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FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, August 11, 2008


By Charles Johnson

One of the participants at an “interfaith service” at the upcoming Democratic Convention is Ingrid Mattson—a deceptive shill for the Islamic Society of North America, one of the groups listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation Hamas funding trial: Radical Islamist to Appear at Democrat Convention ‘Interfaith Service’.

Hamas co-conspirators at an “interfaith service.” Welcome to the modern Democratic Party.  Sunday, August 10, 2008




By Ed Morrissey

What if a Senatorial candidate decided to throw an event, and only one person showed up?  Al Franken found out that, gosh darn it, Minnesotans just don’t care about him — at least in St. Cloud.  Give the struggling Democrat credit, though, for a little grace:

There’s an old saying in politics that elections are won or lost one vote at a time.

On Friday, DFL-endorsed U.S. Senate candidate Al Franken demonstrated how true that saying can be, when a roundtable on veterans issues at Brigitte’s Cafe his campaign scheduled drew only one participant.

The single participant, a former Navy veteran, related his difficulties in seeking treatment at the VA, at least initially.  Franken spent an hour with Josh John, choosing not to simply excuse himself and leave out of embarrassment.  However, he wound up misrepresenting Norm Coleman’s record, claiming that Coleman didn’t care about veterans issues and had done nothing to assist veterans seeking medical care.

The St. Cloud Times noted Coleman’s response:

Coleman has voted more than 30 times to increase federal funding for veterans, which has gone up more than 70 percent during his term, said Luke Friedrich, Coleman’s campaign spokesman. …

The first bill Coleman got passed in Congress required the Pentagon to pay troops’ travel expenses when they return home for rest and relaxation, Friedrich said.

Coleman supported the GI Bill expansion, secured federal reintegration funds for Minnesota Army National Guard troops returning from overseas and got a bill passed in 2006 requiring the VA to reach out to veterans informing them of benefits for which they are eligible, among other accomplishments, he said.

Franken can’t even bat above .000 even when having a one-on-one. (via SCSU ScholarsSunday, August 10, 2008




By John Hinderaker

News reports indicate that Russia may have tried to bomb the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which runs through Georgia. If so, the bombs missed, and flow of oil through the pipeline was not interrupted. The BTC pipeline runs from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey; note Russia to the north and Iran to the south:

The BTC pipeline runs through Georgia, well south of South Ossetia:


The pipeline, in which British Petroleum is the lead partner, can carry up to one million barrels of oil per day. It is of considerable strategic significance, as it is the only means by which countries in the region like Azerbaijan can get their oil into the international market without relying on Russia. The Daily Mail writes:

It is crucial to the world’s volatile energy market and the only oil and gas route that bypasses Russia’s stranglehold on energy exports from the region.

In 2002, when the pipeline was being planned, the BBC reported:

BTC is said to be an effective alternative to Russia's pipeline network. ... [O]il experts believe political considerations played a major role in the choice of the route.

American officials prefer a route that would weaken Russia's stranglehold on regional pipeline network and leave Iran on the sidelines. Local governments want less dependency on big regional powers, too.

"This pipeline is of strategic importance not only to Azerbaijan, but to the other new independent states as well", says Ilham Shaban, oil analyst in Baku. "This is a reliable way to the world markets. Take Turkmenistan with its huge resources of natural gas and no access to the world markets. As a result, The Turkmens have to sell their gas 2.5 times cheaper than the world price."

Turkmenistan could join a gas pipeline which is likely to be built alongside BTC to the Turkish town of Erzurum.

That natural gas pipeline has now been built immediately adjacent to the BTC oil pipeline and is called the South Caucasus Pipeline. It has a capacity of 16 billion cubic meters per year. Plans are now being laid to connect Turkmenistan's vast natural gas reserves to the SCP:

Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan are central to the EU’s plans to reduce its energy reliance on Russia which supplies a quarter of Europe’s needs. ... Both the Azeri and Turkmen leaders said they wanted to improve relations and diversify their export routes — a natural move, analysts said. The vast majority of Turkmenistan’s gas currently travels north to Europe through Russia’s network of pipes.

Because the BTC pipeline gives the USSR's former breakaway republics a way to deliver their petroleum to the world market without relying on Russia, Russia "steadfastly opposed" its construction, recognizing that "the new conduit stands to severely weaken Russia’s grip on regional energy exports."

For these reasons, it would be of enormous strategic benefit to Russia if it could reassert dominance over Georgia, or merely have an opportunity to demonstrate to Turkmenistan and Azerbaijain that any means of getting their petroleum products to market independent of Russia may be unreliable. These issues are a key subtext to Russia's conflict with Georgia and Georgia's desire to join NATO, and otherwise seek protection from the West.

One can only imagine the astonishment and glee with which Russia's leaders are observing Nancy Pelosi's nearly hysterical determination to prevent the United States from developing its own oil resources, and the fecklessness of Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama in the face of their aggression against an American ally.

UPDATE: This report appears to confirm that Russia has targeted the pipeline:

Deep craters pockmark the landscape south of the Georgian capital Tblisi in a Y-shaped pattern straddling the British-operated pipeline. The attack left two deep holes less than 100 yards either side of a pressure vent on the pipeline. Shrapnel of highly engineered munitions litters the area.

There was no visible damage to the pipeline. ...

Local police recorded 51 strikes. "I have no doubt they wanted to target the pipeline, there is nothing else here," said Giorgi Abrahamisvili, a policeman who witnessed the attack.


By John Hinderaker

We've written about the fact that the United States has by far the largest known oil shale deposits in the world. In fact our Rocky Mountain oil shale is believed to amount to as much as two trillion barrels, far more than the entire world has consumed since oil was discovered in Pennsylvania in the 19th century. This chart, from the Institute for Energy Research, shows how our oil shale reserves dwarf the petroleum controlled by other countries:


Unfortunately, the Democrats have been able to place these vast reserves off-limits. Now, one country has announced plans to develop its shale oil resources, but it isn't the United States, it's Jordan:

Energy-poor Jordan said on Sunday it was in talks with Anglo-Dutch group Royal Dutch Shell on an agreement to extract oil from the desert kingdom's 40-billion-tonne oil shale reserves.

"Negotiations with Shell to sign a deal to process oil shale in Jordan are nearing an end," said Maher Hjazin, head of the state-run Natural Resources Authority. "If our plans succeed, it would be one of the country's largest projects to help the Jordan become energy self-sufficient, with a possibility to export oil in the future." ...

JEA president Wael Saqqa said exploiting the 40-billion-tonne oil shale reserves in 26 areas of Jordan "would provide the kingdom with oil for the coming 700 years."

Under the leadership of the Democratic Party, the United States continues to be the only country in the world that is deliberately devastating its own economy by refusing to develop its energy resources.

UPDATE: A commenter at the Forum points out that I used the term "reserves" incorrectly. Oil in the ground is not counted toward "reserves" unless it is 1) evaluated as profitably recoverable under current economic conditions, and 2) accessible under current regulatory schemes. Our oil shale is "oil in the ground," since the Democrats have blocked it from development. This is a key point: you often hear liberals say that the United States only has 3% of the world's petroleum reserves, therefore it is hopeless to try to develop our own resources. That is, obviously, a non sequitur at best, but it is doubly deceptive given that the only reason our "reserves" are so low is that the Democrats have placed the vast majority of our oil resources off limits through regulation and legislation.  Sunday, August 10, 2008




By Ed Morrissey

Ukraine delivered a diplomatic bombshell across Russia’s bow today, escalating tensions in the region over their invasion of South Ossetia.  The Kiev government announced that they may bar the Russian Navy from using their ports in the Crimea as part of its effort to maintain neutrality.  Moscow had negotiated leases through 2017 with Kiev, and needs the ports to support its war on Georgia:

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said the deployment of a Russian naval squadron to Georgia’s Black sea coast has the potential of drawing Ukraine into the conflict.

“In order to prevent the circumstances in which Ukraine could be drawn into a military conflict … Ukraine reserves the right to bar ships which may take part in these actions from returning to the Ukrainian territory until the conflict is solved,” said the statement which was posted on the ministry’s Web site.

The Ukraine government didn’t need a reminder of how Russia treats its former satellites when they get too independent, but they’re certainly learning from the Georgian example.  Ukraine’s move makes it clear to Vladimir Putin that Russia will pay a steep political and military price for their adventure in the Caucasus.  It also sends a signal of support to the beleaguered government in Tbilisi, which can use all the friends it can get at the moment.

Russia seemed surprised at the statement.  Their defense minister called the warning “quite unexpected”, but it follows normal diplomatic protocols.  Any nation providing military support for a belligerent during an armed conflict is a de facto belligerent themselves, unless they cut off that support.  Ukraine’s action isn’t just expected but a normal response for any nation wishing to remain at least neutral.

Russia may gain South Ossetia and Abkhazia in this grab, but Putin has let the mask slip.  Former Soviet republics will learn to to fear Russia and to gravitate to the West for protection — as long as we stand firmly for Georgia.  Fortunately, the Bush administration is now following John McCain’s lead on this issue and sending exactly that signal.  Sunday, August 10, 2008




By Michael Ramirez




By Paul Mirengoff

I'm not an economist or a futurist, and I've never been to China. But for what it's worth, I strongly suspect that the predcitions one hears constantly these days about China dominating the 21st century are likely to be wrong, perhaps spectacularly so.

John Pomfret, former Beijing bureau chief of The Washington Post, thinks so too. He offers a series of reasons to support his position. The most compelling, it seems to me, is this one:

The place remains an authoritarian state run by a party that limits the free flow of information, stifles ingenuity and doesn't understand how to self-correct.
I find it slightly depressing that so many American leaders, including American business leaders, don't seem to believe this.  Sunday, August 10, 2008




By Charles Johnson

That top Syrian general who was assassinated last week was in charge of procuring anti-aircraft missiles for Hizballah.

The senior aide to Syrian President Bashar Assad who was assassinated last weekend had been in charge of supplying Hizbullah with advanced anti-aircraft weaponry, the Sunday Times reported.

According to the report, Brig.-Gen. Muhammad Suleiman had provided the guerrilla group with advanced Syrian SA-8 anti-aircraft missiles, Middle Eastern sources told the paper. Such missiles could potentially challenge the IAF reconnaissance flights which are currently conducted unhindered over Lebanon.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese government is handing over more power to Hizballah—a decision that could backfire badly.

Last week, Lebanon’s new Cabinet unanimously approved a draft policy statement which could secure Hizbullah’s existence as an armed organization and guarantee its right to “liberate or recover occupied lands.”

“The Cabinet unanimously approved the draft,” Information Minister Tarek Mitri told reporters after the five-hour meeting at the presidential palace in a Beirut suburb last Monday.

Government sources in Jerusalem said the decision would make the government in Beirut an accomplice to any Hizbullah aggression and give Israel the right to hold it responsible.  Sunday, August 10, 2008


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