Monday, October 29, 2007

Oil and War

It has bothered me from the beginning... When someone questions the reason we are at war why won't the President just tell the truth? Why does everyone dance around it? This war is about oil. It has always been about oil.

Since the 1970's we have been burdened with securing the oil. It certainly hasn't been the French or even the Brits who have ensured that Middle East oil made it to market all around the globe. Oddly, as counterintuitive as it may seem the U.S. doesn't even get that much of its oil from the Middle East. We get our imported oil primarily from sources in the western hemisphere - from Mexico, Canada and Venezuela. Then why are we shedding American blood in Iraq, in Afghanistan and why do we patrol Persian Gulf shipping lanes for the Saudis with multi-billion dollar navy vessels, and why do we give billions in aid to Middle Eastern countries?

The easy answer is - someone has to. We are, for better or worse, like it or not, the world's police force.

One has to understand that oil is a global market. It doesn't matter that we don't get all that much oil from Saudi Arabia. If something happens to Saudi Arabia's ability to get oil to market the shock would be felt around the world in a big way.

Japan and China, India, Europe and Australia need Middle East oil. Their economies depend on it, and our economy, in turn, depends on theirs. It is an intertwined world and nothing you may wish to be true has any bearing on that.

Foreign policy scholar Walter Russel Mead pointed out on a recent forum aired on CSPAN that if it weren't for America securing Japan's thirst for Middle Eastern oil it would be assumed that Japan would build a big navy to do it for itself. What would a heavily armed Japan mean? It would lead to a heavily armed China. Two ancient enemies armed to the hilt is NOT a good thing for peace and prosperity.

Likewise, if America didn't guarantee free flowing oil to Europe, the possibility of a new European war machine would once again threaten the peace on that historically war torn continent. In short, our own national security and our prosperity depend on oil getting from the oil wells to the cities and factories that drive our intermeshed global economy.

Pretending that we can transform our reliance on oil by growing corn for ethanol or building windmills is childish. The world is still quite a long way away from the end of the oil age. It needs to end, yes, and someday it will, but we will NEED oil for quite a while.

The war in Iraq and in Afghanistan is really part of a massive geo-political chess match. On one side is Anglo-American team having owned the the board the better part of 300 years. The key players on the other side of the board are the Chinese, the Islamic world - with the Iranians, and particularly the Russians making the bold moves recently. The U.S. has boxed in Iran from all sides including nuclear-armed attack subs submerged just offshore. Is it any wonder that President Putin has reached out to Iran just as mother Russia is reasserting its air force and navy in international waters. Bluffs?

As much as our friends and foes alike complain, as much as they like to call America an arrogant and aggressive nation, they rely on the stability our power and our political will provides.

In any game, in this case a deadly serious game, mistakes are made. Simple black and white solutions in parts of the world that have camels that are older than our republic was clearly naive. Democracy as the end all, be all solution to dysfunctional tribalism is a fool's game. The President and his "players" are intuitively right, the solution is to be found in a reformation of the most economically dysfunctional and dangerous region of the world. Yes, mistakes have been made... But...

Not to play the game is immoral. For the U.S. to step back and allow the anarchy that would surely erupt and destroy the global economy is far more immoral than blood for oil.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

California bans Mom and Dad, or Not

The right-wing blogosphere (which I am part of, I guess) is going nuts over a specious, overtly skewed and mostly preposterous article posted at World Nut... err, I mean World Net Daily. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 777 (which can be read here) that basically says the state prohibits any "instruction" or school-sponsored "activity" that "promotes a discriminatory bias" against "gender" – the bill's definition includes cross-dressing and sex changes – as well as "sexual orientation."

The words Mom and Dad appear nowhere in the bill. The town criers prattle on something like this: "With this decision, Gov. Schwarzenegger has told parents that their values are irrelevant. Many parents will have no choice but to pull their children out of the public schools that have now become sexualized indoctrination centers."

It is fear mongering that is not without merit but I think the hand wringing goes too far. Fear mongering has been perfected by the liberals with all this George W Bush is Hitler talk claiming he is shredding the constitution and personally torturing Arab babies. Neither are true by the way. You have to take all hysterical rhetoric with a grain of salt. The opponents of the bill SB 777 have had a long fight. Gov. Schwarzenegger refused to sign it a year ago, but as you can see much of the original language was stricken.

The fear is that phrases like Mom and Dad, husband and wife are too exclusive for non-traditional lifestyles and will therefore be shunned in lessons and text books. This may well happen. I doubt children will ever stop using the terms Mom or Dad no matter what the Governor says, but that's not really the point. Could we be forcing schools and school children into the courts with threats of prosecution over bruised sensibilities of gay and lesbians? I think so. More importantly it's another step toward labeling average (dare I say normal) people as the freaks. They have already accomplished this with Christians.

A lot of this is regular everyday folks who have become sick and tired of PC (political correctness) making victims out of everyone. One blogger on the other side, who apparently can't make a point without resorting to foul language, tries to call the backlash against PC a right-wing propaganda campaign. Well, as I said in a previous post Mr. Kettle, meet Mr Pot. But I think his minor concession as he wraps it up goes right to the heart of the fear:

"bill #SB777 adds "sexual orientation" to the state anti-discrimination statutes. There is also a clause that the minuscule amount of transgender students be allowed to use restrooms of their chosen gender..."

Eeeewwww. Enough said.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Mr. Kettle, meet Mr. Pot

In a very poignant article posted at the American Thinker website called "The Failed Party", Jeffery Schmidt lays bare the failings of the Democrat party. I couldn't agree more. However, that doesn't necessarily mean the other side is firing on all cylinders. The Republican party is an abysmal failure in its own right.

Schmidt hits the nail on the head here:
Government activism is at the heart of contemporary liberalism, and it is that activism that has proved wanting over the past four decades. As to a social safety net for citizens unable to care for themselves, conservatives concurred long ago with that idea. Where liberals would be wise to recapture their past is in the foreign and defense policies of Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy. But that would require a rediscovery of American Exceptionalism and a renewed belief that America is a force for good in the world.

It would take a moral foundation that rejects the Left's excuses and rationalizations for the evil perpetrated by our enemies, and that rejects the sophistry of leftist intellectuals and opinion leaders who seek to assign at least some of the blame for those evil acts to ourselves. With the exception of a Joe Lieberman, where are the liberals who see with such moral clarity?

Liberalism is a spent force today, not only because of a philosophical undoing, but because it has been tried, tested and failed in critical ways and at critical times over four decades in social, economic and national security matters.

Having moved politically right of center in the early 90's as my income rose while my taxes rose higher yet I was really excited with the power shift in 1994. For the first time in my life Congress was not "controlled" by liberal democrats. My excitement was short lived. Instead of taking on big, fundamental issues the Republicans started with flag burning and prayer in schools. How they lasted in power as long as they did is still a mystery to me.

To be fair, they did slow the pace of socialism and did help (somewhat) with important tax cuts and, of course, successful welfare reform. By the time they lost it all in 2006 the Republicans lost all semblance as the party of fiscal conservatism. The pork barreling, now called earmarking, was sickening. So now you have a party of moralizing hypocrites, gee, that's appealing.

None of that makes the Socialist - err I mean Democratic party look any better, but it does create a vacuum for those who like the idea of limited government and lower taxes without all the moralizing and hypocrisy.

So, where do we go from here? I can't vote for socialists, which is all the Democrats offer these days. Greens? No way. The Libertarians just aren't a serious party. Voting for two faced, spineless Republicans is less than appealing.

Like I said, Mr. Kettle meet Mr. Pot.


Saturday, October 06, 2007

A "Loving" World View???

A Long, Rambling (but Important) Essay by Craig Willms

The other day
I was watching Bill Moyers Journal on PBS and his topic was the evangelical view of the end times and how it relates to Israel and the United States. Now, I don't particularly like Mr. Moyers, frankly, I find his reflexive disdain and dismissive attitude for any thing right of center severely off-putting. That's just the way most hardcore leftists are, and this guy is perhaps the worst, but it never hurts to listen to people you profoundly disagree with. Having a mirror, albeit a distorted one, held in front of you still allows you to see some accurate views of yourself - the good and the bad.

What caught my attention was the notion posited by Moyers and his guests that the current world view held by many Americans and especially evangelicals is understandable but it is wrong. Moyers and his guests, Dr. Timothy Weber and Rabbi Michael Lerner seemed bemused by the evangelical narrative, reverent at times and disgusted at others. Me, I am not an evangelical, I wouldn't know how to be. As what I call a born again Catholic I feel a certain kinship with parts of the evangelical doctrine, but honestly, biblical literalists are way off the mark in my estimation. I do, however, join them in an enduring support for Israel.

Quite Simple: Blame America, for everything
When the discussion turned to the direction things are going in the world at large I knew America and particularly the "right wing" were squarely in their sights. They talked of a world-wide psychological depression, a hopeless malaise people everywhere are sinking into. They claim that there is a desperate search by people all over the world for something better than the coming globalization of world capitalism driven by the West and primarily the United States.

And so it is... We hear that people the world over are rejecting the "American" way and are finally pushing back. This is why we see the rise of radical Islam and leftist movements in Latin America. The return to a totalitarian Russian state under Putin is touted as evidence that American-style freedom and free market systems are unwelcome. More and more people are convinced that it is multinational corporations, spawn of the West, who rule - and ruin - the world. The multinationals, they claim, cynically push mankind into a corner where it becomes a brutal game of every man for himself. In this brutish world view it's "I've got mine, to hell with you!" There is, I admit, some truth in that.

According to Moyers and company we need a new world view, a loving world view instead of this confrontational, apocalyptic world view so many hold.

A Loving World View?
What is this Loving World View? What must change in America to move people away from this confrontational " me first" world view we are immersed in now? Is individualism to blame? Is personal liberty a canard? Is wanting to keep the fruits of your own labor selfishness? Are consumer consumption and the profit motive corrupt ideals?

The answer to all of these questions is no.

Is it too much to expect for ordinary men to rule their own lives? Are we incapable of determining what is best for ourselves. Do we need to be "taken care of" by a benevolent government? No! No! No!

To pull people out of this so-called depression over the future of the world and foster this grand ideal of a "loving world view" we need to start by not resorting to self-hatred and self flagellation. When people see the inequities of life they want to lash out at those who have what they don't. This is basic human nature. What they often refuse to see is that with the exception of inherited wealth most of the "haves" attained their station in life with self discipline and hard work. This is something to be admired not disdained. We have to reject the idea that the rich man got his by crawling over the poor, this is almost always untrue. Envy and jealously are also basic human traits but the are unproductive and destructive. Until both the the real inequities and the cancer of envy and jealousy are excised, peace, love and understanding will continue to be a pipe dream.

A World View Starts with A Political View
The political left continually demonizes capitalism and by extension globalization even though it is clear that it has lifted millions upon millions out of devastating poverty over the last 100 years. It's seems all they want to see are capitalism's warts. Amazingly, even while enjoying the benefits of the truly remarkable things capitalism has fostered, they proceed to poison the horse they rode in on.

Why is this? Obviously (or is it obvious???) that top down communism was an abject failure. Dictatorship and military thuggery is unpalatable, right? Is there anyone outside the greater Middle East interested in Islamic sharia law and dhimmitude? (Hardcore leftists support Islam in so far as it opposes personal liberty and capitalism just like they do.) Democratic socialism is held out as the viable alternative to laissez-faire capitalism and theocratic rule, but history is showing that it is unsustainable because, for one, it it represses human reproduction as we are seeing in the rapid decline of nearly all the native European and Japanese populations. Secondly, welfare based systems eventually eat their own. In truth all of these systems fail because they are inherently inefficient. Human progress is measured by ever increasing efficiency.

America's detractors inside and out point to our consumption based economic model as being the root cause of world conflict and the environmental destruction of the planet. This is despite the fact that as globalization plays out the global economy is expanding and people all over the world are living better than at any time in history. Poverty and human suffering are actually decreasing. The places where poverty and suffering are expanding are the places where economic freedom is being repressed.

Africa is perhaps the most abused place on Earth. Many leftists, claiming to want to protect Africans from globalization and environmental destruction, actively work to deny the poor and suffering a better life through the promise of economic opportunity. Why should Africa be left out of the benefits of the integrated world economy? Africans aren't necessarily pleased about it. The repression of thoughtful economic development is actually causing environmental damage as the poor cut down the forests for fuel and grazing land, they have so few options to do otherwise. So much for a loving worldview...

Regardless of the socialist utopian fairytale most leftists pine for, free market based economies offer the most for the most. This is where it must start. But first, before we can dare to dream about a beautiful and peaceful loving world view we need to deal with the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

The 800 Pound Gorilla
While the elitists in Europe and in America - you know, university professors, fabulously wealthy authors, celebrities and media pundits - fall all over themselves citing America as the root cause of conflict in the world today, they refuse to acknowledge what most of the rest of us can see with our very own eyes. Islamism - the rapid and sometimes violent expansion of Islam pushing out from Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan - is the cause of nearly all the current armed conflicts in the world. This is an indisputable fact. Because radical Muslims have successfully framed the conflict as a struggle with America and Israel, the two nations most hated by leftists and socialists, the elitists use some perverse logic that excuses Islamism.

The Palestinian conflict is the banner under which the elitists make their case against the U.S. and Israel and yet it seems to me that President Bush, the man they love to hate, was the first American president to call for a two state solution. Israel agrees. Yet the conflict continues - because they don't want it to end there. They have a bigger fish to fry than Israel.

Corporatism, Worse Than all the Other Ism's?
For all those who despise the United States and the West it all comes down to a fear of soulless corporations blindly driven by the profit motive wreaking havoc on ordinary people and the environment.

This is as rational a fear as it is to fear the spread of radical Islam.

The common thread between the two is that both lay it all out in the open. Islam declares its goal to have dominion over the world. Multinational corporations are clear, they are in it for profit. Neither Corporatism or Islamism have any need for borders or national allegiances. Neither Corporatism or Islamism have any qualms about using any means necessary to achieve their goals. Corporatism seeks to "buy" government off and Islam seeks to "be" the government. Corporations and the governments they support, employ economic hit men whose job is to cut deals for natural resources and human labor with almost no regard for the damage it can cause. Radical Islam recruits and trains terrorists to seek out and destroy vital parts of their enemies with no regard for the innocent.

There is a big difference between soulless corporatism and violent Islamism. Value. There is value in the goods and services offered by corporations. Islam offers death, a glorious death, mind you.

Putting the insanity of radical Islam aside for purposes of discussion, ask the question: can a loving world view be reconciled with corporatism? Well, here is where Moyers, Weber and Lerner got it right. We need leadership, bold and unafraid...

Where Are the Leaders?
Where are the leaders? Has the world become too complicated, are vested interests so entrenched that a mere political leader will never make a difference? Is the current just carrying us along for a ride and all anyone can really do is nudge the rudder a little this way and then a little that way? If we believe that then we ought to just give up now.

So, where are the leaders? Is there anyone on the horizon who can rise above the din? Is there anyone out there who is not a serial liar like the last president, or anyone who can string 2 sentences together and actually convey a better idea, unlike our current president? I don't see anyone.

Where are the leaders that are going reform our tax structure so that it will encourage corporations to keep their domestic enterprises instead of driving them out. Where are the leaders who will reign in the beast that is "government" and force it to streamline its outdated operations, demanding it be made to run efficiently? Where are the leaders who will do the right thing - even if it means stepping on the toes of the special interests that paid their way to Washington DC. It seems there are always only two choices for democratic citizens - we turn over political power to those who will do the bidding for corporations (feathering their own nests in the process) or turn over the power to megalomaniacs who will consolidate political power in their own government institutions while they collect protection money from those very same corporations. So, I ask again, where are the leaders?

So(ros) Goes It
Honestly, I am far more worried about the future if Hillary Clinton and her ideas are unleashed on the land of the free than I ever have been of George W Bush. Bush may have been corporatism's best friend, but Hillary will do the bidding for George Soros. And for those of you who don't know who George Soros is, all I can say is his one goal in life is to destroy capitalism. He intends to replace capitalism with something called "The Open Society" and he needs a democrat in the White House to do it. If he is successful it will be the end of Western Civilization. And when Western Civilization crumbles into dust just what do you suppose will move in to fill the vacuum?

But then how would you know about George Soros and his anti-American designs when the mainstream media is so totally obsessed with hating George W. Bush on one hand and with Brittney, Lindsay and Paris on the other.

We Report, We Decide
There is a poison that is killing America and West, it showed up in the 60's and has become more potent over the years. How long can we watch NBC Nightly News (or CBS, CNN etc etc) only to hear how terrible America is? Even the rare occasion when they highlight something positive and uplifting it is usually something that addresses a shortcoming in our rotten, racist society. How can we ever possibly believe in ourselves or our way of life if everyday we are constantly told how terrible this country is?

Every story in the mainstream media about our president, the current one and to a lesser degree the last one, is laced with disdain and mistrust. This is the old Soviet tactic of maligning the American president, making not only the Russian people but also the American people fear and loathe him.

The mainstream media is actively dumbing down our society politically just as our schools are dumbing down our children intellectually. Standards are set lower and lower everyday. Those of us who partake in what technology has opened up for us can circumvent what the media spoon feeds society at large. Still, by and large the big media conglomerates effectively own the distribution of news and information. In the process we have been conditioned to believe that everything is bad and getting worse in this country, but, strangely polls show we are quite happy about our own individual prospects.

We are not well served by the major news media outfits because they are agenda driven while they pretend to be objective. Internet websites, talk radio and some cable TV channels that do not claim objectivity are often a far more reliable a witness to any particular story - they wear their personal agendas on their sleeves where we can see them and judge them.

Humble, Not Humbled
This elusive loving world view Bill Moyers talked about can never come about if we hate ourselves and our country. A humble America may indeed be good for the world, but a weak and dispirited America is not. The America haters have figured out that if they can dumb down and poison the young mind with porn and filth and junk culture, while pushing pseudo self-esteem instead of self-achievement they can destroy America from within. It makes the job of parenting that much harder. It is amazing to me that so many kids turn out as well as they do - good parents trump negative societal reinforcement. Still, I fear it may already be too late if we don't begin to reverse these assaults on our culture and our power.

The people who believe in the inevitable rise of World Government through the process of globalization are engaged in an elaborate dance that needs America. There is yet to be any nation or movement including Islam that can rival the U.S. The Soviet Union was fundamentally not up to the task. The goal is to get America to empower its own executioner. It is easier with each passing generation as American children are deprived of an adequate education that includes American history. They won't know what they are giving up. The slow drain of our educational, technological and industrial might to China and other low wage states will one day come back to haunt us.

This is not one world. I am sorry to say, a loving world view is a fantasy.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Your Toyota Prius is Destroying the Planet

I don't usually do this but I am going to recopy an article here because this is just too juicy... Credit where credit is due - Found on on a page called the The Recorder Online dated March 7, 2007...

Prius Outdoes Hummer in Environmental Damage
By Chris Demorro

The Toyota Prius has become the flagship car for those in our society so environmentally conscious that they are willing to spend a premium to show the world how much they care. Unfortunately for them, their ultimate ‘green car’ is the source of some of the worst pollution in North America; it takes more combined energy per Prius to produce than a Hummer.

Before we delve into the seedy underworld of hybrids, you must first understand how a hybrid works. For this, we will use the most popular hybrid on the market, the Toyota Prius.

The Prius is powered by not one, but two engines: a standard 76 horsepower, 1.5-liter gas engine found in most cars today and a battery- powered engine that deals out 67 horsepower and a whooping 295ft/lbs of torque, below 2000 revolutions per minute. Essentially, the Toyota Synergy Drive system, as it is so called, propels the car from a dead stop to up to 30mph. This is where the largest percent of gas is consumed. As any physics major can tell you, it takes more energy to get an object moving than to keep it moving. The battery is recharged through the braking system, as well as when the gasoline engine takes over anywhere north of 30mph. It seems like a great energy efficient and environmentally sound car, right?

You would be right if you went by the old government EPA estimates, which netted the Prius an incredible 60 miles per gallon in the city and 51 miles per gallon on the highway. Unfortunately for Toyota, the government realized how unrealistic their EPA tests were, which consisted of highway speeds limited to 55mph and acceleration of only 3.3 mph per second. The new tests which affect all 2008 models give a much more realistic rating with highway speeds of 80mph and acceleration of 8mph per second. This has dropped the Prius’s EPA down by 25 percent to an average of 45mpg. This now puts the Toyota within spitting distance of cars like the Chevy Aveo, which costs less then half what the Prius costs.

However, if that was the only issue with the Prius, I wouldn’t be writing this article. It gets much worse.

Building a Toyota Prius causes more environmental damage than a Hummer that is on the road for three times longer than a Prius. As already noted, the Prius is partly driven by a battery which contains nickel. The nickel is mined and smelted at a plant in Sudbury, Ontario. This plant has caused so much environmental damage to the surrounding environment that NASA has used the ‘dead zone’ around the plant to test moon rovers. The area around the plant is devoid of any life for miles.

The plant is the source of all the nickel found in a Prius’ battery and Toyota purchases 1,000 tons annually. Dubbed the Superstack, the plague-factory has spread sulfur dioxide across northern Ontario, becoming every environmentalist’s nightmare.

“The acid rain around Sudbury was so bad it destroyed all the plants and the soil slid down off the hillside,” said Canadian Greenpeace energy-coordinator David Martin during an interview with Mail, a British-based newspaper.

All of this would be bad enough in and of itself; however, the journey to make a hybrid doesn’t end there. The nickel produced by this disastrous plant is shipped via massive container ship to the largest nickel refinery in Europe. From there, the nickel hops over to China to produce ‘nickel foam.’ From there, it goes to Japan. Finally, the completed batteries are shipped to the United States, finalizing the around-the-world trip required to produce a single Prius battery. Are these not sounding less and less like environmentally sound cars and more like a farce?

Wait, I haven’t even got to the best part yet.

When you pool together all the combined energy it takes to drive and build a Toyota Prius, the flagship car of energy fanatics, it takes almost 50 percent more energy than a Hummer - the Prius’s arch nemesis.

Through a study by CNW Marketing called “Dust to Dust,” the total combined energy is taken from all the electrical, fuel, transportation, materials (metal, plastic, etc) and hundreds of other factors over the expected lifetime of a vehicle. The Prius costs an average of $3.25 per mile driven over a lifetime of 100,000 miles - the expected lifespan of the Hybrid.

The Hummer, on the other hand, costs a more fiscal $1.95 per mile to put on the road over an expected lifetime of 300,000 miles. That means the Hummer will last three times longer than a Prius and use less combined energy doing it.
So, if you are really an environmentalist - ditch the Prius. Instead, buy one of the most economical cars available - a Toyota Scion xB. The Scion only costs a paltry $0.48 per mile to put on the road. If you are still obsessed over gas mileage - buy a Chevy Aveo and fix that lead foot.

One last fun fact for you: it takes five years to offset the premium price of a Prius. Meaning, you have to wait 60 months to save any money over a non-hybrid car because of lower gas expenses.

Now how do you like them apples? I just knew those trendy little devils driving their cute hybrids with that air of superiority toward us Pontiac owners were fooling themselves. Well they weren't fooling me. No siree. Imagine that - it takes 5 years before they realize one red cent in savings by using less gas. And if it isn't about saving money and more about saving the planet these things are far harder on old Gaia than my Pontiac is.

Listen, I am all for electric cars and saving gas and so on, as long as it makes sense and it isn't just a "feel good" exercise in futility. Maybe the technology isn't quite there yet. I am pulling for it, I really am. Until then, don't feel bad about the car you drive.