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FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, August 01, 2008


By Eric Allie




By Ed Morrissey

How high will Democrats let the price of gas get before considering the option of drilling for more oil?  Ken Salazar (D-CO) has set the bar in today’s action in the Senate.  Gas can hit $10 per gallon and the Democrats still won’t act:

Let a thousand television ads bloom. Even Floridians and Californians now support drilling in the OCS:

With gas prices hovering at $4 a gallon, a majority of Floridians now support drilling for oil in protected areas offshore, according to a new poll.

The survey finds support for drilling at 60 percent, with 10 percent of respondents telling pollsters that they’d opposed offshore drilling in the past. Thirty-six percent of respondents said they remain opposed to offshore drilling.

And ….

A majority of Californians favor more oil drilling off the coast, according to a statewide survey released Wednesday, for the first time since oil prices spiked nearly three decades ago.

The support by 51 percent of residents polled this month by the Public Policy Institute of California represents a shift caused by renewed Republican advocacy for drilling as well as motorists’ reaction to soaring pump prices, according to the pollster.

Republicans should use a very simple message. We have enough oil to satisfy American needs for at least the next 100 years, but Democrats won’t let you have it. They’d rather you pay $10 per gallon at the pump and watch food prices increase 250% rather than agree to drilling.


By Ed Morrissey

Want to get an idea why Democrats have no clue on energy policy? Take a listen to Barack Obama explaining how we can get an extra 12 million barrels of oil a day. We can pull it out of thin air — literally:

There are things you can do individually, though, to save energy.  Making sure your tires are properly inflated — simple thing.  But we could save all the oil that they’re talking about getting off drilling — if everybody was just inflating their tires?  And getting regular tune-ups?   You’d actually save just as much!

Er, no it couldn’t.  The Green River oil shale formation could produce at least 800 billion barrels of oil alone, enough for over 100 years at our current rate of consumption (20 million barrels per day).  Would inflating our tires eliminate every single drop of oil we use?  Of course not!  Nor would it save any significant amount at all.  Tire inflation could improve gas mileage by about 3%, which would relate to about 600,000 barrels of oil a day at the most absurdly optimistic extrapolation.

Maybe the Democrats could use a tune-up on energy policy.  It looks like they’re still stuck in the 1970s, with tired, worn-out points and bad timing.  On energy, Obama is your father’s 1973 Oldsmobile.

Update: Tune-ups?  Most cars today don’t require tune-ups for the first 100,000 miles.  Some automotive mechanics recommend them every 30,000 miles, but it’s hardly the 5,000-mile requirement it used to be twenty-five years ago.

Jim Geraghty has calculated the potential savings, and comes up to 6 million gallons of gasoline a day (not a year as I originally wrote).  He’s also working off of an assumption of 10% improvement rather than 3%, which seems very high.  Has anyone noticed a 10% improvement in their gas mileage by pumping up their tires, ever?  On the other hand, we could be pumping millions of barrels of oil a day if Congress would stop blocking domestic oil production.

Update II: Geraghty’s calculation comes to about 330,000 barrels of oil a day, but at 3%, it would make it closer to 100,000 barrels of oil a day.  That’s not much of a dent in 20 million barrels of oil a day, 12 million of which we import.  I’d say we’d do much better by drilling and keeping our tires inflated.

On the other hand, what does this scolding recollect?  Obama On Your Shoulder!

Thursday, July 31, 2008




By Paul Mirengoff

It's not even quite August yet and he's still ahead in the polls, but Barack Obama has played the race card, claiming that he expects Republicans to inject race into the campaign. In Missouri, he told a crowd:

Nobody [ed: nobody?] thinks that Bush and McCain have a real answer to the challenges we face. So what they're going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know, 'he's not patriotic enough, he's got a funny name,' you know, 'he doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills."

The Obama campaign denied that the comment about "presidents on the dollar bills" was a reference to race. It claimed that Obama was referring to the fact that "he didn't get here after spending decades in Washington." But, of course, neither did the presidents on the dollar bills (Washington, Jackson, Lincoln, Grant). Thus, the campaign's spin does not pass the straight face test.

Moreover, a month ago, Obama explicitly claimed, without evidence, that the Republicans will attack him on racial grounds:

The choice is clear. Most of all we can choose between hope and fear. It is going to be very difficult for Republicans to run on their stewardship of the economy or their outstanding foreign policy. We know what kind of campaign they're going to run. They're going to try to make you afraid. They're going to try to make you afraid of me. He's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?

It seems clear, therefore, that the race card has become a permanent part of Obama's hand, a wild card to be played whenever the spirit, or the circumstances, so moves him

What does Obama's latest play tell us about the current circumstances? I think it tells us that, despite Obama's presidential preening, he senses he may be in trouble. The "world tour" bounce appears to have been a short-hop only, and his pretentiousness and arrogance are beginning to grate even on some in the MSM. The McCain campaign is ridiculing Obama as a celebrity and little more. There's enough truth in this suggestion to make the candidate uncomfortable. He doesn't feel he can ignore the attack, but he also cannot respond with "I am too a man of substance who deserves my celebrity." Hence the whining; hence the race card.

Shelby Steele has divided African-American public figures into two categories: bargainers and challengers. Bargainers state, in effect, “I will presume that you're not a racist and by loving me you'll show that my presumption is correct.” Challengers say, in effect, that whites are racist until they prove otherwise by conferring tangible benefits on them. Oprah is a bargainer; so was Louis Armstrong. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are challengers.

Barack Obama made his political breakthrough as a bargainer. By constantly referring to the national yearning (including, he said, by many Republicans) to "come together" as blacks and whites, Obama presumed we are not racists. His reward was an almost magical appeal to broad portions of the electorate.

However, Steele (who believes that bargainers are masking their real, more subtle, view of whites) predicted that Obama would not be able to maintain his bargainer status. That prophesy began to come true when the tapes of Rev. Wright surfaced. Now, as Obama feels the heat of the campaign, he continues his transformation to challenger. In Steele's terms, he no longer offers us the assurances, required of bargainers, that he knows we’re not racists; we now have to prove it to him. Having issued this challenge, Obama can no longer receive our unconditional love.

Of course, Obama doesn't need our unconditional love; he just needs 50 percent plus one of the vote. Straining to get to that number, his mask is coming off, probably to his detriment.  Thursday, July 31, 2008




By Ed Morrissey

The Bureau of Economic Analysis produced its second-quarter report, and it will surprise a few of the doom-and-gloom crowd. While certainly not spectacular, it shows that the economy continues to grow, improving on a weak first quarter to bounce up to 1.9% growth. The revised forecast for 2007’s final quarter reveals a retreat:

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 1.9 percent in the second quarter of 2008 (that is, from the first quarter to the second quarter), according to advance estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the first quarter, real GDP increased 0.9 percent. ….

The increase in real GDP in the second quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from
exports, personal consumption expenditures (PCE), nonresidential structures, federal government spending, and state and local government spending that were partly offset by negative contributions from private inventory investment, residential fixed investment, and equipment and software. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, decreased.

The acceleration in real GDP growth in the second quarter primarily reflected a larger decrease in imports, an acceleration in exports, a smaller decrease in residential fixed investment, and an acceleration in PCE that were partly offset by a larger decrease in inventory investment.

The BEA will issue its final look at Q2 at the end of August.  They revised 2007Q4 downwards, showing it as the first quarter of negative GDP movement in at least four years.  The GDP had previously been rated as a positive 0.6%, but now has been calculated at -0.2%.  Overall GDP growth in 2007 went down a full point from 4.8% to 3.8%, still healthy but not as robust as earlier thought.

At the current rate, Q2 is the strongest quarter in the past three, showing growth despite a fuel-price crisis and a housing downturn.  Thanks to a weak dollar, exports increased and the fall in imports accelerated over Q1.  Housing continued to suffer but actually improved over Q1, and despite all of the talk of a recession in the air, consumer spending increased as well.

John McCain lost no time in pointing out how important free-trade policies have been in allowing the American economy to remain resilient through this turbulence:

“Today’s GDP data are a stark reminder of the importance of focusing on the conditions facing American workers and the policies that will get our economy back on track. While growth continues to be disappointing, trade provides one of the few bright spots in an otherwise gloomy economic picture, raising questions about Barack Obama’s policy of economic isolationism.

“The data announced today show that exports grew 9.2%. Absent strong growth in trade, the economy would have turned negative in the second quarter, contracting by 0.52% instead of growing 1.9%. Senator Obama will throw up trade barriers that would seriously hurt American workers, businesses and our economy. When 95% of the world’s consumers live outside our borders, it is crucial that we do everything we can to expand markets for American goods and level the playing field for American businesses and workers.”

It might behoove Republicans, including McCain, to remind voters that issuing hyperbolic, unrealistic statements about the American economy intends to panic Americans into bad policy.  The economy does not need a lot of top-down management, and in fact a great deal of what ails us now originates in government meddling, such as with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and mandates on lending practices.

Whatever else this economy might be, it’s not a recession, and it’s improving.  Thursday, July 31, 2008




By Charles Johnson

Republican vice presidential rumors are everywhere. Now ABC News is touting Joe Lieberman as a serious possibility.  Thursday, July 31, 2008




By Lisa Benson




By Charles Johnson

The radical Islamic front group calling itself the Muslim Public Affairs Council has been trying to get Steven Emerson blocked from giving testimony to the House Subcommittee on Terrorism and Nonproliferation, and yesterday Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman let MPAC know that he’s on to them: Congressman Sherman Turns the Tables on MPAC: Group Tried to Block Emerson Testimony.

Sherman Oaks, CA – On Tuesday, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) demonstrated in front of the Office of Congressman Brad Sherman, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism and Nonproliferation. The demonstrators demanded the cancellation of a subcommittee hearing on whether American foreign aid is going to organizations affiliated with terrorists.

“This hearing will go on. We need to make sure that the State Department is not giving U.S. tax dollars to those on the other side in the war on terrorism,” said Sherman. “I know there are many in our community so desperate for peace that they want us to sweep under the rug the pro-terrorism positions of some groups. There are groups in the Islamic world truly dedicated to peace, but we should not blind ourselves to the fact that some are not.”

The day of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, MPAC executive Salam Al-Marayati created a furor when he stated on a Los Angeles radio program, “If we are going to look at suspects, we should look at groups that benefit the most from these kinds of incidents, and I think we should put the State of Israel on the suspect list ... ”[1]

Two brothers have played a critical role in leading MPAC. Maher Hathout is a senior adviser and one of the founders of MPAC, while his brother Hassan Hathout served as MPAC’s president.

In the “about the authors” section of his book, Hassan Hathout is described as “a close disciple of the late Hassan Al-Banna of Egypt,”[2] the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Maher Hathout has praised Hassan Al-Turabi as a reformist working for peace and justice for all.[3] Hassan Al-Turabi was head of the Sudan National Islamic Front (NIF) which the U.S. government condemned for supporting terrorism, and for launching a genocidal war in southern Sudan. Al-Turabi has been described as the “power behind the throne” in Sudan during the 1990s, as leader of the NIF and as Speaker of the National Assembly.[4] Turabi gave Osama Bin Laden sanctuary in Sudan.[5]

Maher Hathout has also asserted that “Hezbollah is fighting for freedom” and that the organization is “very American”.[6] In fact, Hezbollah is listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization.

“The Muslim Public Affairs Council should apologize for the statements of its executive director on September 11, 2001, and should disown and sever all connection with the Hathout brothers,” said Sherman.  Thursday, July 31, 2008


By Charles Johnson

The act of a deeply dysfunctional society: Saudi religious police ban pet cats and dogs.

Saudi Arabia’s religious police have announced a ban on selling cats and dogs as pets, or walking them in public in the Saudi capital, because of men using them as a means of making passes at women, an official said on Wednesday.

Othman al-Othman, head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in Riyadh, known as the Muttawa, told the Saudi edition of al-Hayat daily that the commission has started enforcing an old religious edict.

He said the commission was implementing a decision taken a month ago by the acting governor of the capital, Prince Sattam bin Abdul Aziz, adding that it follows an old edict issued by the supreme council of Saudi scholars.  Wednesday, July 30, 2008




The Bagram Four: Abu Abdallah al Shami (upper left); Abu Nasir al Qahtan (upper right); Abu Yahya al Libi (lower left); Omar al Farouq (lower right).

The US Air Force killed an al Qaeda field commander in Afghanistan during an airstrike this month, al Qaeda said in a statement released on the Internet earlier this month.

Abu Abdallah al Shami, one of four senior al Qaeda operatives who escaped from Bagram prison on July 10, 2005, was killed in an unspecified airstrike, said Mustafa Abu Yazid, al Qaeda's senior commander in Afghanistan.

"Al Qaeda announces the martyrdom of one of the heroes and field leaders who performed well in facing the modern crusade, our brother Abu Abdallah al Shami," Yazid said, in a statement translated by Reuters. "Since his feet touched the battle field (after the escape) he resumed jihad with stronger zeal ... he had led and took part in several successful military operations."

Shami, who is also called Abu Mu'adh, is originally from Syria. He was captured by US forces Afghanistan's Khost province in 2003. He then spent "about a year and eleven months" in Bagram prison, according to al Qaeda Spokesman Abu Yahya al Libi, al Qaeda's spokesman who also escaped Bagram along with Shami and two other senior operatives.

Al Libi said Shami "played a major role on the jihad battlefields" and was a commander of "groups of mujahideen."

Shami escaped Bagram with al Libi, Abu Nasir al Qahtani, and Omar Farouq. Of the four, al Libi is the only one to remain free.

British special forces killed Omar Farouq in Basrah, Iraq in September 2006 after attempting to be reassigned to facilitate the flow of money, weapons, and fighters for al Qaeda in Iraq. Farouq was considered to be al Qaeda point man in Southeast Asia prior to his capture in by Indonesian security forces in 2002.

Farouq helped set up the first al Qaeda training camp in Southeast Asia in Mindanao in the Philippines in 1994. In 1999, Farouq took credit for bombing both a mosque and the Philippine ambassador's house in Jakarta.

US forces recaptured Abu Nasir al Qahtani in Khost province in November 2006. Like Shami, Qahtani was a senior al Qaeda commander in eastern Afghanistan.

After his escape from Bagram, Qahtani fled to North Waziristan to continue attacks against NATO and Afghan forces inside Afghanistan. He joined forces with al Qaeda operative Abu Wafa, who operates from the North Waziristan tribal agency in Pakistan. Wafa and Qahtani were active in the Afghan provinces of Khost, Paktia, and Paktika. Qahtani also released propaganda and training videos for terrorists operating in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Qahtani's brother, Abu Dejana al Qahtani, was also killed in eastern Afghanistan this spring.

The fight heats up in eastern Afghanistan

Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their allies have devoted significant resources to the Pakistani-Afghan theater after their venture in Iraq has soured. Numerous reports indicate al Qaeda is refocusing its efforts from Iraq and diverting senior operatives to the region. Al Qaeda in Iraq commander Abu Ayyub al Masri and other senior al Qaeda operatives are thought to have shifted to Pakistan.

With more resources and a safe haven in northwestern Pakistan, the Taliban, al Qaeda, and allied terror groups have launched numerous attacks on US and Afghan outposts in the eastern provinces of Zabul, Paktika, Paktia, Khost, Kunar, Nangarhar, and Nuristan. The Taliban are attempting to destabilize the eastern region and overrun Afghan government centers and Coalition bases. The vast amount of these battles end badly for the Taliban, usually with scores of their fighters killed and no US or Afghan casualties taken.

Attacks in the east are up by more than 40 percent from last year, according to the US military. Attacks in the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand, which border Pakistan, have skyrocketed as well. Attacks have nearly doubled in Kandahar and tripled in Helmand.

Matt Dupee contributed to this report.  Thursday, July 31, 2008


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