Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

BlogTalk Radio – 8pm (EST) Tonight

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Subject(s):

Unemployment numbers – They’re not at all as strong as they seem.

Oil spill – Now what? Politics/environment/energy – what effect is it likely to have?

Flotilla fallout – Turkey is keeping it stirred up and now Iran is offering to escort future blockade runners. What should the US do?

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Iran offers pro-Palestinian activists escort through Israeli blockade

And the tensions are ratcheted even higher. Turkey’s PM is talking about visiting the Gaza Strip (one would assume he’d appeal to Egypt for passage into the area rather than trying to run the blockade) and now Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is being offered as an escort to any wanna-be blockade runners.

“The naval wing of the Revolutionary Guard is ready to assist the peace flotilla to Gaza with all its effort and capabilities,” Khamenei’s Revolutionary Guard spokesman Ali Shirazi stated. “If the Supreme Leader issues an order for this then the Revolutionary Guard naval forces will do their best to secure the ships,” Shirazi said. “It is Iran’s duty to defend the innocent people of Gaza.”

A couple of points. This isn’t coming from Ahmadinejad. This is coming from Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (the offer, per Reuters, was made today in an interview). So this should be viewed with much more credibility, since Khamenei is where the real decision making rests with the Iranian regime.

Second point – it wouldn’t at all surprise me if Iran attempted such a thing. It would help their relations with the Arab world, it would divert attention to their favorite external enemy (besides the US) and, if they can provoke violence, further alienate Israel. It might also help them avoid really harmful sanctions. What are the lives of a few Revolutionary Guard naval forces with that sort of beneficial pay-off in the offing?

And make no mistake, Iran would be throwing their lives away. I’m not sure what the Revolutionary Guard thinks they could do alone against the entire IDF (air and naval forces), but my guess is if they opened fire on an Israeli vessel it would end up being a short, nasty and very one-sided battle affair. Having total air dominance of the area where the fight would take place, as the Israelis most likely would, tends to make the outcome almost pre-ordained – and perfect for Iran.

Depending on how the world (and media) views the outcome (and my guess is that in certain parts of the Arab world, the story would be written before the battle was ever waged) Israel might end up winning the kinetic battle handily and losing the broader media and opinion war.

Whether or not such an escort ever comes to pass, I think Iran sees a real win-win for them developing in this situation. Consequently, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see them try to mount such an operation.

~McQ

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Yglesias – Israel engaged in "collective punishment" of Gaza (and "the children")

A member of the juice-box mafia is at it again. This one, well, it just amazes me (but it shouldn’t). Matt Yglesias:

As I’ve noted before, in the eyes of its defenders the blockade of the Gaza Strip is a security measure aimed at denying rockets to Hamas, while in fact it’s a comprehensive effort to collectively punish Gaza residents—a majority of whom are children—in hopes that this will somehow lead to Hamas being replaced by a more moderate regime. Yousef Munayyer’s rundown of the consequences of the blockade makes the point clearly. For example, “In 2006, Israel carried out an attack on Gaza’s only power plant and never permitted the rebuilding to its pre-attack capacity (down to producing 80 megawatts maximum from 140 megawatts).”

On the surface, it’s pure conjecture. And, as you’ll see, it is pure conjecture based on a false premise. But not unusual for those whose sole intent is to demonize Israel.

As has been pointed out many times, Israel absorbs about 4,000 rocket attacks a year from Gaza. Random attacks aimed at Israeli civilians. I wonder what Yglesais would say if Israel responded in kind? Would that be “collective punishment” for Gaza, but not Israel (which, though he hasn’t apparently noticed, has women and children endangered by those attacks – in fact, they’re the targets).

Anyway, since he uses this Munayyer joker as his source, why don’t we then see what Israel says about it:

According to the UN report of May 2010, 120 megawatts (over 70%) of the Strip’s electricity supply comes from the Israeli electric grid, while 17 MWs come from Egypt and 30 MWs are produced by the Gaza city power station. Since January 2010, there has been deterioration in the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip since the Hamas regime is unwilling to purchase the fuel to run the Gaza City power station.

Throughout 2009 Israel transferred 41 trucks of equipment for the maintenance of Gaza’s electricity grid.

Israel facilitates the transfer of fuel through the border, and maintains that the diversion of fuel from domestic power generators to other uses is wholly a Hamas decision. Over 133 million liters of fuel entered Gaza from Israel over the last 18 months.

Wow – Google truly is your friend.

If the assumption is that 140 MW is what Gaza needs (since Yglesais implies the Gaza electrical station could produce that at full capacity) then it appears they’re fine. They receive 167 MW from various sources, mostly Israel. And, it appears, at least according the data the Israelis have produced, that “41 trucks of equipment for the maintenance of Gaza’s electric grid” points to something quite different than “never permitted the rebuilding” (and yes I realize that doesn’t necessarily mean the main power plant exclusively, but it doesn’t exclude it either).

As does the fact that Hamas has been diverting fuel from the domestic power generators to other uses.

I suppose one could try to construct a defense of what the policy actually is, but instead most people seem to prefer to defend something else. Of course Israelis don’t want to be hit by rockets, but why shouldn’t Gaza’s civilians have electricity?

I suppose one could come up with pure unsubstantiated BS and conjecture and try to pass it off as truth too – oh, wait …

And what does it leave us with? Uh, yeah, those rockets. Still real and still hitting Israel.

~McQ

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Quote of the day – Helen Thomas edition

As it turns out the quote isn’t from Helen Thomas, it’s about Helen Thomas:

Helen Thomas is as fair and open minded as she is good looking.

Usually I’m not one to attack an almost 90 year old woman, but then this particular 90 year old woman doesn’t at all mind attacking others, so it seems a wash.

And usually I’m not one to dwell on superficial things like physical appearance, but let’s face it (or not), she’s ugly. But what she said was very ugly as well. Another wash.

So now that I’ve totally rationalized it (hey, at least I’m honest about it), I found Jeff Dunetz line above to be hilarious. What more perfect a sentence to describe her?

Helen Thomas has now issued an “apology”. The scare quotes are to denote yet another in a long line of non-apology apologies. See if you agree:

“I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon.”

Apparently that “heart-felt belief” about respect wasn’t very deep when she made the statements below in Billy’s post, was it?

~McQ

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Hideous witch from the animated movie Spirited Away also an anti-Semite

Yes, this woman apparently thinks the Jews ought to just get their butts back to Germany and Poland where they belong. You know, back to the countries where six million of them were murdered.

Helen Thomas lookalike

Oops, sorry, wrong picture. It’s from the movie Spirited Away. I often get that one mixed up with the one below. They’re pretty much the same except for the walnut stain dye job and the horribly out-of-place trollop lipstick on the second one.

Ugly leftist harridan anti-semite

Ugly leftist harridan anti-semite

Anyway, courtesy Briebart, here’s the video, where you can see her spewing her leftist tripe for yourself.

It is a testament to the leftward bias of our legacy media that this harridan holds a place of honor in the White House Press Corp.

Now let us breathlessly await her suffering any consequences whatever. I’m anticipating a long wait.

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Dale’s Observations For 2010-06-04

The Dow lost 323.31. The Euro fell below $1.20. The 10-year T-note yield fell from 3.36% to 3.2%. Gold up $12.20 to $1,220/oz. Bad, bad day. #

I wonder how Steve Jobs feels about AT&T stabbing his iPad marketing in the back with their new data plans. http://bit.ly/bxJBuI #

http://bit.ly/9QOFdz Obama on jobs report: “This report is a sign that our economy is getting stronger by the day.” That's…insane. #

Even Robert Reich sees us heading into a double-dip recession. Of course, his solution is more spending. As always. http://bit.ly/aKQbT8 #

The government has gotten oil spill advice from James Cameron and Kevin Costner. Why mess around with these losers? Call in Bruce Willis. #

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What is the formula for electoral success?

I have to wonder if it isn’t being refelcted among the Dutch right now. In the Netherlands, the VVD, as the Liberal party is known, has come from so far down in the polls they couldn’t see any of their competitors to leading in the polls for the next parliamentary elections.

So, how did they manage that? Well, with an unlikely combination for a liberal party – austerity and immigration. On the austerity side:

As in other European countries, the need for painful spending cuts has risen to the top of the political agenda, and with it the fortunes of the VVD. “On June 9 we’ll find out who the voters think is the best party to guide the Netherlands through the crisis, to put matters in order, to give our beautiful country new prospects so it can emerge stronger from this crisis,” Mr Rutte, dressed in Diesel jeans and a blue shirt, tells a small crowd in one of the town’s squares. “We’re being honest and saying everyone is going to feel this.”

Of course, theonly lingering doubt about all this is while they may agree with the concept, and even vote for it, will the Dutch really put up with the cuts?

The VVD certainly hopes so and is betting it will give them some electoral longevity assuming sucess.

On the immigration front, it is fairly straight forward – the Dutch are looking for a hard line to be taken there. More control, less immigrants, and certainly the expulsion of any illegal immigrants.

Of course, I’m sure by now you’ve figured out why I brought this up. Mid-terms here in November, presidential election in 2012.

Where do you think those two issues will play here and how will they influence votes?

Your learned speculation and wild-ass guesses are welcomed.

TGIF

~McQ

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Spinning the unspinable – jobs report weak

President Obama is out telling workers at a trucking company in Hyattsville, Md that the new job numbers, 431,000 hired last month, shows the economy is “getting stronger by the day”.

Is it? It tells you something about credibility when you immediately question declarations like that, but that’s been the mantra for quite some time and it really hasn’t borne itself out as time progresses.

In this case 431,000 looks like a “good” number and seeing the unemployment rate drop from 9.9% to 9.7% would certainly seem to confirm that.

But the numbers really don’t support the spin. Of the 431,000 new jobs, 411,000 were temporary census jobs with the government that will go away at the end of the summer.

“The U.S. employment data was disappointing,” said Marc Chandler, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman, in a statement. Mr. Chandler noted that private-sector job creation, a crucial measure, reached only 41,000, compared with expectations for 180,000 and a three-month moving average of 155,600.

It only had a net gain of 20,000 private sector jobs, far below the 100,000 or so jobs necessary just to maintain the employment status quo.

As for the unemployment rate:

“The fact that the unemployment rate ticked down is not really good news,” he added, “as the decline in unemployment was not a function of more jobs but a reflection of people leaving the work force.”

The lack of private sector job growth is being hidden by massive hiring by government for the census.

“These new data do not present a picture of a healthy private-sector growth, and nothing closely resembling the job growth needed to dig us out of our very deep hole,” Lawrence Mishel, the president of the Economic Policy Institute, said in a statement.

He’s right – do the math. 8 million people have lost their private sector jobs since the recession began. As Mishel points out, these numbers don’t at all indicate an economy that is “getting stronger by the day”.

“You would need to be producing 150,000 to 200,000 jobs a month to be making a dent in this,” said Doug Roberts, chief investment strategist for Channel Capital Research.

When you begin seeing numbers like that – on a sustained basis – then you have some basis for saying the economy is “getting stronger by the day”.

Until then, it’s just so much spin.

~McQ

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Speaking truth to power – NJ version

If anyone doubts that teacher’s unions are the power within the education establishment, they simply haven’t been paying attention. And if that same person is satisfied with the results of that education establishment over the years, they’re simply asleep at the switch.

In at least one state, a governor – Chris Christie of NJ – is attempting open warfare with his state’s teacher’s union in an effort to actually improve education, and you can imagine the result. That hasn’t stopped him from doing something the liberals always like to claim as their prevue – speaking truth to power:

“Parents and children who are being failed by a public school system whose costs are exorbitant and whose results are insulting deserve a choice. We don’t have to look far around the country to know that vouchers and experiments in school choice are working, that they’re producing results.

In D.C., those in that program are now reading 19 months ahead of their peers outside of the program. This isn’t a coincidence, we know it’s not a coincidence. We know that there’s over five-million children trapped in over ten-thousand failing public schools around America.

And I use the word ‘trapped’ and I use it directly. They are trapped by an educational bureaucracy, they are trapped by a selfish, self-interested, greedy school union that cares more about putting money in their own pocket, and the pockets of members, than they care about educating our most vulnerable and needy children.”

The rhetoric is interesting to me. Using the style of most union attacks Christie cites “greedy”, “selfish” and “self-interested” school unions as the problem. He’s using “for the children” against the liberal establishment to move his agenda – one which will actually provide children in NJ with a choice. Imagine that. And since it advances liberty, it puts me squarely in his camp applauding his effort.

What he is doing is what government should be doing – freeing the citizenry to decide for themselves and forcing marginal or poor schools to heed their customer base or “go out of business”. The message is “the free ride is over” as it is certainly not a free ride for taxpayers.

Christie points out that in Newark, NJ, taxpayers pay $24,000 per pupil per year. So in a class of 20 you have almost a half a million dollars spent. I’d like to say “invested” but its hard to do with a system Christie characterized as an “absolutely disgraceful public education system.”

So cheers to Christie. I continue to follow his battles in NJ with interest and, yes, hope. If he can be successful in triming back government and making it more effective while saving taxpayers money and breaking the power of government unions, he’ll be someone many politicans should, and I hope would, emulate. He is indeed one of the few governors using his state as a “laboratory of freedom”. I wish him good luck.

~McQ

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