Hurricane Alley… by J. D. Longstreet

The Middle East: Reporting an Enigma … Alan Caruba

Posted in Afghanistan, Journalists, Middle East, Paranoia by J. D. Longstreet on December 2, 2009

The Middle East: Reporting an Enigma

By Alan Caruba

When President Obama delivers a speech on why he is going to send more thousands of U.S. troops and spend more billions on the eight-year-old conflict in Afghanistan, it would be a good idea to better understand why so much of what is reported from the Middle East suffers a great disconnect from the truth.

In 1998, Joris Luyendijk , a Dutch student who had studied Arabic at Cairo University for a year, was offered a job as a Middle East correspondent for a Dutch news agency despite having no experience as a reporter. What followed was his real education about the Middle East and the way it is presented to the West by the news media.

His book about that experience, “People Like Us: Misrepresenting the Middle East” was initially published in the Netherlands in 2006 and has since then it has been translated and published in Hungary, Italy, Denmark and Germany. In October an English edition was published by Soft Scull Press, an imprint of Counterpoint, a Berkeley, California publisher.

Having begun my career as a journalist, I was interested to learn what Luyendijk had taken from his years hopping around the Middle East before and after 9/11 and during the two Iraq wars waged by the U.S. to resolve a problem called Saddam Hussein.

For anyone digesting the news from his morning newspaper or watching it on television, suspecting that it might be biased or wrong, this book that focuses on reporting from the Middle East is a revelation because Luyendijk strives mightily to expose the way the news is manipulated by all the parties involved.

Covering his experiences from 1998 to 2003, the author is refreshingly candid, admitting that, despite his student year in Cairo, he had little or no real understanding of Egypt or the rest of the Middle East.

There is, however, one thing that anyone can understand. The Middle East is composed of dictatorships and the sole purpose of each one is to survive. To do that, their people must be constantly indoctrinated and fearful. That is made possible by rendering them, individually and as a group, powerless. There simply is no such thing as justice or the opportunity to express an opinion in opposition to the leader.

Significantly, those living in the Middle East cannot make an informed judgment of what is occurring around them because they operate two points of view that are very real to them. First is a widely accepted sense of victimhood, and, second, they believe that Israel, ultimately, is manipulating the entire world!  

Conversely, Americans who have no contact with the Middle East beyond the headlines and snapshots of bloodshed and warfare are comparably unable to make informed judgments about a people who differ among themselves in many ways.

The Middle East is very different from the West and Luyendijk believes that few in the West are even vaguely aware that those who live there live in a parallel universe; one that functions by the rules of ruthless dictatorships, by tribes, and by a religion that is hostile to all others.

Democracy is not likely to take root in the Middle East and this can be traced to the prevailing religion of the region, Islam. The only reason democracy occurred in Turkey is because the founder of the modern state, Ataturk, isolated Islam from the conduct of governance and that has been backed up by an army that has, thus far, ensured the separation.

The only other democracy in the Middle East is, of course, Israel. Lebanon’s effort has been steadily undermined by Hezbollah, Islamists who are an instrument of Iran.

The news coverage by Western reporters tends not to reflect the fact that Western powers have long supported the gaggle of monarchs and despots in the Middle East, at least until they saw fit to replace them. For this and for its interventions, the people of the Middle East quite naturally see the West as part of the oppression under which they live.

“EVERYONE IS AGAINST US. It’s banged into ordinary Arabs through the media and their education from a very young age, so don’t expect them to be pro-western.”

For a Western journalist, that means having to operate in societies where their reports are closely monitored and where access to events repeatedly reveal how staged they are, whether it’s a mass rally or whether it is those they interview who know that one wrong word can get them imprisoned, tortured, and even killed. The journalists, too, are at risk.

The “truth” in such a place is an impossibility. The “truth” does not exist for those who live in the Middle East and is carefully filtered by the Western news agencies that cover it for people who live thousands of miles away. The task is to report on an enigma.

Citing a group trip to Saddam’s Baghdad arranged by the Cairo Foreign Press Association, Luyendijk says, “It was complete madness. The secret-service minders practically sat on our laps. They’d regularly leave us waiting in lobbies for hours on end without any explanation, and then shove us into taxies for an excursion.”

Though a novice journalist in 1998, Luyendijk quickly “abandoned the idea that you would know what was going on in the world if you followed the news generated by the twenty dictatorships of the region “or reported by the correspondents for Western news agencies.

”There were virtually no reliable and verifiable figures or statistics against which I could I could (report) in a broader perspective.” Information is power and it was controlled by the dictators. The foreign press was and is a pawn in the game.

“When something big happens, the (Western) public wants to know things that the correspondent can’t find out.” The result is a lot of nebulous speculation or regurgitation of previous news.

While those in the West are accustomed to fairly rapid progress, the Middle East defies this because the currents that determine events are rooted in events that may have occurred a hundred or a thousand years earlier.

The hatreds, the lack of trust, the resentments, the rivalry for power, the need to survive, all jostle together in an impenetrable jumble in which one young, Dutch reporter found common human elements, “people like us”, but people whose protests subject them to arrest and execution.

Alan Caruba writes a daily post at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com. An author, business and science writer, he is the founder of The National Anxiety Center.

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Rethinking the Middle East … by Alan Caruba

Rethinking the Middle East

By Alan Caruba

 

After 9/11 much of my thinking reflected the general view that Al Qaeda had to be found and destroyed. I thought, too, that Saddam Hussein had to be removed as an obstacle to stability in the Middle East given his invasion of Kuwait and general belligerence.

 

Since those days I have had plenty of time to reassess my views of U.S. policies and to educate myself regarding the Middle East. A lot of my thinking had been based on the inescapable fact that the U.S. and the West needs access to Middle Eastern oil.

 

U.S. policy since the days of Franklin Delano Roosevelt has been support for Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, providing protection of the sea lanes that transport oil and, in the case of Iraq, protecting the Saudi kingdom against attack. This was the reason for the original U.S. effort to remove Saddam’s Iraq from Kuwait and the subsequent invasion that was based on less than accurate intelligence reports of an Iraqi buildup of weapons of mass destruction.

 

For a long time, there has been a general consensus that a “clash of civilizations” between the West and Islam was inevitable, but it is more of a clash between civilization and nihilism. The global war on terror influenced U.S. actions as the rationale for the second invasion of Iraq was, in part, to introduce democracy to the Middle East.

 

There have been two factors that have complicated U.S. policy toward the Middle East. One was the establishment in 1948 of the state of Israel, a response to the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust that combined with the Zionist movement that began in the late 1800s as a response to the anti-Semitism of Europe and Russia. It received support from the newly-established United Nations, but nations in the Middle East reacted unanimously against the return of Jews to their former, ancient homeland. No surprise here; the Koran demonizes both Jews and Christians.

 

The other factor was the Islamic Revolution that erupted in Iran in 1979, a defeat of the American influence in that nation’s affairs linked in no small measure to its oil. The later defeat of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan led many in the Middle East to believe that Islam could defeat Western efforts to control the region. Western hegemony in the region had begun in earnest following World War I and the end of the Ottoman Empire.

 

The weapon of choice of the new Islamic Revolution was terror and, if invaded, a slow, grinding insurgency. This is why Iraq and future theatres of war will take a long time to play out.

 

What most policy makers in the U.S. and the West tend to ignore is the fact that the nations of the Middle East differed considerably in they way they are governed and, most importantly, in the near total lack of cohesion or cooperation among them.

 

In a recent commentary from the Middle East Forum, Michael Rubin noted that, “For more than a millennium, Damascus, Baghdad and Cairo have competed for leadership of the Arab world.” The establishment of Israel “became a useful template around which they could posture and against whom they could act as each sought to outdo its rivals in a claim to Arab leadership.”

 

Following World War II, a number of Middle East nations adopted the worst of Western concepts of governance, namely fascism and socialism. Baathism rose in Syria and Iraq, but only served to increase their rivalry. As Rubin points out, “Unity is not an Arab virtue,” adding that Baghdad, Cairo and Damascus “will never coexist as partners.”

 

This is not unique to the region because anyone paying any attention knows that all nations act in what they perceive as their own best interests. Some that share common historical and cultural views are more prone toward cooperation while others such as Russia measure their success against U.S. and European strength or weakness. In the Middle East, however, its culture prevents any useful, long term cooperation.

 

In an excellent analysis published in the November edition of Energy Tribune, Leon Hadar, a research fellow at the Cato Institute, demolishes many of the “intellectual constructs that reflect the imaginations of their promoters, not necessarily reality,” adding that “reality tends to bite.” The neocons of the outgoing Bush administration and the Republican Party learned this to their regret.

 

“The time has come,” wrote Hadar, “to challenge the grand idea that the Muslim world (or the Middle East, or the Arab world—terms that seem interchangeable in the American media) has a unique and monolithic political and economic culture that makes it resistant to the West’s modernizing effects.”  The analysis can be read in full at

http://www.energytribune.com/articles.cfm?aid=1009

 

If Middle Eastern Arabs decide to become “more like us”, it will be at a time of their own choosing. Iranians, being Persian, share Islam, but have their own agenda in the region, giving rise to Arab fears concerning their apparent intent to achieve hegemony there. If and when Iran gets nuclear weapons and starts throwing its weight around, a lot of Arabs are going to begin to think of America as their best friend in the whole world.

 

It should be obvious, too, that the deep schisms within Islam, Shiite and Sunni, will continue to divide the region between the majority Sunnis and what is widely perceived within Islam as a breakaway sect of Shiites who are a majority only in Iraq and Iran. Hadar correctly points out that the Middle East “is a mosaic of nation-states, ethnic groups, religious sects, and tribal groups, and a mishmash of political ideologies, economic systems, and cultural orientations.”

 

All of which suggests to me that the same policy of “containment” that worked for nearly forty-five years regarding the former Soviet communist regime would be a wiser approach to the Middle East than an endless number of military engagements that even our European allies are reluctant to pursue.

 

After World War II, the U.S. occupied the defeated nations of Germany and Japan for about seven years to ensure they would create their own democratic governments and economic systems. After that, the U.S. extended its military protection to them and everywhere else Soviet ambitions threatened.

 

The result was a stalemate in Korea that yielded a successful South Korean state, and a defeat in Vietnam that continues to influence American policy. We still do not recognize communist Cuba, but we have entered into an economic co-dependence with Red China. Go figure?

 

Just as the declining price of oil and gas brought down a Soviet government dependent on these exports, the Russian Federation will face the same contingency. Meanwhile, a decline in the price of a barrel of oil and the price of natural gas may, if long term, require Middle Eastern nations to review their policies as well.

 

The best thing America can do right now is to open up its own vast reserves of oil and natural gas that remain unexplored and untapped off of 85% of our continental shelf and to do the same in ANWR. We need to stop demonizing coal and we need to build more nuclear plants.

 

These actions would put the U.S. back in a position to improve our economy and protect us against pressures from the Middle East, Russia, and elsewhere. I have serious doubts the Obama administration will do this.

 

Things change. U.S. policies will change. Not every policy, but gradually events, some of which we have set in motion in Iraq as part of the global war on terror, will bring about change if we are smart enough, strong enough, and patient enough to watch and wait.

 

Alan Caruba writes a daily blog at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com. Every week, he posts a column on the website of The National Anxiety Center, www.anxietycenter.com.

 

© Alan Caruba, December 2008

 

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Time For Obama To Pay Up! Clinton To Become Sec. State

By J. D. Longstreet

The Clintons are like a bad rash that no medicine you swallow, or ointment you rub on it, can make go away.  The Clintons have that sort of staying power.  Completely oblivious to the depth of low estate in which so much of the public holds them, they hang on to power.  Like an addict lusting after the next fix they seem to be willing to go to any lengths to maintain a place for themselves near the center of power. Like old, tired, comic book characters they plod through the pages of our history long after their embarrassing antics have lost their power to amuse.

 

I remember the euphoria that sped through the bloodstream of much of America when the Clintons were ushered out of the White House the first time around. The battle cry of conservatives, the country over, was: “Take out the trash!”  And we THOUGHT we had.  Turns out we were mistaken.  We underestimated the willingness of the Clintons to do whatever it takes to stay connected to the center of power in Washington, DC.

 

So… we learned over the weekend that Obama would make public, actually CONFIRM, something we have all known for many weeks now, his choice for Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.   If Obama had wanted to find some way to tell us all (in no uncertain words) that a deal was struck with Hillary and Bill during the primaries he couldn’t have found a better way to do it.  I wonder if he understands how weak this makes him appear in the eyes of… not only the American voters but of the armies of diplomats the world over?

Editor’s note: For another interesting take on the appointment of Hillary Clinton to the office of US Secretary of State visit the blog of my friend Alan Caruba at:
http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com/2008/11/improbable-events.html)

I cannot believe the man understands what he will be doing by nominating Hillary. Does he understand he will get Bill, too?  Does he understand the danger for embarrassment the Clintons bring to his administration? Apparently not.  Or, is he so puffed up by his own ego, and the Obama Battalions in the Mainstream Media, that he actually believes he can muzzle the Clintons or keep them on a leash? 

 

Does Obama understand the administration he, or his minions, is/are constructing is actually the Third Clinton Administration?  Does he understand the Clinton’s fingerprints are all over the people he has chosen, or been forced to choose, to fill the slots in the next administration so far?  I don’t think he does.  It is beginning to look more and more like an Obama figurehead government. So far, there is no Obama imprint on the next presidential administration… at all.  Well, look at it for yourself… and you cannot help but be convinced that Obama is being run by someone, certainly not himself.

 

We are more convinced, than ever, that Obama was chosen for the presidential candidate’s slot precisely because of his inexperience and his naiveté and his inability to stand up to the master politicians… the Clintons.  Obama was their ticket, all along, to a return to the center of power. 

 

The Obama boosters in the Mainstream Media, and that includes darned near all members of the media, are busy propping up that façade so carefully placed around the group of Clintonites Obama has been directed to choose.  (What, you don’t think he chose those people himself, do you?)  They’re being referred to, already as the “best and the brightest.”  Well us old mossbacks, who have been around for more than two decades, and have the scars to prove it, have heard and seen all this before. The JFK administration was referred to that way.  Right off the bat, Kennedy’s “Best and the Brightest” gave us the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and began the escalation of the US Military in Vietnam from advisors to combat troops.  The stories of the days of the  “Kennedy Camelot,” with which the Media loves to regale us, never happened.  The term, itself, was not even used, in reference to the Kennedy Administration, until after the death of JFK. Yes, facts are sometimes inconvenient … as in, oh, say, history.

 

So far Obama has done absolutely nothing but underscore our belief that he is an empty suit, a puppet being manipulated by someone else pulling his strings.

 

All this time I was hoping Obama wasn’t as weak as I thought he was. Yet he persists in doing exactly what we had expected, exactly what we had warned Obama supporters of, with the full support of an adoring press who will not miss a single opportunity to prop him up dare he fail.

 

One question continues to go ‘round in my head. Who is pulling Obama’s strings?  Who IS the REAL President?

 

J. D. Longstreet

The UN Celebrates “Palestinians”, Hates Jews … by Alan Caruba

The UN Celebrates “Palestinians”, Hates Jews

By Alan Caruba

 

On Monday, November 24, the United Nations will commemorate its annual “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People”, a hate-filled day that ignores its own role in the establishment of Israel.

 

An international institution that trumpets its Universal Declaration of Human Rights while openly seeking the destruction of the population of one of its member nations is so inherently debased that it should cease to exist.

 

The notion that the United States of America should continue to participate in the UN on the grounds that it is the only forum or means to resolve conflicts is absurd.

 

Monday’s observance marks November 29, 1947, the day that the United Nations voted to establish a Jewish and an Arab state in what was formerly the Palestinian Mandate whose administration had been ceded to Great Britain following the end of World War One.

 

The State of Israel was not created out of “Palestinian” lands. It was part of the Ottoman Empire that had ruled much of the Middle East for four hundred years and which, at the Versailles conference following the end of WWI, was divided into nations conjured up by England and France. Among the newly designated nations were Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq.

 

There were no “Palestinian” people claiming a land called Palestine. Most of the Arabs regarded themselves as living in the southern portion of Syria.

 

The 1947 UN partition plan mandated the creation of two states on the remaining twenty percent of the Palestine Mandate. There was to be the State of Israel for the Jews and a new state for the Arabs.

 

What happened, however, was that the Arabs rejected a state of their own and launched a genocidal war against Israel. The war was the primary cause of the Arab refugee problem that exists today because none of the Arab nations in the region would accept the refugees and the UN facilitated their permanent status and continues to do so today.

 

There were, however, Jewish refugees. Between 1949 and 1954, an estimated 800,000 Jews were forced to flee the Arab and Muslims lands where they had lived for hundreds of years. In addition, many European Jews who had survived the Nazi Holocaust migrated to Israel. Later they would be followed by the persecuted Jews of Russia and other lands.

 

On Monday afternoon, the UN General Assembly will convene to discuss the “Question of Palestine” and if this is redolent of the Nazi “Final Solution” the comparison is accurate. The General Assembly is scheduled to adopt six resolutions condemning only Israel for violations of human rights. This will bring the total thus far this year to twenty such resolutions as opposed to four resolutions critical of any of the remaining 191 UN member nations.

 

Israel is not “occupying” land that belongs to a Palestinian state because no such state exists. It has occupied land won repeatedly in combat for its very existence. In recent years it ceded the Gaza strip to the Palestinian Liberation Authority, Fatah, but the result has been that Hamas drove Fatah from Gaza at gunpoint and now uses it to launch rockets against Israel on a daily basis. The West Bank, by any international standard, is a legitimate part of Israel.

 

The Arabs who did not flee Israel in 1947 were the lucky ones. They were able to remain in the only functioning, true democracy in the Middle East and today their children and grandchildren number more than a million Israel citizens, some of whom serve in the Israeli Knesset or parliament, on the Israeli Supreme Court benches, and as tenured professors in Israeli colleges and universities.

 

The United Nations continues to promulgate the most offensive anti-Semitism found anywhere in the world and Monday’s observance is just one aspect of it. Its “Durban II” conference on racism to be held in Geneva in April 2009 will be a repeat of the hateful first conference that was boycotted by several nations, including the United States. It should be condemned and avoided by all nations that take the professed UN Human Rights declaration at its word.

 

Those attending Monday’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People should be hosed down and driven from the chambers where it is held. The General Assembly should be seen for what it is, a place of shame, duplicity, and genocidal hatred in which no civilized nation should take its seat.

 

November 24, 2008

Alan Caruba

 

 

 

 

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America’s Group Hug About To End

America’s Group Hug About to End

BY J. D. Longstreet

As I watch, read, and listen to the MsM report the news of Obama’s selection of those people he wants to serve in his administration, it occurred to me that the change he had promised was simply a change… back to the Clinton Administration. 

 

Remember how it is when you begin watching a TV show that is a rerun, but you are not aware of it in the opening moments?  As the characters begin to flash onto the screen and the plot becomes more and more familiar it slowly dawns on you that you have seen this show before.  As I watch Obama gather his merry band together, that is exactly the feeling I get.  I have seen this show before.  Eight years ago.  So… it IS “Change BACK”!

 

Well, what about HOPE?  Remember… Bill Clinton was “The Man From HOPE!”

 

Look, the dems are nothing if they are not persistent.  They don’t seem to have had a NEW idea in decades.  They are still running elections with the same promises and pledges and even the same phraseology in their speeches that FDR used in his. So it should not be surprising that the Obama Administration looks so very much like the Clinton Administration because, for all intents and purposes, it IS the same.  All Democratic Party Presidential Administrations are the same. 

 

As soon as Americans stop slapping themselves on the back and congratulating themselves for making history, and overcoming “White Guilt”, and ending racism, and all that baloney, it will dawn on them that they have been had… again.

 

Soon, it will become clear that Americans, well, SOME Americans, are expecting entirely too much of Obama. Too much was promised and too little will be delivered.

 

Lowering expectations is the order of the day on the democratic side of the aisle.  Very serious democrats, in and out of the Mainstream Media, and in and out of the Democratic Party apparatus, are telling us to not expect so much from Obama.  Of course, that is exactly the opposite of what they were telling us just a few weeks ago.  Way back then they were promising miracles, hinting that Obama could heal the sick, make the lame to walk, the blind to see, the mute to speak, and there was a better than 50/50 chance that Obama could walk all the way across the Potomac… on his bare feet!  And yet, today, we are told that we should lower our expectations. This is all a bit much.  But this is what you get when the candidate is a blank slate upon which the voters can write their own expectations, their own desires, and, yes, their own fantasies. 

 

That American group hug, we mentioned at the beginning of this article, is slowly breaking apart as Americans begin to look up and cast their eyes in the direction of Obama’s selectees for his cabinet.  There’s some anxiety about its reflection of the Clinton Administration.  Then, too, the confirmation that among Obama’s foreign policy plans is one to lean on Israel to retreat back to it’s borders as they were before they were attacked by their Arab neighbors in 1967 and had to fight for their very existence.  In the war that ensued, Israel recaptured the old city of Jerusalem thereby reuniting it.  Now, apparently, the US is going to insist Israel turn it back over to the people who call themselves Palestinians. This has caused a stir in Israel and there is now some strain between Jews in Israel and those Jews in America who supported the Obama campaign.  They are NOT a happy bunch, at the moment. Neither are the Evangelical Christians in America and around the world.  But, then, Evangelical Christians did not support Obama and won’t.

 

And there is more, much, more to come. 

 

Too much is being expected of Obama by the Germans, the Iraqis, the Afghanis, the Georgians, most of eastern Europe, and all of Africa.  Here at home, in America, too much is being expected of Obama by the African-Americans, the White Americans, the Spanish-Americans, the Gay Americans, the unborn Americans, the poor Americans, the sick Americans, the old Americans, the young Americans, even those busy breaking into America across our wide open southern border in hopes of change with Obama.

 

Disappointment comes first.  Then comes dissatisfaction. Then comes disaster. After all, Obama is but a man. How he handles these three “D” words will define him for history.

 

Unlike George Bush, or any Republican President, Obama will have the added luxury of a Mainstream Media to justify his mistakes, his shortcomings, his disgraces, etc, to the nation and the world. After all, he is THEIR man and they will not allow him to fail. 

 

Clear thinking Americans, both republican and democrats, know whom America elected and they are worried.  They have reason to worry. America is as vulnerable as it was before World War Two… and every bit as naive.  In a country like America, vulnerability and naiveté can bring on disaster.  Anything can happen. Like a blind man negotiating a minefield, America must tread softly, and carefully, over the next few years.  Inexperienced leadership was not what the country needed, but that is what we have. Americans are now trusting in blind luck to get us through.

 

Me?  I pray a lot.

 

J. D. Longstreet 

 

 

Turning Boom into Bust … by Alan Caruba

Turning Boom into Bust

By Alan Caruba

 

Energy is called “the master resource” because every other aspect of life operates off of it. Nations that are rich in energy resources such as oil, natural gas, and coal, grow wealthy.

 

There is also something called “the curse of oil” because, if the price per barrel drops, the fate of some nations goes with it. This is the case, for example, of the former Soviet Russia whose government collapsed when it could no longer secure hard currency when oil and gas prices fell. Venezuela is an economic basket case these days, having nationalized oil and most of its financial and business sectors.

 

The history of nationalized oil and gas-rich nations is that they tend not to invest in their energy industries. They do not engage in sufficient exploration. They do not expand their capacity to extract their natural resources or to refine it. We have seen otherwise oil-rich nations like Mexico encounter financial tremors as in the 1990s when the Clinton administration had to loan Mexico billions to keep it functioning.

 

America has adopted anti-energy policies because of incessant environmental propaganda about “dirty” coal, out of the fear of nuclear power, and the refusal to permit exploration of 85% of the continental shelf and, of course, Alaska’s ANWR area, a tiny fraction of that State’s landmass.

 

If Congress imposes a windfall profits tax on the American oil industry, it will quite simply wreck the economy. As my friend, Seldon B. Graham, Jr., a longtime oil industry attorney as well as a petroleum engineer, points out, “”President Jimmy Carter started the ethanol subsidy on November 9, 1978 and signed the oil windfall profits tax on April 2, 1980.”

 

In effect, Carter put in motion an anti-oil policy that has existed for over three decades. Why is that a bad thing? The ethanol policy has severely disrupted the price of food worldwide as corn is diverted into fuel. The justification for this is “energy independence” from the purchase of foreign oil, but U.S.-produced oil has always been cheaper than imported oil.

 

If, however, the government creates conditions under which it is simply too risky, too expensive or prohibited to explore for more oil reserves, obviously oil production declines. There has been a 59% decline in U.S. oil production since 1980, the year the windfall profits tax was imposed. It was later repealed, but U.S. oil companies have a responsibility to their investors to act prudently and that has driven them to explore for oil outside of the U.S. or, to put it another way, to find foreign oil.

 

When you add in the idiotic ethanol mandates, you compound the problem. Graham points out that, “After thirty years, U.S. ethanol production was only able to produce less than 3% of our oil demand last year.” Moreover, “ethanol cost taxpayers $3.3 billion in subsidies in 2007.” Environmental claims that ethanol is cleaner than oil are false. Not only do you get less energy and poor mileage when ethanol is blended with gasoline, it actually emits more carbon dioxide per mile. “It is absolutely impossible for ethanol to replace foreign oil,” says Graham.

 

The justification for a windfall profits tax on oil companies ignores, for example, that ExxonMobil, just one of the few remaining oil companies operating in the U.S., pays more than $100 billion in taxes on the average. 

 

Less than 11% of ExxonMobil’s profits come from marketing and refining in the United States and the company recently announced it was spinning off its retail outlets.  Yes, it made great profits in recent years, but it also had enormous, risk-filled expenses.

 

Imposing a windfall profits tax on oil companies will give them cause to consider moving their corporate headquarters to other more congenial nations. The city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates has been engaged in a vast office building effort, perhaps anticipating the movement of corporate headquarters.

 

Americans greeted the expiration of the ban on offshore exploration and drilling with the expectation that American oil would begin to flow and thus lower their costs for this vital national asset. That will not happen if the President or a Democrat controlled Congress reinstates the ban and/or imposes a windfall profits tax.

 

The city of Houston has been enjoying a boom due to the increase in the cost of a barrel of oil. Even at $80 dollars a barrel, it is enough to have created “its strongest resurgence in more than 20 years” according to a 2007 New York Times article about Houston. “Some energy companies are expanding and putting up new buildings.” Others, like Schlumberger among the hundreds of service providers to the energy industry have established their headquarters in Houston.

 

Houston is home to the headquarters of ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, and foreign owned companies like Citgo, BP and Royal Dutch Shell also maintain corporate offices there.

About half of Houston’s jobs, an estimated 1.1 million positions, are tied to the energy industry. The impact of a windfall profits tax would prove devastating to Houston.

 

Destroying the oil industry in America, a process that has been in place since the Carter administration, has left the nation vulnerable to foreign sources. The U.S. already imports some 70% of its oil. There has been a significant decline in the exploration and development of national reserves.

 

Unleashing the energy industries in America could dramatically improve our present financial troubles. Congress, having turned boom into bust, has a historical opportunity to reverse that trend.

 

Editor’s Note: “Why Your Gasoline Prices Are High” by Seldon B. Graham ($10.95) is available from Amazon.com.

 

Alan Caruba writes a weekly column posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center, www.anxietycenter.com. He blogs daily at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com.

 

© Alan Caruba, November 2008

 

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Will Israel Strike Iran If Obama Objects? … By J. D. Longstreet

Yes!  I believe she will.

 

Forgive me, but I cannot SEE Israel sitting around waiting on the Europeans, the Americans and the UN and the IAEA to do something about Iran… much longer.

 

The Israelis see all this “jaw-jawing” as just what it is… putting off an impending event. Israel cannot afford to wait.  Their very lives depend on the nuclear facilities of Iran being taken out.

 

Any morning now, I expect to awaken to news reports that unmarked aircraft conducted massive bombing raids over Iran and immense damage was done to Iran’s nuclear factories and research plants.  Of course, there will be a slew of reports of collateral damage. The Mainstream Media, in order to be sure we all understand, will report the deaths of uncounted women and children by these dastardly phantoms of the air!

 

Now… this is going to happen!  I see no way of preventing it now, at all.  The US has only two choices … they are… to be ahead of the curve… or behind it.  With, or without US help, Israel is going to defend itself and if that means pre-emptive air attacks on Iran and the use of Israeli nuclear weapons, then so be it.

 

There is now concern that an Obama Administration will not allow Israel to fly through Iraqi airspace, a route the IAF needs to get to Iran, drop their payloads, and get back to Israel.

 

Some time ago, I read an unconfirmed report concerning an Israeli plan to force their way through Iraqi airspace by taking on US air forces in air to air combat in order to allow enough of their bomb laden aircraft to get through to Iraq and bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities.  It is understood by the Israeli airmen that if such a mission is undertaken by the IAF it will be considered a suicide mission. 

 

The tiny country of Israel is sort of like Fort Apache.  It’s surrounded by hostiles and it cannot survive a first strike.  It has no choice but to strike first and continue the strikes as long as it takes to remove the threat.  They cannot consider what the US wants, nor Great Britain, no the Europeans, nor the UN.  This is THEIR LIVES they will be defending.

 

Within 24 hours of the nation of Israel being created by the United Nations she was attacked by hordes of Muslims.  She fought them off and has continued to fight them off throughout their history. 

 

Israel has stated publicly that she will not hesitate to use nuclear weapons IF she believes her chances of survival are slim to none otherwise. 

 

The remainder of the world had best prepare.  All the negotiations, underway now, and all the posturing by the diplomats of the world, are accomplishing absolutely nothing.  As soon as Israel feels the time is right, they will strike.

 

We wish them every success.  We pray God that He will, once again, come to the aid of His people and extend His arm of protection over the brave pilots who will participate in the raid.

 

Godspeed IAF!

 

J. D. Longstreet

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We Mourn For a Lost America Today!… by J. D. Longstreet

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We mourn the loss of Freedom, Democracy, and America’s position in the world as a Leader. In place of all these, America has chosen SOCIALISM the “Destroyer of Nations”.


I am ashamed of my fellow Americans for giving up their freedom, their constitution, their liberty, everything the Founding Fathers gave us, for so cheap a price.

The disunity of America is now complete. There is nothing left of that which bound us together. The descent of America, into the ash heap of history, has officially begun. The decline will be relatively swift and excruciatingly painful.

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May God have Mercy on America, on those who warned “the other people who live in this country”. I cannot use “fellow Americans” as that phrase no longer applies. It has been shredded by the Obama Machine and by the Democratic Party.

 

It is now time to prepare for the descent into anarchy. Providence, it seems, has decided punishment is required for those who have defaced and destroyed this land, formerly under His protection, and done so from within.

 

Please consider the following from the Bible… Revelation 6: 1 – 8

(Rev 6:1-8 NIV) I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” {2} I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.

{3} When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” {4} Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword.

{5} When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. {6} Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!”

{7} When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” {8} I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.

Today we mourn the passing of America. Today America is the democrat Socialist States of America. Today the “pale horse” is loosed on the land.

…. by J. D. Longstreet

democrat-socialist-republic-of-america

 

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Afghanistan Will Be Another Vietnam … by Alan Caruba

Afghanistan Will Be Another Vietnam

By Alan Caruba

 

The next President of the United States of America must decide whether to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan or expand our involvement there. Having lived through the long years of the war in Vietnam, I can tell you that Afghanistan looks and smells like Vietnam. It is the classic wrong war in the wrong place.

 

In late October, I read a small news item about Parwiz Kambakhsh, 24, an Afghan journalism student who had downloaded and circulated an article about women’s rights under Islam. The news was that his sentence of death had been overturned by an appellate court that reduced it to a mere twenty years in prison on the charge of blasphemy. He can still appeal to the Supreme Court of Afghanistan. This is the state of freedom of speech, press, and thought in Afghanistan.

 

If you want to know what life was like in the seventh century, Afghanistan is the place to go. It is largely devoid of anything passing for modernity, by which we mean medical facilities, schools, roads, and such. Never mind the telephones and other detritus of modern life, the conversations have not changed in centuries.

 

Afghanistan shares a long border with Pakistan and Iran. Also bordering it is Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Turkistan, and Tajikistan. None of these places is a tourist destination. All are Islamic.

 

The only reliable element of Afghanistan’s economy is poppy cultivation for the opium trade which the CIA estimates generates “roughly $4 billion in illicit economic activity.” This is another way of saying that none of this money reaches what passes for a central government except in the form of bribes. It is a major source of funding for the Taliban.

 

Few Americans were interested in Afghanistan until September 11, 2001. We have had a military presence there for seven years, along with NATO nation components. Much like the “military advisors” that initiated our involvement in Vietnam, today’s generals are calling for more troops.

 

Afghanistan has been conquered and occupied since the days of Alexander the Great. Nothing much comes of it. It remains a mystery why they bothered. Putting too few or too many troops into Afghanistan does little except to demonstrate the futility of trying to impose one’s will on people who have resisted every such effort for centuries.

 

Founded as a nation in 1747 when Ahmad Shah Durrani unified the Pashtun tribes, Afghanistan was primarily seen as a buffer between the British and Russian empires. Democracy, as in most Middle Eastern nations, has never taken root there.

 

It became the graveyard of the Soviet empire after they intervened militarily in 1979 to support a tottering Afghan Communist regime. After they withdrew in 1989, the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. It is now known as the Russian Federation. It is still run by the former KGB. And one wonders why anyone in the U.S. government thinks any good can come of being there?

 

The Taliban took control after the Russians left and Osama bin Laden found a congenial place in which to plan 9/11. That’s why the first U.S. response to the attack occurred in Afghanistan as U.S., allied, and an anti-Taliban Northern Alliance of tribes were able to drive the Taliban across the border into the frontier provinces of Pakistan and elsewhere.

 

The U.S. effort to create a democratic government there began with a new constitution and, in December 2004, the election of Hamid Karzai as president. He barely controls Kabul, the capitol. The southern and eastern regions are still beyond control.

 

In essence, the rule of law barely exists in Afghanistan, if at all, unless you factor in Sharia law which reflects a seventh century approach to justice. The government and all aspects of official life in Afghanistan are so corrupt that even President Karzai’s brother is allegedly on the take.

 

I am not a military strategist, an expert in foreign affairs, or can lay claim to much more than common sense, so I confess it defies my understanding why the United States and our NATO allies are in Afghanistan. Expecting democracy to succeed in such a primitive and hostile place seems more a justification for military occupation than anything else. The whole place is tribal.

 

Other than his distaste for our invasion of Iraq and disposal of Saddam Hussein, it is baffling that Barack Obama says that Afghanistan is the “central front” against al Qaeda. The CIA says it has no bases there. The Taliban—outsiders just like us–have their own agenda as seen in their effort to render the place a complete and total Islamic hellhole.

 

Little wonder, therefore, that word keeps getting out that both English and French military leaders regard Afghanistan as virtually beyond any hope without putting a far greater number of troops there. Millions are being spent as it is. Between 2002 and 2007, Germany spent $80 million to reform its police corps. The U.S. has budgeted $800 million for 2008 to assist its security forces.

 

In early October, General Jean-Louis Geogelin, France’s military chief, confirmed that British Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith remarks that “there is no military solution to the Afghan crisis” reflected his own views. The Brigadier recommended that NATO lower its expectations regarding a happy outcome to the conflict. It was, he said, “unrealistic and probably incredible” to think that the multinational forces in Afghanistan could rid the country of armed bands.

 

There are two occupations available to the Afghans. One can either be a farmer raising poppies or one can join an armed band, be it either the government’s, one’s tribe, or the Taliban’s.

 

In an October 1, 2008 Christian Science Monitor article, it was reported that “The U.S. military is working to put a new strategy in place for Afghanistan and Pakistan that could allow it to expand airfields, preposition military forces and equipment, and prepare for a more robust effort soon against Islamist extremists in the region.” Four more U.S. brigades are poised to be sent to Afghanistan, including one that will deploy in January. 

 

I have my own military strategy. Let’s pull our troops out of Afghanistan and, with their permission, let’s keep enough troops in Iraq to ensure that its government can maintain its security and as a deterrent for any conflict Iran might initiate in the region.

 

The United States of America has a full plate of problems right now. Expending troops and treasure in Afghanistan strikes me as a bad investment in a very nasty place. It is an invitation to repeat the all the errors of Vietnam.

 

Alan Caruba writes a weekly column posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center, www.anxietycenter.com. He blogs daily at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com.

 

© Alan Caruba, November 2008

 

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The Obama Commercial … by Alan Caruba

The Obama Commercial

By Alan Caruba

 

The Wednesday evening half-hour, $4 million dollar television commercial for the candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama was a masterpiece of imagery.

 

It was also entirely devoted to class warfare, class envy, and most of all to fear.

 

This has been the Democrat message since Franklin D. Roosevelt took over the White House in the midst of the Great Depression—the real one, not the Recession the economy has encountered today. We don’t have 15% percent unemployment as was the case in the 1930s, but we do have a vast matrix of costly government programs left over from those times.

 

Obama’s message and the theme of his campaign are those the Democrat Party has always used to acquire political power. They are the promises about tax cuts that mysteriously never occur once they are in office.

 

They are about protecting people from every kind of change that could harm them and they promise “change” as a government that will come to their aid in sickness, in their old age, to help their children attend better schools, to help them go to college, and on, and on, and on.

 

The Obama commercial focused entirely on people struggling against changes in their lives over which they had no control. For example there was a Ford Motor Company couple laid off from their jobs, but no mention is made of the endless federal mandates imposed on all auto companies that drove up the cost of every automobile for everyone, nor the massive union pension and health programs those companies had to agree to in order to stay in business. These and other factors have killed the auto industry in America.

 

The Obama commercial talked of more teachers and better schools, but ever since the 1960s, the creation of the Department of Education, and the rise of the control over all schools by teachers unions, education in America has declined so sharply that we rank behind many other nations and produce students programmed to believe government is the answer but it has been federal government that has destroyed local community control over schools and their curriculum.

 

At one point, Obama said, “I will always be honest with you” and I recalled Jimmy Carter’s promise that “I will never lie to you.” Both candidates arrived out of the political wilderness with very thin resumes to suggest they had the knowledge or ability to run a nation. Carter’s one term in office was a failure in so many ways, but worse, we continue to pay for those failures in foreign and domestic policy.

 

And wasn’t it Obama who promised to accept public funding for his campaign only to renege on that promise?

 

At the end of the Obama commercial the scene shifted to the now familiar large crowd of adoring supporters. How long will that last if Obama cannot make the Recession go away? How long will his popularity last if the homeland comes under attack again and we see a weak response? It was the decade of the 1990s during which a two-term, Democrat Clinton administration failed to respond with strength against al Qaeda’s bombing of our embassies and other targets. By 2001, the targets were the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

 

 It is the unanticipated problems that test a presidency, not ones that have been around for decades. And, if Americans think that government is the answer, they need to remind themselves of Hurricane Katrina.

 

On so many levels, the commercial will have appealed to lots of people, young and old, struggling to pay bills, but the American government works best when it gets out of the way of Americans and let’s them begin new businesses, expand existing ones, and conduct business with the least amount of paperwork and other distractions.

 

That’s not how the government functions these days and, under Obama, the effort to “change” America will continue to add thousands of new laws and regulations to the Federal Register, but the class warfare and class envy will not end, nor will the fear.

 

Alan Caruba writes a weekly column posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center, www.anxietycenter.com. He blogs daily at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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