Archive for March, 2008

Time to Grow Something

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

In response to rising gasoline prices, many Americans have chosen to spend more time at home. In addition to slightly reducing demand for gasoline, it presents an opportunity for that “quality time” so many wealth-seeking experts told us in the last decade would fix our family woes. But other things are keeping us at home too.

Grocery bills are rising, but so are restaurant prices. Food costs are helping Americans to decide to eat at home a little more. Some folks say that might be good for our waistlines, but that’s more of a stupid comment than a solution-oriented discussion.

We’re in trouble.

As oil prices sky-rocket, it is producing a cascading effect into everything else we buy.

Petroleum price increases the costs for transportation, packaging, and processing every consumer good we use–including food. Global food prices are just starting to show the systemic influence of high oil prices. This will affect all the nations.

Even in times of feast for Americans, food shortages are all over the world. Americans have a long history of trying to feed the world out of our charity-mindedness. However as Americans feel the crunch of oil and food based inflation, the shortages around the world will increase. When the crunch hits America hard enough, our charitable givings will slow and maybe decrease, who knows–maybe even stop.

People will starve.

Before they starve, they will seek food using all means available to them. They will riot, loot, kill and even form organized raids into other communities. Some nations will go to war. For food. Then the people will suffer from starvation and war.

America will feel an obligation to do something about the wars. It will take a while before we learn to just watch the other folks around the world kill themselves while we try to balance our budget. Thankfully, we’re not at that point yet.

Some have argued that the solution to the food problem is just to grow more food. Sounds simple enough, but that takes energy. Increased energy demands will drive the price of oil higher, making everything, including food, cost more. We really can’t fix this problem until we fix the energy problem.

Interestingly, one solution is to use a portion of our food supply to make biofuels. Using grain that would normally feed cattle to stretch petroleum reserves causes the price of grain and then of beef to rise. At the same time, transportation and processing costs increase because the cost of oil continues to climb.

Billions or maybe even trillions of barrels of oil lay under a frozen north, hidden in shale, or off the coast of the United States. The American government has rules and laws in place that prevent the harvesting of those energy resources. Well, at least it prevents US oil companies from drilling there. The 36 Cuban oil wells operated by Chinese oil companies as close as 50 miles off the coast of Florida will not extract oil fast enough to stop the starvations that will probably happen within the next few years.

All this sounds a little like a well-meaning man trying to survive the winter in a forest. He doesn’t want to hurt the trees because his teacher told him in the third-grade that trees are people too. So he burns his coat to stay warm for a while. Eventually he faces the winter cold without a coat or a fire. He is then faced with the choice of freezing or growing a brain.

We need to grow a brain.

It just makes sense.

The Reverend Wright is Irreverently Wrong

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

No! God has not damned America.

To the contrary, He has never blessed another nation to any greater extent.  And no other nation has blessed the world to any greater extent.  The relationship between giving blessings and being blessed can be a precarious one.

For instance, the initial group of Americans were blessed with miracle after miracle in shucking off the yoke of a mortal king.  A new nation was formed.   It was an imperfect union.  Yet, it was more perfect than anything else on earth.

As time went on, many challenges arose.  Our elected leaders made choices, based off of a set of values that were passed down to them from history.  As “acceptable” changed, we changed.  Some of the most influential voices during our revolution and then formative years of the nineteenth century were from the pulpit.

We eventually battled with ourselves.  Killing a million Americans, laying waste to several states, and from the ashes we rebuilt ourselves into a single United States called America.

Then America offered its youth to rescue Europe, and maybe even humanity, from the horrors of the “Great War.”  While our work was global, our leadership was pushed to the backseat of the world order that followed.  A generation later, the world was in the grasps of National Socialism and other shades of Totalitarianism that threatened to snuff out the last hope of individual freedoms.

Fortunately, America chose to once again answer the call for help.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives for the millions who were dying at the hands of evil from that mid-twentieth century global war.  Our outlay of treasure for the cause was without equal in history.  After the dirty part of stopping evil was done, America demanded a front seat in global leadership.

Since then Americans have continued to freely give their lives and treasures so that the world might have a chance to know peace, prosperity, and liberty.  America is the bright, shining city on a hill that leads the world with her productivity, prosperity, and technology.

Even when America was attacked on 9/11 she showed great concern for humanity.  Possessing the power to kill by the tens-of-millions, America showed great restraint by choosing to surgically removing two evil governments from power, freeing their people, and teaching them to fight the terrorists lurking in their midst.  It takes a long time, and it cost a lot to do it like that.  America has a long history of investing in peace with it’s blessing of technology and treasure.  Likewise Americans don’t just rely on their elected government to organize all the investments.  Billions of dollars are collected by Americans by way of private organizations that do what they can to make life better for folks at home and abroad.  Many American dedicate their lives to going to strange, often wild lands just so they can help others.  Too many of those folks ultimately give their lives in that quest to bless others.

These blessings are not unnoticed by the all powerful, all knowing God.  He blesses America because America is good.

The occasional corrupted clergy-person may be able to whip his congregations into a frenzy with poetic lies to the contrary.  While it might keep hate alive, and promote the growth of racism in his flock, it won’t change God’s perspective.

God is never fooled.

Oh certainly, America is still less than perfect.  The holocaust on America’s unborn will be a stain on our country forever.  Individual Americans will continue to commit horrible crimes like pedophilia-based crimes, rape, and murder.  Some American politicians will violate the trust given to them by lying, cheating, stealing, and tolerating others that also do.

Yes, tolerating them is bad too.  You can’t always be a uniter, sometimes you have to divide the goats from the sheep.

But even with all this imperfection, there is still enough good in America for God to tarry with his judgment on the world.

Yes, America is imperfect, but it is still more perfect than any other nation.  God is still blessing America for being good.

While past blessing performance is no guarantee of a nation’s future favor with God, they do provide a common-sense guide for future sermons.

It just makes sense.

Oil Surges to $500, Riots in Congress

Saturday, March 15th, 2008


By The Chuck
15 March 2028

WASHINGTON–Oil prices finally broke the $500 a barrel threshold, closing slightly lower at $499.69 by the end of the day.  Once considered impossible by the petroleum market experts, the breaking of this barrier suggests the price of oil will never stabilize.  After the markets closed, President Jose Villa called an emergency session of Congress.

“We’ve waited long enough!  The increasing demand for oil, as our world has suffered the harshest winters in recorded history over the last decade, has drastically brought about our economic downfall.  Now is the time to act.  It might even be to late too undo the damage.”

President Villa’s critics were rebuked by thousand of protesters, who were able to rush past Capitol Police barricades.  It took almost an hour to clear out the protesters, and another two hours to clear out the effects of the tear gas.  Nevertheless the halls of congress were cleared and the session continued.

Since the implosion of the Democratic Party in 2012 and then the Republican Party in 2016, political debates have often erupted into violence.  Fortunately during Friday’s clash, only three people were killed with less than thirty requiring hospitalization. Speaker of the House Jung Mao required medical attention from on-scene medics due to a head wound from a thrown brick.

Members of the America First Party accused Villa of organizing the violence by using supporters of his Norte American Republic Party.  A fact he flatly denied.

“The people are just upset because the price of oil is destroying their lifestyles.  I’m submitting a bill to congress that we harvest the 10.5 billion barrels of oil in ANWAR.  In addition, the oil shale in Green River Basin contains nearly 2 trillion barrels of oil we can use.  And finally, we need to drill the oil fields  off the coast of Florida.  We have been transferring our national wealth to foreign lands for too long.”  The members of the Norte American Republic Party gave Villa a standing ovation.  However there are many obstacles to overcome before this can become a reality.

Currently China, the largest economic power in the world, operates over a hundred oil platforms in the international waters off the coast of Florida for Cuban companies.  It is not expected that the Chinese government will let any attempts by the US to drill in what has been their oil harvesting region for the last 20 years go without challenge.

President Villa is still a very popular leader and is expected to win his re-election bid later this year.  Some noteworthy accomplishments were going back on the gold standard in 2025, fixing the value of gold at $3500 an ounce and then convincing India to allow a US astronaut to go along on their 2027 voyage to Mars.

Getting an American back into space was a moment of great national pride, especially  after the humiliating eviction from the Moon by Japanese landlords in 2022.  If the energy crisis can be overturned, the US might even restart their decommissioned  space program, as long as they can get a permit from the United Nations space regulators.

Wait!  It’s only 2008, and we still have time.

The United States has many challenges in front of us. If we don’t use things to our advantage, someone else will win the advantage.

It just makes sense.

Jack of All Trades, Master of None

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

According to the Associated Press, the Air Force will change the way bomber crews organize for their nuclear training missions.  B-52 crews will train exclusively for nuclear missions for 6-months at a time, maybe even 12 months.

This is supposed to be the solution to fix part of the process that resulted in some serious mistakes in the handling of nuclear weapons back in August.  However, the Air Force had better be careful when it comes to executing this strategy.

A reader of the Feb 29 news story could be led into believing that B-52 crews will begin some kind of cycle where they transition between nukes and non-nuclear training missions.  Let’s consider the flow.

One scenario might be, the crews begin a 6-month cycle of nuke training.  At first the crews will be astonished at how little they really know about nukes.  Then about the time the cycle is completed, they will finally be comfortable with the mission.  

But then they have to go back to the C-mission only to discover that they’ve forgotten a lot of things.  Without a doubt, they will have lost their edge.  After a month or so, they will build their proficiency and almost be ready to deploy, which they will.  They’ll live the C-mission once again, while they support the ground operations of the Global War of Attrition on Terrorism.  But eventually the party will end.

They’ll start another N-mission cycle, only to discover they’ve forgotten a lot of things.  After a  few months, they’ll be as good as new.  Rinse and reapply.

In the end, we’ll have a process where the B-52 crews are uncomfortable with their mission about 1/3 of the time.  There has to be a better way.  Here it is:

Assign a B-52 squadron a nuke mission.  Keep the others units conventional.  This way, the Air Force will always have a fully competent, capable, and confident nuclear B-52 force.  Meanwhile the conventional tasked B-52 units will be able to concentrate on the knowledge and skills required to support the AEF missions.

Some folks might argue that the nuke squadron will at a disadvantage when it comes to promotions because they won’t be logging combat hours.   However, all but the most junior B-52 crewmembers have logged plenty of combat sorties since the GWOT began.  Veteran aircrews could be assigned to the nuke squadron.  Their previous combat time should be sufficient to satisfy any combat squares that need checking to demonstrate their leadership potential.  

Following the First Gulf War, six months worth of combat sorties carried many aviators from captain up to colonel and even beyond for some, all without additional combat time.  Besides, if the officers sitting on promotions boards can’t understand the leadership potential of qualified nuclear crews even if they haven’t orbited over Asia for long hours, the Air Force has already promoted the wrong people.  Finally, the purpose of military service isn’t for promotion.  The core values are declared to be integrity first, service before self, and excellence in everything they do.

Just as the decathlon champion does not take the Olympic gold medal in each of the separate events, or as the medical general practitioner does not replace a neurologist, we live in an age of specialists.  We need a cadre of heavy bomber nuclear experts.

It just makes sense.