Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: March 22, 2012


Economic Statistics

Here are today’s statistics on the state of the economy:

Initial claims for unemployment fell by 5,000, to a lower than expected level of 348,000 for the week. The four-week average fell 1,250 to 355,000.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell slightly to -34.9. But, more people said the economy was improving than at any time in eight years.

Some previous data indicated home prices were improving. That would be good news, if it were true. But, it isn’t. The FHFA reports house prices in January were unchanged.

The Index of Leading Economic Indicators rose 0.7%, led by improvement in the labor market.

~
Dale Franks
Google+ Profile
Twitter Feed


If you’re going to have to apologize, don’t say it. But if you do say it, man up and live with it and the consequences

There are going to be very few times Bill Maher and I essentially agree.  Today would be one of those days. Apparently he doesn’t like the world Media Matters has created.  He begins his NYT piece defending Robert De Nero’s recent nonsense. 

THIS week, Robert De Niro made a joke about first ladies, and Newt Gingrich said it was “inexcusable and the president should apologize for him.” Of course, if something is “inexcusable,” an apology doesn’t make any difference, but then again, neither does Newt Gingrich.

Mr. De Niro was speaking at a fund-raiser with the first lady, Michelle Obama. Here’s the joke: “Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?”

The first lady’s press secretary declared the joke “inappropriate,” and Mr. De Niro said his remarks were “not meant to offend.” So, as these things go, even if the terrible damage can never be undone, at least the healing can begin. And we can move on to the next time we choose sides and pretend to be outraged about nothing.

This is an example of the left’s propensity toward faux outrage at every utterance from the right backing up on them.  And, since Mr. Maher has been the target of that, he’s all for settling this once and for all.

In essence, Maher wants to be able to say anything he wants and not have to apologize for it.

I agree.

Please, do so.  And don’t apologize.  That is fine with me.

But … and you knew there had to be one … that doesn’t mean what you say is consequence free.  You still get to pay the price for what you say.

That’s really what Maher wants to see go by the boards, make no mistake about it.  No-penalty “free speech”. 

Sorry, no such thing.  Never has been, never will be. 

However, the faux apologies to address the faux outrage (and hypocrisy), yeah, I can do without those.  They’re only trotted out when the consequences of stupid, degrading or demeaning speech put the speaker in an untenable situation.

Here’s an idea – think before you speak?  Exercise a little self-discipline?

Nah … way to restrictive, huh?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Meanwhile, in the Arab world, spring has sprung

Michael J. Totten brings us up to date on Tunisia which is credited with starting “Arab Spring”.  Guess who the new enemy of freedom is there?

“People here think the United States is cooperating with Ennahda,” said local journalist Ashraf Ayadi, referring to the Islamists who won 42 percent of the vote in the election last October. Even though a majority of Tunisians voted against them, they still got more votes than any of the other various parties, so they got to choose the prime minister.

“People here are against the United States helping Ennahda,” Ayadi continued. “All Americans who come here are against the Islamists, but the American government is supporting them. I wish we had a good, modern, respectful Islamic party. I’m a Muslim and I’m proud of it, but I’m not proud of this party.”

Now this may be no fault of the US – elections, winner, etc.  However, it is perceived that the US is supporting an Islamist party by establishing diplomatic relations with them.  Meh, you say?  They’re wrong, that’s what governments do. 

Well, okay, but you have to ask why the US (and Qatar for some reason) is being singled out as a supporter of an Islamist government? Doesn’t matter … perception is reality and the majority of Tunisia believe the US is enabling an Islamist regime.  And, by the way, those complaining are the “liberal” and “secular” portions of the population.  Ironic.

Meanwhile in Libya, a mess continues to grow messier. Western intervention has left a country in chaos:

Libya is now effectively ruled by the militias that ousted Gadhafi, and some militias run parts of the country as their own fiefdoms independent of any national authority. The most powerful militias in the western cities of Zintan and Misrata have refused the government’s calls to disarm. These militias believe that remaining armed allows them to retain political influence in the new order that they fought to create.

Amnesty International has documented numerous cases of abuse and torture of detainees by local militias, and there have been many reports of reprisals against civilians living in perceived pro-Gadhafi areas. Militia rule is made possible by the weakness of the NTC, which never had real control over armed rebel forces during the war, and still does not. Plus, the council’s opacity and corruption have been rapidly de-legitimizing it in the eyes of Libyans.

So much for “saving the civilians”.  And, as it turns out, the overthrow of the Gadhafi government has had a negative spillover effect in the area:

But the Libyan war’s worst impact may have occurred outside of Libya. The neighboring country of Mali, which also happens to support U.S. counter-terrorist efforts in western Africa, has been roiled by a new Tuareg insurgency fueled by the influx of men and weapons after Gadhafi’s defeat, providing the Tuareg rebels with much more sophisticated weaponry than they had before. This new upheaval benefits al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM), and the Tuareg uprising threatens the territorial integrity of Mali. The rebellion has also displaced nearly 200,000 civilians in a region that is already at risk of famine, and refugees from Mali are beginning to strain local resources in Niger, where most of them have fled. "Success" in Libya is creating a political and humanitarian disaster in Mali and Niger.

Brilliant.  I’m sure that was all thought through and considered before the first attack sortie was approved.

Finally, and hopefully, it has shown the doctrine of R2P to be a sham:

Paradoxically, the Libyan war and its aftermath have had the unintended consequence of undermining the doctrine of "responsibility to protect" (R2P) that was originally used to justify the intervention. Many advocates of intervention believed Western involvement would strengthen the norm that sovereignty may be limited to protect a civilian population from large-scale loss of life. Instead, the Libyan intervention helped discredit that idea.

A key requirement of the "responsibility to protect" is that intervening governments assume the "responsibility to rebuild" in the wake of military action, but this was a responsibility that the intervening governments never wanted and haven’t accepted. All of this has proven to skeptical governments, including emerging democratic powers such as Brazil and India, that the doctrine can and will be abused to legitimize military intervention while ignoring its other requirements. The Libyan experience has soured many major governments around the world on R2P, and without their support in the future, it will become little more than a façade for the preferred policies of Western governments.

And that’s exactly what the intervention in Libya has provided.  But hey, it’s “Arab Spring”.  It’s all good.

Right? 

Hello out there …

Is this thing on?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO