Saturday, December 17, 2011

Quick Hits - December 17, 2011

The Narcissist in Chief was the featured interview on last Sunday's 60 Minute broadcast - and CBS News edited from the portion of the interview that was aired on the TV Newsmagazine the claim made by President Obama touting himself as the 4th greatest President in US History - trailing only Lyndon Johnson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln...

KROFT: Tell me, what do you consider your major accomplishments? If this is your last speech. What have you accomplished?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, we're not done yet. I've got five more years of stuff to do. But not only saving this country from a great depression. Not only saving the auto industry. But putting in place a system in which we're gonna start lowering health care costs and you're never gonna go bankrupt because you get sick or somebody in your family gets sick. Making sure that we have reformed the financial system, so we never again have taxpayer-funded bailouts, and the system is more stable and secure. Making sure that we've got millions of kids out here who are able to go to college because we've expanded student loans and made college more affordable. Ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Decimating al Qaeda, including Bin Laden being taken off the field. Restoring America's respect around the world.

The issue here is not gonna be a list of accomplishments. As you said yourself, Steve, you know, I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president -- with the possible exceptions of Johnson, F.D.R., and Lincoln -- just in terms of what we've gotten done in modern history. But, you know, but when it comes to the economy, we've got a lot more work to do. And we're gonna keep on at it.

Clearly, the President is delusional....and when faced with the challenges of embracing excessive statism - prescribes more statism as the solution.

Which is the lesson that the President and his other progressives continue to refuse to learn by looking at what is happening in Europe - PJ Media continues to press on the case that I and others have made with doubling down on a failed direction with their commentary 'Eurozone:  Failing Statists prescribe...More Statism'. 

Briefly continuing on with Europe's crisis before returning to more domestic news, the credit rating organization Fitch says that a comprehensive Eurozone deal is 'beyond reach'...
“…A ‘comprehensive solution’ to the euro zone crisis is technically and politically beyond reach. Of particular concern is the absence of a credible financial backstop. In Fitch’s opinion this requires more active and explicit commitment from the ECB to mitigate the risk of self-fulfilling liquidity crises for potentially illiquid but solvent Euro Area Member States.”
In addition to these comments, Fitch placed the nations of Belgium, Spain, Slovenia, Italy, Ireland, and Cyprus on a 'negative ratings watch' which means a downgrade of the credit ratings of those countries is likely within the next 3 months.

In another example of excessive statism being implemented in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency is announcing new regulations in a effort of executive fiat to inhibit or close the operation of coal-fired power plants across the United States.  The EPA's executive fiat decision is to address the issue of mercury that is contained in the emissions of these power plants - and continues the Administration's war on the most abundant energy source in the US - Coal.  The EPA claims that the reduction of mercury in the emissions (almost minuscule already) will save 17,000 lives annually - a number that appears pulled from thin air.  In reality, electricity costs are going to skyrocket for Americans as plants close or are refurbished at the cost of tens of billions - and of course, jobs are going to be lost.

Senate Republicans are lining up to oppose the President's efforts to nominate two very pro-Union and pro-Card Check (the approach to let Unions be formed without using secret ballots) nominees to the 2 open positions currently on the National Labor Relations Board.  One nominee is currently the General Counsel to the International Union of Operating Engineers, while the other is currently the Deputy Secretary for Congressional Affairs at the Labor Department.  This would constitute a NLRB comprising of 4 pro-Union Democrats versus 1 Republican.

During hearings with the House Transportation Committee, an Administration official said that the Administration in unflinching in their support towards funding and building the California High Speed Rail Network boondoggle despite the fact that costs have tripled in just 2 years and massive spending by the Network Board - not building track, but on Public Relations...
But that characterization of the decision-making process was sharply disputed by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare), whose district would be served by the rail line. Nunes led a charge of Republican criticism of the effort and claims that it would create tens of thousands of jobs.

"It is clear that high-speed rail is not about jobs," Nunes said. "It is about corruption, public deception and bureaucratic experimentation."

Nunes said the federal rail agency made a $700-million grant for the Central Valley construction segment on the eve of the 2010 election to benefit a local congressman, whom he did not name. The comment appeared to be aimed at Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno). Costa has pushed the project since his days in the California Legislature and then later when he was elected to Congress. A spokesman for Costa did not respond to a request for comment.

Nunes said the California High-Speed Rail Authority has spent $800 million over the last 15 years on studies, salaries and consultants without laying "a single inch of track." He noted that the authority pays its chief executive $375,000 annually, more than Amtrak pays its top executive.

Pfc Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of perpetrating the largest theft of classified materials from the US Government, had his first military hearing yesterday on the charges that he faces.  These are the Military and State Department documents and cables that were provided to, and released by Wikileaks over the last 18 months - some in conjunction with 5 news organizations intending to embarrass the US Government, and others with the intent to damage the US - and risking the lives of thousands at least.

His civilian lawyer didn't disappoint, trying to turn the process into a circus by immediately contesting the presiding officer's standing to serve on the military court and linking the embattled head of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, to the hearings. 

The US Senate, in a hurry to start their Christmas break, voted 89-10 yesterday to extend the temporary reduction in the Social Security Payroll Tax for an additional 2 months and linking the extension to a requirement that the Administration has to either issue a construction permit for the Keystone XL pipeline or demonstrate to Congress why the pipeline is not in the national interest.  Also included in this bill was a 2 month extension of unemployment benefits and postponing the Obamacare mandated reduction in Medicare reimbursements to Doctors and Hospitals.  The next cost - another $70 Billion added to this year's budget deficit.

After taking about a month off, the Senate will have to pick back up on the Social Security Payroll Tax issue immediately on return to decide what will happen with this for the balance of the 2012 fiscal year.

Yesterday's $1 Trillion Omnibus spending bill that was passed by Congress once again demonstrated the inability for the US Senate to address their fiscal obligations to the nation...
With Christmas just a week away and the new year nearly upon us, Congress came within a whisper of yet another potential government shutdown and once again demonstrated its inability to make substantive spending cuts and deliver the American people the reforms necessary to secure America’s fiscal future. Rather than produce a timely budget by way of standard operating procedure, congressional leaders again butted up against the deadline and reached a deal on a trillion-dollar “mega-omnibus” nine-bill appropriations package that sadly is yet another disappointing failure to rein in government spending.
The House Ethics Committee that is currently investigating Representative Maxine Waters, on track to replace retiring Representative Barney Frank, the ranking minority member on the House Banking Committee, has announced that they are extending their ethics investigation into Waters.  She is accused of violating House Ethics rules by using her position to lobby the Treasury Department to issue a bailout to a troubled financial institution that her husband had a substantial investment position in.

Quickly on the GOP Presidential contest, South Carolina Governor, and Tea Party favorite, Nikki Haley, endorsed Mitt Romney as her choice for the GOP nomination and to be President.

The Weekly Standard is getting on the 'it's time to tell the truth' about Ron Paul and his odious connections bandwagon.

The People's Republic of China is eying the Seychelles and trying to add them to it's 'String of Pearls'...

In Cairo - between 5 and 10 protesters were killed in the largest demonstrations since the Parliamentary elections between protesters and the military.

This Day in History -

On December 17, 1944, 84 US Prisoners of War were massacred by German SS troops just outside the town of Malmedy, Belgium.

On December 17, 1983, 6 people were killed and 75 injured in an Irish Republican Army bombing of the Harrod's Department store in London.

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