Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

How Can Anyone Be This Clueless?

I‘m not sure, but Presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs manages it very well:

“I will continue to say what I’ve said before. You hear in this debate, you hear analogies, you hear references to, you see pictures about and depictions of individuals that are truly stunning, and you hear it all the time. People — imagine five years ago somebody comparing health care reform to 9/11. Imagine just a few years ago had somebody walked around with images of Hitler.

Hopefully we can get back to a discussion about the issues that are important in this country that we can do so without being personally disagreeable and set up comparisons to things that were so insidious in our history that anybody in any profession or walk of life would be well advised to compare nothing to those atrocities.”

I’ll again point you to the pictorial compendium at Zomblog which covers protest signs from the past 8 years (yes Mr. Gibbs that includes 5 years ago) in which “somebody walked around with images of Hitler”. I have no idea where Gibbs was then, but he is truly representative of the “history began January 20, 2009” crowd. Thin skinned and clueless will make for a tough 4 years.

Mary Kathrine Ham has more here to include a reminder of a recent invoking of the Holocaust by Democratic Representative Alan Grayson when talking about the GOP’s health care plan.

~McQ

[ad#Banner]

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Ft Hood: I Think This Is About Right

Steven Taylor says it:

It strikes me at this stage that trying to generalize from this event about a particular class of persons is no different than taking the Oklahoma City Bombing and assuming that because a right-wing white male was the perpetrator that there ought to be some blanket assumptions that could automatically be made. Or, perhaps a better analogy, those who have tried to blame things like abortion clinic bombings or anti-gay violence on conservative Christianity. In the absence of an actual organization directly advocating and planning specific violence, the responsibility for an event like this falls squarely on the shoulders of the person who engaged in the violence, and blaming others (based on religion, ethnicity or anything else) is blatantly unfair.

And yet, people are making wild assertions about the event, as if we really can know much of anything less than 24 hours after the event.

I’m not saying that there isn’t an “actual organization directly advocating and planning specific violence” (I don’t know), but until and unless that can be proven, it seems to me that the same broad brush we all condemn when, as Taylor points out, people try to make the same sort of unfounded assumptions about “right-wing” groups, etc is being used by some in this case.

Sometimes a nut is just a nut. And I think we all agree this guy is an absolute scumbag.  But, in reality, given what happened today in Orlando and what we know about Hasan, you could argue that we have seen two disgruntled employees who happened to be mentally unstable try to settle their scores with lethal violence. Unfortunately we have a long and rich history of such events.  We call it “going postal” from all the incidents of disgruntled postal employees shooting up their places of work.

Bottom line? Let’s not make more of this than it is until we have more proof. And no that’s not being politically correct – it is being factually correct.  If he’s a radical Islamist jihadi directed by an al Qaeda master (or some like scenario), then I’ll be the first to point that out and condemn it.

But at the moment, he seems more like a nutjob who went over the edge and acted out violently. Until I learn more about him and what caused him to do what he did, I’ll continue with that tentative conclusion. Because that’s the only conclusion supported by the evidence right now.

That said, my heart and prayers are with the victims of his rampage. And a special word of thanks to Sgt. Kimberly Munley who heroically stepped into harm’s way and an insane situation and ended it with a few well places shots. She was wounded in both legs and her hand. I wish her a speedy and complete recovery so she can be up and about to testify when they try this scumbag and send him to his just reward.

HT: Below The Beltway

~McQ

[ad#Banner]

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

About That AMA Endorsement

Yesterday President Obama took time out of what one would presume was a busy day to tout the fact that the AMA and the AARP had endorsed the latest House version of health care reform.

But it appears that some of the rank and file are none too happy with the endorsement. In fact many are quite upset that the endorsement was made prior to their meeting in Houston this weekend. There are moves afoot to introduce resolutions at the meeting to rescind the endorsement.

Former AMA president Stormy Johnson is preparing a resolution to rescind the endorsement, sources said. And the surgeons are introducing a resolution that would call on the AMA to actively oppose any legislation that includes a public option or a temporary doc fix or that doesn’t include medical malpractice reform.

A number of state associations are also upset with the AMA’s endorsement.

And, of course, not mentioned by President Obama were two doctor’s associations who came out opposing the legislation:

In fact, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons announced their opposition to the House bill today.

“Sadly, in the ongoing health care reform debate, the more things change, the more they stay the same. We could not support H.R. 3200, the ‘America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009,’ which was introduced in the House last July and unfortunately, we must now oppose this new House bill too. It contains no significant changes or improvements when it comes to the issues we believe are vital for true health care reform in this country,” said AANS president Troy Tippett.

It will be interesting to see what comes out of the AMA’s meeting, but it appears, given the turmoil this endorsement has stirred, that the significance of the AMA’s endorsement should be taken with a grain of salt.

[HT: Abigail R.]

~McQ

[ad#Banner]
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

White House v. FOX News 2.0

Apparently, instead of backing off of its ill-advised attack on FOX News (there was word of a truce), the White House seems to have decided to kick it up a notch – by using intimidation tactics:

At least one Democratic political strategist has gotten a blunt warning from the White House to never appear on Fox News Channel, an outlet that presidential aides have depicted as not so much a news-gathering operation as a political opponent bent on damaging the Obama administration.

Political consultants are a staple of cable television talk shows, analyzing current events based on their own experiences working on campaigns or in government.

One Democratic strategist said that shortly after an appearance on Fox he got a phone call from a White House official telling him not to be a guest on the show again. The call had an intimidating tone, he said.

The message was, “We better not see you on again,” said the strategist, who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to run afoul of the White House. An implicit suggestion, he said, was that “clients might stop using you if you continue.”

In urging Democratic consultants to spurn Fox, White House officials might be trying to isolate the network and make it appear more partisan.

I’m not sure how anyone can be surprised by such tactics. No one is surprised when a jackal acts like a jackal are they? Then why should anyone be surprised when an Alinsky trained Chicago politician acts like an Alinsky trained Chicago politician?

The White House, quite naturally, denies that any of this is happening.  But one Democrat is confirming it:

But Patrick Caddell, a Fox News contributor and a former pollster for Democratic President Jimmy Carter, said he has spoken to Democratic consultants who have been told by the White House to avoid appearances on Fox. He declined to give their names.

Caddell said he had not gotten that message himself from the White House. “They know better than to tell me anything like that,” he said.

Caddell added: “I have heard that they’ve done that to others in not too subtle ways. I find it appalling. When the White House gets in the business of suppressing dissent and comment, particularly from its own party, it hurts itself.”

Suppressing dissent and comment? Say it ain’t so!

This “hope and change” is good stuff – let freedom ring!

~McQ

[ad#Banner]

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Some Good News Among All The Bad

It looks like the looming Copenhagen Climate Summit is shaping up to be a bust:

British officials preparing for next month’s UN summit in Copenhagen said the best that could be hoped for was that national leaders would make “political agreements” on emission cuts and payments to help poor countries to adapt to climate change. These agreements would be non-binding, however, and could later be revised or rescinded by national parliaments.

[…]

The admission that no treaty will be signed at Copenhagen marks the failure of the process agreed at a UN meeting in Bali in December 2007, when industrialised countries agreed to deliver a binding climate-change agreement within two years. The delay has angered developing countries, which say they are already suffering from man-made climate change.

No surprise that “developing countries” are angry about this – their opportunity to loot the richer countries has again been delayed. They’re angry because the payday is guaranteed since the “developed” nations have foolishly, in the past, agreed they’re the cause of the problem and should pay the “developing” countries for that.

Artur Runge-Metzger, the European Commission’s negotiator on climate change, said in Barcelona that the absence of commitment from the United States on emission cuts was a key factor contributing to the delay, although other countries were also to blame. He said that without a treaty the EU would agree to cut its 1990 emissions by only 20 per cent by 2020, whereas with a treaty it would agree to a 30 per cent cut.

And they can’t even blame Bush for this one. My question is, if Europe is so hot to trot on this idea, why they don’t take the lead for once and ratchet down their emissions to 30% unilaterally?

I’ll tell you why – because they know what effect it will have on their economy and won’t do anything without being assured everyone is sharing in the suffering.

The one good thing that may come out of this is the economy of Copenhagen may see a nice little economic up-tick as representatives from 190 countries fly in and hit all the posh hotels for a week or so. I wonder what the carbon footprint of that event will be?

~McQ

[ad#Banner]

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Unemployment Hits 10.2% – “Stimulus” Not Stimulating

As President Barack Obama said on Feb. 9 when touting the “stimulus”: “The biggest measure of success is whether we stop contracting and shedding jobs, and we start growing again.”

Well, guess what?  Despite all the happy talk about the end of the recession, unemployment hit 10.2% today.  And, as Dale and others have said constantly, if we were computing it like we did in the ’70s, it would be at 17+%.

So taking the President at his own word, something it seems this administration would prefer everyone not do, it would appears the “stimulus” is still chasing success.

That’s because despite his protestations to the contrary, the the “stimulus” was one, giant earmark.  And it is not having the desired effect despite the bogus “jobs created and saved” numbers.

In fact, the reality of the situation is not at all good as the BLS noted in their press release today:

The number of unemployed persons increased by 558,000 to 15.7 million. The unemployment rate rose by 0.4 percentage point to 10.2 percent, the highest rate since April 1983. Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons has risen by 8.2 million, and the unemployment rate has grown by 5.3 percentage points.

And as for those “shovel ready projects” the “stimulus” was supposed to target?

The unemployment rate for the construction field keeps mocking those “shovel-ready” promises: Another 62,000 jobs in construction lost last month, with the average at 67,000 jobs lost per month for the last six months.

The solution? Watch for it – a second “stimulus”, something Paul Krugman has been whining about for months. Any guess what it would look like if it happened? Well the fact that this “stimulus” was used to track radioactive rabbit feces and subsidize golf cart purchases should give you a hint.

By the way, where is “Sheriff Joe” with his policing of the “stimulus” money and calling out those who are wasting it? Overwhelmed by the job, I guess.

Finally there is the economy killing legislation – health care which is front loaded with taxes and cap-and-trade which will raise the cost and price of everything – which the Democrats are determined to pass.  Yup – they’ve got a real handle on this, don’t they?

~McQ

[ad#Banner]

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Top 10 Reasons To Pass Cap-And-Trade

No, I’ve not lost my mind, I just wanted your attention for this great list from the American Energy Alliance:

10) It’ll be the largest tax increase in history and will help pay for the government takeover of health care.

9) America’s unemployment rate is only 10 percent. Higher energy prices and the resulting transfer of American businesses overseas will help us double it.

8 ) The U.S. has been the world’s number one economic superpower for long enough. It’s time to lie down and give someone else a turn.

7) Expensive energy is good. Really expensive energy is even better.

6) By making it more expensive to produce more of the vast amounts of American oil we have right at home and transitioning to affordable, commercial-scale alternatives that don’t exist, we can end our dependence on foreign oil in 10 years!

5) Spending billions of taxpayer dollars to create temporary, government jobs at the expense of long-term, private sector jobs not only makes perfect sense, it’ll be a boon to the nation’s struggling economy. Just look at Spain.

4) Energy is the lifeblood of the American economy – it is, literally, the capacity to do work. Hence, making American energy more expensive and less available will strengthen our economy and enhance our capacity to put Americans to work. Get it?

3) California and Massachusetts have adopted similar policies and they’re now enjoying some of the highest energy prices and unemployment rates in the nation. We need to level the playing field so every state can reap the benefits of expensive energy and abundant joblessness.

2) It will create millions of well-paying green jobs without destroying the jobs of Americans who are currently employed. Who put the green welfare provisions in there, anyway?

1) Reducing economic growth while achieving virtually no environmental benefit is simply a good idea. Don’t ask questions.

Sounds like a heck of a deal, no? ~McQ

[ad#Banner]

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Open Thread – Ft. Hood Tragedy (updated)

It is way to early to come to any conclusions about what happened today at Ft. Hood.  What we do know is that 12 are dead – the shooter (MAJ Malik Nidal Hasan – a psychiatrist with the military there), a civilian policeman and 10 soldiers.  31 were wounded. Hasan was a convert to Islam and worked for 6 years at Walter Reed Hospital.  It is reported that he received a bad Officer Efficiency Report and was transferred to Ft. Hood.  Colleagues say he was a “loner” and against our presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  He apparently was against being deployed but was scheduled to deploy at the end of the year.  He was engaged with the chain of command trying to get the deployment canceled. He used two non-military handguns (9 mm) during his shooting spree.

There are reports of two other suspects in custody but what if any role they had is not known.  At this point, they are being said to be held for questioning. (update: AP reports both have now been released, confirmed by Rep. John Carter who represents the district in which Ft. Hood lays.  Rumor has it they had tired to stop the shootings.)

UPDATE: Shooter’s cousin says he has always been a muslim, not a convert. Claims Hasan underwent extreme harassment and wanted to get out of the military. His worst nightmare was being deployed. Says family is in total shock. Thinks impending deployment is what triggered this.

UPDATE II: Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson says he was shooting people he knew.

UPDATE III: Rep. John Carter says Ft. Hood authorities have taken a 3rd person into custody.  He also claims reports of automatic weapons fire at the scene of the shootings.

UPDATE IV: A bit of a shocker – Per Commanding General of Ft. Hood, shooter is alive and in custody.

More updates as they become available.

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

GM Update – It Really Is “Government Motors”

Greg Mankiw reminds us of this bit of fantasy:

What we are not doing — what I have no interest in doing — is running GM. GM will be run by a private board of directors and management team with a track record in American manufacturing that reflects a commitment to innovation and quality. They — and not the government — will call the shots and make the decisions about how to turn this company around. – President Barack Obama

And this bit of reality:

Federal support for companies such as GM, Chrysler Group LLC and Bank of America Corp. has come with baggage: Companies in hock to Washington now have the equivalent of 535 new board members — 100 U.S. senators and 435 House members.

Since the financial crisis broke, Congress has been acting like the board of USA Inc., invoking the infusion of taxpayer money to get banks to modify loans to constituents and to give more help to those in danger of foreclosure. Members have berated CEOs for their business practices and pushed for caps on executive pay. They have also pushed GM and Chrysler to reverse core decisions designed to cut costs, such as closing facilities and shuttering dealerships.

As usual with this bunch, rhetoric and reality are miles apart. Intrusion by members of Congress into the decisions of the company are many, despite the promises of President Obama that “they” will call the shots:

Lawmakers say it’s their obligation to guard the government’s investments, ensure that bailed-out firms are working in the country’s interests and protect their constituents.

Executives say congressional demands gobble up time and make a rocky business environment even more unpredictable.

Or, to put it another way, GM now becomes another “constituent service” problem for members of Congress. And they really don’t care if GM’s business model dictates certain moves to regain profitability – if it hurts a constituent or their district, they just won’t stand for it:

In May, even before the government’s ownership became official, lawmakers erupted when GM disclosed it planned to produce a new subcompact car at its factories in China. Under congressional pressure, GM dropped those plans and promised instead to retool an existing U.S. facility in Michigan, Wisconsin or Tennessee for the new model.

Lawmakers from those states demanded and received high-level meetings in Washington to quiz GM on the criteria for site selection and to tout their states. GM in the end picked a site in Michigan.

The natural reaction to the above is to say “hey, that’s good, we saved or created jobs”? But is it good for the overall profitability of the company which is in hock for over 50+ billion to the taxpayer? Wasn’t the promise to infuse it with cash and allow the company to make the decisions necessary to move it into the black? Instead GM is beaten into line to serve the interests of Congress.

Additionally, closing dealerships has been questioned by any number of Congress members with GM reversing 70 closings. And serving its Democrat special interest groups is also a part of the meddling Congress has engaged in since the takeover:

In addition to the dealership issue, lawmakers have jumped into a union fight that pits GM and Chrysler against two trucking companies that haul new cars around the country. The auto makers want to give some of the work to cheaper nonunion contractors. But that raised the ire of lawmakers who support the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Rep. Dale Kildee, a Democrat from Michigan, sent letters on Sept. 30 to the chief executives of both GM and Chrysler, demanding they explain their positions and advising them to stick with their unionized carriers. At least four other lawmakers sent similar letters.

Chrysler defended its plans in an Oct. 2 letter, saying it would save $31 million over three years by shifting some of the work to other carriers. GM, then in the middle of contract talks, replied in its own letter that it had “no plans to phase out unionized hauling companies” but added that it was pursuing new contracts that made the most sense for the company.

So, as it turns out, President Obama’s statement was “just words”. Not only has government intruded, it is engaged in using GM as a tool for self-serving political needs. And that delays the company’s return to profitability and its ability to pay back the money it owes taxpayers. Ford posted a 1 billion quarterly profit recently (certainly driven by “cash for clunkers” but still, a profit). Ford took none of the bailout money. Ford, then, is engaged in running a profitable company which will be competitive in the auto market.

GM and Chrysler – don’t look for any of that to happen for them as long as government and Congress see them as a useful tool to further their own power base and help ensure they remain in office.  And as long as it remains useful for that, don’t expect the relationship to change – and you certainly shouldn’t expect the company to make a profit.  That’s simply not a priority for Congress.

~McQ

[ad#Banner]

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

China Buying Oil Leases Off American Shore?

That’s the word from Mark Tapscott at the Washington Examiner:

Gas prices here in the U.S. are creeping back up towards the $3-per-gallon mark even as news breaks today that China’s state-owned energy firm just closed a deal to buy interests in four development leases on the American Outer Continental Shelf (OTS) in the Gulf of Mexico.

The deal, which requires approval of the U.S. government, is between Norway’s Statoil and China National Off-Shore Oil Corporation (CNOOC). This is the same CNOOC that would have bought Unocal four years ago for $18.5 billion but for pressure from Congress, according to The New York Times, quoting an energy industry trade publication.

Because it must be approved by the U.S. government, the Statoil/CNOOC deal puts President Obama and Ken Salazar, his Secretary of the Department of the Interior, which controls OTS leasing, in a difficult position.

Really? Why does it put the government in a “difficult position”? Oh, you mean the apparent willingness to sell these leases to foreign entities vs. opening them up to domestic American exploration?

The deal also focuses renewed attention on Salazar’s slow-walking of a new plan for approving energy exploration and development in the OTS, which includes approximately 1.7 billion acres, and, according to Interior, holds up to 86 billion barrels of recoverable oil and more than 400 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

The administration is moving much too slowly to open more of the OTS to development for domestic U.S. uses, according to Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute …

But it apparently isn’t moving too slowly to open up the OTS to foreign competitors.

In the meantime:

If the administration approves the deal, it will be more vulnerable to charges that the White House is being careless with U.S. national security issues in the energy sector, and that it is putting the interests of a foreign power before those of U.S. energy consumers.

If Obama and Salazar reject the deal, it will likely complicate relations with China, the emerging Asian superpower that defense experts predict will be able at will to challenge U.S. legitimate national security interests around the globe in the near future.

Oil isn’t going away anytime soon and its use is critical during any transition to alternate energy sources (which, for the most part are vaporware). Additionally, the charge that the Obama administration is playing fast and loose with US national security will resonate if the public becomes aware that domestic producers have been barred from OTC production but foreign producers are given access.

So the dilemma facing the administration is one of its own ideological making. Its “slow walking” of the plan for domestic producers to explore the OTC is a decision it made to thwart the desires of a majority of the nation to secure those assets for the US’s use. And now it’s going to hand them over to China?

That will not play well in at all in middle America.

~McQ

[ad#Banner]

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Buy Dale’s Books!