Friday, March 31, 2006

A National Embarrassment

Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, whose attic has never been completely furnished, declares herself to be the victim of sexism, racism and any other odious "isms" that may be lurking about among those detestable Capitol Police. Her entourage of assorted nitwits and race hustlers concur with her judgment.

According to police and witnesses, Ms McKinney, showing no identification, circumvented a metal detector in the Capitol Building and refused to stop when instructed to do so by a police officer. When the officer, following procedure, sought to detain her she punched him in the chest. This has apparently become chronic behavior for the Georgia congresswoman, and the police plan to press charges.

In response, she claims her only crime was "being in congress while black." The mind groans wearily upon hearing this mindlessly juvenile resort to the allegation of racism once again trotted out to justify unjustifiable behavior on the part of some liberal black politico.

You can see video of Ms McKinney's press conference here. After watching the lady give her statement we've decided she doesn't need to spend time in jail - she needs to be placed in an asylum.

We wonder if the Georgia voters who elected her are as embarrassed as we are that this person somehow got to be a United States congresswoman.

Immigration Advice

Dick Morris comes very close to articulating our own position on the immigration issue, and consequently he composes a very sensible column on the subject. The only thing that he might emphasize more forcefully than he does is this: Once the fence - which is itself the sine qua non of any solution to the problem - is in place, there need be no concerted effort to hunt down aliens who are here illegally. The practicalities of such a policy are daunting and may not be worth the effort as long as the invasion of immigrants has been stanched. However, any illegal who gets into further trouble with the law, or who is chronically out of work, should be deported. The existence of the fence will prevent them from leaking back in.

What's going on in the Senate concerning their immigration bill is just a charade. It's as dumb as it is futile to pass a law that requires illegals to pay a fine and learn English unless there is some serious sanction imposed for failing to do it. Since the Senate seems to think that there need be no penalty for not registering or taking English classes, their bill is worse than useless. It would be largely ignored by illegal aliens, and there would be no real cost for ignoring it.

Build the wall, deport law breakers (unless they commit felonies), and let the oxymoronic law-abiding illegals do what they came here for. Give them a registration card that they must possess in order to be hired - let them work and pay taxes - but they should not be granted any of the rights or benefits of American citizens without going through proper channels to acquire citizen status.

One additional thing we'd like to see changed in our laws regarding citizenship: People who are born here to illegal aliens, or to any non-citizens, for that matter, should not automatically be granted citizenship. We do not object to allowing them to apply for it when they reach the age of eighteen, if they've maintained regular residency in the U.S., but we see no reason why it should be bestowed automatically simply because of an accident of birth.


Why am I bullish on energy investments? Here are several reasons.

Oil is presently above $67 per barrel. One might ask why this is so. In the early '70s oil was around $2 per barrel. Of course the price of a barrel of oil hasn't actually gone up but rather the purchasing power of the US dollar has gone down. Consequently, OPEC simply wants to maintain a fair relative value for a barrel of oil which, as an asset, has remained constant in terms of its utility.

There's also a certain fear factor component that no doubt is added to the price of oil because of the political climate that exists today. This contributes to the price of a barrel of oil in the form of a premium.

Additionally, the demand for oil (and other commodities) is increasing because China is experiencing its own industrial revolution just as the US did 100 years ago. India also contributes to the demand for the same reason.

There's concern about the future availability of oil due to the theory of "Peak Oil". This theory implies that the global supply of oil has peaked and has been or will be reached soon and future supply of oil will be more expensive to extract as the quantity of it declines. A concern for the supply of oil in the ground and the ability of OPEC to deliver it is beginning to be questioned by experts in the industry.

The bottom line is that there is a great deal of uncertainty about the single most important product in the world and the subsequent availability of it. Is the fact that action in the Middle East is the largest component of the news these days just a coincidence?

Given all of the uncertainty and the declining purchasing power of the dollar, companies involved in the energy industry stand to make substantial gains in their share price. One can invest in individual companies or they can buy into mutual funds that offer diversification across the energy market.

Personally, I'm inclined to leave the analysis of individual companies up to the guy at the mutual fund company whose job is to be an expert on the domain.

Below are two mutual funds from Fidelity that specialize in energy. By way of disclaimer, I have holdings in both of them. Visit their website and scroll down to the respective funds, check out their performance, and you'll see why.

Fidelity Energy (FSENX

Fidelity Energy Service (FSESX)

Read about these funds and decide for yourself if they're right for you.

Afghan Spring

While most of the world's attention is focussed on Iraq, the battle against the Taliban continues in Afghanistan. Bill Roggio brings us up to speed on combat operations there. Here's the first half of an interesting post on the topic:

As the Coalition enters its sixth year in Afghanistan, the Taliban has threatened to unleash another of its spring offensives. "With the arrival of the warm weather, we will make the ground so hot for the invaders it will be unimaginable for them," Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban threatened two weeks ago through his spokesman. While the past spring offensives have been crushed after Coalition forces destroyed Taliban formations unwise enough to mass in large numbers, this year's offensive will include suicide bombers, roadside bombs and other techniques used in Salafist insurgencies in Chechnya, Kashmir, Iraq, the Philippines, Thailand and elsewhere.

Coalition forces smashed a Taliban assault in Helmand province, killing thirty-two Taliban. Twelve were killed in the initial engagement, and twenty more were killed while "attempting to retreat into sanctuaries." Two Taliban headquarters were destroyed and several weapons caches were unearthed. An American and Canadian soldier were killed in the fighting.

Last week, Marines from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, fought a pitched battle with Taliban fighters while patroling in the Shuryak Valley of Kunar Province. After finding a ton of explosives and bomb-making material, the Marines took fire and killed upwards to twenty Taliban in what they called 'The Battle of Salar Ban'. The Marines suffered no casualties. The Taliban has been roundly defeated every time it engaged the Coalition and Afghan National Army in open combat, and the recent engagements are no different.

A suicide car bomber prematurely detonated his explosives while attempting to attack a Canadian convoy in Kandahar. No Canadians were injured, but seven Afghan civilians were wounded in the explosion. Reuters reports "Security forces in Kandahar arrested nine suspected Taliban suicide bombers, two of them Pakistanis." Six Afghan police were killed in two separate attacks in Kandahar & Khost.

The Taliban, and al-Qaeda, have one hope. They hope that Democrats will gain a sufficient number of seats in the Congress in 2006 that they will be able to make it too difficult for President Bush to continue with the war. Between calls for censure and impeachment and demands for retreat, the Taliban and their al-Qaeda allies hope to erode American will to the point where we will just give up and head home.

They've already succeeded in persuading the leaders of the "Last Helicopter" party that the war is a lost cause. All they need do is win over a few independents in November so that the Democrats will regain the congressional majority, and America will pull out, and Afghanistan, indeed the whole Middle East, will fall into their hands like ripe fruit.

The Last Helicopter

Amir Taheri offers fascinating insight into the strategic thinking in capitals throughout the Arab world. The leaders of the Arab countries have taken the temperature of America and decided that once Bush is gone Americans will once again be boarding the helicopters just like they did in Saigon, Lebanon, Mogodishu and elsewhere in order to hightail it back to the states. They are adjusting their policies accordingly and the adjustments are not favorable to peace and democracy.

According to this theory, President George W. Bush is an "aberration," a leader out of sync with his nation's character and no more than a brief nightmare for those who oppose the creation of an "American Middle East." Messrs. Abbasi and Ahmadinejad have concluded that there will be no helicopter as long as George W. Bush is in the White House. But they believe that whoever succeeds him, Democrat or Republican, will revive the helicopter image to extricate the U.S. from a complex situation that few Americans appear to understand.

Mr. Ahmadinejad believes that the world is heading for a clash of civilizations with the Middle East as the main battlefield. In that clash Iran will lead the Muslim world against the "Crusader-Zionist camp" led by America. Mr. Bush might have led the U.S. into "a brief moment of triumph." But the U.S. is a "sunset" (ofuli) power while Iran is a sunrise (tolu'ee) one and, once Mr. Bush is gone, a future president would admit defeat and order a retreat as all of Mr. Bush's predecessors have done since Jimmy Carter.

Mr. Ahmadinejad's ...argument was that once Mr. Bush is gone, the U.N., too, will revert to its traditional lethargy. "They can pass resolutions until they are blue in the face," Mr. Ahmadinejad told a gathering of Hezbollah, Hamas and other radical Arab leaders in Tehran last month.

The general assumption is that Mr. Bush's plan to help democratize the heartland of Islam is fading under an avalanche of partisan attacks inside the U.S. The effect of this assumption can be witnessed everywhere...Pakistan....Turkey...Iraq...Saudi Arabia...Syria.

If people like Ahmadinejad are right then it will be to the Democrats' everlasting shame that, in order to score cheap political points against Bush, they deeply eroded his stature in the world. By their unwillingness to limit themselves only to fair, constructive, and responsible criticism and by their incessant calls for retreat from Iraq when things got sticky, they sacrificed the only chance we'll ever have to effect long-term change for good in the Middle East. And they happily made that sacrifice for no more noble reason than that they saw it as a means to recovering their own political preeminence.

Taheri says that Arab thinkers are referring now to the "last helicopter" image of America. The last helicopter retreating from a tough environment is the Arab symbol for America and American resolve. Perhaps we can also say that the Murtha/Pelosi Democrats should be seen as the "last helicopter" political party. The party of defeat and retreat. A helicopter fleeing toward the horizon might well replace the donkey as the symbol of the Democratic Party.

But, Taheri asks toward the end of his essay, how valid is the assumption that Mr. Bush really is an aberration and that his successor will "run away"?

Read the whole piece to get Mr. Taheri's answer to this critical question.