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Bloomberg’s Blunder



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I’m no market guru or anything, but could this have anything to do with this.

Jonah...



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…surely you are not afraid of our friends, the Saudis?

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Call Off All Boycotts!!



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This, just in, from the State Department:


Press Statement

Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman

Washington, DC

December 3, 2002


Saudi Arabia: Cooperation on Terrorism Financing



The United States is pleased with the continued cooperation we have received
from the Government of Saudi Arabia in the Global War on Terrorism.

We welcome today s announcement by Saudi Arabia of enhanced mechanisms to
monitor and control financial flows from the Kingdom. We believe that such
improved oversight of financial transfers is essential to reduce and impede
financial support for terrorism originating in Saudi Arabia. We strongly
support comprehensive monitoring of charitable organizations based in the
Kingdom to ensure that well-intentioned donations are used for their intended
purpose, not to finance or abet terrorists. We believe that such monitoring,
especially of donations leaving the Kingdom, can prevent those who would assist
terrorists from using the charitable generosity of Saudi citizens as cover for
their activities.

The United States is encouraged by Saudi efforts and will continue to provide
technical cooperation to Saudi Arabia and other allies in the region as they
work to improve their capabilities in monitoring and countering the financing
of terror. We expect continued and comprehensive exchanges of expertise with
Saudi officials.

The United States also looks forward to convening the upcoming meeting of the
U.S.-Saudi Joint Working Group on Terrorism in early January in Washington. We
believe that this will further improve and formalize our cooperative efforts in
countering terrorism. Chaired for the United States by the Department of
State’s Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Ambassador Cofer Black, this Working
Group will serve as the primary mechanism for the coordination of joint
activities, the exchange of information, and setting mutual priorities in the
battle against terrorism.
[End]

Released on December 3, 2002

Web Briefing: October 14, 2014

Big Pieces



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Lowry asked me if I have any ideas for big, long term projecty kind of pieces, a la ANWR or Canada. Typically, they should involve me going some place and pulling back the curtain of liberal propaganda on them. Please note: I will not be going to Saudi Arabia. National Review is not a popular publication there. If you have any ideas in this regard lemme know. Put “Big Pieces” — but no dirty jokes — in the subject header and send to them to me here.

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Last Saudi E-Mail--Thanks to Everyone For Writing



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E-mail: “Putting aside impossible tracing and enforcement issues (what if a European refinery took Saudi crude — could the US import gasoline from that refinery?), and assuming this is feasible from the standpoint of supply network logistics, your boycott might not have a significant impact on world crude oil prices but would almost certainly have a serious near-term negative impact on US refined product (gasoline, etc.)
prices.

Basically what you propose is that a US refiner would be prohibited from accepting crude oil from Saudi Arabia. This means US refiners would have to bid up for cargoes from permitted sources and would be exposed to greater volatility and potential supply chain disruption. Also, the most feasible replacement sources (Mexico, Venezuela, Canada) produce lower grade crude than Saudi Arabia. This lower grade (heavier) crude is more expensive to refine and requires special equipment that many smaller refiners cannot afford.”

Taken For a Ride



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On The Other Hand...



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…I’m sympathetic to this point, an e-mail:

“Rich:
No way it would work. Once crude leaves the Gulf it becomes fungible. Supply and demand will control the price regardless of what we do. A domestic oil tax would only enrich the government and for it to discourage driving it would have to be rather larger. If we really wanted to punish the Saudis, the best thing to do is just treat them like any other third world kleptocracy with pretensions of civilization, i.e. stop taking their calls.”

Boycott Saudis



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Make sure Mecca Cola is on that list.

You Know He’s Bad...



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Kerry Flips On Wag



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Occasional NRO contributor Andrew Breitbart points out that Kerry has done a flip-flop on “Wag the Dog.” Today, according to the WashPost, he charged that “President Bush has used the threat of war in Iraq to distract attention from the nation’s economic problems, and he promised to make those issues the centerpiece of his campaign.

’They sat down in August and made a conscious decision to bring that up and to dominate the discussion with Iraq,’ the Massachusetts senator said in a speech to the City Club of Cleveland.”

Hmmmm. But here’s Kerry on June 23—yes, that would be June the month that traditionally falls two months before August–on “Meet The Press”:

“MR. RUSSERT: Saddam Hussein–Do you believe that the president should get authorization–authorization–from Congress to embark on a military campaign against Iraq?

SEN. KERRY: Absolutely.

MR. RUSSERT: And you would support it?

SEN. KERRY: It would depend on precisely what the evidence at that time is and what the strategy is going to be. But, in principle, yes; I believe Saddam Hussein is a problem. But I think there are a number of things that we could do and can do now. I think the president has actually initiated some of them. I’m reading in the newspapers about covert activities. I think we can achieve a certain amount through that. When I was in the Middle East recently, I was struck by the intelligence assessments in that region about the potential for covert activities, and I think we should pursue those.”

More Boycott



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I know a boycott makes no economic sense–and might even be technically very hard or impossible to enforce for a variety of reasons, including that Saudi oil could probably be mixed into stuff we get from other foreign suppliers. But the Saudi market share in the U.S. must be worth something, since the Saudis have been trying to so desperately recently to increase it (I think the WashPost reported this the other day). If it would scare the heck out of the Saudis, even if it’s largely symbolic, wouldn’t a boycott be a nice point of leverage? I take the e-mailer’s point below about the risk of increased Chinese influence in the Middle East, but our “engagement” with the Saudis hasn’t gotten us very much lately….

Saudi Boycott



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Lots of good Saudi e-mails. Here’s a sample:

“Dear Rich,
I bet you’ve probably heard these arguments already, but here goes: A unilateral boycott of Saudi oil by the U.S. would be a loony idea for three reasons. First, it would amount to a U.S.-funded economic subsidy to the Europeans and Japanese. By refusing the oil from the lowest-cost producer, we would pay marginally higher prices for our oil, prices currently borne all around the market. A boycott would therefore raise the overall amount we pay for energy while decreasing the cost to our economic competitors. Further deleterious economic consequences would follow, when foreign oil companies would be awarded the lucrative oil contracts and concessions currently enjoyed by Americans. Second, it would not harm the Saudis at all. As you recognize, they would still be able to sell their oil. The only “consequence” to them of such an action would be for them to finally be rid of the U.S. influence over their decisions, which would probably end up being a net-positive from their perspective. Third, it would entrench the strategic realignment in the Arab world away from the U.S. and toward the EU, Russia, and China. This realignment has been proceeding steadily since the end of the Cold War, the Gulf War notwithstanding. Ours is the sort of empire that requires peaceful engagement to be powerful. Should we decide to walk off the playing field, we shouldn’t be surprised when the other team scores a lot of points. Instead of a boycott of Saudi oil, we should do the opposite. We should increase our presence and involvement in the region, both economically and militarily. But, we should make clear that our intention is to spread liberal ideals. The first step to doing that, and demonstrating to the Saudis and everyone else that we mean business, is the swift and total destruction of the Baathists in Iraq.”

Bollinger Roundup



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If Roger’s article is not enough to satisfy legal junkies out there, Howard Bashman has a complete roundup of commentary on the University of Michigan affirmative-action cases here.

The Coffee Wars



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Here’s an e-mail about my coffee column:

“Rich,
I agree in principle that coffee, like anything else, should be traded in a free market. If Vietnam grows coffee, great. Of course, their coffee tastes like two week old musky sweat socks, but no one said I had to drink the stuff. Let Folgers or Maxwell House buy all the Viet coffee they want, that way I can get cheap beans for my relatives. I, for one, will stick to fine Arabic coffee with a touch of cream (none of that candy, whipped cream or other junk in my coffee either, just fine, home ground coffee for me).”

Krugman’s a Liar



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That’s the charge here. Some commenters disagree. Decide for yourself. (Link via Instapundit.)

Turkey



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Is gonna give us launching rights for a war against Iraq. The number of countries helping America “go it alone” keeps getting longer.

Grumble...Grumble...



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I was going to review Two Towers, but Miller beat me to it somehow. There will be a massive investigation. Heads will roll. Gods will tremble. And then we will resume regularly scheduled programming.

Say What, Sir?



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The president campaigned in Louisiana today for Suzanne Terrell, the GOP challenger to U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu. A new University of New Orleans poll out today shows a dead heat between the two. Bush’s appearance on the final week of the campaign should help Terrell a lot in a state where his approval rating exceeds 80 percent. An NRO-nik who heard the president’s speech today in Shreveport took note of a “strange little sop to John Breaux” in Bush’s remarks. Said the president, “It makes sense to have one in one party, and a senator in the majority party, if you want to get something done.” Uh, really?

Two Towers Rules



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Saw an advance screening of The Two Towers this afternoon. You’ll read more about it on NRO around the time of its official release in two weeks, but for now let me say this much: WOW! If you thought last year’s Lord of the Rings installment was good, you’re going to love the one that’s about to come out.

Iraq



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I just did a quick debate over at CNN for “Showdown Iraq.” Debate is a bit grandiose for what it was. I was on with Norman Solomon, a syndicated columnist. It was an amusing exercise. His position seemed to be that the UN and the weapons inspectors teams should do their work unfettered by inconvenient war talk from the United States. Now, I understand how delightful people on the left think the UN is, but I do wish these people could at least acknowledge that none of this would be happening if the US wasn’t threatening war. Good cops are not effective without bad cops. I don’t know why this is such a complicated principle.

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