Old Patriot's Pen

Personal pontifications of an old geezer born 200 years too late.

NOTE The views I express on this site are mine and mine alone. Nothing I say should be construed as being "official" or the views of any group, whether I've been a member of that group or not. The advertisings on this page are from Google, and do not constitute an endorsement on my part.

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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

I've been everywhere That was the title of a hit country-and-western song from the late 1950's, originally sung by Hank Snow, and made famous by Johnny Cash. I resemble that! My 26-year career in the Air Force took me to more than sixty nations on five continents - sometimes only for a few minutes, other times for as long as four years at a time. In all that travel, I also managed to find the perfect partner, help rear three children, earn more than 200 hours of college credit, write more than 3000 reports, papers, documents, pamphlets, and even a handful of novels, take about 10,000 photographs, and met a huge crowd of interesting people. I use this weblog and my personal website here to document my life, and discuss my views on subjects I find interesting.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hammering Russia for Hammering Georgia

What the United States can do


Charles Krauthammer had an interesting article at Town Hall today about the same subject. While I agree somewhat to what Charles has written, I find it doesn't go far enough. Here are Prof. Krauthammer's. proposals:

We are not without resources. There are a range of measures to be deployed if Russia does not live up to its cease-fire commitments:

1. Suspend the NATO-Russia Council established in 2002 to help bring Russia closer to the West. Make clear that dissolution will follow suspension. The council gives Russia a seat at the NATO table. Message: Invading neighboring democracies forfeits the seat.

2. Bar Russian entry to the World Trade Organization.

3. Dissolve the G-8. Putin's dictatorial presence long made it a farce but no one wanted to upset the bear by expelling it. No need to. The seven democracies simply withdraw. Then immediately announce the reconstitution of the original G-7.

4. Announce a U.S.-European boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi. To do otherwise would be obscene. Sochi is 15 miles from Abkhazia, the other Georgian province just invaded by Russia. The Games will become a riveting contest between the Russian, Belarusian and Jamaican bobsled teams.

The most crucial and unconditional measure, however, is this: Reaffirm support for the Saakashvili government and declare that its removal by the Russians would lead to recognition of a government-in-exile. This would instantly be understood as providing us the legal basis for supplying and supporting a Georgian resistance to any Russian-installed regime.

These are all fairly good steps, though not strong enough. We should immediately work with our allies to freeze Russia's ability to actively participate in EVERY international organization they and we belong to. When they veto that resolution in the United Nations, we simply pull out of the United Nations completely, leaving it a hollow shell of dictators and tyrants, capable of doing nothing.

Instead of boycotting the 2014 winter olympics, we should render Russia's membership in the Olympic Games null and void, with the ability to reconsider in 20 or 30 years.

Place a 100% tariff on ALL Russian goods, services, or raw materials. This will make them so expensive they won't have any buyers, even China.

Build a new pipeline from Iraq through Turkey to the Mediterranean. This will really put a crimp in Russia's shorts, as it will open up a new path for oil to flow that Russia will have a hard time controlling. Assist the Turks and Iraq in controlling the PKK, the Russian tool on the Turkey/Iraq border.

Agree to assist every nation in NATO to upgrade their armed forces, and to create a "resistance army" should Russia attack them.

Return to the Moon in force - not to militarize it, but to ensure that no other nation does (especially Russia and China).

Reduce Russia's ability to influence European decisions by helping Europe reduce its dependence on Russian oil and gas. Do that by expanding production in the United States, especially of natural gas, to the point where there is a surplus that can be exported to Western Europe. Increase domestic production of electricity from nuclear energy, renewable energy, and clean coal, and reduce the use of natural gas to generate electricity. Reducing our demand for imported energy would allow more oil and natural gas to be diverted to European countries.

Rebuild our military to 16 Army divisions, 6 Marine divisions, and whatever Air and Navy assets are needed to support them. Our reduction in force following the collapse of the Soviet Union gave the world the idea that the United States was weak and an easy mark. Georgia is paying part of the price for that draw-down. Rebuilding will take time, but it's necessary.

Teddy Roosevelt had the right idea: in order to get people to listen to you, speak softly, and carry a big stick - larger than the one they have. Unsupported words accomplish nothing.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Signal of What to Expect

Both John McCain and Barrack Obama have weighed in on the troubles in the Republic of Georgia, and it doesn't take a genius to determine which person would be the best leader in such a situation.

McCain came right out and said that the Russian invasion of Georgia would have "significant consequences" for Russia. Short of actually bombing Russia into the past, there isn't much that the United States can do militarily. McCain knows that, both from a military and from a congressional viewpoint. He also knows that there are indirect ways to curb Russia short of all-out war. He knows how to push, and where to push. There ARE a few things - military things - that can be done, but those are best left unmentioned - either in this blog or from the lips of either contender. John McCain knows that. I doubt Barrack Obama could even come up with the same kind of ideas.

Barrack Obama has done what he does best - talk. Not only has he talked, he's pushed for a solution that is based strictly on talking. Diplomats encourage matters be handled by talks, because that's all they know or understand. Talk by itself is worthless: it requires some form of power behind the talk to ensure that talks happen, and that they achieve some results. Somehow, Obama believes that if we all get together and talk the issue out, things will be peachy keen. Neville Chamberlain tried that with Adolph Hitler. We all know how THAT turned out. On the other hand, John Kennedy used both diplomacy and military force, called Russia's bluff in 1962 over missiles in Cuba, and Russia backed down.

I'll still have to wait and see what happens, but I doubt that any amount of rhetoric will cause Russia to pull out of Georgia. Russia MUST be made to pay for their blatant aggression, but there are more ways to achieve that than military confrontation. It's going to have to take a serious counter-threat - such as the banning of all Russian-made products in Europe and the United States, ejecting Russia from the Group of 8 (and maybe replacing them with India?), or some equally effective economic and/or political activity - to get Russia to back down. Without the ability to confront Russia militarily, collateral action is all that's possible, but it still can cause the Bear to feel some severe pain.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Why the Democrats are Stupid

Amanda Carpenter, Town Hall's political correspondent, has a great article today, Pelosi Reacts to GOP House Protest. It opens with:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) issued a curt retort to House Republicans staging a week-long protest against her decision to unceremoniously adjourn the House last week.

“While a very small band of your colleagues remain on the House floor to discuss gas prices, their constituents deserve to know why their representatives in Congress have failed to support serious, responsible proposals,” she wrote in a letter to GOP Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (Ohio.).

“We cannot drill our way out of this problem,” she said.

This is a typical Democratic Party straw man. The Republicans don't want to "drill our way out of this problem", although one aspect of what they do want to do is to drill. It's only one of a host of recommendations made in the current energy bill Nancy Pelosi is afraid to bring to a vote.

The Republicans are pushing for a broad, inclusive energy bill that includes a mix of expanded conventional energy production, new development, research into alternative energy applications, and much more. On this issue, the Democrats are out of touch with the rest of the nation, and are doing their best to push this country into a major recession - possibly into a depression as great as the Great Depresssion - also brought on by a Democrat.

There is no outlook for a drop in demand for oil and gas over the next 50 years. That means that unless there is more oil brought to the market, the price will continue to rise. If the United States were to enact a truly comprehensive energy bill that contained virtually every option available to us, it would have an IMMEDIATE effect on the oil market by telling the world that supply WILL increase - maybe not in the immediate future, but soon. That would automatically drop the price of oil as much as $30-$50 a barrel. That would provide the majority of Americans with much-needed relief from the current high cost of energy. In the meantime, this nation could begin to do the many other things that will eventually reduce or end our dependence upon oil - especially foreign oil.

What things are needed in a comprehensive energy bill? Here's MY laundry list:

  1. Remove the obstacles to drilling for domestic oil within the Continental United States, both on land and offshore.

  2. Repair and upgrade the energy infrastructure of the United States, including pipelines to transmit oil and gas, rail and road transportation infrastructure, and transmission lines to transmit local surplus electrical production to areas that need it.

  3. Design, build, and bring online 150 new, safer 2000MW nuclear power plants, and upgrade existing ones. At least a third of those should be fast breeder reactors that produce as much fuel as they consume.

  4. Design, build, and bring online 200 additional 1500MW coal-fired power plants to provide additional capacity while we're waiting for those nuclear plants to come online, and to use during peak demand.

  5. Increase research into biofuels, especially into feedstocks that don't include grains that are normally grown for human and livestock consumption.

  6. Increase research into other alternative energy sources, specifically wind, solar, tides, geothermal, and hydrogen. Require an in-depth cost/benefit evaluation of any alternative energy source. Such evaluations should include the impact of implementing alternative energy programs, and the positive AND negative effects that implementation has on the energy market, on the environment, and on the people.

  7. Bring online any energy source (especially alternative energy sources) that is commercially feasible, and connect the sources to the expanded and modernized national power grid.

  8. REQUIRE oil and gas companies to upgrade, modernize, and expand current domestic oil refineries, and build at least 20 new ones across the nation.

  9. Pass legislation that limits "environmental" lawsuits, and force "environmental" groups to post bond equal to the potential lost investment their lawsuits cost energy production companies.

  10. REQUIRE THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (EPA) TO PROVE, scientifically, that their limits and restrictions are necessary (not "potentially" necessary) for the preservation of species, and to limit damage to the environment.

  11. Require a complete cost/benefit analysis of ALL energy legislation passed into law, all regulations imposed by any government agency (at any level), and all "supporting" laws and regulations, determine the success or failure of those laws and regulations in achieving the goals set by them, and evaluate their costs/benefits to the nation, its people, and its security. Eliminate, combine, re-write, or replace those that provide limited or no practical benefit to the nation and its people as a whole.

  12. Increase coal production, both for export and for domestic use.

  13. Allow increased exploration, development, and transportation of nuclear power plant fuel stocks.

Nancy Pelosi's "we can't drill ourselves out of this problem" is a smokescreen for doing nothing. Doing nothing is no longer a viable option.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Taking the vacation I can't afford to...

Congress adjourned last week, and the Democrats especially left town in a hurry for their five-week August vacation. A strange thing happened, though - about 40 Republicans stayed. They said something about not leaving until the work was done. I can understand that! Many times when I was on active duty in the Air Force, we "stayed until the work was done". Sometimes, that was days, not hours. That was what the job was all about - doing what had to be done. Apparently the Democrats don't believe that.

Right now, gas in Colorado Springs is around $3.79 a gallon, depending on where you buy it. I know from past experience that if it's $3.79 here, it'll be $3.89 in Trinidad, Colorado, and anywhere from $3.80 to $4.15 between there and Dallas. The high cost of gasoline has raised the price of everything else along my route (I-25 to Raton, NM, US 64/87 from Raton to Clayton, NM, US87 from Clayton to Dalhart, TX, US287 from Dalhart to Decatur, TX, US 380 from Decatur to Greenville, Tx, US69 from Greenville to I-20, and I-20 to Ruston, LA, where my father-in-law lives). Total miles: about 1100 one way, 2200 round trip. Since my wife and I are both in our 60's, we don't push it. It usally takes us two days to make the trip. Our 1996 Dodge Caravan (fully paid for) gets about 23 miles per gallon on the highway, a little less on some of the local highways we drive. That means we'd have to buy at least 95 gallons of gas to make the round trip, plus whatever visiting we'd do once we got to where we were going. At an average price of $4 a gallon, that's $380. Add in another $200 for food, another $250 for lodging, and the cost of just getting there and back is over $800.

I get an Air Force retirement check, VA disability (70%), and Social Security. That's pretty fixed. My local bills haven't been fixed, and the $1500 we'd set aside to go to Louisiana this August/September for the annual family reunion had to go elsewhere. I'm staying home this year, even though we have something special we want to share with the family. We just can't afford to make the trip.

What's that got to do with Congress taking a vacation? A lot! The reason my bills have been so high is because the cost of a barrel of oil has shot up from $65-$70 a barrel to $120-$145 a barrel. Just about everything in most towns in the United States is delivered by truck or train. Both use oil products. If it costs more to move products, the price goes up. That goes for gasoline, food, and just about everything else. The linens in most motels are picked up and returned by laundry trucks, or washed locally. They require hot water, which is heated mostly by natural gas, whose price has gone up along with oil.

People who bid on commodities hoping to sell them at a higher price later and make a profit have seen that there's a greater demand for oil and gas than there's a supply. The old law of supply and demand has kicked in, and the price of oil and gas has doubled in less than a year. The people in the US have reacted, driving less. The price came down $.10 to $.20 a gallon, but that's about all it's going to drop from conservation. The only way prices are going to go down to the $2/gallon range (or less) is for there to be a major increase in production. There's little hope for increased production elsewhere - not with the people who control that oil becoming addicted to the higher prices. About the only place that production can be increased in such a way as to lower prices is to drill locally - along the US coasts, in Alaska, in untapped formations in the lower 48 and in Canada. Two things that stand in the way of that happening are the Democratically-controlled Congress, and several thousands of pages of unnecessarily stringent environmental regulations backed by lawsuit after lawsuit brought by the majority of "environmental groups" in the United States and Canada to delay, to increase costs, and to hamper any hope of energy independence for this nation.

There is legislation that was brought before Congress this year to ease the restrictions, open up areas known to contain large quantities of oil and gas to development, and to move the United States forward toward energy independence - or at least to reduce the level of dependence (and the cost) that we're currently held hostage to. The Democratic leadership, instead of bringing this legislation to the floor, discussing it, and voting on it, decided to stonewall the legislation and go on vacation.

It's time to hold those accountable who stall, sabotage, and subvert the will of the people for greater energy independence. It's time to hold those accountable who make it impossible for people like me to take a vacation, while they run off with work left undone. If I'd done that in the Air Force, I'd probably have been court-martialed. The least we can do for those that put pleasure before the work they're paid to do is to fire them. It's very easy - instead of voting for the Democratic candidate, choose someone else - anyone else. Unless they're a member of the "Green" party, they can't do any worse at the job than Representative Nany Pelosi, who uses her power and position to stiff the rest of us, or Senator Harry Reid, who is just as feckless about obeying the oath of office he's repeated enough times to know it by heart.

NOTE: Republican Representative John Bohner has created a live-action blog where you can post your comments for the Republicans remaining in DC to read. Check it out, and share your ideas.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Speaker Pelosi, tear down the stonewall

The Democrats in Congress, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid in particular, have built a wall of refusal and denial against drilling in the United States and its territorial waters. While President Bush has revoked an executive order against offshore drilling and tapping other areas, Nancy Pelosi has refused to allow a bill to drill in offshore areas of the United States come before the entire house for a vote. Why? Because she knows it will pass.

My own senator, Ken Salazar, says he is against tapping Colorado's oil shale, regardless of what the price of gasoline rises to, even $10/gallon. Maybe the senator doesn't have to worry about paying $50 to fill the tank every week, but those that live here in Colorado certainly do. Those of us like me, who are on a fixed income, are paying the price for Sen. Salazar's conscience. Thanks a lot, Senator.

It's not just the price of gasoline that's going up. Anything that has to be shipped more than a mile has gone up in price, mostly because the price of gasoline and other petroleum-based fuels (almost all of them) has made shipping more costly. Add to it the stupidity of turning food into ethanol to burn, and you've got a price spiral that is hurting everyone but the very rich. Why is all this happening? Look no farther than Congress and the nation's "green" brigades.

We need to build 70 additional nuclear power plants in this country, but there hasn't been one approved in 35 years. The "environmentalists" have used every trick, legal and illegal, to prevent approval, construction, and operation of additional nuclear plants economical suicide, even though nuclear power is the cleanest, and the safest form of generating electricity we have.

This nation need at LEAST ten additional oil refineries, and virtually every single older refinery needs to be upgraded. Approval can take 30 years and billions of dollars in legal fees, if it's granted at all. Why? Mainly because Congress, through the Environmental Protection Agency makes it all but impossible to do so. Why would Congress do that? Because they are bought and paid for by the major "environmental" groups.

We have the largest proven coal reserves in the world, yet getting another coal-fired power plant built requires jumping through so many hoops Barnum and Bailey Circus couldn't outdo it. Today's technology has all but eliminated harmful emissions, yet the "green" team does everything possible to keep new plants from being approved and/or built. The entire "global climate change" bruhaha is a scam to keep the United States from expanding its electric energy base. Al Gore's "inconvenient truth" is nothing but an irresponsible lie.

It's time Congress is called to task and those that support keeping us dependent on foreign oil, that refuse to allow the United States to develop its own resources, that force the price of expansion of nuclear power, oil refineries, and clean-coal power plants so high they become impossible to build, and keep the prices high to "force us to conserve" are thrown out of office. It's also time for the Executive branch of the government to curtail the corruption of power blatant among so many bureaucratic functions, especially the EPA.

I won't hold my breath...