Lost inside the kerfuffle over the Temporary Social Security Payroll Tax Reduction extension, which I will be covering in more detail in a later post, came news today that the 3rd Quarter 2011 Gross Domestic Product growth was revised lower yet again. While the original projections for the GDP growth was in the 2% to 2.5% range, the Commerce Department is saying that the 3rd Quarter GDP will be 1.8%. This is higher than the GDP growth seen in the 1st and 2nd Quarter of 2012, but still represents a very anemic economic recovery. In fact, in Europe, the massive bailout operation that is being attempted to avoid a cascading series of defaults, on a country and bank basis, appears to be failing.
Analysts like those at HSBC and the Federal Reserve are also more pessimistic looking forward into 2012 - predicting an unemployment rate that remains very close to the current 8.6% level for 2012 as well as an annual GDP growth rate of only 1.5%. HSBC sees things far worse in Europe as it expectes a 'full blown recession for the Eurozone' in 2012.
This economic forecast does not bode well for President Obama's reelection efforts - which is precisely why the President and his Democrat allies in Congress are working so hard to play the political card against the House GOP over the Temporary Social Security Payroll Tax Reduction.
Flying just under the radar screens are two major stories involving malfeasance, underhanded - ends justify the means, and quite possibly illegal actions being taken by Democrats to advance their own interests and agenda.
The first of these is within the Department of Justice, led by the embattled Attorney General Eric Holder. Under Holder, the DoJ has lurched from scandal to scandal starting with the politically and racially motivated decision to drop voter intimidation charges against the New Black Panther Party, to other politically and racially motivated decisions regarding ignoring cases of voter fraud which benefitted Democrats, evidence that the DoJ leadership is politically stacking the Department with biased hard left progressives to enact via fiat the progressive agenda, to covering up, lying, and obfuscating DoJ actions around Operation Fast and Furious which supplied Mexican drug cartels with thousands of weapons and directly contributed to hundreds of deaths.
A former member of the DoJ Voting Section reports:
Today, PJ Media breaks a bombshell that an employee in the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) Voting Section, where I used to work, has admitted to lying three times under penalty of perjury during a DOJ Inspector General’s investigation.The fight over Texas redistricting isn't the only case of redistricting shenanigans that is going on. California also has it's own redistricting scandal that is starting to see the light of day.
The revelation may well affect congressional redistricting, because of the key role Voting Section staff play in approving state legislative plans, including the staffer in question.
For example, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott might use these allegations of perjury involving Texas redistricting to fight the ongoing redistricting litigation. Impeachment of a different sort–that of a testifying witness–is his for the taking.
The wide ranging DOJ Inspector General investigation is examining the harassment of conservative leaning DOJ employees who were willing to enforce civil rights laws equally against all wrongdoers, such as the New Black Panther party. You read that right–the harassment of employees who were willing to enforce the law against the New Black Panther Party.
The particulars of the DOJ perjury, as reported by Has von Spakovsky at PJ Media, are even more troubling. They involve the leaking of internal memos about Congressional redistricting to the Washington Post by leftist DOJ staff who hoped to hurt the Bush administration.
In 2010, California voters changed the redistricting process from one that is controlled by the Legislature, which is dominated by the Democrats, to forming a non-partisan civilian committee that would be responsible for redistricting California as required after the 2010 census. The intent was to remove from the process the efforts and bias to gerrymander Congressional districts to favor Democrats and Democrat incumbents. This created a problem for Democrats on a state and national level. So the Democrats undertook some very underhanded means to fool the California redistricting commission.
In the weeks that followed, party leaders came up with a plan. Working with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — a national arm of the party that provides money and support to Democratic candidates — members were told to begin “strategizing about potential future district lines," according to another email.
The citizens’ commission had pledged to create districts based on testimony from the communities themselves, not from parties or statewide political players. To get around that, Democrats surreptitiously enlisted local voters, elected officials, labor unions and community groups to testify in support of configurations that coincided with the party’s interests.
When they appeared before the commission, those groups identified themselves as ordinary Californians and did not disclose their ties to the party. One woman who purported to represent the Asian community of the San Gabriel Valley was actually a lobbyist who grew up in rural Idaho, and lives in Sacramento.
In one instance, party operatives invented a local group to advocate for the Democrats’ map.
Elements of the DoJ Voting Section were apparently involved in these efforts- and lied about their involvement. Combined with their efforts to block any means being established to limit or prevent voter fraud, and we have a DoJ and Democrat party mindset that will do anything in order to ensure their ability to win elections - including breaking the law. They can be quite comfortable in the knowledge that the vast majority of the mainstream media will not investigate or report on their tactics or illegalities - just as NBC News still hasn't run a single story on Fast and Furious...
The Wall Street Journal this morning hammered the Environmental Protection Agency and its chief, Lisa Jackson, over the EPA's new rules attacking coal power plants...
The rule may be the most expensive the agency has ever issued, and it represents the triumph of the Obama Administration's green agenda over economic growth and job creation. Congratulations.
The so-called utility rule requires power plants to install "maximum achievable control technology" to reduce mercury emissions and other trace gases. But the true goal of the rule's 1,117 pages is to harm coal-fired power plants and force large parts of the fleet—the U.S. power system workhorse—to shut down in the name of climate change. The EPA figures the rule will cost $9.6 billion, which is a gross, deliberate underestimate.
In return Ms. Jackson says the public will get billions of dollars of health benefits like less asthma if not a cure for cancer. Those credulous enough to believe her should understand that the total benefits of mercury reduction amount to all of $6 million. That's total present value, not benefits per year—oh, and that's an -illion with an "m," which is not normally how things work out in President Obama's Washington.
The rest of the purported benefits—to be precise, 99.99%—come by double-counting pollution reductions like soot that the EPA regulates through separate programs and therefore most will happen anyway.
This is just another of far too many cases from the Administration and Democrats who operate as if they are above any level of accountability and answerable to only 'the end justifies the means'.
Pfc. Bradly Manning will be standing for a General Court Martial on multiple counts of espionage and other crimes related to his theft of hundreds of thousands of classified materials from the Department of Defense and the State Department. Suspected as being the person who provided these materials to Julian Assange and Wikileaks, who with major elements of the mainstream media like the Washington Post, New York Times, Der Spiegel, The Guardian, released those materials to the public domain damaging the US and risking thousands lives, Manning's defense rested after only calling 2 witnesses and placing his entire defense on Manning's 'transgender issues' and the lack of adequate supervision of Manning.
The prosecution presented significant evidence obtained from forensic reviews of Manning's computers which appear to clearly indicated a direct connection between Manning, Assange, and the materials that Wikileaks released. The defense did nothing to counter or question these reviews or the linkage. This means that in addition to Manning, Julian Assange may be exposed to US criminal charges.
Via Ace of Spades, Ron Paul walked out of a CNN interview midway through after getting upset with continued questioning over statements and observations made in Ron Paul's newsletters in the 1980's and 1990's. These newsletters, which Ron Paul indicated in 1996 that he helped write, along with his then Chief of Staff Lew Rockwell, raised questions over Paul's views on race and anti-Semitism. Paul today denies having written or even reviewing these articles despite them going out under his name on the newsletter and says he has no idea who wrote them.
A wave of bombings swept Baghdad today in a massive day of violence. The 16 bombings killed 69 people and represents the worse violence in months. The bombings come just days after the last US military forces left Iraq - and while the Iraqi government is under major sectarian pressure resulting from their decisions to issue an arrest warrant for the highest ranking Sunni in the Iraqi government.
A Federal Judge today issued a ruling that strikes down 3 key provisions of South Carolina's immigration law that was intended to crack down on illegal immigration within the state. The SC law was based very closely on the Arizona law. The ruling blocks the portions of the SC law that requires law officers to check the status of anyone they stop for any other reason, sections pertainingg to the transportation of illegal immigrants, and immigrant registration cards. The SCOTUS has taken up the Arizona illegal immigration law for review this current term.
10,000 Egyptian women took to the streets of Cairo to protest the Egyptian government and military - specifically in response to the brutality in marches earlier this week which targeted women.
Questions are being asked if the North Koreans are lying about the time and place of Kim Jong Il's death. Reports are that he was onboard his special train on an inspection tour when he suffered the fatal heart attack - but intelligence information is saying that his train was at it's normal station location in Pyongyang at the date / time of death.
On This Day in History -
December 22, 1864 - Union Major General William T. Sherman captured the Confederate port of Savannah, completing his 'March to the Sea' - and sent the following to President Lincoln in a telegram, "I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the city of Savannah, with one hundred and fifty heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, also about 25 thousand bales of cotton."
December 22, 1944 - 'To the German Commander: NUTS! Signed, The American Commander' - General Tony McAuliffe, the acting division commander of the 101st Airborne Division, encircled by German forces and trapped inside Bastogne, replies to a German ultimatum demanding the immediate surrender of all American forces inside Bastogne. During the Battle of the Bulge, the 101st Airborne earned the reputation as the 'Battling Bastards of Bastogne' during their hold of the critical town.
December 22, 2001 - Passengers on an American Airlines flight subdued and prevented al-Qaeda terrorist Richard Reid from detonating a bomb hidden in his running shoes that was intended to bring the plane down over the Atlantic Ocean.
Coming up later today - comments about the payroll tax reduction kerfuffle, some more stupidity from a Congressman, and the Keystone XL pipeline.