business. 

Uni-Solar a subsidiary of Michigan based Energy Conversion Devices (ECD) has also filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy.  Under the Obama administrations stimulus plan they received $13.1 million dollars of American taxpayer dollars.                                                              

Ener1 a subsidiary of EnerDel located in New York with a plant in Indiana received $118 million American taxpayer dollars only to find the same fate, bankruptcy.  With great fanfare our illustrious Vice President Joe Biden visited the car battery plant in Indiana and hyped the money granted to Ener1 by the Department of Energy as a solid investment.

And yet another energy boondoggle finds itself bankrupt after receiving $43 million American taxpayer dollars.  Beacon Power Corporation received the money to develop an “Energy Storage” system based on what are known as “Flywheels.”  Yup, our money is flying right out the door.  Range Fuels accepted $64million from US taxpayers and another $6.2 million for the taxpayers of Georgia, Ranger Fuel is now bankrupt.  Mountain Plaza Inc. accepted $424,000 they are now bankrupt.  Evergreen Solar, they weren’t shy about accepting money from everybody.  They took stimulus funds totaling $125 million for weatherization projects.  They took $55 million in energy block grants in Massachusetts.  They took $5.3 million federal stimulus cash and an additional $984,00 in federal funds as well as $758,000 in low interest “Clean Renewable energy Bonds.”  The end result BANKRUPT.   

There are so many other examples of the rampant out of control spending perpetuated by this administration that I could go on and on.  Many are stories you have heard but there are so many other stories out there that the Mainstream Media refuses to cover so it is up to you and to me to begin the conversation, to tell the story that the mainstream media refuses to tell.  

Let me be perfectly clear here, we are in a crisis, not an energy crisis but a crisis that pits ideology against common sense.  Change this time around isn’t just a feel good slogan, change means we are in a fundamental fight for our liberty and our freedom.  If we sit idly by watch this President and his cronies chase their ideology and do nothing then this will surly be the end of the America your parents and their parents spent their lives sacrificing for, building and hoping that we would carry that dream forward to hand to our children and future generations.  The EPA must be eliminated.  The Department of Energy must be reigned in.  The Treasury should be set back to the task of monitoring our fiscal house and shown the door when it comes to picking winners and losers, the Treasury isn’t their personal bank, it’s the people’s money.  These agencies and entities are out of control and only you, each and every one of you can change the direction this country is headed.  Become active, tell your friends, your neighbors, co-workers, anybody that will listen to stand up and fight for the America we knew and the America we love.

The battles that we face were wrought by the federal government, brought to our front door but the reality is they are fought here at home by state and local representatives.  Agencies like the EPA implement policy and cast the oppressive wide net of restrictions leaving your elected representatives at home as the only line of defense.  It is imperative that when you walk into the voting booth to cast your ballot you must make that vote count by electing individuals capable of standing on the front line.  I am the candidate willing ready and able to stand on that front line and engage those interests that are aligned against states and states rights.  My allegiance is to the citizens of Texas not to the political elite and those special interest groups lined up behind them.  Politics as usual has brought us into the fight we face, returning the function of government to the people is the only way we can regain control of this out of control spiral is to band together and raise our collective voices.  If you want your country, your state, your city back then join my grassroots campaign.  As Railroad Commissioner I will commit to serving the people of the great state of Texas.  I commit to bringing the functions of the Commission up to date making it easier to do business in the state.  I will commit to endorsing growth for everyone willing to do the work.  I will commit to standing tall against the EPA favoring the advancement of states rights over federal control.  I will commit to operating in an open and transparent manner allowing the citizens of Texas to be a part of the solution.  I am the candidate who will serve the people and not expect to be served by the people. 

 I am asking for your support and asking for your vote.

Speech: Campaign Vision 1

Before I get started I want to take some time to dispel a few myths before I get started.

I am older than I look

I am not __________!

I was asked to come and speak to you today about what my vision of the ______ would be under my watch.  My vision for the ______ is to bring balance, mutual respect and shared ambitions between industry and citizen.  Think about it this way, protecting Texas and protecting Texas energy are one in the same, there is no difference between the two because they are a singular pursuit.  It isn’t what should divide us; it is what should unite us in the common pursuit of protecting our state and securing our economic future.  

One issue I have had to deal with on the trail is the people who question my ability to maintain my values, serve the needs of the people and those in the industry who worry that I will trample on their profitability.  Naturally my answer is and will continue to be that there must exist a balance.  Rather than fighting among ourselves we have to focus on what is best for the state and realize that our common enemy isn’t big business or the radical fringes of political parties it is the battle we face with the federal government and their pursuit of an agenda that would effectively end our ability to create jobs and generate profit based on our number one resource, Texas energy.  

My opponent, the incumbent, has adopted an agenda that runs counter to most of what I have said and will say and he has done it with one of this nations most liberal anti-energy presidents in modern history.

My top three priorities moving forward are balance, balance and balance.  

I believe that what the people want, what they crave is the ability to find a job, work at that job with the promise of security so they can raise their children with the idea that the American dream is in fact a reality and finally to be able to retire with dignity.  In the same vein I believe that the energy industry here in Texas wants to be able to create these jobs, help educate future generations so that they will return and continue to bring the ingenuity that leads to prosperity.  Realizing that the industry does not want to destroy the goose that laid the golden egg is the first step in understanding that the industries ambitions and goals can and should run parallel to the people who work for them and those who consume their products.  It is a two way street but in order for the traffic to run smoothly and evenly we need a good cop on the beat and I am that cop.  I can balance the needs of industry with the needs of Texans because I understand the important role both play in our future.

In order to frame my vision for the future we have to understand where we have been and what we have had to contend with.

Frederick Douglas was quoted as saying that “Power concedes nothing without a demand.” Well, we have been demanding and the power has yet to yield, instead they are doing the demanding but not at the point of a gun, YET,, but…..  through an atmosphere of anti energy (oil, gas and coal specifically), which in turn has lead to higher prices at the pump.  The administration is using the EPA like a gun to kill our economy and change our energy future to meet their demand.  

The EPA is churning out new regulations in unprecedented number, speed and cost. The Wall Street Journal has called this EPA regulatory spree “unprecedented in U.S. history.” By the administration’s own estimates the new regulations will cost more 1 trillion dollars. And according to the deputy secretary of the EPA, they do not take into account job losses when creating and reviewing rules.

They claim this anti energy agenda or all-out assault on the oil, gas and coal industries is in the name of energy independence and environmental protection. 

Over and over we have heard the steady drumbeat that we are killing our planet and that we must all bow at the altar of “Renewable” energy GOD.  The reality is that renewable energy is simply not ready for prime time and it cannot shoulder the energy needs of this nation.  

You cannot obtain energy independence with renewable sources of energy alone and if anyone tells you that, they lie and speak from their ideology and not from reality. 

How do they want to stop Texas: 

Shutdown of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico This move killed an estimated 13,000 jobs in the gulf region and 19,000 nationally by imposing that moratorium on drilling in US water. Now even after the moratorium has been lifted the slow pace of permitting is leaving experts estimate 250,000 new jobs in the gulf region of the table. Now that new regulations have been put into place, removing any excuses for restarting operations, they have begun a fight for a Sea Horse that needs magnification to see, claiming that it is an endangered species and should be considered as a factor in keeping oil production and exploration closed.

They have now declared HAY as a pollutant. The very thing we feed our cattle. They are starting enforcement action in Kansas. Texas could be next!

Declare the “Dunes Sagebrush Lizard,” or sand dune lizard an endangered species. If the administration declares this common lizard an endangered species if would effectively shut down oil production in the Permian Basin of West Texas. Costing jobs! The Permian Basin of West Texas produced 268 million barrels of oil in 2010. A friend of mine Jerry Patterson calls it a reptile dysfunction. 

The sad truth is that the only thing that is becoming endangered is common sense, but I digress

Declaring the very breath we exhale as illegal and a pollutant. CO2 is not a pollutant. Global warming alarmists are debating over CO2 levels 320 ppm in the air, and OSHA does not even look at CO2 levels being harmful until it reaches 5,000 ppm. All this while CO2 levels in the US have decreased 79% since 1980. 

All of this while the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit was caught manipulating climate data. 

All of this while the biologist who claimed that polar bears were drowning because of melting ice from CO2 has been suspended and is being investigated for scientific misconduct. Manipulating data!

All of this while NASA’s own satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth's atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted. [Explain]

CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, world’s largest centers for scientific research involving 60 countries and 8,000 scientists at more than 600 universities and national laboratories, findings were published in the journal Nature. They built a stainless steel chamber that precisely re-created the Earth’s atmosphere and demonstrate that the suns cosmic rays determine the temperature on Earth.

Further Texas has been using CO2 in enhanced oil recovery for more than 30 years. Here is Texas CO2 is commodity not a calamity.

My vision for the ______ has a different name like the ______ and three elected officials. This will continue the diversity of thought, accountability to the citizens and industry, and eliminates of the possibility for the largest oil and gas regulator in the country second only to the Department of Energy fro, having an Oil & Gas Czar. Czars are not right for Washington and they are certainly not right for Texas.

My vision for the ______ is a tiered fee and penalty structure for smaller producers giving their companies more flexibility while keeping the public trust that all are being held accountable.

My vision for the _______ is that of an agency and its commissioners that are not promoters of electric vehicles, or alternative source of energy or in anyway picking winners of losers in the marketplace, but an agency and its commissioners that are committed to accountability, an agency that stands a referee ensuring that everyone has the chance to participate and win on a level playing field.  

My vision for the _______ would see limits to contributions ensuring again a level playing field, just because you have the fattest checkbook docent mean you can roll over the little guy.  In a Greg Parker administration prosperity for all those willing to do the hard work, play by the rules and work for a brighter future for Texas and Texans will be the goal. 

My vision includes increased transparency, modernization and a firm belief that we are accountable to not just the industry but to the sovereign state of Texas and all Texans.  I believe that energy is the key to our economic recovery therefore the protection of our lands and our resources are of paramount importance. 

My name is _______, I am a candidate for ________, I believe in the promise of a bright future for Texas and I am asking you for your vote

Speech: Campaign Stock 1

(Acknowledge your audience, where you are and the important people in the room.)

Background:

I was elected to the _______ on November 2, 2004 unseating an incumbent democrat. 

(My suggestion for an ice breaker)

Yes, I am a proud black conservative, I know, I know, something of a mythical paradox but thanks to the current President and the outstanding job he is doing …  Roll your eyes and or clear your throat… I am here to inform you that we do in fact exist.  

I also happen to be the youngest conservative republican to hold the title of ________ in the state of Texas.  In 2008 I was re-elected by my constituents because of my steadfast commitment to safeguarding their tax dollars in a way that balanced the protection of individual property rights with a deep understanding of preserving our land resources and maximizing them for growth and future generations.  I was honored in 2008 when Governor Perry appointed me to the _______where my fellow board members entrusted me to lead the initiative for_______.  I have a diverse education background that includes Bachelors of Business Administration, Masters Degree in Public Administration and I am currently completing my PhD in Policy and Administration, but enough about my history, let me tell you what I believe.

I know that one of the notions that have led us to this point is suffering from what we hope and what we believe.  So let me be very clear here, I am not pouring out my hopes, I am stating my beliefs because as Sarah Palin reminded us when she asked in a speech: “So how is that hopey changey thing working out for ya,” we can easily see that the false hope of the current administration has brought us to this point in time.  A point in time that we can see gas prices skyrocket, the cost of goods and services trending up, inflation looming in the shadows, a budget deficit in the trillions and a national debt that has almost doubled.  Hope and change?  To be honest I hope things do change…

Seriously, lets get back to what I believe.  I believe that Texas is a unique state that is rich in energy resources.  Coal, oil and natural gas reserves buried deep beneath the soil will serve as a source of energy for decades to come but only if we stay committed to a balanced approach to harnessing its potential.  I believe that Texans can and will be the driving force that can accomplish bringing a balanced approach to energy production and will serve as a model for the rest of the nation.  I believe that this is a critical time in this nation’s progression because it is my firm belief that Energy and Energy Technologies will be the next big economy.  I believe this is why it will be imperative for Texas to lead the way through development of these resources, the education of a highly qualified and innovative workforce and a commitment to understanding the importance of energy as it relates to the prosperity and protection of this country.  Finally and this is an important one, I believe in the promise of a bright future for Texas powered by abundant resources and driven by Texas pride and ingenuity.  

So that is what I believe.  Standing in the path of my beliefs is a bureaucratic behemoth bent on de-valuing the dollar.  They strive to usher in inflation to rescue us from debt.  They impede industry through false ideologies that have brought us “Cap and Trade” legislation.  They have escalated entitlement spending by pushing onto the American people things like Obamacare.  They create catchy slogans like “Winning the Future” while they feign attempts at weaning us from our addiction on foreign oil yet they hamstringing America by suspending oil production in this country.  They do this while at the same time giving speeches and American dollars to countries that compete with America for energy production and for the most vital resource in any recovery, jobs.  A perfect example would be President Obama’s recent trip to Brazil, who can forget that nightmare speech?  A speech in which American Dollars were given to a country to pursue the very jobs the administration stole from the Gulf Coast.  In that speech our President propped up deep water drilling in Brazil, handed them the cash in the form of loan guarantees, created jobs for Brazilians, and to add insult to injury he also hoped (there is that word again) that America would be Brazil’s best customer.  Where I believe in meeting our own needs when it comes to energy and jobs we have an administration that sees fit to outsource it.

It doesn’t stop there, while the shutdown of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has resulted in less oil being produced domestically and jobs being moved out of this country we see the hands of the obstructionist administration at work here again in our backyard.   Who here knows about the“Dunes Sagebrush Lizard,” or sand dune lizard?  If you haven’t you should have and if you don’t then let me tell you about this fun little reptilian friend that is now the poster child of the left, the environmentalists, the very energy killing radicals who want to take us back to the days of the horse and buggy and mud huts for homes.  This little fella has been proposed by the Obama Administration to be added to the list as federally endangered.  This is clearly a political move aimed at crippling America’s energy producers but this one hits far too close to home.  It threatens oil and gas production right here in Texas impacting counties like Gaines, Andrews, Ward, Winkler and Crane, all vital plays in the Permian Basin.  

The goal of the Obama Administration should be to find ways to create jobs here and not in Brazil.  Government should be should be invested in embracing businesses here rather than encouraging them to go elsewhere because the administrations ideology trumps reality.  The idea of energy independence does not nor should not include an all out assault on the Texas oil and gas industry but looking back it seems as though that is the plan of the current administration.  

Ladies, we sit on the verge of leading the nation into a new economy driven by energy and innovative energy technologies.  Our vast resources in natural gas, oil and coal combined with advances in renewable energies have all served in making Texas an energy leader and will serve as an economic engine for growth and prosperity for future generations.  This can only turn from a belief into a reality if we stand up now and fight for what is right, what is just and what is OURS.  I believe in Texas and the promise of a future in which Texas stands tall and stands as an example of what a bright independent energy future looks like.   We have it, the country needs it and now lets get to doing it the Texas way and deliver it to them.

(You can use one if the following slogans for and ending, these are yours from past speeches)

“Texas Power, the new economic engine for growth and prosperity” 

“Texas Power, leading the nation into a new economy”

“Texas, Powering a Brighter Tomorrow”

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak to you today and please let me close by saying may God Continue to Bless America and the great State of Texas.

5-Minute Speech V2

I want to begin my remarks by inviting you to visit my website:

WWW._____.COM

There you will find the most complete explanation of who I am and what my vision for the future of Texas is.  

When I decided to seek elective office I did it because I wanted to make a difference.  I wanted to bring my thoughts to the market place of ideas and along with my fellow Texans begin the process of returning the government to the people.   

Things like money and endorsements never really fit into the process for me.  What has seemed to work is meeting and listening to the concerns of every person that crossed my path.  To take the time to drive a hundred miles to meet with a group of 5 or 500 because that is what a public servant does.  As a result of my approach I have sought and won two hard fought elections understanding that political endorsements meant very little when it came to winning the endorsements of every single person that voted for me.  

A lot will be made of who among the political elite is aligned with whom and if that is important to you then I guess that supporting ______ may not be for you.  But if you are interested in moving forward in an open, transparent and honest way with an individual who seeks “The Peoples” endorsement when making decisions rather than looking to see which way the wind is blowing then supporting _______ is the first step in restoring the reality of “We The People.”

For far too long now elections have been run more like auctions.  Did you know that 94% of the time the candidate running for office who has raised the most money wins.  Think about that, money dictates outcomes in our elections.  I am here to challenge that model, I am here to challenge you to begin the process of taking back our representative form of government and help me return it to “We The People.”  That will only occur when we collectively wake up and tell the political elite, the bundlers and the special interest groups that our elective offices are no longer up for auction.

Texas is poised for great things.  It has been my long held position that energy will be the catalyst for the next great economic boom in this country and sitting underneath our feet right here and right now is the fuel that will power our countries economic recovery.  This can only happen if we send the right people to the State House, to Congress and to the White House.  

Over the next several months you will have the opportunity to vet many candidates for many different office.  They will stand in front of you and tick off their resumes, they will parade out members of the existing political elite to show you that they have support and they will try and convince you that endorsements count and that big bankrolls count.  They will tell you that these things are what give candidate legitimacy and I am here to tell you that is not the case, that endorsements and money don’t equal legitimacy they equal the stale business as usual mentality we find ourselves entangled in.  

Ladies and gentlemen, fellow Texans, I am here to tell you that what matters is the willingness to do the hard work.  The willingness to hit the road and touch every voter you can.  To listen to you, your concerns and even your recommendations for solving the problems we face.  An elected official, a public servant serves the people who took the time to vote for them and not the special interests groups who funded them or the political elite seeking to coopt others into a flawed system that has served itself rather than the people.

I have an energy plan, a vision for Texas and I have spent the last two years traveling the state speaking about it and writing about it.  I have been outspoken about my objections to the EPA and their out of control regulatory practices.  I have been out in front on championing real reform when it comes to energy.   I understand that a balance must exist between protecting our environment, our citizens with creating jobs and realizing real energy independence.  I have the background necessary to serve and the willingness to work with and for the people.  

Please visit my website, grab me after this event or any of the many other events I will attend and ask me the questions, share your concerns with me as well as your solutions.  Together we can sustain the dream that is Texas but only as long we elect people willing to do the hard work.  I implore you to just say no to those seeking to perpetuate the auctioning of elections as they waive endorsements that merely equal IOU’s.  The only IOU I have issued or will ever issue is to the voter when they have decided to trust me to serve them.

My name is _______ and I am asking you for your vote.  Thank you

Natural Gas is the Future

Across the country there are cities and municipalities that are converting fleet vehicles from traditional gas engines into much cleaner burning natural gas vehicles.  Cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta and New York are converting buses and other city vehicles.  Additionally there are power companies converting traditional gas, steam and coal fired plants onto natural gas plants.  In a small town in Gilbert Arizona, Salt River Project (SRP) the states leading energy producer converted an aging plant into a much cleaner burning natural gas facility.  The overall cost of this project was $541 million and created generating capacity of 1193 megawatts while reducing emission substantially (1002 tons).  The expansion created jobs, reduced costs to consumers and maintained an eye towards environmental concerns.  Compare the investment in retrofitting and expanding this plant with the crony capitalism that was Solyndra, the now bankrupt Solar Panel manufacturer.  While solar power or any other alternative energy resource like wind or tide or geothermal are real they are also in their infancy and not the answer today.  What we need right now are jobs and a solution to our energy needs and utilizing an abundant resource like natural gas could accelerate prosperity.  Encouraging our energy producers rather than punishing them is the solution.

I mentioned the Salt River Project plant conversion for a reason, “Natural Gas.”  In recent years we have uncovered a vast amount of this energy resource right here in this country.  In Louisiana alone the Haynesville Shale discovery has revealed 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and some industry officials believe that those are conservative estimates and the find could actually be several times larger.  To put this into perspective that is the equivalent of approximately 33 billion barrels of oil, enough to meet our current demands for 17 plus years.  The story doesn’t end in Louisiana; vast fields have been discovered in Arkansas, Pennsylvania and right here in Texas.  These fields hold and estimated 2,200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.  Understand that these discoveries arise as the reality of oil declines.  Most of the oil consumed by America is imported and we already know that our oil suppliers are at best “unfriendly” to America.  Juxtapose that with the fact that 98% of the natural gas consumed in the United States actually comes from this continent, North America.  The exploration, production and distribution of natural gas mean real jobs for Americans.  As I have written about in earlier pieces these jobs inside the industry also create demand for other jobs in the supporting communities in areas like retail, housing and service to name a few.  Energy jobs are sustainable jobs, they are not public works jobs born out of political desperation in tough economies.  These are the jobs that see us through difficult times; they create promise and prosperity for this generation and the next.

Advancing our energy future requires thinking outside the box we find ourselves in, it requires that we don’t settle for the business as usual way of thinking and we begin to explore the intelligent usage of our natural resources.  For far too long we have demonized many of our natural resources.  Across this great nation under our feet exist massive potential for growth and prosperity.  Natural Gas is an abundant treasure whose full potential has yet to be realized.  The sad fact is that rather than embracing a tangible reality we have opted to pursue pipe dreams based on manipulated fear.  Over and over we have heard the steady drumbeat that we are killing our planet and that we must all bow at the altar of “Renewable” energy.  The reality is that renewable energy is simply not ready for prime time and it cannot shoulder the energy needs of this nation.  But that hasn’t stopped the Obama administration and his thugs at the EPA from intimidation and fear mongering.   I hasn’t stopped those right here in our state from pursuing REZ’s, Smart Grids, Smart Meters and the boondoggle of Windmills.   Rather than embracing our natural resources they have decided to mandate change through heavy-handed regulations.  They have decided to fix the game when it comes to their energy agenda and use your money to do it. 

Rather than investing in boondoggles like converting our entire energy sector into the myth that is “Green” perhaps we should begin to invest in the infrastructure that has seen this nation blossom into the industrialized envy of the world.  Imagine that if the Obama administration had invested the $540 million plus that they invested in Solyndra and the countless other “Clean Green” boondoggles that have produced nothing but debt and bankruptcies taken that money and invested it in retrofitting many of the old gas, steam and coal fired plants into natural gas fired power plants, a much cleaner and more efficient method of generating electricity.  Imagine if the billions that were invested right here in the state of Texas, the time and the effort wasted on plotting a Smart Grid to Power Smart Meters that were driven by Windmills to charge their electric car dream where we could be right now when it comes to leading the nation in cleaner burning more efficient natural gas fired plants. 

There are so many alternatives to their “Alternative” perhaps the Obama administration and agencies right here in Texas could have invested in expanding clean coal through processes like gasification and sequestration.  The point is that this current administration and Texas agencies have less interest in advancing energy independence than they do in chasing their ideology.  If the goal was to truly win the future, truly win the jobs of the future then it is time for this administration to explain why the Department of Energy (an agency that our then head of the PUC seems very cozy wit) Loan Guarantee program has backed $36.8 billion on 42 Clean Green power projects.  Of those, 74% of those loans have been in the area of Solar Power.  Why pour so much into something that cannot support our energy needs while ignoring the natural resources that sit untapped beneath our feet?  Natural gas is an abundant, clean and viable source of energy, it is real, it is tangible and it can meet the demands of a nation screaming for jobs and energy independence.  If politicians are going to invest our money then why don’t they start investing it winners rather than losers?

Natural Gas and Energy Independence

Across the country there are cities and municipalities that are converting fleet vehicles from traditional gas engines into much cleaner burning natural gas vehicles.  Cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta and New York are converting buses and other city vehicles.  Additionally there are power companies converting traditional gas, steam and coal fired plants onto natural gas plants.  In a small town in Gilbert Arizona, Salt River Project (SRP) the states leading energy producer converted an aging plant into a much cleaner burning natural gas facility.  The overall cost of this project was $541 million and created generating capacity of 1193 megawatts while reducing emission substantially (1002 tons).  The expansion created jobs, reduced costs to consumers and maintained an eye towards environmental concerns.  Compare the investment in retrofitting and expanding this plant with the crony capitalism that was Solyndra, the now bankrupt Solar Panel manufacturer.  While solar power or any other alternative energy resource like wind or tide or geothermal are real they are also in their infancy and not the answer today.  What we need right now are jobs and a solution to our energy needs and utilizing an abundant resource like natural gas could accelerate prosperity.  Encouraging our energy producers rather than punishing them is the solution.

I mentioned the Salt River Project plant conversion for a reason, “Natural Gas.”  In recent years we have uncovered a vast amount of this energy resource right here in this country.  In Louisiana alone the Haynesville Shale discovery has revealed 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and some industry officials believe that those are conservative estimates and the find could actually be several times larger.  To put this into perspective that is the equivalent of approximately 33 billion barrels of oil, enough to meet our current demands for 17 plus years.  The story doesn’t end in Louisiana; vast fields have been discovered in Arkansas, Pennsylvania and right here in Texas.  These fields hold and estimated 2,200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.  Understand that these discoveries arise as the reality of oil declines.  Most of the oil consumed by America is imported and we already know that our oil suppliers are at best “unfriendly” to America.  Juxtapose that with the fact that 98% of the natural gas consumed in the United States actually comes from this continent, North America.  The exploration, production and distribution of natural gas mean real jobs for Americans.  As I have written about in earlier pieces these jobs inside the industry also create demand for other jobs in the supporting communities in areas like retail, housing and service to name a few.  Energy jobs are sustainable jobs, they are not public works jobs born out of political desperation in tough economies.  These are the jobs that see us through difficult times; they create promise and prosperity for this generation and the next.

Advancing our energy future requires thinking outside the box we find ourselves in, it requires that we don’t settle for the business as usual way of thinking and we begin to explore the intelligent usage of our natural resources.  For far too long we have demonized many of our natural resources.  Across this great nation under our feet exist massive potential for growth and prosperity.  Natural Gas is an abundant treasure whose full potential has yet to be realized.  The sad fact is that rather than embracing a tangible reality we have opted to pursue pipe dreams based on manipulated fear.  Over and over we have heard the steady drumbeat that we are killing our planet and that we must all bow at the altar of “Renewable” energy.  The reality is that renewable energy is simply not ready for prime time and it cannot shoulder the energy needs of this nation.  But that hasn’t stopped the Obama administration and his thugs at the EPA from intimidation and fear mongering.  Rather than embracing our natural resources they have decided to mandate change through heavy-handed regulations.  They have decided to fix the game when it comes to their energy agenda and use your money to do it. 

Rather than investing in boondoggles like converting our entire energy sector into the myth that is “Green” perhaps we should begin to invest in the infrastructure that has seen this nation blossom into the industrialized envy of the world.  Imagine that if the Obama administration had invested the $540 million plus that they invested in Solyndra and taken that money and invested it in retrofitting many of the old gas, steam and coal fired plants into natural gas fired power plants, a much cleaner and more efficient method of generating electricity.  Perhaps the administration could have invested in expanding clean coal through processes like gasification and sequestration.  The point is that this current administration has less interest in advancing energy independence than they do in chasing their ideology.  If the goal was to truly win the future, truly win the jobs of the future then it is time for this administration to explain why the Department of Energy Loan Guarantee program has backed $36.8 billion on 42 clean power projects.  Of those, 74% of those loans have been in the area of Solar Power.  Why pour so much into something that cannot support our energy needs while ignoring the natural resources that sit untapped beneath our feet?  Natural gas is an abundant, clean and viable source of energy, it is real, it is tangible and it can meet the demands of a nation screaming for jobs and energy independence.  Mr. President, if you are going to invest our money then why don’t you start investing it winners rather than losers.

EPA Contemplates Slowing Regulation

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Obama Administration is set to ease their enforcement of the new Cross Border Pollution rule that was finalized this past July and was expected to go into full effect in January 2012.  

Make no mistake, this moves comes on the heels of a backlash that started in the homes, plants and factories of energy producing states like Texas.  I have been humbled to be one of those people who have led the fight.  While I am pleased that the administrations move to curb or slow sown enforcing this crippling regulation I want to issue a warming that the fight is not over and the pressure must be continued if we are to see a day when energy independence and sustainable jobs are paramount.  Now is not the time to cease pressuring this or any administration when it comes to securing our future.  My hope continues to be that this is a genuine move forward and not merely a political stunt to curry favor in the upcoming election.   Therefore, I will continue to shine a light on the EPA.  My goal is to see that this step is just the first of many aimed at improving the relationship between our government and the hard working men and women of the energy sector of this great nation.

It is imperative that we do not rest, that we recognize this as a single victory in the context of a much larger war against Texas and other energy producing states.  It is up to each and every one of us to maintain our vigilance as we all strive to build not only a stoner Texas but and even stronger America.  This has been my fight and it will remain my fight until such a time the EPA and its regulatory power and authority favors advancing sustainable jobs, energy independence.

 E. Parker

Current Events In Texas Energy

There are two hunters are out in the woods. One named democrat and the other named economy. They are hunting when economy falls to the ground. Economy doesn't seem to be breathing; his eyes are rolled back in his head. Democrat whips out his cell phone and calls 911. The operator answers: and democrat says, “My friend is dead! What can I do?” The operator, in a calm soothing voice says, “Just take it easy. I can help. First, let's make sure your friend is dead.” Silence, befalls the phone for several minutes. Then a loud gunshot is heard. Democrat’s voice comes back on the line and says: “OK he’s dead, now what?”

Now let me make this clear, I’m not saying that “Democrats” are dumb…but maybe they do lack just a bit of knowledge and ability to utilize relevant information effectively. 

It has been said that Thomas Jefferson once stated: “Information is the currency of democracy.”  I hope that after spending time with you today you have just a little more in the way of information to help bolster your currency in our democracy. 

Despite the fact that the economy is the engine of the United States and despite the fact that energy is the oil that makes that engine run smoothly, there is an all-out assault on the very life blood that makes the US economy pump.  We are faced with many of the same problems that plagued our founding fathers.  Jefferson battled the ideologues that hoarded information, sadly the same is true today.  To refresh your memory a bit it wasn’t all that long ago that President Obama offered this nugget of wisdom to a graduating class at Hampton University: 

"You're coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don't always rank that high on the truth meter….” He continued on, “And with iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations -- none of which I know how to work -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation."  

This is an example of using bad information to dissuade you from seeking out relevant information.  Tactics like this are common for the current administration and they have allowed President Obama to create an atmosphere of confusion and doubt.  Nowhere is it more prevalent than when it comes to energy.  This administration has successfully crafted an anti-energy agenda and they are enforcing that agenda with the strong-arm of the EPA.  They are fully engaged in disrupting the fuel that drives America’s economy (oil, gas and coal specifically).

Just like the hunter in the joke I opened with, the administration is using the EPA like a gun to kill the economy. The EPA is churning out new regulations in unprecedented number, speed and cost. The Wall Street Journal has called this EPA regulatory spree “unprecedented in U.S. history.” And according to the deputy secretary of the EPA, they do not take into account job losses when creating and reviewing rules.

The reason I am here speaking to you today is to deliver a very simple message:  When you advance an agenda that is clearly anti-energy you are declaring war on Texas.  Why you may ask?

  1. Texas leads the United States in both crude oil production and refining capacity.
  2. Texas is the Nation’s leading natural gas producer. We produce more than three times the natural gas than any other state.
  3. Texas is a major nuclear power generating State, 
  4. Texas leads the Nation in wind-powered generation capacity, and that substantial new wind generation capacity is under construction
  5. Texas produces a substantial amount of coal from its 18 surface mines, and is the top coal consuming state in the nation.

Now the Obama administration “CLAIMS” that this all out assault on energy as it stands is nothing more than an effort to gain energy independence while at the same time protecting the environment.  They believe that we can wean ourselves from the evil of fossil fuels and replace our entire energy portfolio with the magic that is “RENEWABLE” energy.  All that comes to mind when I contemplate their warped philosophy is REALLY!?!

You cannot obtain energy independence with renewable sources of energy alone and if anyone tells you that, they lie and speak from their ideology and not from reality.  

Now back to the assault on Texas and our abundant resources.

How do they want to stop Texas: 

The shutdown of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico as a result of the Deep Water Horizon incident has resulted in less oil being produced domestically and jobs being moved out of this country. That move killed an estimated 13,000 jobs in the gulf region and 19,000 nationally by imposing that moratorium on drilling in US water. Now even after the moratorium has been lifted the slow pace of permitting is leaving experts estimate 250,000 new jobs in the gulf region of the table.  Now that the cleanup and new regulations have been put into place, removing any excuses for restarting operations, they have begun a fight for a sea horse that needs magnification to see, claiming that it is an endangered species and should be considered as a factor in keeping oil production and exploration closed.

Declare the “Dunes Sagebrush Lizard,” or sand dune lizard an endangered species. If the administration declares this common lizard an endangered species if would effectively shut down oil production in the Permian Basin of West Texas. Costing jobs! The Permian Basin of West Texas produced 268 million barrels of oil in 2010. A friend of mine Jerry Patterson calls it a reptile dysfunction.

Declaring the very breath we exhale be counted as illegal and a pollutant. CO2 is not a pollutant. Global warming alarmists are debating over CO2 levels 320 ppm in the air, and OSHA does not even look at CO2 levels being harmful until it reaches 5,000 ppm. All this while CO2 levels in the US have decreased 79% since 1980. 

All this while the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit was caught manipulating climate data. 

All this while the biologist who claimed that polar bears were drowning because of melting ice from CO2 has been suspended and is being investigated for scientific misconduct. Manipulating data!

All this while NASA’s own satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth's atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted. [Explain]

Here is an example of some information you can use as currency when you talk to your ideologically driven friends on the other side, Texas has been using CO2 in enhanced oil recovery for more than 30 years. Here is Texas CO2 is commodity not a calamity.

As I mentioned before Texas is the Nation’s leading natural gas producer, producing more than 6 million cubic feet annually. Most using a now controversial technique called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” The practice involves blasting water, sand and other chemicals far underground to break up rock and extract gas. 

Now the EPA has set forth new rules to regulate “fracking.”

To address the concerns that the chemicals used are hazardous, the Texas legislature has passed HB-3328 making drilling companies that do hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” disclose the chemicals. Such disclosure would be listed on the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission and the Texas Railroad Commissions websites. I whole hardily support such discloser.  This is an example of allowing the states to address concerns rather than bureaucrats and ideologues on the beltway.  

Speaking of the Texas Railroad Commission. There is a movement afoot to change the name to the Texas Oil & Gas Commission and trim the commission down to one commissioner from three.  [Explain the current state of the bill]. 

One commissioner over the largest oil and gas industry in the nation would amounts to an Oil & Gas Czar.  I don’t need to expand on why creating “CZARS” is entirely un-American.  

Texas is a major nuclear power generating State. Texas has two nuclear plans located near Victoria, Texas and about 80 miles southwest of Dallas. The events in Japan were unfortunate, regrettable and sobering, but it should not stop the nuclear projects in Texas. While public hearings have been conducted and no formal decision has been made, I encourage those communities and the federal officials to move forward with those projects so that Texas can continue to be a major player as well as a role model for other states in how to responsibly advance energy into the future.

Texas also produces a substantial amount of coal from its more than 16 lignite surface coalmines, and is the top coal consuming state in the nation. Texas electricity is powered by coal. The administration and EPA have thru regulation are forcing our electricity providers to shutdown coal fired power plants.  The result of their actions on Texans is the loss of an estimated 3000-mega watts out of the power grid.  Rather than advance the promise of clean coal technologies the administration has decided to indulge in punitive punishments resulting in higher energy cost and again lodging a bullet in the head of the economy.

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Let us not forget the stealth bullet fired from the silenced weapon. An agenda that is moving throughout the federal agencies, state and local governments like a cancer. Agenda 21 seeks to redistribute wealth in the name of Social, Economic and environmental justice. It is clearly nothing more than environmental extremism masquerading as a benign endeavor seeking to erode our constitution in favor of a one world government.

I believe that Texas is a unique state that is rich in energy resources.  Coal, oil and natural gas reserves buried deep beneath the soil will serve as a source of energy for decades to come but only if we stay committed to protecting a balanced approach of utilizing all the tools in the energy toolbox. 

If you don’t know already, I am in the strongest terms considering a run for the Texas Railroad Commission, for the open seat being vacated by EAJ. There will be others that will want to speak to you, others that will want to convince you that they are more qualified with no other qualifications than they are from MIDLAND, or because they were in the Texas House of Reps for 20+ years.I believe in the promise that is Texas, I believe in our potential, in our resources and in our workforce.  I believe that Texas can and will serve as a model for other states and ultimately for the federal government on how to responsibly blend the use of fossil fuels with the promise of renewable energies, but only if we stand together and fight for a better tomorrow.  It is imperative that we continue to expose the ideology of the current administration as flawed.  Make no mistake, the EPA has placed a bulls eye on Texas and as I have discussed here today they will continue their fight to strangle us with regulations.  It is our charge to stand against the forces that unite against us while at the same time understanding our responsibility to lead the way in protecting our natural resources and advancing New Energy Technologies.   I believe that Energy innovation should come in response to technological and entrepreneurial innovation, not in response to government mandates or dooms-day scenarios that will never come to pass.  My challenge to you is to leave here today and continue to arm yourself with the currency of our democracy, KNOWLEDGE” and to begin the process of reclaiming our country.  I want to leave you with the words of Abraham Lincoln as a reminder of why it is time to stand and be heard, time to remind our leaders what our beliefs and values are: “…That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from this earth.”   

Ladies and Gentleman We are Texans, Powering a Brighter Tomorrow

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak to you today, God Bless America and God Bless Texas.

Wake up People

While You Were Sleeping

All that is occurring today is the coopting of the “Occupy” model by people with a vested interest in distracting us from what is real.  The occupy movement is the single creation of the progressive movement that they “perceived” to have worked.  Rally the radicals to shift blame from those who are truly responsible for their own life.   If you are poor, blame the banks.  If you’re uneducated, blame republicans.  If your wallet isn’t flush then blame the fat cats on Wall Street.  Shifting focus from what is actually wrong to what you want to be wrong in order to advance an agenda and an ideology, that is the game being played and Americans are the pawns. 

The Zimmerman / Trayvon fiasco is a creation of those hoping to shift your focus.  It is nothing more than the real life version of the Wizard or Oz, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain pulling the levers.  Under this administration and their model for and vision of America we have been fed false story after false story to cover up their unmitigated failures.  The fury being whipped up over tis case is just the latest attempt to distract us from where we find ourselves today.  We have accepted $3.50 a gallon gas as normal.  We have accepted higher taxes and we have accepted the new name change for higher taxes. “Fines.”  We have accepted the never-ending printing of money to sustain a failed economic plan.  We have accepted unemployment rates of over 7%.  We have accepted deficit spending as a very real form of budget control.  We have accepted the idea that creating more energy options in this country is bad.  We have accepted the idea that you can actually “Lead from behind” (I still don’t get that one.)  We have accepted the idea that America and the America dream needs to be fundamentally transformed.  We have accepted entitlements and welfare over hard work and responsibility.  We have accepted bloated government over original intent.  

The list could go on and on, the point I am making is simple.  Rather than talk about what the real cancers are, the cancers killing the America that took generations to build, rather than having an honest discussion we are busy focusing on the latest faux outrage perpetuated by the mainstream media and the political elite.   Wake up America, you are being manipulated to fight a decades old war by a desperate and disingenuous crowd.  They don’t want you asking why unemployment remains unnecessarily high and why unemployment is at never before seen levels for minorities.  They don’t want you asking questions about why we cant fuel our own country with fuel FROM OUR OWN COUNTRY.  They don’t want you to ask why electricity would have to necessarily skyrocket (President Obama’ exact words).  They don’t want you asking why the Arab Spring has put us in more danger today than at any other time.  They don’t want you asking why the NSA needs to store all the meta data for every single phone call made or collect and store your digital footprint just in case they ever “Need” to rule you out as a suspect in case a terrorist accidentally calls or emails you.  They don’t want you asking why the IRS does anything, just that you trust that they have your interest at heart.  They don’t want you asking why our economy hasn’t improved.  They don’t want you asking why healthcare needs to be turned over to the IRS.  They don’t want you asking why the Fed needs to print money to prop up an economy if their plan to spend more and tax more is working.  

They don’t want you asking “Why” to anything other than the pre-packaged predetermined questions that they have baked up to serve to you as the latest distraction from their failures.  This administration has clamped down hard on the philosophy of never letting a good crisis go to waste.  Who cares if the crisis could rip a country in half?  They don’t, they just care that they own the conversation of the day because when they win YOU lose.  Asking why begs an answer, an answer they don’t want to give.  It is not because they don’t have an answer, it is because the answer they have isn’t one that “We The People” would swallow easily or willingly.  Do not be a fool, do not be fooled, this is the latest diversionary tactic co-opted by this administration to distract you from asking WHY.  Of course, that is just my take.