Friday, January 27, 2012

Quick Hits - January 27, 2012 - UPDATED

Depending on the media outlet one reads, watches, or listens to, the Commerce Department's release of the 4th Quarter GDP number for 2011 reflecting an annualized GDP growth of 2.8% is addressed in a number of different ways.  Elements biased towards the President are touting this as yet another sign of a recovery well in hand, noting that the 3rd quarter 2011 GDP growth was 1.8%.  While 2.8% growth is substantially better than 1.8% growth, it is a real stretch to say that the economic recovery is well in hand.

The economic growth we are experiencing in this anemic recovery still trails substantially from the Reagan fueled recovery from a similarly painful recession in 1981-2.  The jobs numbers are still dismal, and the housing situation can be best described as very ugly. Economists were expecting the 4th quarter GDP growth rate to be 3% - so the 2.8% reflects a poorer performance by the economy.

Looking at the entirety of 2011 and picture is even more troubling.  Across the entire year, the country's GDP only grew at a 1.7% pace.  This is a dismal record - and one that is reflective more towards the anti-business and anti-growth policies of the Obama Administration.  These policies are actively at work impeding and dampening the natural effects of the economy to grow.  Just about the only real aspects that are growing are the number / negative impact of regulations from the Administration along with entitlements.  Under Obama, the numbers on food stamps are up 45% and those dependent on Federal handouts are up 32%.

Charles Krauthammer's column for today looks at this, and what he terms the State of the Union flop by the President...
Of course, this being Obama, there was a reach for grandeur. Hope and change are long gone. It’s now equality and fairness.

That certainly is a large idea. Lenin and Mao went pretty far with it. As did Clement Attlee and his social-democratic counterparts in post-war Europe. Where does Obama take it? Back to the decade-old Democratic obsession with the Bush tax cuts, the crusade for a tax hike of all of 4.6 points for 2 percent of households — ten years of which wouldn’t cover the cost of Obama’s 2009 stimulus alone.

Which is why Obama introduced a shiny new twist — the Buffett Rule, a minimum 30 percent rate for millionaires. Sounds novel. But it’s a tired replay of the alternative minimum tax, originally created in 1969 to bring to heel all of 155 underpaying fat cats. Following the fate of other such do-goodism, the AMT then metastasized into a $40 billion monster that today entraps millions of middle-class taxpayers.

There isn’t even a pretense that the Buffett Rule will do anything for economic growth or job creation (other than provide lucrative work for the sharp tax lawyers who will be gaming the new system for the very same rich). Which should not surprise. Back in 2008, Obama was asked if he would still support raising the capital-gains-tax rate (the intended effect of the Buffett Rule) if this would decrease government revenues.

Obama said yes. In the name of fairness.

This is redistribution for its own sake — the cost be damned.
There are just two forms of capitalism that President Obama sees as valid in his viewpoints.  One is 'state capitalism' - where the state is the controlling factor that is the Euro style socialism which brought the EU to crisis.  The other is crony capitalism -where those who support the President gain benefits... Obama supporter and campaign contributor George Soros.
George Soros, a billionaire investor and major backer of President Obama, stands to reap a windfall from legislation promoting natural gas-powered vehicles. The White House unveiled a proposal on Thursday that would do just that.
The proposal would offer incentives for companies to buy and use trucks powered by natural gas. Obama announced the effort at a UPS facility in Las Vegas that received stimulus funding to buy natural gas vehicles and build a fueling station for them.
Another of the anti-business, anti-growth, and wealth redistribution related initiatives openly supported by the President are those related to the environment and the concept of man-caused global warming as touted by Al Gore and far too many unethical scientists.  Their efforts to replace scientific method with the political method (where one develops the hypothesis / conclusion one wants and then fabricates a case to support that conclusion) led to calls for billions of dollars to be spent on green initiatives and regulations to force reduction in fossil fuel usage dramatically increasing costs for all who use energy.

16 climate scientists speak out against this in today's Wall Street Journal in an open letter...
Why is there so much passion about global warming, and why has the issue become so vexing that the American Physical Society, from which Dr. Giaever resigned a few months ago, refused the seemingly reasonable request by many of its members to remove the word "incontrovertible" from its description of a scientific issue? There are several reasons, but a good place to start is the old question "cui bono?" Or the modern update, "Follow the money."

Alarmism over climate is of great benefit to many, providing government funding for academic research and a reason for government bureaucracies to grow. Alarmism also offers an excuse for governments to raise taxes, taxpayer-funded subsidies for businesses that understand how to work the political system, and a lure for big donations to charitable foundations promising to save the planet. Lysenko and his team lived very well, and they fiercely defended their dogma and the privileges it brought them.

Speaking for many scientists and engineers who have looked carefully and independently at the science of climate, we have a message to any candidate for public office: There is no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to "decarbonize" the world's economy. Even if one accepts the inflated climate forecasts of the IPCC, aggressive greenhouse-gas control policies are not justified economically.
What is needed, but not advocated by this Administration, are reasonable protections for the environment - measuring those impacts against the negative impacts towards our economy and lifestyle.  The Earth is, I believe, far more resilient than we know.  Here in the US, our air and water are far cleaner than they were prior to the passage of the Clean Air and Clean Water acts.  We need to stop using taxation and regulations to define / control behavior in the manner advocated by the left.  Taxes are to fund the necessary operations of government.  Regulations are to protect the marketplace.

I don't believe I am not the only one who believes that the President has done far more to promote division in this country than any other President I can recall - which goes back to Kennedy.  The meme from 2008's campaign that he would be a unifier was nothing more than an empty meme.  Starting under the Presidency of George W. Bush, the progressive left has declared war on middle America and traditional American values.  One of the places most active in this is in academia - which is one of the great tragedies since students aren't getting the education they need - but an ideological indoctrination.

The Gateway Pundit, Jim Hoft, highlights this in his posting about a hateful angry leftist teacher who refused to accept an award named after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan because he is a conservative who believes in capitalism.  In her speech, she spews her bile and bias...
The challenge of humanitarians today is to close that divide and fight for the well being of the 99 percent. The struggle for equality is not only a civil rights struggle; it is an economic justice struggle. There is no wealth problem in this country only a distribution problem. Our society needs to reorder its priorities and meet human need instead of fostering individual human greed.

As a recipient of Gateway Technical College’s Humanitarian Award, I pledge to redouble my efforts in the struggle for social and economic justice. Concretely, that means fighting to roll back the power of the corporate elite in our society, making the ultra-rich pay their fair share in taxes, fighting for adequate funding for our public schools, restoring collective bargaining for public employees, fair and humane immigration reform, and restoring the voting rights for all people living within our state and country...
Marx, Lenin, Mao, and Obama must be so proud of her.  It worked so well everyplace it was tried.

Media bias does exist.  Denials about it are just empty statements.  The elite media never misses an effort to assert their 'importance' in influencing their readers, viewers, or listeners.  Decades ago, people got into journalism to be on the cutting edge of reporting the first view of history as it happens - to get the facts right and report those facts to their audience.  Now, people are getting into journalism to 'change the world' - to promote an ideology and approach that they subscribe to and believe.  As opposed to being disinterested, they are now advocates.

As the media became more biased, as they worked to influence and change the world, something happened.  They started losing their audience.  The more biased they became, the more they lost their audience.  Media execs ignore the linkage of the quality of their product with the declining subscribers, viewers, and listeners.  But this is just delusional.  Even with more competition and sources for information available to people - successful outlets who offer the least biased / highest quality products are succeeding.

Locally to me, the dinosaur newspaper is the Los Angeles Times.  It's an incredibly biased newspaper - as far to the left as the UK's Guardian or Independent.  It's also losing subscribers consistently over the last decade.  Today, it has fewer subscribers than it did in the early 1960's - and the population of it's primary market, Los Angeles County California is one third larger today (9.8M residents in 2010 compared to 6.6M in 1965) than it was in 1965.

Why is the biased Times struggling?  Because the quality of the product they offer the reader is crap - and readers will not subscribe to crap.  An example comes from their decision to publish this editorial cartoon from liberal moron David Horsey - who made a name for himself with his attacks on the US military during the Iraqi War.

I reported yesterday about the facts around the confrontation initiated by President Obama when he was met by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on his arrival in Arizona. She met him, greeted him warmly, and gave him a letter asking for a meeting to discuss the Federal government's lack of enforcement of illegal immigration laws. The President, demonstrating his thin-skin, went on the attack complaining about the Governor's depiction of a him from a previous meeting in her book.

But what the moronic cartoonist saw wasn't the facts - but instead made an attack on the Governor calling her an anti-immigration racist.  This is what Governor Brewer said in this nitwits projections and hatred towards conservatives...and despite the use of the word 'really' has absolutely no grasp with reality.  It's just crap that reflects more about the cartoonist and the decision of the LA Times to print it than it does on Governor Brewer.

The above video is one of Palestinian 'moderates' marching and saluting in Lebanon.  These are the one's who say they are entitled to a state while calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.  These 'moderates' are making the Nazi salute.  We need to rethink who we consider the moderates are - and take a hard look at which side is the real problem in the region.

In Syria, more than 50 have been killed in the last 2 days of continued violence.  There are reports of hundreds of women and children being murdered by the Assad regime in the city of Homs.  Still little is being done to stop the violence being waged by Assad on his own people. 

In Baghdad, violence continues to escalate there in the wake of the US pullout from Iraq.  Today, a suicide bomber kills 32 attending a funeral.  al-Qaeda is declaring victory over the US for forcing the US to retreat from Iraq - and Iranian Quds forces are effectively taking over parts of Iraq.  The political decision by President Obama to abandon Iraq to appease his base will have major repercussions for decades - just like Carter's naive decisions regarding Iran in the late 1970's.

The on again off again Greek debt talks are on again - with the private bondholders making a significant concession in the yields they are asking for from the new Greek bonds they will get if a deal is reached.  The Greek and EU governments still want the private investors to give up more.  I suspect that despite the optimism being expressed by officials at Davos, an agreement is still quite distant.  The fact that the European Central Bank is not included in the agreement will be a sticking point for the private investors when they are being asked to give up at least 70% of their investment and the ECB isn't subject to the same pain.

The other aspect of the Greek problem is the size of the bailout that is needed. EU officials now admit that €130 billion is not enough for next Greece bailout. Where will the additional funds come from - and will the decision finally be that letting Greece default would be better for all as opposed to kicking the can down the road for another year?  


SPAIN - AA- to A
ITALY - A+ to A-

This action is on the heels of Standard & Poors actions 2 weeks ago to downgrade a number of Eurozone nations.

On This Day in History

1888 - National Geographic Society is founded

1943 - The US 8th Air Force launches its first daylight bombing raid into Germany - bombing the port at Wilhelmshaven

1944 - Soviet Army units permanently break the German encirclement of Leningrad ending the nearly 900 day siege of the city

1951 - The first atomic bomb detonation at the Nevada Proving Ground range north of Las Vegas.  The flash of this detonation was so bright it was seen in San Francisco.

1967 - Astronauts Virgil 'Gus' Grissom, Edward H. White II, and Roger B. Chafee are killed in a launch pad fire on board the Apollo 1 command module at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

1973 - The Paris Peace Accords are signed by officials from the United States and North Vietnam bringing an official end to the US participation in the Vietnam War.

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