Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

DSCC needs your help for a new slogan

Sen. Patty Murray, Chair of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC), wants help with formulating a “pithy catchphrase to rally the troops” according to POLITICO.

No seriously, they need help – and they’re outsourcing the effort.

POLITICO offers:

“Because Harry Reid really likes his nice Majority Leader office"

"Please, please, please vote for us in 2012!"

"Why not?"

"Will the last Senate Democrat in office please turn out the lights?"

A POLITICO reader suggests, "Hey, at least we didn’t flee".  A variation I like is “At least we’re not fleebaggers”. 

Moe Lane pops in with "Drink the Kool-aid". Lane also reminds us of the DSCC’s recent performance:

[T]he DSCC spent 97.8 million and went into debt for 8.9 million in order to lose six Senate seats and gain zero – [which] demonstrates handily that the DSCC cannot be trusted to come in out of the rain; wipe its own nose; or, indeed, wear its underpants underneath its outer clothing.

The Lonely Conservative suggests “Bend Over!”  Don Surber weighs in with:

“Democrats: Not Republicans since 1854.”

“Democrats: Because Republicans are icky.”

“Democrats: More Hope, Less Change.”

“The D Stands For Debtor.”

“Democrats: The Starter Party.”

Me? I’m kind of partial to "Our symbol isn’t a jackass for nothing".

And you?

~McQ

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Is the economy set on "rebound"?

That’s kind of what some pundits are hinting with the latest "official" unemployment numbers.

But as the three of us noted on yesterday’s podcast, that number is only a slight glimmer in an otherwise dark picture. And the underlying unemployment numbers (and trends) don’t really support the reduction of last week (the number of new private sector jobs was not enough to maintain the unemployment number). Or said another way, it is most likely a temporary blip. Another ominous development that doesn’t bode well economically is the precipitous rise in oil prices and the impact that will have on any recovery. In a word, the impact it will have is "bad".

Oil is one of those commodities that has a very broad impact on economic activity. It is, until an alternative or substitute is found, the literal life-blood of our economy.

How does oil staying in the $104 to $107 a barrel range sound? Not very good, obviously. As one refiner told me, his only control over how much the fuel he refines costs when it leaves his refinery is the economies he can wring out of his equipment, but the cost of the goods coming in are beyond his control. So that cost per barrel is what he’s paying as the crude shows up at his refinery for processing.

How long will it stay over $100 a barrel? Well, many are saying quite some time:

Oil prices climbed to near $106 a barrel Monday as intense fighting between Libyan government forces and rebels appeared to be turning into a civil war and raised the prospect of a prolonged cut in crude exports from the OPEC nation.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark crude for April delivery was up $2.25 to $106.67 a barrel, the highest since September 2008, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract had gained $2.51 to settle at $104.42 a barrel on Friday.

[…]

Citigroup said it raised its 2011 average forecast for Brent crude to $105 from $90, but doesn’t expect the violent protests in North Africa and the Middle East to spread to Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter.

"We assume that output disruption is maintained through the second quarter," Citigroup said in a report. "Output disruption, or at least the threat of, will support a fear premium for the rest of 2011."

As mentioned in the article, most now view the war in Libya to be a civil war. And, reports today say that Gadhafi’s forces have had some successes against rebel forces (apparently neither side is particularly swift in the combat portion of battle). Reports also point to other countries possibly helping the rebels. And we know there are "friends" of Gadhafi, mostly found in the socialist South and Central American countries, who will try to help the dictator maintain power.

The initial shock of the turmoil in Libya has worn off the markets and they are now looking at a prolonged reduction of capacity with Libya off line.  And, we’re seeing unrest in other Arab oil producing states as well.  Unrest, or instability, drives the price of oil up.

So it isn’t surprising that in the last two weeks, the price of gasoline rose at its second fastest pace ever:

Gasoline prices in the United States posted their second-biggest increase ever in a two-week period, due to the rise in crude oil prices stemming from the turmoil in Libya, an industry analyst said Sunday.

The national average for a gallon of self-serve, regular gas was $3.50 on March 4, according to the Lundberg Survey of about 2,500 gas stations, up 32.7 cents from the previous survey on Feb. 18.

The most it ever jumped was in 2005 when hurricane Katrina hit.  But that was soon solved because the event itself wasn’t prolonged as is a civil war.  So chances are, this isn’t the end of the rising price of gasoline.

As you might expect our national leaders have managed to put us in a position where we essentially have nothing to answer with domestically.  In fact, as I recall, we’ve been told repeatedly for the last 20 or so years that bringing significant new assets on line would take at least 10 years or so and thus, I guess, shouldn’t be done.  Er, yeah, ok and where would we be now if we had committed to that 10 years of bringing them on line 20 years ago?  At least better off than we are now.

And most likely not talking about using the strategic reserve I’d bet.  FYI, the strategic reserve is not supposed to be a tool for the use of politicians to drive down the price of gasoline when their failed energy policies show up at the pump.  It is a reserve for use by our military in case we’re cut off from the foreign oil we’ve become even  more dependent upon.

But back to the economy.

Does anyone really need an explanation of the impact higher fuel prices will have on a barely recovering economy (not to mention unemployment)?  And, with the specter of inflation rising – not to mention food prices – how likely is the impact to be “minimal”?

Yeah, it’s not.

And, as usual, we’re in a basically no-win situation thanks to the foresight of our elected leaders and their wonderful job of putting a practical energy policy in motion.  A 10 month drilling moratorium (and the jobs that go with it) with no real end in sight.

Brilliant.

So to the original question – is the economy set to rebound?

Unfortunately if it was, it most likely will be one of the shortest rebounds in history.

~McQ

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Are Egyptian commandos operating in Libya

An interesting little tidbit to pass along from the Strategy Page (along with the 700th different spelling of his Gadaffi’s last name):

The rebellion against the Kadaffi dictatorship in Libya has not produced any official outside help, but Egypt has apparently sent some of its commandos in to help out the largely amateur rebel force. Wearing civilian clothes, the hundred or so Egyptian commandos are officially not there, but are providing crucial skills and experience to help the rebels cope with the largely irregular, and mercenary, force still controlled by the Kadaffi clan. There are also some commandos from Britain (SAS) and American (Special Forces) operators are also believed wandering around, mainly to escort diplomats or perform reconnaissance (and find out who is in charge among the rebels).

The Egyptian commandos alleged to be operating in Libya are from Unit 777 which, according to Strategy Page, is considered to be a highly “competent” counter-terrorist unit:

Unit 777 trains with the help of the German GSG-9, French GIGN, and American Delta Force commandos. All Unit 777 members are qualified in static-line (low altitude) airborne operations, and possibly with HALO (high altitude jumps) as well.

But Unit 777’s job in the past, under the Mubarak regime, was the suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood.

So, here they are, allegedly in Libya, advising the rebels. 

Question: if true, who sent them (given Egypt’s current “turmoil”)?

Question: if their previous duty was suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood, what’s their current mission in Egypt?

Question: what is their real mission in Libya – is this a move by Egypt to annex a part of Libya eventually?

Any Egyptian involvement in Libya has to be handled very carefully. While the two countries fought a three day war in 1977, the real cause of tension is the fact that for thousands of years, most of Libya was considered part of Egypt. Given the fact that Libya has all that oil, and less than a tenth of the population of Egypt, well, then, you can figure out the rest. But for the moment, everyone is a revolutionary brother. At least for as long as the moment lasts, then history takes over.

And should the rebels eventually win and given the obvious turmoil that would follow, who would be positioned then to perhaps annex a part of Libya – most likely the part with oil – claiming historical sovereignty?

Oh … and what would we (or could we) do about it?

~McQ

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New York Times: NY is not like WI

The NYT editorial board has decided it is time to rein in the compensation that government union employees get:

That huge increase is largely because of Albany’s outsized generosity to the state’s powerful employees’ unions in the early years of the last decade, made worse when the recession pushed down pension fund earnings, forcing the state to make up the difference.

Although taxpayers are on the hook for the recession’s costs, most state employees pay only 3 percent of their salaries to their pensions, half the level of most state employees elsewhere. Their health insurance payments are about half those in the private sector.

In all, the salaries and benefits of state employees add up to $18.5 billion, or a fifth of New York’s operating budget. Unless those costs are reined in, New York will find itself unable to provide even essential services.

So to review – government unions conspired to elect union friendly Democrats to the state legislature who in turn then granted, via “outsized generosity [with other people’s money]”, incredibly expensive benefits that cost those union members next to nothing.

Uh, yeah, I think that’s what has been said about Wisconsin as well.   But in its very next paragraph, the NYT says, presumably so as not to seem too anti-union or anti-worker, that pointing this out isn’t either of those things, but that darn GOP is both:

To point out these alarming facts is not to be anti- union, or anti-worker. In recent weeks, Republican politicians in the Midwest have distorted what should be a serious discussion about state employees’ benefits, cynically using it as a pretext to crush unions.

The NYT provides one of the perverse joys I look forward too each day – trying to figure out how the editorial board will torture both the language and logic to come up with the positions it assumes.  This is another example.  What is happening in Wisconsin – almost precisely the same scenario – is anti-worker and anti-union because good old Governor Walker is one of them – a Republican.

But Governor Cuomo?  Why the model of what it means to be a union friendly Democratic governor:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pursued a reasonable course, making it clear that he expects public unions to make sacrifices, starting with a salary freeze. He wants to require greater employee contributions to pensions and health benefits, with a goal of saving $450 million.

Negotiations begin this month, but so far union leaders have publicly resisted Mr. Cuomo’s proposals. If they don’t budge, Mr. Cuomo says he will have to lay off up to 9,800 workers.

Wait, what?  Capitulate or he lays off 9,800 workers?  Wow, that sounds pretty familiar.  So that’s a reasonable course, but what Walker has proposed (do the same or he lays off 1,500 workers) is a “cynical…pretext to crush unions”.

Got it. 

By the way, in WI, government union workers are being asked to pay 12% of their health benefit costs, up from 6%.  In NY, government union workers only pay 3%, far below the 20% private workers pay. And, NY government union workers have received pay increases every year (3%), to include last year (4%) in the middle of the downturn. 

The average salary for New York’s full-time state employees in 2009 (even before the last round of raises) was $63,382, well above the state’s average personal income that year of $46,957. Mr. Cuomo’s proposed salary freeze for many of the state’s 236,000 employees is an important step to rein in New York’s out-of-control payroll. It could save between $200 million and $400 million.

Pay freeze?  Huh.  Reasonable in NY, not reasonable in WI?

And pensions?

In 2000, employee pensions cost New York State taxpayers $100 million. They now cost $1.5 billion, and will be more than $2 billion in 2014. Wall Street’s troubles are a big part of that. But so are state politics. The Legislature, ever eager to curry favor with powerful unions, added sweeteners to pensions and allowed employees to stop making contributions after 10 years.

Of course the salient question avoided by the Times (and the coverage in WI) is “which politicians were “ever eager to curry favor with powerful unions”?”  In WI we know – they’re hiding out in IL.   In NY?  Well simply look at which party has controlled the Assembly for decades, including a supermajority now.  It wasn’t that cynical union crushing GOP (they’ve held off and on slim majorities in the state’s Senate).

Ironically, the NYT points out why government unions are problematic and should be “crushed” without knowing it.  But, and here’s the magic part, – apparently when the NYT makes note of that it has nothing to do with being “anti-union or anti-worker”, it is just pointing out “facts”.

It is also worth considering giving new employees the option to join what is known as a defined-contribution system, similar to the 401(k) plans widely in use in the private sector, and reducing the reliance on a guaranteed benefit system that has proved so ruinously expensive. The 401(k) system shifts the risk of a falling stock market to the employee instead of the state, but in the long run may be necessary to protect vital state services from economic downturns.

Nice … a device that has been in the private sector for decades, has been pointed out by critics of the defined benefit system for just as  long as a means to drastically cut the huge benefit hole the states have dug themselves and the NYT finally gets on board.  The horror, no?  A quasi-privatized pension system that requires workers to contribute to their own retirement.  What’s next, paying more for health care benefits!

Health care – another area the state has managed well.

Current state employees pay 10 percent of their health insurance premiums for single policies, and 25 percent for family policies, which is roughly in line with national averages for the public sector. But it is considerably less than most private workers pay — 20 percent and 30 percent, respectively.

And that has the state paying about $3 billion a year in health care costs with projections seeing that rise $300 to $400 million a year.

Opines the NYT:

If the state is unable to achieve the necessary savings in wages and pensions, it may need to seek higher insurance contributions for all state workers. That benefit is not protected by the state Constitution.

You think?

So again,let’s review. The NYT thinks wages should freeze, pensions need to be privatized, and government workers must contribute much more to their medical benefits/care, right?

But:

Unlike Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Governor Cuomo is not trying to break the unions. He is pressing them to accept a salary freeze and a reduction in benefits for new workers. The unions need to negotiate seriously.

You have to laugh at this sort of nonsense.

But then there’s this, so you can again be assured that it is indeed the NYT spouting the nonsense:

We are also urging the governor to rethink his pledge to cap property taxes and allow a tax surcharge on high incomes to expire at the end of this year. That would bring the state an additional $2 billion this fiscal year, and $4 billion the following year — not enough to solve the fiscal crisis, but a serious down payment.

That’s right, the editorial board thinks solving it by increasing property taxes and taxing the “rich” is a wonderful idea.

And in an attempt to put a spin on the plea for more taxes:

The state’s middle-class workers will have to make real sacrifices. New York’s many wealthy residents, all of whom are benefiting substantially from a new federal tax break, should have to pay their fair share as well. That would bring the state an additional $2 billion this fiscal year, and $4 billion the following year — not enough to solve the fiscal crisis, but a serious down payment.

The middle class workers the Times is talking about are government union members who, on average, earn  $16,425 a year more than the private sector “middle class” employees. The government employees would have to do something the average middle class worker in the state has been doing for decades – pay more for their benefits. 

But, this gives the editorial board’s an opportunity to talk about its favorite method of problem solving – raising taxes on the rich and on property owners.   And you have to love the language of class warfare – “the state’s middle class workers”, “fair share”, “wealthy residents” (they’re citizens, NYT, just like the middle class workers) and a “serious down payment” on solving the fiscal problem.  Of course, not a word in the editorial about spending cuts.

Oh, and union, you need to “negotiate seriously.”.

Uh huh.

But remember, none of this is like Wisconsin.  And don’t you forget it.

~McQ

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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 06 Mar 11

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the situation in Libya, and this week’s employment numbers.

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. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

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About a no-fly zone over Libya

Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson had this to say on one of the Sunday shows today:

Richardson made recommendations for that policy. "What I think the U.S. Needs to do is, one, covertly arm the rebels. We should take that step. Develop a no-fly zone."

"Some kind of no-fly zone is going to be necessary mainly to send a message to Libya’s military and Gadhafi that the U.S. and international community is not with them," he continued.

Does anyone know what all of that entails?  Establishing a No Fly Zone I mean.  We need a reality check.

Here’s a guess based on what I know has to happen to establish air superiority/air dominance (and this is being written quickly without any real attempt to research it) in an area.

First, intelligence has to be developed pinpointing both air defenses and where hostile aircraft are located.  That takes a little time.  Most likely that’s an on-going effort right now.

Secondly, a time and date have to be established and communicated to the Libyan government of when the NFZ will be established.  The obvious message is “if anything is in the air and identified as a Libyan military attack asset, it dies.”

Third, someone gets to go test it out to see what the state of Libya is willing or unwilling to do.  I.e. some intrepid pilots get to sortie into the airspace and see what the reaction will be. 

If they are fired upon by enemy air defense, then step four is a country wide (perhaps, depending where the NFZ is located) SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) missions must be run.  Step four may be run with or without a check to see the Libyan reaction to foreign aircraft introduced into their air space.

SEAD missions are usually a combination of cruise missiles and what used to be called Wild Weasel missions (they may still be, I’m just not up on the parlance).  The WW missions are usually the job of multi-role fighters toting HARM missiles.  Once a site lights up their sector with radar trying to lock on the WW, this missile is fired, locks on to the radiated signature of the search radar and follows the beam right back to the source.  Meanwhile the source is feeding missile sites the WW’s data and trying to knock it out of the sky. 

Once the air defenses are suppressed (which can take some time with a proficient enemy and mobile air defenses), then you can introduce air superiority platforms into the conflicted skies to keep other aircraft from flying.  Their job is to keep the Libyan attack air assets from flying in the areas designated NFZ.

And they can only engage hostile aircraft according to whatever Rules of Engagement (ROE) have been agreed upon and issued.  And then there’s the SAR piece to be put together.

That’s just the tactical portion of it (or at least the portion that comes to mind as I write this).

On the planning side of things, you have to determine, given the size of the NFZ, how many aircraft are going to be necessary to patrol that 24/7 until the mission is called off.

Now you back off of that and try to figure out A) where they’ll be based, B) how they’re be supported logistically and C) where that logistical support will come from.    Then you have to get it all together at the proper places.

Since you’re going to have to base out of the country, you’re talking increased flying time to get in an out of Libya which decreases the time on station/target.  You want to maximize their time on station, which means tanker support. 

If it is a multi-nation effort, like NATO, now add in all the coordination over an above the usual coordination problems that such an effort brings to the table.  Things such as what the share of the mission will go to each country, what logistics assets they’re going to have to share, who’ll be in command, etc.

Said succinctly, doing this isn’t something you just snap your fingers and boom, NFZ established.  I’m sure there are things I’ve left out.  But you get the idea.  Establishing an NFZ is a huge undertaking (and, as I understand it the first site for land based aircraft near Libya is 350 miles away).  And it brings me to something White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley said today about the same subject – something I agree with completely:

"They talk about it like it’s a game or a video game or something."

"When people comment on military action, most of them have no idea what they’re talking about," he said.

Precisely.  Most people and politicians are clueless about what it takes to mount this sort of an operation.

And factored in on top of all of this, are the politics of the situation.  We have to ask, do we really want American planes flying over Libya?  In fact, you have to ask, given the colonial past, do we want any Western aircraft flying over it?

Of course that leaves few choices as to countries that could capably handle it, but my druthers are that if the West decides a NFZ must be established, countries other than the US do it.

This is as much a European problem as anyone’s.  My guess is (and unfortunately I have a feeling this administration will play right along and eventually get sucked into it) they’ll try to lay it off on the UN with an eye on the US being the major participant in a UN backed effort to enforce an NFZ.

Of course that won’t stop the importation of civilian mercenaries into Libya unless those enforcing the NFZ are prepared to shoot down chartered civilian aircraft or unarmed military cargo aircraft.  And if the air route is cut off, I have no doubt that Gahdaffi’s minions will establish an overland route as an alternative to the air routes. 

Anyway, I understand the desire for an NFZ and the hoped for outcome – keep Gahdaffi’s fighters and attack heli’s on the ground so they’re not bombing and rocketing innocent civilians.  Got it.  The question is, is that our job?

I’m feeling a big “no” as the answer.  Time for others to step up.  Time for others to take the bulk of the action if there’s to be any (we could lend some tanker and other log support).  It would actually be good for the world for that to happen … to see the Western powers who’ve depended mostly on the US to be their military arm having to pick up the mission and conduct it.

I’m wondering if they could (I know the Brits understand how it is done since they flew Desert Fox missions with us).  Oh, and as a side note, every day spent dithering about whether or not to do it means another day’s delay in actually doing it (and it could take a few weeks to a month or so to get everything in place, depending on who is doing it).

But I’ve got to say, I’d like to see someone else do it for a change.

Wouldn’t you?

~McQ

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“Regime alteration” new US policy in Middle East?

According to the Wall Street Journal, that’s the outcome of “weeks of internal debate on how to respond to uprisings in the Arab world”.

To put it more succinctly, they’ve decided the “Bahrain model” is superior to the “Egypt model”.  I’m not sure I disagree.

In the Egypt model, the end result was the US throwing Hosni Mubarak under the bus … finally … and fully supporting the protesters.   Of course it didn’t end up pleasing either side in Egypt and it certainly didn’t please other Arab governments in the least.   They felt that President Obama had abandoned Mubarak and were worried he’d do the same to them as protests mounted.  The US eventually throwing it’s full support behind the Egyptian protestors had the governments of other countries very concerned.  Among them, interestingly, was Israel:

As Mr. Mubarak’s grip on power slipped away in Egypt, Israeli officials lobbied Washington to move cautiously and reassure Mideast allies that they were not being abandoned. Israeli leaders have made clear that they fear extremist forces could try to exploit new-found freedoms and undercut Israel’s security, diplomats said.

And there is evidence in Egypt that Israel’s concerns have a just foundation.  So, the administration approached the protests in Bahrain somewhat differently:

"Starting with Bahrain, the administration has moved a few notches toward emphasizing stability over majority rule," said a U.S. official. "Everybody realized that Bahrain was just too important to fail."

The reason it is “too important to fail”, to repeat the cliché, is because it is home to our 5th Fleet and other war fighting headquarters.  The fear was that if the government there fell, the new government would have ties and leanings toward Iran.  Suddenly “stability” became much more important than it had previously been. 

The solution hit upon has the goal of “help[ing] slow the pace of upheaval to avoid further violence.”

Why slow the “pace of upheaval?”  Well the most obvious reasons are to attempt to maintain stability and important strategic alliances while also attempting to persuade the effected governments to negotiate in good faith with protesters with the eventual goal of implementing reforms in each country which would make the government more representative. 

Yeah, admittedly, a little on the moon pony side.  The alternative choices, however, are few.

As the article points out there is a lot of opportunity for failure in this particular approach, but while it may be a lower probability approach, if it works it would actually end up strengthening the governments and our ties with them.  And in all honesty, there is no real “high probability” approach for the US in this situation.

However, the argument against it working are founded in some simple truths – A) autocratic governments don’t like to give up their power, B) people in revolt are leery and cynical about promises like that and impatient for change and C) a slower pace might allow other more destructive factions the time to organize while “negotiations” are under way.

Obviously, as one official said, this is all done on a “country by country” basis – with the obvious exception being Libya.  Libya’s in a civil war and it’s outcome is anyone’s guess – although, as I’ve mentioned, usually the most ruthless side wins, and right now the most ruthless side appears to be that of Ghadaffi.   Meanwhile the world dithers and discusses while the massacre proceeds.

Back to the new diplomatic approach.  Do I think it will work?  It might is the best I can say.  It obviously depends on good faith negotiations being a priority for both sides and a real willingness to make change.  Do I think that exists?  I’m not sure.  My gut reaction is “no”.  Instead I wouldn’t be surprised to see governments use the time such a policy offers as a means to consolidate their power while throwing a few bones to the protesters. Do I think it is worth a try?  Yes, given that the choices are limited and instability in the region is not in the best interest of the US.

But, let’s also be real about its chances – we’re talking about two very different views of outcome here (government v. protesters) and reconciling them wouldn’t be easy even if both sides were fully committed to good faith negotiations.  The question is have these governments been scared enough to actually agree to make significant changes or are they simply buying time and using the US as a means of doing so?

Old cynical me, again referencing Human Nature 101,  thinks it’s probably the latter.

~McQ

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Chavez’s relationship with Gahdafi says more about Chavez than Gahdafi

Hugo Chavez is really interested in pulling his good friend Moammer Gahdafi’s bacon out of the fire.  Did I say bacon – how insensitive of me.  Let’s just call it “fat” and leave it at that.

Yes, Hugo is good buddies with the guy who is in the middle of doing whatever he can to hold on to power to include bombing his own people.  And, of course, Chavez is also using it as an opportunity to blame the US and divert attention from the atrocities his good buddy is ordering committed daily:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has called for an international good will commission to mediate in Libya; in contrast the U.N. Security Council over the weekend voted for tough restrictions and possible war crimes charges against the Libyan regime.

On Monday, Chavez said Gadhafi, "has been my friend and our friend for a long time," in remarks broadcast on Venezuelan state television.

And in comments made on Thursday, Chavez described alleged preparations to invade Libya as "a madness, and in front of that madness, as always, the Yankee empire that tries to dominate the world, at the cost of fire and blood."

You’ve got to love a guy who can delude himself so completely.  He’s the prototypical autocrat.   And he’s watching tyrants very similar to himself falling one by one. 

And you have to laugh at how lame it is when he tries to push it all off on "the Yankee empire”, when we’ve got an administration that has been mostly silent about everything and was so timid that it sent a commercial ferry for its evacuees instead of using the military.  Yup, “the Yankee empire” is just dyin’ to lay a little “fire and blood” on the world.

So Hugo Chavez, now the head of the dictator protection league, peddles his “peace plan”, with an eye to keeping a mad man in power.

Yeah, that ought enhance his reputation.

~McQ

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Polls against Walker similar to polls against ObamaCare

One of the Kossaks has a post up about the polls showing WI Governor Scott Walker on the wrong end of them as he moves to fix the WI budget and curtail the power of public sector unions.

Poll after poll is telling Scott Walker the same thing: you are on the wrong side of public opinion. While early polling can fool you, we now have substantial data both from the nation and from Wisconsin.

[…]

The bottom line is that Gov. Walker has overplayed his hand with the public. Every Republican governor who is trying to curtail collective bargaining is at risk for being seen by the public as taking rights away, not balancing the budget. That can be done with givebacks (and the public is all for that, especially through negotiation.) But trying to curtail collective bargaining is seen by the public as the power grab it really is. The polls leave no doubt.

My reaction is, “so what”?

I mean I seem to recall poll after poll telling Obama and the Democrats that Americans didn’t want the ObamaCare monstrosity.  But we were reminded that he’d won and elections have consequences.

Is that no longer true?

~McQ

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