Friday, January 13, 2012

Quick Hits - January 13, 2012 - UPDATED

Friday the 13th....

The political correctness / anti-US military agenda is in full hyperventilation mode as the 'horror' of the video of 4 US Marines urinating on 3 dead Taliban terrorists continues to reverberate.  US officials are apparently hard at work to stem the outcry resulting from the video, and the usual suspects are calling this Abu Ghraib 2.0...

Listen, it's time to stop the hyperventilation and put this into perspective.  4 US Marine nimrods did an incredibly stupid thing by urinating on the corpses of those they just killed - and then compounded it by making a video of them urinating on them.  It's a breach of their training and decorum.  Find them, charge them, and if found guilty, punish them for their stupidity and conduct unbecoming.  

Beyond that, it's time to move on.  This isn't Abu Ghraib 2.0 or 3.0 or whatever.  This pales in comparison to the moral bankruptcy that is considered 'normal' within the Afghan culture - buggering of young boys by older men, honor killings, their treatment of women - or the Taliban / al-Qaeda who actually do desecrate bodies or the public execution of women in the Kabul football stadium...all of which are real examples of barbarity.

Newt Gingrich's self immolation in his efforts to cripple the Mitt Romney candidacy is reaching new levels of absurdity.  'Just like John Kerry - he speaks French too' is the latest of the pathetic and unbecoming attacks from the petulant candidate.  Mitt Romney is unsuitable because he is apparently fluent in French?  What about your own apparent fluency Newt?  Does that make you just like John Kerry as well?  You're supposed to be the 'intelligent' candidate.

Perhaps we need to rethink that....Since your Super PAC's 'Bain Bomb' attack piece on Mitt Romney is, as Fortune magazine references it, a 'fizzle' that is 'full of wet fuses' - not to mention inaccuracies and getting most of the basic facts wrong. 

Newt Gingrich rose to front runner status by remaining above the usual fray, by focusing his approach, message, and vision against President Obama (and occasionally the stupid questions moderators would ask in debates).  When his own record derailed him from the top position, he responded poorly and is now trebling down on poorly simultaneously with the usual 'do as I say, not as I do' effort to get above the fray.

This also applies to the equally desperate ex-front runner Rick Perry - who is finally, apparently, deciding to stop using the term 'vulture capitalist' to preface his attacks on Mitt Romney.  The only problem is that this pejorative is as inaccurate as the attacks being made by Newt...
Romney and Bain were no ‘vulture capitalists’… Wall Street has its share of the “vulture capitalists” that Texas Gov. Rick Perry enjoyed mocking in South Carolina earlier this week. But Romney was almost the furthest thing from Larry the Liquidator.

Instead, with modest exceptions (keep reading to learn more about these), Bain Capital was a thoroughly respectable — nay, eminent — investment manager that successfully discharged its responsibility of earning high returns for its investors by deploying capital in companies privately rather than by buying shares in the public market. (Hence the name, private equity.)
The latest Rasmussen poll results from South Carolina does not reflect that these attacks on Mitt Romney are doing any real damage to the candidate.  Romney is leading at 28% and holds a 7 point lead on Newt Gingrich.  Rick Santorum and Ron Paul are tied for 3rd with 16% support.  Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman trail with 6% and 5% respectively.  Barring any real change in these numbers, it seems as if Perry and Huntsman should read the writing on the wall and drop their efforts - particularly since Perry has focused so much attention in South Carolina.

Lost within the 'mediavalanche' on Romney and Bain are some of the actions of President Obama and his Administration.

The Obama Administration Department of Justice, the same one that has become one of the most politicized Federal Departments, that leverages the race card like Michelle likes to leverage her credit card, and supplies weapons to Mexican Drug Cartels in order to 'justify' greater US gun controls, has now released a memo that 'justifies' the President's ability to define the Senate in recess.

To call the argument presented weak is a disservice to weak arguments.  The fact that it is an effort to build a case to support a preconceived conclusion is a given....but ignoring not only several basic principles of the Constitution or obvious contradictions is just a start.  At best, it's an invented rationale to provide cover for an overreaching President.  For example, the basis of the claim is that since no business get's done in a pro-forma session, it's not technically a session of Congress.  If Congress isn't in session, then it is in recess...hence the ability to make recess appointments for the President.

However, in pro-forma sessions, business can and does get done.  The passage by the Senate of the 2 month temporary Social Security Payroll Tax reduction extension was done in a pro-forma session.  So either the Senate was in session during a pro-forma session and the law was legally passed (and signed by the President) or it was not - which makes the law void and invalid.  You can't have it both ways.  Also ignored - the Senate cannot entire a recess of more than 3 days without the approval of the House...which was never asked for or granted - because the Senate remained in pro-forma session.

Also neglected by the DoJ - the legal argument made in 2010 by the then Solicitor General of the United States stating that pro-forma Senate sessions are enough to block recess appointments.  Who was that official?  She's now a Justice on the US Supreme Court - Elena Kagan..appointed by President Obama. 

The incompetence of this Administration should be stunning - but unfortunately is commonplace.

President Obama has officially made his request, under the terms of last year's 'Debt Solution' bill to increase the national debt limit by $1.2 trillion - to a new high of $16.4 trillion.  We've increased this by $1.2 trillion last year - and since we are within a few billion of the limit today, a new increase is needed. 

The President is on pace, with this increase in place, to borrow $6.2 trillion during his first term - January 2009 - January 2013.  This is more borrowing done than by the 1st thru 42nd President's - in fact, we didn't hit $6.2 trillion in national debt until the 2nd year of Bush 43's Presidency.  Prior to becoming President, Obama termed the debt increases done by the Bush Administration, about $5 trillion in 8 years in office, as 'unpatriotic'.

We are now in the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression. 

The recovery from the Great Depression was made longer and worse because of the policies of the FDR Administration - just as the current recovery from the 2008-9 recession was made longer and far worse because of the policies of the Obama Administration.

Despite the kerfuffles that are capturing the news, the biggest issues facing the American people, and voters, remain jobs, the size of the national debt, and the actions of politicians which impact jobs and debt. 

Markets in Europe and the US are down today as Standard & Poors is set to downgrade the credit ratings of several euro zone countries later today after the US markets close.  A senior euro zone government source has said that Germany and the Netherlands were not going to be downgraded.  French TV, citing government sources, said the French credit rating would be downgraded (could be as much as by 2 positions) and another source has said that Slovakia would also suffer the same fate. 

UPDATE - France's credit rating downgraded to AA+

In Greece, the negotiations to determine the size of the 'haircut' for private investors in Greek debt (the percentage these investors will lose - expected to be >50%) have broken down completely.  This is a key part of the 2nd Greek bailout that is needed to avert a default in March of this year.  Greece has also failed to enact the needed austerity measures to reduce government spending on entitlements.

The top official of California's High Speed Rail Network Board announced yesterday that he is stepping down..
The coming departure of Roelof van Ark, chief executive of the California High Speed Rail Authority since 2010, is part of a shake-up that also saw Thomas Umberg step down as chairman of the entity's board of directors and recommend an appointee of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, Dan Richard, as his replacement.
Despite the unviable business plan, the lack of private investor funds, the dismal state economic conditions, Governor Jerry Brown is still insisting that this boondoogle for big labor proceeds full speed ahead.
On This Day in History

1128 - Pope Honorius II grants a papal sanction to the military order, Knights Templar, declaring it to be an army of God

1929 - Wyatt Earp dies in Los Angeles

1941 - James Joyce dies in Switzerland

1942 - FDR establishes the US War Production Board with Donald M. Nelson as it's chairman.  The Board oversees all US war production efforts.  Nelson ramped up the 'arsenal of democracy' during his tenure - but was removed after prematurely permitting some manufacturing plants to revert to civilian goods in June 1944 risking shortages of vital materials still needed for the war effort.

1950 - The USSR started their boycott of the United Nation Security Council as the council voted to not eject the Republic of China from the council in favor of the People's Republic of China.  This decision would have ramifications in June when the UNSC voted to authorize UN forces to oppose the North Korean invasion of South Korea.  If at the UNSC, the USSR could have vetoed the move. 

1962 - Comedian Ernie Kovacs killed in LA auto accident

1982 - Air Florida Flight 80 crashes into the Potomac River after take off from Washington DC.

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