Living in the Bad Old Days.

Baby, It’s cold outside, even in Florida

Most of you, like me, remember living through the bad old days – of the 1970s. You know unaffordable heating, waiting in line for gas  (every other day) for gas for the car and a host of other things. Not only was it uncomfortable, to most of us it felt unAmerican. And it was, this country was built on movement, and movement demands affordable energy. We didn’t really get going until the railroads started to build out the network, and then we were pretty much unstoppable.

Until the 70s, that is. A lot of people have tried to lay the blame off on the Arabs. Well, they had something to do with the proximate cause, but the real cause was right here at home. It was (and is) called the US Government.

Steven Hayward wrote about this yesterday. let’s have a look.

Everyone remembers the lines for gasoline. What is less recalled are the shortages and price spikes for natural gas, whose price and supply was also regulated at the federal level. But in Texas, intrastate natural gas outside the federal purview was abundant and cheap, and the lack of pipeline capacity to transport it, along with the price controls, meant Texas enjoyed cheap natural gas while the rest of the country shivered or paid out for expensive home heating oil and oil-fired electricity (oil-fired electricity was nearly 20 percent of the nation’s total electricity in 1973; today the figure is less than 1 percent). Hence there was a popular bumper sticker in Texas back then: “Drive fast, freeze a Yankee.”

Yep, I remember those, and like Steve says, even Jimmy Carter was able to figure out the problem, although, as usual, he had the slows in doing anything about it. But Reagan didn’t, those controls ended his first week in office. It’s one of the reasons for the 80s boom.

But the Northeast still hasn’t figured it out, and so its residents are freezing in the dark again. From Steve.

But from the looks of things the northeast is living back in the bad old days during the current bout of global warming climate change gripping so much of the country. The spot prices for natural gas and electricity are soaring:

Gee—how can natural gas be so expensive when its abundant and cheap (thank you fracking), and moreover available in nearby states like Pennsylvania and Ohio? It’s not necessary any more for eastern natural gas customers to have to deal with those cowboy hat-wearing folk in Oklahoma and Texas.

Ah, maybe headlines like this have something to do with it:

He’s blocked 3 (at least) pipelines, although the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has overturned him on one. He’s also stopped fracking in New York, depriving upstate and western New York of who knows how many jobs, good paying ones too. In fact, so good that western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio are all but booming again. The Wall Street Journal (Paywall, sorry) took this nonsense apart last summer

The U.S. shale boom has lowered energy prices and created hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country. But those living in upstate New York and New England have been left in the cold by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose shale gas blockade could instigate an energy crisis in the Northeast. . .

All of this is ominous since the region desperately needs more natural gas to make up for lost power from the impending shutdown of nuclear and coal plants. New England’s Independent System Operator projects that 14% of the region’s electric generation capacity will be retired within three years and says more pipelines are needed for grid stability.

Energy costs in the Northeast are already the highest in the nation outside of Alaska and Hawaii in part due to the shortage of natural gas. Northeast residents pay 29% more for natural gas and 44% more for electricity than the U.S. average, according to a recent study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Industrial users in the Northeast pay twice as much for natural gas and 62% more for electricity. . .

Inclement weather can cause energy costs to skyrocket. During the 2014 polar vortex, natural gas prices in New York City spiked to $120 per million Btu—about 25 times the Henry Hub spot price at the time. Natural-gas power plants in New York are required to burn oil during supply shortages. Due to pipeline constraints and the Jones Act—which requires that cargo transported between U.S. ports be carried by ships built in the U.S.—Boston imports liquefied natural gas during the winter from Trinidad. This is expensive and emits boatloads of carbon.

Speaking of which, about a quarter of households in New York, 45% in Vermont and 65% in Maine still burn heating oil—which is a third more expensive than natural gas and produces about 30% more carbon emissions per million Btu. Yet many can’t switch due to insufficient natural gas and pipeline infrastructure.

So what is Cuomo doing about this? This:

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, in connection with his State of the State address today, announced a plan to create new energy efficiency targets and appliance standards. He directed the state’s Department of Public Service and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to propose new 2025 energy efficiency targets by Earth Day, April 22, 2018, and also announced the state’s plans to develop new appliance efficiency standards for products not covered by federal standards, coordinating efforts with other states. According to the Governor, the targets will be “achieved through cost effective implementation strategies and innovative approaches from both utilities and the [New York State] Clean Energy Fund.”

Yep, that’ll fix it. Make appliances even more expensive and less reliable.

Steve writes, “Turns out the New England electricity grid manager (the ISO) warned of this very problem a couple months ago:”

[P]ower system operations could become challenging if demand is higher than projected, if the region loses a large generator, electricity imports are affected, or when natural gas pipeline constraints limit the fuel available to natural-gas-fired power plants. . .

While New England has adequate capacity resources to meet projected demand, a continuing concern involves the availability of fuel for those power plants to generate electricity when needed. The region’s natural gas delivery infrastructure has expanded only incrementally[thank you Gov. Cuomo], while reliance on natural gas as the predominant fuel for both power generation and heating continues to grow. During extremely cold weather, natural gas pipeline constraints limit the availability of fuel for natural-gas-fired power plants. Further, the retirement of a 1,500 MW coal- and oil-fired power plant in May has removed a facility with stored fuel that helped meet demand when natural gas plants were unavailable. . .

To address potential shortages of fuel to generate electricity, ISO New England will administer the Winter Reliability Program again to help protect overall grid reliability. The program provides incentives for generators to stock up on oil or contract for liquefied natural gas before winter begins . . .

But, what about all that solar power we keep hearing about?

While PV helps reduce energy consumption during sunny winter days, demand peaks in winter after the sun has set.

Typical. I’d feel sorry for them, but I just can’t manage it. After all, they elected these statist cretins, and the chickens are coming home to roost, good and hard. I’d invest in tar and pitchforks futures though unless they all do freeze in the dark. But they’ll probably re-elect them again. It’s what they do, and why they have become increasingly irrelevant to the modern world.


British Conservatism

uk-us-shooping-0211I wanted you guys to see this because many of my British friends think he is pretty much of a right-wing conservative. Personally I see him as a warmed over squish someplace between John Kennedy and Walter Mondale.

And in truth that is why so often we and the cousins seem to talk right past each other. Where for us, the Constitution is bedrock very similar, in fact, to what the Catholics call “the ordinary Magisterium”, the interpretation can be explained and the meaning twisted (slightly) because of the times but essentially it means exactly what it says, no more and no less.

These types of basic principles don’t play for our British brethren, mostly anyway. Their history tell tells them that all is pragmatism, does it win elections. Rather like HMS Victory at sea in fact. They know what they think is right, but they are dependant on the electoral winds to get there. That is what their history tells them.

When we separated from them, we set up safeguards so that no branch could wield power on its own; that’s what our Constitution does, although it does require some integrity from some number of members of the government. Our president was originally to be rather a constitutional monarch, his power proscribed by the other branches.

The cousins are different, the system until 1689 was essentially ‘The King in Parliament’ which had at least some features of separation. Since then the monarch has been rendered increasingly irrelevant (as has the House of Lord’s) leaving Britain ruled by the Prime Minister (a creature of the commons) ruling in the House of Commons, without anything resembling a check on what they can do. Both Magna Charta and the English Bill of rights have long since, almost totally been repealed. No Checks, No Balances, No Appeal. It’s democratic in the sense that you can vote for whichever creature of Westminster you choose if you can see any difference.

Anyway, here’s Michael Gove speaking to the Legatum Institute

[Unless you really like their backdrop you can safely skip to about 11:00]I think he has a few good ideas, but it’s hard for me to judge a house built on sand, and in truth, how they run their country is their business.

But he’s also got that peculiar British blind spot that you can drive a Nimitz class carrier task force through. That the NHS actually works, and is better, contrary to all (and I mean all) the evidence, that it is actually better than Zimbabwe’s system. It’s simply an ethnic religious belief, because not only can it not be proved, it can be disproved by anybody at all with about five minutes research.

We’ve  (both Jess and I) have written about it a fair amount here, because the so-called system, which might be better than Stalin’s in the 30s is the model for Obamacare.  In one of her posts on it, Jess said this.

Someone recently said that the National Health Service (NHS) was the closest the British now have to a religion. At the opening ceremony of the Olympics there was a section given over to celebrating the NHS. We are always being told it is the ‘envy of the world’, and in something close to brainwashing, any criticism of it is usually quickly closed down by the media. We’ve been fed a version of its history which tells us that before it poor people were toothless and dying in the streets for lack of money, but that now it cares for us all regardless of cost on a basis of ‘need’ only. It is, in short, the last argument left for socialism. That may be why so many in our media circles refuse to see, even when they get a report like this, that their story no longer holds water.

There’s no such thing as ‘regardless of cost’. The NHS is the largest employer in Europe. Every doctor and nurse in every hospital, every porter, every workman in hospitals, every local doctor, every midwife and social worker, they are all NHS employees. The bill of this is huge. Whether, as some say, it is £100 billion, or £101.5 billion, it costs each of us about £1500 a year.

The BBC, funded by a compulsory tax on every household with a TV, tells us how wonderful it is and how much better than what the Americans have. It is certainly true that no one in the UK needs to worry about paying if they get ill. The NHS will take care of you – the problem is not the money, it is the ‘care’.

She also recognized that it is very politicized, and in fact Jess, who is very well connected politically, although like me she tends to not use her contacts, does, I think, owe her very life to connected people who were able to threaten the NHS effectively on her behalf. I had the distinct impression, that left to themselves, the NHS would simply have left her to die unattended, like they have so many others.

And that is the model we have chosen for American health care as well. God help us.

Assembly or Retreat

Embed from Getty Images
Caption: A Russian national flag (L) and partly seen flag of Russian airborne forces (R) fly above a former Ukrainian military base in Perevalnoye, near the Crimean capital Simferopol, on March 27, 2014. Ukraine asked today the UN General Assembly to deter the risk of any future Russian aggression by adopting a resolution denouncing its annexation of Crimea. AFP PHOTO/ DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV (Photo credit should read DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Well, have you noticed we live in interesting times. Yep, I live out here where the US Cavalry used to prowl. You remember them, right. The guys who ran away from Sitting Bull died with their boots on at the Little Big Horn. Wasn’t the smartest fight we ever got in, but they did their best and the general was right there with them.

Lke Tom Clancy said, “If you’ve ever seen a classic John Ford western, you know who the cavalry are. They are the ones who hold the line on the lawless frontier. They are the soldiers who come to the rescue.”


Times have changed, Bill Kristol writing in Time put it this way, as his indictment

The message is clear. The problem is its content. Obama certainly isn’t sending the message that Colin Powell, after the Cold War, wanted America to send: “Superpower lives here.” Obama’s message, by contrast, is: “Superpower once lived here. No forwarding address.”

Putin understands Obama’s message. He knows he’s won Crimea. The question is whether he’ll win Ukraine.

He thinks he will. He’s dealing with the Obama administration, after all. He looks at the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, he witnesses the failure to enforce the red line in Syria and the subsequent successes of his friend Assad, he chortles at the relaxation of the sanctions on Iran and the desperate desire to cut a nuclear deal, and he sees Obama’s defense cuts. And he reads the New York Times, where David Sanger reports, “Mr. Obama acknowledges, at least in private, that he is managing an era of American retrenchment.”

So Putin sees retrenchment. Putin sees retreat. And Putin sees that Obama is unlikely to reverse course.

Pretty much what I see as well. And it doesn’t make for a peaceful forecast. To be fair, Obama is correct, Russia is a regional power. The problem is, that region is Europe, and that’s where the game is being played. Russia isn’t trying to invade Canada.

The other day, I defined a superpower, here. The definition of a regional power is one that can exert great power over a short distance. Russia, perhaps alone in Europe, qualifies. The only other contender is the United Kingdom. And they, like we, run into the rule that nuclear powers can’t fight each other, simply because it can get out of hand too easily. That’s what won the cold war, it’s also why Cuba is still communist, everybody recognized the rule.

Given that, Poland, and the Balts are likely safe, although it’s a thin cover. In military terms I’d call it concealment, not cover. But it’s worked before, at least for a while.

Bill Kristol continues

In late 1979, with the seizure of American hostages by Iran and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter was mugged by reality. Carter then tried, however haplessly, to change direction. But Barack Obama is no Jimmy Carter. Will Obama increase defense spending, as Carter did? Is he likely to launch a military excursion, as Carter did, over the objection—and then resignation—of his dovish secretary of state?

Carter, whatever his problems, was more hawkish than most in his party. In this he followed in the footsteps of every other Democratic president in the past century. Until Barack Obama.

It’s been a bit bewildering, even disorienting, to watch Obama get mugged by reality and refuse to press charges. But of course he doesn’t want to press charges. He doesn’t believe in an international system in which the American role is to lead. Former Saudi intelligence chief Turki al-Faisal was asked by the Financial Times recently about Putin and Obama. He explained: “While the wolf is eating the sheep, there is no shepherd to come to the rescue of the pack. This is where we find ourselves today.”

[Emphasis mine]

And that’s all true as well.

Russia is hardly a juggernaut. It’s troops are conscripts, not the combat veteran volunteers we in America and Britain are accustomed to. But in the bad old days, NATO had a saying “Quantity has a quality of its own”. It’s still true. And that calculus, ain’t on our side. Great Satan’s girlfriend reminds us:

European powers in recent years have shelved entire divisions and weapons systems. The British Royal Navy doesn’t operate a proper aircraft carrier. The Netherlands in 2012 disbanded its heavy-armor division, and France and the U.K. each now field a mere 200 main battle tanks. France has cut its orders of Rafale combat jets to six a year from 11. This isn’t even a Maginot Line.

Most alliance members are also dangerously demobilized: Germany last year announced plans to cut its troops to no more than 180,000 from 545,000 at the end of the Cold War. The French military has shrunk to 213,000 from 548,000 in 1990. The U.K. now has 174,000 armed forces, down from 308,000 in 1990.

NATO countries have also been deferring maintenance of major equipment and cutting back weapons inventories. Such neglect, normally hidden, became apparent in 2011 when Britain and France ran out of precision-guided munitions during NATO’s Libya campaign.

Remember, we don’t have much of a committment to Ukraine, just an agreement to consult. Which is just as well, cause we’d have a devil of a time getting much there, and our supply line to Afghanistan goes through Russia. And Europe buys most of its natural gas from Russia as well.

But, supposedly we are leaving AFPAK, and a sensible energy policy would let us make up most of Europe’s shortfall in energy, but we have to decide. We know what the President believes but, the people of America are sovereign.

Should the bugler sound ‘assembly’ or ‘retreat’?

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Around the Web


I’m going to do sort of a round-up here-my inbox is running over with interesting stuff, most of it worth a post but, when?

First Erik Erickson on the establishment of the republican party and how it may be getting to the end of its line (One can always hope, anyway!)

Here is the most profound insight of the week I can give you — in American politics, if a Republican candidate loses, the media blames it on the candidate being too conservative. If a Republican candidate wins, the media credits the candidate drifting toward the center. The only sure fire loser in American politics is the conservative movement, which is remarkable given the amazing success the conservative movement has had in spite of this.

What we are seeing now on the political landscape is a growing consensus among opinion makers and average voters that Mitt Romney cannot win the election. It is not true. He can, in fact, still win. The election is, in fact, exceeding close. But the Romney campaign is a victim of a perception it itself has helped foster. Like John McCain before him, Romney seems more at ease punching other Republicans than his Democrat opponent. The public is picking up on this and perceive him unwilling or unable to fight for victory. The public is, mentally, beginning to grow weary of this campaign and Romney must work to change perception if he is to win.

Keep that in mind as I make a very simple point. There are a lot of elitist Republicans who have spent several years telling us Mitt Romney was the only electable Republican. Because the opinion makers and news media these elitists hang out with have concluded Romney will not win, the elitists are in full on panic mode. They conspired to shut out others, tear down others, and prop up Romney with the electability argument. He is now not winning against the second coming of Jimmy Carter. They know there will be many conservatives, should Mitt Romney lose, who will not be satisfied until every bridge is burned with these jerks, hopefully with the elitist jerks tied to the bridge as it burns.

Continue reading Before the Rooster Crows | RedState.

8 Kids And A Business brings us an article,a message really on how Christianity changed the world in still another way with our reverence for children, which was a new thing in the world, and as we seem to be reverting to paganism seems in some ways to be disappearing as well

It has been observed that “the characteristic sin of the modern world is hostility to childhood…….. We have come to a point in human history in which “the child has become a problem to be prevented, an enemy to be destroyed, a product to be manufactured, an object of experimentation, a commodity to be sold…..”

Fr. Marco Testa is a priest of the Archdiocese of Toronto.  As 40 Days for Life begins in many areas, here is his homily defending the least of our brothers and sisters.

Twenty-fifth Sunday Per Annum (B)                                                                                                    September 23, 2012.                     

“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me” (Mk. 9:37).

In these words of our Lord, we perceive something altogether new.  Our Lord dispels “the authoritarian assumption, so widely held outside Christianity, that the adult is the sole measure of the human. As he grows up, a child does not become a man, a human being; he is that already from the womb…Being human is the whole journey from conception to the last breath… [and] in all that really matters, in faith and hope and love, the child is the teacher of the adult, the father of the man” (John SawardThe Way of the Lamb, p.105).  Both the novelty of these words and their importance are accentuated by what our Lord says elsewhere: “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:3).  This state of spiritual childhood which our Lord enjoins upon us is our fundamental identity as Christians who dare to call God Father.  “When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is the spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom. 8: 116-17).

Continue reading Whoever Welcomes One Such Child……..

In another sign of the times, Cranmer in commenting on simony in Germany wonders where the next Luther will come from.

According to the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in Germany, any Roman Catholic – no matter how pious and devout – who refuses to pay the ‘Church tax’ is no longer a member of the Roman Catholic Church: ie, they are excommunicated. His Grace is loath to talk of simony or indulgences, but the extraction of money for the administration of the sacraments or the assurance of salvation simply isn’t very Christian; indeed, it is quite evil

Church giving or tithing ought to be voluntary, from the heart, and with joy (2Cor 9:7). Yet the reality is that around 70 per cent of the German Church’s revenue comes from the Church tax, so it is rather useful for paying the bills (and court fees). But you only need to look at who introduced the tax in Austria to see what a thoroughly bad idea it is. Such an inheritance ought to make the vigorous enforcement on pain of excommunication rather unpalatable to Christians. It would appear that the Roman Catholic Church in Germany is serving Mammon, not God.

His Grace received the following email on this matter from one of his Roman Catholic readers. Speaking of her reaction on hearing about this tax, she wrote: ‘…frankly, as a Catholic, it made me vomit’:

As a lifelong Catholic, I thought there was very little that the Church could still do to horrify me. I watched the betrayals of the spirit of Vatican II. I watched the horrors of the child abuse scandals and the unbelievable behaviour of those that tried to cover them up. I watched the routine crack-downs on anything resembling the intelligent questioning of the Church that is actually required of Catholics by Canon Law but punished severely if practised (ask numerous brave Catholic theologians who were silenced or censored).

Why this latest development should have hit me so hard, I have no idea. Unless it’s for the sheer stupidity that has been displayed.

Continue reading Roman Catholic Church extracts tax on pain of damnation

And finally apparently some of the earliest political writings of Edmund Burke have been found.

The new finds constitute the earliest political writings by Edmund Burke (1729-97), dating from around 1757, when he was 27-years-old, a period often described as the ‘missing years’ of his biography. Professor Richard Bourke, from the School of History at Queen Mary, came across the early essays among a series of notebooks belonging to William Burke, a close friend and distant relation of parliamentarian, Edmund. “No new essays by Edmund Burke have been found since the 1930s, so these chance survivals are significant; offering a glimpse of the means by which a gifted orator grew into a respected political sage,” says Professor Bourke, who found the collection of works during the course of his research in the Sheffield Archives. The newly attributed manuscripts are significant as they hint at the philosophical thinking and intellectual themes that influenced Burke’s subsequent 30-year parliamentary career. The discovery features in the September 2012 edition of The Historical Journal* Professor Bourke adds: “It has always been known that in the middle of the 1750s Burke applied himself to the study of philosophy and history as he pursued a literary career in London. It now emerges that he deliberately sought to deepen his understanding of the contemporary political world through the philosophical lens developed by his forefathers from the age of Enlightenment.”

Read more at:

Happy Linkage


American Recessional

Why that title? Because it seems that America is consciously retreating from our traditional stance in favor of freedom. Terrorist attack our embassy and our government instead of defending itself, and as somebody said the other day, the passengers on United 93 didn’t have a week to make a decisions whether they had enemies aboard, mumbles about how terrible a film no one has seen is.

We no longer acknowledge that we have the right to offend anybody in public, there are now protected classes. In a Orwellian twist a crime becomes worse if it is committed on a protected class and pretty minor if committed on an unprotected class. The following article is from the Daily Beast and details some other problems this administration is causing.

Four years ago John McCain was campaigning on his foreign-policy experience when along came a financial crisis that killed his chances. This time around Mitt Romney has been campaigning on his economic experience. Now along comes a foreign-policy crisis. Will it kill his chances, too? Or can the Republicans finally land a punch on President Obama?


In June 2009 President Obama called for a ‘new beginning between the United States and Muslims.’ (Pete Souza / The WHite House via Corbis)

They really should be able to. Because what is unfolding in the Middle East has the makings of the most perfect storm in American foreign policy since 1979. You may recall what happened then. Another Islamist revolution. Another attack on a U.S. Embassy. Another Democrat in the White House.

This is what Jimmy Carter said in a speech on Feb. 7, 1980, as the Iranian hostage crisis entered its third month: “I have been struck … by the human and moral values which Americans as a people share with Islam. We share, first and foremost, a deep faith in the one Supreme Being. We are all commanded by him to faith, compassion, and justice. We have a common respect and reverence for law … On the basis of both values and interests, the natural relationship between Islam and the United States is one of friendship … We have the deepest respect and reverence for Islam.”

Remind you of anything? Try this: “I’ve come here … to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles—principles of justice and progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings … Let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America.”

That was from a speech given by President Obama in Cairo on June 4, 2009. Funny how small a difference 30 years make. Same old pious hopes for respect, reverence for law, and tolerance. And, in return, the same disrespect, illegality, and intolerance. The embassy in Tehran then, the consulate in Benghazi now.Here’s what happens to American presidents who look to be loved in the Middle East. In 2008, the year Obama won the presidency with his pledge to end George W. Bush’s wars, 75 percent of Egyptians had an unfavorable opinion of the United States. Today it’s 79 percent. Four years ago, that was the percentage of Jordanians with a negative view of the U.S. Now it’s 86 percent.

“It is much safer to be feared than loved,” Machiavelli teaches us. Today America is neither. Consider the wider ramifications of the Middle Eastern crisis. Revolutions have succeeded, with halfhearted American support, in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia. Among the beneficiaries have been staunch anti-American organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood. The United States continues to give Egypt more than $1 billion a year in aid, roughly the price of the two attack submarines the Egyptians are buying from Germany. The country was once America’s ally. Last week the president conceded it is now neither our enemy nor our friend.

America’s most dependable ally in the region is Israel. Repeatedly this year Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pleaded with Obama to draw a “red line” on Iran’s nuclear program rather than give a “red light” to preventive military action. Last week the White House declined even to meet with Netanyahu when he visits the United States later this month. Even Haaretz (no fan of Bibi) regards this as a mistake.

Maybe you think George Bush’s invasion of Iraq was a worse mistake, though it gave that country democracy, showed Arabs that dictators can be toppled, and turned an enemy into a potential ally. But consider the consequences of this president’s decision to pull out of Iraq. Two months ago, at least 100 Iraqis perished in a wave of bombings and shootings by al Qaeda in Iraq, which aims to overthrow the Shia-led government of Nuri al-Maliki. Last week the country’s Sunni vice president was sentenced to death. Meanwhile, Kurdistan is acting like an independent state (or, rather, a satellite of Turkey). Iraq is falling apart.

As for Syria, while Obama fiddles, its cities burn in a civil war that could soon eclipse Lebanon’s in the 1980s.

The president who was once a foreign-policy neophyte now makes much of his experience. That claim depends heavily on a program of targeted assassination that liberals would have denounced if it had been pursued by his predecessor.

If Mitt Romney wants to be Barack Obama’s successor, he urgently needs to launch a metaphorical drone strike of his own—against a Mideast policy that is flaming out.

Niall Ferguson: Obama Fiddles as Mideast Burns – Newsweek and The Daily Beast.

American Hostage in Africa

Theodore Roosevelt (1904) English: President o...

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Well, our hostages, including Sam LaHood, are apparently coming home. Reports I’ve seen say that we paid about $500,000 ransom for each of them. If you remember it took Ronald Reagan about 5 minutes to clean up Jimmy Carter‘s mess in Iran. That’s what leadership can do. But I suppose Obama didn’t want to wait for a Republican President to clean up his mess so he thought it better to pay the ransom and hope the electorate will forget by the election. Given his leadership, if he wants any chance at reelection it’s probably a good call.

But let’s remember another American held hostage in Africa, this one in Morocco. Ion Perdicarus was kidnapped by a anti-government guy by the name of Rasuli along with his stepson and held hostage to force the ruler of Morocco to give him the 2 richest provinces and $70,000. Perdicaris was an influential guy, too. He was the leader of the expatriate community in Tunis and his father had been the American Consul in Greece.

The American President‘s secretary denounced the ransom demand as preposterous. One would expect it to go downhill from here particularly as the American President was a Progressive. But this Progressive was different, for he was none other than Theodore Roosevelt. He was angered by the whole thing. Instead of paying the ransom, he dispatched no less than seven warships under the command of Admiral French Ensor Chadwick as well as several companies of Marines. That was pretty much the whole Atlantic Squadron. Basically nobody had any idea of how they were going to do anything about it but, Washington had reserved any operational orders to itself, anyway. This went on for a while, and it was an election year and TR was having a lot of trouble getting the Republicans excited about electing him.

Finally, a telex went out to the US Consul in Tunis, and that Presidents secretary we mentioned before, an elderly gentleman named John Hay whose first Washington job had been as Lincoln’s assistant private secretary, saw fit to send a shortened cable to the Republican Convention, which was in session, in Chicago. It read. “This government wants Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead.”

According to witnesses, this assured TR’s election (in his own right, he succeeded William McKinley when McKinley was assassinated.) In fact the reaction in Chicago was electric. the Convention, which had been lukewarm towards Roosevelt up until then, went wild at this remark. One Kansas delegate exclaimed, “Roosevelt and Hay know what they’re doing. Our people like courage. We’ll stand for anything those men do.”

Perdicardis was eventually released when the demands were sort of met by the Sultan.

When Perdicardis returned to Tunis and saw the American Squadron in the Harbor, he is reported to have said,

 Thank Heaven, it is that flag, and that people–aye, and that President, behind those frigates, thousands of miles away, who have had me dug out from amongst these Kabyles! That flag and no other!”

The kicker to the story is that Perdicardis had renounced his American citizenship during the Civil War to keep the Confederacy from seizing his property in South Carolina.

But still, this is an exemplary example of how a President should handle a hostage crisis.

On a somewhat related Note:

Have you seen Act of Valor yet? I haven’t but am looking forward to it with a lot of anticipation. In reading over at Command Performance I became aware that the movie ends with a poem. This is it:

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about their religion;
respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.

Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,
even a stranger, when in a lonely place.
Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.

Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools
and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled
with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep
and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.

Just in case you didn’t know, it was written by one of the great American leaders: The Shawnee Chief, Tecumseh

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