Thursday, January 26, 2012

Quick Hits - January 26, 2012

Sorry for the late posting - busy day...

On of the things I didn't reference in yesterday's recap of the President's State of the Union speech was picked up and noted by Ed Morrissey over at Hot Air - High Speed Rail.  This was a factor in all of the previous SOTU addresses - and one that was a real focal point from last year's.  This year?  Nothing.

Of course, over the last couple of years, only California's political leadership remains committed towards implementing a high speed rail network.  This is despite the major black eyes the program is taking because of the nearly trebling in costs for the program (to nearly $120 billion) and a fantasy driven business model...
“The success or failure of the program” depends on obtaining up to $105 billion in additional funding, which has not been identified, the report says. It also finds that cost estimates for the initial phase do not include operating or maintenance outlays, which the auditor estimates could total $97 billion between 2025 and 2060.
Supposedly, this will get recouped by fare sales, since the project’s legal foundation requires it to cover its costs without subsidies. The project estimates 40 million riders a year by 2030, which would mean 1.4 billion boardings during that 35-year stretch. That’s almost certainly a fantasy; Richard White points out in the link above that BART only achieved 25% of its estimated ridership.

Let’s take that ridership assumption at face value. That would make the cost of a boarding $70 just to cover ongoing operating and maintenance costs, with the bonds for construction still outstanding and adding interest costs to the state’s commitment. The principal of $105 billion in bonds would add another $75 per boarding cost to the ticket, bring us — without the interest — to $145 per boarding, or about $290 per round ticket, which is far above what it costs for an airline ticket to make the same trip in less time with more departure and arrival choices.
Despite these facts, Governor Moonbeam still wants a state that is, for all practical purposes, America's Greece, to press forward with this boondoggle.

Speaking of broken financial models, the US Federal Reserve Bank is apparently considering a third (or is it fourth) QE  (Quantitative Easing) program to bolster the national economy.  The previous efforts have achieved little as the economic recovery stagnates.  Unfortunately, the other anti-business and anti-growth policies and agenda items of the Obama Administration are working against the natural efforts of the economy to turnaround.

Warren Buffet's secretary, Debbie Bosanke, used as a prop by President Obama during his SOTU speech to promote the 'Buffett Rule' - invoking higher taxes on the wealthy to get them to 'pay their fair share' likely makes between $200,000 and $500,000 per year in salary...
I have nothing against Debbie Bosanke earning a half million or even more. Buffet is a major player in the world economy. His secretary deserves good compensation. At her income, however, she is scarcely the symbol of injustice that Obama wishes her to project.
In the class warfare battle that is being waged by the President, OccupyWallStreet, and their progressive supports, the calls for the Buffett Rule to be tax fairness is far from being 'fair' - it's all about higher taxes to supposedly fix the unprecedented spending / debt being done by this President in his effort to fundamentally change the US into a Euro-style social welfare state.
But America is not (yet) Europe. People here still aspire to be rich more than they hate success, no matter how many times the media extols the virtues of Occupy Wall Street and its attacks on the 1 percent.
Plus, Obama is clearly alienating former supporters in the business community, like JP Morgan chief Jamie Dimon — who has the distinction of running a bank that stayed away from the risk-taking that doomed the rest of the business.

Dimon, a life-long Democrat, backed Obama strongly in 2008, but now is undecided. He’s not crazy about the GOP’s right wing, but he also notes that he’s now “barely a Democrat, because I think the left side of the party is really destructive.”
Fatigue?  The TV ratings for President Obama's State of the Union speech have plummeted.  Only 37.8 million viewers this year watched the State of the Union campaign speach - down significantly from the 52.4 million who watched President Obama's first State of the Union speech in January 2009.

Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner says that he is definitely out if President Obama wins a second term - saying that President Obama would not ask him to stay on in his role for a 2nd term. 
Reports from the Internal Revenue Service show that 36 of President Obama's executive office staff are delinquent on their Federal taxes - owning nearly $850,000 in back taxes. 

Yet another green-tech stimulus company that benefited from Obama Administration / Department of Energy grants has filed for bankruptcy.  Ener1, based in Indiana and specializing in batteries for electric cars, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  The company received $118.5 million in a grant from the Department of Energy - pledging to create 1700 jobs from the grant.  Only 33 jobs were created.

The Senate voted yesterday 52-44 to approve the President's request to raise the national debt limit by $1.2 trillion.  President Obama is on pace to add $6.2 trillion to the national debt resulting from his unprecedented budget deficits during this term in office.  To contrast this, President Bush, castigated by Obama and the left for his deficit spending, added $4.9 trillion in 8 years.  President Clinton, in his 8 years in office increased the national debt by $1.5 trillion.  In fact, Obama's

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced earlier today that the massive Obama defense cuts will result in the reduction of 100,000 ground troops (80K Army, 20K Marines) in addition to other major force / strength reductions. 

Since the Obama Administration has been focused on not only emulating the Carter Administration, but exceeding the Carter Administration in its domestic, foreign, and economical failures, these defense cuts are nothing more than another embracement of Carter policies.

We've termed President Obama as one of the more narcissistic persons we've had in the White House.  He's also one of the most thin-skinned.

Arizona was one of the battleground state stops being made by President Obama in the wake of his State of the Union campaign speech.  Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, a Republican, is at the airport to welcome President Obama as he debarks from Air Force One.  Despite past challenges with President, particularly around the President's decision to have the Department of Justice file suit against Governor Brewer and Arizona for that state's passage of an anti-illegal immigration bill, Governor Brewer warmly greeted the President - and presented with the President a letter to ask for a meeting on this issue.

However, President Obama apparently was very upset with the Governor over her representation of him and their previous meeting regarding the Arizona anti-illegal immigration legislation - and the letter.  The President verbally goes after the Governor - at which time the Governor's body language changes and she defends herself.

This isn't the first time that the thin-skin of the President has been seen.  During the BP oil spill in the summer of 2010, the President went after Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal on an airport tarmac after Jindal had strongly criticized the President's response to the oil spill.

Warning that Europe was in a "perilous moment" he lambasted its leaders for "tinkering here and there" rather than showing the bold leadership needed to save the euro. "This is a time to show the leadership our people are demanding," he urged.

Using highly provocative language, Mr Cameron attacked the Financial Transactions Tax idea, which analysts believe could cost €200 billion and wipe out 500,000 jobs.

"Even to be considering this at a time when we are struggling to get our economies growing is quite simply madness," he said. "We can't go on like this. That is why Britain has been arguing for a pro-business agenda in Europe."

Expanding the policies which created the financial crisis will not solve the financial crisis.

In Egypt, the military government has barred 6 Americans who worked for publicly funded US organizations promoting democracy from leaving the country. One of those barred is the son of the US Secretary of Transportation. This has created a diplomatic incident with Egypt... as we learn that the Muslim Brotherhood won nearly 50% of the seats in the Egyptian Parliament, and the Salafist fundamentalist Islamic party won about 25% of the seats. This makes the Egyptian Parliament dominated by Islamists.

Is this finally the coup de grace for those who are promoting global warming for political purposes?  Powerline highlights a new Canadian report on temperature modeling studies..
This is merely the latest in a series of recent climate modeling studies that conclude that the standard “consensus” forecast of the amount of warming to be expected by a doubling of carbon dioxide has been dramatically overestimated. Which is just about par for the course with most environmental scares. As more studies like this dribble out from the scientific community, eventually we’ll reach the proverbial “tipping point” beloved of so many climate alarmists—only it won’t tip the way they think.
Wrapping up - on CNN tonight at 8PM Eastern, they will be hosting the 19th GOP Presidential Primary debate in Jacksonville, Florida.  I don't know about you, but I am pretty well fatigued out by the number of these debates.  I expect it to be full of fireworks between the front runners, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich as that race tightens once again.

On This Day in History
1500 - Pinzon discovers Brazil

1788 - Australia Day - commemorating the 11 ships of the First Fleet arrive at Australia to establish the British penal colony on the continent. 

1939 - General Francisco Franco's Nationalist forces capture the Republican capital of Barcelona.  The capture of the Republican capital marks the beginning of the end for the Spanish Civil War.

1945 - Soviet troops enter Auschwitz - liberating the survivors (only 7,000) from the network of concentration camps established their by Nazi Germany for the elimination of Jews and others.  Disturbingly, 1 in 5 young German's today have never heard of Auschwitz.

1950 - The Republic of India is created as the Indian constitution takes effect - making India the most populous democracy in the world.

1980 - The US Olympic Committee votes to boycott the 1980 Summer Olympic games in Moscow over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.


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