Saturday, January 28, 2012

Quick Hits - January 28, 2012

Italian rescue personnel found the 17th body in the wreckage of the Costa Concordia luxury liner earlier today.  16 remain officially missing and are being presumed dead.  Bad weather in the area has stalled efforts to begin to offload the 500,000 gallons of fuel on board the ship to barges alongside.  Fears remain that the ship may continue to shift and spill the fuel.

The cruise line has offered the surviving passengers of the Costa Concordia $14,460 in compensation in return for the passengers who accept dropping any legal action.  A group of 6 passengers from the Costa Concordia have reportedly filed a $460,000,000 lawsuit against Carnival Cruise Lines, the parent company of Costa, alleging the negligence of the Captain caused the sinking of the Costa Concordia.  The Captain remains in house arrest.

The Arab League has halted its observer mission in Syria because of the increasing levels of violence across the countryIn the last two days, over 120 have been killed in clashes between the Assad regime and those protesting his dictatorship.  There are renewed demands for the United Nations Security Council for action, including calling for Assad to step down as Syria's leader.  A draft proposal developed by Morocco has already drawn the threat of a Russian veto inside the Security Council.  Russia is one of 5 nations with a permanent veto that when used will kill any Security Council initiative.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced that France will withdraw all of their forces from Afghanistan one year earlier than originally planned - at the end of 2013 as opposed to the end of 2014.  This is in response to two major terror attacks on French troops committed by Afghani Army troops they were training which resulted in a number of French dead.  The US State Department has not raised any issues or concerns with the French decision as the US continues to work towards its own accelerated withdrawal.

Germany is calling for the European Union to take full sovereignty over the Greek national budget - making all taxation and spending decisions for Greece independent of the Greek government and Parliament.  This is as patience is being lost regarding Greek reform efforts.  The German plan calls for Eurozone finance ministers to appoint a 'Commissioner' who will have full authority to make decisions on the Greek budget.

This is an unprecedented demand that doesn't just trample on Greek democratic rights, but effectively calls for the country to be placed in receivership where a non-Greek has the sole decision making authority over the financial aspects of the country.  This isn't the action of a 'union' of like minded countries - its a fiscal coup being called for by Germany.

Unfortunately, this isn't all that surprising.  Crisis are seen by some to be opportunities...things that cannot be permitted to go to waste.  Throughout Europe and in the World Economic Forum being held in Davos, the progressive elites and hard left are saying that the Eurozone crisis is proof that capitalism is broken.  They are calling for the immediate need to take action to 'fix' capitalism.  The 'fix' is what they are calling 'state capitalism' where the state controls and defines the markets working towards ensuring that 'capitalism' delivers fairness and social justice for all peoples.

This is a rhetorical game.  'State Capitalism' isn't capitalism when the state controls and defines the markets.  All that this is doing is remarketing socialism (in particular the Euro-style socialism) with a new brandname and expecting that with the new name, all of the conditions that Euro-style socialism has caused across the Eurozone will be immediately and completely remedied.  Economic truths that there are limits as to how long one can continue to spend far more than one brings in will not disappear.  Nor will the social aspects that the few will eventually tire and question as to why their efforts are being used by the state to compensate those who don't try in the name of fairness or compassion. 

Ultimately, what will happen?  Some unelected bureaucrat is appointed to take over one's country and make its fiscal decisions.

We have to utterly reject this rebranded socialism and progressive vision.  To paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill, capitalism is the worst economic system ever devised by man, except for all of the others. 

The policies of the Obama Administration are to invoke a Euro-style progressive socialism in the United States.  His vision is that government is the best and only source to ensure that 'fairness' and 'social justice' are the results for the citizens of the country.  The marketplaces are inherently 'unfair' so government regulation and government fiats are needed to address the challenges.  This is despite the damage that these policies really do to the economy and the people.  What results is not a new far larger middle class, but a populace that has moved downwards towards a lowest common denominator level.

Numbers do not lie - before Obama's inauguration on January 20, 2009 - and now...

Number of Unemployed
12 Million
13.1 Million
Long-Term Unemployed
2.7 Million
5.6 Million
Unemployment Rate
High Unemployment States
Misery Index
Price of Gas
Typical Monthly Family Food Cost
Median Value of Single-Family Home
Rate of Mortgage Delinquencies
US National Debt
$10.6 Trillion
$15.2 Trillion

As Mark Steyn notes in his recap of this week's State of the Union...
There are times for dreaming big dreams, and there are times to wake up. This country will not be going to the moon, any more than the British or French do. Because, in decline, the horizons shrivel. The only thing that’s going to be on the moon is the debt ceiling. Before we can make any more giant leaps for mankind, we have to make one small, dull, prosaic, earthbound step here at home — and stop. Stop the massive expansion of micro-regulatory government, and then reverse it. Obama has vowed to press on. If Romney and Gingrich can’t get serious about it, he’ll get his way.

California has been governed and controlled by progressive for much of the last 4 decades.  In 2010, the big midterm thumping of progressivism / Obamaism across the country, California bucked this trend by electing every running Democrat to statewide office.  This history of embracing progressivism across this time is the primary reason why California is the Greece of the United States - a state that remains on the edge of fiscal bankruptcy.

But despite the reality of the situation, the progressives in California do not believe it.  Governor Jerry Brown, despite $25B in deficits - is not only calling for dramatically higher taxes on Californians, but is also pressing forward to spend $120B on a high speed rail program that lacks a viable business model.  California remains the most anti-business state in the country - and is driving business and the middle class out of the state with it's excessive and expensive regulations.

California has now enacted super strict new regulatory requirements on automakers who seek to sell cars in California.  These regulations target not only the emissions of these vehicles, but also fuel economy, and mandates that 1 out of every 7 cars they sell in California be a 'zero-emission' car by 2025.  These same regulators say that while they estimate these regulations will add $2,000 to the price of all cars sold in California, car owners apparently will save over $6,000 during the operational life of the cars.  There is no real foundation for these savings - it is the same rhetorical argument as made by Obama for the stimulus around jobs 'created or saved'.  We can't even belief the $2,000 cost.

What concerns me, however, is how these California regulators intend to enforce the sales levels of zero-emission vehicles on the resident's of CA or the automakers if the California marketplace decides not to buy 1 zero-emission car out of every 7 sold?  This is regulatory authority run amuck.

In the class warfare message being pushed by the progressive left, from the President, to the OccupyWallStreet, to those who claim to be for the 99%, rank hypocrisy is commonplace. 

Elizabeth Warren, now running as a Democratic candidate for Senate, see's herself as one of the 99%.  She not only endorses the OccupyWallStreet  movement, but has called herself the 'intellectual founder of the OccupyWallStreet movement'.  She's also a delusional hypocrite.  Warren is a multi-millionaire who between working for the Obama Administration and being a professor at Harvard, earned over $700,000 last year.  She lives in a $5,000,000 home.  Her financial disclosure forms show she has a stock / bond portfolio worth at least $8 million.  If she gets elected to Congress, she would be one of the 25 wealthiest members of Congress.  She's part of the 1% - the progressive elite...and has all of the arrogance and hypocrisy to match.

Before wrapping up today's post - I want to highlight a post made today by Roger L. Simon of PJ Media.  He has a touching memoriam post for Zane Greyhound, his friend, his greyhound dog, who was euthanized yesterday to end his suffering from cancer.  Roger says,

"If I were a believer, I would say dogs were God's gift to man.  And the death of one makes you want to be a believer, to see him cavorting in some canine heaven off into eternity."
I am a believer and dogs are a gift from God to man.  Yes, Roger, he is.  My condolences on your loss.

On This Day in History

1975 - President Gerald Ford, noting a massive build-up of North Vietnamese military forces inside of South Vietnam done in violation of the 1973 Paris Peace Accords, asks Congress to approve $522 million in military aid for South Vietnam.  Congress ultimately decided to decline the request - breaking the promise made by the United States to South Vietnam regarding military aid.  Before the summer of 1975, both South Vietnam and Cambodia would fall to communists igniting a bloodbath.

1986 - The space shuttle Challenger explodes 73 seconds after lift off from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida killing the entire crew of 7 - Francis R. Scobee (Mission Commander); Michael J. Smith (Pilot); Judith R. Resnik (Mission Specialist 1); Ellison S. Onizuka (Mission Specialist 2); Ronald E. McNair (Mission Specialist 3); Gregory B. Jarvis (Payload Specialist 1); and Christa McAuliffe (Payload Specialist 2).

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