Saturday, March 31, 2012

Quick Hits - March 31, 2012

Alas, the 'One Beelyon Dollar', to quote Dr. Evil, lottery is not to be.  Three winning MegaMillions tickets were sold in Maryland, Illinois, and Kansas for last nights draw - splitting at least a $640 million jackpot.  Nationally, about $1.5 billion in tickets were sold for the record setting draw.

It has to be encouraging to see so many desire to break into the dreaded 1% club and risk the wrath of OccupyWallStreet.

For those who did not win, there is a consolation prize.

Fourteen months after being sacked by MSNBC, Keith Olbermann was sacked by Al Gore's Current TV.  After several months of feuding with the management of Current TV and painfully low ratings, Current TV bounced the egotistical, overrated, and narcissistic talking head claiming breach of his 5 year, $50 million contract.  As the sacking of Olberidiot was announced - the network also announced that they hired disgraced NY Governor and failed CNN commentator Elliot Spitzer to replace Olberidiot.

Current TV management said that the bad Ron Burgundy impersonator was terminated for failing to show up for work, for working to sabotage the network, and for being insubordinate towards network management.  Olberidiot in return has threatened legal action against Current over his sacking.

Olbermann watch, a website dedicated to chronicling the moronic actions of one of the most deplorable people on the air who used to be on the air, has the details about his 'side of the story'. 
•I'd like to apologize to my viewers and my staff for the failure of Current TV.

•Editorially, Countdown had never been better. But for more than a year I have been imploring Al Gore and Joel Hyatt to resolve our issues internally, while I've been not publicizing my complaints, and keeping the show alive for the sake of its loyal viewers and even more loyal staff. Nevertheless, Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt, instead of abiding by their promises and obligations and investing in a quality news program, finally thought it was more economical to try to get out of my contract.

•It goes almost without saying that the claims against me implied in Current's statement are untrue and will be proved so in the legal actions I will be filing against them presently. To understand Mr. Hyatt's "values of respect, openness, collegiality and loyalty," I encourage you to read of a previous occasion Mr. Hyatt found himself in court for having unjustly fired an employee. That employee's name was Clarence B. Cain.

•In due course, the truth of the ethics of Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt will come out. For now, it is important only to again acknowledge that joining them was a sincere and well-intentioned gesture on my part, but in retrospect a foolish one. That lack of judgment is mine and mine alone, and I apologize again for it.

For the 99.99998% of the country who didn't know, Countdown, Olbermann's program, aired at 8pm Eastern each weeknight. During his roughly 40 weeks on the air, the program averaged only about 177,000 viewers at primetime - a far cry from the 2.7-2.9 million that watched the first broadcast of the top cable news program at 8pm - The O'Reilly Factor. In the prime advertising demographic (ages 25 - 54), Countdown only averaged about 57,000 viewers.

What a week - Oprah sacks Rosie and Al sacks Keith.

Congress will be taking its first real recess in a year when it goes on a 2 week Easter break.  This takes place after an agreement was reached with the White House where the President has promised to not make any recess appointments in return for the Senate taking action on a number of Presidential nominees.

This became an issue in the aftermath of President Obama's 'recess appointments' in early January while Congress was in 'pro forma' sessions - appointing not only the controversial Richard Cordray to head the new Consumer Protection bureau, but also three pro-union officials to the National Labor Relations Board.  These appointments have generated a legal challenge to the President and these are now making their ways through the courts.

To prevent such an action, the House and Senate remained in 'pro forma' session - meeting at least once every three days in a formal session during the holiday break.  President Obama, however, declared 'pro forma' sessions were not 'real' sessions as no business was conducted during these sessions.

The agreement was accepted in the House of Representatives while the House was in a 'pro forma' session - and Republicans are now waiting to see if the President will honor his word.  Interestingly, during that same year end 'pro forma' session that the President claimed wasn't real business - Congress passed the President's request to extend the Temporary 2% Social Security Payroll Tax reduction that was signed into law by the President.  Did that count as being in session or not, Mr. President?

No, this is not an early April Fool's joke - but it should be.  On April 1st - the United States will own the world's highest corporate tax rate as a decrease in that tax rate takes effect in Japan.  Owning the highest corporate tax rate among the major economies of the world is not a good thing.  This contributes to making the US uncompetitive for new investment, drives jobs elsewhere, and effectively results in lower wages, lower employment, and lower federal tax revenues here in the United States.

With this looming in our immediate future, Vice President Joe Biden fired up the right side of the blogosphere as he talked about the need for the US to implement a 'Global Minimum Tax'...

Hot Air notes the specific Administration pitch here...
At the same time as the President is calling for immediate enactment of this plan, he is also pushing forward on a framework for corporate tax reform that would encourage even greater investment in the United States, while eliminating tax advantages for outsourcing. This framework will include:

o Making companies pay a minimum tax for profits and jobs overseas and investing the savings in cutting taxes here at home, especially for manufacturing: The President is proposing to eliminate tax incentives to ship jobs offshore by ensuring that all American companies pay a minimum tax on their overseas profits, preventing other countries from attracting American business through unusually low tax rates. The savings would be invested in cutting taxes here at home, especially for manufacturing.

On top of the world's highest corporate tax rate, the Administration now wants to expand its reach into America's businesses international operations and charge a minimum tax that is intended to, what? Dissuade those companies from operating and competing in the international marketplace? Or dissuade them from being American companies?

It's clear that the Administration doesn't know or understand the Laffer curve. Or that when you tax something - you get less of something.  It's also clear that this Administration examines these issues as an academic would do - based entirely in theory and with no real grasp or understanding of cause and effect that takes place in the real world. Given that the Administration has stocked itself with so many academics - this is not a surprise. 

Why do academics have such an out of touch viewpoint and understanding of the real world?  A large part of this relates back to where they come from in academia.  Today's Wall Street Journal highlights a new report on the University of California system that documents the plague of politicized classrooms and the indoctrination of students.  The UC system is a great example of this - but it is also not just unique to UC - but is really national in scope...
National studies by Stanley Rothman in 1999, and by Neil Gross and Solon Simmons in 2007, have shown that universities' leftward tilt has become severe. And a 2005 study by Daniel Klein and Andrew Western in Academic Questions (a NAS publication) shows this is certainly true in California. For example, Democrats outnumbered Republicans four to one on University of California, Berkeley, professional school faculties; in the social sciences the ratio was approximately 21 to one.

The same 2005 study revealed that the Berkeley sociology department faculty was home to 17 Democrats and no Republicans. The political science department included 28 Democrats and two Republicans. The English department had 29 Democrats and one Republican; and the history department had 31 Democrats and one Republican.

While political affiliation alone need not carry classroom implications, the overwhelmingly left-leaning faculty openly declare the inculcation of progressive political ideas their pedagogical priority. As "A Crisis of Competence" notes, "a recent study by UCLA's prestigious Higher Education Research Institute found that more faculty now believe that they should teach their students to be agents of social change than believe that it is important to teach them the classics of Western civilization."

Some university programs tout their political presuppositions and objectives openly. The mission statements of the Women's Studies program at UCLA prejudges the issues by declaring that it proceeds from "the perspectives of those whose participation has been traditionally distorted, omitted, neglected, or denied." And the Critical Race Studies program at the UCLA School of law announces that its aim is to "transform racial justice advocacy."
For regular readers of the former UC Professor, Victor Davis Hanson, these challenges within the UC system should not be much of a surprise.  The focus on education has changed from educating to indoctrinating. 

This happens in other industries as well - like journalism.  I've asked old-time journalists as to why they got into journalism and the answer was to capture the facts and be the first to note history.  The younger journalists that I've met now answer that question by telling me they chose that career in order to improve or change the world.  In this case - the focus has gone from being the impartial reporter of the events to inform to being an advocate for a particular cause.

Let's look at the Trayvon Martin tragedy.  One of the primary principles of American justice is the premise of the presumption of innocence.  Everyone is accorded the presumption of innocence until they are proven guilty in a trial where a jury finds them guilty beyond all reasonable doubt.  But for large swaths of the mainstream media, and in particular the more progressive leaning elements of the mainstream media, there is a presumption of guilt that is being pushed regarding George Zimmerman.

One of the most abusive networks in this mindset is NBC / MSNBC. 

The Rev. Al Sharpton is an anchor on MSNBC and supposedly reporting on the Martin tragedy.  Simultaneously, the renowned race baiter who was closely involved with racist events and violence like the Tawana Brawley fraud, the shooting and arson at NYC's Freddie's Fashion Mart (killing 7 plus the racially motivated shooter), and instigating / promoting the Crown Heights Riots (leading to the murder of Yankel Rosenbaum) - is now vowing increasing civil disobedience if George Zimmerman is not immediately arrested for the death of Trayvon Martin.

Then there is the epic race based meltdown a MSNBC 'journalist' has on CNN's Piers Morgan's interview program...

The conclusion of the interview is priceless - as Morgan says - "I like to think of myself as a professional journalist, Touré. I think that you are something else."

Even the so-called 'conservative' anchor on MSNBC, Joe Scarborough is embracing massive hypocrisy and delusion when he spends time on his program castigating the 'far right' for politicizing the Trayvon Martin tragedy - by in Scarborough's words, raising the issues of gun control - without noting that there are those on the left that are using the tragedy to call for increased gun controls to prevent further tragedies. He also is ignoring the actions of Sharpton, Touré, Jackson, and others who seek to use this case to promote a political / racial agenda.  But that is standard operating procedure for those on affiliated with NBC / MSNBC.  They have no credibility left - and it's reflected in their ratings.

Earlier in the week, a QH referenced the angst being expressed by the parents of 2 white British students who were callously executed in cold blood by a 17 year old African-American because they didn't have enough money on them when the teenager attempted to rob them. There was far more outrage among the African American community over the life sentence this thug received than over the execution of the two visitors who walked into the wrong neighborhood.

Why is the outrage being so misdirected as to forgetting the principle of the presumption of innocence when it comes to George Zimmerman? How does one propose to be a representative of a news organization when one is making news as a racial agitator promoting the media to not only instigate violence and racial divide - but seeks to act as judge and jury? Why the focus on this agenda as opposed to real tragedy that exists - that of the challenges of the African-American community and the failure of the left's policies which have only created a cycle of dependency and crime for far too many in that community?

[Ed. added Ramirez cartoon]

We're all missing the lessons we should be learning from this tragedy...which only makes the tragedy even worse.

Even with the completion of oral arguments before the SCOTUS and a decision being made regarding the four main issues around Obamacare that the Supreme Court was considering, there will be more speculation and facts about the bill that will come out not only until the decision is made public - but through the Presidential election this November.

Obamacare and the President both took a hit earlier this year when the Congressional Budget Office took a new look at the legislation.  Despite the President's statements that the Healthcare Reform bill would not cost a penny more than $1 trillion, and that it would not add 'one dime' to the national debt, the CBO found that the bill would not only add to the national debt, but that the cost would increase to $1.76 trillion.  But as ZeroHedge notes...
It appears that this estimate may have been slightly optimistic… by a factor of 1700%...

…That someone is Republican Jeff Sessions who after actually running the numbers has uncovered that the true long-term funding gap is a mind-boggling $17 trillion, just a tad more than the original sub $1 trillion forecast. This latest revelation means that total underfunded US welfare liabilities: Medicare, Medicaid and social security now amount to $99 trillion! Add to this total US debt which in 2 months will be $16 trillion, and one can see why Japan, which is about to breach 1 quadrillion in total debt (yen, but who's counting), may want to start looking in the rearview mirror for up and comer competitors.
While this is a fiscally damning aspect of the bill - and another case of the President's 'creativity' with facts - Mark Steyn notes that ultimately, at this point, the liberties of 300 million people hinge on just one person - who wasn't even elected....Justice Anthony Kennedy.

While Steyn touches on the fact that Kennedy hit the core of the debate when he described the individual mandate as changing the relationship between the people and the federal government, the focus remains on liberty and limited government.  This is a READ IT ALL piece - but one of the key memes is this:
In February, George Jonas wrote up north that Canadians enjoyed more rights and freedoms in the days before all their rights and freedoms got written down in a big ol’ “Charter of Rights and Freedoms” (1982). At this point, many readers will object that the constitutional documents of some effete pansy ninny monarchy like Canada are entirely irrelevant to a strapping butch manly self-reliant republic like America. Three words: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Finding herself with a bit of time on her hands, Justice Ginsburg swung by Cairo last month to help out the lads from the Muslim Brotherhood building the new Egypt: “I would not look to the United States Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012,” she advised them. Instead, she recommended the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the European Convention on Human Rights. That’s why the fate of the republic will come down to a 5–4 vote. Because four-ninths of the constitutional court think the American constitutional order is as déclassé as a 2006 BlackBerry.

And to touch back to a previous point made today - our educational system doesn't teach history, civics, or critical thinking so too many accept the premise that "the American constitutional order is as déclassé as a 2006 BlackBerry".

In another compelling read, comes an interview between the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto and Cardinal (then Archbishop) Dolan of New York...
Cardinal Dolan thought he heard Barack Obama pledge respect for the Catholic Church's rights of conscience. Then came the contraception coverage mandate.

The President of the U.S. Conference of Bishops is careful to show due respect for the President of the United States. "I was deeply honored that he would call me and discuss these things with me," says the newly elevated Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York. But when Archbishop Dolan tells me his account of their discussions of the ObamaCare birth-control mandate, Barack Obama sounds imperious and deceitful to me.
Imperious and deceitful.

This is not the first time either. But it's commonplace for someone who embraces the concept of the 'end justifying the means'.

On This Day in History

1492 - A Royal decree issued in Spain declares that all Jews who do not convert to Christianity will be expelled from the country.

1854 - Commodore Matthew Perry, representing the US Government, signs the Treaty of Kanagawa with the Japanese government, opening 2 ports to American trade and establishing a US consulate in Japan.  This opens Japan to foreign trade for the first times since it was closed to foreigners in 1683.

1889 - The Eiffel Tower is dedicated in Paris, France.

1917 - The US purchased and took possession of the Virgin Islands from Denmark for $25 million.

1931 - Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne is killed in a plane crash

1940 - New York City's La Guardia airport officially opens to the public

1991 - The Warsaw Pact, a 36 year military alliance between the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites is dissolved. The Warsaw Pact was created as a response to the establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949.

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