THE AXIS OF OIL
What do Vladimir Putin, Hugo Chavez and Islamic extremists have in common? They're funded by America's thirst for foreign oil. If drilling isn't a cure by itself, it's a start.
Wars aren't cheap, even when they go well. But Russia has plenty of money to burn on war. It's flush with Western cash because it's flush with oil and natural gas. If Putin wishes to recreate the domain of the tsars, he has the wherewithal for that grand ambition. The resurgent Russian empire is one of the big winners in the massive wealth transfer that has taken place in recent years with rising oil prices. OPEC countries are cleaning up, too. The U.S., which consumes 24% of the world's oil while producing just 10%, is the main source of the oil powers' new riches. Not all this money goes into war, terrorism or other evils. Some is used to build over-the-top commercial real estate projects in places such as Dubai. Quite a bit finds its way back to the U.S. to finance our national debt.
The membership list of the Axis of Oil seems to include more than the normal share of bad actors. One is Putin, who might be more circumspect if his country were not so rich. Venezuela's Chavez would not be exporting revolution Castro-style if he did not have a cushion of oil wealth that, among other things, keeps his own people pacified with cheap gasoline. Iran wouldn't be thumbing its nose so brazenly at the U.S. and Europe if it didn't export oil and occupy one side of the choke point for all oil leaving the Persian Gulf. Islamic extremism would be less of a threat if the Wahhabists of Saudi Arabia had difficulty funding its global spread through madrassas and mosques.
Some oil exporters are benign, such as Canada and Mexico (America's two largest sources). But the net effect of cutting U.S. demand for foreign oil, especially from outside North America, is clearly to the upside. The move would help defund nations and movements that are sowing fear and instability, and it would make the U.S. less of an economic hostage to questionable allies and outright foes.
As to how this can be accomplished, the answer is simple: Do everything, but in a realistic order. Oil's dominance is gradually ebbing and will eventually end. But eventually is a long time, and our energy economy can't totally retool in a decade. Down the road, there's a future powered by solar, wind, nuclear, biofuels and maybe hydrogen. In the meantime, the fastest way to boost energy security as well as slow the flow of wealth to terrorists, tinpots and would-be tsars is to drill, drill, drill wherever oil in U.S. territory may be found.
Mommy won't help Dems on abortion
Were you aware that the Democratic Party platform will soon "strongly" support "motherhood"? Many of us with mothers are grateful. Yesterday, a bevy of articles appeared alerting us to the fact that Democrats would offer a pointless embrace of maternity to soften the edges of the party's position on abortion. This, presumably, would grant many social conservatives the space they need to immerse in the warm and tender rays of Hope.
Has anything changed policywise on the issue? Has Barack Obama's stance softened? Not yet. And why should it The right of a woman to choose an abortion is one of the tenets of the Democratic Party. A political body must take an inflexible position on occasion - or is "unity" just another word for "get me elected"?
Giving mom her due was a compromise forged by insiders in intense behind-the-scenes negotiations. The platform will now "strongly and unequivocally" support Roe vs. Wade, but also "strongly" support a woman's decision to carry a pregnancy to term. Will Republicans follow suit by padding their anti-abortion platform statement with an iron-clad promise to support the right of citizens to grow mustaches? Such a declaration, after all, would be equally relevant.
Michael Yaki, the platform director, claims insiders spent days - days! - bringing parties together to carve out this intricate declaration. "If we had tried to do this on the fly, my concern was that it could turn into some very messy public event," he explained. Messy, indeed. Democrats face a political barrier on abortion, as it remains one of a handful of issues that can't be compromised even by those fed up by Republicans.
Yet, the Democrats are so enthusiastic to make abortion a non-issue that they've recruited the vigorously unexciting Sen. Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania, a Catholic who opposes abortion rights, to be a featured speaker at the party's national convention. (Casey's father, ironically, was rejected for the same task - and for the same reason - by Democrats in 1992.) Are voters, one wonders, truly so breathtakingly dim-witted that they will pivot on such an important issue because of a transparently dim platform addendum supporting human procreation? Or will a single speaker at the convention do the trick?
Our wide spectrum of positions on abortion can be influenced by deep moral, religious, ideological and personal convictions. Politically, though, the divide is clear - and should be clear. One of the reasons we have political parties is so that they can take, you know, positions on stuff. And a number of elected Democrats in moderate states purport to be opposed to abortion rights. But rarely, if ever, is their theoretical bravery put to the test by any actual vote. Casey included.
The destructive British Left on view: "The Conservatives tried to preempt Gordon Brown's autumn offensive with the launch yesterday of a 19-page paper, called An Unfair Britain, in which they attempt to show that Labour policies have made Britain more unfair. They claim that the number of people in deep poverty has risen by 900,000 since Labour came to power and that the gap in life expectancy between rich and poor is the highest since the Victorian age. They also claim that Labour's "stealth" tax policies meant that the poorest now pay more than the rich, while a failure to reform schools meant that the education gap between poorer and better-off students is getting worse."
Yet another example of what happens when governments distort markets : "Here in the heart of Mexico's tequila country, where every town has a distillery and the air smells sweet like fermenting molasses, a sign proudly marks the entrance to Miguel Ram¡rez's farm: "Rancho Ram¡rez: Producer of Agaves." But behind the fence, the blue-agave plants, the raw ingredient of Mexico's most famous liquor, are getting harder to spot. They are being replaced by row after row of leafy cornstalks. Like other farmers in western Mexico, Ram¡rez is abandoning his slow-growing agave plants to cash in on corn, beans and other food crops that are selling for record prices worldwide. They are part of an international trend, as everyone from Idaho potato farmers to Bolivian coca growers cut back on their trademark crops in hopes of making big money on corn and grain."
Ex-Marine decries prosecution in civilian court: "A former Marine sergeant facing the first federal civilian prosecution of a military member accused of a war crime says there is much more at stake than his claim of innocence on charges that he killed unarmed detainees in Fallujah, Iraq. In the view of Jose Luis Nazario Jr., U.S. troops may begin to question whether they will be prosecuted by civilians for doing what their military superiors taught them to do in battle. Nazario is the first military service member who has completed his duty to be brought to trial under a law that allows the government to prosecute defense contractors, military dependents and those no longer in the military who commit crimes outside the United States. "They train us, and they expect us to rely back on that training. Then when we use that training, they prosecute us for it?" Nazario said during an interview Saturday with The Associated Press. "I didn't do anything wrong. I don't think I should be the first tried like this," said Nazario, whose trial begins Tuesday in Riverside, east of Los Angeles. If Nazario, 28, is convicted of voluntary manslaughter, some predict damaging consequences on the battlefield. "This boils down to one thing in my mind: Are we going to allow civilian juries to Monday-morning-quarterback military decisions?" said Nazario's attorney, Kevin McDermott."
For more postings from me, see OBAMA WATCH, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)