Sunday, April 30, 2006

Energy Facts and Fundamental Truths

The following makes several good points which most Americans don't understand

"From 1986 to 2003, using 2004 dollars, the real national annual average price for gasoline, including taxes, generally has been below $2 per gallon," noted the Federal Trade Commission in a 2005 report absolving the industry of collusion. "By contrast, between 1919 and 1985, real national annual average retail gasoline prices were above $2 per gallon more often than not."

In other words, gasoline prices were lower than at anytime since 1919 for much of recent history. Some conspiracy! Maybe somebody should have been investigating consumers for "gouging" the oil companies.

And just who is the profiteer here? While the average profit on the sale of a gallon of gasoline is nine cents, the average state and federal tax on that same gallon of gasoline is about 45 cents (and 52 cents in Michigan). And if we must have an investigation, how about investigating the extent to which government regulations drive up prices and block new production?

Management guru Peter Drucker once remarked, with his usual drollery, that profit is "whatever government lets a company keep." But most folks have a vastly inflated view of corporate profits. One regular survey of Americans found that the majority believes the average corporate profit is between 30 percent and 40 percent of sales, while the real figure is closer to 4 percent.

Washington should cool its carburetors. The pursuit of profit is one of the main engines of Western progress and prosperity. And as people in my neck of the woods are fast learning, it is only out of profit that we can afford to pay for a comfortable retirement. As profits in the steel, airline and auto industries erode or even vanish, so do pensions and health care benefits, not to mention jobs.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Does Al Gore know about this?

The coal mine fire started in the north-western Xinjiang region in 1975, and has burned 20 million tons of coal and releases huge amounts of noxious gases into the atmosphere.

In 2004, a project began in China to extinguish the fire. Why they waited 29 years to begin the project is unknown.

Regional authorities aim to extinguish the fire by 2018.

That's what we need....more talk.

Former U.S. Army General and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark says the United States must "tone down the rhetoric” in its ongoing verbal joust with Iran over nuclear development.

Iran missed a U.N. Security Council deadline Friday to stop enriching uranium. A report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran openly defied the U.N. request to cease nuclear development.

Clark, appearing on Fox News Channel, said it would be best for the United States to speak with Iran directly on this issue, rather than engage in bravado via media outlets.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Sowell nails it again

Ironically, the people who are making the most noise about the high price of gasoline are the very people who have for years blocked every attempt to increase our own oil supply. They have opposed drilling for oil off the Atlantic coast, off the Pacific coast, or in Alaska. They have prevented the building of any new oil refineries anywhere for decades.

They have fought against the building of hydroelectric dams or nuclear power plants to generate electricity without the use of oil. They love to talk about their own pet "alternative energy sources," without the slightest attention to what these would cost in terms of money, jobs, or our national standard of living.

Even when one of their pet "alternative energy sources" -- windmills -- is proposed to be built near them, suddenly it is not right to spoil their view.

Politicians have indulged these spoiled brats for generations. Now, when the chickens come home to roost, they are screaming about high prices and Big Oil. That is world class chutzpa.

Liberal politicians have played this game for years. With the help of the liberal media, they have so demonized oil producers and so replaced economics with demagoguery that now Republicans are running scared, which seems to be their favorite exercise.

Republicans have apparently decided that, if you can't lick 'em, join 'em. Republican "leaders" have apparently decided to give up on trying to talk sense to the public. So we end up with bipartisan demagoguery.

Read the whole thing here.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Written by Bill Quick, but I agree

This one is for all you wailing wussies who are terrified that the miserable, dog-useless RINO party might get booted out for a couple of years, and the Demon Democrats take control, thereby assuring the destruction of All that Is Good And Pure.

Let's take a look at what happened in the real world:

In 1992, a man named Bush ran for the White House for the second time. He was pretty much a bumbler, botched the Iraqi war, a full-blown RINO who got so out of touch with his own party he cut his throat by going back on his promise not to raise taxes (couldn't even read his own lips, I guess). And no, don't tell me he lost because of Perot. Perot did equal damage.

Anyway, because a lot of this guy's support never materialized, because he'd disgusted it with his betrayal of the Republican and conservative principles they supported, he lost, and "the best politician of the second half of the 20th century was elected." According to all the Weeping Wilmas, the Republican party was, at that point, almost as doomed as the Republic itself, right?

Well, not exactly. Two years after the political genius' election, the Republicans remembered who they represented, pushed forward a Contract With America that Democrats and the MSM loathed, and swept into power in the House, a majority they hold to this day. By the time the political genius left office in disgrace, the new Administration controlled the House, the Senate, and the White House, and the new President was at least talking like a Republican. For a while. Before his true RINO stripes came back to the fore.

Frankly, we could use a few more "disasters" like that. In other words, I don't think the world comes to an end if we boot out some RINOs who have forgotten the principles they are supposed to represent. If they are replaced by - gasp - Democrats, so what? First, I really do doubt there will be much difference in the way the replacements vote, and second, we just might trigger a new understanding in the Republicans that there are limits to how much their supporters will take.

The only thing a politician fears is being booted from office. So let's scare them. Let's scare the whole damned party.

Osama Speaks

Here are the main topics from Osama's P.R. release over the weekend. As pointed out by Tigerhawk, there is no mention of Iraq and his main call to action is in places where our military isn't. I don't think he likes what happened in the Sunni triangle.

1. Hamas: Despite the fact that we (including Ayman Zawahiri) warned (Muslim Palestinians) not to take part in elections in general, the victory of Hamas shows that there is a "Crusader Zionist War against Islam." Cutting foreign aid to the Palestinians because of Hamas victory proves that war.

2. The public (in the West and the US), despite our warnings, continues to reelect these Governments, pay taxes to these Governments, and send their children to fight against us. They (civilians) are therefore part of the war against us. They are responsible for any harm that would be caused to them.

3. Sudan: The Bashir Government is failing in stopping the Crusader War in Sudan. The Crusaders (Britain) has pushed the southerners (Blacks) to separate. The US has armed them and is supporting them. And now, because of tribal tensions in Darfour, the Crusaders are planning on intervening there. We are calling on the Jihadists to fight them in Darfour and Southern Sudan.

4. Long War: We're calling on all Jihadists, particularly in Sudan and the Arabian Peninsula to prepare themselves for a long war.

5. Danish Cartoons: We are asking the Danish Government to remit the Cartoonists to al Qaida.

6. Saudis: We criticize the Saudi Monarch for refuting the idea of Clash of civilization. There is a clash led by the West against Islam.

7. Arab Liberals: Jihadists must silence the Arab and Muslim liberals. (A list has been established, but it wasn't aired).

8. Education: We warn from any change that would affect the educational curriculum in the Arab and Muslim world.

9. Arab TV: We warn against those TV stations airing into the region and propagating Crusader propaganda.

10: Truce: We offered a truce to the West (US and Europe) but their public refused to accept it. They will only blame themselves.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Spy Sting?

O.K., this is where we stand this fine Sunday in April. Mary McCarthy, a spook who was just fired from the CIA for telling Dana Priest of the Washington Post that the nasty and devious Bush has been taking terrorists and sticking them in secret prisons in Europe somewhere. Horrors. The story was so delicious that the Pulitzer Committee gave Ms. Priest a prize the other day for telling us the dirt on the White House now occupied by an idiot.
Well, this is not fair according to the liberals like John Kerry, so they are rushing to her defense. Mary gave Kerry and other dems $7500 last year and she used to work for Clinton on spy stuff, so she obviously had a good, pure reason for telling us about the nefarious deeds of the Texas cowboy. National security should be trumped in some cases and Mary may just be a whistleblowing heroine. This line of bull can be expected to continue since the talking points are now out there for all good liberals to heed.
There is something else out there, though, that could make this all just too delightful. The Europeans have been looking far and wide for these secret prisons and can't find them or any evidence of them. These are not our friends out there looking for them. They want to humiliate us by finding them and revealing how we have just moved Abu Gharib to other places.
Wouldn't it be just peachy if this was all a big sting. The existence of the prisons was generated by the CIA and Mary fell into it by telling her buddy Dana at the Washington Post who published these fabrications and the Pulitzer folks gave a prize for the wonderful job Dana did on this project. Now Mary has lost her job and may go to prison for leaking a planted, but fictitious activity, the Pulitzer prize will be forever tainted, and other spooks may think twice about leaking.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

A health care story from Canada

The family of a 57-year-old Meath Park woman says it will take at least three months before their mother gets to see a Saskatchewan oncologist who can tell her if her cancer is treatable or fatal.And while Health Minister Len Taylor says three months is too long to wait, he offered little Wednesday to indicate wait times to see cancer specialists in this province will soon be getting shorter.

Emily Morley has already waited a month to see an oncologist since receiving her biopsy results that identified her secondary cancer, but were inconclusive in determining the primary source. Until that primary source is identified, her treatment cannot begin.

And even though the cancer is now in Morley’s lungs, liver, pancreas and spine, the Saskatoon Cancer Clinic has advised her it will still take at least three months to see an oncologist.

“As of this point, she doesn’t even know if this is terminal or not,” her son Chris Andersen told reporters at the legislature Wednesday.

What’s worse is that their mother wasn’t given any options by the quality-care co-ordinator in Saskatoon that would help them navigate the system and see an oncologist quicker, her son said.

“It’s like a big game of snakes and ladders,” Andersen said. “This isn’t just about Mom. It’s about all people (with cancer).”

Chris, his sister Karen Andersen and Emily’s husband Warren Morley travelled to the legislature in the hopes of finding answers to why it’s taking so long for their mother to see a cancer specialist.

In raising her case in Wednesday’s question period, Saskatchewan Party health critic Don McMorris asked what the government was doing to hire more oncologists.

Health Minister Len Taylor said an oncologist has been recruited in Saskatoon to start in the fall, but acknowledged that there are three oncologist vacancies in the province and recruitment remains a problem.

Friday, April 21, 2006

A soldier writes from Iraq

A soldier by the name of Aric Catron recently sent in this story from Iraq. Read it all here.

On one of those days in Iraq where I wasn't sure if I'd see my daughter again, I was working at a checkpoint near a small camp in the desert. ... The locals would gather around our checkpoints to try to sell us things, beg for food or water, or just hang around the soldiers.

On this particular day one of the locals had his little girl with him. She was shyly watching me from behind his legs. When I smiled and waved at her, she brazenly ran up to me with a big smile and held out her arms, expecting to be picked up. At first I was shocked at her sudden bravery, and it took me a second to reach down and pick her up. When I did, she immediately kissed me on my cheek and then nestled in as if she meant to stay a while.

I looked toward her father and he immediately began talking rapidly in Arabic and gesturing at me. Our translator quickly explained that he, the father, had been locked in a prison for most of the child's life. He had been sentenced to death for being a Shiite dissident traitor. The man went on to say that soldiers wearing the same patch on the shoulder as I was (the 101st Airborne Division) had freed him shortly after we began the liberation of Iraq. His daughter from then on believed that the famous Screaming Eagle patch of the 101st meant that we were angels sent to protect her family.

I sat in a little folding chair with that girl in my arms for well over 30 minutes. She trusted me so completely that she had fallen asleep with her head on my shoulder. All of my fears and worries faded as I held that little miracle. It had been so long since I had held my own daughter that this episode was even more healing for me than it was for her.

I have often wondered if, on that day when I missed my family so much, it wasn't a coincidence that she found me, of all soldiers. Maybe it was that innocent girl, and not me, that was the angel sent by God.

CIA scum caught

The CIA finally caught someone in connection to national security leaks to the media about our location of prisons where we keep terrorists in other countries. Now let's see a prosecution.

Citing the Privacy Act, the CIA would not provide any details about the officer's identity or assignments. It was not immediately clear if the person would face prosecution. The firing is a highly unusual move, although there has been an ongoing investigation into leaks in the CIA.

"The officer has acknowledged unauthorized discussions with the media and the unauthorized sharing of classified information," said CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano. "That is a violation of the secrecy agreement that everyone signs as a condition of employment with the CIA."

Thursday, April 20, 2006


I have been investing for the better part of 50 years and over that period there have been times when a chorus of advisers have come out saying you just had to buy gold because it was going to the moon. I always thought that was a bad idea since gold is hard to store and I never liked to invest in something I didn't know how to sell.
For many reasons I have changed my mind and started buying gold coins yesterday. This could well be a clear signal that if you own any gold, now would be a good time to sell.

More research foolishness

One of the things I really enjoy is reading about nonsense research projects and much ballyhooed research that is poorly designed and executed. There was an article in today's paper that fits into the first category. It seems someone found that when you show male gamblers erotic pictures of females their gambling decisions suffer. Who would have thought? Not only that, they also made the startling finding that the distraction was exacerbated by higher testosterone levels.

Why didn't I come up with that project back in my research days?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Energy Ignorance

It is almost impossible for someone who just listens to tv or reads some of the daily drivel in the newspaper to understand what is responsible for the rising costs of gasoline and the related price of oil. As a result one hears mostly nonsense from those who are irritated or even angry at the pump prices when they fill up. Many blame the oil companies for gouging. They are just getting rich on the backs of us poor folks. Recently there was a retirement package of the Exxon ceo highlighted to support that contention. I admit it ($400 million) did sound generous to me, but take that away and everything else he has and the price at the pump would not go down.
If someone is really interested in looking for a cause for much of our angst at the pump, Congress would be a good place to start. This august body has failed to respond to our need to open additional U.S. sources of oil for exploration and more importantly, they have let the enviro-wackos prevent us from building more refinery capacity for decades now. That would be bad enough, but these same idiots have let the nation fall into a situation where there are now 18 different gasoline formulas which the refineries must produce in order to conform to state regulation. Some mandate more ethanol so the mid-west farmers can sell more corn and everyone must remove MBTE, starting this Spring. This additive was once required by Congress and now a major and costly modification to refinery procedures will be necessary to remove it and we will pay. Furthermore, U.S. rules make it prohibitive for low-cost foreign companies to come here and supply our gasoline markets. It costs them too much to comply with our rules. Again, we pay.
So, look to the politicians for corrections in our laws and buy energy stocks.

As an aside, I get tickled when I hear the federal government release inflation numbers which always exclude food and energy. If I didn't buy those two items, I would be hard pressed to spend any money.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Nobody says it better than Sowell

Thank heaven for the massive marches across the country by those favoring illegal immigrants. These marches revealed the ugly truth behind the fog of pious words and clever political spin from the media and from both Democrats and Republicans in Washington.

"Guest workers"? Did any of the strident speakers, with their in-your-face bombast in Spanish, sound like guests? Did they sound like people who wanted to become Americans?

To read the entire essay by Sowell, go here.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Sounds good to me.

In the last six months, the U.S. Army is seeing 15 percent more soldiers re-enlist than expected. This continues a trend that began in 2001. Every year since then, the rate at which existing soldiers have re-enlisted has increased. This despite the fact that 69 percent of the troops killed in Iraq have been from the army. New recruits continue to exceed join up at higher rates as well.

All this is extremely important, especially when there is a war going on. Experience saves lives in combat, and more of the most experienced troops are staying in. This means that, a decade from now, the army will have a large and experienced corps of senior NCOs. That, in turn, means the younger troops are likely to well trained and led.

The army makes a big thing, internally, about the number of troops re-enlisting, especially within combat units that are in Iraq or Afghanistan. Pictures of mass re-enlistments are published in military media, but the civilian media has generally ignored this phenomena. Also ignored, except by some local media interviewing locals who are in the army, is the positive attitude of the troops, especially those in combat units. The large number of re-enlistments occur because the troops believe they are making a difference, and winning. This is especially true for soldiers who have come back to Iraq on a second tour, and noted the improvements since the first tour.

Read the whole thing here.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

From Bill Kristol

In the spring of 1936--seventy years ago--Hitler's Germany occupied the Rhineland. The French prime minister, Lion Blum, denounced this as "unacceptable." And did nothing. As did the British. And the United States.

In a talk last year, Christopher Caldwell quoted the great Raymond Aron's verdict: "To say that something is unacceptable was to say that one accepted it." Aron further remarked that Blum had in fact seemed proud of France's putting up no resistance. Indeed, Blum had said, "No one suggested using military force. That is a sign of humanity's moral progress." Aron remarked: "This moral progress meant the end of the French system of alliances, and almost certain war."

Today, it is President Bush who has said (repeatedly) that Iran's "development of a nuclear weapon is unacceptable, and a process which would enable Iran to develop a nuclear weapon is unacceptable." The "reason it's unacceptable," the president has explained, is that "Iran armed with a nuclear weapon poses a grave threat to the security of the world." The Iranians must "not have a nuclear weapon in which to blackmail and/or threaten the world."

Is the America of 2006 more willing to thwart the unacceptable than the France of 1936?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

This would never happen to me--I wouldn't win.

Police in Toronto are searching for four women suspected of beating a man to death over a $1,000 jackpot he had just won in a bingo hall, according to Local 6 News.Police said Yousif Youkhana, 58, was walking outside the Country Bingo Hall over the weekend with his $1,000 winnings when he was approached by the women.When Youkhana refused to hand over the jackpot, the women kicked and punched him, the report said.Witnesses said the man stumbled back into the bingo hall after the attack and later died from his injuries.The women fled on foot after the beating, according to witnesses.

Monday, April 10, 2006

France surrenders again

There are articles today indicating the protest in France have worked on Chirac. He gives up. Now, I wonder if the Mexican protest in the U.S. will have a similar effect on our politicians.

How will the Democrats react to this?

An Alabama employment agency that sent 70 laborers and construction workers to job sites in that state in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina says the men were sent home after just two weeks on the job by employers who told them "the Mexicans had arrived" and were willing to work for less.
Linda Swope, who operates Complete Employment Services Inc. in Mobile, Ala., told The Washington Times last week that the workers -- whom she described as U.S. citizens, residents of Alabama and predominantly black -- had been "urgently requested" by contractors hired to rebuild and clear devastated areas of the state, but were told to leave three job sites when the foreign workers showed up.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Book of Judas

I don't know much about the widely publicized excitement last week over the discovery of a supposedly new "Gospel of Judas". The following has an analysis which seems to be a good one, however.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Georgia Embarrassments

First we have a looney Congresswoman punching a security officer doing his job and now thanks to Neal Boortz we learn how pitiful our former Governor and President is when teaching Sunday School no less.

Yesterday James Taranto's Wall Street Journal Online column carried an item about an article that appeared in Atlanta's Creative Loafing tabloid newspaper. The article detailed an interview with former (thank God) president Jimmy Carter. Read for yourself --- and stand back in amazement at the absurdity of this man who has never seen a dictator he didn't like; a man who once occupied our The Oval Office; a man whom the voters overwhelmingly rejected after just four years --- Jimmy Carter, our biggest national mistake:

I was teaching a Sunday school class two weeks ago," he recalls. "A girl, she was about 16 years old from Panama City [Fla.], asked me about the differences between Democrats and Republicans.

"I asked her, 'Are you for peace, or do you want more war?' Then I asked her, 'Do you favor government helping the rich, or should it seek to help the poorest members of society? Do you want to preserve the environment, or do you want to destroy it? Do you believe this nation should engage in torture, or should we condemn it? Do you think each child today should start life responsible for $28,000 in [federal government] debt, or do you think we should be fiscally responsible?'

"I told her that if she answered all of those questions, that she believed in peace, aiding the poor and weak, saving the environment, opposing torture . . . then I told her, 'You should be a Democrat.' "

Ending Earmarks

There is a new (at least to me) web site devoted to ending the practice of congressional earmarks funding questionable projects. You can read it here.

I hope they are effective.

Stem Cell Obfuscation

Scientists have been able to take cells from the testes of mice and transform them into “pluripotent” stem cells — the same kind of stem cells that can be derived from embryos. Their work suggests that it may be possible to obtain the benefits of embryonic-stem-cell research without killing human embryos. As usual, however, the topic remains mired in confusion. When the Washington Post wrote up the story, the headline read “Embryonic Stem Cell Success.” In truth, it is the opponents of embryonic-stem-cell research who are cheering these results most lustily.

Not really news

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - New statistics suggest San Francisco has the highest percentage of gay men among major cities in the world, with a quarter of them HIV-positive, a top city health official said on Friday.

"Despite an overall loss in the population in San Francisco in the last five years, we think there has been an absolute gain in gay men," William McFarland, head of HIV/AIDS statistics at San Francisco's Department of Public Health, said in an interview. "From all the data I have seen ... it's the gayest city in the world."

Bush's latest mess

The liberal media is fanning the charge that George Bush leaked classified information for crass political reasons according to Grand Jury testimony given by Scooter Libby prior to his indictment for lying to prosecutors in the Valerie Plame case. This is nonsense, as far as I can determine. In the first place the President of the United States has complete control over what is classified information. If he wants to declassify something and release it (in whatever manner), it is not illegal and not even inappropriate. The charge is that it is inappropriate if done for political reasons. In this case, a political hack by the name of Wilson attacked Bush in the New York Times about a statement in the State of the Union Address concerning Iraqii attempts to get nuclear material in Niger. The facts of the attack were deemed by the White House to be at odds with their information so they released intelligence information refuting the charge. This is unfair according to the liberals, the President is not supposed to fight back. Unfortunately, the President has fought back all too seldom and the fact that the office of President of the United States is a political one and politics is one function of the White House should not be too surprising.

AIDS in South Africa

I ran across an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal on the AIDS problem in South Africa. Due to cultural practices primarily, AIDS is epidemic in this country and others in Africa. The western world has put forth a generous effort to get effective drugs to the patients in this continent. Now, it seems that this effort has another complication. A woman in South Africa with AIDS and children won't take her medicine cocktail because it will make her better. It turns out that if her doctor states that she is getting healthier she is no longer eligible for the $130/month stipend the government gives to each person with a "disability" such as AIDS. So, she doesn't take her medicine so she can get the money to feed her children.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Accumulated Thoughts

Travel and other things have kept me from the blog for the past couple of weeks. A couple of things in the news have interested me, however.

1. Tom DeLay's troubles and those of his congressional staff remind me of my reaction to Bill Clinton's administration. At the time, I was struck how there had to be some reason he surrounded himself with people who did things which deserved jail sentences. That reason, to me, was some character flaw or lack of judgement in who he picked to associate with. Most people don't even know anyone who is in prison.

2. The new anchor at CBS news will not affect my life much. I will watch CBS the same as before. Never.

3. It is hard for me to decide which is more pitiful.... baseball or the Republican Congress.

4. The inability of the Iraqii politicians to select a leader and form a government is getting to be a problem that needs to be resolved, but the interference of Condi and Jack Straw, her counterpart from England, is not likely to be helpful and may cause the Sunni / Shia schism to widen.

5. Others have probably already made this observation, but it seems to me the main division in America today is between those who think we are at war and those who don't. Responsibility for that falls to the unfortunate inability of President Bush to communicate effectively and the reluctance after 9/11 to recruit us to contribute to the war effort in some way.

6. Cynthia McKinney is a new addition to my list of human beings who seem be lacking the positive necessaries for continued existence.

Personal Unsecured Loan