Monday, December 12, 2011

Quick Hits - December 12, 2011 - UPDATED

Welcome to the Occupier's Day of Action!

Today is the day that the Occupiers up and down the West Coast march to shutdown the major shipping ports.  The LA Times is right on the story with information on the efforts of the OccupyLA squad to close the Port of Long Beach.  Fox News Channel is airing a live report from Portland, Oregon where the story is that about 100 people with signs standing in front of the main entrance into the Port of Portland have shut the port down.  I may be a little high on my estimate of protesters, but this is one movement that is deservedly fizzling...

The San Francisco Chronicle has an editorial in yesterday's paper that reflects that the opposition on the left to the port shutdown efforts was growing.  Many see this step as being too extreme.  The SF Chronicle also kindly offers some additional public relations advice to the OWS movement - they need to remarket themselves as the '99 Percenters' as opposed to the 'Occupiers'.  Even this rag sees that the OWS / Occupier moniker is tarnished.  Of course, why not just call them what they are - a collection of Marxists, Jacobins, and Anarchists.  The left leaning UK paper, The Independent, understands this as well as anyone, as they define the movement in their article on today's Day of Action as 'American anti-capitalist protesters'.

PJ O'Rourke asks a simple question - If the 1% had less, would the 99% be better off?

In 2009, President Obama, in an interview on NBC's The Today Show, told Matt Lauer, "If I don't have this done in three years [referencing economic recovery], then there's going to be a one-term proposition."

Flash forward to our fearless leader on last night's CBS 60 Minutes broadcast, 'I always believed' fixing the economy was 'going to take longer than one term'.

There must be something in the water as the DNC Chair, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz seems to have the same challenges with reality.  Appearing on FNC, she says that unemployment has not been increasing under President Obama.  Huh?  The official unemployment rate was 7.8% when President Obama was inaugurated in January 2009.  Today, the official unemployment rate is 8.6% - and that is via the benefits of hundreds of thousands long term unemployed who are no longer counted in the official rate.  Some say the 'real' unemployment rate is 11%.  I contend that the 'real' unemployment rate is the rate that reflects both unemployed and underemployed - which stands, conservatively, at 15.6%.  Either way, nearly 2 million net jobs have been lost since President Obama took office.

Despite the bleatings of Debbie Wasserman-Sgt. Schultz, the economic numbers reflecting the policies and agenda of President Obama are dreadful.

…we analyse a wide set of 108 countries composed of both developed and emerging and developing countries, using a long time span running from 1970-2008, and employing different proxies for government size… Our results show a significant negative effect of the size of government on growth. …Interestingly, government consumption is consistently detrimental to output growth irrespective of the country sample considered (OECD, emerging and developing countries)…

…Growth in government size has negative effects on economic growth, but the negative effects are three times as great in non-democratic systems as in democratic systems. …the negative effect of government size on GDP per capita is stronger at lower levels of institutional quality, and ii) the positive effect of institutional quality on GDP per capita is stronger at smaller levels of government size.
Of course, the left can't let the facts get in the way of implementing their agenda.

Staying with Europe for a bit, European and North American stock markets are down today as they react to the 'Merkozy' deal from Friday.  There is little confidence that the deal to expand the central authority of the EU / European Commission will do anything to solve the economic crisis facing the region.  The pact is seen by some as just 'sound and fury', but failing to address the fundamental problems.

The Financial Times echoes this as they see the crisis as being far from overStandard & Poors announced that the Merkozy pact may not be enough to prevent downgrades of EU nations - all of whom were placed on credit-watch last week - a warning of potential downgrade.  The German news magazine Der Spiegel is also pessimistic seeing the 'End of Old Europe'.  What they see as Chancellor Merkel's triumph is believed to come at a very high cost as the EU is split, the single currency remains under siege, and smaller EU member nations are starting to feel 'steamrollered' by France and Germany.

Ambrose Pritchard-Evans, the Telegraph's International Business Editor, continues his hard hitting, and excellent analysis of this solution, by saying Merkozy is achieving nothing but turning the clock back to the 1930's - and making the same mistakes today that were made then. 
You could call it Hooverism written into EU treaty law, though that traduces Hoover. The harsher truth is that it replicates the "500 deflation decrees" of Pierre Laval, later shot by a Free French firing squad.

It is happening just as Europe’s banks slash their books to meet the EU’s core Tier I capital ratios of 9pc. The Basel-based Financial Stability Board - the collective voice of the world’s monetary authorities - fears the banks could inflict a €2.4 trillion crunch over "coming months", just as Euroland crashes back into recession. It is hard to imagine a more reckless recipe for social disorder than to combine these shocks at once.
I've just learned of a new 'law' - Mitchell's Law.  This law states that one bad government policy doesn't justify another bad government policy.  Nicely describes the effects of Merkozy, eh?

In another example, the battle continues in Washington over the desire to extend the temporary payroll tax reduction for US workers into 2012.  The President is still threatening to veto the latest bill for the extension, which includes a push for the authorization of the Keystone XL pipeline.  The challenge with this temporary tax cut is that if this is continued, not only will consumers continue to take home about $1,000 more next year in their pay than if the tax reverted to the official level, but that with the lower tax rate, fewer dollars arrive in Washington to help fund Social Security payments.  Some suspect that a Social Security crisis adding to the fiscal challenges is a desired effect since it puts more pressure to accept large tax increases to address huge annual deficits.

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) today announced that they will be hearing the case of the Federal Government v. State of Arizona over the Arizona illegal immigration law.  This is the second major contentious issue that the SCOTUS has agreed to hear in this 2011-12 term, the other being the constitutionality of Obamacare.

UPDATE - Associate Justice Kagan announced that she will be recusing herself from hearing this case...still no word if Elena Kagan will recuse herself from the Obamacare hearings...

The video game, Call of Duty 3, hits $1 billion in sales after just 16 days on the market.  Hollywood, unfortunately, is not trending quite so well as attendance in movie theaters is down below pre 9/11 levels.  Box office numbers are also down a lot.  I suspect that Hollywood is learning the lessons that much of the mainstream media has as well - if you put out a crap product as well as insulting and denigrating middle America, you will lose business.

Related to the opening sentence of the last paragraph, and further demonstrating the vapidity of the leftist power reach - the International Red Cross has set it's sights on a problem that is far worse than the abuses of human rights in Africa, Arab nations, the PRC, and DPRK...
Delegates at the 31st International Conference of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Red Crescent raised the concerns over the potential “International Humanitarian Law” violations – which can constitute war crimes – during a workshop in Geneva.

“Exactly how video games influence individuals is a hotly debated topic, but for the first time, Movement partners discussed our role and responsibility to take action against violations of IHL in video games,” the Red Cross wrote in its daily bulletin.

“The aim for the ICRC is that they send the right signals to their hundreds of millions of players by rewarding respect for IHL and penalising violations,” the spokesperson said.

The Red Cross said if it finds the conventions have been violated, they may ask game developers to conform to international laws or encourage governments to create laws that regulate the gaming industry, Kotaku reported.

Coming soon to an ending of a video game, if one selects or acts badly, a simulated trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. 

NATO forces have completed their evacuation of the Airbase in Pakistan that they used to base surveillance and attack drones.  The evacuation was ordered the Pakistani government after 26 Pakistani soldiers were killed in NATO air strikes.  The Pakistani government also has announced new 'rules of engagement' re NATO forces including that they will fire on drones over Pakistani territory.

In Gaza, from where rockets and missiles continue to be fired into Israeli towns, the Islamic Jihad has announced that they are going to challenge the 'moderate' organization Hamas which currently controls the territory.

Wrapping up today's QH, we take a look back to the year 2000.....where on this day in history, the SCOTUS decided the case Bush v Gore in favor of George W. Bush, ending the 2000 Presidential election and making George W. Bush the 43rd President of the United States.

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