Monday, December 5, 2011

Quick Hits - December 5, 2011 - UPDATED

On the financial front, the Euro / European Union crisis continues to dominate attention.  German Chancellor Merkel and French President Sarkozy continue in their rush towards failure as they work to define major changes to the European Union treaty to address the fiscal challenges of the troubled EU nations - which have become fiscal challenges for the entire Union.  Key to these changes are a far tighter fiscal union for the members of the EU.  As these details are developed, one has to wonder how the EU is going to be able to make these changes to the Lisbon Treaty without the need for referendums on the changes?  Greece has already shown, in their electoral resistance to mandated austerity measures from the EU, that any such vote is not a 'done deal'.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the UK's Telegraph highlights many of the points that I was making in my post yesterday on this subject.  He calls the 'Fiskalunion' the worst of all worlds for Europe.  This is another step towards embracing Jacques Delors original flawed vision for Europe of a massive and controlling central government that supersedes the national governments.  This is, in effect, another step to reorganize Europe into a 'United States of Europe'.  Moving beyond the troubling notion that the EU bureaucracy will have the primary voice in defining the fiscal and budgetary policies of the member nations, the penalties that are being envisioned for those nations who defy the orders of the central government are quite stunning.  Included in the plans for the 'Fisalunion' is the potential loss of EU voting rights if national governments do not kowtow to the EU.  Think about it - if your nation doesn't follow the rules of these bureaucrats, you lose your voting rights to participate in that bureaucracy.

French leftist MP Jean-Marie Le Guen is comparing French President Sarkozy's signing onto the 'Fiskalunion' as being similar to French Premier Daladier's capitulation, along with British Prime Minister Chamberlain, to Adolf Hitler in Munich, 1938.

In the countdown - Europe has 4 days left...

UPDATEGerman Chancellor Merkel and French President Sarkozy made their formal recommendation to reopen the Lisbon Treaty to facilitate the new Eurozone deal...
The pair called for the Lisbon treaty to be reopened to facilitate the new eurozone deal, but agreed that if this ran into insuperable resistance, the 17 countries of the eurozone would themselves forge a new euro pact.

The two leaders said the new regime would be punitive, with automatic sanctions levied against eurozone countries breaching budget deficit limits. They also called for legally enshrined debt brakes in all eurozone countries. These would be geared to ensuring balanced budgets, with the European court of justice empowered to rule on individual governments' practices…

…A big sticking point will be Merkel's insistence on renegotiating the Lisbon treaty. Many member states fear this will mean opening a can of worms, sparking a lengthy, acrimonious bout of horsetrading. The Irish government will be particularly anxious since it may have to stage a referendum on the revised treaty, potentially derailing the entire scheme. Merkel and Sarkozy said they could bypass that problem by leaving the Lisbon treaty intact and cutting a separate deal among the 17 eurozone countries.

Merkel admitted that attempts by European leaders to resolve the crisis had fallen short and made a very bad situation a lot worse. "The belief that we can be taken at our word has suffered," she said. "That is why at the summit we need to regain some of this confidence and trust in our word. We want structural changes which go beyond agreements."

Analysis - the two main leaders have decided to rush down the path of stronger centralized control of the finances of the Eurozone / EU members. This is the wrong solution for the region and will not address or solve the fundamental fiscal challenges, but create far larger divisions and disruptive pressures on the EU / Eurozone / Euro as the region is broken down into tiers. I suspect that the threat to bypass the problem of reopening the Lisbon Treaty will be carried out - leaving the UK and other non-Eurozone members as a second tier class. Not only this, but nations like Spain, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, and Greece who have the most immediately to lose under centralized EU control of their fiscal policies will soon be second class nations as well.

Doubling down on the failed leftist policies of greater centralized control will not work - yet again. The problem is that the first attempt wasn't implemented properly - the problem is the first attempt was wrongly architected - and expanding on that architectural mistake will not solve the problem.

Europe's turmoil is not ending nor is this the beginning of the end for the EU - but it's at the end of the beginning....

In Russia, United Russia, the party of Vladimir Putin, is struggling to surpass 50% of the vote - a major decline from their last electoral measure of nearly two thirds of the total vote.  This is while there are calls and evidence of large amounts of voter fraud and ballot box stuffing in favor of United Russia.  How this will effect the Russian Presidential election of March 2012 is uncertain - as Putin seeks a new term as President after spending a term as Prime Minister.  Russians appear to be tiring of Putin - some are seeing this vote for the Duma as an 'anyone but Putin' vote.  Also noticable - the Communist Party is gaining ground as United Russia falls.

With the final results from Egypt announced, the two primary Islamist parties have about two thirds control of Egypt's new Parliament.  One possibility of consequences is that these two parties will start to compete for greater control - which is seen by some to be more likely than an alliance between the two.

Iran continues to claim that their military shot down a US RQ-170 stealth drone surveillance aircraft over western Iran yesterday.  The US is admitting that a drone (type not disclosed) been lost - that it was not due to hostile action and that they lost control of the drone over Western Afghanistan.  Did Iran score a major coup by detecting and shooting down a stealth drone?  Or is their only coup the intel they can gain from possessing the wreckage gained from the crash site?  Where is the wreckage?  Why isn't Iran touting the wreckage?

Staying with the US military and military technology - I found this interesting video over the weekend.  This is the first test of two key next generation technologies for the US Navy - the first launch of the F35C Joint Strike Fighter by the new electromagnetic catapult system that will be installed on the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, and all carriers of the 'Ford' class which is replacing the 'Nimitz' class carriers of today.

Civilians can experience the same technology as used in this catapult system, which replaces the steam catapults now used on carriers, on roller coasters like the one that Disney built in the California Adventure theme park in Anaheim, California.  On the roller coaster, the guest accelerates from 0 to 60 in about 2.5 seconds at the start of the ride.

Moving to domestic issues, police in Washington DC evicted the OccupyDC protesters from McPherson Square last night, arresting 31 in the process.  OccupyDC is the latest OWS location to be evicted by local authorities.

Fox 5 of Atlanta is reporting that Herman Cain, who suspended his campaign for the GOP Presidential nomination on Saturday, will be endorsing Newt Gingrich for the nomination later today.

While many have been touting Mitt Romney as the more 'electable' potential GOP candidate against President Barack Obama, the Washington Post today has a story about some Democrat political strategists who are worried about Newt Gingrich's appeal in a general election.  They say that Gingrich offers challenges to Obama that Romney does not present.  The likely key of this is the support of the Tea Party Movement which remains very reluctant to support Romney.  The Tea Party was a decisive force in the 2010 elections - and one that I suspect many Democrat strategists secretly are concerned about in 2012.

More information is coming out about the GOP Iowa Presidential Debate which is scheduled for December 27, 2011.  This is the debate that will be 'moderated' by Donald Trump and hosted by The Donald, Newsmax Media, and ION Television.  While it's a bit disconcerting that Trump is going to be moderating the debate -what's far more disturbing is that another major personality working on this debate is the Eason Jordan.

Eason Jordan was forced to resign from his position at CNN in 2005 after declaring at a conference in Davos, Switzerland that US military forces in Iraq were deliberately targeting and firing on journalists.  This combined with his other anti-American positions as well as non-existent journalistic ethics to promote CNN (including agreeing to air Iraqi Baathist propaganda in order to maintain close ties with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein) take this debate to the level of being a farce.  (Michelle Malkin has a superb history of Eason Jordan on her site.)

With this announcement, I would hope that the GOP candidates would withdraw from participating from this debate.

PJ Media has a very good informational article today about the Department of Justice's Operation Fast and Furious - making a very strong case that DoJ officials have violated numerous US laws in their gunrunning operation to supply Mexican drug cartels.  It's time for the perp walks....and resignations.

Just like some versions of software, version 2.0 of Climategate is as ugly, if not uglier, than version 1.0 as more people review the latest series of documents that shows scientists placing greed and politics before proper scientific method and ethical behavior.

Information is coming out that the California High Speed Rail Network Board is spending tens of millions of dollars in not only a PR campaign to promote the need to spend billions on this boondoggle, but to reward current and former politicians for their support - all masked within 'consulting engagements' to the Board or to organizations to be tasked with the construction if this program moves forward.

Progressives in San Francisco are upset that the Progressive / Liberal talk radio station, Green 960, is not only failing, but that it will be replaced by another conservative talk radio station.  JammieWearingFool has the link to the story as well as some interesting commentary...
Obama should have fixed this mess by nationalizing radio. Then the good stations like KGO could re-hire all the people they let go. Green 960 could stay on the air.”

“Dec 1st and near 70f here in the eastbay…and conservative radio will never even accept global Neanderthal talk will thrive.”

“Conservatives have time to listen to these cranks because they are sitting around in dead-end jobs, if they work at all, blaming their failures on liberals instead of their own stupidity. Liberals are too busy. ”

“Why don’t we liberals listen to talk radio? Because we don’t need the constant reinforcement that perpetually insecure, professionally paranoid conservatives do to valid our political ideas. Conservatives desperately need their “bubble.” But I recall seeing an article forecasting the end of conservative talk blather in the next 5-10 years, as its 55-dead demographic is both dying off and unattractive to sponsors. “
In yet another example of a progressive talk station not being able to compete in the marketplace, even in progressive San Francisco, the first comment calls for government control and censorship of the airways to ensure the progressive message is heard.  But then, the nitwits say that they don't need to listen to talk radio because they are not as 'insecure' as those who listen to conservative talk.  Which is it?  Seems to me that the one's most comfortable in the echo chamber are the progressive liberals...

...which is a perfect lead-in to my closing item for this Monday morning - Victor Davis Hanson's latest - 'Ancient Virtues, Modern Sins'....

Irony is not sarcasm, much less nihilism. Rather it is a way of tolerating absurdity and appreciating that the world seems to have a pulse of its own, a karma or nemesis that evens things out. Obama is an ironic candidate, though he has no sense of irony himself. Do you remember December 2008 when the Left openly worried that something might happen that would prevent our deliverance from the messianic president-elect? Instead, Obama has done more to harm Keynesian economics, the entire notion of “green,” big government, race relations — the list goes on — all those areas that he bragged he would embrace. That’s ironic — so is the editor of Harvard Law Review confusing Britain with England, Austria with Germany, or 50 with 57. So is the big critic of Guantanamo saving Guantanamo. So is Predator in Chief expanding targeted assassinations ten times. Yet editors often worry about irony, as if you are being mean to express it or the reader will not appreciate your intent.

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