Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Quick Hits - December 20, 2011 - UPDATED

The battle royale between the Senate and the House is showing no signs of tapering off. This latest battle kicked off when Speaker of the House John Boehner indicated that the Senate passed bill that provides for a temporary 2 month extension of the temporary 2% Social Security Payroll Tax reduction was dead on arrival in the house.  The House GOP are insisting that the only workable solution for extending the temporary tax reduction is to do so for the entire 2012 calendar year and requests that the Senate returns to work on that approach. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Las Vegas), says that, 'I will not reopen talks' at this time to extend the extension beyond the 2 months the Senate approved - and demanded that the House GOP 'honor' the deal negotiated with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The House was planning on taking a direct vote on the Senate bill knowing it had the numbers to defeat the 2 month extension, however, the Leadership has decided instead to hold a vote to call for a conference committee between the House and Senate to negotiate a reconciliation between the House's 12 month extension and the Senate 2 month extension.  The other major aspects of this bill, the requirement for the President to make a decision on Keystone XL within 60 days, stopping the Obamacare mandated cuts on Medicare reimbursements, and extending jobless benefits are also on hold - but seem to be less of an immediate issue.

Lost within the debate on the length of the temporary Social Security Payroll Tax reduction is the fact that a 2 month extension is a logistical nightmare for employers or that the intent of the Democrats and Administration is to use this as a means to address the deficit the temporary tax reduction causes by implementing permanent tax increases.  Also lost is the effort by the Administration to move Social Security from being an 'insurance' program for citizens to becoming a 'welfare' program funded by the Federal Government.

UPDATE II - The House of Representatives voted 229 - 193 to call for a conference committee to negotiate a solution to the House bill which provides for a 12 month extension to the temporary Social Security payroll tax reduction and the Senate bill which provides for only a 2 month extension. 

The Senate is currently on recess, and Senate Majority Leader Reid continues to say that he will not call the Senate back to negotiate with members from the House of Representatives.  President Obama, unsurprisingly, is slamming the GOP in the House for not rubber stamping the Senate bill and its 2 month extension.

GOP House members are in turn slamming the decision of Reid to not call the Senate back as being unwilling to work closer to or over the holiday's for the benefit of the American people.  Lost in the partisan rhetoric by the President and Senate Democrats - that the Senate deal is a nearly unworkable 2 month extension - not the full year extension that the President originally requested from Congress.

The partisan elements of the mainstream media are already starting to tout this as the GOP 'costing' the working American $1,000 a year in additional contributions to Social Security or rather, the Fed's general budget fund.

Attorney General Eric Holder responded over the past weekend to the continued and escalating outrage over his personal and the DoJ's mismanagement, obfuscation, and lies regarding the Fast and Furious program which supplied thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels.  Unsurprisingly for an ethically bankrupt scoundrel, his answer is to play the race card...
In the Times piece, Holder intimated that President Obama is disliked because of his race, and that people are piling on the bandwagon against Holder as a means to get Obama. Holder’s exact words: “This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him…both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American.”

And who are the people going after Holder and Obama because of their race? Those rascally “conservative commentators and bloggers” of course. They are those who are part of what Holder describes as a “more extreme segment” of news reporting. (I suppose it’s extreme because it’s not news that’s run through a White House sensor or an MSNBC producer before being disseminated to the public.)

Besides informing us that we’re racists for making a big deal out of hundreds of deaths among Mexican citizens, thousands of weapons sold illegally (and over 1,000 still on the street), as well as the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, Holder also took a little time out to pat himself on the back during the Times interview. Said Holder: “I think that what I’m doing is right” and “I think the stands I have taken are totally consistent with a person who is looking at things realistically, factually.”
This isn't the only example of incompetence and terrible judgment by the Attorney General.  In his workings in the DoJ for the Clinton Administration, Holder was an apologist for terrorists, criminals like Marc Rich, and operated not on the basis of representing the interests of the United States, but on the basis of representing the best interests of his political agenda.  While this history of mismanagement and incompetence suffices as a basis for his immediate termination, the reprehensible use of the race card alone tells us all that we need to know about Holder and his DoJ.  The clean-up that will be needed in the DoJ after January 2013 is going to be unprecedented....because it's clear that the President condones the actions of his Attorney General.

The use of the race card by Eric Holder, and the well deserved backlash, is having some effects as the DoJ released a statement today that insists that Holder was not playing the race card as he played it.  We're supposed to believe them as opposed to our own eyes...

UPDATE I - Hot Air's Ed Morrissey writing at 'The Week'“If all Holder has in defense of his performance and that of his Department of Justice is playing the race card in an attempt to bully his critics into silence, then he truly has no defense at all.”

Holder has no defense and should be gone.  The House will not let up on him - calling for more hearings in January 2012This will be an issue in the 2012 Presidential race.  One of several major issues.

Staying on the subject of clueless asses, Sean Penn ran into a buzzsaw named Maria Conchita Alonso in Terminal 4 at Los Angeles International Airport.  Alonso, born in Cuba, raised in Venezuela, and a naturalized US citizen since 2005, has been an outspoken opponent of Venezuelan thug / dictator Hugo Chavez for years.  Sean Penn, on the other hand, has been an ardent supporter of Chavez - as well as the Castro brothers in Cuba.  Alonso questioned Penn at the airport over his support for Chavez and during the 'discussion', Penn called Alonso, who costarred with Penn in the 1988 film 'Colors', a 'pig'.  Alonso retorted calling Penn a 'communist asshole' for his unflinching support of Chavez. 

Alonso is correct.  Sean Penn is, like his father, a communist asshole - and if not possessing a talent for playing someone else (overrated in my opinion), he would be just another pathetic angry thuggish punk waiting to get arrested at the next Occupy protest.

"Clueless Joe" - Vice President Joe Biden again demonstrated his foreign policy chops that were the primary reason he was selected by Barack Obama to be Vice President when he commented that the 'Taliban, per se, is not our enemy'...  Actually Joe makes 'useful idiots' look intelligent.

Another vapid commentator from the far left, the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson takes GOP Presidential Primary contenders Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich to task for their harsh words towards North Korea and the death of the despot Kim Jong Il.  According to Robinson, these words against North Korea and the departed leader make them unfit to occupy the White House - while touting the Administration's appeasing tone as being the right approach.  Robinson not only downplays Kim Jong Il's crimes against humanity, but calls North Korea a 'paranoid regime that considers itself perpetually besieged and happens to possess nuclear weapons' - as if it is our fault in the West for North Korea being as it is.

Clueless, partisan, naive and an apologist for despots doesn't start to cover Robinson's viewpoint that appeasement towards North Korea accomplishes nothing.  The National Review makes this case quite clear in their commentary where maintaining the status quo and not putting additional pressure on this backwards and violent regime is dangerous.  Here we have the case that North Korea is the world's most repressive state - and that in the name of human rights if for no other - it has to be pressured. 

With the departed leader - questions are being raised as to how solid is Kim Jong Eun's ascension to be the new warden of the Pyongyang prison.  Will career military officers accept the late 20 something 4 star General as their new leader?

In Syria, the despotic Assad regime continues to use military force to suppress demonstrations against his police state.  Violence is growing as more Army personnel defect from the Syrian military and take up arms against the Assad regime.  Except for sanctions, the response from the world remains tepid at best.

The Iraqi Government effectively disintegrated on Monday as an arrest warrant was issued for Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi on terrorism charges.  al-Hashemi is the highest ranking Sunni in the Iraqi Government.  The Sunni, a minority in Iraq, comprised the Baathist Party of Saddam Hussein and dominated Iraq for decades.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer for the UK, George Osborne, announced yesterday afternoon that Britain would not contribute towards a 150 Million Euro fund being established by the EU membership with the IMF intended specifically for Eurozone bailouts citing fundamental problems with the approach.  On the continent, rage against the actions of the UK reached new heights.

More evidence becomes apparent that the 'Merkozy' statist solution for the EU crisis fails to address the fundamental problems in Europe.
The EU may impose new debt ceilings. There's just one problem: Every member save three is in violation. So it'll be like enforcing brakes on a runaway train — too little too late.

Under the latest deal to solve Europe's mushrooming debt crisis, member states have to submit their budgets to Brussels to certify that any deficit does not breach a ceiling of 0.5% of GDP. While that sounds good, only Estonia, Finland and Luxembourg can meet the new rule.

That means there would have to be some unspecified transition, or grace period, for most of the EU. Brussels is looking to Germany, the economically strongest member, to set the terms. But even Germany violated existing limits, which were far easier to meet.

Well before the crisis, this anointed savior of the debt-ridden EU routinely breached both the deficit cap of 3% and the debt cap of 60% without consequence. By 2003 Germany, as well as France, had broken the limits two years in a row. Meantime, debt in Greece and Italy was exploding to well above 100% of national income.

But Brussels did not impose penalties on Germany or France, who were considered "too big to punish," and the worst wastrels also were left off the hook.

A solution that already has the vast majority of members in violation - and unwilling to return themselves to compliance is not a solution at all.

France, on the verge of their own credit downgrade from AAA status, has some elements within itself that are realizing just what a bad deal it was for the country to sign onto the single currency when statism and a lack of fiscal responsibility was endemic in Europe under that single currency.  Of course, this is also the nation that in a poll in a major French woman's magazine named the wife of the former IMF head, Dominque Strauss-Kahn, it's 'Woman of the Year' because she stood beside her husband when he was accused of rape in NYC.

In an example of the backlash starting to take place against the statists in the European Union, the CEO of Ryan Air slammed the European Union at an EU innovation summit for it's actions against free markets and free enterprise.

Monday saw the end of car maker Saab when it's Dutch owner filed for bankruptcy after spending 9 months trying to rescue the car marque.
Saab's cash problems began in March this year, after 2010 sales fell short of target. It has not made any vehicles since April.
The end of the road for Saab, which has been making cars for more than 60 years, came at the weekend when General Motors again vetoed a plan involving Chinese investor Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile.
Saab presented it's first prototype car model in 1947. The Swedish defense and security firm with the same name remains in existence.

On This Day in History -

1803 - The Louisiana Purchase was completed at a ceremony in New Orleans

1941 - The American Volunteer Group (AVG), aka Flying Tigers, saw its first combat action in the skies over China

1989 - The United States invaded Panama to replace / arrest the dictator Manuel Noriega

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