Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Quick Hits - March 21, 2012

Mitt Romney scored a strong win over Rick Santorum in yesterday's Illinois GOP Presidential Primary contest - winning by 12 points (47% to 35%).  Doing so, Romney gains at least 41 of the available delegates - approaching nearly 50% of the total needed for the nomination and double the number of delegates earned by Rick Santorum.  Ron Paul edged Newt Gingrich for third place, (9% to 8%).  The Primary race now moves to Louisiana for a Saturday primary - one that Rick Santorum is expected to win given his victories in Mississippi and Alabama last week.

Romney's win in Illinois was notable by his expansion into demographic elements of Rick Santorum's base - Tea Party supporters, Middle Class, and younger Republican voters.  Exit polls show that 43% of those who defined themselves as supporters of the Tea Party movement voted for Mitt Romney as compared to 37% who voted for Rick Santorum.  In both Michigan and Ohio, this demographic went for Rick Santorum.

Romney's victory speech continued the pattern of his past speeches, with a primary focus towards President Obama and his policies.  Rick Santorum, speaking from Pennsylvania, continued his attacks on Romney and trying to motivate his base against the concept of 'inevitability'.  Newt Gingrich, who didn't campaign particularly hard in Illinois, continued his ego-driven vendetta against Romney whinging about Romney outspending the other candidates and vowing to continue to the convention in order to force a showdown there.

With Romney's growing delegate lead, the math is looking far worse for a brokered convention with Santorum or Gingrich or both being the spoiler.  In a possible sign that Republicans are moving to consolidate behind a single candidate, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush this morning announced his endorsement of Mitt Romney for President.

One of these two men will be inaugurated as President of the United States on January 20, 2013.  Which one do you support?

Earlier in the week, we reported that President Obama is facing some fundraising challenges for his reelection campaign - to the point that the campaign has advised the DCCC that unlike 2008 and 2010, it will not be providing funds to the DCCC to assist Congressional Democrats seeking reelection.  How bad is Obama's fundraising efforts?  Despite attending over 100 fundraisers since last fall - more than all of the fundraisers attended by President George W. Bush in his entire 2003-4 reelection campaign - President Obama's fundraising is down 28% from his 2008 levels

What does this represent?  Complacency?  Dissatisfaction with the President's record?

A strong case can be made with the latter.  For example, the President's record on debt cannot be seen as a success.  Despite condemning his predecessor as being 'irresponsible' and 'unpatriotic' for adding nearly $5 trillion to the national debt in his 8 years in office - President Obama added more debt to the ledger in 38 months - and remains on pace to add $6 trillion to the debt in his full 4 year term.

Key policy decisions, like the President's call for tax 'fairness' via the 'Buffet Rule' in order to get the wealthy to pay 'their fair share' towards reducing the national debt (via a measure to ensure that everyone earning more than $1 million / year pays an effective minimum tax rate of at least 30%) will do nothing towards reducing the debt.

Today the Joint Committee on Taxation reported that implementing the rule would raise only $31 billion over the next 11 years. How much of the federal budget would that cover? The JCT did the math, and the result demonstrates the fecklessness of Obama’s approach to budget issues: of the $47,913 trillion (!) the Congressional Budget Office now projects in federal spending over the next 11 years, the Buffett Rule’s $31 billion amounts to a whopping 6/100ths of one percent.

UPDATE: Overnight, the Joint Committee revised its estimate of the Buffett Rule revenue from $31 billion to $47 billion. This represents 1/10 of 1% of federal spending over the same time period. You still can’t see the blue line.

The incompetence of key advisers and cabinet officials also is not helping the President. One of the least effective cabinet officials has to be the Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.

Three weeks ago, Secretary Chu, testifying before Congress, graded himself an A- for his stewardship of taxpayer funds around the Department of Energy's green energy loans and grants to company's like Solyndra which subsequently went bankrupt and costing taxpayer's billions. Yesterday, again appearing on Capital Hill, Secretary Chu not only stood by that previous grade, but when asked by Representative Darrell Issa, the Chairman of the House oversight committee to grade himself on his policies regarding energy prices, Chu awarded himself an A.

“The tools we have at our disposal are limited, but I would I say I would give myself a little higher in that since I became Secretary of Energy, I’ve been doing everything I can to get long-term solutions,” Chu said.
Here's the record of Secretary Chu and President Obama on gasoline prices -

That's an 'A'?  Only if one's goal is to drive up gasoline prices in order to force behavior changes by the consumer (conservation) and emulate pricing in Europe...

This wasn't the only challenging moment that Secretary Chu had in his testimony yesterday.  Committee member Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC) asks Secretary Chu if the message being given to his constituents is that they need to buy a Nissan Leaf?

I have heard nothing from you today that indicates a policy this administration has put in place that will meaningful impact the price at the pumps, other than driving it up!

The policies this administration has put in place have actually increased the cost of fuel at the pumps. They have increased the cost of commuting for my constituents.

And to tell my constituents, with 10 percent unemployment, Western North Carolina, that you need to buy a Nissian Leaf? That in order to commute for 50 minutes a day you're going to have to have an employer who is wonderful enough to provide you a place to plug in your car, so you can get home? Is absolutely ridiculous.

And the anger my constituents have at the cost of the pumps is very real, and if the President doesn’t get this and if the Secretary of energy doesn’t get this then we've got a real problem here.
The effects of fiscally irresponsibility and excessive debt continue to be lost upon Democrats as they are ignoring the experience of nations like Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and France and the effects of their decades embracing statist policies.  Another lesson being lost on the Obama Administration is the experience of the solar / alternative energy industry in Europe.

Germany made some of the largest and most aggressive government focus towards subsidizing and promoting solar energy - investing nearly $130 billion dollars towards solar energy companies and solar installations over the last decade.  Their return?  0.3% of the countries power supplies comes from solar energy - and Germans now pay far more than other Europeans for their energy / power use. 

Because of this poor return on the investment, the German government is now starting to abandon their efforts to subsidize the solar industry towards economic competitiveness. 

Democrats have reacted as expected to the GOP Fiscal Year 2013 budget proposal introduced yesterday by Representative Paul Ryan - all standing firmly in opposition with the plan saying it 'fails the test of fairness, balance, and shared responsibility' in their ongoing drive to promote class warfare, government and entitlement expansion, and fiscal irresponsibility.

The Ryan budget spends $5.3 trillion less than the President's proposed FY2013 budget over the next decade in addition towards repealing Obamacare (and it's runaway cost increases), reforms Medicare (as opposed to slashing half a trillion from it as Obamacare does), and reforms the tax code for individuals and corporations - dropping the corporate rate and simplifying the individual rate to just 2 levels - 10% and 25%. 

Representative Ryan highlights key points of his budget in his clip from his speech at the American Enterprise Institute yesterday courtesy of Powerline...

The Democratic majority in the Senate has not offered any budget for the Senate's consideration in over 3 years - as it's been more than 1,000 days since the Senate last passed a budget. This is the same Senate that defeated President Obama's 2012 proposed budget, which was very similar to his current proposal, by a vote of 0-97.

Hard left progressive Representative Jan Schakowsky, during an interview on Fox News earlier today, not only dismissed the Ryan budget as unfeasible, but promised the Progressive Caucus will be announcing their own budget proposal - but refused to answer questions about what that plan would do regarding the national debt...

A winning argument? I suppose only if one accepts Charlie Sheen's definition of winning.

Speaking of being delusional, former Clinton campaign strategist and advisor Paul Begala let's his pompous ego run wild while appearing on CNN's Erin Burnett's program yesterday afternoon while talking about the GOP 2013 budget proposal claiming that 'I put together a federal budget that was balanced, and it created the greatest boom in American history and global history...'

That this can be said with a straight face speaks wonders for Begala's ability to lie.

OccupyWallStreet, fresh from a new attempt to re-occupy lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park on Saturday night which resulted in the arrest of 75, attempted to occupy Union Square in NYC last night prompting another meeting with the NYPD.  At least 9 were arrested when they refused to follow police requests to leave the park.

French police are in the midst of an armed standoff with an Islamic militant suspected in the murder of 7 over the last 8 days, including a Rabbi and three children earlier this week outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, France.  Reports are that 2 police were injured in an exchange of gunfire with the suspect who remains baracaded in his second floor apartment in Toulouse.

The suspect, Mohammed Merah, 24 years old, is a French citizen of Algerian descent who has spent time with Islamic groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan and referenced al-Qaeda in shouts through his apartment door to police.  He is believed to be heavily armed with assault weapons - and there are reports that police have found explosives in his car.

The press is also reporting that the suspect claims to have undergone training at a terror training base in Afghanistan and participating in military action against NATO forces based there.  The press is also saying that Merah is claiming that his motivation for the attacks were to gain 'revenge for Palestinian children' and to protest France's involvement in Afghanistan.

Syrian military forces are reportedly undertaking heavy artillery bombardments of several Damascus suburbs in the Assad regime's continued efforts to suppress opposition to the regime.

Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba, who collapsed in cardiac arrest during a FA Cup soccer match this past weekend has awakened from his coma while in the intensive care ward of a London hospital and starting to show signs of improvement.

Southern Mexico was rattled by a 7.4 earthquake yesterday - with an epicenter about 100 miles from the resort town of Acapulco in the state of Gerrero.  The quake was felt in Mexico City, about 200 miles away.  Reports are of 200-800 homes damaged in the quake - but no major reports of serious damage or fatalities from the quake.

On This Day in History

1960 - Afrikaner police in South Africa opened fire on a group of unarmed black demonstrators in the township of Sharpeville - killing 69 and wounding 180.  The crowd was protesting travel restrictions enforced by the apartheid South African government.  The incident became known as the Sharpeville massacre.

1963 - Alcatraz Prison, located in San Francisco Bay, closes down and transfers its last prisoners to other prisons.

1965 - 3,200 civil rights demonstrators, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., began their march from Selma, Alabama to the state capital at Montgomery.  FBI agents and federalized National Guard troops were deployed to ensure the safe passage for the march which twice previously had been turned back by Alabama State Police at Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge.

1980 - President Jimmy Carter informs a group of US athletes that the US will be boycotting the 1980 Summer Olympic games scheduled for Moscow, USSR in protest over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979.

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