Archive for February, 2008

funding both sides of the war

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

Bud McFarlane writes:

Today we are spending more than $300 billion annually to purchase foreign oil. It is well known that some of that money is passed on to al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Indeed, it is fair to say that we are funding both sides in this war.

We spend $500 billion each year on our military forces. One of their most vital missions is to protect the flow of Persian Gulf oil which fuels the global economy. The disruption of those oil flows — such as by terrorists disabling a major Saudi processing terminal — would bring down economies throughout the industrialized world.

Here again, one can conceive a strategy for neutralizing this threat. It involves moving urgently to introduce a profoundly different national energy policy designed to [...] provide market-based incentives to justify the essential re-tooling of our automobile industry to enable it to produce flexible-fuel, plug-in hybrid electric cars and trucks, using carbon composite materials (as Boeing is doing in the new 787 airliner);

Chuck Colson weighs in

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

Chuck Colson writes: 

The Saudi government funds and operates “mosques, madrassas, and Islamic centers” in the United States and elsewhere. These institutions spread the Salafist, or Wahabi, version of Islam practiced in the kingdom—the same kind that prohibits the practice of Christianity, that lets girls burn to death rather than letting them exit a burning building in their pajamas.

What’s more, it is the version of Islam that inspires bin Laden and other extremists and seeks to dominate other, more moderate, versions of Islam and destroy non-Muslim nations like ours. Without Saudi petro-dollars, Salafism would be confined to the Arabian peninsula. [...]

It is a tribute to “the Saudis’ considerable influence in U.S. corridors of power” that such a ridiculous deal [the Administration's proposed $20 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia includes “satellite-guided weaponry” and “high-tech munitions,” including 900 JDAM bombs] would ever be proposed. It is also, as Gaffney and others have pointed out, a consequence of our dependence on Saudi oil.

Breaking OPEC’s Grip

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

Robert Zubrin writes:

If something isn’t done to break the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) — the cartel that dominates and manipulates the global oil market — the situation is likely to get much worse: With China and India industrializing rapidly, world demand for fuel is going up. OPEC is positioned to exploit this new demand with radical price hikes that go well beyond the 50-percent increase it effected during 2007 alone. Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are already calling for prices of $200 per barrel. In short, we Americans are financing a war against ourselves — and the way things are going, we may soon be paying the enemy more than we are paying our own military.

The enemy’s unconstrained ability to loot us is also threatening our economy. Consider this: Congress is raiding the public purse to put $140 billion back in the pockets of American consumers, in the hope that this will provide an economic stimulus to prevent recession. Yet by paying $100 per barrel of oil, we are allowing OPEC to set oil prices high enough to take more than triple that amount out of Americans’ pockets. [...]

In light of this, the top priority of U.S. national-security policy must be to break the oil cartel. This imperative has been apparent since the 1973 oil embargo, but no progress has been made. The only policy solution we’ve tried — domestic energy conservation — has failed, and will continue to fail for two reasons. First — putting aside the near-impossibility of getting American consumers to use less fuel — global demand will continue to grow, so it’s scarcely conceivable that domestic conservation efforts could affect the global oil price. Second, even if we could hypothetically create global conservation, OPEC could simply cut production to keep demand — and prices — high.

However, there is now a way to break OPEC, a surprisingly simple one. What is needed is for Congress to pass a law requiring that all new cars sold (not just made, but sold) in the U.S. be flex-fueled — that is, be able to run on any combination of gasoline or alcohol fuels. Such cars already exist — two dozen different models of flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs) are being produced by Detroit’s Big Three this year — and they only cost about $100 more than identical models that can run on gasoline only. (The switch to FFV requires only two minor upgrades: in the materials used in the fuel line and in the software controlling the electronic fuel injector.)

FFVs currently command only about 3 percent of the new-car market. After all, there is little upside for consumers to own one, with alcohol-fuel pumps being nearly as rare as unicorns. Little wonder: Why should gas-station owners dedicate one of their pumps to alcohol fuels (like E85 — a mix of 85-percent ethanol and 15-percent gasoline — or M50 — a mix of half methanol and half gasoline) when only a tiny percentage of cars can use them? But, within three years of the enactment of an FFV mandate, there would be 50 million cars on American roads capable of running on high-alcohol fuels. Under those conditions, fuel pumps dispensing E85 and M50 would be everywhere — creating, for the first time, an effectively open market in vehicle fuels, and competition for OPEC oil.


Thursday, February 14th, 2008

Frank Gaffney responds to the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is pronouncement last week that we had better get used to the imposition of Shariah (Islamic law) in Britain since it is now, in the Archbishop’s words, “unavoidable.”:

The creeping (some call it “Fabian”) imposition of Shariah in America and other freedom-loving nations is not exclusively a product of the coercive effects of terror-backed intimidation and what it evokes from the likes of Archbishop Williams in the form of politically correct “sensitivity” and acts of appeasement.

It is also the result of the money available to avowed Islamists and their enablers in places like Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states. [...]

Whether movements of these funds manifest themselves as U.S. acquisitions by Sovereign Wealth Funds (which would be better described as “Dictators Slush Funds”) emanating from Islamist nations or as so-called “Shariah-compliant finance,” the effect, over time, will be truly “unavoidable”: investments in what the Islamofascists call “financial jihad” — penetration and subversion of American and other Western capitalist systems.

It is an ignominious fact that most of the money put to such insidious uses comes from us, in the form of hundreds of billions of dollars we transfer abroad to purchase oil. [...]

We [...]must do something meaningful and effective about what President Bush has rightly called “our addiction to oil.”

Fortunately, there is a practical, near-term and low-cost way to begin dramatically reducing our dependence on oil imported from places that wish us ill: “fuel competition.” This alternative to our present, near-exclusive reliance on a commodity controlled by a cartel can be achieved by creating an infrastructure that will permit our transportation sector (where we use most of our imported oil and use it most profligately) to use instead “Freedom Fuels” — namely, ethanol and methanol that we can produce here at home or import cost-effectively from friendly countries.

How can we obtain such an infrastructure? Simple: By adopting an Open Fuel Standard that requires every new car sold in America to have not only seat-belts and air bags but Flexible Fuel Vehicle (FFV) capability. An FFV can use ethanol or methanol or gasoline (or some combination) thanks to a chip and some plastic fittings in the fuel system. Today, these cost a trivial $100 per car. When in three years time, 50 million American cars have this feature (and another 50 million to 100 million overseas), the marginal additional cost will probably be zero.

Shaking that oil saber

Friday, February 8th, 2008

The Wall Street Journal reports that today OPEC Secretary-General Abdullah al-Badri was quoted in the Middle East Economic Digest: “maybe we can price the oil in the euro.”

Here’s an article by Gal Luft on How to Make OPEC Blink.

Did you get a big heating oil bill?

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

High oil prices mean big home heating bills. Here are some tips to help you save oil and money – click on the links for details:

Seal air leaks – make sure your heated air isn’t literally flying out the door, window, or fireplace.

Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is going. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney.

Weatherize windows

Open draperies and shades on southfacing windows during the day to allow sunlight to enter  and close at night to reduce the chill from cold windows.

Turn off kitchen, bath, and other exhaust fans within 20 minutes after you are done cooking or bathing – they pull heated air out of your house.

Beef up insulation

Set thermostat as low as is comfortable.

Make sure your heating vents are not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.

Cut your water heating bills.

Lots more tips here.