Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Why EPA’s attempt at regulatory overreach would end up killing the recovery

I think we all know that the recovery, such that it is, is very fragile.  And, of course, the job picture remains very poor.  Any GDP growth numbers we’ve seen over the past few months have been fueled mostly by government deficit spending.

So a government that was concerned about jobs and economic growth in the private sector should be concerned with getting out of the way and ensuring that growth is allowed to go forward unimpeded.  Instead, we see any number of roadblocks, such as the drilling moratorium, banking regulations and the like being imposed that are having the opposite effect.

Another example of that is the EPA’s attempted usurpation of powers only Congress should wield.  It is a classic example of a bureaucracy now attempting to make the law instead of follow it.

The EPA has chosen to interpret the 1970 Clean Air Act as a mandate for it to regulate Green House Gasses (GHG), not only in automobiles, but in stationary sources as well.  In fact, as the EPA has testified, it would effect up to 6.1 million stationary sources.    The Clean Air Act gave the EPA the ability to regulate air pollutants that effect health, such as soot, but not the ability to regulate GHG which are not considered to be pollutants as defined by the Clean Air Act. 

The obvious solution here, if that is a concern of the administration, is to have Congress address the Clean Air Act with an eye on updating it to deal with the perceived pollution problems today.  But there’s a very good chance that such changes wouldn’t be made given the present makeup of Congress.  In fact, even when Democrats had an overwhelming majority these past two years, they were unable to pass a Cap and Trade bill. 

Given that reality, it seems the Obama administration has chosen to bypass Congress and allow the EPA to arbitrarily assume the power to regulate GHG.

The impact of such regulation would be economically devastating.  And, in an era of uncertainty, it would only add to the uncertainty.  James Pethokoukis noted that, “the only thing certain about the EPA [greenhouse gas] ruling is more regulatory uncertainty leading to less economic growth and fewer jobs.”

For instance:

Consider Nucor Steel.  The company planned a $2 billion investment that would have created 2,000 construction and 500 permanent jobs.  But the project was curtailed-by more than 50%-largely because of the EPA’s regulations.  Lion Oil, a refinery based in El Dorado, Ark., faced a similar fate:  The EPA’s cap-and-trade agenda was, according to the company, a "critical factor" that delayed a "several hundred million" dollar refinery expansion, slated to create 2,000 jobs.

Add that to this sort of economic impact on one industry:

The American Forest and Paper Association estimates that, “about two dozen new regulations being considered by the Administration under the Clean Air Act, if all are promulgated, potentially could impose on the order of $17 billion in new capital costs on papermakers and wood products  manufacturers in the next five to eight years alone.”

EPA’s proposed regulation would hit everyone, especially small businesses:

The burden of EPA’s regulations will fall disproportionately on small businesses, according to a new study released by the Office of Advocacy in Obama’s Small Business Administration. The study, titled “The Impact of Regulatory Costs on Small Firms,” small businesses, defined as firms  employing fewer than 20 employees, “bear the largest burden of federal regulations.” Specifically, the report found that “as of 2008, small businesses face an annual regulatory cost of $10,585 per employee, which is 36 percent higher than the regulatory cost facing large firms (defined as firms with 500 or more employees).”

Some of the regulations EPA is attempting to enforce deal with boilers.  “National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Major Sources: Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional Boilers and Process Heaters.” This proposal is referred to as the “Boiler MACT.”  Boilers are ubiquitous in the commercial market:

The Boiler MACT (maximum achievable control technology) proposal would impose stringent emission limits and monitoring requirements for eleven subcategories of boilers and process heaters. This proposed rule covers industrial boilers used in, among other industries, manufacturing, processing, mining, refining, as well as commercial boilers used in malls, laundries, apartments, restaurants, and hotels/motels.

So obviously imposing new stringent emission limits on boilers is going to effect a broad and deep swath of the economy, correct?  How deep and how broad? 

A recent study by Global Insight estimates that, depending on the policy EPA chooses, the Boiler MACT could put up to 798,250 jobs at risk. The study found that every $1 billion spent on upgrade and compliance costs will put 16,000 jobs at risk and reduce US GDP by as much as $1.2 billion.

Facing that, would you save  your money to upgrade or expand?  Expansion, of course, means more jobs.  Upgrading, however, means less.  And that’s where the EPA would take us.

Then there’s ozone.  The EPA wants to tighten the already stringent standard on ozone.  What the EPA has proposed is to change the standard from 75 ppb to a range of 60-70 ppb.  Here’s a clue as to how preposterous that is – Yellowstone National Park has 67 ppb of ozone as we speak.  So yes, Yellowstone would go from an “attainment” area to a non-attainment area.  That means it gets shut down until it comes into compliance.

That would also be the same for any area.  What does that mean?

Based on 2008 air quality data, a standard of 65 ppb would create 608 new non-attainment areas, while a standard of 70 ppb would create 515 such areas. These areas would be highly concentrated in manufacturing regions and states relying on coal for electricity.

Those counties and cities deemed to be in a non-attainment area would then have to put together a plan as to how to reach attainment (buy offsets from neighboring areas which are in “attainment”) and submit that to EPA.

But here’s the problem.  The new standard would most likely remove from the attainment list many who are now there and move them to the non-attainment list.  Result?  No offsets available to buy:

Consider the case of Ohio. Many areas of the state are still trying to meet the 1997 standard. A further revision now would greatly complicate state efforts to achieve attainment. Bob Hodanbosi, Ohio EPA’s Air Pollution Division Chief, estimates that if the ozone standard is set at 70 ppb, 47 of 49 monitors in Ohio would exceed it; if it were set at 65 ppb, all 49 monitors would exceed it.

In case you’re wondering it takes about 100 ppb of ozone to begin to effect your health.  So there’s really no need to move it from 75ppb.  And, as you can see in the case of Ohio, moving it down 5 points would put most of the state in “non-attainment” and moving it down 10 points would put the entire state in “non-attainment” and require exceedingly costly fixes.

Result?

The costs to Ohio workers and consumers could be severe. For example, in the Cincinnati-Dayton region, assuming an ozone standard of 70 ppb, production would decline by $14.8 billion, killing 91,700 jobs in 2030.  If EPA chooses 65 ppb, the costs in 2030 would nearly double, and 165,000 workers would lose their jobs.

And that’s in one state.

This is the threat posed by the EPA’s attempt at regulating something they have no authority to regulate.  It is being imposed by regulatory fiat.  

There’s a bill in the Senate right now that will prevent the EPA from usurping those powers and imposing those regulations.  It’s the Inhofe-Upton Energy Tax Prevention Act (S. 482).  It is also known as the McConnell amendment.  It is worth supporting.

Not worth supporting are the Rockefeller amendment which only delays the inevitable (and essentially cedes the premise that the EPA can do this) by two years.   No-go.

Neither is the Baucus amendment.  Here’s how Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) describes the smoke and mirrors in that amendment:

The amendment is modeled on the EPA’s "tailoring rule," which temporarily exempts smaller sources-schools, hospitals, farms, restaurants-from the EPA’s cap-and-trade regulations.  That sounds good, but the rule blatantly violates the law, as the EPA changed the emissions thresholds established by Congress.

Hence the Baucus amendment:  It would codify the EPA’s permitting exemptions for stationary sources that emit fewer than 75,000 tons a year of greenhouse gases.  This exemption, which is actually more stringent than the EPA’s, purportedly is designed to help farmers and small businesses.  But as with the Rockefeller bill, it allows the rest of the EPA’s cap-and-trade agenda to move forward.  So businesses and farmers would still face higher costs for diesel and fertilizer, while small businesses would face higher electricity costs. 

The American Farm Bureau is wise to the false charm of the Baucus amendment.  It testified recently that, even with limited permitting exemptions, "Farmers and ranchers would still incur the higher costs of compliance passed down from utilities, refiners, and fertilizer manufacturers that are directly regulated as of January 2, 2011." 

Or said another way, the Baucus amendment also validates the premise that the EPA has the power to regulate GHG and just sneaks it up on us over a longer time period. Both are unacceptable. These amendments are supposed to come up for votes very soon. If you are an activist type and want to weigh in on this with your Senator, I’d recommended you push for passage of the Inhofe-Upton Energy Tax Prevention Act (aka McConnell amendment).

Require those types of decisions be made by elected officials who are accountable to their constituencies, not appointed officials accountable to no one.

~McQ

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Libya: Are there "good" civilians and "bad" civilians?

I have to ask because it seems we’ve decided we need to hit Tripoli – the center of the Gadhafi base and a city in which there’s been no real fighting and certainly not any threats of civilian massacre. I also ask it rather facetiously. I think it is obvious to anyone with two brain cells to rub against each other that the mission is no longer just to "protect civilians" but it has indeed become "regime change".  Check out the CNN vid:

 

 

So, one has to assume that the critical nature of ensuring Libyan civilians aren’t harmed is much more of a concern in Benghazi than in Tripoli.  No bombing or missile strikes in Benghazi, multiple examples of each in Tripoli.

The excuse?  Well we’re now attacking targets with even the “potential” of harming civilians.

Yeah, where I come from we call that rationalization – an effort to justify doing something other than what you were first cleared to do. The euphemism in common and specific use today as it pertains to military operations is “mission creep”.  We are right smack dab in the middle of doing just that.

Ed Morrissey makes the salient point and asks the proper questions:

Now the US says that NATO may start attacking Tripoli itself, presumably to get to Gaddafi’s command and control functions, which makes perfect sense if the mission objective was regime change. There are no reports of massacres in Libya’s capital at the moment, at least none which NATO or the White House have publicized.If the mission is the protection of civilians, which is what the UN mandate states (which Obama said he would not exceed in his speech Monday night), how will bombing Tripoli accomplish that?  We will increase the odds for significant collateral civilian losses, not decrease them.

Don’t expect questions to be asked or, if they are asked, to get any straight answers.  Well other than being told there are things in Tripoli with the “potential” to harm civilians.

Yeah … JDAMs and Tomahawks.

~McQ

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Ed Shultz– patriotic “chicken hawk?” Dissent is now “unpatriotic” …

Frankly this sort of stuff is just funny as hell, in an ironic sort of way.  The ever consistent left.  Remember when  any dissent, as long as it was the left dissenting and George Bush was the target, was the height of patriotism?

Yeah, not so much anymore.  Check out this from Ed Schultz.  Ed Schultz for heaven sake, talking about dissent and war:

ED SCHULTZ: Republicans are attacking the Commander-in-Chief during a time of war! . . . There should be no debate: we should be kicking [Gaddafi’s] ass . . . Whose side are you on, Sarah: are you with the terrorists, Sarah, or are you with the President of the United States? . . . And I have to ask the question tonight: where is the patriotism from all of these war-hawks? Where’s the patriotism of the Republican party? . . . What about being a patriot? . . . So the question now for the doubters who are out and about: why don’t you support the president? . . . We’ve been talking about the lack of patriotism from prominent Republicans . . .  Laura [Flanders] what about the patriotism?

Sometimes I have to wonder if these guys are like geese and just wake up in a new world everyday, because they apparently just don’t remember the Bush years at all or what they said during that time. And just as apparently they don’t seem to remember when they argued that dissent was as patriotic and American as apple pie.   As I recall Ed Schultz was the voice of dissent about Iraq – in fact he liked to brag about that fact.  Change each of the names above to “Ed Schultz” and it would be precisely what he whined about and pushed back against when he was the target of such nonsense.

But now, suddenly, because it fits his agenda apparently, he’s what I can only assume he’d have called a “chicken-hawk” a few years ago.  And he’ll brook no dissent, by gosh.  You’re simply “unpatriotic” if you disagree. 

Ed Shultz – another irony impaired  lefty blowhard with no integrity who has a memory as long as … well you pick the proper metaphor, but whatever you choose, it’s not very long at all.  You can see the clip of him “leaning forward” on MSNBC here.

~McQ

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Quote of the Day–Marco Rubio debt ceiling edition

Write it off to me being cynical about what any politician says, but while I like what I hear from Rubio in this WSJ op/ed, I wonder if, in fact, he’ll end up sticking to his guns:

Americans have built the single greatest nation in all of human history. But America’s exceptionalism was not preordained. Every generation has had to confront and solve serious challenges and, because they did, each has left the next better off. Until now.

Our generation’s greatest challenge is an economy that isn’t growing, alongside a national debt that is. If we fail to confront this, our children will be the first Americans ever to inherit a country worse off than the one their parents were given.

Current federal policies make it harder for job creators to start and grow businesses. Taxes on individuals are complicated and set to rise in less than two years. Corporate taxes will soon be the highest in the industrialized world. Federal agencies torment job creators with an endless string of rules and regulations.

So to summarize, Rubio sees a need to find ways to help the economy grow and to keep the national debt from not growing.  Okay, sold.   Next he sees existing federal policies – those, one assumes, include taxes and regulations – as one of the main obstacles to economic growth and one of the main contributors to national debt.  Again, check.  I think, in the main, he’s right.

Here’s the QotD:

We’re therefore at a defining moment in American history. In a few weeks, we will once again reach our legal limit for borrowing, the so-called debt ceiling. The president and others want to raise this limit. They say it is the mature, responsible thing to do.

In fact, it’s nothing more than putting off the tough decisions until after the next election. We cannot afford to continue waiting. This may be our last chance to force Washington to tackle the central economic issue of our time.

Well yes and no.  The defining moment in American history seems to arrive every couple of years when Congress routinely raises the limit again and again.  We’re now at a level that almost matches the yearly GDP with no end in sight if you look at the projected budgets for the next 10 years.  So is this particular vote on the debt ceiling really a “defining moment in American history”?  Only if Congress refuses to raise it.   Otherwise, it is business as usual.

Wit ill it be business as usual or a “defining moment in American history”?  I agree with Rubio that as it stands Congress and the president have obviously decided covertly that they’re not going to “tackle the central economic issue of our time” at the moment.   So where does that leave Rubio?

Well, here’s his position:

I will vote to defeat an increase in the debt limit unless it is the last one we ever authorize and is accompanied by a plan for fundamental tax reform, an overhaul of our regulatory structure, a cut to discretionary spending, a balanced-budget amendment, and reforms to save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

No tax reform, regulatory overhaul, cuts to discretionary spending, balanced budget amendment as well as reforms to save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, no Rubio “yes” vote?

That’s what his statement says to me and anyone familiar with the “goings on” in Congress know -given Rubio’s list of “must haves” before he’d vote “yes” – it is a virtual impossibility.  Not going to happen – at least not anytime soon. 

I would then deduce that Rubio is a permanent “no” on any legislation coming along in oh, the next 20 years, that raises the debt ceiling.  Because, watching politics in Washington for all these years has convinced me that until it all crashes and burns, those folks aren’t going to really do a thing.

And I think Rubio knows it too:

Whether they admit it or not, everyone in Washington knows how to solve these problems. What is missing is the political will to do it.

I’ve seen no indicator that there is now a real will to do it, even after the wave election washed over 60 Republican freshmen into the House and upped the minority numbers for the GOP in the Senate.  Oh there’s talk, of course, but I see the usual turf protection and re-election concerns already beginning to cloud the once clear mandate that said “fix this mess”.  I see knees becoming weak and spines beginning to buckle.

Rubio stakes out a pretty unambiguous position here – not that I think he’s going to be able to stop the debt ceiling from being raised.  On the contrary, I think we’ll see it raised many more times in the coming years.   But I’m wondering how true Rubio will remain to his pledge here.  It will be an interesting exercise to watch a supposedly principle driven and incorruptible Tea Party candidate work in the atmosphere of Washington DC that almost demands “team play” and compromise to “get along” or advance.  He and Rand Paul, along with Allen West (R-FL) in the House are my “white mice” in this Tea Party experiment.  I want to see how true they stay to their pledges, how well they resist the Washington gravitational pull and resultant sell-out that usually occurs. 

I, for once, hope my cynicism isn’t rewarded as it usually is.

We’ll see.

~McQ

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Want to get your blood boiling?

Watch this:

Someone … anyone … other than some nonsense ordnance, what was the purpose of this little exercise except the usual exercise in power?

And have you ever seen a more blatant lie before in your life?

Petty bureaucrats doing petty things to infringe upon your freedoms.  A freakin basketball goal in a cul-de-sac.  Guess all the big problems in the city and state are solved.

Marvelous.

~McQ

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Obama Speech: Welcome to the role of world rent-a-cop

That’s essentially the role we’ve assumed according to President Obama.  We have a “duty” to respond to a potential humanitarian crisis like that which was developing in Libya.  Just not in Iran or Syria or, well, North Korea where the population is starving because of its government.

Let’s be clear about its application.  John Dickerson of Slate lays it out pretty well:

The statement that had sounded like a bold doctrine — that what guides a U.S. decision to intervene is not just threats to our safety, but threats to ‘our interests and values’ — came with an asterisk that led to some fine print at the bottom of the speech: Offer valid only if it’s a relatively easy military mission and we have a lot of allies and we only share a limited amount of the burden."

So the people of Iran, Syria and North Korea and other “potential humanitarian crisis” hot spots which may bring difficulties in other areas need not apply.

As for the claim that we’re stepping back and letting others run the show?  Pure artifice:

In transferring command and control to NATO, the U.S. is turning the reins over to an organization dominated by the U.S., both militarily and politically. In essence, the U.S. runs the show that is taking over running the show.

Lets look at a few facts about the matter:

The United States supplies 22 percent of NATO’s budget, almost as much as the next largest contributors – Britain and France – combined. A Canadian three-star general was selected to be in charge of all NATO operations in Libya. His boss, the commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command Naples, is an American admiral, and the admiral’s boss is the supreme allied commander Europe, a post always held by an American.

So, as usual from this administration, we get words that just don’t really mean what you think they mean when you get into the details of the claim.  I know, you’re surprised.  NATO is and has been run by the US since its inception and this operation will be no different regardless of who they put in a figurehead role.

Obama also claimed the mission was “narrowly focused on saving lives”.   Pure nonsense to anyone who understand what has been deployed and what is being attacked:

Despite insistences that the operation is only to protect civilians, the airstrikes now are undeniably helping the rebels to advance. U.S. officials acknowledge that the effect of air attacks on Gadhafi’s forces – and on the supply and communications links that support them – is useful if not crucial to the rebels. "Clearly they’re achieving a benefit from the actions that we’re taking," Navy Vice Adm. William Gortney, staff director for the Joint Chiefs, said Monday.

The Pentagon has been turning to air power of a kind more useful than high-flying bombers in engaging Libyan ground forces. So far these have included low-flying Air Force AC-130 and A-10 attack aircraft, and the Pentagon is considering adding armed drones and helicopters.

AC-130s and A-10s are not aircraft used in the maintenance of no-fly zones.   They’re killers.   They hunt and kill vehicles and people.  There’s some conjecture out there that their deployment requires boots on the ground to produce targets for them, but that’s not true.  Both can operate independently without JTAC support on targets of opportunity.

The point, however is the introduction of those type aircraft have nothing to do with a no-fly zone and certainly nothing to do with a “narrowly focused mission” of protecting civilians.  They’re there to kill the opposition – Gadhafi’s soldiers and overthrow the existing regime.

In essence, he’s saying “"If we tried to overthrow Gadhafi by force, our coalition would splinter," and then supporting action to do just that hoping the Arab League won’t notice what is actually afoot.

There was a lot of hypocritical nonsense in the speech as well.  The biggest barf line for me was this:

"Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action."

Except for Iraq of course, where even with the well-know atrocities including images of slaughter, mass graves, rape rooms and reports of the regime feeding its citizens through wood chippers, he definitely wanted to turn a blind eye.   And he has turned a blind eye on the atrocities in Iran perpetrated by that regime and is presently turning a blind eye on those in Syria. 

Perhaps the president ought to go back and read his own book:

In his pre-presidential book "The Audacity of Hope," Obama said the U.S. will lack international legitimacy if it intervenes militarily "without a well-articulated strategy that the public supports and the world understands."

He questioned: "Why invade Iraq and not North Korea or Burma? Why intervene in Bosnia and not Darfur?"

Why indeed, Mr. President – why Libya and not Syria?  So we go back to John Dickerson’s addendum to the Obama Doctrine which in essences says “if its easy and I can score some political points, I might do it – otherwise you’re on your own”.  

So, perhaps understanding the hypocrisy of his position and how it must appear to the American people he said:

"It is true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs," he said. "But that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right."

Again see the Dickerson corollary and substitute “what’s easy” for “what’s right”.

Finally, completely missing from the speech is the end state and exit strategy.  We have no idea.  This could go on for literally years.  To this date it is estimated to have cost the US $600 million.  And, as noted, we may claim to be in the backseat now, but the facts of the matter – the command structure of NATO – point to a entirely different reality.

This adventure – this war – despite his claims otherwise, is not one started because of a threat to any vital interests of the US.   It is again a war that the president claims required our “unique capabilities” to prosecute.

That. Is. Not. A. Legitimate. Reason. To. Go. To. War.

The more we let our allies depend on our “unique capabilities” the less they’ll develop their own.  Why do it when they can “volunteer” the US into doing it?

That’s why:

Just 47 percent of Americans support the U.S. airstrikes, while 36 percent don’t and 17 percent don’t know, according to the Pew poll.

The Gallup Poll found similar results, the lowest level of initial support for a U.S. military action in at least three decades, and the first time in 10 interventions dating to the 1983 invasion of Grenada that a majority of Americans didn’t support the action at the onset.

American’s aren’t fooled by this sort of nonsense anymore.  They understand what is or isn’t in their own vital interests and they further recognize this action doesn’t rise to that level.  Some, who support it, are calling it “pragmatic”.  Others claim it is an eminently “centrist” approach to such problems.  But some are also saying that every word in last night’s speech could have come from George Bush.

Bottom line: this is not a role that the US needs to play and certainly can’t afford to play.  The world is full of inequities, violence and death.  And despite his high sounding rhetoric last night, President Obama had turned a blind eye to plenty of it.  The only time US troops should be deployed and committed to war, such as is now happening in Libya, should be when the vital interests of the US are at stake – a point the candidate Obama made many times prior to assuming the presidency.

Libya doesn’t meet that standard and Obama’s speech last night didn’t make any convincing arguments that it did.  He once said, “I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.”  Interestingly his first war as Commander in Chief is a “dumb war.”

~McQ

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Think Progress attempts to rewrite political history

Not that such an attempt should come as a huge surprise to anyone, but TP is attempting a common thing by the left – to paint the suppression of voters as a strictly Republican thing by misusing the word “conservative” and mischaracterizing history.

For instance:

JIM CROW SOUTH: In the Jim Crow South, historian Leon Litwack writes, “respectable” Southern whites justified their support for measures to disenfranchise African-Americans “as a way to reform and purify the electoral process, to root out fraud and bribery.” In North Carolina for example, conservatives insisted that literacy tests and poll taxes — which disenfranchised tens of thousands of African-Americans — were necessary to prevent “voter fraud.”

Left out is the identification of the “respectable” Southern whites, here provided context by Wikipedia:

Jim Crow laws were a product of the solidly Democratic South. Conservative white Southern Democrats, exploiting racial fear and attacking the corruption (real or perceived) of Reconstruction Republican governments, took over state governments in the South in the 1870s and dominated them for nearly 100 years, chiefly as a result of disenfranchisement of most blacks through statute and constitutions. In 1956, southern resistance to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education resulted in a resolution called the Southern Manifesto. It was read into the Congressional Record and supported by 96 southern congressmen and senators, all but two of them southern Democrats.

The above is inarguable history. Facts. That’s what happened. What the left has tried and failed to do for years is claim that “conservative Democrat” is the same as “Republican”.  It is the only way they can whitewash (no pun intended) this period of history.  But look at the cite from Wikipedia – what was it that these “conservative white Southern Democrats” displaced?  Reconstruction Republican governments.   Note the number of Southern Democrats who opposed any and all of the legislation of the Civil Rights era.  All but a handful remained Democrats till they day they died.  What the rewriters of history on the left want to do and try to convince you they were all really secret Republicans.

But who was it that opposed the integration of Little Rock’s Central High School and caused Republican President Eisenhower to send in federal troops to see it was done?  A life long Democrat.   Who was the Senator that was against all manner of integration and equality for blacks and was also a mentor to former President Bill Clinton?  A life long Democrat.  Who was it who participated in the Senate filibuster of civil rights legislation and was a former member of the KKK?  A life long Democrat.

Jim Crow was a result of Democratic politics not Republican politics.  Republicans were not welcome in the South during that era. The use of the word “conservative” as a means of deception is apparent and transparent.  The fact that the South was solidly Democratic during the civil rights era with only 2 Republicans tells the real story.  How the Democrats ever managed the slight of hand that has them become the heroes of the civil rights era is a lesson in and of itself of the power of propaganda.

In the case of Think Progress, the entire point of the post is to use misleading and anecdotal evidence in an attempt to claim that “conservatives”, i.e. Republicans, have engaged in the suppression of minority voters for years, when, in fact, it has been the Democrats.   And it is to confuse attempts at guarding the integrity of the voting system (such as requiring a photo ID to vote) with such repression.

It’s a hack job and a pretty shoddy one too boot.  But then, we’re talking Think Progress here … no surprises encountered.

~McQ

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Mission creep or lack of a mission?

You can this coming from a mile off:

As rebel forces backed by allied warplanes pushed toward one of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s most crucial bastions of support, the American military warned on Monday that the insurgents’ rapid advances could quickly be reversed without continued coalition air support.

“The regime still vastly overmatches opposition forces militarily,” Gen. Carter F. Ham, the ranking American in the coalition operation, warned in an email message on Monday. “The regime possesses the capability to roll them back very quickly. Coalition air power is the major reason that has not happened.”

Uh, okay, I accept the fact that without the coalition attacking Gadhafi ground units, the “rebels” wouldn’t be able to “advance” or enjoy any gains whatsoever.

But wasn’t the ostensible reason for establishing the no-fly zone and the reason for the UN mission to protect civilians from being killed by their government?  Hasn’t that been accomplished?

So why do we care if “rebel advances” might be “quickly…reversed”?

Unless, of course, the real purpose of the mission, under the flag of “protecting civilians” is to run Gadhafi out of power?  And, one then assumes, install a different government (the “rebels” one supposes, of whom we know very little except they come from an area that was one of the major provider of jihadists to Iraq and Afghanistan and one of their leaders admits to having served there in that capacity).

Then and only then does a concern for the state of the “rebel” advance make any sense or have any meaning at all.

General Ham’s warning, however, offered a somber counterpoint and underscored the essential role of Western airstrikes, now focused mainly on Colonel Qaddafi’s ground troops, in reversing the rebels’ fortunes. It also framed anew the question of how the poorly equipped and disorganized rebel forces might fare against Colonel Qaddafi’s garrison in Surt, where air cover may be less useful.

Wait, wait … again, if the mission is the protection of civilians who cares how the “poorly equipped and disorganized rebel forces” might fare anywhere?

That only matters if there’s a mission in addition to the stated one, i.e. protecting civilians.

Oh, and what happens if the “rebels”, in their push into territory mostly deemed to be that of Gadhafi supporters, begin killing civilians?  Do we hit the “rebels” then?  Or are civilians only a concern when Gadhafi’s military kills them?

Some will argue that the UN resolution authorized “all necessary measures” to protect civilians in Libya.  I assume the follow on argument is that the best way to “protect civilians” is to take sides and topple Gadhafi?

That’s certainly not how this war was described in the beginning – you know a “limited time, limited scope military action”?  We were assured that it wouldn’t take long and it would only seek to keep the Libyan government from killing civilians.

Now we seem to be hinting around about the need for our airpower to support the cause of a rebellion that has the possibility – because they are so poorly equipped, untrained and disorganized – of lasting for months, if not years.

As you can tell, there are far more questions than apparent answers.  I’m looking forward to Obama’s speech tonight.  It should be an interesting affair.  He’s got to communicate why he went to war, why UN sanctioning was sufficient for committing us to war, why he didn’t consult or seek Congressional approval, what the mission in Libya is and what the end state of that mission should be as well as an exit strategy.

Anyone want to bet how many of those questions will still remain unanswered after the speech?

~McQ

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Why Libya’s precedent is dangerous

I talked about it yesterday, but to reiterate, this is an action blessed by the UN and Arab League – and no one else.  But there are those among our leadership who see it as a precedent to pretty much do whatever we want under the principle espoused by the UN – “Right to Protect” or R2P.  This new “principle”, according to Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the UN, gives the UN the “right” to go after governments that are killing their own citizens.    And not just with aircraft (something Sec. of State Clinton used to differentiate what was happening in Libya and Syria as an excuse not to move on Syria).

To illustrate my point, one only has to go to the Sunday shows for an example:

Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, said the events transpiring in Libya should send a strong message to the Syrian dictator.

“If he turns his weapons on his own people, he runs the risk,” Mr. Lieberman said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“There is a precedent now. … We’re not going to allow Assad to slaughter his own people.”

Of course my first question is “who is ‘we’, Mr. Lieberman?”

In the case of Libya, certainly not the American people.  They were never consulted (though their representatives).  If ever there was a unilateral decision to go to war, this provides the example.

Secondly, this is precisely what the Neo-cons were accused of championing – and it now seems it has evolved as a policy of the Obama administration.  The irony is incredible.  Especially after we saw the same administration pretend like the slaughter of protesters in Iran by the government was something to essentially ignore.

And I can’t help but observe that this smacks of more than anything is international bullying.   Pick on a weak country that displeases others for whatever reason, come up with a high sounding reason to intervene and go to war.  Who you are backing and what they are or stand for isn’t as much of a priority as establishing the precedent of the “right” to act internationally without worrying about those pesky legal impediments such as Constitutions and such.   But if the country is strong militarily or has supporters in the region (Syria and the Arab League), make excuses for not applying the same standard to them. That’s precisely what we’re seeing with Syria.

One of the laugh out loud reasons for not applying the same standard to Syria was Clinton’s contention that the Syrian dictator Assad is a “reformer”.

That had the Syrian protesters shaking their head in wonder.

Ammar Abdulhamid, who has emerged as an unofficial spokesman in the West for the activists organizing the Syrian protests, said, however, that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was wrong to refer to Syrian President Bashar Assad as a reformer on CBS News on Sunday.

“It was ridiculous to call Bashar Assad a reformer. She should not have done that,” he said.

I’m reminded of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recent speech at West Point where he said that any president who committed us to another war in the Middle East should have his head examined.  

Frankly, I agree.  The unfortunate thing is this “precedent” as Joe Lieberman correctly identifies it, sets us up to commit to an unlimited number of wars in the Middle East and elsewhere – just so we manage to get a sanction of some sort of NGO or another in the process.   We’re officially in the “others volunteering our military” business, the “world policeman’s league” with this action  – and as I understood it that was something Democrats and left objected too strenuously.

What happened to that?

~McQ

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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 27 Mar 11

In this podcast, Bruce and Dale discuss the Libyan situation.

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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