Monday, April 30, 2012

Quick Hits - April 30, 2012

The socialists, neo-communists, union activists, anarchists, and nimrods of the OccupyWallStreet movement have called for a general strike on May Day - May 1, 2012 - seeking to shut down bridges, tunnels, and disrupt traffic / activity in New York City and San Francisco.

OccupyOakland, one of the most violent of the OWS movements in the US, announced back on April 15th that they intend to close all travel between Marin and San Francisco via the Golden State Bridge by launching a massive demonstration at the bridge.

In New York, the OWS reprobates seek to repeat their demonstrations that closed the Brooklyn Bridge and Holland Tunnel - while expanding their efforts in Manhattan.
In New York, Occupy Wall Street will join scores of labor organizations observing May 1, traditionally recognized as International Workers’ Day. They plan marches from Union Square to Lower Manhattan and a “pop-up occupation” of Bryant Park on Sixth Avenue, across the street from Bank of America’s Corp.’s 55-story tower.

“We call upon people to refrain from shopping, walk out of class, take the day off of work and other creative forms of resistance disrupting the status quo,” organizers said in an April 26 e-mail.
Thusfar, the OWS movement has generated over 6,800 arrests and cost the taxpayer over $25 million in damage and lost business.

In breaking news, Al Armendariz, the EPA Administrator responsible for Region 6 (Dallas, Tx based), who advocated the 'crucifixtion' of big oil and gas companies, has resigned.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery....

The Obama reelection campaign has decided to fully embrace the MSNBC 'Lean Forward' campaign - adopting 'Forward' as their latest campaign slogan.   Tied with the selection of 'Forward' is the release of this 7 minute campaign video, titled 'Forward', that runs against / blames all of the current challenges that we face on....George W. Bush.

Forward means moving back and campaigning as if it were 2008?

The Weekly Standard reviews the Obama campaign team video and notes a number of 'curious claims' being forwarded by the Obama team - like new attacks on the Tea Party questioning their patriotism for 'rooting' against President Obama as they opposed his policies and agenda (like Obamacare - which remains very unpopular with the majority of Americans); and a series of personal attacks directed at conservative talk show hosts Glen Beck, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh - before shifting their sights towards GOP congressional leaders and their 'obstructionism'.

Surprisingly, we don't see the President reminding Congressional leaders that, 'I won' - as his justification for not needing to reach a compromise with the GOP....

We also do not see the President campaigning in 2008 and calling President George W. Bush 'unpatriotic' for increasing the national debt by $4.8 trillion in his 8 years in office - but remaining silent over his own record of increasing the national debt by over $5 trillion in just 39 months in office.

The Romney campaign offers their own new campaign advertisement titled 'Broken Promises' that uses the President's own words to highlight what he has promised and what he has actually delivered for America.  The key message - 'Obama isn't Working'....

Compare and contrast....

Nile Gardiner, writing in the UK's Telegraph, makes some interesting observations around the Obama Administration / Campaign's efforts to celebrate and mark the first anniversary of the raid that resulted in the death of al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. 

According to Gardiner, the open politicization of the Bin Laden raid by the President and his team looks desperate...
It is therefore disturbing to see the Obama presidency seeking to make political capital out of the anniversary of the bin Laden raid. Already, highly charged attack ads are being aired by the Obama campaign, shamelessly using it as a political vehicle in the race for the White House in 2012. Vice President Joe Biden is milking the bin Laden anniversary for all it is worth, trotting out the campaign slogan, “thanks to President Obama, bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive”, at a recent speech at New York University. And to cap it all, the White House has granted NBC News unprecedented access to the Situation Room and an array of senior government officials for a bin Laden special to be aired this week.

I doubt the American people will buy all the spin, however. They will remember that it was a team of US Special Forces who laid their lives on the line to take out bin Laden, and not a group of politicians and bureaucrats sitting in the White House. Biden’s crass boasts and the tasteless Obama campaign videos look like acts of cynical desperation at a time when 60 percent of voters believe the country is moving down the wrong track, according to the latest RealClear Politics average, and a mere 33 percent of Americans hold a favourable view of the federal government – the lowest in 15 years.

The Obama administration’s gambit will probably backfire. The electorate is highly disillusioned with Washington in general, and is far smarter than the White House thinks it is.
We've been reminded numerous times, ranging from Vice President Biden to WH Counter terror advisor John Brennan, that the decision made by Obama to launch the raid against Bin Laden in Pakistan was a 'gutsy call'.  But we've also seen that much of this decision was framed and considered around the potential political ramifications - with memories of the Jimmy Carter and the Desert One debacle factoring into the process as highlighted by CIA Director Panetta's 'go memo'.

As great of an achievement that finding and ultimately killing Bin Laden was - there is also the bigger picture of the effects of the Administration's foreign and war policy has had.  We've moved from a country that aggressively took positions to oppose those nations and groups that advocated and support the use of terror / jihad to one that is 'leading from behind'.  We've set a timetable for our withdrawal from Afghanistan - leaving the Taliban to just having to wait us out.  We've left Iraq - and since our departure, violence has increased.  We go to war with Libya on the basis of a United Nations authorization - and ignore the need to gain the approval of the US Congress or adhere to the War Powers Act. 

We fight in Libya to overthrow a brutal dictator murdering his own people and refuse to act in Syria to overthrow a brutal dictator murdering his own people.  We send nearly $200 million in taxpayer funds to terrorists on the West Bank and Gaza - against the wishes of Congress - and threaten our primary ally in the region.  We celebrate the Arab Spring - even when it puts jihadists and islamic fundamentalists in power who call for ours and Israel's destruction.  Finally, when the Iranian people rise up in their own movement against the Mad Mullah's - we remain silent...and remain silent as they flaunt international treaties and law with an illegal nuclear program.

I also doubt that the American people are buying the spin of this Administration.  But the stupid are many - as they are in California where they continue to embrace the progressive agenda despite the damage that it has wrought on this once golden State.

California's budget woes are continuing - and will continue even if the public sector unions and the far left Gov. Jerry Brown get the nearly $7 billion in new taxes passed by voters this November.  The Governor's tax initiative seeks to increase sales tax by a .25% and impose substantial income tax increases on those who earn more than $250,000.  Even with this - it's not going to cover half of the $12 - $14 billion deficit the state faces in the current fiscal year which ends on June 30, 2012.

Lost in the push by the progressive left to 'fix' what they continue to define as a 'revenue' issue - is that the budget deficit is increasing because of two major factors.  First, because of the continued economic challenges we face in this stagnant Obama 'recovery' - the state is collecting this quarter a third less tax revenues than they originally expected....and this number is accelerating downwards - not decelerating.

Middle class and wealthy families, and businesses, are leaving the state in increasing numbers.  They are being driven out by the increasing tax burden as well as an anti-business regulatory environment that drives up the cost to do business in California compared to other states.  For the first time in the state's history - more are leaving than coming to California.  Those who do come to California are generally those in the lower economic range - and are dependent on the government for assistance.

The size, scope, and most importantly short / long term costs of California's government continues to soar.  Public sector unions which have paid hundreds of millions into political campaigns and lobbying efforts have contracts that are bankrupting the state - but the corruptocrats of the left refuse to confront these organizations to restore fiscal sanity as Wisconsin has successfully done.  The state government is a third larger today than it was a decade ago - when Ca voters recalled Gov. Gray Davis for his fiscal ineptitude.  We spend more per capita on education than ever before - yet the state is falling in educational standards.  Even our vaunted public university system is now a bloated quagmire of progressivism - as the number of administrators and tuition's soar.

California needs to become the next Wisconsin - not remain on the path that is set by Greece or Spain.

Look at Wisconsin.  Under the tenure of Governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin has seen it's unemployment rate drop from 7.7% to 6.9%.  (California's is 10.9%.)  Property tax rates in Wisconsin have dropped for the first time in a dozen years.  A $3.6 billion dollar state budget deficit that was inherited from the previous Governor was balanced without massive layoffs, tax increases, or major cuts in government services.  A framework was also established that permitted hundreds of Wisconsin school districts to go from running major deficits to balanced or surplus budgets - expanding services - not decreasing services for students.

How was this done?  By passing legislation that weakened the power and ability of public sector unions, in particular teacher's unions, to raid the treasuries of the state and local government entities.

This legislation required the union member to pay more towards their health and retirement benefits - but still less than the contributions made by private sector workers towards these benefit programs.  Collective bargaining was eliminated in many cases - which also freed local school districts to competitively shop for healthcare coverage for union employees as opposed to being forced to buy at inflated monopolistic pricing from the unions.  Unions were no longer permitted to collect dues from membership via payroll deduction - they need to 'earn' their dues and convince their membership that they are getting value from the union leadership.

These were contentious steps - and one's that were met by riots and ultimately recalls.  On June 5th, Governor Scott Walker, and four other state-wide elected officials, all Republicans, face a recall election being led by the unions who were weakened by Walker's programs.  To these unions, it's immaterial that the path they were pushing the state was fiscally irresponsible and unviable.  They want their power and more importantly their wealth back.  As the Weekly Standard notes in their report on the Battle of Wisconsin, there is also a certain hypocrisy within the Democrat / Union alliance against Governor Walker...
Competing are two candidates, one left, one hard left that are running on reversing Walker’s policies and the legislation which weakened public sector unions. Neither will say how they would have balanced the budget not using the methods of Walker – but the GOP points to the massive tax increases, layoffs, and service cuts in Illinois as their likely path – noting that in Illinois, the problems got worse, not better. Most ironically, Milwaukee Mayor Rom Barrett, D, running in a primary to contest Scott Walker on June 5th, proposed used Walker’s solution to address Milwaukee’s fiscal challenges - In Feburary 2011, as the battle raged in the Wisconsin state capitol over Walker’s budget, Barrett proposed limiting collective bargaining rights for unions in Milwaukee, according to a memo reported by BuzzFeed. The city’s union wouldn’t budge on many issues, and when its contract finally expired, Barrett took full advantage of Walker’s reforms, saving the city millions of dollars by making changes to everything from workers’ health care benefits to overtime, disability payments, sick leave, paid lunches, and more. Walker says Barrett “absolutely” is a hypocrite, “and it’s not me saying it, it’s his own employees .  .  . over and over again calling him a hypocrite.”

It's laughable. The Mayor of Milwaukee leveraged Walker's program to repair his city's financials - but still wants to eliminate the program and return the state to the unviable path it was on prior to Walker's election. Is this change we can believe in?

It's also laughable to hear the whinging of the public sector unions complaining about 'how tough things are'... Like the complaints of Terry List, a teacher in Saginaw Township, Michigan.
Terry List, a teacher in Saginaw Township, Mich., has a depressing lesson for her students: “I would not recommend to my pupils to become a teacher in Michigan.”

What’s discouraging her? A proposed pension-reform bill in Michigan would derail her plans to retire — at age 47.

After these rapacious reforms, List would have to work another 16 years, to age 63, in order to earn her retiree health-care benefits. “I understand we have to tighten our belts,” she laments, “but we don’t have to use a tourniquet and cut off the blood supply entirely.” Under the reforms, such a tourniquet means she could still retire now and have a guaranteed income for the rest of her life, but she’d have to pay for her own health care until age 65 — like, you know, most Americans.

Ninety percent of public employees in the United States enjoy defined-benefit pension plans, meaning they will receive a guaranteed income, and usually health insurance, until death. These benefits are prohibitively expensive, and more so when they are tied to retirement ages that are atypically low.

How ironic that those who are the loudest in promoting class warfare - are seeking to protect themselves as a 'special class' above that of the ordinary Middle Class American who was instrumental in making this country what it is today. This is their definition of 'fairness' - all for me, and none for thee.

Emulating Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and France is not the path to success.

This Day in History

1789 - George Washington is inaugurated as the first President of the United States in New York City.

1945 - Adolf Hitler commits suicide in his Berlin bunker as Russian troops approach the Chancellery Building, located above the underground bunker.

1975 - At about 7:30am local time, the last American helicopter leaves Saigon - ending the evacuation process started on April 29.  Shortly thereafter, North Vietnamese tanks crash through the gates of the Presidential Palace.  The Vietnam War ends with the defeat of South Vietnam.  With the war end, millions will die / suffer / try to flee the new communist regime.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Quick Hits - April 29, 2012

This past Friday night brought forth another late night Administration document dump.  The most interesting item buried within the doc dump comes from a decision made by the President to bypass / ignore Congress and funnel $192 million of taxpayer funds to Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority.
President Barack Obama has signed a waiver to remove curbs on funding to the Palestinian Authority, declaring the aid to be “important to the security interests of the United States.”

A $192 million aid package was frozen by the US Congress after the Palestinians moved to gain statehood at the United Nations last September.

But in a memo sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, published by the White House, the president said it was appropriate to release funds to the authority, which administers the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In signing the waiver, Obama instructed Clinton to inform Congress of the move, on the grounds that “waiving such prohibition is important to the national security interests of the United States.”

"Important to the national security interests of the United States"... Just how is ignoring Congress and sending $192 million to an organization that supports terrorists (Hamas is part of the Palestinian Authority since their reconciliation with Fatah) important to our national security interests?

The official WH explanation for this decision is reported in the Times of Israel...
The AFP news agency quoted White House spokesman Tommy Vietor as saying the $192 million aid package would be devoted to “ensuring the continued viability of the moderate PA government under the leadership of [Palestinian Authority] President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.”

Vietor added that the PA had fulfilled its major obligations, such as recognizing Israel’s right to exist, renouncing violence and accepting the Road Map for Peace.

The PA has fulfilled its major obligations? As Andrew McCarthy notes here, the President / Administration are flat out lying when they try to push the meme that the Palestinian Authority has fulfilled its major obligations.
In the real world, the very immoderate PA has reneged on all its commitments. In addition to violating its obligations by unilaterally declaring statehood, the PA has also agreed to form a unity government with Hamas, a terrorist organization that is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The PA continues to endorse terrorism against Israel as “resistance.” Moreover, the PA most certainly does not recognize Israel’s right to exist. Back in November, for example, Adil Sadeq, a PA official writing in the official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, declared that Israelis

have a common mistake, or misconception by which they fool themselves, assuming that Fatah accepts them and recognizes the right of their state to exist, and that it is Hamas alone that loathes them and does not recognize the right of this state to exist. They ignore the fact that this state, based on a fabricated [Zionist] enterprise, never had any shred of a right to exist…

In sum, everything Obama is saying about Palestinian compliance is a lie. Even if we were not broke, we should not be giving the PA a dime. To borrow money so we can give it to them is truly nuts.

What's the biggest concern about this? That we only know of this via the Friday evening document dump? Or this being the latest case of the Administration ignoring Congress? Sending $192 million of taxpayer funds into the pockets of the corruptocrats and terrorists of the Palestinian Authority? Sending $192 million of taxpayer funds by an Administration that has added over $5 trillion to the national debt in 39 months? Or flat out lying about the Palestinian Authority's non-action to fulfill their obligations?

The White House Counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan appeared this morning on Fox News Sunday to talk about the one year anniversary of the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden and the War on Terror.  During the interview with host, Chris Wallace, John Brennan noted that the Administration would not be releasing any photos from the raid or of the dead al Qaeda leader because the footage could incite 'emotions'. 

Incite 'emotions'?  This is from the same guy who answered 'I don't do politics' when he was asked about the controversial Obama campaign advertisement highlighting the President's 'gutsy call' to authorize the raid.

In this advert, the campaign is asking voters to question if a President Mitt Romney would have done the same - using a Romney quote from 2007 entirely out of context - as a 'justification' for posing the question. 

Despite the Obama campaign in 2008 complaining of the Hillary Clinton campaign of using the al Qaeda terror leader to 'score political points' - the campaign today sees no problem with using the raid to kill Bin Laden as a political foil to cheerlead the President as a decisive and successful leader.  Those are, apparently, the good emotions to be opposed to the implied problem with inciting our enemies by publishing videos or photos from the raid or the dead terror leader.

Frankly, with this Administration, everything involves politics.

Take for example the Administration's $8.3 billion slush fund being run by the HHS Department to delay a major, and painful, aspect of the Obamacare program from hammering Medicare recipients who have Medicare Advantage policies.  As the Weekly Standard notes in their article on the swindle, the Administration needs to use the $8.3 billion to postpone the elimination of Medicare Advantage plans until after the November election...
Obama’s calculation appears to be that he can get away with a lot. But that may be wrong. Obamacare would be unpopular enough if it were simply a 2,700-page affront to Americans’ liberty and their country’s fiscal solvency. However, the overhaul’s reputation has been further sullied by the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase, Gator Aid, and the rest of the shady backroom deals the Democrats struck to secure its passage. By now initiating the Senior Swindle, Obama risks tarnishing Obama-care’s reputation even further.

Given the president’s mindset—his singular desire to impose Obamacare coupled with his frequent disregard for legal forms—he presumably felt he had no choice. Seniors wouldn’t just sit quietly while their Medicare Advantage plans went away. You can’t siphon $204 billion (the amount projected by the Congressional Budget Office) out of a popular program in just eight years’ time (and far more in the years to follow), spend it on your unpopular health care overhaul, and have no one notice.

Roughly 12 million seniors have chosen to carry Medicare Advantage. Most like it and want to keep it. They surely don’t want the funding for their plan cut by an average of $17,000 per senior over the rest of this decade, as would happen under Obamacare. They similarly don’t want to see the Medicare chief actuary’s prediction come true: that by 2017, enrollment in Medicare Advantage will decrease by half from what it would have been without Obamacare.

But it’s not just Medicare Advantage beneficiaries who have cause for concern. Under Obamacare, other Medicare enrollees would struggle to find doctors, as (according to the Medicare chief actuary) Medicare reimbursement rates would drop below even Medicaid reimbursement rates by the end of this decade. Also by the end of the decade, the CBO suggests, Obama-care will cause 5 million people to lose their employer-sponsored insurance—almost certainly a lowball estimate. Joel Ario, Obama’s initial head of the Office of Health Insurance Exchanges, said that if Obama-care’s “exchanges work pretty well, then the employer can say, ‘This is a great thing. I can now dump my people into the exchange, and it would be good for them, good for me.’ ” This doesn’t quite have the same reassuring ring as, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.” But it does have the benefit of sounding true.

The Senior Swindle provides a further reminder of the unseemliness of Obamacare, a preview of the politicizing of medicine that Obamacare would spawn, and an example of the unprincipled side of our politics. But mostly it offers a testament to the Founders’ wisdom in making our government leaders accountable to the people. The American people have now been living under the looming specter of Obamacare for more than two years. In the fall, they will finally get to issue their verdict on its architect. The bet here is that $8.35 billion in unscrupulously—and perhaps illegally—allocated diversionary funds won’t be enough to keep the citizenry from voting Obama out of office in November and insisting on the repeal of Obamacare in January. In fact, it might serve as a catalyst.

Today is the third anniversary of the last time the United States Senate, controlled by the Democrats since January 2007, passed a federal budget. Since April 29, 2009, the US Senate, under Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, Kent Conrad, has done nothing towards passing a budget despite their legal obligation and responsibility to do so. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) notes in his statement on this anniversary...
"For three years, in the midst of fiscal crisis, the party running the Senate refused to even attempt to produce their financial plan in willful and knowing defiance of the law," Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said in a statement on this three-year anniversary of the last Senate budget.

He added that "neither [Obama] nor his Senate majority has any business asking the American people to send one more dime in new taxes to this dysfunctional government."

What's surprising is how few people are outraged over the failure of the Senate Democratic Leadership.

The vapid DNC Chair, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is sending out a new campaign contribution appeal which is touting the Republican 'War on Women' that she says is underway. Her proof? She cites the 31 'No' votes cast by Republicans in the US Senate against the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act that Republicans are waging on a war on women and women's rights.

Left unsaid by the shameless DWS are the real facts around why 31 GOP Senators voted against the Violence Against Women Act now after twice before voting unanimously to approve the act and an earlier renewal...
...The Democrats’ Senate version of the bill adds 10,000 U-visas annually, but the Democrats refused to include any protections against immigration fraud in the issuance of such visas. The bill extends the criminal jurisdiction of Indian tribal courts to cover non-Indians; this has to be unconstitutional. And the Democrats’ bill includes hundreds of millions of dollars for grant programs, but the Democrats rejected all audit and oversight provisions, even though a Department of Justice investigation found that in the past, some grantees have misused more than 90% of the money they received through VAWA. This was my conclusion in a prior post:

So what we have here is another case of the Democrats attempting to use a program that is popular but little-understood, the Violence Against Women Act, to advance their collateral political agendas by facilitating waste, immigration fraud, and so on. When Republicans offered reforms to prevent these blatant abuses, the Democrats howled that Republicans are trying to kill the Violence Against Women Act. The Democrats think their voters are dumb enough to fall for this kind of nonsense. They are probably right.
All politics - and all political theater...with a healthy dose of contempt towards the American voter.

Holding a similar contempt towards the American voter are Thomas E. Mann and Norman Ornstein who try (and fail) to make the case that all of the problems we face, in particular around political gridlock in Washington, is because of what they call the 'ideologically extreme GOP'.  There are some excellent takedowns of this laughable screed across the blogosphere - with Powerline and Hot Air offering some of the best to expose their viewpoint as extremely narrow, partisan, outside of any real world context, and a lame attempt to build a case to fit a preconceived conclusion.

Mann and Orenstein start here - and immediately go off the rails...
Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican, was recently captured on video asserting that there are “78 to 81” Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party. Of course, it’s not unusual for some renegade lawmaker from either side of the aisle to say something outrageous. What made West’s comment — right out of the McCarthyite playbook of the 1950s — so striking was the almost complete lack of condemnation from Republican congressional leaders or other major party figures, including the remaining presidential candidates.

It’s not that the GOP leadership agrees with West; it is that such extreme remarks and views are now taken for granted.


The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

Left unsaid are the 'I won' moments offered by President Obama to Congressional leaders when 'invited' to 'negotiate' on healthcare reform. Or the fact that the reason we currently have a divided Congress is because of the actions of the vast Democratic majority Congress in 2009-10 and the President to advance an agenda that was hugely unpopular with the American voter - as noted by the rebuff the progressives took in November of 2010 courtesy of the American voter. Also unsaid are the policies which added more to the national debt in 39 months than was added by the previous Administration in 8 years. Or the failure to pass a budget in three years.

But perhaps most indicative of the mindset of the Obama Administration and their contempt towards their responsibility of leadership came from the Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner when he was speaking to GOP Representative Paul Ryan about the fiscal condition of the US -
“You are right to say we’re not coming before you today to say ‘we have a definitive solution to that long term problem.’ What we do know is, we don’t like yours.”
That, Mr. Mann and Mr Ornstein, is why we face the problems that we do.  It's not the GOP viewpoint - it's the viewpoint, hubris, and arrogance of the progressive Democrats starting with the narcissist in chief currently occupying the WH.

The liberal Chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, is a strong supporter of Barack Obama.  But today on ABC This Week, he schools the pinheaded columnist from the New York Times, Paul Krugman on Economics 101 - using GOP talking's Noel Sheppard notes in his post on the exchange...

ERIC SCHMIDT, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN GOOGLE: This perpetual argument over taxes is simply a lever to try to do the right thing. It's obvious what the right thing is. And we end up talking about the wrong thing. The right thing is to get people employed in jobs that matter.


SCHMIDT: And how do you do that? It's done largely by the private sector, largely with intelligent regulation and not too much of it. Let's figure out a way to get people being hired by business that solve problems. It will happen.

Probably like you, I was shocked to hear Schmidt say creating jobs is done "largely by the private sector, largely with intelligent regulation and not too much of it." Not surprisingly, so was Krugman:

PAUL KRUGMAN, NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, but we -- I mean -- yes, private sector is important. And we want the private sector -- but the private sector is almost back to its employment as of January of 2009. Where we're really hurting is --

SCHMIDT: Well, surely you're not arguing that the government should hire all the unemployed people.

Krugman was clearly taken aback by this:

KRUGMAN: No, I'm saying that the government should actually re-hire the 300,000 school teachers who have been laid off because of -- because of misplaced austerity …

Krugman would say that, but exactly how does that get people other than school teachers back to work? Once again, Schmidt saw through the hypocrisy:

SCHMIDT: That number won't fix the problem I'm talking about. If you look at forward growth in our citizen rate, they will be hired by private businesses, primarily small businesses.

Indeed, but Krugman - ever the government is the solution advocate - fought back:

KRUGMAN: But we -- we -- but the most important thing is --

FIORINA: Look at the unemployment among young people.

KRUGMAN: The most important thing right now is to end the depression we're in.

SCHMIDT: But the easiest way to solve -- the easy way to do the 300,000 is to do government block grants. I've never understood why government can't do one-time grants. The government basically funds things, but then they become perpetual. It would be relatively easy when government funding is down to essentially create that --

More and bigger government is the problem - not the solution. Eric Schmidt sees that. Progressive ideologues like Krugman do not - despite all of the evidence here and in Europe.

Wrapping up - here's an interesting fact about President Obama...he's held more political fundraisers for his reelection effort than those held by President's Carter, Reagan, Bush (41), Clinton, and Bush (43) did combined.
Doherty, who has compiled statistics about presidential travel and fundraising going back to President Jimmy Carter in 1977, found that Obama had held 104 fundraisers by March 6th this year, compared to 94 held by Presidents Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush Snr, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush combined.

Since then, Obama has held another 20 fundraisers, bringing his total to 124. Carter held four re-election fundraisers in 1980, Reagan zero in 1984, Bush Snr 19 in 1992, Clinton 14 in 1996 and Bush Jnr 57 in 2004.

That's leadership you can believe in.

This Day in History
1429 - Joan of Arc leads a French force to relieve Orleans - bringing in needed supplies to the city which was under siege by the British for the previous 6 months.  On May 8th, she would break the siege, driving off the British forces.

1945 - The US 7th Army's 45th Infantry Division liberates Dachau - the very first concentration camp established by the Nazis.

1975 - The US initiates the helicopter evacuation of Saigon.  Over 19 hours, 81 helicopters evacuated more than 1,000 Americans and 6,000 Vietnamese to US aircraft carriers offshore as North Vietnamese forces close on the South Vietnamese capital.

1991 - A cyclone hits Bangladesh - killing more than 135,000 people in one of the deadliest storms of the 20th century.

1992 - The verdict in the trial of 4 LAPD officers charged with using excessive force in arresting Rodney King is announced.  The acquittal of the 4 police officers ignited widespread riots throughout Los Angeles that lasted for three days before the arson and looting finally ended.

2004 - The National World War II Monument opens in Washington DC....

Here's a view from within the monument looking towards the Washington Monument that I took during a visit to DC in 2005.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Quick Hits - April 28, 2012

Bill Whittle calls this the 'Best. Sentence. Ever.'

Love of theory is the root of all evil....

Theory doesn't trump reality.  When the data or reality doesn't match or fit with the theory, the problem is not the data or reality.  The problem is the theory or people promoting the theory.  It's about the one's who are so emotionally connected to the theory (ideology) that they are blinded by everything else - including reality.

We see this when one looks at the world (in geopolitics) or various conditions and see's things not as they are - but as they want them to be.  They are blinded to the reality of the situation by their investment into a theory or ideology to the point where they have to change what reality is in order to have it fit into their accepted beliefs.  In other words, they do not believe what they see as they only see what they want to believe.

There is another corollary to this that reflects an equal intellectual bankruptcy - which involves a violation of 'scientific method' of analysis.  Rather than postulating a hypothesis and then taking steps to empirically prove or disprove the hypothesis as correct - one postulates a hypothesis and then creates the case to prove the hypothesis as correct via changing the data / reality to fit the preferred conclusion.

To the progressive left in this election campaign, they see a Republican 'war on women' because that is not only what they want to believe - but that fits the meme that they believe they need to project in order to gain electoral support.  We hear about a Republican 'war on students' over the issue of extending a temporary interest rate reduction on a special type of student loan.  All of these 'wars' are promoted as evidence of 'unfairness' of the GOP - and are complete fiction. 

House Speaker John Boehner finally decides to take to the House floor to smack down the Democrats over their rank politicization and demonization tactics...

It is said that while everyone is entitled to their own opinion, no one is entitled to their own set of facts. Facts are facts. But facts can be used in a manner which maintain the validity of the facts (as opposed to say, the cooking of the books that we see in the Labor Department's unemployment numbers or the argument offered by those like Michael Mann re Climate Change where data was changed to fit the desired result). We see this is the spin of the White House over the dismal 1st Quarter 2012 Gross Domestic Product economic number - which at 2.2% fell well below the 2.6% that was the consensus expectation.

While 'in the tank' media outlets like National Public Radio make the laughable 'excuse' that slow growth is actually good - the WH took a different spin towards the number. They focused on this number being the '11th consecutive quarter of positive growth'. After all it is. 2.2% growth is a positive number. It's also higher than the level of growth of the 1st Quarter of 2011 (1.8%).

But real problems exist within this number that the Administration and their media sycophants do not want to highlight -starting with the fact that this remains the slowest economic recovery in the last century (at least). This growth number is closer to the 2011 annual GDP growth number of 1.7% than it is to the greater than 4% rate one would expect at this point. For example, the average growth rate in the 11 quarters of the Obama recovery is 2.4%. The average growth rate in the first 11 quarters of the Reagan expansion in the 1980's was 6.1%.

If we look even deeper into this number - we also see some real signs of concern. The Associated Press shills for the Administration by explaining to their readers that one of the reasons the 1st Quarter 2012 number was so low was because of 'government budget cutting' which resulted in lower government spending. However, the government spent $966 billion in the 1st quarter of 2012. This was 2% higher than the government spent in the 1st Quarter of 2011 - and 10% higher than the government spent in the 4th Quarter of 2011. The annualized GDP growth rate for the 4th Quarter of 2011 was 3.0%. In fact, the only reason the US government spent less than $1 trillion in the 1st Quarter of 2012 was because of defense budget cutting....the non-defense government spending continued to balloon.

There is even more bad news as we look even deeper into this dismal GDP growth number.  The 1st Quarter of 2012 saw a huge leap in auto sales that many do not believe is sustainable to future quarters.  This surge accounted for 1.1% GDP growth.  Businesses also increased spending - building up inventories which is also believe to not be sustainable into the next quarters.  This inventory build-up accounted for 0.5% GDP growth.  Without these 'unique' events - we would have an economy that is barely growing (0.6%).  

Who's to blame?  Simple.  We're hammered by the policies of the Obama Administration ('Fairness', 'Social Justice', Bigger Government = Better Government) and the Federal Reserve Bank (QE1, QE2, and Weak Dollar).

Haughty.  Hubris.  Narcissistic.  Nihilistic.  Arrogant.  Conceited.  Supercilious.  Contemptuous.  Ego Driven.  Self-absorbed. 

All of these terms seem to fit the mannerisms and approach of not only Barack Obama - but of those key players around Barack Obama. 

Consider Barack Obama's own words as he demonstrates that he remains a legend in his own mind...
Obama had always had a high estimation of his ability to cast and run his operation. When David Plouffe, his campaign manager, first interviewed for a job with him in 2006, the senator gave him a warning: “I think I could probably do every job on the campaign better than the people I’ll hire to do it,” he said. “It’s hard to give up control when that’s all I’ve known.” Obama said nearly the same thing to Patrick Gaspard, whom he hired to be the campaign’s political director. “I think I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters,” Obama told him. “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.”

Or that of White House Press Flack, Jay Carney, who is a living embodiment of the 'Liar's Paradox'...

I never lie.... which Hot Air's Allahpundit asks a very simple question...
Has anything illuminating ever come out of a Q&A at the daily briefing? I’ve never understood the point of it. If the White House has substantive information to share with the press, they can circulate it in written form or bring out an informed expert from the relevant department to expand on it. They can and should also have a press office to field queries from the media, but there’s no obvious reason to me to have a press secretary go out there day after day and tapdance around questions with artful half-truths. It’s pure theater, cat and mouse for political junkies. Carney himself is candid about it, explaining that while he can’t lie, he can hold back plenty of information in order to keep confidential matters confidential. How much “credibility” is there in that? You’re a paid flack whose job is to protect the administration by omitting whatever key facts can be safely concealed. I understand a president’s need for some sort of liaison to the press but let’s not kid ourselves that anything useful is happening here. At least on the record.
Does one lie by omitting key facts in order to present reality as one wants it to be?

In 1988, Joe Biden was forced to withdraw from the Democrat Presidential Primary race over a scandal that developed from his plagiarism of British Liberal Party Leader Neil Kinnock. It was not a simple gaffe around similar words or ideas - or even a failure to acknowledge a source. It was a level of plagiarism that would have resulted, if done by a university student in a paper, an academic review / expulsion.

Old habits are hard to break - as now Vice President Joe Biden seems to be back on that plagiarism horse...

This is the new Obama campaign advertisement that is touting the 'gutsy' call of President Obama to launch the raid to capture Osama Bin Laden.  It's narrated by former President Bill Clinton - and suggests that a President Mitt Romney would not have launched the mission that sent Seal Team 6 into Pakistan to kill the al-Qaeda leader.

Vice President Biden also is on the campaign trail promoting this same meme...
"I think nothing speaks more powerfully to the differences between President Obama and Governor Romney than one of the defining moments in the past four years, the hunt for Osama bin Laden," Biden said Thursday at a campaign event in New York City.

He quoted Obama's pledge as a candidate to making crushing al Qaeda "our biggest national security priority.”

Biden added, "I was a little bit more direct. I said, we’d follow the S.O.B. to the gates of Hell if we had to."
Interesting choice of words Mr. Vice President.

As a reader highlighted - this is taken almost word for word from Senator John McCain during a 2008 campaign GOP Presidential Primary debate....

This is also the same Joe Biden who...

...advised President Obama against conducting the Osama Bin Laden raid...

And about that 'gutsy call'....let's revisit the article that highlights the details of the memo from then CIA Director Leon Panetta on the mission orders...
Received phone call from Tom Donilon who stated that the President made a decision with regard to AC1 [Abbottabad Compound 1]. The decision is to proceed with the assault.

The timing, operational decision making and control are in Admiral McRaven’s hands. The approval is provided on the risk profile presented to the President. Any additional risks are to be brought back to the President for his consideration. The direction is to go in and get bin Laden and if he is not there, to get out. Those instructions were conveyed to Admiral McRaven at approximately 10:45 am.

As notes in their commentary...
Only the memo doesn’t show a gutsy call. It doesn’t show a president willing to take the blame for a mission gone wrong. It shows a CYA maneuver by the White House.

The memo puts all control in the hands of Admiral McRaven – the “timing, operational decision making and control” are all up to McRaven. So the notion that Obama and his team were walking through every stage of the operation is incorrect. The hero here was McRaven, not Obama. And had the mission gone wrong, McRaven surely would have been thrown under the bus.

The memo is crystal clear on that point. It says that the decision has been made based solely on the “risk profile presented to the President.” If any other risks – no matter how minute – arose, they were “to be brought back to the President for his consideration.” This is ludicrous. It is wiggle room. It was Obama’s way of carving out space for himself in case the mission went bad. If it did, he’d say that there were additional risks of which he hadn’t been informed; he’d been kept in the dark by his military leaders.

Finally, the memo is unclear on just what the mission is. Was it to capture Bin Laden or to kill him? The White House itself was unable to decide what the mission was in the hours after the Bin Laden kill, and actually switched its language. The memo shows why: McRaven was instructed to “get” Bin Laden, whatever that meant.

President Obama made the right call to give the green light to the mission. But he did it in a way that he could shift the blame if things went wrong. Typical Obama.

We ARE watching an Orwellian Ministry of Truth at work with this Administration, it's leading players, and the 'mainstream' media that is in an ideological lock step with them.  Need we mention the double-standard that would be in play if the party affiliation of these officials were Republican? 

After all - now the focus is - 'We got Bin Laden'...not 'We lost the Middle East'.

I see that the Pakistani spy agency, the ISI, is on the same wavelength when it comes to taking the truth to new levels.... as they report that they were the one's who gave Bin Laden's location inside Pakistan to the US Central Intelligence Agency.  Really?  It wasn't the personal courier who led us to Bin Laden - or that we got the info on the courier from 'enhanced interrogation methods;?

This Day in History

1789 - Master's Mate Fletcher Christian leads a mutiny on board the HMS Bounty.  Setting Captain William Bligh and 19 loyal sailors adrift in the Pacific Ocean in a 23 foot long open long boat, the mutineers sail east to Tahiti and then onto Pitcairn Island where they burn the HMS Bounty.  A number of mutineers are found years later on Pitcairn Island and taken to England for trial.  Today, descendants of the mutineers live on the remote Pitcairn Island.  Captain Bligh successfully navigated his long boat 3,600 miles to Timor and rescue - a stunning feat of seamanship.

1945 - Benito Mussolini, the former fascist dictator of Italy, is shot to death by Italian partisans who capture him and his mistress as they tried to flee Italy to Switzerland.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Quick Hits - April 27, 2012

This morning we got the news on another measure of the state of the national economy - with the release of the 1st Quarter 2012 GDP numbers.

The White House calls the results 'encouraging' and celebrates the '11th straight quarter of positive growth'.

In 2011, the annual GDP growth was an anemic 1.7%.  This dismal number was only this high because the 4th quarter of 2011 witnessed 3% GDP growth.  That's a decent number for an economy that is humming on autopilot - but a low number when one is expecting or touting a viable, vibrant economic recovery.

So what was the 1st quarter GDP growth for 2012 that was so 'encouraging' and 'celebrated' by the White House?


Expectations were of a number at or slightly above 2.6% GDP growth for this quarter - and even that was a drop from the previous quarter.  'Encouraging'?  Hardly.  Celebrating the '11th straight quarter of positive growth' is what can simply be termed as 'putting lipstick on the pig'.  But the WH aren't the only one's trying to spin this disappointing number into something that it is not.

The New York Times brings forth a usual Administration foil, the strawman, to proclaim that this GDP growth number, despite being well under expectations is 'maintaining what many economists have started to call a 'sustainable' pace of recovery'.  The Washington Post shills this number saying that the drop was larger than expected because 'government spending declined'... as if to try to promote the meme that the massive spending of the Obama Administration which has given us $5 trillion in new debt in 39 months has rebooted the economy.

Is that a 'sustainable pace of recovery'?

This latest GDP number continues the pace of this 'recovery' being far slower and shallower than any other post World War II economic recovery.  It also appears to portrend another year with a stagnant spring and summer as the economic policies of the Obama Administration continue to place a huge damper on the national economy. 

Surprisingly, The Hill, is one of the few media elements that is reflecting these economic numbers as they are - headlining their report 'Economic Growth Slows to Disappointing 2.2 Percent'...
For the political world, the news is likely to worry the White House, which hopes the economy will grow and employment will rise ahead of November's election. Unemployment has fallen to 8.2 percent, but will be hard-pressed to fall further without stronger growth.
But that doesn't start to cover some of the details. For example, without the boost in consumer spending, primarily in auto purchases during this first quarter, the GDP growth would have only been 1.1%. How sustainable is that level of spending on cars? Very possibly, it's not sustainable as consumers had a brief 'splurge' to address their need before retrenching.

Zerohedge raises this point, but the most important point that the raise about this disappointing number is this...

Presented without much commentary, because little is necessary: the only ratio that matters for the US economy, the change in US public debt ($359.1 billion) and US GDP ($142.4) in the first quarter, hit 2.52x and rising.

It takes $2.52 in new debt to increase $1 of GDP.
That is unsustainable.

Stephen Green, Vodkapundit, notes that one of the messages that has to be driven to the American voter for this Presidential election is the message that Obamanomics has failed.  He references that presumptive GOP Presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, has a challenge doing this when there is a 'growing economy' and declining unemployment numbers.

As the WH link above demonstrates, any positive number, even 0.1%, is being presented as a 'growing economy' - and we've highlighted numerous times how the Labor Department cooks the books.  We don't need any more evidence of our economic challenges than another dismal quarter of GDP growth, more 'cooked' books around job numbers, and the fact that to gain $1 increase in GDP - it costs us $2.52 in new debt.

Here's how Stephen Green makes the case to highlight why Obamanomics failed...
• The economy bottomed out in Q2 of 2009, before a single Obama policy had taken hold. Not one stimulus dollar had been spent, ObamaCare was still just talk, Dodd-Frank did not exist. Obama did not “save” us from Depression. The recession found its natural bottom without him.

• The economy has been sputtering along that natural bottom ever since. Perky job creation went catatonic with the passage of ObamaCare. Dodd-Frank has enshrined Too Big to Fail while freezing consumer credit. ZIRP is impoverishing the elderly. Stimulus was partisan theft. Quantitative easing has resulted in food & gas inflation which is killing consumers.

• As a result of these policies, we’re on the verge of a double dip recession, which will start with 15% underemployment and 28% of all mortgages underwater. Where’s the natural bottom for that? And with an extra $5,000,000,000,000 in new debt, and interest rates already at zero — what tools does Washington have left to fix it? None.

The image of Obamanomics which Romney needs to sell is this: You take an economy on its back, then stomp the boot of the regulatory state firmly on its throat. You then beat it on the head with a big sack of money. When that fails, get a bigger sack. We’ve tried this for three years now, and yet the economy is still on its back. It’s time to let it breath once more.

Peggy Noonan, writing in the Wall Street Journal talks about this election season this way...
There is a growing air of incompetence around Mr. Obama's White House. It was seen again this week in Supreme Court arguments over the administration's challenge to Arizona's attempted crackdown on illegal immigration. As Greg Stohr of Bloomberg News wrote, the court seemed to be disagreeing with the administration's understanding of federal power: "Solicitor General Donald Verrilli . . . met resistance across ideological lines. . . . Even Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court's only Hispanic and an Obama appointee, told Verrilli his argument is 'not selling very well.' " This follows last month's embarrassing showing over the constitutionality of parts of ObamaCare.

All of this looks so bush league, so scattered. Add it to the General Services Administration, to Solyndra, to the other scandals, and you get a growing sense that no one's in charge, that the administration is paying attention to politics but not day-to-day governance. The two most public cabinet members are Eric Holder at Justice and Janet Napolitano at Homeland Security. He is overseeing the administration's Supreme Court cases. She is in charge of being unmoved by the daily stories of Transportation Security Administration incompetence and even cruelty at our airports. Those incidents and stories continue, but if you go to the Homeland Security website, there is no mention of them. It's as if they don't even exist.


Maybe the 2012 election is simpler than we think.

It will be about Mr. Obama.

Did you like the past four years? Good, you can get four more.

Do the president and his people strike you as competent? If so, you can renew his contract, and he will renew theirs.

If you don't want to rehire him, you will look at the other guy. Does he strike you as credible, a possible president?
Then you can hire him.
Interesting series of terms to describe the Obama Administration - incompetence, bush league, and references to the effects of a regulator boot on the throat of the American economy.  The Administration and their defenders will deny that these are accurate descriptions of the Administration or their policies....and then point the finger of blame at either President George W. Bush or the 'do-nothing' Republican Congress. 

This defence falls flat when faced with evidence right in front of us about the Administration that lives up to these claims against the Administration.  Like this case -

This is EPA Administrator for the Region 6 Dallas Office. He's a political appointee of President Obama to lead Region 6 - appointed in November 2009 to much fanfare from the environmentalist left. In this clip, he defines not only his personal agenda and approach - but also apparently the agenda and approach towards regulatory responsibility that is supported by the Obama Administration since he is still holding his job as the Administrator for Region 6.

Bureaucratic administrators do not 'make examples out of people' or 'hit them as hard as you can' - particularly since many of his steps and actions against fossil fuel energy companies on steps like fracking have been without evidence of wrongdoing or that the processes cause the claimed environmental damage. Instead, it's exercising a political agenda for punitive purposes.

Nor is this an 'isolated' incident of these types of steps. As Michelle Malkin highlights in her column today, this is 'The Obama Way'...
It was Obama’s power-mad interior secretary Ken Salazar who vowed to keep his “boot on the neck” of BP after the Gulf oil spill in 2010. Salazar and former eco-czar Carol Browner colluded on a fraudulent report — condemned by federal judges — that completely distorted a White House–appointed expert panel’s opposition to the administration’s job-killing, industry-bashing drilling moratorium.

It was Obama’s EPA that railroaded a senior government research analyst for daring to question the agency’s zealous push to impose rules on greenhouse gases. When Alan Carlin asked to distribute an analysis on the health effects of greenhouse gases that didn’t fit the eco-bureaucracy’s blame-human-activity narrative, he was gagged and reprimanded: “The time for such discussion of fundamental issues has passed for this round. The administrator and the administration has [sic] decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision. . . . I can only see one impact of your comments given where we are in the process, and that would be a very negative impact on our office.” Public-relations management trumped truth in science, the deliberative process, and fairness.

It was Obama’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in cahoots with the witch hunters at the Department of Justice, that raided Gibson Guitar factories in Memphis and Nashville three years ago over an arcane endangered species of wood. The guitar police have yet to bring charges, leaving the company in costly legal limbo.

Use of strawmen and deception to score political points is a standard operating procedure for this President -

When people say we should get rid of Planned Parenthood, they’re not just talking about restricting a woman’s ability to make her own health decision; they’re talking about denying, as a practical matter, the preventive care, like mammograms, that millions of women rely on.

Which Republicans are trying to eliminate Planned Parenthood? None. All that a number of Republicans are advocating is that the Federal Government stop providing taxpayer funds for Planned Parenthood - saying that PP should derive their funds from charitable contributions as opposed to receiving taxpayer money courtesy of the federal government. If an individual supports the values and services of Planned Parenthood, then that individual is free to use their personal income to donate to that cause...and those individuals who oppose the values and services that PP promotes are free to not donate to that organization.

Then there is the farce around mammograms - which one thought would have been addressed during the Komen Foundation kerfuffle when Planned Parenthood admitted that they do not do mammograms. If a woman goes to Planned Parenthood and wants a mammogram done, PP refers them to other caregivers. If they do not do mammograms, then there is no reason or justification for them to receive taxpayer funding for services they do not provide.

Charles Krauthammer has a double smackdown of President Obama's feckless foreign policy in his weekly column today titled, 'While Syria Burns'....
Last year President Obama ordered U.S. intervention in Libya under the grand new doctrine of “Responsibility to Protect.” Moammar Gaddafi was threatening a massacre in Benghazi. To stand by and do nothing “would have been a betrayal of who we are,” explained the president.

In the year since, the government of Syria has more than threatened massacres. It has carried them out. Nothing hypothetical about the disappearances, executions, indiscriminate shelling of populated neighborhoods. More than 9,000 are dead.

Obama has said that we cannot stand idly by. And what has he done? Stand idly by.

Obama’s other major announcement — at Washington’s Holocaust Museum, no less — was the creation of an Atrocities Prevention Board.

I kid you not. A board. Russia flies planeloads of weapons to Damascus. Iran supplies money, trainers, agents, more weapons. And what does America do? Support a feckless U.N. peace mission that does nothing to stop the killing. (Indeed, some of the civilians who met with the U.N. observers were summarily executed.) And establish an Atrocities Prevention Board.

With multiagency participation, mind you. The liberal faith in the power of bureaucracy and flowcharts, of committees and reports, is legend. But this is parody.

Now, there’s an argument to be made that we do not have a duty to protect. That foreign policy is not social work. That you risk American lives only when national security and/or strategic interests are at stake, not merely to satisfy the humanitarian impulses of some of our leaders.

But Obama does not make this argument. On the contrary. He goes to the Holocaust Museum to commit himself and his country to defend the innocent, to affirm the moral imperative of rescue. And then does nothing of any consequence.
When we look at the challenges we face - domestic and foreign - it's clear that we have a Chief Executive whose core values and beliefs differ significantly from the majority of the American people.  Unlike 2008 when he ran on the basis of being to the right of Hillary Clinton, and under the moniker of 'Hope and Change' which encouraged voters to project onto him what they wanted to see - as opposed to who the candidate really was (Bill Ayers, Rev. Wright, et al), Barack Obama has a record to be held accountable to.  He's tried 'fundamental change' in this country - to advocate a political agenda and policies beyond what's best for the country and the American people. 

This is why we have a stagnant economy, 15.6%+ real unemployment, unprecedented national debt, and a future that looks more like Greece or Spain than it does of the America of a previous generation. 

This is why Jimmy Carter is Barack Obama's biggest supporter...because now Mr. Carter is no longer the worst President of the last one hundred and fifty years.

Today in History

1805 - During the Barbary War, US Agent William Eaton leads a small force of US Marines (commanded by Lt. Presley O'Bannon) and Berber mercenaries to capture the Tripolitian port city of Derna, despose the Pasha ruling Tripoli, and waging war against the US / US trade in the region.  This is the source for the phrase, ' the shores of Tripoli...' in the Marine Corps Hymn.

1813 - American forces capture the city of York (known today as Toronto) during the War of 1812.

2006 - Construction begins on the 1,776 ft tall Freedom Tower on the site of the former World Trade Center in lower Manhattan.  Next week, the 100th floor of the Freedom Tower will be completed - and the building will surpass the Empire State Building as New York's tallest building.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Quick Hits - April 26, 2012

8 of the Supreme Court Justices appeared to take a dim view towards the Obama Administration's argument against the Arizona anti-illegal immigration bill - SB 1010 during oral arguments before the SCOTUS yesterday.  The Justices, without Justice Elena Kagan who recused herself from this case based on her role developing the Administration case while Solicitor General of the US, apparently had some challenges over the arguments offered by Solicitor General Donal Verrilli....
The framers vested in the national government the authority over immigration because they understood that the way this nation treats citizens of other countries is a vital aspect of our foreign relations,” Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., the government’s top constitutional lawyer, told the court.

But several justices said when it came to the immigration checks, it appeared Arizona was only trying to help.

“It seems to me the federal government just doesn’t want to know who’s here illegally,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said at one point.

Federal law already lets local police call and check immigration status — and in some instances even requires it for prisons and jails. Mr. Verrilli said immigration-status checks are fine as long as police perform them voluntarily, but he said Arizona crossed a line by making it mandatory.

The justices on both sides of the court’s ideological divide didn’t buy that.

“You can see it’s not selling very well — why don’t you try to come up with something else?” said Justice Sonia Sotomayor, appointed by President Obama.

This argument comes just a month after the Obama Administration appeared to have three very bad days in their oral arguments in defense of the Obamacare and its Individual Mandate.

The general consensus from the arguments and reading the 'tea leaves' based on the questions and reactions of the Justices, several major elements of the Arizona law which the liberal Ninth Circuit Court invalidated seem to have a 'new life' in the SCOTUS.

This has created a side meme, primarily from the left, where some unhappiness is being expressed towards the embattled Solicitor General, Donald Verrilli, over his performance during oral arguments...with some wondering if the Mr. Verrilli is just out of his depth. Frankly, it appears far more certain that the ones who are out of their depth are President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, who are forcing Verrilli to present a case with a strong ideological foundation, but very little real foundation in constitutional law. As Powerline notes...
On Twitter, Byron York asked: “Question for legal types: Is Donald Verrilli bad at his job or just burdened by having to defend the indefensible?” You can read the entire argument here and draw your own conclusions, but in my opinion, the problem was not with Verrilli but rather with the quality of the arguments that he was required to make by his client, the Obama administration.

Of course, what is going on here is that the Obama administration doesn’t want to enforce the immigration laws that Congress has enacted. The essence of its position in the Arizona case is that the federal government has the right to decide not to enforce the law, and if it so decides, then no state has the power, under the Constitution, to do anything that would tend to enforce those federal laws. So if the Obama administration decides that it will gain political advantage by ignoring federal laws against illegal immigration, states like Arizona just have to take the consequences without complaining.

That proposition–the real essence of the Obama administration’s case–is not one that can survive the light of day. Thus, near the end of Verrilli’s argument, Justice Kennedy cut to the chase:

JUSTICE KENNEDY: So you’re saying the government has a legitimate interest in not enforcing its laws?

GENERAL VERRILLI: No. We have a legitimate interest in enforcing the law, of course, but it needs to be — but these — this Court has said over and over again, has recognized that the — the balance of interest that has to be achieved in enforcing the — the immigration laws is exceedingly delicate and complex, and it involves consideration of foreign relations, it involves humanitarian concerns, and it also involves public order and public –

That answer was incoherent, obviously, but not because Verrilli is a fool; rather, because the Obama administration’s position is indefensible. Later, Justice Scalia followed up:

JUSTICE SCALIA: So we have to — we have to enforce our laws in a manner that will please Mexico. Is that what you’re saying?

GENERAL VERRILLI: No, Your Honor, but what — no, Your Honor, I’m not saying that –

JUSTICE SCALIA: Sounded like what you were saying.

So the Obama administration had a tough day in court today, and deservedly so. Let’s hope that the Supreme Court’s majority opinion in this case delivers President Obama the stinging rebuke that he so richly deserves.
If the SCOTUS upholds the major elements of Arizona's SB1070, which I expect them to do (and rebuke once again the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals), a major step will be taken towards addressing this country's challenges around illegal immigration.  It will empower states to take the steps they need to take to protect themselves and their residents from an Administration which has decided on their own to selectively enforce federal law based around political expediency.

This combined with the effects of Obamaonomics, the President's feckless economic policies, may actually permit us to get the challenge of illegal immigration under some degreee of control.

Net migration from Mexico has plummeted to zero thanks to changing demographic and economic conditions on both sides of the border, a new study says, even as political battles over illegal immigration heat up and the issue heads to the U.S. Supreme Court.

After four decades that brought 12 million Mexican immigrants—more than half of them illegally—to the U.S., the curtain has come down on the biggest immigration wave in modern times.

"The net migration flow from Mexico to the United States has stopped and may have reversed," says the report, which is based on an analysis of U.S. and Mexican government data by the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center.

President Obama, who seems to have been on a reelection campaign since January 22, 2009, attended over 100 campaign fundraisers in the last 10 months, and has spent most of 2012 on campaign trips funded the the American taxpayer, will officially kick off his reelection campaign next week in the swing states of Ohio and Virginia at several rallies.

Given his campaign activity thusfar - it's laughable to 'announce' a kick off of the reelection campaign next week.  But it's also reflective of the contempt and arrogance that the President's team has towards the American people - thinking that they can actually ignore the President's past actions, and 'announce' the 'formal' start of the President's reelection campaign.

This contempt and arrogance is not limited to just issues related to the campaign.  It has practically become standard operating procedure for this Administration.

The Labor Department has released the latest data on new applications for unemployment benefits - and just like last week's numbers - the books are being juggled for political expediency.  As the Wall Street Journal notes in their report this morning on the latest job numbers - new applications for unemployment benefits stayed 'nearly unchanged' from last week's high number decreasing only 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 388,000 new applicants for unemployment benefits.

The article notes that the Labor Department revised the previous week's numbers from 386,000 new applicants to 389,000 new applicants...repeating the pattern of revising the previous week's number to a level just beyond the current week's numbers so that the sycophants in the press can report that the week to week numbers 'declined' when we look at the current week versus the (revised) previous week.

Zerohedge once again calls the Obama Labor Department on their book cooking shenanigans...
Recall what we said less than an hour ago: "what will most likely happen is a print in the mid to upper 380,000s, while last week's number will be revised to a 390K+ print, allowing the media to once again declare that the number was an improvement week over week. In other words, SSDD." SSDD it is: last week's 386K number was revised to 389K, meaning the massive miss relative to expectations of 370K last week just got even worse. This is the 10th week in a row of misses to the weaker side and the 16th of the last 18. And while this week's miss was whopping as usual, with expectations of 375K being soundly missed after the print came at 388K on its way back to 400K, the media can sleep soundly because the absolute lack of BLS propaganda means that the sequential progression is one of, you got it, improvement. In other words here is what the headlines in the Mainstream Media will be: "Initial claims improve over prior week." In fact here it is from Bloomberg: "U.S. Initial Jobless Claims Fell 1,000 to 388,000 Last Week." Absolutely brilliant.No propaganda. No data fudging. No manipulation at all. Just endless laughter at the desperation.
Desperation is the operative word for these steps.  What does it tell us about this Administration and the state of our economy if a) they have to cook the books to this extent, b) they have to do so early in the election process, and c) that it is so obvious that they are cooking the books.

The only record the President has to run on is a record of dismal failure - a failure to effectively create and stimulate viable economic growth.

Ace of Spades has a highlight today about a pretty skewed poll - Democrats oversampled +9 points - that has some very good information to give us despite it's laughable poll breakdown....
The weekly YouGov/Economist poll, which had already shown Romney shrinking the gap in it's previous weekly release, now gives Mitt a tiny lead amongst registered voters surveyed. Partisan breakdown is 42% Democrat, 33% Republican, 24% Independent, and age groups, race and gender all break down matching registered voter population.
Even with a strong Democrat skew - Romney leads Obama 47% to 46% among registered voters - and closing on the President in some of the major demographics (Youth / Gender) to within 4 or 5 points of the President.   Factor in the pro-Democrat skew - and this poll matches a number of others that highlight some real problems for the Obama reelection outside of the progressive base.

One of the challenges that Barack Obama has, along with many other progressives (yesterday we called out DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz), is with their challenges with telling the truth.  President Obama, in addition to his lies over the comments of a Republican Congresswoman, has apparently emblished the truth around his tall tale about what he and Michelle had to do to pay off their student loans - a key aspect of his speech advocating a political position that Mitt Romney has also supported.  This comes to us from ABC News (Mainstream Media?!) via JammieWearingFool...
As Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Tribune wrote during the last campaign, Obama worked his way through college and law school – including jobs selling trinkets, making sandwiches at a deli in Hawaii and working as a telemarketer pitching subscriptions to The New York Times. Michelle’s early jobs included work as a camp counselor and a typist/assistant for the American Medical Association. In the early years, nobody would call the Obamas rich.

But according to their tax returns, which are available on the White House website, the Obamas had a healthy, six-figure income by the year 2000 (the earliest return available). And for at least two years before his loans were paid off, Obama, by his own definition, made so much they were wealthy enough to pay higher taxes.

Here’s a rundown of the president’s income, according to his tax returns, in the years before he paid off his student loans:

2004: $207,647
2003: $238,327
2002: $259,394
2001: $272,759
2000: $240,505

In 2001 and 2002, the Obamas would have met the $250,000 standard the president has set for those wealthy enough to afford to pay more taxes.

It’s also notable that the Obamas didn’t claim deductions for student loans on any of those years, most likely because they made too much money to qualify for the student loan deduction.
One of the big stories getting traction today is the freudian slip into the mindset of the Obama Administration as expressed by a political appointee EPA Administrator who raised eyebrows over his candid discussion around the enforcement actions he (and others?) in the Administration / EPA need to take towards what seems less of 'protecting the environment' and more around 'promoting an ideological agenda'....
"It was kind of like how the Romans used to, you know, conquer villages in the Mediterranean," he said. "They'd go in to a little Turkish town somewhere, they'd find the first five guys they saw, and they'd crucify them.

"And then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years," he said.

Armendariz went on to say that "you make examples out of people who are in this case not complying with the law ... and you hit them as hard as you can" -- to act as a "deterrent" to others.

Armendariz issued a statement apologizing after Inhofe slammed the comments on the Senate floor, and fired off a letter to
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson highlighting them.

"I apologize to those I have offended and regret my poor choice of words," Armendariz said. "It was an offensive and inaccurate way to portray our efforts to address potential violations of our nation's environmental laws. I am and have always been committed to fair and vigorous enforcement of those laws."

Indicative of the arrogance of the appointees to critical positions within the Obama Administration – bullying, threatening, intimidating, to gain the adherence of their preferred behavior – actions….putting ideology before the best interests of the country…

[Sigh] - the typical non-apology apology...

This mindset will do little to help the President's reelection efforts as it brings new highlights to the Administration's war on coal and war on fossil fuels...
Republicans say that the agency under Obama has gone from an agency that seeks to keep companies in compliance with environmental rules to one that is looking to bust companies and take scalps.

With gasoline prices sky high and the EPA already very much in the news because of Republican charges that agency is pushing energy prices up, the last thing the president needs is to have one of his appointees on camera seeming to conform the charges of his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.

Environmental policy has been a constant source of aggravation throughout the Obama era.

The president made combating global warming a central tenet of his 2008 campaign and he sought to deliver on his promises after taking office by pushing new federal fees on carbon emissions. House Democrats took up the cause with gusto, passing what supporters call "cap and trade" legislation.

But since them, the EPA has been back on the march with a clutch of new rules that while less sweeping, add up to the same kind of global warming crackdown by other means.

The agency has also taken up the issue of natural gas exploration, adding new restrictions on drilling even as the president calls for increased natural gas use as part of his effort to combat Republican complaints that he is driving energy prices higher by limiting access to domestic oil reserves.

Obama knows that energy prices are one of his weakest weak spots against Romney. But he also knows that environmentalism is one of his best ways to keep liberals "fired up, ready to go."

That's why in his recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine Obama promised that he would be "clear in voicing [his] that we're going to have to take further steps to deal with climate change in a serious way."
Politics before the best interests of the counry....

A Syrian rocket attack earlier today that killed up to 70 civilians in the central city of Hama is the latest evidence that the UN sponsored cease fire in Syria is on the verge of a total collapse.  Activists are reporting that the city was brought under a heavy bombardment where civilian areas were specifically targeted.  The state run media is reporting that only 16 civilians were killed - and that they died not form Syrian rockets or artillery, but from a blast coming from a house being used as a bomb factory by 'armed terrorist groups' in the city.

The French Foreign Minister has responded to the continued Syrian government violations of the cease fire by threatening to demand international military intervention if the Syrian government fails to halt their violence - and honor the cease fire by early May.  The French minister says he will be appealling to the United Nations Security Council for a 'Chapter 7' resolution - authorizing military action to restore international peace and security. 

UN and Arab League envoy, Kofi Annan, is scheduled to present a formal report on Syria's compliance to the UN sponsored peace plan and cease fire to the Security Council on May 5th. has a story on their website that exposes President Obama's 'gutsy' call to get Osama Bin Laden was not all that 'gutsy' - with a strong focus on how to prevent President Obama from sharing the effect of the Desert One debacle had on President Jimmy Carter in 1980 if the assault on Bin Laden went wrong...
Today, Time magazine got hold of a memo written by then-CIA head Leon Panetta after he received orders from Barack Obama’s team to greenlight the bin Laden mission. Here’s the text, which summarized the situation:

Received phone call from Tom Donilon who stated that the President made a decision with regard to AC1 [Abbottabad Compound 1]. The decision is to proceed with the assault.

The timing, operational decision making and control are in Admiral McRaven’s hands. The approval is provided on the risk profile presented to the President. Any additional risks are to be brought back to the President for his consideration. The direction is to go in and get bin Laden and if he is not there, to get out. Those instructions were conveyed to Admiral McRaven at approximately 10:45 am.

This, of course, was the famed “gutsy call.”

The memo puts all control in the hands of Admiral McRaven – the “timing, operational decision making and control” are all up to McRaven. So the notion that Obama and his team were walking through every stage of the operation is incorrect. The hero here was McRaven, not Obama. And had the mission gone wrong, McRaven surely would have been thrown under the bus.

The memo is crystal clear on that point. It says that the decision has been made based solely on the “risk profile
presented to the President.” If any other risks – no matter how minute – arose, they were “to be brought back to the President for his consideration.” This is ludicrous. It is wiggle room. It was Obama’s way of carving out space for himself in case the mission went bad. If it did, he’d say that there were additional risks of which he hadn’t been informed; he’d been kept in the dark by his military leaders.

Finally, the memo is unclear on just what the mission is. Was it to capture Bin Laden or to kill him? The White House itself was unable to decide what the mission was in the hours after the Bin Laden kill, and actually switched its language. The memo shows why: McRaven was instructed to “get” Bin Laden, whatever that meant.

President Obama made the right call to give the green light to the mission. But he did it in a way that he could shift the blame if things went wrong. Typical Obama. And typical of him to claim full credit for it, when he didn’t do anything but give a vague nod, while putting his top military officials at risk of taking the hit in case of a bad turn.
Again, there is nothing that is done by this Administration that does not pass through the filter of political expediency -and the political takes precedence.

The meme about George Zimmerman, charged with 2nd Degree Murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, is finally starting to be corrected by the mainstream media which failed to do this as the story broke nationally....Reuters notes this about Zimmerman...
A criminal justice student who aspired to become a judge, Zimmerman also concerned himself with the safety of his neighbors after a series of break-ins committed by young African-American men.

Though civil rights demonstrators have argued Zimmerman should not have prejudged Martin, one black neighbor of the Zimmermans said recent history should be taken into account.

“Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. I’m black, OK?” the woman said, declining to be identified because she anticipated backlash due to her race. She leaned in to look a reporter directly in the eyes. “There were black boys robbing houses in this neighborhood,” she said. “That’s why George was suspicious of Trayvon Martin.”

I suspect that as more details come out - outside the meme's being promoted by the race baiters - it will show that Zimmerman was not the racist or bully / murderer that he has been depicted as.

In media cluelessness, we have one of the anchor's of NBC's Today Show, Ann Curry, who goes on a rant about 'fairness' when interviewing left wing Harvard Professor Michael Sandel on yesterday's broadcast...complaining that its 'fundamentally unfair' when some have more money than others...

"...there's an inherent unfairness to's about those with money having an easier life than those who don't. And there's something fundamentally unfair about that."

Note to Ann Curry - you have a 7 figure annual salary courtesy of your contract with NBC News. I do not have a 7 figure annual salary. It's FUNDAMENTALLY UNFAIR that you have a 7 figure annual salary and I don't... so it's time for you to remedy this by sending me 25% of your annual salary. Or do those 'rules' not apply to you?

This Day in History

1865 - John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Abraham Lincoln, is killed when Union soldiers track him to a Virginia farm 12 days after he murdered the President.

1937 - Units of the German Luftwaffe, fighting in support of General Francisco Franco's Nationalist Army in the Spanish Civil War, conducts a massive indiscriminate bombing attack on the Basque town of Guernica - home to 5,000 residents.  In a 3 hour attack, one third of the town's population was killed or wounded and the city burned for days.  This was the precursor to the indiscriminate bombing raids of World War II on civilians.

1986 - The world's worst nuclear accident to date occurs at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant near Kiev in the Ukraine.  The full toll is still being tallied on the cost in lives of the accident, but experts believe thousands died and as many as 70,000 suffered severe radiation poisoning.  One report has 4,000 of those workers involved in the clean-up dying from radiation exposure.  An 18 mile radius around the plant, home to nearly 150,000 people, had to be permanently evacuated.