Archive for August, 2009

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Happy Birthday OIL!

August 28, 2009

Let’s Celebrate Oil’s 150th Birthday And The Value It Adds To Our Lives

By ALEX EPSTEIN | Posted Thursday, August 27, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Thursday marked the 150th anniversary of a seminal event in history: the birth of the oil industry. On that day in 1859, Edwin Drake struck black gold with the first commercial oil well — creating an industry that would provide the lifeblood for modern civilization.

And yet no one seems to care.

In previous generations, the birth of the oil industry was celebrated, and deservedly so. Oil has sustained and enhanced billions of lives for more than 150 years by providing superior, affordable, ultraconvenient energy — and is as vital today as ever.

Col. Edwin Drake, right, credited with being the first to drill for oil in the United States, stands in front of his well near Titusville, Pa., with local druggist Peter Wilson. Drake's Folly hit pay dirt Aug. 27, 1859Col. Edwin Drake, right, credited with being the first to drill for oil in the United States, stands in front of his well near Titusville, Pa., with local druggist Peter Wilson. Drake’s Folly hit pay dirt Aug. 27, 1859

The oil industry began its ascent by dominating the fast-growing illumination energy market of the 1860s. Producers of oil-based kerosene won out due to superior quality and price. Where whale oil was lighting homes for $3 a gallon in 1860, kerosene was lighting homes for 9 cents a gallon by 1880 — giving millions of Americans the gift of illumination at night.

In the early 20th century, as the electric light bulb outcompeted kerosene, oil producers focused on producing automotive fuel — and beat out steam, ethanol and — the front-runner at the time — electric batteries, through a combination of affordability, safety and convenience.

The availability of cheap, personalized transport is something oil makes possible, and something we should never take for granted.

As a gasoline marketer told a group of gas station attendants in 1928: “My friends, it is the juice of the fountain of eternal youth that you are selling. It is health. It is comfort. It is success. . . . You must put yourself in the place of the man and woman in whose lives your gasoline has worked miracles.”

Oil also worked miracles for America’s military in World Wars I and II. Vehicles powered by ample quantities of the most portable, highest-energy-density fuel gave them the enormous advantage of superior speed and mobility.

Many historians have argued that Allied nations’ superior ability to produce oil was a decisive factor in both wars. In war, as in economics, having the cheapest, most convenient energy is a matter of life and death.

Today, oil brings even more value to our lives.

One underappreciated form is petroleum-based products. We live in a world where chemists are able to employ oil to suit any conceivable purpose, from making shatterproof glasses to ultra-durable synthetic rubber tires to medical implants to bacteria-resistant refrigerators to HDTVs to iPhones. Look in your home and you can find 100 things made of oil in no time.

And if you look at the “Made In” labels on everything you use — from your Asian electronics to your pineapple from Hawaii to your oranges from California to your beef from Omaha to your furniture from Sweden — you will begin to appreciate the system of global trade that could not exist without oil-powered transportation — the 800 million-plus planes, automobiles, trucks, ships and tankers that move men, machines and material quickly and cheaply.

Nearly every item in your life would either not exist or be far more expensive without oil; there is simply no comparable source of practical, portable energy.

Yet today people increasingly label oil a pollutant that damages rather than enhances our lives and, even worse, an addiction — likening our consumption of oil to a junkie’s self-destructive heroin habit. This is profoundly ignorant, not to mention unfair to the petroleum industry that tirelessly innovates, year after year, to find more oil and extract it more efficiently.

Does this mean that no one should look for alternatives to oil? Of course entrepreneurs should — if they believe that they can truly match or exceed oil’s value in the market. For example, if a liberated nuclear industry can provide ultracheap electric power that makes petroleum the whale oil of the 21st century, that will be something to celebrate.

Today, though, we should be celebrating petroleum — “the juice of the fountain of eternal youth” — and the industry, past and present, that uses it to work miracles in our lives.

Epstein is an analyst at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, focusing on business issues. He is the author of multiple essays on the history of oil, including “Vindicating Capitalism: The Real History of the Standard Oil Company,” in the journal “The Objective Standard.”

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Picturing The Enemy

August 25, 2009

Picturing The Enemy

Investors Business Daily 22 Aug. 09

Security: The ACLU sneakily photographing CIA officers near their homes, then showing the shots to the imprisoned planners of the 9/11 attacks. A fruitcake fantasy? The government is looking into exactly this.

When the Washington Post three and a half years ago uncovered the CIA’s “black prisons” program, in which enhanced interrogation was used against terrorist detainees to foil future atrocities, we forcefully argued that such secret wartime operations ought never be outed.

The Post may have won a Pulitzer for its revelation, but we feel more strongly than ever today. And a new story in that same newspaper gives new facts about the harm it did, and continues to do.

A Justice Department investigation is now apparently investigating whether photos of covert CIA officials surreptitiously taken by the American Civil Liberties Union’s “John Adams Project” were unlawfully shown to terrorist detainees charged with organizing the attacks of 9/11.

It’s all supposedly part of military lawyers’ aggressive defense of their terrorist defendants, on whom enhanced interrogation may have been used. But the Justice probe seems to have given quite a scare to ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero. Refusing to comment on the specifics of his organization’s photo activities on behalf of “our clients,” Romero complained that the government was not investigating “the CIA officials who undertook the torture.”

Has there ever been a more outrageous trading of places? Those behind the attacks that murdered thousands are now the victims? And the courageous U.S. government officials who grilled them for the purpose of preventing further terrorist attacks are now the villains?

Instead of receiving the protection they deserve, they and their family members have apparently been spied on by the ACLU and have had their likenesses displayed to al-Qaida members!

What if these detainees get released — which the ACLU obviously wouldn’t mind seeing happen? Will descriptions of those CIA officers be relayed up the al-Qaida food chain? Will there be “future ops” files on these interrogators and their families somewhere in the mountainous caves of Afghanistan and Pakistan?

The Post story notes that leftist groups here and abroad, European investigators and others “have compiled lists of people thought to have been involved in the CIA’s program, including CIA station chiefs, agency interrogators and medical personnel who accompanied detainees on planes as they were moved from one secret location to another.”

It says that “working from these lists, some of which include up to 45 names, researchers photographed agency workers and obtained other photos from public records.” The ACLU’s Romero shrugs his shoulders and calls all that “normal” lawyerly research.

It may be normal for a group that throughout its history has provided aid and comfort to America’s adversaries, but compiling a long enemies list and attaching pictures to go with the names should be the least-normal thing imaginable in a free society.

To al-Qaida, such a list of names-paired-with-faces might as well be Stalin’s list of those targeted for Communist Party purges in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s — in other words, a collective death warrant.

This shows just how foolish it is to treat the POWs of the global war on terror as if they were American citizens protected by our laws and Constitution. Morale is already poor within the agency because the heroes within their ranks have been depicted as little better than the Marquis de Sade.

Who in the CIA will be willing to stick their necks out in the future, with prosecutions hanging over their heads, the blowing of their covers by the ACLU, and the physical endangerment of themselves and their families as their thanks? On top of it all, who really believes the Obama Justice Department will at the end of the day do anything to punish those guilty of aiding the enemy?

It’s a smutty business from top to bottom, but the most despicable of this sorry cast of characters have to be those who physically snapped the shots. How depraved must you be to violate and endanger the families of those who saved so many American lives?

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The Justice Dept.’s War On Heroes

August 25, 2009

The Justice Dept.’s War On Heroes

By INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY | 25 Aug. 09

National Security: Appointing a prosecutor to harass CIA interrogators exposes this administration’s priorities: The global war on terror takes a back seat to terrorizing some of America’s most selfless warriors.


Read More: Global War On Terror


If you look closely, you can see insidious attempts to weaken Americans’ post-9/11 resolve to win against Islamist terrorism, no matter what it cost or how long it took.

Pentagon staff members were informed a mere two months after President Obama’s inauguration, for instance, that we were no longer engaged in a “global war on terror”; what America was now waging was an “overseas contingency operation.”

Holder: Politicizing the war on terror.Holder: Politicizing the war on terror.

Then in April, as the American Spectator’s Matthew Vadum pointed out Monday, the president signed a law re-jiggering 9/11 into a “National Day of Service” that will demean the Pearl Harbor Day of the 21st century “into a celebration of ethanol, carbon emission controls, and radical community organizing.”

This conditioning us out of the war-on-terror mentality seems to be bipartisan. Former Bush administration Homeland Security Secretary and Republican Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, in a forthcoming book, claims that former Attorney General John Ashcroft and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld pressured him to raise the national terror threat level preceding the 2004 elections.

It’s hard enough to swallow that Ridge, a Bronze Star recipient and Vietnam vet with a well-cultivated reputation for toughness, would clam up for five years about a concerted attempt to manipulate him. But it becomes impossible to accept considering Ridge’s interview with Pittsburgh’s KDKA-TV just a year ago.

In that setting, Ridge affirmed there was “never even a hint” of “pressure to raise the alert level for some reason that had nothing to do with the actual threats out there.” If Ridge ever runs for president, as some expect, the tape of that damning interview is certain to come back to haunt him.

If Ridge would have us believe that protecting the homeland is as much about politics as preserving life, current Attorney General Eric Holder apparently wants us to believe it’s about criminality.

At the persistent urging of the American Civil Liberties Union, [ACLU-CAIR] Holder is appointing a prosecutor to investigate nearly a dozen cases of CIA interrogation of terrorist detainees, it was revealed Monday. Justice Department lawyer John Durham has reportedly already spent two years using a Virginia grand jury to trip up CIA officials regarding the destruction of videotapes of such interrogations — attempts which insiders say are proving fruitless.

Also on Monday came word that future interrogations will be handled by a new “High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group,” or “HIG,” to be overseen by the president’s National Security Council rather than any of the government’s intelligence agencies.

The apparent purpose is to avoid practices like sleep deprivation, the playing of loud music, and of course “waterboarding.” [ What would you have agreed to in the wake of 9/11?] Such enhanced interrogation techniques were examined in a CIA inspector general’s report from 2004 that the Obama Administration released under legal pressure, also on Monday.

Among the report’s allegations are that accused U.S.S. Cole bombing conspirator Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was threatened with a power drill. Perhaps the new “HIG” can test the effectiveness of fluffy pillows on getting high-ranking al-Qaida operatives to talk. [ ?? How many Americans were killed on the U.S.S. Cole?]

We have Clinton-appointed Manhattan federal Judge Alvin Hellerstein, obviously a keen friend of the ACLU, to thank for exposing these and other secret anti-terrorist measures, including the public release of Abu Ghraib videos and photos in 2005.

But the Obama administration is hardly resisting the trend to criminalize anti-terrorist activities.

As Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona and other GOP senators wrote to Holder last Wednesday, launching an inquisition against CIA interrogators could “tarnish the careers, reputations, and lives of intelligence community professionals” and thuschill future intelligence activities.”

As their letter warns, “the intelligence community will be left to wonder whether actions taken today in the interest of national security will be subject to legal recriminations when the political winds shift.” Those fears are, sadly, all too reasonable.

As the president and his family vacations on Martha’s Vineyard, he may wish to give some extra thought to how our enemies will perceive this collective shift in our national security priorities.

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Where’s The Thanks?

August 25, 2009

Where’s The Thanks?

Investors Business Daily 22 Aug. 09

Allies: Tiny Honduras last week handed over a Syrian death merchant to face justice in the U.S. That’s right: The same ‘coup-government’ the Obama administration reviles is one of the very few helping us fight terror.

As shadowy moneymen in the terror underworld go, not many are as unsavory as Jamal Yousef, an ex-Syrian military man turned terrorist arms supplier. Three years ago in Honduras, undercover U.S. agents caught him trying to sell 100 AR-15 assault rifles, 100 M-16 assault rifles, 10 M-60 machine guns, C-4 explosives, 2,500 hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenades and as many as 18 surface-to-air missiles to Colombia’s FARC Marxist narcoterrorists.

His price? A ton of cocaine, something he knew how to “move.”

Honduran cops put him away for petty charges, but he did only three years in prison that ended this week.

Instead of letting him walk, the Honduran government put him on a plane bound for New York to stand trial on narcoterror conspiracy charges, arriving there Wednesday. If convicted, Yousef faces at least 20 years in one of our slammers.

The extradition was noteworthy because Honduras has been blasted by Obama administration officials over what it claims is a coup around the Honduran Supreme Court’s removal of former President Mel Zelaya, a Chavista leftist who on June 28 illegally tried to extend his term in office.

The Obama administration presumes to know Honduran law better than the Honduran Supreme Court and has yanked visas of Honduran officials, condemned the tiny country in the United Nations and the Organization of American States, and refused to recognize anyone in the current government.  [Obamanation!]

It could be worse — economic sanctions are also possible — but it’s bad enough.

In light of how hard it is to get any nation — even a friend — to extradite a criminal to the U.S., what Honduras did for a nation that refuses to recognize its government was rather remarkable.

Mexico, by contrast, didn’t start extraditing terrorists until a couple of years ago, and other countries still refuse to do so.

*Lest we forget, Americans have suffered at the hands of the FARC. Three were held in the jungle as FARC hostages for six years, during which 11 contractors and military personnel were killed. Anyone who arms these barbarians has American as well as Colombian blood on his hands.

Yet in its press release, the Justice Department thanks everyone and his brother for the fine police work that resulted in this extradition — everyone, that is, except the Honduran government.

How ungrateful can we be?

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Nurse Forced to Assist in Abortion

August 25, 2009

National Right to Life: Print July/August 2009

Nurse Forced to Assist in Abortion

Claiming that supervisors threatened to fire her if she did not assist in an abortion, Brooklyn nurse Catherina Lorena Cenzon-DeCarlo is suing Mout Sinai Hospital for violating her right to refuse to participate in abortion because of her religious beliefs.

“After I was forced to assist this abortion against my religious objection, I felt violated and betrayed, like I had been raped,” DeCarlo said in a statement.  “I couldn’t believe that this could happen in the United States, where freedom is held sacred.”

DeCalo claimed in the lawsuit, filed in late July, that she made her beliefs known to her employers both verbally and in writing soon after she began working at Mount Sinai in 2004, according to the New York Post.  She was never asked to participate in an abortion until May 24, 2009.

That day, supervisors assigned her to assist in aborting a 22-week-old-unborn baby.  DeCarlo alleged that after she refused and asked them to assign the task to a nurse who did not object, they threatened to end her career by charging her with “insubordination and patient abandonment,” The Washington Times reported.

Capitulating to the threats, DeCarlo described the horrors of witnessing the abortion, as she was “forced to watch the doctor remove the bloody arms and legs of the child from its mother’s body with forceps.  It felt like a horror film unfolding,” she claimed in the statement, according to the Times.

In the lawsuit DeCarlo, who still works at Mount Sinai, is seeking the assurance that her beliefs will be respected, monetary damages, and a return to her normal overtime shifts, which DeCarlo asserted were cut back after the incident, the Post reported.

“I hope that Mount Sinai will obey the law and allow health-care workers not to assist in abortion against their beliefs,” DeCarlo said in the statement. “I believe lots of nurses and doctors throughout the country are being pressured to assist abortion, and I want them to know they are not alone, and they should speak up for their rights of conscience.”

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Alexander the Great: “Change your behavior or change your name.”

Remember the soldiers who went absent without leave (AWOL) – His commander Alexander asked the soldiers name.  When he heard his name – he instructed him to “change your name or change your behavior.”

MOUNT SINAI: The location Moses received the Ten Commandments.

Exodus 31:18 And when He had made an end of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.

Exodus 34:4 So he cut two tablets of stone like the first ones. Then Moses rose early in the morning and went up Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him; and he took in his hand the two tablets of stone.

Exodus 34:29 Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses’ hand when he came down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him.

Exodus 19:18 Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain[a] quaked greatly.

Exodus 19:20 Then the LORD came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

Exodus 24:16 Now the glory of the LORD rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.

Lev. 7:38 which the LORD commanded Moses on Mount Sinai, on the day when He commanded the children of Israel to offer their offerings to the LORD in the Wilderness of Sinai.

Lev. 26:46 These are the statutes and judgments and laws which the LORD made between Himself and the children of Israel on Mount Sinai by the hand of Moses.

Lev. 27:34 These are the commandments which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel on Mount Sinai.

Deuter. 33:2 The LORD came from Sinai,
And dawned on them from Seir;
He shone forth from Mount Paran,
And He came with ten thousands of saints;
From His right hand
Came a fiery law for them.

Judges 5:5 The mountains gushed before the LORD,
This Sinai, before the LORD God of Israel.

Nehemiah 9:13 You came down also on Mount Sinai,
And spoke with them from heaven,
And gave them just ordinances and true laws,
Good statutes and commandments.

Gal 4:24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar—

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Lockerbie: Justice Undone

August 25, 2009

Justice? – 270 Deaths

Justice Undone

Posted 08/21/2009 07:21 PM ET

Lockerbie: To Scottish authorities, the release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, serving a life sentence for planning the Pan Am jet bombing that killed 270, is a “humanitarian” act. But to any civilized person, it’s an outrage.

Scottish justice officials and Britain’s government should be deeply ashamed. Not only have they let an unrepentant killer go, but also they have advertised the weakness and stupidity of Western European governments when it comes to terrorism.

On returning to Libya, al-Megrahi was given “a hero’s welcome as thousands greeted him at the airport waving flags and posters,” Britain’s Telegraph reported. So much for Libya returning to the fold of civilized nations.

As images of the triumphant return beamed around the world, just imagine the pain and anguish of those who lost loved ones, family members and friends in the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. Al-Megrahi’s release is a worse affront to decency than anything done at Abu Ghraib or Gitmo.

Scotland’s justice secretary, Kenny MacAskill, said he released al-Megrahi on “compassionate grounds.” Al-Megrahi had served just eight years of a lifetime sentence, but he has terminal cancer. We wonder, Mr. Secretary, does mercy to one outweigh justice to the 270 dead and their families?

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown knew about the release. The U.S. strongly opposed it. Brown could have stopped it, had he decided to make a fuss. He didn’t. So much for the “special relationship” between our two countries.

Remember, this was mainly a crime against Americans, who accounted for 189 of the victims. So it looks like open season on U.S. tourists. As American Enterprise Institute scholar Michael Rubin reckoned, al-Megrahi’s 3,123 days served come out to 11.6 days in prison for each murder. It seems that life, especially American life, is cheap in Britain’s justice system.

Though U.S. leaders strenuously objected to the release, they were ignored. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the crime “heinous,” and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, “We continue to believe that Megrahi should serve out his sentence in Scotland.”

Glad they spoke up. Still, we wonder: Is this what was meant when we were told America’s diplomatic prestige would be enhanced in Europe once President Bush was out of office?

In fact, this was a well-telegraphed punch in the gut. Curiously, last November, just after President Obama’s election, Britain’s Parliament passed a Prisoner Transfer Agreement with Libya. We say “curious” because it appears the only prisoner it could have related to was al-Megrahi. Was he sick then? If not, why was it passed?

We wonder, and we’re not alone, if this was a deal to curry favor with Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi, who sent his private jet to pick up al-Megrahi. After all, energy giant BP has contracts and business dealings in Libya and no doubt wants more.

In all this, Britain and Scotland seem to mistake weakness for mercy. Now, knowing penalties will be soft, terrorists will feel emboldened to kill civilians on British soil. What a sad day.

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North Platte Nebraska

August 25, 2009

We recently drove through North Platte Nebraska – stopped and had dinner.