Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Ironic and encouraging

And that’s despite this administration doing everything in its power to impede this:

Hydrocarbon trade between the Middle East and the United States has historically been something of a one-way street, as petrostates have made billions selling off their prodigious oil reserves and Qatar has solidified its position as the world’s largest exporter of liquified natural gas (LNG). But the American shale revolution is shaking up the status quo, and two recent shipments of LNG have recently punctuated that shift. . . .

A decade ago, the United States was busy building massive, costly LNG import facilities along its Gulf Coast. What a difference ten years and an energy revolution can make, as those import projects have been idled in favor of export terminals, where workers are chilling America’s substantial stores of shale gas into liquid form and sending them off to ports around the world. The first shipment went to Brazil, but since then cargoes have made their way to Europe and, now, the Middle East.

Like its oil counterpart, the global LNG market is well supplied at the moment, with Qatar and Australia already exporting larger and larger volumes while the United States looks to become a major player in the coming years as more export terminals come online. It’s a buyer’s market, too, as prices have steadily come down both as a result of contracts that have included linkages to oil prices (which are today less than half of what they were two years ago) as well as sluggish demand coupled with surging supplies.

Selling LNG to Kuwait and Dubai won’t suddenly make the Middle East beholden to U.S. suppliers, but it does signal an important and ongoing change in global energy dynamics. And, as more Middle Eastern countries look to derive less of their electricity from costly and relatively inefficient oil-fired power plants, LNG demand should rise in the region. If and when that happens, there will be plenty of producers here in the United States willing to step up and subvert the traditional energy flows between the Middle East and America.

Capitalism, risk taking and innovation are the reason this is happening.  Government was an impediment because government was sure it had a better way, despite the evidence to the contrary.

Government picking the “winners and losers” in an economic situation is simply another form of socialist tyranny, where it acts as though it is the owner of the means of production and rewards the industries it backs while finding ways to punish those in disfavor.  Thankfully, at least in this case, government – specifically the Obama administration – has been out maneuvered by the shale industry and it’s favored industries have all but gone bust.

More irony – the administration tries at every opportunity to take credit for the hydrocarbon boom in the US.

~McQ

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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 15 Jul 15

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There’s a coup in Turkey, and we don’t know how it’ll turn out…but probably badly. Another terrorist attack occurred in Nice, France. Also, Driving While Black is a real thing, but some people just need to be shot by cops. Oh, and we should distribute income better.

 This week’s podcast is up on the Podcast page.

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Economic Statistics for 15 Jul 16

Consumer prices rose 0.2% in June, both overall, and with prices less food and energy—the so-called core rate. On a year-over-year basis, the CPI is up 1.0% overall, and 2.3% at the core.

Retail sales rose 0.6% in June, with sales less less autos up 0.7%, and sales less autos and gas up 0.7%.

Industrial production rose 0.6% in June, while capacity utilization in the nation’s factories rose 0.5% to 75.4%.

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey fell from 6.01 to 0.55 for July.

Business inventories rose 0.2% in May, while a 0.2% sales increase kept the stock-to-sales ratio at 1.40.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index fell a sharp -4.0 points to 89.5 in the preliminary July reading.


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Stray Voltage

We were told this was something which would never happen:

On Monday the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Ammon Target store where an adult female says a person taking pictures of her while she was inside a changing room trying on clothes. The woman noticed the person reaching over the wall of the changing room with a cell phone to take pictures. The victim confronted the subject who ran from the store.

Detectives interviewed witnesses and security footage from Target which led them to 43-year-old Sean Patrick Smith, who also identifies as Shauna Patricia Smith, a transgender female. After interviewing Smith she was taken into custody by Detectives and booked into the Bonneville County Jail for one felony count of voyeurism.

Like I’ve said many times, leftists get an “F” in “Human Nature 101”.

Laugh of the week from one of the most irony impaired women on the planet:

Hillary: “Can you imagine electing a vindictive man who might … send the IRS after his critics?”

And, of course, Legal Insurrection has it right:

Hillary has one thing going for her here. The media has pretty much abandoned all reportage of the IRS targeting scandal. How many average Americans even know Obama used the IRS to silence tax paying Americans in the run up to the 2012 election and got away with it?

I don’t know about you, but I can certainly imagine a vindictive Hillary Clinton doing exactly what she’s trying to project on Trump.

All you need to know about the lie that is ObamaCare:

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Say, Mr. Obama, where’s that $2,500 dollars of savings you promised we’d all experience if we went along with your scam?

Had enough of Barry in the White House?  Well, if Hillary has her way, he may have a new lifetime community organizing gig in his future:

At a campaign event in Iowa Tuesday, Mrs. Clinton told the crowd the next president may have to appoint up to three Supreme Court justices. When one attendee mentioned Mr. Obama as a contender, she seemed excited by the recommendation.

“Wow, what a great idea. No one has ever suggested that to me, I love that, wow,” Mrs. Clinton said. “He may have a few other things to do, but I tell you, that’s a great idea.

“I mean, he’s brilliant, he can set forth an argument and he was a law professor,” she added. “So he’s got all the credentials, but we would have to get a Democratic Senate to get him confirmed.”

If you think he’s taken a wrecking ball to your liberties these past 8 years, make sure he ends up on the Supreme Court.  He’ll make the last 8 years seem like a walk in the park as concerns your freedom and the Constitution.

Law professor – ha!

Nice, France.  Ban assault trucks … no one needs a truck that big.  Enough said.

Your “feel good” story of the week.  A kid who wants a college degree badly and the town which rallied to help make that a reality.  Oh, and a cop is featured in this and he doesn’t even shoot the kid, even though he’s black.

Have a great weekend.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 14 Jul 16

Producer Prices for Final Demand jumped 0.5% in June, with PPI-FD less food and energy up 0.4% and up 0.3% less trade services. On a year-over-year basis PPI-FD is up 0.3% overall, 1.3% less food and energy, and 0.9% less food, energy, and trader services.

Initial weekly jobless claims were unchanged at 254,000. The 4-week average fell 6,000 to 259,000. Continuing claims rose 32,000 to 2.149 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose a sharp 1.2 points to 44.7 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $1.6 billion last week, with total assets of $4.472 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $1.9 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $27.0 billion in the latest week.


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Economic Statistics for 13 Jul 16

June import prices rose 0.2%, while export prices jumped 0.8% on petroleum price increases. On year-over-year basis, import prices have fallen -4.8% while export prices have dropped -3.5%.

The US Treasury posted a $6.3 billion surplus in June but the government’s fiscal year deficit is up 27% to $400.9 billion vs $316.4 billion this time last year.

The Fed’s Beige Book today reported that 11 of 12 Fed districts are reporting only modest to moderate economic growth. 

The Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations report showed 12-month inflation expectations fell -0.1% to a 1.7% annual rate.

The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 7.2% last week, with purchases unchanged but refis up 11.0%.


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More outright lies from POTUS at the Dallas Memorial

So much for honoring 5 slain police officers.  Oh, Obama started out alright, but then he just couldn’t help himself.  He had to slip into ideological mode and tell a whopper of a lie to try and get it headed around the world before the truth could put on its shoes.  The lie?

 “It’s easier for a teenager to get his hands on a Glock than a computer…or even a book.”

Is it?  Really?  This is rhetorical garbage presented as “the truth”.  It is a base assumption you are supposed to swallow so when he says you need to give up your right to arm yourself in self defense, you will assume it is “for the children”.

The truth?  To get a book, all you need is the price of one or, if that’s not available, there are libraries which will give a child a book to read for just showing a library card.  I’m sure he’s heard of them.  And, as for a computer, again, it’s a price thing – come up with the money, get the computer.  Ironically, most libraries also have public computers.

But, and he might not know this, they won’t check out a Glock to you.

No, that process involves just a bit more work.  First you have to be 18 to even be considered as eligible to buy a gun.  Then, there’s that price thing again, not to mention a federal background check.  Hmm … I’ve never had a federal background check to buy a computer nor was I required to get one to buy a book.

Like most other things this man says, it is falsifiable nonsense.  It’s propaganda.  It’s the big lie, told often enough to be believed by low information citizens, especially on the left.  It is a false trail diverting the country from the real problem, a problem he has been instrumental in enabling.

Why couldn’t he just be a president for a day and join the country in mourning 5 officers who did gave their lives protecting others from a murderer?

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 12 Jul 16

The Fed’s Labor Market Conditions index improved, but couldn’t make it it into positive territory in June, rising from -4.8 to -1.9.

The Labor Department’s JOLTS survey fell sharply to 5.500 million job openings in May, down from April’s revised 5.845 million.

NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index rose 0.7 points to 94.5 in June, the third straight monthly increase.

Wholesale trade inventories grew 0.1% in May, while a 0.5% sales increase lowered the stock-to-sales ratio from 1.36 to 1.35. 

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales growth rose to 0.8% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 0.6%.


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The numbers that “Black Lives Matter” and the sensationalist media prefer you ignore

You’ve likely seen them, but these numbers tell a completely different story than those the “Black Lives Matter” tell and the media hypes:

The Washington Post has been gathering data on fatal police shootings over the past year and a half to correct acknowledged deficiencies in federal tallies. The emerging data should open many eyes.

For starters, fatal police shootings make up a much larger proportion of white and Hispanic homicide deaths than black homicide deaths. According to the Post database, in 2015 officers killed 662 whites and Hispanics, and 258 blacks. (The overwhelming majority of all those police-shooting victims were attacking the officer, often with a gun.) Using the 2014 homicide numbers as an approximation of 2015’s, those 662 white and Hispanic victims of police shootings would make up 12% of all white and Hispanic homicide deaths. That is three times the proportion of black deaths that result from police shootings.

The lower proportion of black deaths due to police shootings can be attributed to the lamentable black-on-black homicide rate. There were 6,095 black homicide deaths in 2014—the most recent year for which such data are available—compared with 5,397 homicide deaths for whites and Hispanics combined. Almost all of those black homicide victims had black killers.

Police officers—of all races—are also disproportionately endangered by black assailants. Over the past decade, according to FBI data, 40% of cop killers have been black. Officers are killed by blacks at a rate 2.5 times higher than the rate at which blacks are killed by police.

Some may find evidence of police bias in the fact that blacks make up 26% of the police-shooting victims, compared with their 13% representation in the national population. But as residents of poor black neighborhoods know too well, violent crimes are disproportionately committed by blacks. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, blacks were charged with 62% of all robberies, 57% of murders and 45% of assaults in the 75 largest U.S. counties in 2009, though they made up roughly 15% of the population there.

Such a concentration of criminal violence in minority communities means that officers will be disproportionately confronting armed and often resisting suspects in those communities, raising officers’ own risk of using lethal force.

So this gathering of facts would, or should, support an entirely different narrative – if the media reported on it honestly and if they had analysts who dealt in facts instead of emotion and opinion driven by ideology and agenda.

I’ ve seen these facts numerous times in numerous places and they’re pretty hard to argue against.  If black men are disproportionately represented in crime statistics it is because they disproportionately commit crimes – especially homicide.  If black lives mattered to “Black Lives Matter” that is one of the major issues the movement would be confronting.  But, of course, it’s not.  Instead it is focused on another issue, one that they have wildly misrepresented.  That is that police are out to kill blacks and black men specifically.

Nonsense.  There is nothing among the facts above that supports that contention.  Conversely, there’s much to say that BLM’s claim is exactly what I called it – nonsense.

Once you add to that the lack of leadership from the White House and Barack Obama and you can see why this has become an explosive problem.  As Myron Magnet points out in City Journal:

True to form, Obama went into grievance-mongering mode on July 7. . . . . His familiar conclusion: “If you add it all up, the African American and Hispanic population, who make up only 30 percent of the general population, make up more than half of the incarcerated population. Now, these are facts. And when incidents like this occur, there’s a big chunk of our fellow citizenry that feels as if because of the color of their skin, they are not being treated the same. And that hurts.” . . .

If you want to ignite race riots, a sure-fire way to do it is to stir up black hatred and suspicion of cops, which will in turn make cops warier of blacks and more trigger-happy, and so on, until an explosion occurs. So thanks, President Obama. You have set back American race relations by 50 years.

And he has.  Grievance mode that blows past the facts provided by Heather MacDonald in favor of – nonsense.  Gangs and gang related activities of two minority populations lend themselves heavily to what grievance mongers like Obama would like to call “disproportionate.”  Also note that he’s gone after police who are responsible for 258 deaths of blacks while other blacks are responsible for the remaining 5,827 deaths.  That, to a reasonable person, would seem the most frightening statistic if you were concerned about “black lives”, wouldn’t it?

Finally, as for “disproportionate,” when you see statistics like blacks were charged with 62% of all robberies, 57% of murders and 45% of assaults in the 75 largest U.S. counties in 2009, though they made up roughly 15% of the population there, what would you expect to see in arrest results?  Those who are making this “disproportionate” aren’t the police.  They’re the black criminals.  Another great issue for a real human rights organization to address.

But Black Lives Matter isn’t a human rights organization.  They totally ignore the real issues facing the black community.  No, they’re a racist organization that, in the mold of the blamer-in-chief, are trying to play victim and blame shift the problems of the black community on whites and police while claiming the motivation is racism.

It’s … that’s right … nonsense.

~McQ

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