Knoxville News-Sentinel - Greg Johnson
In an Oct. 21 floor speech, Alexander warned President Barack Obama and his Chicago gang of the implications of its strike-and-silence communications strategy, comparing the White House's efforts to delegitimize Fox News and the Chamber of Commerce while denigrating health insurance companies to President Richard Nixon's infamous enemies list.
"I have an uneasy feeling only 10 months into this new administration that we are beginning to see the symptoms of this same kind of animus developing in the Obama administration," Alexander said. Alexander noted that Obama and his cronies had "called out," in the president's words, Alexander and Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, for questioning the dozens of "czars" in the White House.
"These are unusually difficult times, with plenty of forces encouraging us to disagree," Alexander said. "Let's not start calling people out and compiling an enemies list." Alexander got guff from critics who said Nixon's list was secret and that Nixon used the federal government to go after his adversaries. Distinctions with no difference; Obama's intent is Nixonian - destroy those who disagree.
And equally controversial, Alexander wrote the cover story for the Oct. 26 Newsweek. Alexander wrote that students could complete college in three years, saving them, their parents and society thousands of dollars and years of time.
"Within academic departments, tenure, combined with age-discrimination laws, make faculty turnover - critical for a university to remain current in changing times - difficult," Alexander wrote. "Instead of protecting speech and encouraging diversity and innovative thinking, the tenure system often stifles them: aspiring professors must win the approval of established colleagues for tenure, encouraging likemindedness and sometimes inhibiting the free flow of ideas."
Noting "many colleges and universities are stuck in the past," Alexander compared colleges to the auto industry and warned of sclerotic decline unless colleges change. After detailing several ideas, Alexander concluded, "These sorts of innovations can help American universities, long the example to the world, avoid the perils of success."
On Monday, Alexander briefed journalists on climate change legislation. Alexander said he believed climate change to be real and that humans caused some of it but that Obama's own budget director, Peter Orzag, has called cap and trade, in its current form, "the largest corporate welfare program that has ever been enacted in the history of the United States."
Alexander cited analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that predicted cap and trade could cause Gross Domestic Product to drop by 1 percent to 3.5 percent per year by 2050.
"(This bill) deliberately kills jobs and makes Americans poorer," Alexander said. "I agree with the inconvenient problem. I'm going to propose an inconvenient solution." Alexander advocates building 100 new nuclear plants, electrifying half of the nation's cars and trucks, exploring offshore for natural gas and starting "mini-Manhattan Projects" to research and develop carbon capture techniques, efficient batteries, cost-effective solar technology and nuclear waste disposal.
"We're not going to win a war with sailboats," Alexander said. "We're not going to solve the carbon problem with windmills and solar panels." And that statement, along with criticizing the Obama administration and academe, is sure to warm Alexander's world.
Greg Johnson's columns appear on Wednesdays, Fridays and the second Sunday of each month. Read more on his blog at http://blogs.knoxnews.com/johnson/. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.