Sunday, February 5, 2012

Quick Hits - February 5, 2012 UPDATED

Super Bowl Sunday - the New England Patriots will face the New York Giants at 6pm Eastern, 3pm Pacific, in Super Bowl XLVI

Prediction - NY Giants will defeat the NE Patriots for the second time this season, 27-26 on a last minute field goal.

UPDATE - The NY Giants defeated the NE Patriots 21 to 17 - with the Giants scoring the go-ahead touchdown with 57 seconds left in the game.  NE Quarterback Tom Brady drove his team down the field to the point where he made a nearly 50 yard 'Hail Mary' pass to the end zone as time expired....which dropped incomplete.
Congrats to the Super Bowl XLVI Champion New York Giants!

With this, you have to feel for Tiquan Underwood.  The wide receiver was released / cut by the New England Patriots last night, on the eve of the Super Bowl, as the team made a last minute roster change to add another defender.  Underwood had participated in all of the pre-game events, and now finds himself looking in as opposed to standing on the field.  His response has been nothing but classy given the disappointment he must feel - and it's clear he understands the message is 'It's not personal, it's business'.

Voters took the caucuses in Nevada yesterday to vote for their choice for the GOP Presidential nomination.  Poll showed Mitt Romney had a strong lead, and the current results reflect the big win by the former Massachusetts Governor.  With 1305 of 1835 precincts reporting, Mitt Romney had 48% of the vote, Newt Gringrich trailed by 25 points with 23%, Ron Paul appears to be finishing third with 19%, and Rick Santorum finishes last with 11%.

There are reports of voting problems in Clark County (Las Vegas) which has only about 50% of their total vote counted as of this morning.  The concerns are with the race for 2nd place between Gingrich and Paul - and extra efforts are being made to ensure accuracy in the count.

Romney's commanding win, after Tuesday's strong win in Florida, has to cement his status as the front runner for the Republican nomination to oppose President Obama in the fall.  Polls on caucus day reflect that Romney drew wide support from nearly every demographic group including Evangelical Christians, very conservative voters, and tea party supporters.  During his victory speech after being called the victor, Mitt Romney spoke far more about President Obama and his record than looking at or taking shots at his opponents.  This seems to be what the majority of the Republican Party is looking to see and to hear.

Rather than deliver a concession speech, Newt Gingrich held a 'press conference' to lay out a new strategic plan for his campaign which includes the plan to press for the most delegates he can via proportional assignment of delegates and to remain in the campaign until the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida.  Despite some reports that Gingrich would return to the approach that twice brought him to front runner status by remaining focused on President Obama and his record, Gingrich lashed out at Mitt Romney while whining about Romney's 'unfair attacks' on his record.  Gingrich claims that the only reason he is stumbling is because of these attacks.  Gingrich also dismissed Romney's win in Nevada calling Nevada a 'mormon state'.

Victor Davis Hanson, writing on NRO's The Corner, notes that the Gingrich comments at his press conference took a bad night at the polls and made it far worse...
Gingrich should carefully play a tape of his post–Nevada caucus performance, and then he would quickly grasp that it was little more than a litany of excuses, whining, and accusations — characterized by stream-of-conscious confessionals and rambling repetitions. And, I think, will hurt him more than anything yet in the campaign.

Verdict? Gingrich is going to have to stop the accusations now, turn attention away from himself, stop complaining about the mechanics of the race, stick with critiquing Obama, and at least seem a good sport when he loses. Romney is wise to focus on Obama, ignore his rivals, and get prepped every day by staff who press him on his wealth, in efforts to inoculate him from self-inflicted, offhand remarks about the poor, money, class, etc. Gingrich’s stabs about a supposedly out-of-touch aristocrat are kid’s play compared to what will come from Obama’s $1 billion dollar Chicago hit team.
The reason for Gingrich's implosion and drop into 2nd place are not from the Romney attack ads on the Gingrich record.  Romney and Gingrich both share challenges with their record that concern Republicans.  But Gingrich's repeated attacks from the left, whining, and petulance is chafing the Republican electorate who see the real focus needing to be on maintaining the House, gaining the Senate, and defeating Barack Obama.

There are a number of recent decisions by President Barack Obama that provide real fodder for middle America to vote against his re-election.  One of the most disturbing, yet being downplayed by the mainstream media, is the President's declaration of war on Catholic institutions.
The president signed off on a Health and Human Services ruling that says that under ObamaCare, Catholic institutions—including charities, hospitals and schools—will be required by law, for the first time ever, to provide and pay for insurance coverage that includes contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization procedures. If they do not, they will face ruinous fines in the millions of dollars. Or they can always go out of business. 
In other words, the Catholic Church was told this week that its institutions can't be Catholic anymore. 
I invite you to imagine the moment we are living in without the church's charities, hospitals and schools. And if you know anything about those organizations, you know it is a fantasy that they can afford millions in fines.
There was no reason to make this ruling—none. Except ideology.
The left insist on the principles of the separation of church and state - with the separation supposed to go both ways.  The church operates as the church, the state operates as the state.  While this is not specifically within the US Constitution, this is the principle that is promoted.  What is in the US Constitution, in the First Amendment is:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
By the President endorsing the HHS ruling, the President has effectively told the Catholic Church that their institutions are now prohibited by law (Obamacare) from operating in a manner that is defined and controlled by their faith and beliefs - prohibiting the free exercise of the Catholic religion within their institutions to not provide contraceptive materials or abortion inducing drugs to those who exercise their free choice to use those Catholic institutions.

This is a full declaration of war against organized religion by those who believe the only true and acceptable religion is the religion of the state.  Peggy Noonan is correct - the source of this ruling is ideological and represents a complete disregard to not only the beliefs of a religious institution it holds in contempt for its conservatism regarding these views - but the US Constitution.  77 million Catholic are in the US - a large voting bloc...and the President declared war on them.

What's the next step? To require religious organizations to perform and sanction same-sex marriages even if their religious beliefs do not support same-sex marriages? 

The New York Times reporter, Gretchen Morgenson, who authored an excellent book that exposed the confluence of roles which contributed to the Housing industry collapse precipitating the 2008-9 recession, has an expose in today's NYT that shows that Fannie / Freddie knew at the top levels of their problems and failed to act to remedy these problems..after doing an internal review of their practices that confirmed outside claims.
Lewis D. Lowenfels, a securities law expert, said he was perplexed that Fannie’s board appeared to have done nothing to correct these practices. “If it had been brought to the board’s attention that specific acts of illegality were being committed, it should have directed that relationships with the transgressors be terminated forthwith and Fannie Mae’s regulator be advised accordingly,” he said.

Daniel H. Mudd, Fannie’s chief executive at the time, declined to comment through his lawyer. Mr. Mudd was recently sued by the S.E.C., accused of failing to disclose Fannie’s participation in the subprime mortgage market.
Taxpayers are currently out about $150 billion in bailouts to Fannie and Freddie, and that number is increasing.  The legal liabilities of these NGO's resulting from their practices will also amount in the billions.  Meanwhile there seems to be little or no interest to protect the American people from the greed and ideologically driven policies that were at the core of this problem, or to prosecute ALL of the officials from Fannie / Freddie which include prominent Democrats for their malfeasance.  This goes beyond those who served in the NGO's and needs to also include those currently or formerly were in Congress who profited.

OccupyDC protesters faced police activity all day in McPherson Park as police continued to work to enforce National Park Service laws which prevent overnight camping.  At 5PM, protesters began to press back against the expanding efforts of the police to remove tents and 7 were reported arrested.  Park workers, wearing hazmat suits (pictured above) broke down tents, camping equipment, and carted off trash in their effort to enforce the laws on camping in the park.

Reports are that the United States has fully accepted all of the pre-conditions defined by the Taliban for talks to discuss Afghanistan.  These pre-conditions included: 1) they would not be held in a country neighboring Afghanistan; 2) they would not be held in a country allied with NATO; 3) they would not be held in a country what has been hostile towards the Taliban in the last decade; 4) there will be no ceasefire in Afghanistan before, during, or after the talks; 5) the Taliban will not accept any conditions contrary to Sharia law; 6) whenever it desires, the Taliban will disassociate from the talks.  The Taliban is also demanding the release of top Taliban officials and terrorists being held by the US at Guantanamo Bay and that an agreement will not take place until all foreign forces leave Afghanistan.

The Syrian opposition group, the Syrian National Council says the failure of the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution against the actions of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has given Assad a 'license to kill'.

Arab and Western nations continue to express outrage towards both Russia and China for their veto of the watered down resolution which called for Assad to step down and stop his violence against his own people.  But unfortunately for the people of Syria, this outrage is going to do little to help them.  Arab nations engaged in trade with Russia and China will continue to trade with them even with the veto.  Russia and China have also demonstrated what their real motivations are.  They go beyond the fact that both countries make billions in trade with Syria.  The Assad regime in Syria also supports the interests of Russia and China to disrupt the West.

But the main reason why these two governments supported the Assad dictatorship is that they are also governments based on autocratic thuggery - and if Syria could be condemned by the UN, so could they.

Queen Elizabeth II is approaching her Diamond Jubilee, celebrating her 60 years on the throne of the United Kingdom, and being the 2nd longest reigning British monarch.  Canadian publisher Conrad Black has written a strong commentary on her it all.
Her subjects, whatever their level of monarchical enthusiasm, might consider, this 60th anniversary, that the Queen has served that whole time often in activities she did not enjoy, solely out of duty. There is no reason to believe that she likes being the subject of harsh debate and performing gruelling sterile ceremonial duties (she is 85). She has done it, done it well, without complaint or comment, because it was her job and was what her ascendants did, and she believes in the continuity of the institution.
There is room for debate about ideal forms of government, but it would be impossible to elect a more selfless, faultless, tireless holder of such a difficult office. God has saved the Queen these 60 years, and hundreds of millions of people have been well served.

On This Day in History

1883 - Southern Pacific Railroad completes its transcontinental 'Sunset Route' from New Orleans to California

1917 - Mexican President Venustiano Carranza proclaims the modern Mexican Constitution

1937 - President Franklin Roosevelt announces a controversial plan to expand the Supreme Court to up to 15 members - allegedly to make the Court more efficient.  Critics charged the President was attempting to 'pack' the Court after justices struck down several of his New Deal initiatives as unconstitutional.

1989 - The last Soviet troops evacuate Kabul, Afghanistan bringing an end to nearly a decade long military intervention.

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