Occasionally my niece, who is 11, will ask me how she can get money to buy presents for people. I usually reply there are three basic ways to accumulate money: earn, sell, and save. Since she is a pre-teen, her resources in this area are pretty much limited to earning babysitting money, selling her old toys at a garage sale, and saving her allowance.

For our thought experiment, let’s focus on a 20-something with a goal of putting $2,000 into the bank as fast as she can. She also has the same three options: earn, sell, and save. Since she is in her 20s, she may have a degree that may help her find a well-paying job. To increase her earned income, she could take on a second job or do piecework on the side. Based on her age and ability, earning money will probably be the fastest way to reach her goal. On the other hand, if she doesn’t have marketable skills, a degree, or experience, she may be limited to taking lower-paying part-time jobs.

She also has the option to sell items she owns. Anything with value (or perceived value) can be put up for sale on an auction site such as eBay. There is no guarantee that her items will sell, but it’s probably easier to sell items than to work. And assuming that she’s selling good stuff and needing to sell it quickly, she may not get full value for her items, and she may choose to spend more money later to recover them. Other than auction sites, there are other venues–consignment stores, pawn shops and yard sales–where she could sell used clothes, books, DVDs, and CDs, but usually at a significantly lower price than what she paid for them.

The last of the three option is to save. This works best when there is a significant amount being spent, but every dollar saved is an extra dollar closer to the goal. Since our imaginary person has a definable and short-term goal, she can opt to cut her spending to the bone. It is cheaper to cook food at home than it is to dine out. Packing brown-bag leftovers is cheaper than buying lunch at work. Reading a book or checking out a movie from the library costs less than going to see that new movie in the theater. She could even go as far as adjusting her air conditioner or heater to a more energy-saving setting, but savings from utility bills could take a while to appear, so this strategy might be better suited to a long-term savings goal. But it’s still an option.

The options of earn, sell, and save pretty much cover the ways our hypothetical woman could reach her goal of putting $2,000 in the bank. Since she has a definite goal in mind, it would be both silly and inefficient if she decided to eliminate one or two of these options. If she were serious about reaching her goal as quickly as possible, why would she purposely postpone her goal by limiting her savings options? If she really wanted to reach the goal as fast as she could, she would take advantage of all the opportunities open to her to earn, sell, and save money.

Have you noticed that I always wrote it as “earn, sell, and save” rather than listing them as “earn, sell, or save”? I did that on purpose because I am including all the options that work toward this goal, rather than excluding options. That is what I mean by thinking inclusively rather than exclusively. When there are multiple ways to reach a goal, it behooves us to include them all rather than arbitrarily excluding some.

So how does this apply to the current energy crunch?

We need energy–indeed, we need massive amounts to sustain our current way of life. We could easily reduce the energy we consume if we were willing to revert to a 1908 lifestyle instead of a 2008 one. The Model T was first sold in 1908, but since cars are evil polluting beasts from hell–or so environmentalists tell us–we’d have to do without cars. We’d also have to do without bras and zippers, since both were invented in 1913. Oh, the horror! But frankly, I’d rather not live an Amish lifestyle. I like the convenience of central heating and air, and modern dentistry is a blessing. The mass production and modern farming techniques that clothe and feed the world’s billions require an unbelievable amount of energy to maintain, and to fuel our energy demand, we should think inclusively rather than exclusively.

I’ve been listening to the people who are screaming for a change in our energy usage, and I have noticed that they almost always think exclusively. They don’t want us to drill for oil or natural gas. They don’t want us to dig for coal. They don’t want us to build nuclear power plants. They don’t want us to build dams for hydroelectric power. They don’t even want us to build wind farms. The only thing left is solar energy, but the same BANANA[1] attitude that stops us from drilling in the desolate arctic wasteland known as ANWR will stop us from dedicating the many square miles of desolate southwest desert that we’d need to really get solar energy going.

I recently saw a commercial by T. Boone Pickens who said that our current energy state is “one emergency we can’t drill our way out of.” His plan calls for using wind energy, natural gas, and biofuels to make the U.S. energy independent. But there is no mention on his page about the other options–solar, nuclear, and hydroelectric power. Why is Pickens being exclusive rather than inclusive when it comes to seeking out and utilizing energy sources? I hear people talk about solar and wind power as being avenues worth pursuing, but they nearly always exclude oil, and they shudder at the very thought of nuclear power. Why exclude some of these possible energy sources when we need all the energy we can get?

When I hear or read “We can’t drill our way out of this problem,” I have a strong reason to believe that person has identified certain energy sources as “good” or “bad”. I don’t see it that way; to me, they are all just energy sources. As I see it, every drop of oil we drill here in the U.S. is one drop we don’t have to import. Likewise, every drop of oil we don’t need to use because of natural gas, solar, hydroelectric, nuclear, coal, or wind power is also one drop we don’t have to import. It’s a win-win situation, so why not get all the energy we can from all the sources we can?

Let’s think inclusively about energy, rather than being exclusive. Let’s drill for oil and natural gas AND dig for coal AND build nuclear power plants AND build hydroelectric dams AND build wind farms AND build solar arrays AND conserve where it makes sense AND develop new energy sources AND invent more efficient uses of our energy. Now that’s a worthwhile goal I could get behind.

[1] BANANA — Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to tell Iran to stop enriching uranium, or it will be forced to tell them to stop again:

The U.N. Security Council unanimously voted Saturday to impose additional sanctions against Iran for its refusal to stop enriching uranium, a move intended to show Tehran that defiance will leave it increasingly isolated.

Iran immediately rejected the sanctions and said it had no intention of suspending its enrichment program, prompting the United States to warn of even tougher penalties.

And to prove that they are on the complete up-and-up about their uranium enrichment plans, Iran announced that they would limit their cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog organization, and they would press on with their enrichment activities without cease.

Oh yeah, the U.N. Security Council has really put the fear of the U.N. into Iran. I think it’s time for the U.N. to bring out the big guns.

 The Big Guns Misfire

On July 31th, 2006, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution telling Iran to cease and desist enriching uranium for their “peaceful” needs. Iran promptly told them to take a long walk off a short pier. Here is how this was written up at Fox News:

The U.N. Security Council passed a weakened resolution Monday giving Iran until Aug. 31 to suspend uranium enrichment or face the threat of economic and diplomatic sanctions.

Iran immediately rejected the council action, saying it would only make negotiations more difficult concerning a package of incentives offered in June for it to suspend enrichment.

“All along it has been the persistence of some to draw arbitrary red lines and deadlines that has closed the door to any compromise,” said Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Javad Zarif. “This tendency has single-handedly blocked success and in most cases killed proposals in their infancy.

“This approach will not lead to any productive outcome and in fact it can only exacerbate the situation.”

Oh, yeah. Let’s not exacerbate the problem by telling Iran to stop enriching uranium. Let’s do some nuanced diplomacy to resolve this problem. Of the 15 members on the U.N. Security Council, only one voted against this resolution: Qatar.

Explaining his “no” vote, Qatar’s U.N. Ambassador Nassir Al-Nasser said that while the demands of the six nations were legitimate, the resolution will only exacerbate tensions in the region and Iran should be given more time to respond.

“We do not agree with the tabling of this resolution at a time when our region is in flames,” Al-Nasser said. “We see no harm in waiting for a few days to exhaust all possible means and in order to identify the real intentions of Iran.”

So as long as other issues are happening in the Middle East, Iran gets to press on with uranium enrichment, the pursuit of “peaceful” nuclear power, and — make no mistake — plans for developing nuclear weapons. Ignoring Iran to focus on Hezbollah is like saying you can’t do anything about the burning home while there is a savage pit bull in the neighbor’s front yard.

But here’s the real kicker of the resolution: if Iran doesn’t suspend uranium enrichment by August 31st, they face the horrors of the U.N. Security Council holding another meeting to discuss what to do. “You stop what you’re doing, or we’re going to hold a meeting!” I’m sure they are shaking in their turbans in Tehran. All this resolution shows is just how useless the United Nations truly is.

On May 23rd, American author E. L. Doctorow was booed while he gave the commencement address at Hofstra University. Rather than using this opportunity to talk to the graduating class about their accomplishments or what they could expect in the near future, Doctorow used his time to bash President Bush and call him a liar.

One story he [Bush] told was that the country of Iraq had nuclear and biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction and was intending shortly to use them on us. That was an exciting story all right, it was designed to send shivers up our spines. But it was not true.

Another story was that the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, was in league with the terrorists of al-Qaida, And that turned out to be not true. But anyway we went off to war on the basis of these stories.

Loud boos erupted at these words. At one point, Doctorow stopped speaking and just stood there at the podium. Hofstra president Stuart Rabinowitz stepped up to the mike and asked that the crowd allow Doctorow to continue, but some people continued to boo the author nevertheless. While this is one of the latest examples of commonly-held leftist ideas about the war in Iraq, this certainly won’t be the last time they are brought up. So let’s look at the “stories” that Doctorow claims Bush told.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

A common claim by the liberal left is that President Bush lied to us about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. Leftists often claim (as does Doctorow) that President Bush said that “Iraq had nuclear and biological and chemical weapons,” but what President Bush really said was that “[Iraq] possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons.” That is what President Bush said on Oct. 7, 2002. The President also didn’t claim that the threat was imminent:

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.

What did we know before we toppled Saddam’s regime? We knew that Saddam had both biological and chemical WMDs. How did we know this? Because Saddam had used them. This is not conjecture, nor is it speculation. This is a historical fact. Saddam had such weapons, and he was willing to use them. Since Saddam couldn’t account for these WMDs, nor would he allow inspectors to verify their destruction, the only logical conclusion is that Saddam still had them.

Fast forward a year after the overthrow of Saddam, and liberals are calling out, “Where are the WMDs? Bush lied!” But let’s look at a little bit of what has come out in the news recently. In May 2004, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt said, “The Iraqi Survey Group confirmed today that a 155-millimeter artillery round containing sarin nerve agent had been found.” This round of (all together now, kids) sarin nerve agent was hooked up as an improvised explosive device, or IED. But this wasn’t an isolated event — two weeks earlier, terrorists had exploded an IED that contained mustard gas. The servicemen were fortunate in that the shell had been stored improperly, making the mustard gas ineffective; the sarin shell was exploded incorrectly, reducing the threat from it as well.

But when you find two dead cockroaches, it is foolishness to claim that is the extent of the infestation.

“Gazi George, a former Iraqi nuclear scientist under Saddam’s regime, told Fox News he believes many similar weapons stockpiled by the former regime were either buried underground or transported to Syria. He noted that the airport where the device was detonated is on the way to Baghdad from the Syrian border.” (Fox News)

In April, Jordan broke news of a planned bomb plot that could have killed tens of thousands of people in the city of Amman. At least three trucks came over the border from Syria laden down with detonators, explosives and the raw materials to create more explosives. Amid these “raw materials” were VX, sarin and 70 other chemicals. Could Syria have created the VX and sarin? Sure, but only Iraq had the facilities to create them in the quantities that were found. Is it a coincidence that military convoys were seen heading from Iraq into Syria before the war, and now we are capturing terrorists leaving Syria with chemical WMDs? Not according to Jaffar Jaffar, regarded as the father of Iraq’s nuclear program, who recently surrendered to American forces.

But what about Iraq’s nuclear program? On Sunday, May 23rd, 2004, former Justice Department prosecutor John Loftus talked about the nuclear program in the Middle East. This is transcribed from my recording of his interview:

“Now the British discoveries date back to just after September 11th, when British intelligence wiretapped a frantic phone call from North Korea to Libya. The North Koreans were saying, ‘Oh my God! If the Americans do go into Iraq, they’re going to find all the documents about our nuclear weapons program.’ ‘And who’s going to pay,’ the Libyans inquired, ‘all the nuclear scientists from Iraq in Libya once Saddam falls?’”

We now know that Libya had an ongoing nuclear program, but why was Iraq paying Libya to house nuclear scientists there? The simplest answer is that Libya’s nuclear program was really Saddam’s nuclear program outsourced. Loftus continued:

“Well, that tape was played to the North Koreans. They said, ‘Yeah, we have a nuclear program. So what? Bribe us.’ We played that tape to Kaddafi and he said, ‘Let’s make a deal.’ So Kaddafi has secretly confirmed that there was this Arab consortium on nuclear weapons. That Saddam decided because he knew where the blind spots were in Hans Blix’s staff to move his key nuclear scientists into Libya. 408 were transferred into that country. Kaddafi provided a hollowed-out mountain…. Some of these guys were actively working on Saddam’s payroll. He knew where the blind spots were. That’s how they knew to hide the entire weapons of mass destruction program. Blix is going to go down in history as a bloated bureaucrat whose arrogance was only exceeded by his incompetence. The spread of nuclear weapons took place right under his nose.”

So Saddam had and used biological and chemical weapons, and these weapons have turned up in Iraq and surrounding countries. While it appears that Saddam may not have been active inside Iraq with a nuclear program, he had outsourced such a program into Libya with the assistance of North Korea. President Bush’s claims were true when he said that “[Iraq] possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons.”

Any liberal who tells you otherwise either has his head buried in the sand, or is outright lying to you for his political gain.

Iraqi ties to al-Qaeda

So is Doctorow correct when he claims there is no connection between Saddam and al-Qaeda? Well, let’s look at what we know.

Czech intelligence reported in October 2001 that Mohammad Atta, the terrorist who flew the first plane into the World Trade Center, met with Iraqi Counsel Ahmad Al-Ani. Why would Atta break his cover a few months before the September attack to meet with an Iraqi in Prague? Could this meeting have been related to the plane hijacking training provided by the Salman Pak training camp in Iraq? According to Sabah Khalifa Khodada Alami, an Iraqi military officer who defected from Iraq in 1999, Salman Pak was a training site for the Fedayeen Saddam in airline hijacking and sabotage. Also training in this camp were non-Iraqi groups, who received similar hijacking training using the Boeing 707 plane parked in the camp.

But there is another link between Iraq and al-Qaeda. The Jordanian bomb plot mentioned above was planned by Abu-Musab al-Zaqawi, a close follower of al-Qaeda. The people captured in this plot confessed on Jordanian television that the plot was hatched by al-Zaqawi in 1999, while he was in Iraq, as an al-Qaeda attack. The attack was attempted with Iraqi WMD supplies, but fortunately was stopped before thousands died.

Does the name al-Zaqawi ring a bell? He’s one of the ghouls who chopped off Nick Berg’s head. Know where he is right now? If you say Iraq, go to the head of the class. So here we have al-Qaeda: trained in Iraq, supplied with weapons from Iraq, plotting attacks in Iraq, launching attacks now in Iraq and, thanks to the corruption of the U.N.’s “oil for food” program, funded by Iraq. But if you listen to people like Doctorow, there is no connection between al-Qaeda and Iraq.

Yeah, right.

Addendum (5/26/2004): Al Gore has stepped forward and bloviated about the war in Iraq. He is calling for the resignation of the Secretary of Defense, two deputies, the intelligence chief, the National Security Advisor, and the head of the CIA. If a bomb were to claim the lives of these six people, it would be a terrible blow to the American government. But Gore is calling for them to fall on their own swords. He is also calling for the removal of President Bush at the ballot box this November. Yep, Al Gore, the sore loser, is calling on America to cringe and crawl before the terrorists and piss on themselves, much as Spain did after the March 11th bombings in Madrid. Thanks, Al.

Lemme clear up one simple thing that Gore missed when he said “[Bush] decided not to honor the Geneva Convention.” The GC specifies how soldiers, prisoners and civilians are to be treated. But there are three basic caveats to the GC. First, the GC only applies to the nations who sign it. Second, if a signatory nation violates the rules of the GC, the other nation(s) are no longer bound by it. Third, the rules about treatment of soldiers apply only to people wearing uniforms, insignia or other clear indications of military membership. Clearly, al-Qaeda does not fit the last category since they are not a clearly identified military. Nor have they shown that they will honor the GC, setting off IEDs with mustard and sarin gas in them. And they are not signatory members of the GC. So how exactly do al-Qaeda and the other terrorist rabble attacking Coalition soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan fit with the Geneva Convention? They don’t, but this won’t stop liberals like Al Gore from beating their breasts over it.

This speech by Al Gore will be translated and broadcast throughout the Muslim world, and it will strengthen the resolve of those who delight in the shedding of American blood. With this speech, Al Gore is giving real aid and comfort to the enemy. This is treason. But because Gore is a Democrat, nothing will happen to him.