FUBAR

Mixing oil and war

The definitive history of the role of oil in modern warfare has not been written, but a lot can be learned from Robert Zubrin’s new book, “Energy Victory.”

“For nearly a century,” Zubrin writes, “control of oil has been the decisive factor determining victory or defeat in the struggle for world dominance.” That was true in World War I and World War II. Zubrin says oil will be pivotal in the global conflict now under way as well.

Mainstreaming the winter blues

As I drive through the mid-Atlantic countryside in the unending blackness of the winter night, my eyes are drawn to colorful displays of light that people use to festoon their houses, bushes and trees. In this most dreary time of year, just getting out of bed in the morning becomes an obstacle to overcome, rather than an automatic and cheerful spring of the limbs. One’s most coveted activity (in my case, horseback riding) often seems more like an obligation or chore, really, instead of something one cannot wait to do.

‘Tis the season to be folly

It is the tradition in some American families to read Clement Clarke Moore’s charming seasonal poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas” every Christmas Eve.

My own two children were involved in this lovely ritual for many years until they grew a little old for the task to the point where they were rebelling and threatening to join biker gangs. As it happens, the tradition had run its course anyway and now the formal recitation is merely a happy memory for me every Dec. 24.

Let’s be FAIR: This is hate

The Southern Poverty Law Center, the nation’s civil-rights watchdog founded in 1971, has stepped forward and branded the 28-year-old Federation for American Immigration Reform as a hate group, tying it to white-supremacist and other such organizations — and reaction has been swift.

In 2006, SPLC counted 844 hate groups in the United States.

Home of the meek, land of the fee

The Bush administration is trying to hide its mismanagement of federal lands by using new permit requirements and fees to limit filming and photography in national parks, forests and wildlife refuges, a congressional leader charges.

Less news is good news for Bush’s war

A recent decline in U.S. news coverage from Iraq coincides with improved public opinion about the war just as the 2008 presidential campaign heads to an early showdown, a study released on Wednesday said.

The study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism said the volume of coverage from Iraq fell from 8 percent of all news stories in the first six months of 2007 to 5 percent between June and October due mainly to a decline in news accounts of daily attacks.

What should Bud Selig do?

Eventually, this column will outline the first action Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig must take in response to former Sen. George Mitchell’s report on the widespread use of illegal steroids and other performance-enhancing substances in the sport.

But first we need to note a truth that has always been self-evident, even at the lying, cheating core of the scandal: At the moment of truth, when each player was getting his first illegal injection or salve massage, he knew that his act could mean his own asterisk.

Playing the cynical game

Last weekend I dipped a toe into the sewers of right-wing talk radio, and listened to a rant by Michael Savage, during which the nationally syndicated commentator suggested that America’s health-care problems could be solved by relocating fat people to “work camps.”

In the course of what began as an attack on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s support for universal health care, he vented his disgust toward “fat women,” and claimed that non-thin Americans didn’t deserve access to health care.

The ethanol scam

New energy legislation is careening toward a calamitous collision with American lives, especially ethanol provisions that will hike food prices and foul the environment while saving little or nothing on fossil-fuel consumption.

The mandate that tens of billions more subsidized gallons of ethanol be used in our cars each year by 2022 is little short of a scam, a gift to politically important corn farmers and others under the pretense that you, the taxpayer, are thereby awarded the enhanced prospect of energy independence and less global warming. No such thing.

A complex but Merry Christmas

We Americans can’t do “simple holidays.” We probably wouldn’t recognize one if it cropped up on the calendar.

This year’s Christmas, a boisterous and appealing mix of the sacred and the secular, will be bigger and gaudier than ever. Let us browse some of the Census Bureau’s collection of gee-whiz facts:

Christmas trees are a half-billion-dollar business. China is our leading supplier of tree ornaments and our leading foreign source of artificial trees. Texas is our leading supplier of candles, $16l million worth at last count. Jewelry-store sales will jump 155 percent this month.