Thursday, March 22, 2012

Quick Hits - March 22, 2012

Very busy day today...

The Islamic militant who murdered 7 in the last 10 days, died earlier today leaping from a window in his apartment flat while shooting at French police as the 32 hour standoff ended in Toulouse, France. One police officer was seriously injured as gunfire broke out when French police attempted to arrest Mohammed Merah after a prolonged standoff trying to negotiate his surrender.  Merah was also shot in the head as he leaped from the building - fulfilling his vow to go down shooting at police.

Over the next several days, additional information should come out regarding Merah and his connections to radical Islamists - in particular his visits to Pakistan and Afghanistan for training and information that he was captured at one point by NATO forces in Afghanistan and deported back to France.  One can hope that in the process to discover this persons connections and links to radical Islam will not fall into the realm of political correctness.  The brutal manner in which Merah executed his victims, in particular the three young Jewish children, should not be forgotten.

In Syria, as new efforts and calls come from the increasingly irrelevant United Nations for a negotiated settlement / cease fire, widespread clashes continue across the country as Syrian tank and artillery units step up their shelling of residential neighborhoods and districts in an growing number of cities and towns.  Bombardments were reported underway at Hama, Sermeen, Deraa, and some of the suburbs of Damascus as the Assad regime continues to oppress and pressure opposition groups with relative inpunity.

Fabrice Muamba, the Bolton midfielder who collapsed in full cardiac arrest during last weekend's FA Cup match, continues to make progress in his recovery while in intensive care.  Doctors are calling his survival 'a miracle' as his heart and breathing had stopped for 78 minutes before resuscitation efforts were able to restart them.  Only the CPR efforts of medical staff, including a Doctor from the stands, at the field, and rescue / hospital personnel kept the 23 year old athlete alive.

Apparently under reported / unreported in the US mainstream media, there was a stunning court decision yesterday regarding the contentious issue of same-sex marriage.  This decision, however, was not in California where the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is going to have an en banc review of the recent 9th Circuit decision upholding a lower court's verdict that since same-sex marriage is a right - voters in California did not have the grounds to vote on Proposition 8 to ban same-sex marriage by defining for the California Constitution that marriage is only between one man and one woman.

This court decision came from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France which ruled that same-sex marriages are NOT a human right.

The Supreme Court of the United States slapped down the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday in an unanimous ruling in favor of an Idaho couple who were seeking the ability to sue the EPA over the rulings of that Federal agency which had them face ruinous fines ($75,000 / Day) for trying to build a home on land that the EPA ruled after its acquisition / construction was a 'protected wetland'.  The case represents a major win on both property rights in addition to a strong message against an arrogant overreach of a federal bureaucracy that considered itself without check, balance, or being subject to having their rulings challenged and evaluated by an independent third party (Judiciary).

One of the biggest challenges with the domestic political environment is the level to which political theater is worth more than trying to articulate a cogent argument or vision to push a particular political agenda.  Theatrics seems, at least with the mainstream media and the never ending news cycle, to be far more important than making an argument that can appeal to those who know how to critically think.  [Maybe this is a reflection on the focus towards teaching ideology as opposed to critical thinking in our schools these days?]

We are just under 6 months away from our November elections - and the levels of theatrics that we are seeing are unbelievable.

In Los Angeles, the feckless City Council has decided to spend their time focusing on passing a resolution calling on LA area local TV and radio stations to limit any 'racists' or 'sexist' comments on their broadcasts.
The City Council voted 13-2 to pass the resolution with a motion urging “the management of radio and television stations in Los Angeles to do everything in their power to ensure that their on-air hosts do not use and promote racist and sexist slurs over public airwaves in the City of Los Angeles”.
So rather than stand on and defend First Amendment free speech rights, the LA City Council, which has no enforcement powers whatsoever, embraces theater to support censorship - because the focus of the resolution are two conservative shock-talk jocks on the local station KFI-640AM...which also is the LA home for Rush Limbaugh, who is the target of a censorship action by the progressive smear organization Media Matters for America for using demeaning language towards political operative Sandra Fluke. 

This is apparently also more important than the City Council taking a stand against the actions of the LAPD which has decided to ignore California state law and no longer impound vehicles being driven by unlicensed drivers because the majority of those found unlicensed are illegal immigrants to the US.

else's rudeness / crudeness?

In the past couple of days, we're seeing political theater from so-called Conservatives as well.  Rick Santorum, fighting to remain relevant in the GOP Presidential primary decided to demonstrate to Republican voters why he is not only suited for the nomination, but why he was one of the least respected Senators during his tenure in the Senate.  The candidate is suggesting that if Mitt Romney is the GOP nominee for President, 'we might as well stick with Obama', saying that Romney is fundamentally no different than President Obama.  Totally classless.

It's one thing to contest Mitt Romney in terms of idea and vision - but in this, the numbers are not running for Mr. Santorum because numerous reasons ranging from his experience in the Senate, some bad decisions (Arlen Specter), and a dogmatic approach towards social conservativism that does not have more than fringe level support - at a time when the economy and fiscal conservatism are the biggest issues.  Santorum seems to be getting the Gingrich 'Scorched Newt' disease where if he can't win - he's ready and willing to damage the party to assuage his ego.

Newt Gingrich is rapidly approaching the Ralph Nader phase of his campaign theater.  He's so ego and anger driven, he's putting himself before the party.  Actually, we've already got someone that nihilistic and narcissistic in the White Office - why would we want Gingrich there to do the same?

Another Republican seems to have no clue as to what the priorities are.  Tim Huelskamp, a Representative from Kansas and a member of the House Ways and Means committee has decided to vote against the Paul Ryan / GOP FY2013 budget when it tries to get out of committee because he doesn't think the bill cuts enough.  With only three spare votes on the committee, what is this nitwit thinking?  That his 'principled' stand now to vote down and kill Ryan's bill will result in a new House budget bill that cuts more than $5.3 trillion over the next decade and get sufficient support on the committee, in the House, or in the Senate? 

But all of this theater and insanity pales in comparison to what is presented on a regular basis by our President and his key advisers and supporters...

It has to require a unique personality and personal value system to be able to effortlessly lie through one's teeth about anything at anytime....particularly when it is something that is easily verifiable.  Two and three year olds will do this - they don't have the thought process that includes asking oneself how verifiable their statement might before lying - but after a period of time, they learn to avoid lying in cases when it easy to determine the statement is a lie.  But then there are those, in particular feckless politicians, who lie for the sake of the lie regardless of how verifiable the item is, and will double down on the lie daring others to call them on it.

One such clueless politician is the Chair of the Democratic National Committee who seems right at home on the lying train...

Debbie's got that gift, which is helpful, given her job description. In this case, the quote she casually claimed she never uttered a comment that was (a) made on television, and (b) was so memorable that we wrote not one, but two full posts about it in June -- one of which was a pretty thorough attempt to seriously address the underlying point of her venomous accusation. Not only did she clearly say something that she now denies, she even specified at the time that Republicans "literally" (she used the word twice, in case viewers missed it) want to drag the country back to the Jim Crow era. She was emphasizing now passionately she believed this message. Today? Nah, never said it. That level of cognitive dissonance, while deeply unhealthy, must be fairly liberating -- especially since she knows she can wave away the truth with relative impunity because she has the right letter (D) after her name.

Debbie also struggles through a FNC interview this morning when asked about the upcoming 2 year anniversary of Obamacare and why the anniversary is being downplayed - fighting to spin and obfuscate the recent CBO findings that demolish the charade that Obamacare costs and those who like their current coverage will be able to keep the coverage....

Senior Obama Campaign official David Axelrod was tripped up on Tuesday night when being interviewed in the wake of the Mitt Romney win in Illinois as he was asked to explain why the Democrat controlled Senate had failed to pass a federal budget for over 1,000 days...

Baier interrupted to remind Axelrod that only 51 votes are needed to pass a budget in the Senate (and, of course, there are currently 53 Democratic senators in the Senate, and only 47 Republicans).

“Understand,” Axelrod countered, before again not answering the question. “But we’ve got — we’ve got deep divisions in the Congress between the House and the Senate, and that’s complicated our ability to get these things done. And one hope is that when we win this election that there’ll be a greater spirit of cooperation moving forward.”

Baier said, “You know, people sit home and say, I have to do a budget. I have to do a budget about my family spending. Why can’t Senate Democrats do a budget if they control the Senate and they need 51 votes to put it through?”

Yet again, Axelrod punted. “Because they also don’t have to deal with the theater of politics in making their budgets. We obviously have to budget and we do budget and deal with our budgetary challenges. The president has cut domestic spending, discretionary spending, by $1.2 trillion in order to accommodate the budget and the demands of our budget. And we’re going to continue to do the things to live within our means while still moving our economy forward.”
No mention of the President's 2012 budget that was voted down 0-97 by that same Democrat controlled Senate?  Who's spinning political theater?  Cut spending...while running up over $5 trillion in deficits in 39 months? 

Perhaps the biggest example of political theater comes from the man in the White House - the person who regularly claims that his political opponents are putting their political agenda before the needs of the American a classic case of projection...

Today, President Obama traveled to Cushing, Oklahoma to do a campaign event promoting one of his steps towards addressing our national energy crisis of his making.  He will bravely and resolutely authorize the bottom half of the Keystone XL pipeline - the part that was not subject to Federal review or require Presidential approval.

He will tout this step as part of the 'solution' towards remedying the situation that resulted in gasoline prices increasing from $1.84 per gallon nationally to $3.89 per gallon nationally since January 2009.  He will of course remind us that we are drilling everywhere - as long as everywhere doesn't include the Gulf of Mexico, off Florida (Reserved for Cuba and the Chinese), off Mid-Atlantic, off California, in ANWR, or on federal lands.  He will mention the canard once again that we only have 2% of the world's oil supply while we use 20% of the supply (to support 25% of the global economy).

He will not mention that his 2013 budget reflects a 70% reduction in fees from oil leases on federal lands - a reduction that comes from his Administration's policies to reduce the production of fossil fuels...or that the policies of the Dept. of Interior, Dept. of Energy, and EPA are forcing not only refineries in the US to close, but dozens of electrical power plants.

From his comments today...
"One member of Congress who shall remain unnamed called these jobs 'phony' -- called them phony jobs," Obama said. "I mean, think about that mindset, that attitude that says because something is new, it must not be real. If these guys were around when Columbus set sail, they'd be charter members of the Flat Earth Society."

The problem for the President is that job growth is flat here too. There are only 10 full-time employees here at the Copper Mountain Solar 1 Facility, the largest photovoltaic solar power plant in the nation, although company officials note there will be more jobs if two other proposed plants move forward.

There are also questions about the electricity output here. This plant cranks out just 58 megawatts per hour to power 17,000 homes, while a typical coal-fired power plant can produce 600 megawatts an hour and about seven times the electricity.

Obama responds that solar is just one piece of his "all-of-the-above" strategy, and declared he will not back down from pouring in more taxpayer money since the payoffs from new technologies do not always come right away.
"Sometimes, you need a jumpstart to make it happen," Obama said. "That's been true of every innovation that we've ever had. And we know that some discoveries won't pan out. There's the VCR and the Beta and the -- all that stuff."

But the most audacious political theater lie of the absurd came from the President's efforts to spread the blame on the Solyndra and Keyston on his political opponents...

Obama tries to spin / point blame on Solyndra debacle on Congress and China – said Congress, Democrats and Republicans, put together a loan guarantee program because they understood historically that when you get new industries, it's easy to get money for new startups," Obama said. "But if you want to take them to scale, often there is a lot of risk involved and what the loan guarantee program was designed to do was to help start-up companies get to scale."

As noted in the article - The 2009 stimulus package that provided the funding for a loan of $527 million for Solyndra, which subsequently defaulted, got zero Republican votes in the House and three Republican votes in the Senate -- Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and former Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, who switched parties two months after the vote. There was no Republican input on the structuring of the energy loan program and the specific loan to Solyndra was a Democratic job from start to finish.

Another inconvenient fact - in 2011, oil production on federal lands dropped by 275,000 barrels / day.  On non-federal lands, oil production increased by 395,000 barrels / day.

Must be because of the Republicans as well...right?

On This Day in History

1765 - British Parliament imposes the Stamp Act on its American colonies - another major tax on the colonists to cover the costs of the Seven Year's War.

1820 - American Naval Hero, Stephen Decatur, was killed in a duel with disgraced Commodore James Barron in Maryland.  Decatur led the raid on Tripoli harbor to destroy the USS Philadelphia in the First Barbary War, then led the efforts to defeat the local Bey in the Second Barbary War.  He also commanded the USS United States during the War of 1812 taking a number of British ships in battle.

1947 - President Harry Truman signs an executive order that requires a loyalty check of all federal employees - an effort to end accusations that the Truman Administration was 'coddling' communists inside the federal government.

No comments:

Post a Comment