Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Quick Hits - January 24, 2012

Some pundits are calling it the worst GOP Presidential Primary debate of the series of debates which have taken place since last May.  NBC News was the primary host of last night's GOP debate, with their anchor Brian Williams as the main moderator.

After two sub par debate performances, Mitt Romney came back very strong hitting Newt Gingrich hard particularly around the consulting work the former Speaker did for Fannie / Freddie.  Gingrich continues to represent that he was just a consultant - a historian - providing context and background for Fannie / Freddie.  Romney's attack focused on Gingrich's released contract (only one of several, and the latest) and the fact that Gingrich did serve as a lobbyist for the GSE's.  Romney also scored points by hammering Gingrich on the GOP coup in the House that removed him as Speaker.

Gingrich was on the defensive most of the night and failed to really score major hits on Romney.  Gingrich angrily lashed out at the moderation of the debate, specifically the requirement by the moderators that the audience not react or respond to the debaters.  After having scored some significant points by getting the audience involved in the SC debates, Gingrich as announced that he would pull out of future debates if the audience cannot react or cheer to his glib comments

Rick Santorum was an non-factor in the debate as the two front runners grabbed most of the focus.  However, the questions asked by the NBC / Florida papers / National Journal team were what were the most cringe worthy moments of the debate.  The case around Terri Schiavo was in 2005 - yet this was worthy of a question for the debate over all of the other major issues we're facing today?  Or if the Everglades will continue to be able to get Federal pork?

Once again, those at the RNC responsible for setting up these debates need to immediately sacked for gross incompetence.

This morning Mitt Romney released his 2010 and 2011 income tax information as promised on Sunday.  The mainstream media is wasting little time attacking Romney over the information saying it's 'unfair' that Romney 'only' paid $6.2 million in Federal taxes in those years on $42.5 million in 'income'.  Romney has no salary, so his income comes solely from the investments he made at and since his tenure at Bain Capital.  The focus is that the taxes paid reflect only 13.9% of his income.  Left unmentioned was the $7 million in charitable donations made by Romney across both of those years.

The media attacks are going to fit right in the class warfare / unfairness meme that will be a major point of President Obama's State of the Union campaign speech tonight.  Highlighting the 'unfairness' of the tax system will be one of the VIP guests of First Lady Michelle Obama, Warren Buffett's secretary.  This is the same secretary who Buffett touts as an example of the 'unfairness' of the tax system since she supposedly pays a higher tax rate percentage than multi-billionaire Buffett.  Buffett's income doesn't come from a salary, but from his investment profits.  If Buffett really wants his secretary to pay the same rate as he does - he should just start paying her with stocks so she can also pay at the capital gains rate.

Of course, also left out of this argument are the real facts around tax payments in this country.  The average effective tax rate paid is 12.5%...lower than the 13.9% paid by Mitt Romney.  Nearly half of all Americans today pay no federal income taxes.  In 2009, the most recent year of records, 97% of Americans paid less percentage of their incomes in taxes than Mitt Romney did in 2010.  So much for the 'unfair' meme or that the rich aren't paying their share.

Here are some of the topics that are very unlikely to be referenced by President Obama in tonight's State of the Union address...

It's doubtful that the President will reference one of the real winners of his decision to deny the TransCanada application to build the Keystone XL pipeline across the US to bring Canadian oil to US Gulf refineries.  That winner is the aforementioned Warren Buffett.  His railroad, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, stands to benefit from the shipment of oil by rail from Canada to the US that would have been done by the pipeline once it was completed.  Of course, the higher transportation and delivery costs that rail shipment will involve will also contribute to higher fuel prices in the United States.

As the President rails against the 'unfairness' of the system, it is also unlikely that the President will address the crony capitalism and anti-business decisions of his Administration.  We're not going to hear about the President's decisions to provide billions in taxpayer funds to company's where his largest campaign contributors hold investment, ownership, or leadership positions.  This means we will not hear about Solyndra, Lightsquared, or Solar Millennium.  Nor will we hear about the $45 billion in taxpayer assistance given to Government Motors or the $14 billion the taxpayer has lost in Government Motors.  We will also not hear about the decisions by the National Labor Relations Board that costs jobs in favor of rewarding unions or the EPA enacting regulations that are driving up energy costs in favor of appeasing the environmentalist / global warming base.

I doubt the President will acknowledge the US Senate and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for their latest un-achievement... 1,000 days (today) without passing a Federal budget as is required by Federal law.  This level of failure even exceeds that of the White House, which has missed the budget deadline today for the 3rd year out of the 4 that the Administration is responsible for.

The President will be touting that the vision and ideas of the GOP in the House and the Presidential candidates towards getting the economy on the right track is the wrong vision, idea, and approach for the country.  He will continue to press for more of the same efforts that were made over the last three years - and expect the American people to know that despite the lack of success in the past three years, it's all George Bush's fault - and this time they will work.  BS.

Denying facts and reality is SOP for the President and the DNC.

Martin Wolf, the chief economic commentator for the UK's Financial Times, or as I term him, the 'Paul Krugman' of the FT (he is an active supporter of the hard left Labour Party in Britain), says in a major column that capitalism is broken and that seven major steps are needed to 'fix' this broken system.  Unsurprisingly, the seven major steps have their roots in the progressive ideological framework - more Keynesian economics, expansion of the welfare state, that 'fairness' and government enforced equality of results delivers an equality of opportunity, and that greater government controls and power are needed to prevent 'capitalism' from being as messy and imperfect as it is.

This encompasses much of what President Obama will press for tonight - and in his campaign for re-election.

Articulating a far better argument is Mark Levin in his new book, Ameritopia.  Dan Riehl's review of the book references this specifically....
Timely because it cuts to the heart of the political struggle playing out in 2012, timeless in that it’s a concise yet thorough primer addressing the two core philosophies that drive all American politics, the depth of understanding of both Liberalism and Conservatism and the critical struggle between them it provides represents a wealth of information and insight to empower the Conservative and political activist of today.

From government in general, to the particulars of the American experiment embodied in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution, Levin extensively quotes unique and important thinkers, such as Plato, More, Hobbes and Marx on behalf of the utopianist view; with thinkers like Locke, Montesquieu, de Tocqueville and others representing the individualist, or Conservative view as we know it today.

Interspersed with extensive, insightful commentary by Levin himself, one comes to understand the bedrock, theory and practice of two very different political ideologies and how they apply to contemporary American politics playing out on a day-to-day basis, as well as in every election year.

Broadly at issue is, how will man structure himself, so as to function within a society. The utopianist would hold that said society must be structured from the top down, with rules, roles, regulations and laws all purportedly designed for the common good being issued from on high. The individualist, free-thinking, or conservative view would hold that, at the core of all civil society rests the individual, with his natural rights and inclinations, both good and bad, the ideal society being represented by a governmental authority that manifests the least amount of control possible, so as to empower the freedom, happiness and productivity of the individual.

By tracing the development of these two critical schools of thinking from their earliest beginnings, in theory, practice and thought, following them right up to today, one comes to understand American society as existing within a polarity between the two competing schools, with every political decision, be it a vote, or government mandate, as impacting precisely where within said polarity an American must live out his, or her life every day.

By addressing the topic in this manner, Levin allows for the reader to come to understand that liberalism, socialism, Marxism and even Obama-ism are actually all one and the same under the guise of utopianism. The only difference being, where on the utopianist continuum from absolute anarchy (the absence of government) to abject tyranny, or totalitarianism we exist at any point in time.

The Heritage Foundation has noted that Government does have a role related to creating jobs...and lists 5 steps that Government needs to take to drive job growth...

  1. Reform the tax code to a new pro-growth flat tax
  2. Allow expanded exploration, recovery, transport, and use of American fossil fuels
  3. Grant free trade agreement negotiation authority to the Executive Branch
  4. Cut the over-regulation of the economy by the government
  5. Repeal the Davis-Bacon Act and prohibit government mandated project labor agreements so the market sets wages for federal construction projects....reducing the flow of taxpayer funds to unions.
Yesterday, the 2010-11 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins visited the White House and President Barack Obama.  What was notable about the visit was that the Bruin goalie, Tim Thomas, skipped the team visit with the President because Thomas is a strong conservative and had no interest in meeting President Obama.

Also yesterday, a former CIA officer was charged in Federal court for repeatedly leaking classified information to journalists including the identities of Agency operatives involved in the capture and interrogation of terrorists held at Guantamano Bay.  The New York Times and the Washington Post were some of the papers that Jim Kiriakou is alleged to have leaked classified information to. 

What was being downplayed in these papers in the announcement of Kiriakou being charged that Kiriakou is also a former Democratic staffer for John Kerry on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from March 2009 to May 2011.  The alleged leaks took place in 2008 and 2009 - including while he was a staffer.  Kiriakou, who is also a contributor to the Huffington Post, is a vehement anti-Bush progressive who was the first official in the US government to openly admit the use of waterboarding as an interrogation method with three of the top captured al-Qaeda terrorists.

The connection between labor unions, the rebranded ACORN, and OccupyWallStreet was highlighted again in San Francisco as these groups clashed with police...
In San Francisco this past weekend, the Occupy movement bolstered by labor unions and the rebranded California ACORN group ACCE once again terrorized private businesses and got into direct clashes that included throwing furniture, bricks and Bibles at police officers. This was another “Day of Action” for Occupy San Francisco, in a move that was designed to show the world that #Occupy is still relevant despite being thrown out of their encampments. 23 protesters were arrested and two police officers were injured. As one activist said to the San Francisco Examiner, “I think things went well on Friday.”
With the OWS promoting more violence, George Soros, in particular is excited about riots in the streets of America...
As anger rises, riots on the streets of American cities are inevitable. “Yes, yes, yes,” he says, almost gleefully. The response to the unrest could be more damaging than the violence itself. “It will be an excuse for cracking down and using strong-arm tactics to maintain law and order, which, carried to an extreme, could bring about a repressive political system, a society where individual liberty is much more constrained, which would be a break with the tradition of the United States.”
What a vile bastard...

On This Day in History

1848 - California's Gold Rush starts as gold is discovered at Sutter's Creek

1908 - Boy Scout movement begins in England

1935 - The first canned beer goes on sale

1965 - Sir Winston Churchill dies at the age of 90

1972 - Shoichi Yokoi, a Japanese sergeant, is found hiding on Guam... unaware that World War 2 ended in 1945, Yokoi, was waiting for the Japanese return to the island and new orders.

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