Bankrolling Barbarians and Ignoring Our Friends

Tonight, in celebration of Valentine’s Day, a lot of American couples will be using their cars to go out to dinner.

Enjoy going out while you can still afford to, fellow Americans.

Gasoline prices could soon hit $4 a gallon, a threshold they haven’t flirted with since last spring.

The average price paid by U.S. drivers for a gallon of regular now stands at $3.52, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which released its latest figures this afternoon. That price represents an increase of 0.04 percent from a week ago and 0.38 percent from a year ago.

Experts expect prices to spike another 60 cents or more, with the $4 mark being touched—or exceeded—sometime this summer, probably by Memorial Day weekend, the peak of the summer driving season. The last time the U.S. saw $4 gasoline was back in the summer of 2008.

“I think it’s going to be a chaotic spring,” says Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service. He expects average prices to peak at $4.05, though he and other industry trackers say prices could be sharply higher in some markets.

Historically, $4 a gallon has been the upper limit of what consumers have been willing to pay. Last April, national prices peaked at about $3.98 a gallon before receding. “It’s going to be tough to sustain that level,” thinks Brian Milne of energy tracker Televent DTN. “People will drive less.”

Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston, says where prices will go long-term is anybody’s guess. He has been following gas prices one way or another for more than 30 years. He distinguishes between those forces affecting prices that are predictable, and others that are not.

Chief among the unknowns is war in the Middle East–or if not war, increased tensions. It’s such worries, he says, that are most responsible now for the run up in prices at the pump.Also boosting prices is the higher seasonal demand that comes with summer vacations, plus a federally mandated switch from winter gas formulations to costlier ones for summer. The summer ones, designed to reduce emissions, require further refining steps.

Where could gas be by year’s end? “It depends if the Middle East blows up in a war or not,” says Lipow. “That’s really the big headline out there: Whether or not geopolitical events disrupt supply. We see that affect already.”

We all know that the Middle East is a powder keg.  Revolution is in the air, and all of the secular despots that America was used to dealing with, are being replaced by Muslim despots, who believe that we are all infidels, and who rather kill us than look at us.

So…what is our president, the Leader of the Free World, doing? Is he negotiating with Ali Baba and his forty thieves in order to drive our oil prices down, thereby stimulating our stagnant economy?

Nope.  This yutz wants to bankroll the barbarians.

The White House announced plans on Monday to help countries swept by “Arab Spring” revolutions with more than $800 million in economic aid, while maintaining U.S. military assistance to Egypt despite a crisis triggered by an Egyptian crackdown on U.S. democracy activists.

In a year marked by fierce debate over U.S. budget deficits, President Barack Obama sought to maintain the core of U.S. spending on overseas aid and development while squeezing savings out of existing programs and scaling back proposals to build new embassies and hire more diplomats.

In his annual budget message to Congress, Obama asked that military aid to Egypt be kept at the level of recent years – $1.3 billion – and sought $250 million in regular economic aid for the country as it makes its shaky transition away from autocratic rule following the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak last year.

The proposals are part of Obama’s budget request for fiscal year 2013, which begins Oct. 1. His requests need the approval of Congress. Some lawmakers have urged cuts to overseas spending to address U.S. budget shortfalls and are particularly angry at Egypt.

Obama proposed $51.6 billion in funding for the U.S. State Department and foreign aid overall, when $8.2 billion in assistance to war zones is included.

The White House sought a 1.6 percent increase in the State Department’s budget, excluding spending for Iraq and Afghanistan, which was tallied up separately.

Most of the new economic aid for the Arab Spring countries – $770 million – would go to a new “Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund,” the president said in his budget plan.

Officials said the bulk of this would be new money, and would be spent on initiatives to support long-term economic, political, and trade reforms for countries in transition such as Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen.

“We’re in a new world. The Arab Spring has come,” said Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chief budget official.

“We need to make sure we have the tools and flexibility in which to fund these initiatives. … The world is evolving as we see it, and we felt it was important to have a pool of money.”Obama continued the practice of putting proposed foreign assistance for war zones in a separate account. This account, known as the “Overseas Contingency Operations,” includes $8.2 billion for the State Department and foreign aid.

It includes $3.3 billion for Afghanistan, $1 billion for Pakistan, and $4 billion for Iraq, where U.S. troops have left the country but the State Department has picked up some of their functions such as police training.

Overall funding for Iraq declined about 10 percent from the 2012 fiscal year to $4.8 billion.

Assistance for Israel was steady at around $3.1 billion.

Let me try to wrap my head around this. Am I right in concluding that  Obama’s  Middle East Policy is to reward a bunch of murderous barbarians and ignore our greatest ally in the region?

Uh huh. And they call this Smart Power.

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