Thursday, October 12, 2006

Suckers 'Til the Last Drop

Webster defines a sucker as "a person easily cheated or deceived; a person irresistibly attracted to something specified". So by definition, we the American people - and our unceasing dependence on foreign oil - are complete suckers.

Last week the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, affectionately known as OPEC, agreed to cut global oil production by 1 million barrels per day. The cut is meant to increase the price of oil.

Did you get that? Should I say that again? THEY THINK YOUR GAS AND HOME-HEATING OIL ARE GETTING TOO CHEAP SO THEY DECIDED YOU ARE GOING TO PAY MORE...BECAUSE THEY COULD! In July, when a barrel of oil was going for more than $78, OPEC was helpless to stop the price explosion, but now that its fallen to under $59, they are quite capable of fixing things to their liking.

And where is the outrage here in the U.S.? Where is the disgust that we are allowing ourselves to be beholden to the whims of OPEC? Apparently, with gas at about $2.50 a gallon, no one cares anymore - until next time.

The 11 nations that makeup OPEC provide some 40% of the world's current oil supply and control almost 80% of the world's proven oil reserves. With such dominance of such a vital natural resource, these few countries routinely (and artificially) limit supply, as there actions this week prove once again, to drive up demand and, of course, price.

On the list of OPEC member nations - Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE & Venezuela - we will find countries that are sworn enemies of the United States, support terrorism, support the Islamic Extremism that breeds terrorism, are pursuing weapons of mass destruction, and countries for which U.S. soldiers have been killed trying to protect.

And each time OPEC manipulates oil prices, it is the American people who pay these countries. And pay them dearly.

But have we learned a thing yet? Apparently not.

Instead of working to break our dependence on foreign oil, U.S. oil consumption grows year after year. Currently, we consume more than 20 million barrels of oil a day. For a nation that makes up less than 5% of the world's population, we account for almost 25% of the world's oil consumption. In 1973, OPEC supplied us with 17% of our oil. Today, OPEC accounts for almost 28% of our oil supply. So after the 1973 Oil Embargo, the Iranian Hostage Crisis, the rise of Islamic Extremism and anti-Americanism in the Middle East, and sky-rocketing oil prices, our response has been to almost double our dependence on OPEC!


Our dependence on foreign oil, especially from OPEC, is a matter of national security and an economic disaster waiting to happen. Americans need to look beyond the latest price at the pumps and get serious about developing - and actually using - alternative energy sources. Domestic drilling for oil, clean coal, hydrogen-based fuel, nuclear, wind, solar and rail transit are all solutions that should be pursued aggressively.

But a primary focus should be on Ethanol. There are already millions of cars on the road that can use Ethanol, yet only about 1,000 (out of 170,000) service stations sell it. Notwithstanding, the technology for both use and distribution already exists today. And more importantly, it's already been done! Brazil - the largest country in Latin America - has already replaced almost 50% of its domestic passenger vehicle fuel demand with Ethanol. In fact, Brazil no longer needs to import oil, saving the country $69 billion per year.

Let me repeat that - Brazil no longer needs to import foreign oil!

If we could put a man on the moon, it is possible that we could do with Ethanol what Brazil has done.

Unless we enjoy being suckers, that is.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The 'Quiet' Economy Continues to Roar

From the ashes of 9/11, a recession, and unprecedented corporate scandal, the economy has come back - and comeback strong.

Last Tuesday, the stock market reached its highest close in history. It set another record on Wednesday. And again on Thursday. As reported on October 3rd:

"Wall Street notched a historic day on Tuesday as the Dow Jones industrial average surged to a new all-time intraday high and ended the session at its highest close ever...To reach new highs, the Dow had to recover not only from the high-tech collapse, but also recession and the effects of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The stock market was further shaken by corporate scandals..."

With an overwhelming majority of Americans invested in the equity markets directly, through mutual funds, or in their retirement plans, this is surely great news for the whole country - and a clear sign of how profound the economic recovery of the past three years has been.

In an October 4th National Review Online report titled "Perfectly Rational Exuberance, A boom, not a bubble" economic adviser Jerry Bowyer states:

"After flirting with record closings for more than a week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average surpassed its all-time close of 11,722.98 on Tuesday, ending the day at 11,727.34.

Some say this new Dow territory merely puts us back where we were five years ago. But this argument misses the point. We're not back where we were five years ago. Five years ago, the markets were working their way out of a bubble; this time its the real thing.

The current different. It is driven by something tangible - profits...since the full implementation of the president's tax cuts in 2003, both profits and stock prices have been rising. In fact, stocks have not yet caught up with the underlying fundamentals of profit growth." (emphasis added)

In addition to the phenominal news about the stock market, the nation's employment picture continues to be solid. In September, the unemployment rate fell to just 4.6%. This rate is lower than the average unemployment during the 1960's, 1970's, 1980's and 1990's. Also, during the 3rd quarter of 2006, our economy added over 360,000 new jobs. Over the just the past three years, almost 3 million new jobs have been added.

Again, being a nation at "full employment" with a healthy number of new jobs being added each month is great news for all Americans.

While gas prices continue their decent, economic growth is expected to be a solid 3% for the year. Home-ownership and household net worth remain at their highest points in history. And American's retirement accounts continue to grow.

While most Americans do not hear too much about it from our media, this 'quiet' economy continues to roar.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Didn't Bill Get the Memo?

Last week, in a sad attempt to defend her husband's tragic record on terrorism, Hillary Clinton said, "I'm certain that if my husband and his national security team had been shown a classified report entitled 'Bin Laden Determined To Attack Inside the United States' he would have taken it more seriously than history suggests it was taken by our current president and his national security team."

Apparently, the attack on the USS Cole in 2000 was not enough for Clinton to take terrorism "seriously". Nor was the simultaneous bombing of two of our embassies in Africa in 1998. Neither was the 1998 indictment of Bin Laden for conspiring to attack the U.S. The Khobar Towers bombing in 1996 was also not enough. And the 1993 attack on the WTC - the first terrorist attack ever on American soil - was clearly not enough. No, according to Hillary, it was a memo...a memo would have been enough.

Obviously, all Hillary Clinton is doing is what Bill Clinton will spend the rest of his life trying to do - defend his indefensible failure to address the growing threat of terrorism throughout his full 8 years in office - a failure that led to the 9/11 attacks themselves.

Apparently, Bill never got the memo.

The 9/11 Commission report states that the "reasonable opportunities" for "major action" against Al Qaeda and its Afghan sanctuary came in 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000. In each of those years Bill Clinton was our Commander-in-Chief and did next to nothing to fight terrorism. In a recent humiliating interview on Fox News Sunday, Bill Clinton exploded in defensiveness when asked about his tragic record on terrorism and stated that Richard Clarke is the authority on how we got to 9/11. Yet in his testimony to the 9/11 Commission, even the Bush-hating Clarke conceded that even if the Bush Administration had adopted all of his recommendations, it still would not have prevented 9/11. In other words, by the time Bush took office it was simply too late.

Richard Miniter is an accomplished investigative reporter, author and fellow at the Hudson Institute. The September 27th Wall Street Journal has a piece by Miniter titled "What President Clinton Didn't Do..." In it, Miniter lays out a brief history of Clinton's profound failure to address terrorism:

"...let us examine Mr. Clinton's war on terror. Some 38 days after he was sworn in, al Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center. He did not visit the twin towers that year, even though four days after the attack he was just across the Hudson River in New Jersey, talking about job training. He made no attempt to rally the public against terrorism...Instead, he turned the first terrorist attack on American soil over to the FBI.

In his Fox interview, Mr. Clinton said "no one knew that al Qaeda existed" in October 1993, during the tragic events in Somalia. But his national security adviser, Tony Lake, told me that he first learned of Bin Laden in "sometime in 1993," when he was thought of as a terror financier...

In 1995, al Qaeda detonated a 200-pound car bomb outside the Office of Program Manager in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, killing five Americans and wounding 60 more. The FBI was sent in.

In 1996, al Qaeda bombed the barracks of American pilots patrolling the "no-fly zones" ovber Iraq, killing 19. Again, the FBI responded.

In 1997, al Qaeda consolidated its position in Afghanistan and Bin Laden repeatedly declared war on the U.S...

In 1998, al Qaeda simultaneously bombed U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224, including 12 U.S. diplomats...

In January 2000, al Qaeda tried and failed to attack the U.S.S. The Sullivans of Yemen. (Their boat sank before they could reach their target.) But in October 2000, an al Qaeda bomb ripped a hole in the hull of the U.S.S. Cole, killing 17 sailors and wounding another 39...

There is much more to Mr. Clinton's record - how Predator drones, which spotted bin Laden three times in 1999 and 2000, were grounded by bureaucratic infighting; how a petty dispute with an Arizona Senator stopped the CIA from hiring more Arabic translators..."

Clearly, Clinton's failure on terrorism was complete and ultimately lead to the worst terrorist attack on American soil ever. That is why Hillary's pitiful defense of her husband's record is so embarrassing and such a disservice to those killed on 9/11.

If all it would have taken was a memo to get Clinton to fight terrorism as it spread out of control under his watch then one thing is certain - Bill never got the memo.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Intelligence Saves Lives, Not Good Intentions

In one of their more tragic decisions, the five liberals on the Supreme Court arbitrarily decided in the case of Hamdan v Rumsfeld that Common Article III of the Geneva Conventions apply to captured terrorists. The fact that there is no legal basis for this decision not withstanding, Democrats and a few liberal Republicans have moved to pass legislation giving terrorists - who violate every principle of the Geneva Convention - Geneva Convention protections. Fortunately, they have failed.

If we ever did give these protections to terrorists, our country would surely lose some of its most crucial and effective weapons in the war on terror - and lives would be lost as a result. This is so because we would no longer be able to gather critical intelligence from coercive interrogations of high-value terrorists - intelligence that we already know has saved lives and stopped attacks. Clearly, in the war on terror, its intelligence that saves lives, not good intentions.

Common Article III of the Geneva Conventions makes it a war crime to commit "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment."

Now, what exactly does that mean? No one knows for sure, but it is safe to say that the wording is so vague and broad that anything outside of "name, rank and serial number" could be considered a war crime. Since army personnel can not interrogate prisoners, this would put our CIA Agents in an impossible position - trying to get the information they need to save lives but having no real way to get it from terrorists they know have it.

We simply can not and should not put the brave men and women who serve this country in such a predicament just so we can claim the meaningless "moral highground". There is nothing more moral than doing what it takes to save innocent lives.

Many people will say that anything short of the Geneva Conventions will be tantamount to torture and those that support coercive interrogations are advocating torture. This, of course, is folly.

Coercive interrogation - using techniques such as sleep deprivation and waterboarding - in the war on terror is not only appropriate, it is a moral obligation if it saves innocent lives (and it has). These techniques do not even approach torture. They are effective, humane and never put anyone's life in danger.

And best of all, they work and they have already saved hundreds if not thousands of lives. Recently on Bill O'Reilly's The O'Reilly Factor, ABC's chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross revealed that coercive interrogations have helped us get vital information from 14 high-value Al Qaeda terrorists - including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind behind 9/11.

According to Ross, the information we got from our coercive interrogations of these killers has helped stop numerous Al Qaeda plots and track down terrorists. In other words, innocent lives have been saved.

The liberal Senator John McCain feels that giving savage terrorists Geneva protections will somehow keep our soldiers safer. This, of course, is nonsense. Our enemies in the war on terror have shown already, through the mutilation of captured American soldiers and civilians, that they will never treat prisoners humanely. To think that our unilateral granting of rights to terrorists will protect our people from the likes of Al Qaeda or countries like Iran is ludicrous.

We must do what it takes within reason to get the information we need to protect the innocent. All the happy-talk from liberals about the "moral highground" and the importance of applying the Geneva Convention to terrorists sounds nice but in the end will only lead to the murder of even more people. In fact, we have a moral obligation NOT to give Geneva protections to terrorists and instead use the necessary methods to protect ourselves.

One thing we know for sure, in the war on terror, intelligence from high-value targets has saved lives - good intentions have not.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Geneva Conventions Can Not, Do Not and Should Not Apply to Terrorists

Recently, in the case of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the five liberal Justices on the Supreme Court decided, quite tragically, that Geneva Convention protections should be extended to terrorists. With this decision at their backs, Democrats joined by a few liberal Republicans are now trying to pass legislation that will give terrorists enormous rights and greatly hinder our ability to protect ourselves from future attacks.

But there is one minor problem with the Court's decision: The Geneva Conventions Can not, Do not and Should not apply to terrorists. Period.

Common Article IV of the Geneva Conventions states clearly that in order for combatants operating outside of formal armed forces to receive protections they must:

(1) Have "a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at distance" (for example, a uniform)

(2) "Carry arms openly"

(3) "(Conduct) their operations according to the laws and customs of war"

The Society of Professional Journalists, which provides extensive resources and background on the Geneva Conventions, makes this conclusion on who qualifies for Geneva protections:

"Combatants must wear uniforms and carry their weapons openly during military operations and during preparations for them...Combatants who deliberately violate the rules about maintaining a clear separation between combatant and noncombatant groups - and thus endanger the civilian population - are no longer protected by the Geneva convention."

Clearly, terrorists violate all of these necessary requirements to qualify for Geneva Convention protections. Instead of wearing uniforms or some other recognizable "sign", they intentionally hide and operate among civilians. Instead of carrying their arms "openly", they are on a constant mission to conceal their tools of murder. And instead of following the basic "laws and customs" of war, they target unarmed, innocent civilians without warning, and use civilians as human shields.

Therefore, by violating all the requirements necessary for Geneva protections, no legitimate argument can be made that terrorists should receive such protections themselves.

In addition, Common Article III of the Geneva Convention, which liberals on the Supreme Court and in Congress believe applies to terrorists, states that "each Party" in the conflict is "bound to apply" Geneva protections to prisoners of war.

Since terrorists routinely behead and otherwise mutilate their prisoners, they are in clear violation of Common Article III and, accordingly, can not be afforded its protections.

Since there can be no argument made that Geneva Conventions apply to terrorists based on the actual language of the Conventions themselves, than any conclusion by liberal Justices on the Supreme Court and Democrats in Congress that they do apply is based purely on personal preferences in defiance of what the Conventions actually say. With no legal basis for their position, liberals are simply saying we should give terrorists rights they do not deserve from a set of Conventions they do not honor simply because they want us to.

Besides the obvious insanity of this position from a national security standpoint, this baseless viewpoint also serves to undermine the Geneva Conventions themselves. By affording Geneva Convention protections to terrorists, we are encouraging others to violate the Conventions as well - knowing they will also get the same protections whether or not they honor the Conventions.

The leading liberal Republican on this issue, Senator John McCain, recently stated that we need to give terrorists Geneva protections in order protect our own troops and maintain the "moral highground" in the war on terror. These opinions are, of course, comical. Terrorists have already mutilated American soldiers they have captured so they clearly have no intention of following any moral code no matter what we do. As for the "moral highground", it seems the most moral thing to do is protect innocent people from being killed, not fight for the rights of those bent on murder.

Following the plain language of the Geneva Convention, there can be no question that it can not, does not and should not apply to terrorists. Short of any legal basis for their position, liberals who insist that it must apply to terrorists are simply creating rights for the extremists - and putting the rest of us needlessly in greater danger.