Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Quick Hits - March 13, 2012

When a meme dies...

Despite the claims of the Obama Administration, progressives in Congress, and the drumbeating of the liberal mainstream media, the fight over the Obamacare contraception / abortifacient mandate does not appear to be hurting the Republicans politically.

In a just released New York Times / CBS News poll, 57% of Americans say that religious organizations should be able to opt out of providing contraceptive, sterilization, and abortifacient services for religious or moral reasons as opposed to 36% who say they should not be permitted to opt out. 

This runs contrary to all of those who are trying to gin up political points by claiming there is a Republican 'war on women' - and that this war is driving voters towards the President.

It's not just the NYT / CBS poll either - as deep within the data from the Washington Post / ABC News poll I touched on yesterday is also showing that, 'The bottom line is that its not clear at all that the fight over the contraception / abortifacient mandate has hurt Republicans."

At 'Just One Minute', this is noted in the post, 'Winning the Future, One Lost Debate at a Time'...
It's hard to read this as evidence that Obama is winning the debate. That said, the left is having success with framing the issue - per the Times, 37% think the debate is about religious freedom and 51% think we are mooting women's rights. Even with that modest success, however, Team Obama is not seeing strong support for their view.

Apparently if the Team Obama pollsters phrase their questions favorably they can get the result targeted within the Pelosi/Reid/Obama bubble. But, as with the health care debacle, they may be surprised to learn that the public is not actually with them.
Only if the question is framed within a certain approach or context...

The bottom line is this regarding the recent polling - and in particular the NYT / CBS News poll which stands against the 'reporting' of the NYT...
“These are not close results. It’s hard to read this poll and not conclude that, contrary to some accounts, Obama wasn’t such a genius to pick a fight over mandated contraception coverage–because he appears to be losing the public debate on the question. That’s a conclusion the Times story effectively hides from readers. It’s also one possible explanation for Obama’s otherwise somewhat mystifying overall drop in approval during the period–March 7-11–when the poll was in the field. But not an approved explanation. Gas prices are the official MSM explanation. Got it? Gas prices.”
This is just the latest of a number of policies and agenda items being implemented by the Administration that are purely ideological on their basis and run against not only the center-right sensibilities of mainstream America - but also against traditional American values.  Combine this with the actual results of these policies and agenda item - and you have a President in deep electoral trouble who is, along with his PR team in the mainstream media, actively at work to define a preferred perception as reality.

In another case of the Administration putting politics first, the Justice Department moved yesterday to block Texas' new Voter ID law - invoking Section 5 of the Civil Rights Act and declaring the requirement for voters to produce a valid ID in order to vote is racist and discriminatory against Hispanics.
Texas is the second state that the Justice Department has moved against.  In December, they blocked South Carolina's Voter ID law from taking effect for similar reasons.

The issue is now going to the courts.  The Supreme Court has already upheld Indiana's Voter ID law as constitutional and Texas officials have said that their law is based on the Indiana law.  Proponents of the DoJ decision say that there are major differences with the Texas law - primarily based on a smaller subset of acceptable ID and the challenges for the 'disenfranchised' to obtain acceptable ID.

There is a political and hypocritical dynamic over the orders from the Justice Department to block states from having the right to ensure and protect the electoral process from the risk of unauthorized voting - which is an assault on all those who do have the legal right to vote.  One has to have an acceptable photo ID in order to enter the Department of Justice headquarters in Washington DC - but to cast a ballot in an election?  Nope.

As PJ Media's Roger L. Simon notes in his commentary today, 'Eric Holder Supports the al-Qaeda Vote'...
Should al-Qaeda be allowed to vote? And what about Hezbollah, not to mention operatives of Iranian intelligence?

Shouldn’t these often violent individuals be encouraged to work within the system and act democratically by exercising their legal right to vote? (And, yes, I’m talking about U.S. elections!)

That would appear to be the thinking of our Attorney General Eric Holder, who hopes to strike down Texas voter ID legislation. Holder claims to be protecting the rights of Hispanics, a disproportionately large percentage of whom, he asserts, don’t have driver’s licenses or state identification cards. (Does this have anything to do with an equally disproportionate number who might actually be illegal aliens? Nah. Couldn’t be.)

But whatever Holder’s claims — our AG seems to be, pace his “Fast and Furious” testimony, “veracity-challenged” — the Justice Department’s attempts to block voter identification legislation would de facto help enable a potential al-Qaeda vote — or at least voters with a similar worldview. After all, for several years illegal aliens from Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan, and Yemen have been caught crossing our borders and incarcerated in a federal detention center near Phoenix. And, as we all know, Iranian operatives have been found in our country, plotting to blow up diplomats.

Shouldn’t these folks have an opportunity to exercise their franchise without being molested or irritated by something so discriminatory as a legal identification card? That’s the slippery slope to fascism, as Eric Holder might tell you.

Well, not really. Holder is no libertarian. Permanently locked in the mentality of 1962, our attorney general is nothing more than a garden variety bigot who assumes only “people of color” can be discriminated against and is unable to understand that equality actually means equality. He is the ultimate “victocrat” and therefore unqualified to be the nation’s top justice official.

These decisions are entirely ideologically and politically based - which shouldn't be a surprise since this is one of the most, if not the most, politically driven Justice Departments in the history of this country. As PJ Media documented in a series of articles resulting from a major investigation and multiple Freedom of Information Act requests, the DoJ has exclusively hired hard left progressives to fill its leading staffing needs in order to promote a progressive agenda.

Fast and Furious is a politically motivated initiative in the DoJ intended to create a case / justification for more draconian gun control laws. The New Black Panther voter intimidation case dropping was, as alluded to above, the result of the fundamental belief that racism only exists when whites practice it towards people of color - not the other way around.

Unsurprisingly, there is also an interesting connection between the Breitbart.com Barack Obama / Derrick Bell - Critical Race Theory video, today's White House, and today's Department of Justice...

White House Counsel, Cassandra Butts, introduced Derrick Bell on the video of the rally where Barack Obama encouraged all to embrace the critical race theory teachings of Derrick Bell...and it appears that she played a key role in the dismissal of the New Black Panther voter intimidation case after a judgment was won against two members of the New Black Panther Party for committing voter intimidation at Philadelphia polling location during the 2008 Presidential election.  This info comes from a former DoJ attorney who resigned because of the politicization of the DoJ after Obama's election.

One of the recurring memes around the Limbaugh / Sandra Fluke kerfuffle are the hypocritical demands from the left that Rush Limbaugh crossed all lines of 'civil discourse' when he called Fluke's a 'slut' and a 'prostitute' for demanding taxpayers fund her 'right' to have sex by providing her with free contraception / abortifacients.  Progressives jumped on this so-called GOP 'War on Women' while ignoring the repeated cases of vile and misogynistic comments from those of the left.

We're seeing more of the left's definition of 'acceptable civil discourse' from the left - this coming from a Professor of African and Middle East History at North Texas University named Constance Hilliard who goes for the two-fer writing about the alleged murderer who killed 16 civilians in Kandahar, Afghanistan - asking in her Daily Kos piece, "Did the soldier who killed 16 in Afghanistan receive his diploma from the Rush Limbaugh Show?"

I wonder if her contempt would be as outraged if she couldn't link the US military and Rush Limbaugh in her smear?

At Instapundit - Glenn Reynolds is highlighting comments from readers who are emailing him regarding cancelling their HBO and Carbonite subscriptions over the hypocrisy around the Limbaugh kerfuffle.

During the first three years of the Obama Administration, 106 major new regulations were added that resulted in more than $46 billion per year in new costs - 4 times the number and 5 times the cost of regulations issued by the previous Administration in their first three years in office.  This doesn't include the hundreds (thousands?) of regulations coming from Obamacare and Dodd-Frank financial regulation laws which are still being developed.
All of these additional costs result in higher costs to consumers - and a heavier drain on the economy.

Vice President Joe Biden can always be counted on to say something incredibly dumb - and incredibly telling of the mindset of the progressive left. 

He did just this when he told a $10,000 per couple fundraiser audience that the GOP doesn't know the middle class.
As with all things Joe, there is a punch line...
Biden made the remarks at the Georgetown home of Senator John Kerry, where some 87 guests paid a minimum of $10,000 per couple to dine on char-grilled grass-fed New York strip steaks and white truffle mashed potatoes beneath a tent basked in soft pink lighting.
Former Senator from Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter, has written a book about his career in the Senate.  Most interesting were the comments made by Specter around his decision to jump from the Republican Party to the Democrat Party - and his decisive vote after the switch for Obamacare Healthcare Reform.

Specter is apparently shocked and angry that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reneged on a deal he struck with Specter over the switch - refusing to grant Specter promised seniority.

This says all left that we needed to know about Arlen Specter.  He's shocked that Reid didn't honor a deal that others told Specter would not be honored?  Why would Reid and the Senate Democrats honor a deal with a turncoat once they got what they wanted? - Once a turncoat, always a turncoat.

How Specter got elected for so many terms in the Senate will be one of the big mysteries of American politics.

In an equally perplexing mystery of American politics, we turn to America's Greece, California, and the mystery as to why despite reams of evidence that the state's deep dive into progressive policy - the state not only keeps electing progressives - but continue to do the same policies and expect different results.

First comes this report that California tax revenues are 22% lower this year than last...
Compared to last year, State tax collections for February shriveled by $1.2 billion or 22%. The deterioration is more than double the shocking $535 million reported decline for last month. The cumulative fiscal year decline is $6.1 billion or down 11% versus this period in 2011.

While California Governor Brown promises strong economic growth is just around the corner, Chaing proves that the best way for Sacramento politicians to hurt the economy and thereby generate lower tax revenue, is to have the highest tax rates in the nation.

California politicians seem delusional in their continued delusion that high taxes have not savaged the State’s economy. Each month’s disappointment is written off as due to some one-time event.
Yet, Governor Brown is still pushing for a ballot measure for this November that will call for $7 - $10 billion in tax increases - specifically targeting the wealthy - who will, if the measure passes, respond by leaving the state.

California's Greek Tragedy...
California's rising standards of living and outstanding public schools and universities once attracted millions seeking upward economic mobility. But then something went radically wrong as California legislatures and governors built a welfare state on high tax rates, liberal entitlement benefits, and excessive regulation. The results, though predictable, are nonetheless striking. From the mid-1980s to 2005, California's population grew by 10 million, while Medicaid recipients soared by seven million; tax filers paying income taxes rose by just 150,000; and the prison population swelled by 115,000.

California's economy, which used to outperform the rest of the country, now substantially underperforms. The unemployment rate, at 10.9%, is higher than every other state except Nevada and Rhode Island. With 12% of America's population, California has one third of the nation's welfare recipients.

Partly due to generous union wages and benefits, inflexible work rules and lobbying for more spending, many state programs and institutions spend too much and achieve too little. For example, annual spending on each California prison inmate is equal to an entire middle-income family's after-tax income. Many of California's K-12 public schools rank poorly on standardized tests. The unfunded pension and retiree health-care liabilities of workers in the state-run Calpers system, which includes teachers and university personnel, totals around $250 billion.

California was once the golden state in every measure. It was the American dream.  Today, California has lost almost all of its luster - because of the policies and ideological agenda of progressives who have dominated this state since the 1970's.   This is why there is already a real loss of population underway as the middle and upper middle class flee California for other states.

Speaking of Greece, an European Commission report released today says that the Greek Government MUST enact more austerity measures and deeper spending cuts in 2013 and 2014 in order to meet the targets it agreed to for the current bailout. This is on top of an economy that is already receding at a stunning rate - which only accelerates the country's economic turmoil. There are concerns if Greece will ever be able to meet the scale of cuts demanded - particularly if the will of the government and people refuse to make the fundamental changes beyond austerity that require a new mindset that drops the embracement of the socialistic nanny state.

Human Rights Watch is claiming that the Syrian Government is planting land mines along the border between Syria and Turkey - specifically along the routes most commonly used by refugees fleeing Syria for Turkey.  This is as Syrian helicopter gunships have been targeting Syrian civilians.  There are also unconfirmed reports from Syria that the military has captured the city of Iblib after several days of heavy attacks.

United Nations officials are reporting that the death toll in Syria is now over 8,000 since the demonstrations against the Assad regime started nearly one year ago - and 2,000 of these died in the last two months.  Some human rights organizations trying to assist Syrian civilians say that this number is very conservative - the real toll is much higher.

Lawhawk, at 'A Blog For All' - highlights a first hand accounting of the suffering in Syria written by a French Doctor who is a member of the group 'Doctors Without Borders'...
“I treated all kinds of wounds, from heavy mortars, shots from long-range sniper rifles, high-velocity rounds, shrapnel,” he said. His makeshift hospital was only a few minutes from Baba Amr, the neighborhood that saw some of the heaviest shelling and fighting.

One day, he said, 11 people died in his hospital, some before he could even begin to treat them. “Some of them had brain damage and arrived already dead,” Dr. Bérès said. “Others were so severely injured that they could not be saved.”

Many of his patients were minors, he said. At least 400 children have died since the beginning of the uprising, according to Unicef.

Go to Lawhawk's blog to read more of this account.

As noted in QH earlier in the week, the USS Enterprise, CVN-65, has started her last deployment while on active duty for the US Navy.  The National Review's Mark Kirkorian notes this...
After this year the U.S. Navy will no longer have an Enterprise, which is why there’s a petition to name the next planned carrier, CVN-80, the USS Enterprise. Sign it, because we’ve gotten into the habit of naming our greatest warships after politicians, and not even dead ones — one of the newest carriers is the USS George H. W. Bush. Look, I voted for the guy, and he was a whole lot better than the current occupant, but nothing named by the U.S. government — not a building, not a scholarship program, certainly not one of the greatest warships built by mankind — should be named after a living person. Except for posthumous Medal of Honor recipients, it seems to me you should be dead for 50 years, preferably 100, before your name is even eligible to be considered for a naval ship.

I agree with Mark regarding the naming requirements.  Decades ago, the USN had strict naming requirements for their major warships.  Aircraft Carriers were named after major battles or historical ships.  Battleships were named after US States.  Cruisers were named after US cities.  Submarines were named after fish.  Ballistic missile submarines, when they first were produced, were named after President's before being named after states.  As times changed - the rules changed. 

We are currently producing the next class of Aircraft Carrier for the US Navy - the CVN-78 class.  10 ships are planned for this class.  The first, CVN-78, is due for delivery in 2015 and will be named the USS Gerald R. Ford.  The second, CVN-79, is scheduled for delivery in 2018 and will be the second carrier to be named the USS John F. Kennedy.  No name has been set for CVN-80 planned for 2021. 

CVN-80 should be named the USS Enterprise - and we need to go back to a better process around naming our warships - honoring our history, our states, our cities, and not naming our ships after politicians. 

On This Day in History

1519 - Cortez lands in Mexico

1868 - US Senate began the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson

1881 - Czar Alexander II was assassinated in St. Petersburg by leftist terrorists

1928 - The St. Francis Dam in San Francisquito Canyon, near present day Santa Clarita, California, bursts killing 450 people.

1954 - 40,000 Viet Minh soldiers supported by heavy artillery surround a force of 15,000 French at Dien Bien Phu.  The commanding French General, desiring a 'set-piece' battle significantly underestimates his opponent.

1964 - Catherine 'Kitty' Genovese is attacked and murdered in NYC.  Her murder was witnessed by 38 people - none of whom called the police during the attack or moved to assist her as they 'didn't want to get involved'.

1992 - A 6.8 magnitude earthquake near Erzincan, Turkey kills at least 500 and leaves 500,000 homeless.

1996 - At Dunblane, Scotland a gunman enters the Dunblane Primary School and opens fire on a kindergarten class.  16 children and their teacher are killed.  12 other children and 1 adult were wounded before the gunman shoots himself.

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