Hurricane Alley… by J. D. Longstreet

“How Obama and the Democrats will Destroy the U.S. Economy” by Alan Caruba

Please see:

How Obama and the Democrats will Destroy the U.S. Economy” by Alan Caruba at:

http://www.stormwarning.bllogdrive.com/

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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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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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The Pivot Point in American History.

By J. D. Longstreet

 

When you cut through all the smoke and mirrors and hot air this election is about whether the US will continue to exist as a proud, free, nation, or drop into socialist slavery. When historians look back on this day, they will say it was the day, the point in history, which changed America.  Will America remain free, or will America retreat and surrender to the forces of socialism?  The choice is ours, America. 

 

When the great warrior leader of the Israelites, Joshua, had control handed to him upon Moses’ death, the tribes were bickering among themselves as they approached the very doorstep of the Promised Land.  Finally, Joshua had had enough!  He called them together and challenged them:  “Choose you, this day, whom you will serve!  As for me, and my house, we will serve the Lord!”

 

And so it is that today, Americans are called to choose whom they will serve.  We will choose to commission certain, from among us, to have power over us. This is an awesome thing.  It is voluntary submission. But, it is how a representative republic operates. We must be certain that those we elect are not shallow, empty suits, interested in power for power’s sake.  That will defeat the purpose of our republic.  It will also place this republic in immense danger.

 

Our enemies gather today… and watch.   They pray for Americans to turn the power of this government over to those who will appease them.   Their intention is to conquer the US and they will be happy if the electorate of the US makes it much easier for them to accomplish that mission by electing weak spined, naïve, people to fill the seats of power in our government.

 

If we choose today to turn this government over to those who cannot, for whatever reason, understand this nation is at war for it’s life, then there will be a heavy price to pay.  Just as 9-11, and the two wars which followed, in my opinion, was the price we paid for electing the last democratic administration, we can expect an even heavier price for returning that element to power in the government of the US.

 

As I cast my ballot one week ago today, I thought of my family, of my wife, of my children and my grandchildren.  I was reminded that I have a responsibility to ensure, as far as it is within my power, that they have a guaranteed future as a free people. I could not do that by voting for the Democratic Party.  To vote for the freedom and security of my family I had no choice but to vote for the Republican candidates.

 

You see, I believe Americans have forgotten that for a free nation, national security comes first, above all things. Without the security of our nation, nothing else is possible. Without national security even that which has already been accomplished is in danger.  An unsecure nation can only exist at the mercy of it’s enemies. And that mercy, once extended, and accepted, becomes the chain and the shackles that enslave entire nations.    

 

I believe it was the Apostle Paul who once said:  “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of God!”  He was, of course, correct.  I am convinced this nation was created, by God, as a beacon for the people of this world.  As such we Americans are answerable to God for our actions as a nation. We are also told, by the scriptures, that God punishes those he loves.   When we act as a God fearing nation, this nation does well.  When we fail, we pay the price.  When we make the right decisions we prosper.  When we make the wrong decisions we suffer.

 

We stand at the precipice of a decision today.  Two choices are presented for us from which to choose. As agents of free will WE must make that decision. Paraphrasing the words of the ancient Israelite warrior prophet Joshua, “America, choose you, this day, whom you will serve”!  Choose wisely, America, choose wisely.

 

J. D. Longstreet

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San Francisco: the Epicenter of Stupid Ideas … by Alan Caruba

San Francisco: the Epicenter of Stupid Ideas

By Alan Caruba

 

In the 1980s I found myself traveling all over the United States in the employ of a corporation’s quarterly newsletter. I visited many cities and places, discovering the unfailing courtesy and good will of Americans everywhere I went. One of my favorite places was San Francisco. It is picturesque, sits beside a bay spanned by a marvel of engineering, and has great restaurants, hotels, and other attributes.

 

San Francisco is now the epicenter of spectacularly stupid and just plain bad ideas. Being stupid isn’t a crime, but enacting stupid ideas into law comes close to being a definition of criminal stupidity.

 

This is a city that has been at the forefront of gay marriage. Why anyone other than a homosexual would think there was any sense in two people of the same sex constituting a “marriage” defies the laws of nature. Webster’s dictionary defines marriage as “The legal union of a man and a woman as husband and wife.” But not in San Francisco. The rest of the citizens of California have made it abundantly clear they oppose same-sex marriage.

 

On November 4, in addition to voting for the president and other legislators, the citizens of San Francisco will be asked to vote on Proposition H, otherwise known as the “San Francisco Clean Energy Act.”

 

It would amend the city and county charter “to require the city to transition from fossil fuels to clean, non-nuclear, sustainable energy production at affordable rates.”  With this vote, if successful, the city will abandon the use of any energy afforded by coal, natural gas, and, as noted, nuclear power.

 

Electricity is measured in kilowatts-hours.  America’s 104 commercial nuclear power reactors now provide about 20% of its electricity. More than 50% is produced primarily by 400-plus coal-fired “fossil fuel” producers of electricity, providing more than 2,000 billion kilowatt-hours of reliable energy. Hydroelectric and gas-powered plants constitute the rest of the mix.

 

Solar and wind power constitute about 1% of the electrical energy produced from these two inefficient, impractical, and spectacularly idiotic sources of power.

 

What the citizens of San Francisco and, for that matter, the rest of the nation, don’t understand is that even in the best locations, wind turbines produce power only about one third of the time. When they cease to produce sufficient electrical power, a back-up coal-fired or nuclear plant has to be in place to meet the immediate needs of energy consumers. Comparably, solar power depends on the sun shining. Occasionally clouds obscure the sun. At night, it is shining somewhere else on Earth.

 

Proposition H states that, “Nuclear (power) is prohibited from being included in the definition of clean energy.” Moreover, solar and wind power will be mandated to produce “at least 107 megawatts” by 2012, and 75% of San Francisco’s electrical power by 2030.

 

Who supports Proposition H? They include the Sierra Club, the San Francisco League of Conservation Voters, and the San Francisco Democrat Party. I hope they get used to working by candle light if the measure passes. For all those other things that require reliable electrical power, they should plan on finding some means to keep them going other than the electrical socket in the wall.

 

The advocates of this supreme act of madness had the audacity of promoting it by asking, “If you and five friends could save the world, would you do it? If San Francisco voters pass Prop H for a 100% clean energy future, we could save the world.” The justification for this is, of course, “global warming”; something that is not happening.

 

If Proposition H passes, one assumes that views of the city will be obscured by miles and miles of wind turbines and that the drive into the city will include miles and miles of solar panels lining the highways. I don’t plan on visiting in the future.

 

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, October 2008

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Let’s Go Nuclear … by Alan Caruba

Posted in America, Conservative, environment, Ethanol, Freedom, Global Warming Hoax, Nuclear Power, Oil, Political by J. D. Longstreet on October 22, 2008

Let’s Go Nuclear

By Alan Caruba

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How do you know when a Green—hardcore environmentalist—is lying to you? When his lips are moving. Okay, it’s a cliché used in other cases as well, but it is especially true when the latest absurd claim comes flying at you courtesy of the mainstream media.

 Take nuclear energy as an example. A new survey by Bisconti Research, taken since one conducted in April, revealed “a record-high 74% of Americans favor nuclear energy, with only 24% opposed.” That’s a big change in just five months and no doubt has a lot to do with the growing public realization that America will have an energy crisis on its hands if it does not permit new plants to be built.

 

“The unprecedented levels of support for nuclear energy found in this survey,” said Ann Bisconti, “can be attributed to growing concerns about energy and focus on energy alternatives.” There are few real alternatives. At present, coal-fired plants generate just over 50% of electricity and nuclear represents about 20%. The rest is made up by hydroelectric, and some natural gas. The much touted “clean” energy sources, solar and wind, only 1%.

 

The Greens have a long history of being opposed to nuclear energy, claiming it is too dangerous and there’s no place to put the spent rods. However, they have also been shouting about the need for “clean” energy that does not emit “greenhouse gases.” Nuclear does not do that. It emits water vapor in the form of steam and water vapor is a key element of the Earth’s atmosphere.

 

Moreover, there hasn’t been an accident since the problem encountered by Three Mile Island in 1979. Even then, no one was harmed. The technology since then has ensured that the nuclear energy industry is astonishingly safe.

 

There’s a billion dollar facility, Yucca Mountain, waiting to receive nuclear waste, but the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, (D-NV) refuses to allow it to begin operation. The facility recently received clearance from the Environmental Protection Agency for meeting a stringent radiation protection standard. You would get more radiation from a CAT scan than Yucca Mountain.

 

So, while Greens tout wind and solar, two of the least effective and reliable ways to provide for the nation’s energy needs, they continue to bad mouth nuclear as a viable alternative. Its popularity is such that developing nations all over the world are seeking to build their own nuclear plants. India, for example, is embarked on an ambitious program.

 

Greens also are actively opposing nuclear energy. Friends of the Earth, a leading environment organization, is engaged in program to denigrate nuclear energy, calling Yucca Mountain “a false solution that would run trains full of toxic nuclear waste through neighborhoods like yours.” This ignores the fact that all manner of toxic materials move around the nation every day for manufacturing and other purposes. And they do it safely.

 

So what do the Greens want? It’s more like what they don’t want. They don’t want more electricity for Americans no matter what generates it.

 

They are opposed to all expansion and development even as the population continues to grow. That’s why you will find Greens trying to stop any form of development, whether it’s more land use for housing or more energy for electricity to light and heat it. That’s why they are against any exploration and drilling for oil and natural gas and against coal.

 

They are against the timber industry, too, and the production and consumption of meat, claiming that raising livestock contributes to global warming.

 

There is no global warming. The Earth is in a new cooling cycle, but that doesn’t slow the deluge of lies.

 

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, October 2008

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