Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

And you wonder why we’re getting involved in Syria?

Really?

A growing number of Americans believe that senior White House officials ordered the Internal Revenue Service to target conservative political groups, according to a new national poll.

And a CNN/ORC International survey released Tuesday morning also indicates that a majority of the public says the controversy, which involves increased IRS scrutiny of tea party and other conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, is very important to the nation.

Look, Obama’s legacy is important to Democrats because it may mean victory or defeat for the next Democratic presidential candidate.   And like it or not, a scandal plagued 2nd term isn’t going to help his legacy or the Democrat’s next chosen presidential candidate.  In fact, one of the reasons Obama is in the White House now is the successful negative portrayal of the Bush years by the left and the press.

In the case of Obama, the press and done it’s best to dampen the reach of the scandals, but it is, for once, failing in it’s endeavor.  The scandals are too wide ranging and hit too close to home to fears the citizenry has held concerning government’s abuse of power.  And make no mistake, these scandals are all about abusing power.

Last month only 37% of the public thought that the IRS controversy led to the White House, with 55% saying that agency officials acted on their own without direct orders from Washington. Now the number who say the White House directed that IRS program has increased 10 points, to 47%, virtually the same as the 49% who believe the IRS agents acted on their own.

“Younger Americans are much less likely than older Americans to believe in White House involvement, and there is, not surprisingly, a partisan divide as well,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “But the Obama administration may be losing independents on this matter. In May, only 36% felt the White House ordered the IRS to target conservative groups; now that number has crossed the 50% threshold.”

Of course naive youngsters who really haven’t been around for or paid attention to scandals of the past, certainly might want to believe their idol, Barack Obama, is involved in this.  But you can see as well as I can, as more and more info comes out, that minds are changing.  This is a serious shot at the Obama legacy.  Or at least that’s what 51% of Americans are saying:

Fifty-one percent of those questioned said the IRS controversy is a very important issue to the nation, compared to 55% who felt that way in May. In the past week and a half, the IRS story has been put a bit on the backburner, as the controversy over the federal government’s massive surveillance program has dominated the spotlight.

Ironic, no?  The 4% drop I mean.  It has dropped as a “very important issue to the nation” because another scandal has popped up.

So what’s the Obama playbook say you do when it goes from bad to worse?

Distract.

Hello Syria ….

~McQ

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Syria – so now what?

Our local Noble Peace Prize winner has put himself in quite a quandary, hasn’t he? He’s decided that since he thinks Syria has used chemical weapons, it is our business to intrude on what is essentially a civil war, and give arms to an opposition whose makeup includes Islamic terrorist groups. Because, you know, some “bright line” has been crossed … or we think has been crossed, and according to R2P (apparently) we have to “P” or something (I guess the horrific numbers of death just weren’t enough to invoke that until chemical weapons, huh?).

Of course an obvious possibility in this case, since the Syrian government thinks that it is being punished for the use of chemical weapons, is they’ll now say “screw it” and use them liberally. I mean, why wouldn’t they? Even if they haven’t used them, there’s no “up” side anymore for them not using them now is there? World condemnation? We’ll we’re in the middle of manufacturing that right now, aren’t we?

Meanwhile you might remember that we “reset” relations with Russia because that darn Bush administration had screwed them up so royally.

Russia, a veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council, will not permit no-fly zones to be imposed over Syria, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Monday.

“I think we fundamentally will not allow this scenario,” Lukashevich told a news briefing, adding that calls for a no-fly zone showed disrespect for international law.

Oh. Wait. Didn’t they tell us if a Republican was elected we’d see relations with Russia head back toward the Cold War era (btw, what Russia is alluding to is hurrying the deployment of the advanced S-300 missile system if we persist in this nonsense)?

Syria is a “no-win” situation for us if we intervene. Most of the intel I read says the opposition is riddled with Islamic extremists and Islamic extremist groups. Is it wise to arm such people? Well, a sane person would say “no”. A sane person would also stay the heck out of interfering in Syria.

But there are scandals to be dampened and distractions to be made. Because, you know, the Chosen One’s rep is much more important that a sane foreign policy or the lives of our military members.

~McQ

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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 16 Jun 13

This week, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss Scandalpalooza and Syria.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here.

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Economic Statistics for 14 Jun 13

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

Producer prices jumped 0.5% in May, while the core rate, ex-food and -energy, rose 0.1%. On an annual basis, prices rose 1.8% overall, and 1.6% at the core.

The nation’s current account deficit for the 1st Qtr came in at a smaller-than-expected $106.1 billion.

Foreign demand for long-term US securities rose to $-37.3 billion in April, the third consecutive monthly outflow of capital.

Industrial production was unchanged in May, while capacity utilization in the nation’s factories fell 0.2% to 77.6%.

The Reuter’s/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index fell 2.2 points to 82.7.

~
Dale Franks
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We can’t have ObamaCare effect these folks – they’re “federal employees” for heaven sake!

When I read articles like this they infuriate me.

Dozens of lawmakers and aides are so afraid that their health insurance premiums will skyrocket next year thanks to Obamacare that they are thinking about retiring early or just quitting.

The fear: Government-subsidized premiums will disappear at the end of the year under a provision in the health care law that nudges aides and lawmakers onto the government health care exchanges, which could make their benefits exorbitantly expensive.

Why?  Because there doesn’t seem to be any ability to relate their problem with the problems they’ve imposed on business through their ramming through this horrific legislation we call “ObamaCare”.  Even with the effects beginning to be understood, like that above, they don’t get it:

Rep. John Larson, a Connecticut Democrat in leadership when the law passed, said he thinks the problem will be resolved.

“If not, I think we should begin an immediate amicus brief to say, ‘Listen this is simply not fair to these employees,’” Larson told POLITICO. “They are federal employees.”

But apparently it is “fair” to the employees of business who, in some cases, will see 100% plus increases in their premiums.  It only becomes a problem when it effects who?  Why, ‘federal employees’, of course.  You know, our so-called “public servants”.  And then, apparently, only that subset of federal employees that work for Congress.  They seem oblivious to the fact that the same thing is happening in thousands of places and effecting multi-thousands of businesses.  Freakin’ clueless.

Even as mad as this made me, I got a chuckle out of this:

If the issue isn’t resolved, and massive numbers of lawmakers and aides bolt, many on Capitol Hill fear it could lead to a brain drain just as Congress tackles a slew of weighty issues — like fights over the Tax Code and immigration reform.

Talk about silver linings to storm clouds.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 13 Jan 13

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

Initial jobless claims fell 12,000 last week to 334,000. The 4-week average fell  7,250 to 345,250. Continuing claims rose 2,000 to 2.978 million.

May export prices fell -0.5% while import prices fell -0.6%. On a year-over-year basis, export prices fell -0.9% while import prices fell -1.9%.

May retail sales rose 0.6%, while sales ex-autos and ex-autos and -gas both rose 0.3%.

April business inventories rose 0.3%, while wholesale sales fell -0.1%.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell more than 2 points to -31.3.

~
Dale Franks
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Don’t drink “the employment picture is much better” Kool-aid

Why?  Because it isn’t really better.  Oh, it may be marginally better than it was a year ago but that’s not saying much at all.  In terms of real progress?  Yeah, not so much.  The National Journal says:

The U.S. jobs picture is bleaker than the most recent jobs reports may make you think. The economy added 175,000 jobs last month, but at the rate things are going, it would take almost a decade to get back to prerecession employment levels. A Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey report released Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics digs in on the bad news: The number of job openings in the U.S. actually fell by 118,000 in April to 3.8 million.

How bad can 3.8 million job openings be? The Economic Policy Institute looks at the number and sees that “the main problem in the labor market is a broad-based lack of demand for workers—and not, as is often claimed, available workers lacking the skills needed for the sectors with job openings.”

Here’s a chart they put together to visually make the point:

An economy on the mend is generating jobs at such a pace that it is competing for workers.  As is obvious, that’s not the case in this economy, nor has it been the case for quite some time.

In a word, the employment picture sucks.  Anyone pretending otherwise is doing exactly that – pretending.  And they can toss around all the numbers they like, the bar charts above tell the real picture – business is not hiring and the reasons are multiple, most having to do with government intrusion (see ObamaCare for one example).

~McQ

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And the beat goes on …

And on and on and on:

“We now have an elephant in the room, and its name is peak oil.” —Kjell Aleklett, Professor in Global Energy Systems

Lord I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that in the last 30 years. And always in the face of something like this:

Nearly a third of the world’s technically recoverable natural gas and 10 percent of its oil can be found in shale formations, according to anew report by the Energy Information Administration.  Thanks to fracking and horizontal drilling, there’s a bounty of oil and gas available to countries around the world .

This report, which has a much larger scope than previous reports, bumped up the estimated global amount of technically recoverable shale gas by 9.3 percent. In its regional breakdown North America looks like a big winner. Of the 41 countries surveyed, Mexico had the seventh and Canada the ninth largest reserves of shale oil, while the US was second only to Russia. Meanwhile, the US, Canada, and Mexico were in fourth, fifth and sixth place, respectively in the EIA’s ranking of the largest technically recoverable shale gas reserves.

Of course part of the reason the peak oil crowd continues to issue it’s predictions is it seems tied into, well, another bit of a scam:

Are you optimistic about the future? Do you think that politicians will, at some point, address the problem of peak oil?

I’ve been working in this field for many years now, and it’s sad to see how little has been done. The measures that have been taken have been implemented largely because of climate change. Energy challenges such as peak oil are closely linked with climate-related issues, so victories within the field of climate change tend to be victories for peak oil as well. The good news is that we have started to tread the right path. Ultimately, we have to act. Whichever way you look at it, we won’t be able to use as much energy in the future as we do today.

I’m sorry, but that’s just nonsense.  A) there’s no reason, at least at this point, that we can’t use as much energy in the future as we do today, and B) perhaps that energy will come from a different source but not necessarily.  Unless, of course, these sorts of people have their way. More importantly though, politicians need to be kept strictly out of this business.

As we note often, this isn’t about energy or climate-related issues – it’s about control.

Make the warnings scary and dire enough and we’ll pitch control over to them.  See “war on terrorism” as a case study.

Meanwhile, in the back forty, a certain cow is still mooing the same old song:

Former Vice President Al Gore lamented today that scientists “will not let us link record-breaking” tornadoes in Oklahoma and elsewhere to climate change because of inadequate record keeping on the twisters.

“But when you put more energy into a system, it gets more energetic,” Gore said at an environmental event in Washington hosted by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse.

Yeah, darn those scientists anyway. Oh, wait, I thought all his stuff was from scientists.  No?

As to that familiar tune?

“It is well-past time that we put a price on carbon and not just accept the price that it extracts from us,” he said.

He noted that some officials won’t pay for tornado shelters in public schools. But “if we’re having arguments about how to pay to recover” from storms, he said, that’s one more reason to fix the climate change that is leading to stronger storms.

Even if the “price” can’t be supported by science.

Got it.

~McQ

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