Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: June 2011


Does the economy doom Obama’s re-election hopes?

I’m beginning to wonder if the Republicans can run just about anyone for President (note the qualifier – “just about” – not everyone, even among the declared candidates) and win given this economy and this president:

Americans’ disapproval of how President Barack Obama is handling the economy and its growing budget deficit has reached new highs amid broad frustration over the slow pace of economic recovery, according to a Washington Post-ABC New poll released on Tuesday.

The ratings boost Obama received after the killing of Osama bin Laden has dissipated with his job approval rating back to 47 percent. Forty-nine percent disapprove of his performance.

Obama’s approval rating bounced to 56 immediately after bin Laden was killed last month.

But it went back to a plurality very quickly.  On the key issue, however, it hasn’t returned to a particular percentage – it’s gotten worse.  Much worse:

Fifty-nine percent, a new high, gave Obama negative marks for his handling of the economy, up from 55 percent a month earlier.

Obama’s approval rating on the deficit issue hit a new low of 33 percent, down 6 points since April.

Anyone who doesn’t understand that is where the election will be decided hasn’t been paying attention to politics very long.  Bill Clinton knew it when he rode to victory on his “It’s the economy, stupid”.   Ronald Reagan knew it when he continually asked, “are you better off now than you were 4 years ago”?   And Barack Obama would probably kill to have the economic problems Jimmy Carter faced – not that he’d do any better than Carter.

The point is, in bad economic times, incumbents have a tough road ahead of them at election time.  That’s because economic issues, joblessness, insecurity and fear are felt and understood by everyone.   Pocketbook issues are personal issues.   And the public has always voted those issues in general elections – much to the disadvantage of incumbent politicians, especially presidents.  There’s a number going around out there which claims that no president  since FDR has been re-elected with unemployment over 7.2% .  Of course keep in mind only a some of them since then have run for re-election and not all of them had bad unemployment numbers at the time.   The point, however, is that this sort of issue is critical to re-election chances.

The survey reflects a broadly pessimistic public mood as high gasoline prices, sliding home values and high unemployment numbers raised concerns about the pace of the U.S. economic recovery, The Washington Post said.

Eighty-nine percent of Americans say the economy is in bad shape; 57 percent say the recovery has not started and 66 percent said the United States was seriously on the wrong track.

Forty-five percent said they trust congressional Republicans over Obama to handle the economy, up 11 points since March.

If much of what is listed in the first paragraph isn’t improving fairly dramatically when 2012 arrives, Obama is in for a long year and, just guessing here, an “upset” loss.  The shine has worn off.  The cache of electing a black president has run its course.  History has been made.  And now the results part of the show come to bear.   Having been a moment in history won’t save Obama if the economy still sucks as badly as it does now.

My dad used to always tell us boys, “you live between your ears”, meaning attitude was critical to how you approached life and overcame obstacles.  Attitude is also critical in economies.  Pessimism isn’t the predominant mood one wants within the citizenry when they’re hoping to see it turn around.   And it certainly isn’t the mood a president wants through out the lane when he’s running for re-election.

Yeah, this is going to be an interesting year and a half until election day 2012.  I’m betting it’s not better economically and, again depending on who the GOP eventually nominates, Republicans stand to win the election.  Or, and you heard it here first with all the caveats – it is most likely the Republican’s election to lose.

Of course, knowing them, I have little doubt they can manage to do that.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Survey: As ObamaCare kicks in up to 30% of employers plan to drop health care coverage

This, of course, is “unexpected” (and not believed) by some.  In fact, the White House has pushed back saying the findings of the survey of 1,300 employers is at odds with findings from the CBO, Urban Institute and Rand Corporation studies.

In an email response, the official wrote that when Massachusetts initiated its own reform, the number of individuals with employer-sponsored insurance increased.

Indeed, the Rand study released in April noted: “The percentage of employees offered insurance will not change substantially, but a small number of employees in small firms (defined as those with under 100 employees in 2016) will obtain employer-sponsored insurance through the state insurance exchanges.”

In a Jan. 25 study, the Urban Institute said that reports of the demise of employer-sponsored insurance were “premature” and that few would stop offering.

“Our results show the opposite — the [Affordable Care Act] has little effect on overall [employer-sponsored] coverage, and overall employer spending on health care would be slightly lower under the ACA,” according to its own study.

However, one can speculate that as the law becomes better known, employers are having second thoughts about trying to cope with something most of them would just as soon lay off elsewhere.  The cost and hassle just aren’t worth it and now that there are alternatives, a good percentage of them are actually interested in pursuing them:

The survey of 1,300 employers says those who are keenly aware of the health-reform measure probably are more likely to consider an alternative to employer-sponsored plans, with 50% to 60% in this group expected to make a change. It also found that for some, it makes more sense to switch.

“At least 30% of employers would gain economically from dropping coverage, even if they completely compensated employees for the change through other benefit offerings or higher salaries,” the study says.

It goes on to add: “Contrary to what employers assume, more than 85% of employees would remain at their jobs even if their employers stopped offering [employer-sponsored insurance], although about 60% would expect increased compensation.

Health care benefits are a net loser for any company.  Cost added to the requirement for staff, contracts, problems, etc. makes it a program many employers would love to ditch.  But such benefits have become a part of any competitive package through the years – the better the benefits, the more attractive the offer.  Now, under ObamaCare, those “Cadillac” plan are going to be taxed (well, unless you have an exemption like most unions).  So there’s little incentive to continue with them.  Consequently, despite promises to the contrary, employers aren’t going to pay for something that is going to be taxed at a higher rate.   So you won’t get to keep your plan.

Employers, in the meantime, are looking for cost savings alternatives and dumping health care cost and the associated hassles has to be very attractive to them.  So it comes as no surprise, at least to me, that 30% of those surveyed are considering exactly that.   A huge “told you so” that critics pointed to prior to ObamaCare passage that was largely waived away by supporters.

So who you going believe – CBO, Urban Institute and Rand, or human nature?

Yup – me too.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


A couple of enviro myths and reality

Myth one – wind power has no down side.  Well, except for the fact that wind power needs fossil fuel backup to give it any consistency and thus can be hardly called strictly renewable or “clean energy”.

But in this case, I was thinking more on the endangered species side of things.  The assumption is that wind power is an entirely eco-friendly way of generating power.  Yeah, not so much if you’re a bird – especially, in the case of California, a golden eagle:

The death count along the ridgelines of the Bay Area’s Altamount Pass Wind Resource Area has averaged 67 a year for three decades.

The 200ft high turbines, which have been operating since the 1980s, lie in the heart of the grassy canyons that are home to one of the highest densities of nesting golden eagles in the US.

‘It would take 167 pairs of local nesting golden eagles to produce enough young to compensate for their mortality rate related to wind energy production,’ field biologist Doug Bell, manager of East Bay Regional Park District’s wildlife programme, told the Los Angeles Times. ‘We only have 60 pairs,’ he added.

Interesting – the enviro-crowd will go to war for some tiny fish no one is heard of to stop a dam or some other project, but when something they mostly support grinds up endangered golden eagles at a rate at which they can’t replace themselves, crickets (endangered crickets, of course).  In CA only the Audubon Society is speaking out. 

And nationally:

Nationwide, about 440,000 birds are said to be accidentally killed at wind farms each year, as well as thousands more bats. With the government pushing for more wind energy farms, that statistic is likely to rise.

Can’t wait to see what comes of the Cape Wind project off of MA.  The toll of birds is sure to rise, and my guess is it will become a favorite hang out for sharks – with the automatic chumming and all.

Myth two – we’re “deforesting” the earth and that is a major reason that the climate is changing and getting warmer (more CO2 generated by man , minus less CO2 capture by forests).

A new study says not so fast:

For years exponents of climate change theories have used images of deforestation to support their cause.

However, the density of forests and woodland across much of the world is actually increasing, according to a respected scientific study.

The change, which is being dubbed the ‘Great Reversal’, could be crucial in reducing atmospheric carbon, which is linked to climate change.

Seems that the density has in fact increased significantly enough to actually reverse what was claimed as irreversible a decade ago:

In countries from Finland to Malaysia, the thickening has taken place so quickly that it has reversed the carbon losses caused by deforestation between 1990 and 2010.

Of course, even if they acknowledge the results of the study, enviro types aren’t happy with the mix of the new density.

Environmentalists expressed concerns, however, that much of the increasing density is driven by huge new monoculture plantations.

In China, an ambitious reforestation programme has added three million hectares to the country’s forests every year over the past decade, but green campaigners believe this is predominantly composed of one species – eucalyptus.

But the study says the density, regardless of species, is having the effect of taking in more carbon that forest were taking in during the previous decade, regardless of species.

The research, carried out by teams from the University of Helsinki and New York’s Rockefeller University, shows that forests are thickening in 45 of 68 countries, which together account for 72 per cent of global forests. Traditionally, environmentalists have focused their concern solely on the dwindling extent of forested areas, but the authors believe evidence of denser forests could be crucial in reducing the world’s carbon footprint.

So – if you’re one of the global warming alarmists who want to do something about your carbon footprint – go plant a tree or two.  As for the myth of deforestation – well, it’s just that, a myth.  10 million hectares of “new forest” are planted each year on newly felled woodland or reclaimed land.  And, per the study, the density in which it is planted has, within a decade, “reversed” any theorized damage and has the world in a net positive situation for CO2 capture.    That means, of course, that the alarmists no longer have this particular issue with which to hammer industries that use forest products – well except whine about what they’re planting.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Aussie alarmist columnist lets his inner “nazi” loose

Fascist.  National Socialist.  Call it what you want, but when you begin an article about your climate alarmist tendencies like this, Goodwin has already been let out of the barn:

Surely it’s time for climate-change deniers to have their opinions forcibly tattooed on their bodies.

Not necessarily on the forehead; I’m a reasonable man. Just something along their arm or across their chest so their grandchildren could say, ”Really? You were one of the ones who tried to stop the world doing something? And why exactly was that, granddad?”

Even he seems to realize it with his next sentence which says, “On second thoughts, maybe the tattooing along the arm is a bit Nazi-creepy. “

Ya think?  I’d proudly answer yes to the grandchild’s question and gladly explain why.

There’s also a bit of irony in Mr. Richard Glover’s column – this:"

Facts that don’t fit one’s world view can be difficult to see.

Couldn’t agree more, which is why I find Glover’s frustration particularly amusing.  Apparently as he wishes all sorts of rhetorical harm on his skeptical opponents he offers nothing – nothing- in the form of facts to back his rant.  Skeptics, on the other hand, continue to present mountains of facts refuting the so-called theory he’s attempting to defend.

Nope – he goes straight to the fact-free bottom line and alarmist’s wet dream.  They still want control of your money and your lives.  You’ll dance to their tune and do it their way:

The tool we’ll use is a carbon tax that seeks to subtly redirect some of our choices. Cut your power bill by more than the compensation offered and you get to keep the change.

Is that really so onerous compared with a depression or war?

Well that kind of depends, Mr. Glover – if it is being run by closet fascists like you, then yes.  It’ll be a subtle as any government program is – like a hammer wielding psycho in a crystal shop.  You’ll go to jail if you resist or disagree.   Even more irony.  As it happens today is the celebration of D-Day when free men stormed ashore to stop a regime much like the one you propose.  And today, their grandchildren celebrate what they did.

So you’re frustrated, Mr. Glover?  The fact that you would even jokingly recommend physical harm or abuse be visited upon those who don’t believe the junk science  you’ve bought into says more about you and your side of the argument than it does about them.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


June 6th will always be D-Day

Originally postedin 2007

It actually started on June 5th. And it almost didn’t start then. The weather had turned bad. A great storm had blown in from the Atlantic. High wind and high seas had forced ships of all kinds back into bays and inlets. Low clouds made it impossible for aircraft to find landmarks. If the weather didn’t break, nothing would happen until at least July.

But the weather did break, and so, it began only a day later than planned.

There must have been about, oh, I don’t know, 15 of us there. Our two great men were there, Monty and Eisenhower. The poor weatherman had to talk first. Eisenhower asked Monty what he felt. ”Sure, I’ll do whatever you say, you know. We’re ready.” Then Eisenhower very calmly said, ”We’ll go.”

150,000 soldiers—American, British, Canadian, French, and many others—embarked on 5,000 ships, began moving towards places known today as St. Lô, Vierville-sur-Mer, Pouppeville, Arromanches, La Rivière-Saint-Sauveur, Pointe-du-hoc, Ouistreham.

The men on those ships, for the most part, didn’t know those names. They had simpler terms for the beaches where they would be spending the day—and for many, the rest of their lives. They called them Juno, Sword, Gold, Omaha, and Utah.

There were soldiers from many nations involved that day, all of whom deserve to be recognized and remembered. But as an American, it is the men from my country that I will write about.

Only about 15% of them had ever seen combat. But by this time, cold, wet, seasick, crammed into airless holds, or huddled on unprotected decks, many of them preferred combat to what they were going through on board ship.

Get us off these ships. I don’t care what’s waiting for us.

As it happened, though, it didn’t begin on the beaches, but in the air. On the night of June 5th, an armada of over 800 C-47 transport planes ferried the US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions over the invasion fleet towards France. For them, the weather was still pretty bad. And it was dark.

It was going to be difficult. Everything depended on landing the pathfinders in the right place. Then the pathfinders had to light the dim beacons for the landing zones. The pilots carrying the airborne forces had to see the beacons, then they had to fly precisely, right over the landing zones.

And the Germans. Always the Germans, with searchlights and flares and the 88mm anti-aircraft cannon—the “flak” guns.

Getting everyone down alive, together, and ready to fight was going to be a chancy business. And the airborne troops knew it.

I lined up all the pilots. I says, ”I don’t give a damn what you do, but for one thing. If you’re going to drop us on a hill or if you’re going to drop us on our zone, drop us all in one place.”

But…they didn’t. The airborne forces were scattered. Almost no one landed on their programmed landing zone. Units from the two airborne divisions were scattered and intermixed, forcing officers and NCOs to create scratch units on the spot, with whomever they could find. The 101st Airborne Division commander, Maj. Gen. Maxwell Taylor, found that his new “unit” consisted of himself, his deputy commander, a colonel, several captains, majors, and lieutenant colonels…and three enlisted men. He quipped, “Never have so few been commanded by so many.”

And still they fought. Gen. Taylor soon had gathered a force of 90 officers, clerks, MPs, and a smattering of infantrymen. With them, he liberated the town of Pouppeville. Elsewhere, American soldiers gathered into groups, and struck out for an objective. Even if it wasn’t their objective, it was someone’s, and they were going to take and hold it.

And when they took it from the Germans, the Germans tried to take it back. But the paratroopers held.

It was a terrible day for paratroopers, but they did terrible fighting in there and they really made their presence known.

By this time, the Germans knew something was going on, if not precisely what. Their responses were confused. Their commander, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel had returned to Germany for a brief leave. He wasn’t the only one absent that night. The 21st Panzer Division’s commander, Lt. Gen. Edgar Feuchtinger, was spending the night in Paris with his mistress. Col. Gen. Freiderich Dollman, commander of the 7th Army, and many of his staff officers and commanders, were 90 miles away in Rennes, on a map exercise. Ironically, the scenario for that exercise was countering an airborne landing.

The Germans were surprised, yet subordinate commanders began to take the initiative, seeking out the paratroops and engaging them, trying to determine what was happening. Was it the invasion? A diversion from the expected landings in Calais? What was happening?

Then, as the black night gave way to the cold, gray dawn of June 6th, they began to find out. Looming out of the fog, a vast armada of haze gray ships and landing craft began to move ashore.

At 5:50am, the warships began shelling Utah and Omaha Beaches. In the exchange of fire with German artillery on Utah Beach, one of the landing control ships was sunk. As a result, when the first wave came ashore on Utah beach at 6:30am, they were 2,000 yards south of their designated landing point.

It was a blessing in disguise. There was almost no enemy opposition. Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. made a personal reconnaissance past Utah beach, and found the beach exits almost undefended. He returned to the beach to coordinate the push inland. By the end of the day, 197 Americans were dead around Utah Beach, but the landing force had pushed inland.

At Omaha Beach, the story was much bleaker.

At around 6:30am, 96 tanks, an Army-Navy special Engineer Task Force, and eight companies of assault infantry went ashore, right into the teeth of withering machine-gun fire. Despite heavy bombardment, the German defenses were intact. Because the landing was at low tide, the men had to cross 185 yards of flat, open beach, as the well-protected German gunners cut them down. Tanks were sunk in their landing ships, or blown up at the edge of the water.

Them poor guys, they died like sardines in a can, they did. They never had a chance.

The men from the 29th Division’s 116 Regimental Combat Team (RCT) and the 1st Division’s 16th RCT were pushed off course in their landing craft by strong currents, and landed with machine gun bullets spanging off the gunwhales of their LCT’s. When the bow ramp dropped, men were riddled with bullets before they could even move. Others, jumping off the sides of the ramp, burdened with their equipment, drowned as they landed in water over their heads. Many more died on the beach, at the water’s edge.

You couldn’t lay your hand down without you didn’t touch a body. You had to weave your way over top of the corpses.

The first instinct for many was to crouch behind the steel anti-tank obstacles, to take cover behind the bodies of fallen comrades, to try and scrape shallow trenches with their hands. And yet, they couldn’t. More assault waves were on the way, and the volume of fire was so great that to stay where they were meant certain death. The beach had to be cleared for the incoming waves of infantry, but to move across that open beach also seemed like a death sentence.

He started yelling, ”God damn it, get up. Move in. You’re going to die, anyway. Move in and die.”

And so they did. They crossed that empty expanse of beach to the only cover to be had, a narrow strip of rock shingle at the base of the cliffs, below a short, timber seawall.

Those who made it to the shingle in those first hours…just stopped. Behind them was a carpet of bodes, and a tide that ran red with blood, making the spray from the curling waves a sickly pink. Ahead of them were intact and well-armed German defenders. Those men cowering on the shingle behind the low seawall had seen their units decimated, watched successive waves being slaughtered as they hit the beach. Shocked and disorganized, they stayed beneath the seawall, in the only narrow strip of safety they could find.

Meanwhile, at Point-du-hoc, at 7:00am, the men of the 2nd Ranger battalion came ashore beneath the cliffs. Their mission was to climb the steep cliffs with grappling hooks and ropes, to capture the German heavy artillery threatening the Omaha and Utah landings.

Under heavy fire from the cliffs, they fired back with the small mortars that launched the grappling hooks. With their fellow rangers dying on the beach beside them, they grasped the ropes and climbed. They climbed until German riflemen picked them off. They climbed while they watched their buddies arch in pain, and then fall headlong to the rocky beach below. They climbed as the men above them plummeted into them while falling, threatening to tear their fragile grip from the rope. They climbed and climbed.

And when they got to the top, the Germans were ready for them. But the Rangers were ready, too. So they fought their way through the pillboxes and trenches surrounding the gun emplacements. Pushing through the Germans, killing them to capture the guns.

And when they did, they discovered that the guns weren’t there. The men of the 2nd Ranger battalion had captured empty concrete emplacements, at the cost of half their number.

Back on Omaha Beach, the carnage continued.

Confusion, total confusion. We were just being slaughtered.

And as for the men (Huh. “Men.” Most of them hadn’t yet seen their twentieth summer.) who had survived the holocaust on the beach, and who now hid behind the tiny cover of the shingle? Well, who could have blamed them if they had just quit? Decided that this one taste of violence and death was enough for a lifetime? Decided that they didn’t want to face what must have seemed like inevitable and horrible, painful death?

And yet…they didn’t. Somehow, they gathered whatever courage was left to them, and began to try and figure out how to get off that beach, and move inland.

We were recreating from this mass of twisted bodies a fighting unit again, and it was done by soldiers, not by the officers.

It was C Company of the 116th RCT, accompanied by men from the 5th Ranger Battalion, that began the push. At the top of the seawall was a narrow road, and on the other side of it, protecting a draw, was a mesh of barbed wire. Pvt. Ingram E. Lambert jumped over the wall, crossed the road, and set a Bangalore torpedo in the barbed wire obstacle. He pulled the igniter, but nothing happened. Caught in the open, Pvt. Lambert was cut down by machine gun fire.

His platoon leader, 2d Lt. Stanley M. Schwartz, crossed the road, fixed the igniter, and blew the torpedo. The men of C Company and 5th Rangers began crossing through the gap, some falling to enemy fire. As they left the beach, and assaulted through the draw, others followed. Those men shivering behind the seawall grabbed their rifles, stood up, and began leaving the beach, moving toward the Germans.

Other breaches in the German defenses followed. Company I of the 116th RCT breached the strongpoints defending les Moulins draw. The 1st Section of Company E, 16th RCT, who had come ashore in the first wave, along with elements of two other companies, blew their own gap in the wire, and moved inland. Company G, 16th RCT, needed four Bangalore torpedoes to cut a single lane in the wire and anti-personnel mines that were set up with trip wires.

The breaches were narrow, and tenuous. Follow-on waves still faced murderous fire from the bluffs overlooking the beaches, and there was still confusion as the timetable was set back by the initial fury of German defenses. The 18th RCT was originally scheduled to land at 10:30am, but didn’t get on the beach until 1:00pm. The 118th RCT was delayed even more.

By the end of the day 3393 Americans were dead or missing, 3184 wounded, and 26 captured. But the breaches in the German defenses had been made. The Americans were ashore, and they were moving inland. The “Atlantic Wall” had been broken, but at a heavy cost.

When I was relieved and I walked by, oh God, the guys that died that day — all those beautiful, wonderful friends of mine, the day before, the night before, kidding and joking.

Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt was the German Army’s Commander in Chief, West. He was a crusty old soldier who disdained the flashy accouterments of rank that a German field marshal usually wore. He was content to attach his batons to the shoulders of his old regimental colonel’s uniform. He was also a realist.

Knowing what D-Day meant, he called the Chief of Operations for the German Armed forces, Col. Gen. Alfred Jodl. “What do you suggest we do now, Herr Feldmarschall?” Jodl asked.

“End the war, you fools! What else can you do?” replied the old warrior.
____________________
All quotes taken from the PBS documentary, D-Day.

Dale
Twitter: @DaleFranks


Employment: Why “government spending” should be shelved in favor of encouraging private investment

In macro terms its really fairly simple.  We have always come out of busts with booms.  Wondering what the next boom is going to be and how to help it launch itself is where government should be looking and trying to act  – not at deficit funding government make work projects and future energy schemes still some decades from reality.

For instance – a little look into the not to distant future and a scenario that would help us in both the balance of trade and employment, arenas (the latter almost immediately).

But also, we will help to satisfy burgeoning demand for petroleum in Asia, South America and Africa. Yes, the US is an oil importer. But if we import less, that will help to satisfy world demand just as much as if a new exporter appeared on the market. If we import a billion barrels a year (2.74 million barrels a day) less, at current prices that works out to $100 billion off of our huge trade deficit. This could also be a huge engine of job growth. We now have about 2,000 rigs drilling, and more are being added all the time. For each rig there are the roughnecks, the service companies, the drilling pipe and casing producers, the local service providers, etc. It is big business, and growing fast.

Fortunately, we have lots of places to drill, in various shale formations around the country. (It’s not “shale oil” in the classic sense, better to call it, “shale associated oil”). For those who think that Yankee ingenuity is a thing of the past, just look at our oil and gas industry. It serves as a powerful testament to the power of the free enterprise system that a great many people chipping away at the same problem can come up with creative new ways of extracting oil from the earth that a centralized government program of oil production would never (and has never) originated. You don’t see these new drilling techniques coming from Russia, which is still sadly statist in its efforts to exploit natural resources.

We have the resources, we could be exploiting them now (relatively speaking) and have them benefit our economy while we do the pie-in-the-sky energy research the Democrats think is the panacea to all our problems.  I’ve never understood their insistence on ‘either/or’ in that regard.  Why can’t we do both simultaneously – which seems both logical and would help do exactly what they claim they want – employ Americans. 

Timothy Siegel’s point about innovation is well taken as well.  One of the reasons we’re moving past the peak oil predictions of the past is because of innovation from private oil companies that is allowing them to extract harder to reach and exploit oil and gas at a reasonable price.   We, as a nation, should be encouraging that instead of doing everything in our power to cripple such innovation.

Instead we get solutions like those below from the left.  Government should spend money when one of the greatest engines for economic revival is left sitting at idle while the administration figures out how to get more sugar in its gas tank.

It’s freakin’ nuts.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Dems double down on government spending in face of stimulus fail

It seems “insanity” has indeed gripped the party of the left.  That is, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results:

House Democrats this week have amplified their calls for new spending on infrastructure and other federal projects in the face of May’s discouraging job-creation figures.

Even as Republicans are insisting on "trillions" of dollars in spending cuts, Democrats maintain that a targeted injection of additional federal dollars in the near-term would go a long way toward reversing the hiring slump. Friday’s disappointing job report, they say, only bolsters their case.

I’ll again remind readers that it was the Obama administration and Democrats who said that if we’d give them the almost one trillion dollars in borrowed stimulus money, they’d keep unemployment under 8%.  And, of course, the plan was to spend all that money on “infrastructure and other federal projects”.

Worked real well didn’t it?

Now, with much of every dollar spent still coming from borrowed money, they want to repeat the failure while saddling the economy with even more debt?

It all comes down to what they believe the role of government to be:

"The American people, while concerned about the deficit, place much more emphasis on job creation, and they see a role for the government," Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) told The Hill. "A fast injection of job stimulus on the public side would help tremendously. … It [the job report] helps our argument about investment."  

No.  It wouldn’t “help tremendously”.  If that were the case, the stimulus would have helped “tremendously” and we’d be looking at less than 8% unemployment as promised instead of 9.1%.  But as is obvious to everyone but Democrats, it didn’t help at all.    In fact, considering that 9.1% unemployment rate, it can be argued that things got worse.

That’s because where the government actually could help, it won’t, can’t or isn’t willing to help.   Deregulation, for instance.  Make it easier for businesses to do business and hopefully expand and hire.   They can quit making war on the private sector as well.  The NLRB’s shameless politically motivated attempt to shut down Boeing in South Carolina at the behest of unions.   The seemingly permanent moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico and the slow-walking of the permit process that has crippled domestic oil and gas production and cost thousands of jobs and millions, if not billions, in economic impact.  Cut taxes and leave more in the pockets of both consumers and business.  Cut spending – deeply – and quit borrowing money.

Unfortunately, all that is boring economics and at conflict with the “government is the answer” mindset that is prevalent in Democratic circles:

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) said that only in Washington is targeted new spending being demonized.

"Once you get outside the Beltway, almost everyone agrees that we should be rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and investing in clean American energy that reduces our dependence on oil," Blumenauer said.

I have no idea where this guy gets this nonsense, but I live out here and I don’t hear anyone claiming that the solution to our problem lies in “rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure” and “investing in clean American energy”.  Not once have I heard the typical Americans I know ever mention those two options as how government should be responding.

So either Rep. Blumenauer has selective hearing, or he’s making it up on the fly.  Most people I’ve talked too are convinced that government is the problem, not the solution.  That government can contribute to a recovery by getting the heck out of the way, quit throwing road-blocks in front of business, reduce taxes and cut spending and getting its own house in order.

But double down and increase spending on make work and pie-in-the-sky energy projects? 

No, not what I’m hearing.  At all.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


The QandO Podcast for 05 Jun 11

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss Weinergate, employment, and the budget.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

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Syria using helicopter gunships against its citizens

So, where’s the UN, NATO and R2P? I mean, this should be bad enough to get them involved given the Libya scenario:

Syrian tanks took up positions outside the city of Hama on Saturday, where tens of thousands of people took to the streets to mourn the deaths of at least 65 protesters gunned down by security forces there the day before.

But wait, there’s more:

The government’s violent crackdown against a three-month-old popular uprising continued, with helicopter gunships killing 10 people in a neighboring province and residents of Hama bracing for a military assault that would be the first on the city since the government bombed it in 1982, killing at least 10,000 people.

Wow, that was enough to get Gadhafi the full might of the UN, NATO and the US to come down on him.

What is that?  Is that the sound of hypocrisy I hear in DC, Europe and the UN?   Inconsistency?  Or just cluelessness?

So many were treated for gunshot wounds at local hospitals that blood supplies ran low, residents said. Throughout the night, loudspeakers on mosques normally used for calls to prayer urged people to donate blood.

Yeah, this isn’t anything like our illegal war in Libya, is it?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Gurkha single-handedly kills 30 Taliban

Gurkhas are incredible soldiers who live, eat, breath and sleep an amazing tradition associated with the British Army.  From the tiny country of Nepal, these soldiers are, many times, legacy soldiers – 3rd or 4th generation serving in the 1st Battalion the Royal Gurkha Rifles.  And they hold themselves to the highest standards and traditions imaginable.  So when you read that one of them did something like this, well, if you know their history, you’re still in awe, but you’re not that surprised.  This is another brilliant and valorous chapter in their storied history.

The fight occurred at a remote checkpoint.  The story is amazing:

‘At that time I wasn’t worried, there wasn’t any choice but to fight. The Taliban were all around the checkpoint, I was alone.

‘I had so many of them around me that I thought I was definitely going to die so I thought I’d kill as many of them as I could before they killed me.

Statement like that are stunning in their simple logic and the resolve they inspire.  OK, odds are I’m going to die – so I’m going to make that noteworthy.  A lot of times it is denial of reality (even if it doesn’t end up working out that way) that get people killed.  Cpl Pun looked at the situation realistically, calculated the odds, made what I’d call the proper assessment and that drove his action.   And it is that action which helped him beat the odds.  Also note that he was resigned to being killed.  No quitting, no surrender, no quarter asked and, as you’ll see, none given:

Cpl Pun, an acting sergeant during his Afghan deployment, was on sentry duty at the time of the attack when he heard a clinking noise outside the small base.

At first he thought it might be a donkey or a cow, but when he went to investigate he found two insurgents digging a trench to lay an improvised explosive device (IED) at the checkpoint’s front gate.

He realised that he was completely surrounded and that the Taliban were about to launch a well-planned attempt to overrun the compound.

The enemy opened fire from all sides, destroying the sentry position where the soldier had been on duty minutes before.

Defending the base from the roof, the Gurkha remained under continuous attack from rocket-propelled grenades and AK47s for more than a quarter of an hour.

Most of the militants were about 50ft away from him, but at one point he turned around to see a ‘huge’ Taliban fighter looming over him.

The soldier picked up his machine gun and fired a long burst at the man until he fell off the roof.

When another insurgent tried to climb up to his position, the Gurkha attempted to shoot him with his SA80 rifle. But it did not work, either because it had jammed or because the magazine was empty.

He first grabbed a sandbag but it had not been tied up and the contents fell to the floor.

Then he seized the metal tripod of his machine gun and threw it at the approaching Taliban militant, shouting in Nepali ‘Marchu talai’ (‘I will kill you’) and knocking him down.

Two insurgents were still attacking by the time the heroic Gurkha had used up all his ammunition, but he set off a Claymore mine to repel them.

In all he killed 30.  When relief arrived, he was unwounded:

In total he fired off 250 general purpose machine gun rounds, 180 SA80 rounds, six phosphorous grenades, six normal grenades, five underslung grenade launcher rounds and one Claymore mine.

More importantly, he was still in control of the checkpoint and the Taliban had retreated.  He was also out of ammunition.

As for tradition and legacy:

The only weapon he did not use was the traditional Kukri knife carried by Gurkhas because he did not have his with him at the time.

The married soldier, whose father and grandfather were also Gurkhas, is originally from the village of Bima in western Nepal but now lives in Ashford, Kent.

Finally, from his Conspicuous Gallantry Cross citation (just under the Victoria Cross and equal to our Distinguished Service Cross or Navy Cross):

‘Pun could never know how many enemies were attempting to overcome his position, but he sought them out from all angles despite the danger, consistently moving towards them to reach the best position of attack.’

He attacked.  He didn’t defend.  He attacked.

Both amazing and awe inspiring.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO