An arrest was made yesterday morning of a suspect in the 53 arson attack spree that hit the Hollywood, West Hollywood area of Los Angeles over the last several days. Harry Burkhart, a 24 year old German national is being held without bail on one charge of felony arson as the investigation continues. Burkhart is in the midst of a dispute with US immigration officials over the status of his mother - who is slated to be deported. He has been quoted saying, 'I hate America'. Since his arrest, there have been no new arson fires reported.
The Iranian government has ratcheted up the rhetoric significantly as it has ordered the United States to not return any aircraft carriers to the Persian Gulf - this coming as the USS John C. Stennis carrier group left the Persian Gulf after a port visit to Bahrain. The Iranians are claiming the Persian Gulf as 'Iranian'. The United States responded that they consider the area international waters and will exercise their rights to sail in international waters when they desire.
This is on the heels of the Iranian's wrapping up their 10 day military exercises in the Persian Gulf and around the Straits of Hormuz where they threatened to close the Straits and tested new anti-ship cruise missiles. The nations around the Persian Gulf are reported as 'alarmed' by the rhetoric coming from Tehran and tensions are increasing significantly. Along with the tensions, oil prices are also increasing - up 3.1% and over $100 per barrel. With these tensions and price increases, the impact on the US could be seen by seeing regular gas prices in the $5 per gallon level during 2012.
Here in Southern California, we're experiencing $3.65 per gallon on the average - about 10% higher than this time a year ago - but still below the $4.05 - $4.10 per gallon peak we had in 2011.
In Europe, while the stock markets are opening up, the outlook for 2012 remains grim. Greece is warning that it will have to leave the Euro if it fails to reach an agreement with bondholders and international lenders on a second 130 billion Euro bailout that is needed by March 2012. The Greek government remains in gridlock over steps to fall into line with the EU mandated austerity measures needed to comply to the last bailout - and public unrest / strikes are ongoing.
Still no clear decision by the credit rating organizations as to if / when France will receive a downgrade on their AAA rating - but one remains expected. Both France and Germany continue to press for the major changes in the EU to provide more centralized authority and control over the national budgets of member nations. Ultimately, however, it looks as if the key country to decide the fate of the European Union will be Germany. In this analysis from London's Telegraph, given the options left open to Germany regarding the future of the EU is to either risk its own economic standing and survival to bailout / support other nations that refuse to be fiscally responsible or to let the euro die, Germany will ultimately decide in favor of self-preservation.
The key to this will be to watch the internal German politics and the fates of those who are strong advocates for a stronger central EU government over that of the individual states of Europe.
Iowans go to cast their caucus votes around 7PM CST (5PM PST). This is the first 'real' vote for the Presidential Primary season. President Obama is running without challenge and all of the focus is on the GOP Primary race - and the neck to neck race between Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul. Each of the 2nd tier of candidates, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachmann, and Rick Perry (along with Jon Huntsman who isn't campaigning in Iowa) say that regardless of the Iowa results - they will remain in the race.
With the votes - the rhetoric of the mainstream media over the GOP Presidential Primary race is reaching both a new level of bias and contempt. In today's Washington Post, an analytical post starts with the strawman question of 'Will the nominee shape the GOP, or will the GOP shape the nominee', before wading into a typical bash of the Tea Party and it's embracing of traditional American values, fiscal sanity, and opposing the progressive mindset of tax and spend. This analysis sees that with the exception of Ron Paul, all of the other nominees are captured by the Tea Party and their 'orthodoxy'.
The New York Daily News' editorial page delivers a clear and resounding smack down to Ron Paul - calling him a 'conspiracy theorist' who is 'unfit to become President'.
Politico takes an interesting approach towards both media bias and demonstrating a complete lack of integrity as they have announced that their headliner guest to analyze the GOP Iowa Caucus results will be none other than Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the Chair of the Democrat National Committee, a member of the Progressive Caucus in Congress, and a hack extraordinaire. Hot Air has at this link a partial run down of some of the dumber points that Wasserman-Schultz has made in cheap attacks on the GOP.
Reflecting the challenges from the economic numbers, the number of registered Democrats is a real key indicator of the lack of excitement for the President that differs 2012 from 2008. Rasmussen Reports that only 32% of American's classify themselves as Democrats which is the lowest number ever recorded by Rasmussen Reports. In contrast, 35.4% of American's consider themselves Republicans which is an increase from the 34.3% who considered themselves Republicans in November 2011. At this point, pretty much only the hard left progressive base of the Democrat Party remain enthusiastic about the President - and most of Middle America is looking for change in November 2012.
Given these numbers, one has to wonder just how successful the mainstream media and the Obama campaign will be attacking middle America and the Tea Party to make their case for 4 more years in the WH.
The OccupyRoseBowl marchers followed the 123rd Tournament of Roses Parade as they had arranged with the Pasadena, CA police - but few of those who watched the Rose Parade stayed to watch. A number of those who did booed the Occupy marchers - and held very little sympathy for their message. One of those preaching the Occupy message was Momma Moonbat, Cindy Sheehan. In her remarks to the OWS participants, she proudly announced that she hadn't paid any income taxes in the last 8 years - refusing to support government. I'm waiting for the IRS to come knocking on her door - and then, of course, the inevitable whinging about the loon being a 'political prisoner'.
There are few people more arrogant, obnoxious, despicable, or reprehensible in political punditry than Fox News' Alan Colmes. He is a living example of the moral equivalency fallacy - as well as the intellectual bankruptcy around the use of fallacies as a debating tool. In a segment with Rich Lowery (National Review) yesterday where Rick Santorum was discussed, Colmes demonstrated why he needs to get his ass kicked on a regular basis for being a contemptible schmuck - by insulting how Rick Santorum dealt with the death of an infant child - and throwing a tantrum when being called on it by Lowery. It makes no difference that Colmes apologized to Santorum and his wife later in the day - he's still a schmuck who should lose his job for his attack and subsequent petulant actions. I've seen better behaved 3 year olds.
PJ Media has an excellent piece that looks at what they define is the 'sausage making' around how the media shapes and massages the message that they want to deliver to their audience. From biased reporting and commentary to selected editing to ensure a particular viewpoint is stressed to actively promoting a message and vision - the media has been far less an arm to protect the people from the excesses of government than an enabler of propaganda. It's moved from providing the first real report on the facts of history to trying to define and influence history and perceptions away from reality.
This is why, I and other bloggers, are going to continue to highlight the malfeasance of the media whenever we find it.
On This Day in History...
1777 - General George Washington wins a decisive victory in the Battle of Princeton - which results in the British forces abandoning New Jersey to the Continental Army and Patriot militias.
1868 - The Meiji Restoration takes place in Japan - seen as the birth of modern Japan
1959 - Alaska is admitted into the Union as the 49th State
1961 - The United States severs diplomatic relations with Castro's Cuba
1999 - The Great Lakes region starts to dig out from a record blizzard - more than 100 died from storm related accidents