Thursday, December 15, 2011

Quick Hits - December 15, 2011

The US Cable News networks are buzzing this morning about the latest developments and polls on the Republican Presidential Primary race in Iowa - and Fox is touting their debate tonight, 9PM EST, which will be the last debate before the Iowa straw poll on January 3, 2012.

Rassmussen Reports has a new Iowa poll that is showing another lead change in that race - with Mitt Romney moving past Newt Gingrich by 3 points (23% to 20%) as Gingrich has had a rough week under attack and damaged by his own acid tongue.  Ron Paul remains in 3rd place (18%).  Rounding out the rest of the field - Rick Perry (10%), Michelle Bachmann (9%), Rick Santorum (6%), and Jon Huntsman (5%).  With a large number in the electorate still not locked down on a single candidate and willing to shift, tonight's debate could be crucial.

The Washington Examiner announced this morning that the paper is endorsing Mitt Romney as their choice for President.

Influential conservative news magazine, National Review, also makes an announcement this morning regarding the Republican President Primary race - advising readers to 'Say NO' to candidates Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Ron Paul, and Michelle Bachmann....which is in effect an endorsement of the Romney campaign.  This solidifies the 'establishment' support of Romney. While the rank and file Republican still leans towards Gingrich, that support can only be described as extremely squishy.

Richard Fernandez, of Belmont Club, writes about the choice being faced by not only the Republican voter in the primary race, but also being present around the Eurozone crisis and the 'Merkozy' solution in his piece 'The End of the Old'...
The paradox is that if you vote for someone who can make the system work better than the other you will do well in the short run but condemn yourself in the long run. But on the other hand if you vote for the Destroyer, it will hurt. These arguments are often articulated without conscious thought. One friend said to me, “if we cannot get a true conservative to run in the GOP general then I hope Obama wins because he will finally bring all the issues to a head”. That in a way may be the subconscious thought of Andrew Sullivan. He is ‘homeless’ And by that he may mean he senses danger is near, like the robot in Lost in Space, frantic at the advent of some alien menace. ‘Bzzt. Bzzt. It does not compute. It does not compute. Danger Will Robinson! Danger!’

And that too was the problem facing David Cameron. Unable to go on inside the European Union, the British PM is trying to save it by staying out of it. For he must save it to preserve the British economy, even if the EU is destroying the British economy. Similarly Angela Merkel, burdened with a fatally flawed European concept, is enlarging it in order to preserve it. Without the EU Europe cannot survive. With it, it cannot survive either.

In the short run the incentives are to save the system — which means in the case of the EU, to grasp at one more bailout, and in the case of the United States to elect someone like Gingrich or Romney. But in the medium and long term the incentives are to start over, because now knows in his bones, if hadn’t realized it before, that putting off the day of reckoning doesn’t fundamentally change anything.

Unfortunately, far too few are willing to take the time to reflect on the medium and long term effects of the decisions and choices.  The perception of action is seen to be more important than the reality of making the decision to address the day of reckoning sooner rather than later.

The effects of the 'Merkozy' supposed solution continue to dominate the financial news from Europe as the region lurches towards their next major crisis.  Both the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal editions today contain editorials focusing on the fact that the 'solution' is far from a real solution...."Ugly Prospect for the Eurozone" and "The Eurozone's Double Failure".

The head of the French central bank, and member of the ECB, Christian Noyer, continues to lash out at Britain over the decision made last week to veto the 'Merkozy' solution - and the subsequent downgrade warning dropped on France and other Eurozone members by S&P, Fitch, and other rating agencies.  Noyer says Britain should be downgraded well before France because Britain's economic conditions are far worse than those of France.  Damian Reece, in the Telegraph, fires back that not only is Noyer quite wrong with his tirade, but France lacks any real credibility from an economic basis to admonish Britain.

British voters, however, are liking the veto decision by Prime Minister Cameron - and are seeking more hard action by the Prime Minister.

Elsewhere in the Eurocrisis - the International Monetary Fund is demanding that Greece, mired in their failures to implement needed austerity measures to try to address their fiscal crisis, break their 'taboo' of not dismissing civil servants and start to reduce the size of their government as part of the austerity effort.

Victor Davis Hanson has a very good analysis in the National Review reflecting on the latest Hundred Years War - and that Germany finally conquers Europe.

This is a US satellite photo of China's first aircraft carrier underway while on sea trials.  The PRC purchased the ex Soviet carrier, Varyag, from Ukraine in 1998 and has been at work refurbishing and rebuilding the carrier for deployment in the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).  This is part of the ChiCom effort to develop a far more capable 'blue water' navy to project force and protect routes / access to raw materials needed by the government.  The trials of this ship is a key part of their strategy to use their growing and expanding military power to bully enemies and neighbors at sea.

In Russia, Prime Minister and Presidential candidate Vladimir Putin has announced that there will not be a re-do of the disputed elections for the Russian Duma.  Requests were made to toss the results of the election because of widespread voter fraud which propelled Putin's party to a slim majority.  Putin also lashed out in particular towards the United States - accusing the US of not only engineering the large scale protests that took place in Russia over the voting results, but of directly murdering the former Libyan dictator Gaddafi.

Former French President Jacques Chirac was convicted today in Paris on corruption charges...
- “Jacques Chirac, mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995, is the first former French head of state to be convicted since Marshal Philippe Petain, the leader of the wartime Vichy regime, was found guilty in 1945 of collaborating with the Nazis.”
No, I am not surprised by this.

In Egypt, Secularists are trying to beat the Islamists in the next round of voting for the Egyptian Parliament - but I suspect that the hard line Islamists will retain their sizable majority.

As the Islamic Jihad positions to contest Hamas for control of Gaza, and as rockets continue to fire from Gaza into Israeli cities and towns, Palestinian officials are asking Europeans to support their application for full membership in the United Nations.

John Hinderaker, one of the very smart and articulate people behind Powerline, takes on the insufferable Tom Friedman who takes his anti-Israeli standard position up a notch towards near full on anti-semitism...
Tom Friedman isn’t the worst of the New York Times columnists–not while Paul Krugman is around–but he is the most overrated. If Friedman has ever had an original thought, he has chosen not to share it with his readers. Unfortunately, the thinkers he recycles keep going downhill. Now he has come to the bottom of the barrel, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt.

In his current column, Friedman blasts Newt Gingrich for his “invented people” riff and Mitt Romney for saying he would move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a long-time Republican Party Platform plank. These criticisms are par for the course for Friedman, a loyal Democrat. But he goes on to bash, simultaneously, all of Congress, the “Israel lobby,” and Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israeli government:

I sure hope that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, understands that the standing ovation he got in Congress this year was not for his politics. That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby. The real test is what would happen if Bibi tried to speak at, let’s say, the University of Wisconsin. My guess is that many students would boycott him and many Jewish students would stay away, not because they are hostile but because they are confused.

I have my own version of 'Godwin's Law' - it includes the Friedman corollary which basically states if in a debate, and someone cites Tom Friedman as an expert or proof of a particular statement, they have just lost the debate.

On This Day in History - December 15, 1791, the US Bill of Rights was ratified into law by the Virginia General Assembly.  Unfortunately, it seems as if we've lost the meaning and import of the Bill of Rights over time.

MF Global's former Chairman and CEO, Jon Corzine, returns to testify before Congress again today.  He faces some serious questioning, particularly after testimony made earlier this week contradicted Corzine's previous statements under oath.  The last thing that the Democrats need is another scandal to be ignored by the loyal elements of the Mainstream media during an election season - and a Corzine indictment for perjury and other possible charges related to the misappropriation and loss of $1.2 billion of client funds.

President Obama and Congressional Democrats have apparently withdrawn their insistence that the one year extension of the temporary payroll tax cut be linked to a 'millionaire' surtax - an increase of the top income tax rate for the wealthy.  This is as both the extension bill and a omnibus spending bill to fund government operations until the end of the fiscal year continue to languish in the Senate.  The latter bill is of huge import as the government will run out of funding on Saturday.  We can expect near hourly 'We Can't Wait' comments from the WH until this is done as they seek to pressure the GOP into surrendering on their principles to not increase taxes and reduce spending / size of government.

The members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the collection of hard left progressives that is endorsed by the Communist Party USA, has introduced a new bill into the House named 'The Restore the American Dream for the 99% Act' which is a clueless effort to treble down on the policies that have created the current American fiscal crisis - and move us even faster down the path to failure that much of Europe is travelling...
The bill would create more than 4 million jobs and reduce the deficit by more than $2 trillion over the next 10 years, making it the biggest government effort thus far to marshal the resources needed to address the economic crisis.
The bill would create several “corps” that will offer government jobs to the unemployed doing essential work including repairing school buildings, maintaining public parks, building neighborhood energy efficiency and conservation projects, and providing health care and other public services in underserved areas. One of the corps would be specifically devoted to re-hiring teachers and first responders laid off by cash-strapped state and local governments .

There are provisions in the bill that require 75 percent of the goods and services purchased by the federal government to be made in America, provisions designed to help small businesses get federal contracts, and allocation of $50 billion alone for highway, public transportation and electrical grid improvement projects. The bill includes provisions that would raise $800 billion through a surcharge on millionaires and billionaires, end tax subsidies for oil companies, and impose a tiny financial transactions tax on Wall Street. There would be other budget savings through ending the war in Afghanistan and slashing $200 billion from the defense budget by eliminating unneeded weapons systems and cutting in half the military forces currently stationed in Europe.

The bill also strengthens health care reform by creating a public health insurance option that would be available through health care exchanges.

Clueless doesn't start to describe the mindset behind this thinking...though this image is a start...

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