Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Where have you gone George Bush?


I have supported the President for the last 6 or 7 years. I even supported the Dubai Ports deal. I have to wonder what is going through President Bush’s mind now. It almost looks like he is so involved with Iraq that he does not hear the base.
I recently read an article by Newt Gingrich in which he sets what he perceives as a set of 5 priorities for the Republican Party for the 2006 election. They all seem to be good Republican ideas that the president should read and follow. That would be ideal. Short of that ideal, I think the president should adopt some of them anyway.
Immigration. I don’t understand why he keeps talking about no massive deportation. I don’t think that anyone is looking for that as a first or even a last priority. We MUST get control of our borders. You can call it national security or homeland security or immigration control. I don’t care. It must be controlled. A fence, a wall, the National Guard, whatever it takes should be done. After and only after that we can enter into a national debate about what to do.
Gas Prices. Calling for investigation of gas prices is surrendering to those that do not understand supply and demand. If he wants to do that OK, do it. BUT at the same time, let’s take actions that will help. First, suspend part of the taxes that are on gas. Second, start exploration for new sources of oil. Third, accelerate the research for alternative sources. Fourth, remove the import tariffs on ethanol. Our production cannot support large increases in demand.
I hope the hiring of Tony Snow as his spokesman is the start of something good. I fully support his determination in Iraq and the War on Terror. I support him as opposed to the current crop of
Democrats. I just wish he would wake up and smell the politics.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Oil Again


Oil Prices
What is causing the current price explosion for Gasoline? As usual, it is that old friend, Supply and Demand. India, China and most of the rest of the world are growing. They all are buying cars, opening chemical plants, using lots of petroleum products. Very little additional is being pumped out of the ground. There is lots of oil that is not being pumped but nothing that will help in the short term. As of the last time I saw the data the cost of the oil required to produce 1 gallon of gasoline was about $1.65. The taxes from all the different levels of government was somewhere between $.27 and $.53 in 2002. Those taxes are currently higher. That adds up to near $2 per gallon before you add the cost of refining, the cost of transportation and the cost of the CAFE list of gasoline formulations the environmentalists have demanded.
I think I will scream if I hear another person that "knows" that the problem is price fixing. Or brings up the retirement of Exxon CEO Lee Raymond and his package. A CEO is worth what he makes. Otherwise, the board would not pay him so much. If you took his $400 Million and split it out over the shareholders it would not be but about $.02 per share. In contrast, the price of the stock has risen 3 times its value in the last 10 years. Hummmm. Seems like a good job to me!
Corporations are in business to make money for the stockholders. They lend money to the company with the expectation that they will profit, either by dividends or by the price of the stock going up. Both happened with Exxon.
Yes, they made record profits. Yes, it is a lot of money. Yes, he got it the old fashion way--he earned it. I wish I could but he is welcome to all of it. Congratulations!
If we could somehow increase the supply of oil (ANWAR comes to mind) or new sources of oil (Like maybe the oil shale that might be starting to be price viable) or new ways to drive our cars that could use hydrogen or something else it would be nice. Unfortunately it is not a short term solution. We need some technology breakthroughs. Maybe we can tech our way out!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Having fun in Iraq


Hello everyone, just thought I would write everyone again and let you all know how things are over here. Our team has been busy with several new transitions. Our Iraqi Brigade General was replaced with another General, and within a week we had to take him to the hospital for a possible heart condition. I guess he just isn't used to working with people like us. A couple of days ago they changed our Brigade from 4th Brigade 1st Division Commandos to 7th Brigade 2nd Division Public Order Brigade. That changes all kinds of stuff for us on the American side. We even thought we might have to move again. Luckily we aren't going anywhere, we are staying with the Iraqis we have been working with. It doesn't really affect a lot of the way we operate, except for on the Admin side, it changes how the reports are done and where they go through. Good thing I'm the Admin officer. So not to confuse everyone even more, but our higher headquarters was MNSTC-I, (multi-national security transition command Iraq) disowned us and we now belong to IAG, (Iraq Assistance Group). That really messed up a lot of our Admin stuff, especially leave. I had to spend a lot of time and effort to make sure our guys who are going on R&R in May were taken care of. Of course I have to make sure everyone in June is squared away too, especially me. Speaking of me, I almost got shot a few days ago. I was talking with another Soldier who had just returned from a patrol. He didn't clear his weapon when he came back in and it wasn't on safe. I was only a few feet away from him when he fired a round into the ground next to his foot. Of course he swears his weapon wasn't loaded, but you have to treat every weapon as if it was loaded. I will also have to send some more pictures out. We had a mission the other night where we had some Engineers come out and try to dig a burn pit for the Iraqis since they have decided that collecting garbage is more fun than disposing of it. Well the Engineers brought out two ACEs (Armored Combat Earthmovers) basically big armored bulldozers and within an hour had them both stuck and partially buried. We had to call in two bigger armored bulldozers to pull them out. I attached a picture that I took, but it is kinda hard to see exactly what is going on. As you can see, the tracks are completely buried. I was talking to the Engineer who was in charge at the time and he had gotten his HMMWV stuck in the mud a couple of days after that incident. He said his buddies are having a good time picking on him for all of that. Well, I just wanted to let everyone know what was going on these last couple of weeks. Take care and I will write more when I get a chance.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

On a personal note:

My daughter has just gotten home and my newest grandchild is due in June. For those of you that follow Billy in Iraq, he should be here for the delivery of his first daughter. All are well and looking forward to the big event.

Those Evil Oil Executives......


Whenever I hear people talking about the evil oil companies and their executives and their obscene profits, I want to ask them what is it about capitalism they want to change. Supply and demand people! The prices are up. News Flash! So is demand.
If you look at the prices for gasoline over a long term, you will see some trends. When the demand nationally goes up, so do prices. When the season changes, the prices go up. Those evil oil companies are up to it again.
Lets try to do this without oil. If you have a source of some product for which there is a limited supply. Maybe some fruit that all of a sudden has been determined to be a cure for cancer. This fruit (Lets call it Stone Fruit) is grown only in 25 farms in southern Indiana. The fruit has been selling for $0.50 per bushel for the last 2 years. Everyone is happy. Those who like Stone Fruit as a snack have their fruit and they buy it for about $1 per pound.
Now, a report comes out from the CDC that this fruit has a 95% rate of cure for some form of cancer. What happens now?
First, people run to the store to buy all of the Stone Fruit they can. Fights can break out as some lady fills her basket and no one else can get any. The manager of the store calls his supplier and says to get all the Stone Fruit they can. Next, the supplier calls the cooperative that the Stone Fruit growers belong to and says he needs an additional 500 bushels. The coop says that they only have 1000 bushels and 500 suppliers are asking for them. The suppliers start bidding on the fruit. When the bidding is over, the price has gone up by a huge amount. Basic supply and demand. The supply has stayed the same but more demand for the product.
The supplier calls the store manager says I can get more for you but it is going to cost you more. Since the supplier had to pay more, the grocer has to pay more. Therefore, you have to pay more.
Now, imagine that the Japanese decide that this fruit is needed and they start bidding against the domestic bidders. Then the Russians, the Chinese, etc. The price goes through the roof and the consumer is faced with a choice. Either pay large prices for StoneFruit or do without.
Exactly what has happened with oil. The Indian and Chinese have started to grow. They are selling cars and people need oil. The chemical industries in those countries are growing and needing oil. No additional oil or refineries are in sight.
Now, add in the government requirements to create 38 or so different blends of gasoline. When it changes seasons and the refineries have to make a new blend, it costs more AND it cuts supply while the blend changes.......
Supply and Demand. Learn it. It might help you blood pressure as you deflate you wallet. You cannot argue with natural laws. If you try, you get the Soviet Union and its wonderful economic model.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Illegal Aliens---My Take


I have listened with interest to the many different ideas on the illegal immigrant issue. I have heard people that want to protect our borders called racists and I have heard people calling for completely ignoring the "problem". I have heard the president call for a "guest worker program (amnesty)" and I have heard people call for a large US Army contingent on the border.
I think I come down somewhere in the middle. I think you have to protect the borders of this country. I think that might include a fence in places, a stronger fence in other places, a beefed up border patrol and any unmanned sensors needed. Not the Army. The first step in ANY solution to the problem is to stem the tide that is overflowing our country. If that is not done, it is merely a game.
I don’t want to stop immigration, though that might not be a bad idea for starters if it is done in a very fair and VERY temporary manner. I want to stop illegals. Not undocumented workers. If you are in this country without a visa or green card, you are illegal. You are breaking a law.
A lot of people break the law (i.e., When is the last time you drove the speed limit on an uncrowded interstate highway?). The reasonable person that breaks the law does so knowing he can be ticketed or arrested. Illegal aliens should have the same situation. If they are caught by the police they should be sent back to the country of origin. No long appeal filled delays. Just go home.
If we can stop the flood at the border then we can try to make a dent in assimilating the illegals that are here now. I don't think that we should go knocking on doors in the middle of the night but if a person comes to the attention of the authorities and is illegal (and it should not be an insult to have your documents checked) then that person should go out ASAP.
There should be courts dedicated to this and there should be local detention available. I know that will cost money and some of that should come from the fines from employers that knowingly hire illegals.
Social services should be restricted to those that are deserving of them. Those are citizens of this country. The only possible exception I would accept would be for emergency medical services. Food Stamps and housing and other services should not be going to non citizens. If you come to this country illegally, you are not to benefit from it. I want to pull the welcome mat.
Here is where I differ from many conservatives. If you can stay in this country under those conditions and you don’t get into trouble and come to the attention of authorities and if you want to stay and become a citizen of the nation you have "broken and entered", then I agree that there has to be some way for you to become a citizen. If not, we would be creating a permanent under class. No rational person wants that. It might cause prices of many personal services to increase but that is a small price to pay for the increased security and the decrease in the problems caused by the constant inflow of illegal aliens.
We need immigrants. We need these people. Our economy needs these people. The problem is assimilation. If this is going to remain a vibrant growing society, we cannot allow the country to Balkanize.