Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Quick Hits - January 25, 2012

Much of the news cycle this morning is being directed at President Obama's State of the Union campaign speech delivered last night - and this morning's resignation of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords representing Arizona's 8th District to focus on her recovery. 

Just a brief word on the latter - and I'll cover more about the President's populist campaign speech in a dedicated post a little later today.

The House of Representatives today saluted Rep. Gabby Giffords this morning as she resigned in order to focus her efforts on her continued recovery from her near fatal shooting - and to permit another to provide representation for the constituents of the district.  It was moving - particularly the comments from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Lawhawk, the primary blogger behind 'A Blog For All' - posted his 152nd update on the Rebuilding of Ground Zero.  This is a long running feature that provides great detail and information on the public and private efforts around Ground Zero.  It's been invaluable in reporting on the bureaucracy and mismanagement related to the continued failures to rebuild in the 10+ years since the terror attack.  In the latest report, he highlights that 2WTC and 3WTC, next to the Freedom Tower, the largest buildings to be constructed, will not be built out to their full extent because of challenges in finding tenants for those buildings at this time.  The report also notes that there are some real questions about the actions and salaries of the management of the 9/11 Memorial Foundation - the President of the Foundation receives $378,000 in an annual salary and other executives are paying themselves more than $200,000 per members of 9/11 victims are concerned that they are profiting from the tragedy.

In Europe, the World Economic Forum kicked off in Davos, Switzerland this week.  The 'elites' attending are focusing on the progressive / statist political and economic agenda by trying to advocate the importance of 'fixing' capitalism by embracing what they are terming 'state capitalism'.  State capitalism seems to be the latest buzzword to describe statism and socialism.  A new term is needed as Europe continues to wallow in the Eurozone fiscal crisis brought on by decades of embracing socialism.  With the new term, they can relaunch their efforts to do more of the same while trying to convince themselves that the architecture of socialism isn't the real problem.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke to a number of major Euro newspapers, including 'The Guardian' on the fiscal challenges that the European Union is facing.  In her discussion, Merkel cast real doubts on the ability for the EU to prevent a Greek default this year.  However, Merkel still remains insistent that more statism and centralized control of fiscal policies of EU member nations by the European Court of Justice will solve the fiscal crisis impacting the region.

What was that Einstein said about insanity?

The continuing crisis in the Eurozone is leading to more finger-pointing between officials and bankers of the member nations.  Merkel's insistence on her plan (apparently Sarkozy is a non-entity since France was downgraded by S&P) is also working to isolate Germany from other nations who are more hesitant today to embrace providing the EU bureaucracy with direct control of the fiscal policies of the 17 member nations.  The International Monetary Fund is also expressing their pessimism in the region.  In addition to downgrading the economic performance expectations for the region, noting the high risk for many nations entering a double dip recession, they are also saying that the EU members, in particular Germany, are going to have to kick in far more rescue funds for the troubled members.

Private investors in Greek debt, already concerned about the terms in the negotiations that can permit Greece to change the deal after the fact, have drawn a line in the sand regarding the 'haircut' they are being asked to take on their debt holdings.  The investors have said that they will not accept a loss greater than 65% at this time - but Greece and Germany are pressuring them to accept losses in the 70% - 75% range.  When the idea was originally proposed last fall, the private investors were told that they would only have to take a 50% 'haircut'. 

A US Seal team parachuted into Somalia last night and rescued a kidnapped US aid worker and her Danish colleague.  They had been held for 3 months.  The team, the same Seal unit that was on the Bin Laden mission, killed 9 Somali terrorists who held the workers captive.

On the political front - prior to the President's State of the Union campaign speech, the media's attention was focused on the GOP Presidential Primary race in Florida and on the tax returns released by Mitt Romney.  With the latter, the focus was on Romney's $42 million in investment income received in 2010 and 2011 - and the $6.2 million that he paid in Federal taxes on that investment income.  What was less reported was that Mitt Romney also made $7 million in charitable deductions in total across those 2 years - amounting to 15% of his total income.  In contrast, President Barack Obama, the compassionate fighter for 'social justice' only contributed 1% of his income to charity - and Vice President Joe Biden made only $369 in charitable deductions.  Apparently both Obama and Biden feel that it's governments role to give - not individuals.

Also getting attention in the blogosphere, but not with the mainstream media, is an official White House memorandum written by economist Larry Summers which is showing that the Obama Administration misrepresented and lied about the costs associated with the Obama Healthcare Reform initiative (Obamacare) and the costs / goals of the $800 billion + stimulus program.  The memo noted:
  1. The stimulus was all about implementing the Obama political agenda.
  2. Team Obama knew that the deficits they are running up (>$1.2T annually) are dangerous.
  3. Obamanomics was pricier than advertised.
  4. Even Washington can only spend money so fast.
  5. Team Obama wanted to use the courts to force massive mortgage principal write downs.
  6. The financial crisis wasn't just Wall Street's fault.
  7. Team Obama thought a stimulus larger than $1 trillion would spook financial markets.
Unfortunately, this isn't that much of a surprise - as we've known that this Administration has been placing politics and ideology ahead of doing what's best for the country.

Powerline is reporting that the union AFSCME is launching a major advertising campaign intending to benefit GOP Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, calling it a NEWTron bomb...
AFSCME supports Newt because it is of the view that Newt is the weakest of the three serious GOP candidates remaining. AFSCME’s game runs a few leagues beyond Rush’s Operation Chaos, designed for entertainment value to prolong an opponent’s intraparty contest. Rather, it is AFSCME’s Newtron bomb, designed surgically to destroy the Republican Party while leaving the buildings standing. It is liberally expending its financial resources to provide crucial support to the GOP’s weakest possible nominee.

I can’t think of a single thing that AFSCME supports that people of good judgment shouldn’t oppose, and I seriously doubt that this is an exception. I should think that conservatives who are drinking Newt’s hard stuff would be sobered up finding themselves in bed with the AFSCME crowd on the morning after the South Carolina primary.
Andrew Breibart's Big Government is reporting today that the White House, the Department of Justice, and the organizations formerly known as ACORN are actively committing voter registration fraud on a massive level...
It is now clear that Project Vote and the Obama/Holder DOJ are conspiring to file DOJ lawsuits to help re-elect Barack Obama. This collusion between Project Vote and the Obama administration is a significant threat to the integrity of the 2012 elections.
To have Project Vote involved in DOJ voting rights enforcement is like having the Mafia run the FBI! And Estelle Rogers is one of Project Vote’s key “bosses.”

As Director of Advocacy for Project Vote, Estelle Rogers ‒ a former attorney for ACORN, which was besieged with charges of corruption before declaring bankruptcy in November 2010 ‒ is a primary contact person on policy matters at Project Vote at both the state and federal levels and has been actively involved in voter registration issues. Using the threat of a lawsuit under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), Project Vote has aggressively sought to manipulate voter registration laws in various states in an effort to increase the registration of people receiving public assistance...

...Project Vote and ACORN have both been linked to massive voter registration fraud. A total of 70 ACORN employees in 12 states have been convicted of voter registration fraud. And as documented in a July 2009 report by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, of the 1.3 million registrations Project Vote/ACORN submitted in the 2008 election cycle, more than one-third were invalid.
One third of 1.3 million registrations means that 440,000 registrations were invalid and fraudulent.  Remember that as the Administration and their supporters fight Voter ID laws using the argument that there isn't a voter fraud problem.

On This Day in History

1759 - Robert Burns is born.  Celebrated by Scots worldwide - bring on the haggis and whisky.

1905 - The World's largest diamond was found in South Africa.  The 'Cullinan' was 3,106 carats - or 1.33 pounds rough.

1924 - The first Winter Olympics are held in Chamonix, France

1968 - The Israeli submarine Dakar disappears while in transit in the Mediterranean.  69 Israeli sailors are lost.

1971 - Charles Manson, Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten, and Patricia Krenwinkle are convicted in the 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others.  They are all sentenced to death.  Their sentences are later changed to life imprisonment after the California Supreme Court struck down the state's death penalty in 1972.

1995 - Russia nearly launches its nuclear missiles in response to thinking that a scientific missile launch off Norway was a first strike missile attack on Russia.  Russian President Yeltsin was minutes away from ordering a massive counter strike when the threat was discovered to be non-existent.

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