Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Quick Hits - February 7, 2012 UPDATED WITH BREAKING NEWS

Today looks as this will be Rick Santorum's big opportunity to try to disrupt the Mitt Romney momentum and get a new life in the race for the GOP Presidential nomination.  Minnesota and Colorado are holding caucuses while Missouri is holding a non-binding primary (ie beauty contest).  Despite working to leverage the caucus states, Ron Paul is trailing in all three.  Newt Gingrich is not on the ballot at all in Missouri, and is polling in third in Colorado and Minnesota.  Rick Santorum is polling in a virtual tie / slight lead in Minnesota and a strong second in Colorado. Will his performance today slow Romney down? 

PJ Media is highlighting an expose that demonstrates how easy it is for one to commit voter fraud in Minnesota today.  In the video, one is able to register to vote without providing any identification to prove one's identity, legal residence within Minnesota, and one's citizenship standing to be a legal voter.  Minnesota is one of the states that has had a major election determined because of their tolerance and acceptance of voter fraud - the Coleman / Franken Senatorial race in 2008.  Video at the link.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is slated to release at 10am Pacific time their ruling on the appeal of a lower court ruling that overturned California's Proposition 8 - the vote taken in California in November 2008 to add an amendment to the State Constitution to define marriage as being between 'one man and one woman'.  The proposition passed 52.24% to 47.76% - and was immediately challenged by advocates of gay marriage in California.

There are three primary issues to be addressed by the three judge panel that heard the appeal:

1) Should Judge Walker have recused himself from the lower court case? 
Judge Walker did not disclose that he is gay and in a long term relationship. 
2) If not, do the petitioners have standing to appeal his decision?
This was one of the big questions since the proponents of gay marriage argue that only California's    Governor and Attorney General, not third party organizations, have standing to appeal the ruling that reversed the California vote.  California's Democrat Governor and Attorney General have declined to appeal the ruling.
3) Does Proposition 8 effective ban of same-sex marriage violate the equal protection and due process guarantees in the US Constitution?


Decision was 2 - 1 - with both Democrat appointed justices supporting determining Prop 8 was unconstitutional while the Republican appointed justice dissented.

It's fairly certain that regardless the ruling of the three judges of the 9th Circuit Court, the losing side will file an immediate appeal.  They can appeal to the entire board of the 9th Circuit, or appeal directly to the US Supreme Court.

The expectations inside California is that the very liberal (and oft overturned) 9th Circuit Court will uphold the lower court ruling that invalidates the Proposition 8 vote and in effect legalizes same-sex marriage in California.

Yesterday's QH noted the disturbing comments made by US Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in Egypt where she advises the Egyptian people to not consider the US Constitution as an effective model for a 'modern day' Constitution.

Unsurprisingly, the New York Times takes up this call noting that the US Constitution 'loses appeal with people around the world' because it fails to 'protect entitlements to food, education, and healthcare' within it's text.

The US Constitution was adopted in 1787, and ratified in 1788.  This year will be the 225th anniversary of the adoption of the US Constitution.  It is one of the oldest, if not they oldest written constitution in effect today, and also the shortest.

Despite this record, to the progressive left, it's seen as far from being a model for other nations to consider because it doesn't go far enough in terms of justifying centralized government power.  At Powerline, Steven Haywood notes:
The U.S. Constitution is losing appeal because out liberal elites no longer believe in its principles. Is there any doubt that if liberals had their way, they’d junk the U.S. Constitution and install one that enshrines liberal ideology? (I’m only getting warmed up here. I used to teach a course on comparative constitutionalism as a visiting professor at Georgetown, and I usually took several weeks walking through various constitutions around the world—Lebanon’s is especially interesting—and explaining the theoretical and historical basis of why all the modern constitutions beloved of liberals and Eurocrats are defective.)
A major kerfuffle has broken out over the Clint Eastwood / Chrysler Corporation advertisement aired during halftime of the Super Bowl Sunday, titled 'It's Halftime in America'...

Many see the advertisement as a stealth campaign advertisement for President Barack Obama that is promoting his second term - the 'second half'.  They also look at this as a quid pro quo for the President from Chrysler Corporation which received tens of billions in taxpayer funds from the Obama Administration in its bailout - a bailout that has cost the US taxpayer several billions in losses.

This connection is seen as even more complete as the firm that wrote the advertisement has worked for the Obama campaign team.

Clint Eastwood, who is on record as having opposed the Obama stimulus program in addition to the Administration bailouts of the big banks, General Motors, and Chrysler, released a statement in response to the claims and to distance himself from President Obama...
I just want to say that the spin stops with you guys, and there is no spin in that ad. On this I am certain.

l am certainly not politically affiliated with Mr. Obama. It was meant to be a message about just about job growth and the spirit of America. I think all politicians will agree with it. I thought the spirit was OK.

Chrysler to their credit didn’t even have cars in the ad.

Anything they gave me for it went for charity.

If any Obama or any other politician wants to run with the spirit of that ad, go for it.
Rich Lowry, the editor of the National Review, focuses his attention not on the Eastwood kerfuffle, but on the 'half-baked' history that the advertisement presents...
...the revival of the automotive industry wrapped in economic nationalism: Dirty Harry does chest-thumping corporatism. Eastwood says that Americans are hurting and that “the people of Detroit know a little something about this. They almost lost everything. But we all pulled together. Now, Motor City is fighting again.”

We all pulled together? As euphemism, this is clever; as history, it is false. Congress never approved the bailouts. Given the option to do so explicitly, it declined. The Bush and Obama administrations acted on their own, diverting TARP funds to Detroit regardless of the letter of the law. In Eastwood’s telling, a legally dubious act of executive highhandedness qualifies as patriotic collective action. 
By this standard, any initiative of government must be a stirring exercise in people’s power. Remember when we all pulled together to back the solar-panel maker Solyndra to the tune of $500 million? Right now, we are all pulling together to try to force Catholic institutions to pay for contraceptives and morning-after abortifacients for their employees. See? There’s nothing we can’t do — together.

What Chrysler and GM desperately needed in their extremity was to go through Chapter 11 reorganization to pare down wages and benefits, shed uneconomical dealerships, and ditch unnecessary brands. When the government got its hooks in them, it politicized this process and threw some $80 billion at the companies. Since we’ll never get an estimated $23 billion back, we all must be “pulling together” behind Detroit still.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney asserted yesterday to the WH Press Corps when questioned about the 1.2 million persons dropped out of the unemployment calculations in January's numbers - a key factor in the drop of the unemployment rate to 8.3% - that dropping people out of the workforce is an 'economic positive'.

Of course it's an 'economic positive' for the President's re-election efforts.  However, it's also an unprecedented number that lacks any cogent justification or explanation.  It's called gaming the system to promote the re-election of the President.  Remember, not only is the 'real' unemployment number without these modifications around 11.5%, but if we count the 'underemployed' in this country, the number increases to 15.1%.  Factor all of this around the assertions of the Administration which said that if the $800 billion plus stimulus was passed, we would be at a 5.6% unemployment rate today.

I met yesterday with a friend of mine who runs a successful local business.  He told me that he's been looking for an Accounts Payable Clerk for the company.  He's willing to pay $15-$16 per hour and will provide all training - he just wants someone who has a High School diploma, and is honest, reliable, and dependable.  But he can't hire someone.  He's made offers - but all have been declined.  They followed up with one who declined to determine why - did they get an offer from another company?

That person said that they declined because they are only about 20 weeks into their unemployment benefits and have another 79 weeks coming to them.  Since the job is a full time job and nets her only $20 a day more than her unemployment, she said she would rather spend the next 79 weeks at home doing what she wants to do than work full time for only $20 / day more.

It's not just the domestic policies of this Administration that are raising legitimate questions.

In Syria, their military forces are continuing to shell Homs killing dozens in their efforts to halt the growing rebellion against the Assad regime.  France and Italy have officially recalled their ambassadors to Syria.  The Free Syrian Army and rebel Syrian National Council are calling for military and humanitarian aid to combat the Assad forces.

On the heels of their veto of the UNSC resolution to call on Assad to step down, the Russian Foreign Minister is visiting Assad in Damascus and shilling for the dictator saying that Assad has agreed to a new constitution and is open to 'dialogue' with opposition groups while supporting Assad's claims that the violence is the result of 'thugs and terrorists' not government forces.

Given the so-claimed expertise and ability of President Obama to reach out diplomatically, one has to wonder why the Administration was unable to prevent Russia and the People's Republic of China from vetoing the Arab League resolution in the UN Security Council.  Or even reach out to Bashar al-Assad to develop a peaceful resolution to the violence in Syria since Obama and the Democrats have sought a reconciliation with Syria since 2007. 

Obama and his progressive Democrat allies own the failure in Syria...
But the regime to which Democrats extended a hand in 2007, and again in 2009, was the same double-dealer that pretended to oppose Al Qaeda while assisting jihadists en route to killing American soldiers and Iraqi clvilians; the same hostile power that was developing nuclear weapons with help from North Korea; and the same imperialist overlord that had been pushed out of Lebanon in the Iraq-inspired Cedar Revolution.
Obama and the Democrats built their foreign policy on the faulty assumption that hatred of America is somehow America’s fault–not theirs, of course, but, the fault of Republican “neocons,” or earlier generations of less enlightened Democrats trapped in the outdated Cold War paradigm. They failed to grasp that tyrants like Assad cultivate anti-American ideology, and support anti-American terrorism, because it helps them maintain power.
They also failed to grasp that other countries will pursue their own interests regardless of who occupies the White House. How ironic that an administration that rose to power by attacking Bush’s “unilateralism,” and boasted that “leading from behind” in Russia marked a new dawn in international relations, now finds itself stymied on Syria at the U.N. Security Council, as Bush was on Iraq. So much for Obama’s “tough diplomacy”!
The truth of the matter is that President Obama is not a strong President diplomatically and is, in fact, seen as being very weak, impotent, and for all practical purposes delusional when it comes to his 'post-American' view of the world.  We are seeing this elsewhere in the region as the President is powerless to prevent the Egyptian government from holding 19 Americans hostage...

Victor Davis Hanson notes -
Finally, I don’t buy into the president’s trendy “post-American world” fantasies. We are growing; Europe, Japan, China, and Russia are aging and shrinking. Is there a Facebook sprouting in Istanbul? Does Mumbai give us Wal-Mart? Does the world flock to Shanghai to learn brain surgery?

I am not worried that China’s one rusty carrier will match the power of about one-third of our eleven carrier groups. Fat flabby Americans still produce per capita three times as many goods and services as do three Chinese.

I’ve seen European and Arab universities; believe me they are no Caltech or Stanford. I’ve been in three hospitals abroad; the one in tiny Selma is to them as heaven is to hell. In most places abroad, I would not drink the water. I like American doctors; they don’t smoke as they treat you and don’t roll you into Dante’s Inferno on a gurney to rot. I don’t think they pulled out my tonsils years ago only to make a buck. My local Doc does not wish to lop off my leg.

Our gas and oil reserves grow; China’s and Japan’s shrink. If I move to China, as a Scandinavian-looking white guy I will never be accepted as fully Chinese; if a Chinese moves here, he’s liable to run a company. Barack Obama and most of us would never make it as a president or prime minister in Japan or South Korea, or for that matter France.

Mr. President, sermonize to others abroad, not to us at home, about judging people on the basis of “how they look.” In India or Brazil, Obama, as most of us, would be relegated to a caste. Yes, I am worried at the present desire to run up trillions of dollars in debt and redistribute income while ignoring the sources of traditional American material wealth. Yet I still see no reason to lead from behind. I accept no post-American anything—and am quite tired after three years of being lectured that I am supposed to.
There is a sizable number of Americans today who don't remember what the Carter Administration was like - or the direct effects of its domestic and foreign policies.  They don't remember the 'malaise' speech, the 20%+ interest rates and inflation rates, the fear that we had lost the Cold War, or the assault on American values from the President and his democrat allies.  For those of who do, most never thought another President in our lifetime could reach that level or exceed it.  Until now.

On This Day in History

1964 - The 'British Invasion' starts as the Beatles and Beatlemania arrive in New York City

1984 - The first untethered spacewalk takes place

1992 - Maastricht Treaty of the European Union is signed -creates the EU and the path to the Euro

1999 - King Hussein of Jordan dies

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