Of Norway, petrodollars, free education, etc.

One of my old high school friends, an ardent liberal, posted the following on his Facebook page:

Norway smart - America stupid

Doesn’t that just make so much sense? Give free education and your nation will be wonderful.  Of course, both “Mr. Silhouette” and the friend who posted it suffer from no small amount of ignorance in making that assertion.  For one thing, I’m virtually certain that they don’t know that Norway can offer this free education, as well as a variety of other social benefits, in significant part because it’s floating away on an incredibly profitable sea of petrodollars.  Were Obama to allow the Keystone pipeline, we might be able to fund a few more educational opportunities in this country too.

The other thing that the cartoonist ignores is that Norway is a petite country (4,722,701 people compared to America’s 316,668,567).  More than that, Norway has a staggeringly homogenous population.  According to the CIA World Fact Book, the population breakdown for Norway is “Norwegian 94.4% (includes Sami, about 60,000), other European 3.6%, other 2% (2007 estimate).”  The numbers are a bit different for America:  “white 79.96%, black 12.85%, Asian 4.43%, Amerindian and Alaska native 0.97%, native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander 0.18%, two or more races 1.61% (July 2007 estimate).”  Even that’s misleading, because it’s just skin color (whites and blacks), and broad racial classification (Asian, Amerindian, Alaska native, etc.).  This breakdown utterly fails to take into account America’s cultural melting pot, with our genetic and cultural mix representing people from every corner of the earth.

The population differences between the two countries mean that, in America, it’s very difficult to convince everyone to do the same thing at the same time.  In Norway, on the other hand, people are practically born in lock-step.  (And don’t even get me started on Leftist educational trends in America that involve everything but education, or on the fact that we force non-academically inclined students into academic classes when they should be learning a trade.)

Finally, what neither Mr. Silhouette or my friend know is that Norway is having sufficient problems with its socialism — and that’s despite the fact that petrodollars are paying for the costly luxury that is socialism — that it is starting to turn right politically, away from socialism:

This country was transformed by the discovery of huge oil deposits off its shores in 1969. Although Norway’s state-owned oil company, Statoil, was quickly established to lead the development of the new oil discoveries, the industry has been open to private investment and participation on a scale seldom found outside the United States. That has led to an extremely efficient and profitable energy sector, which provides 36 percent of the national government’s revenue. The Government Pension Fund, into which much of the oil profits are channeled, had $445 billion in assets in 2010 and represented nearly 2 percent of the equity in European stock markets. The value of the pension fund’s assets approximately equals the value of all the real estate in Manhattan.

“Oil has turned Norway from a sleepy, largely rural economy into an economic powerhouse,” says Norwegian businessman Olaf Halvorssen. “So much money comes in to the government that Norway has largely escaped the trimming of the welfare state that many other European countries are going through.”

But more and more people recognize that the oil wealth won’t last forever, and a real debate is just starting in this country of 4.9 million people over what direction its economy should go. Norway will be holding elections for Parliament on September 9, just two weeks before Germany votes. If polls taken over the last year are accurate, the eight-year-old Labor-party government of Jens Stoltenberg is headed for a landslide defeat.

This trend is occurring despite the fact that, so far, Norway’s economy has not only been stable, but it’s been growing at twice America’s 1.5% growth rate:

This country was transformed by the discovery of huge oil deposits off its shores in 1969. Although Norway’s state-owned oil company, Statoil, was quickly established to lead the development of the new oil discoveries, the industry has been open to private investment and participation on a scale seldom found outside the United States. That has led to an extremely efficient and profitable energy sector, which provides 36 percent of the national government’s revenue. The Government Pension Fund, into which much of the oil profits are channeled, had $445 billion in assets in 2010 and represented nearly 2 percent of the equity in European stock markets. The value of the pension fund’s assets approximately equals the value of all the real estate in Manhattan.

“Oil has turned Norway from a sleepy, largely rural economy into an economic powerhouse,” says Norwegian businessman Olaf Halvorssen. “So much money comes in to the government that Norway has largely escaped the trimming of the welfare state that many other European countries are going through.”

But more and more people recognize that the oil wealth won’t last forever, and a real debate is just starting in this country of 4.9 million people over what direction its economy should go. Norway will be holding elections for Parliament on September 9, just two weeks before Germany votes. If polls taken over the last year are accurate, the eight-year-old Labor-party government of Jens Stoltenberg is headed for a landslide defeat.

Please read more of John Fund’s article to learn about the sea change taking place in Norway.

Here’s what I’ve learned:  if my Leftist friends put up a snarky political poster on their Facebook page, it’s invariably factual deficient or logically flawed.

Oil boom!

Just recently, I happened to drive through the southern end of the Bakken Field in North Dakota on my way to Montana. I can tell you that an oil boom in the making is absolutely awesome to behold! There is black gold in them thar hills!

The I-94 freeway was a solid line of trucks ferrying equipment to the oil fields. Low-level hotel and motel rooms are booked 4 years out and cost in the upper $-100s per night. Everywhere over North Dakota’s (very attractive, in my view) rolling western plains you see oil storage tanks and pumps blending (yes, blending…they are not ugly or obtrusive) in the countryside. The crush of people from all over and construction in small-but-fast-growing towns like Dickinson and Williston is energizing. Oh, if I was young again…

I met a semi-retired petroleum engineer in Alberta that was working on the Canadian tar sands development. I asked him what he had heard regarding the size of the Bakken oil field. He indicated that, pessimistically, it contained 1x the reserves of Saudi Arabia, while the optimistic projection was 3x the Saudi oil reserves. Plus, there are all the other oil fields out there waiting to be developed (e.g., Western Colorado) and the natural gas fields scattered throughout the country.

Interestingly, he also told me that he thought the Obama administration made the right call on the Keystone Pipeline in that the forced redirection of the pipeline would be much more responsible (environmentally speaking), given the shallow ground water tables in Nebraska.

I don’t believe that this can be stopped. Cheap energy is at hand and it will change our country and the world.

Oil reserves in Israel may radically change the Middle Eastern playing field

Since the British mandate, western nations, especially oil-poor European nations, have pandered to Middle Eastern tyrants for a single reason:  oil.  Israel, poor little Israel, had no oil.  That’s why, when the Arabs and Iranians said that they wanted Israel, Europeans were willing to fall in line.  Anything, after all, to get that Saudi or Iranian or Kuwaiti or whatever else black gold.  America didn’t help things by allowing the environmentalists to make America, which has some of the largest oil reserves in the world, one of the most pathetic (and costly) producers.

One of the little known secrets of the Middle East is that the Muslim nations are running out of oil.  I’m not going to go hunting for the link now, as I have to get dinner started, but I’m 99.9% certain that someone conversant with the oil industry told me that Muslims are having to pump water into their wells to raise the oil sufficiently to allow them to get it out.  This doesn’t mean they’ll run dry tomorrow, but it doesn’t bode well for them in the long term.

What’s not secret, although it’s not making the splash one would expect it to make, is the fact that Israel turns out to sit on vast oil reserves:

Actual production is still minuscule, but evidence is accumulating that the Promised Land, from a natural resource point of view, could be an El Dorado: inch for inch the most valuable and energy rich country anywhere in the world. If this turns out to be true, a lot of things are going to change, and some of those changes are already underway.

Walter Russell Mead explains how this fact is changing the politics on the ground in the Middle East.

Hat tip:  Danny Lemieux

The problem with introducing freedom into industrial societies — or the tyranny of fossil fuels

Two things happened on November 26, two entirely unrelated things, that nevertheless ended up merging into a single thought in my mind:  In the modern world, fossil fuels equal liberty.  If you cannot assure the people the former, forget about trying to foist upon them the latter.  Let me walk you through my thought processes.

The first thing that impinged onto my awareness was a conversation I had with a most delightful 85-year-old Jewish man who, except for WWII and the Israeli War of Independence, has always lived and worked in South Africa.  During a wide-ranging conversation, I asked him what the situation was like today in post-apartheid South Africa. “Horrible,” he said, “just horrible.”  According to him, the moment Nelson Mandela left office, the new ANC government began to be as racist as the old apartheid government, only with the benefits flowing to the blacks, this time, not the whites.  It’s not Zimbabwe, yet, but he sees it coming.

What was most fascinating to me was this man’s claim that the black people are deeply unhappy with the status quo.  Yes, ostensibly they have civil rights that were denied them under the old regime.  The problem, though, is that the country is so horribly mismanaged under the current government that, while they have civil rights, they lack electricity, clean water, food and transportation.  The blacks he speaks to therefore look back longingly on apartheid.  While their lives then were demeaning and economically marginal, the old government was stable and efficient.  Excepting those who lived in the most abysmal poverty, apartheid-era blacks could rely on what we in the modern era consider to be the basics for sustaining life:  not just the bare minimum of food and water, but also electricity, reliable long-distance transportation, and plumbing — all of which are dependent upon a modern fossil fuel economy.

The second thing that happened on November 26 was that Danny Lemieux put up a post commenting on Bruce Bawer’s Thanksgiving article examining the possibly naive American notion that all people crave freedom.  Danny had this to say:

I believe that I can understand the pull of serfdom for many people. Just think of all of the difficult life decisions that are taken away from the individual serf: as wards of the state, they don’t have to worry about where they will get their food (of course, they can forget about shopping at Whole Foods as well), whether they will meet their financial needs (albeit at a subsistence level), understanding politics, moral values, education, finding a job…etc. It is, in other words, regression to the mind of a child. They can simply exist for the moment of the day: no responsibilities but, also, no hope. Like vegetables, if you think about it.

I agree with Danny (and Bruce Bawer), but I I’d like to add to what both say, by dragging in fossil fuels.

What may have made the extraordinary American experiment in individual liberty possible was that it happened right at the start of the industrial era, before people’s expectations were raised by the industrial and post-industrial era.  At the end of the 18th century, people’s material expectations were limited by the technology of the time (electricity was a lightening bolt; clean water was the creek behind your house; transportation could be found in the bones and muscles reaching from your hips down to your feet).  Fortunately for America’s future, she was rich, not only in space, but in the natural resources that would become so necessary in the next two centuries, including fossil fuel and the drive to put that fossil fuel to work.  Put another way, at the moment our nation was born, our material expectations were low, but the possibilities proved to be almost endless.  The exquisite historic timing that brought together our new freedoms and the nascent industrial revolution made the American miracle possible.

Nowadays, the source of all physical comfort is fossil fuel.  Except for those people who still live a virtually stone age existence (whether in Indian, Africa, Latin America or Asia), every single person in the world benefits from fossil fuels.  They give us light, water treatment plants for clean water, food in the fields and in the marketplace, transportation, clothing, housing, every bit of our technology, everything.   Nothing in our modern world would be possible without them.  Fossil fuels drove Hitler’s maniacal push to the Soviet Union and ended the Japanese ability to fight a war.  (If you’re interested in more on oil’s central role in WWII, check out The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power.)  No wonder the global warmists, with their anti-Western mindset, are so determined to destroy fossil fuel.

In a modern world, one that premised upon expectations of fossil fuel’s blessings (an abundance of food, clean water, ready transportation, technical, etc.), giving people freedom without meeting those expectations — which are, by now, the minimal expectations for creature comfort — is doomed to failure.  It is no longer enough to couple free speech with a horse, a plow, and some seeds.  Nor will people be excited about freedom of worship if they have only a small flame to light the night-time darkness.  Today, America’s famous four freedoms will satisfy people only if they are coupled with the riches flowing from modern energy.

What all this means in practical terms is that, if you invade Iraq and destroy a tyrant, but simultaneously knock out the power supply, you will not have a happy population.  Post-industrial people would rather have tyranny and electricity (and the food, water, transportation and other things flowing from that electricity), than freedom in a world limited to stone age energy sources.  Proverbs 15:17 therefore got it wrong.  As you recall, that proverb says “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.”  Our modern experience with trying to bring people to the American model shows that most would say, “Better a stalled ox and a well-lighted barn where tyranny is, than starvation and the darkness of night where freedom lives.”

 

The inconveniences (big and small) of environmentalism

Conservatives have been aware for a while that the Texas oil industry is being threatened by a lizard.  It’s not being threatened this way:

Godzilla Movie Poster

Instead, it’s being threatened this way:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Logo

It turns out that the sand dune lizard, an innocuous little buff-colored guy, is (a) allegedly endangered and (b) living squat in the middle of 800,000 acres of Texas oil country.  If the lizard and its environmentalist supporters win their case before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, all of those 800,000 acres will fall under the control of a federal agency.  Under the regulations as written, the lizard’s survival will trump oil production, farming, road construction — you name it, the little lizard will trump it.

Depending on how far the agency wishes to take it, this ruling could decimate a vast region in Texas, and, possibly, bring the United States to its knees too.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently saying that the oil industry is overstating the risks, but if there’s one thing we know about the bureaucratic mind, it’s that it will always go too far, especially when it’s doing so in the service of a Progressive agenda, with the agenda here being that Big Oil is eeeevviiilll.

I thought of the lizard when I got my hands on a letter that the City of Larkspur sent out to its residents.  The City was lucky enough to be the beneficiary of federal funding to rehabilitate Doherty Drive, which is a heavily traveled road that links two communities and serves both a middle school and a fairly large high school.

Doherty Drive, Larkspur, CA

The road renovation was to have taken place during the summer, when the schools are out of session, and traffic is therefore limited.  It turns out, however, that California Clapper Rails (flightless coastal birds) live in the waters along the construction route, and have their nesting season during the summer.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has therefore mandated that construction must be delayed.  As of now, construction is schedule for the first two months of the school year.  During that time, the road will be closed entirely:

Larkspur to close Doherty Drive for construction

The road closure means that traffic must be rerouted.  Had this happened during a quiet season, it would merely have meant somewhat heavier traffic on alternative roads.  Since it’s happening during peak season, it means substantial traffic jams all over Corte Madera, Larkspur and Greenbrae, which are the communities that will be used as alternative pathways to access the two schools and to travel from one town to another.  Traffic jams, as we know, are a major cause of CO2 emissions.

I should add here, in big, red letters, that I don’t think that two months of inconvenience and increased CO2 emissions are an unreasonable price to pay to protect a small bird during its short nesting season. I’m posting this here only as a reminder that environmentalism comes at a cost — and sometimes that cost is to the environment itself.  It also wouldn’t surprise me to discover that a lot of Marin-ites, after sweating it out in terrible traffic jams for a couple of months, blowing clouds of CO2 in the air, are a little less favorably inclined towards the small, flightless, hapless California Clapper Rail.

And in a related story, the EPA leaves unusable a vast Alaska mineral reserve.  (We currently relying on places such as China and Africa, which don’t have the resources to or the interest in mining those minerals in a way that has the smallest possible impact on the environment.)

The Bookworm Turns : A Secret Conservative in Liberal Land, available in e-format for $4.99 at Amazon, Smashwords or through your iBook app.

Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Middle East

Israel as the next Saudia Arabia?

 

According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, Israel’s unusually large and high-quality shale oil reserves may yield as much oil as all of Saudi Arabia’s proven oil reserves.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703806304576242420737584278.html

 

These discoveries are in addition to of Israel’s recently diclosed gas reserves, also anticipated to be vaste.

 

There are few countries in the world as reality-based as Israel, because Israel has no other choice. It must be reality based in order to survive. This convinces me that Israel will waste  no time in developing these deposits, not only for self-sufficiency but also to gain leverage with the international community. Imagine the political consequences,, if you would, if Europe no longer had to depend upon the Middle East for its oil.

 

Oh, I wish I could say the same about our own country, rich beyond imagination in oil, gas and coal reserves. In our own country, a far-too-comfortable bourgeoisie entertains unicorn visions of Shangri La-like utopias, unspoiled by any energy development other than windmills and solar panels manufactured in China. The price of these idle visions is steep, as measured by lost jobs, investment capital, trade balances and tax revenues, not to mention military missions to fund our energy needs and keep world energy supplies safe. The self-satisfied American bourgeois elites sleep well, oblivious to the environmental, economic and social disasters inflicted upon our own country and others to satisfy our presumptions of environmental virtue. Not even a record recession (depression?) and all its accompanying miseries is enough to shake our self-satisfied masses from their ut-opium dreams.

 

The bottom-line is that most of the bad international news that we read about today, from Iraq to Libya, Iran, North Africa, Sudan, Nigeria and world jihadism in general, has to do with the quest for affordable energy. Take away oil as an issue by crashing its price on world markets through oversupply, and most of these issues cited above simply fade away, along with the revenues transfered to countries that use them to fund activities inimical to our prosperity and civilization. Crash the price of fuel, jihadism dies. Crash the price of fuel, the world’s poor and unemployed benefit. Israel gets it, we don’t.

 

North America enjoys the world’s largest deposits of oil, gas and coal. Europe has recently discovered immense gas deposits that should more-than meet its internal needs. It’s time for our civilization to wake up: we should be developing our own energy resources as a crack pace, if for nothing else than to avoid a world disaster. War and poverty also have environmental consequences.

 

Yes, there is an Obama doctrine

Ed Morrissey has put together a very useful post summarizing various liberal media attempts to understand the Obama doctrine.  Morrissey concludes at the end that, try as hard as one likes, “There really is no doctrine.”

Morrissey is correct that there is no doctrine if one is looking for a verbally articulated doctrine.  Obama says everything, and Obama says nothing, and Obama says it all as boringly as possible.

The mere fact that the greatest communicator since Abraham Lincoln (that’s sarcasm, by the way) is incapable of articulating a doctrine, though, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have one.  Indeed, if one buys for one minute into the whole greatest communicator shtick, it’s pretty clear that, as I said in my earlier post, that Obama intentionally obfuscates in his speeches because he doesn’t want people to know what the doctrine is.

Fortunately, because actions speak louder than words, we can arrive at the Obama Middle Eastern doctrine without any actual verbal help from Obama.  Here goes:

America can no longer selfishly engage in wars that directly affect (i.e., improve) her national interests.  To prevent her from doing so, she must always sublimate her sovereignty to the U.N.  A small number of U.N. players, most notably Europeans who are dependent on Libyan oil, have decided that Qaddafi must go.  Even though the number is smaller than the number that joined with Bush on Iraq, they’re the “in” crowd, so Obama must follow where they lead.  Hewing to the popular kid theory, these “cool” U.N. players matter more than the American Congress, which is made up of rubes and hicks, who lack that European savoir faire, even the useful idiots who hew to Obama’s political ideology.

A subset of this Obama doctrine is that, while America must never mine or drill her own energy resources, it is incumbent upon America to dig into her pockets to enable other countries to get to their energy resources, which America will then buy back at a premium.  This is American charity at its best.  If you want to feed a man for a day, buy him a fish.  If you want to feed him for a lifetime, teach him to fish, buy all his fishing equipment, stock the lake with trout, break all your fishing equipment, make it illegal to fish in your own lakes, and then buy that man’s fish back from him at the highest possible price.

And whatever else you do, make sure you kick Israel around . . . a lot.  That will make the cool kids (e.g., the Euro-trash and the Mullahs) happy.  It never pays to lose sight of your true constituency.

America’s carbon footprint and the world’s oil reserves

I’ve got two quick environmental links for you today.  The first has to do with pollution.  You know that I’ve said at this blog all along that cap-and-trade is stupid, not only because it will destroy America’s economy, but because the really big up-and-coming polluters are China and India.  Turns out I was wrong:  they’re not up-and-coming; they’re here and now, as are Africa and the Gulf countries.  America is a pollution piker.

Also, as you may have seen before, there is increasing evidence that oil is not a finite resource, dependent on the transformation of prehistoric plant and animal matter.  Instead, it might be a recurring product produced in the very bowels of the earth.  Cool.  (H/t Pierre  of Pierre Legrand’s Pink Flamingo Bar)

Speaking of Newspeak — how about Kerry and Boxer on energy?

Even working together, Babs Boxer and John Kerry are still unable to beat Palin’s clear message and, instead, come out with meaningless government speak.  I can’t resist a very light fisking of their opinion piece for the WaPo, which does precisely what my blog slogan says Democrats do:  they take conclusions and try to sell them as facts. I’ll be so light that I won’t dive into underlying facts. I’ll just expose the nonsense on the face of the document.  Also, out of deference for fair use principles, I’m not going to fisk the whole thing, just bits and pieces.  And with those caveats, here goes:

Palin argues that “the answer doesn’t lie in making energy scarcer and more expensive!” The truth is, clean energy legislation doesn’t make energy scarcer or more expensive; it works to find alternative solutions to our costly dependence on foreign oil and provides powerful incentives to pursue cutting-edge clean energy technologies.  [Objection your honor:  non-responsive!  Have Babs and the French-looking guy said anything here that belies the claim that new energy will be scarcer and more expensive?  They've said they'd like to cut spending on foreign oil, but that has nothing to do with scarcity or cost.  They've also said the government will provide financial incentives for new energy, but that sounds costly -- and there's no guarantee that there is affordable and clean new energy to be had, at least in the short term.  In other words, they've said nothing at all that counters Palin's claim that new government clean energy proposals will make energy scarce and costly.]

Palin asserts that job losses are “certain.” Wrong. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and American Clean Energy and Security legislation will create significant employment opportunities across the country in a broad array of sectors linked to the clean energy economy. Studies at the federal level and by states have demonstrated clean energy job creation. A report by the Center for American Progress calculated that $150 billion in clean energy investments would create more than 1.7 million domestic and community-based jobs that can’t be shipped overseas.  [Again, Babs and Kerry take the known problems expensive energy creates (inflation, job loss, a slowing economy and, against those history-proven facts, make the groundless promise that they'll make some new jobs in a private sector devoted to trying to figure out ways to come up with a better solution than fossil fuel.  As to that dream, it would help if, at the very least, they'd work out how to make fossil fuel cleaner and more efficient.  But noooo.  This wagon is hooked to stars such as biofuels, which take food out of the mouths of poor people; electric cars, which use lots of fossil fuel to create the electricity and which work only in densely populated areas where people can tank up quickly; solar energy, which works only where the sun shines (tough luck for those in cold, foggy areas); wind energy, which has proven to be spectacularly unreliable, etc.  One day, alternative energies may be the answer, but to make traditional energy sources impossibly expensive, while sucking money out of the economy to fund pie-in-the-sky "alternatives" is certain to lose jobs.]

[snip]

Take the acid rain program established in the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990. The naysayers said it would cost consumers billions in higher electricity rates, but electricity rates declined an average of 19 percent from 1990 to 2006. Naysayers said the cost to business would be more than $50 billion a year, but health and other benefits outweighed the costs 40 to 1. Naysayers predicted it would cost the economy millions of jobs. In fact, the United States added 20 million jobs from 1993 to 2000, as the U.S. economy grew 64 percent.  [This may true.  However, since I don't trust the source, how am I do know that, but for the Clean Air Act Amendments, the economy wouldn't have grown by a vastly greater amount.  As it is, I happen to enjoy clean fresh air.  I'm interested in reasonable, market-driven responses to cleaner energy that doesn't fund terrorists.  That doesn't justify crap-and-tax, though, does it?]

The carefully crafted clean energy bill that we will present to the Senate [pardon me while I laugh hysterically as Babs uses the phrase "carefully crafted" to describe anything that's coming out of the House right now], building on the Waxman-Markey legislation passed by the House, will jump-start our economy, protect consumers, stop the ravages of unchecked global climate change and ensure that the United States — not China or India — will be the leading economic power in this century. [And this will work because we're sending to China and India, countries unconstrained by these bills, all the jobs that American employers can no longer afford to pay for?  Help me.  I'm confused.]

Anyway, you get the idea. Go to the WaPo, and read the article for yourself. See if you find it more convincing than I do.

Something for which to blame Obama

One post ago, I said I was going to wait and see until Obama does something before I get upset.  Now I’m upset.  I got around to reading the AP article announcing that one of Obama’s first acts will be to reinstate the ban on offshore and natural gas drilling.  That’s the ban that, when in place, saw our gasoline soar to almost $4.00 per gallon.  That wasn’t just a hit to every person driving a car.  It was a hit to every school district running buses.  It was a hit to every grocery store getting food to the shelves.  It was a hit to every farm using gasoline powered equipment to harvest food.  It was a hit to every flight moving people around the United States and around the world.  And on and on, throughout the American economy, at every level and affecting every person.

That same ban was also a huge blessing to OPEC en masse, as well as to its individual members.  It also made Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, Russia and Venezuela very, very happy.  Just as the ban was a bad thing for us at every point in our economy, it was a blessing for those who loath us.

And what happened when Bush let the offshore oil drilling ban lapse in the face of a Democratic Congress afraid to jink the election?  Prices plummeted, and quickly too.  Even here, in one of the priciest parts of America, you can now get gasoline for less then $2.00 a gallon if you’re willing to drive a few miles from the pricier sections of Marin.  My local Safeway has sales on everything.  As their shipping costs have dropped, they’re racing to pass the savings on to customers.  It’s not beneficence on Safeway’s part.  It’s good business.  If they can drop their prices faster than their competitors can, they get the customers.

And just as we in America are benefiting hugely from the mere possibility of offshore drilling, the oil producing nations, almost all of which are hostile to us, are worried.  OPEC is talking about price fixing to keep those petrodollars flowing into Wahhabi coffers.

So what’s Barack Obama’s first planned move?  As I said above, it’s to reinstate the offshore oil ban, as well as to kill domestic natural gas production!  I kid you not:

President-elect Barack Obama plans to use his executive powers to make an immediate impact when he takes office, perhaps reversing Bush administration policies on stem cell research and domestic drilling for oil and natural gas.

[snip]

On drilling, the federal Bureau of Land Management is opening about 360,000 acres of public land in Utah to oil and gas drilling. Bush administration officials argue that the drilling will not harm sensitive areas; environmentalists oppose it.

“They want to have oil and gas drilling in some of the most sensitive, fragile lands in Utah,” Podesta said. “I think that’s a mistake.”

Clearly, one of the things we as conservatives can do is remind hurting consumers every single day that it was President Bush who made gas prices (and therefore all prices) drop when he allowed the ban to lapse, and President Obama who made every aspect of our lives more costly.

And if, God forbid, some Wahhabi extremists launch a deadly, well-funded attack against the U.S. in 2009, it’s up to us to remind the American people that it was the extremist environmental policies espoused by the Democrats (Obama included) that funded that ideology and those attacks.

I was hoping that Obama would govern as a centrist, given his narcissistic need to retain power and popularity.  He’s making it clear, though, that he will govern as an ideologue, pandering to the base, and to hell with the best interests of America and her citizens.

Keeping my mouth shut re Georgia

“Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve said nothing about Russia invading Georgia.  This is, in part, because the exigencies of the past week have deprived me of time to read in detail about it.  I only know headlines and, since I have absolutely no background in the geography or the conflict, this means I’m abysmally ignorant.

The silence is also because, to the extent I have managed to grasp what’s going on out there, I don’t have anything to add to the discussion, or anything that I feel I want to voice personally despite the fact that so many others are saying the same thing.  Yes, Putin is a totalitarian dictator, but we’ve known that about him for a long time, and many of us have just been sitting here waiting to see how is old KGB attitudes end up merging with his megalomaniac traits.  Yes, this is all about oil.  Yes, this represents a very dangerous trend, although it’s as unclear now as it was during the Cold War whether Russia has the ability to back up its aggressive initiatives.  It’s easy to go in with the remaining guns from your former glory and squash a teeny little Republic.  It’s harder to maintain any long campaigns.  And yes, McCain showed leadership abilities, with Obama showing, first, ignorance (which is excusable in me, but not in him) and, second, the ability to follow McCain’s lead.

And yes, I’ve run out of echoing other, wiser people on the terrible tragedy, at the hands of a gross, bullying dictatorship, that is playing out in Georgia.

The seeds of hatred

The accepted wisdom is that the intense hatred the Palestinians feel for Jews is a direct result of Jewish annexation of the West Bank and Gaza after the 1967 War. Of course, as with most propaganda, this is false. Aside from conveniently ignoring the 1956 and 1948 Wars, not to mention the Koran itself, this view ignores the fact that it was a Nazi/Arab alliance that helped fuel the virulence of modern Arab antisemitism. Indeed, it was this alliance, as much as the oil in Arab lands, that caused the British, who had been fairly philosemitic since Cromwell’s days because of their commitment to the Old Testament, to swing around and become extremely hostile to the movement for a Jewish state. (As to the long-dead philosemitism, I highly recommend Barbara Tuchman’s Bible and Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour .)

Mike Devx was kind enough to send me to a great video illustrating the tight ties the Nazis forged with the Arabs as part of their assault on British interests in the Middle East (for British interests, read “oil” and if you’re really interested in how the need to control oil was a driving force in WWII, read Daniel Yergin’s exellent The Prize : The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power.)