Friday, April 20, 2012

Quick Hits - April 19 and 20, 2012

Another full day - so another double post to catch up....

George Zimmerman had his bail hearing in Sanford, Florida earlier today.  During the hearing, Mr. Zimmerman apologized to the parents of Trayvon Martin for the death of their son.  Bail was set at $150,000 - which will likely create some angst from some over the 'low' bail amount for Mr. Zimmerman.

ABC News releases a new photo of George Zimmerman, purported taken 3 minutes after he shot and killed Trayvon Martin.  The photo shows Zimmerman's head bruised and bloodied from the beating he claims he received from Trayvon Martin. 

Will this evidence change the meme?  How far will the usual collection of race-baiters (Rev. Al Sharpton) push their meme when confronted with evidence - or in the event that a jury finds Zimmerman acted under self-defense or the stand your ground law?  They've already tried and convicted Zimmerman in their court - but the real question has to be about what they will do when a duly seated and authorized court makes it's rulings?  Another Crown Heights or Freddy's Fashion Mart from Sharpton?

It's now been 1,087 days since the United States Senate has last fulfilled it's legal obligation and passed a federal operating budget for the US government.  The Senate, controlled by the majority Democrats, under Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Las Vegas), has consistently refused to honor their responsibility to the American people.  North Dakota Democrat, Kent Conrad, had spoken over the last several weeks about marking up a budget for the Senate to consider - however, at Wednesday's Senate Budget Committee meeting - not only did Senator Conrad not offer a budget,  but only 3 of the dozen Democrats assigned to the Committee even bothered to show up to meet with the 11 GOP Senate members.

This is a photo showing the empty Democrat seats at the Budget Committee meeting.  Conrad, under heavy pressure from Harry Reid to not present a budget, did back down - and now is commenting that there will be no budget from the Senate Democrats until after the November elections.

This is absurd - particularly as the Administration and their enablers in Congress have run up over $5 trillion in new national debt - and will surpass $6 trillion just prior to November election as we hit the debt ceiling once again.  GOP Senator Jeff Sessions takes here to the Senate floor to rebuke the Democrat leadership...

President Obama announced earlier this week his intention to veto any highway / transportation funding bill from Congress that includes an amendment that mandates the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline - intended to bring Canadian oil to the US and US refineries along the Gulf Coast. The pipeline was rejected by President Obama in January after a 3 year State Department review amid reports that the WH was leaning towards not making any decision on the pipeline until 2013. The GOP House responded by adding an amendment requiring the President to make a faster decision on the temporary Social Security Payroll tax reduction - which the President then did.

The House passed the transportation bill earlier this week by a bi-partisan (and veto proof) margin of 293 to 127 - with 69 House Democrats abandoning the President to vote for the bill and the amendment mandating the construction of the pipeline. The bill will now move to the Senate where the Senate Democrats under Harry Reid have said that they will filibuster the bill - forcing the GOP to gain 60 votes in order to bring to legislation forward. In the last Senate vote on the Keystone XL pipeline, 11 Senate Democrats voted with the Republicans. With this same level of support in a new vote, the Senate Republicans will remain 2 votes short of the needed 60 to get cloture.

In an election year, these additional 2 votes might be available as polls show the American public overwhelmingly in favor of the construction of the pipeline.

The President, needing to deny the pipeline in order to appease his environmentalist anti-fossil fuel base, finds himself in a growing lose - lose situation with the pipeline. His campaign show of 'approving' the lower half of the Keystone XL pipeline did nothing to address his challenges with this project. Harry Reid will do all he can to strong-arm his caucus to ensure that the GOP doesn't get the 60 votes - otherwise the President will either have to capitulate or veto a major transportation bill - neither a good position to be in during an election year.

TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, also filed a new application for a revised route through Nebraska which is designed to avoid the Sandhills region which is the area of concern referenced by environmentalists over the original path.

Nebraska environmentalists are fundamentally no different from the California environmentalists that I've run in - regardless of the mitigation efforts being made - they will still oppose the construction work citing a new goalpost / series of reasons. Ultimately, they are not interested in new paths or any other mitigation efforts - they want the pipeline cancelled period end. On Tuesday, the Republican Governor of Nebraska signed a new law that will expedite the latest TransCanada application through the State's review process.

Interesting side note on this - there are 6 other pipelines that currently traverse the Sandhills region. This isn't the first.

Reverberations are continuing to buzz over this week's unemployment numbers.  But as we talk about these numbers, let's take a look at the biased reporting of the Associated Press when their story about the unemployment numbers was first released.

The original headline - "US Unemployment aid applications dip to 386,000 from previous week's upwardly revised figure"

The article then details that this week's numbers of 386,000 new applications are down 2,000 from last week's numbers....after last week's numbers of 380,000 were revised upwards to reflect 388,000 new applications being filed.  Last week's original number of 380,000 was a major move in the wrong direction - and it was quietly revised higher.  Then the AP looks at the new number - and tries to spin it as a positive - a decrease in the number of new unemployment aid applications.  By the 3rd paragraph, they trying to move the goalpost and attention to the 4 week average - what they term 'a less volatile measure' - which is now 374,500 - the highest level we've seen in 3 months.  The rest of the article contains more spin about the unemployment data as 'not that bad' - ignoring the dismal 120K net new jobs in March and focusing on the 212K new new jobs the previous three months.  The best news from the AP?  The 'celebration' of the drop in the 'official' unemployment rate from 9.1% in August 2011 to 8.2% today. 

We know why the drop has taken place - and it's far more about the decrease in the labor participation rate by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to cook the books than it is about a recovering economy.  At least the AP does acknowledge of this burying in the article, 'Part of the drop was because people gave up looking for work.'

Contrast this to the article from the Wall Street Journal which offers a more objective summary of the facts....

'Job Momentum Stalls - Weekly claims for unemployment benefits were mostly flat at 386,000, a sign positive momentum in the labor market has stalled'.

As an update to this - is reporting that the AP has now started to modify their headline and approach this story - making it more balanced - and this link has the details on the changes - and the original (if the top link is changed) before it was tossed into the memory hole by the latest 'Ministry of Truth'.

Zerohedge has a post today that takes the hammer to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 'propaganda school' - which also hammers the efforts to spin this bad jobless data as a positive for the feckless Obama Administration...
Instead of printing at the expected 370K, an improvement from last week's already big miss of 380K, this week came at a whopping 386K, the worst standalone print in 4 months. Well, until last week's revision that is: instead of the 380K print that stunned everyone, last week's number has now been revised to a massive 388K. Why? So that mainstream media can declare, with a straight face, that this week saw the number of initial claims decline! Here is the reality: last week's expectation was for a print of 355K. Instead we got a number of 380K. Now this number is being revised to 388K, and is the biggest initial expectation to revision miss since early 2011. Needless to say, this means two things: 1) the transitory bump associated with record warm weather, which was nothing but pulling from the future, is now over, and 2) the April NFP print will be another disaster, which is just as the Fed wants it - after all it is time to start setting the stage for the NEW QE…
If we needed more evidence of the Administration's incompetence - and that of the President - it's the levels that one goes through to massage, mask, and confuse the basic facts that this remains the worse post World War 2 recovery.

When we think about incompetent economic policies - and a feckless energy policy - our mind has to return to the sole President that is as bad as President Obama in these areas in the last half century - President Jimmy Carter.  During the oil crisis that Carter faced, he put price controls on the price of gasoline in an effort to limit the pain to the consumer.  When Ronald Reagan defeated Carter and became President, he eliminated these price controls and set the free market loose.  Here's what leading Democrats at the time said would happen....
Sen. Howard Metzenbaum of Ohio said took to the Senate floor the day after to predict that we will see $1.50 gas this spring, and maybe before. And it is just a matter of time until the oil companies and their associates, the OPEC nations, will be driving gasoline pump prices up to $2 a gallon. Sen. Don Riegle of Michigan said that It will hurt our people within a matter of days. Sen. Dale Bumpers of Arkansas had previously predicted that without rationing, gasoline will soon go to $3 a gallon, and added that Decontrol is designed to see how much we can squeeze out of the American people before they take to the streets. Maines Sen. George Mitchell said Every citizen and every family will find their living standards reduced by this decision. Democratic Congressman Ed Markey said I believe that decontrol as a cure will prove to be worse than the disease of oil addiction. A Naderite advocacy group predicted that oil prices might go as high as $870 a barrel under assumptions which many experts believe are realistic.

What really happened after Reagan's action? Oil prices started falling almost immediately; gasoline pump prices fell from an average high of $1.41 in Feb. 1981 to a national average of $.89 in the spring of 1986.

The steps to bring down our oil prices - and coincidentally limit our dependency on oil from the volatile Middle East? Resume drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Expand drilling offshore - in the Gulf, in the Atlantic, and in the Pacific. Build the Keystone XL pipeline (it will replace 50% of ME oil with Canadian oil). Begin to drill in ANWR - as well as on other Federal lands. (Ironically, the first vote to deny drilling in ANWR was taken 10 years ago....the rationale for the denial? It would take 10 years to bring that oil online. We'd have that oil now....)

Unfortunately the main focus of the anti-fossil fuel energy policy of this Administration is to throw taxpayer funds at green energy companies with weak / unviable business plans and balance sheets. First Solar, which received $1.46 billion from the Department of Energy, has announced 2,000 global layoffs - this after eliminating 100 Santa Clara, California jobs last December. The DoE provided the $1.46 billion loan to First Solar for a project in Riverside County, California that was to create..... 15 permanent jobs and 550 temporary construction jobs. $1.46 billion for 15 jobs...only $97.333 per permanent job. Nice return on that investment. The Government doesn't belong as a venture capitalist.

Real jobs come from real people - not Government...
I know they’re real because in the private sector, jobs must pay for themselves. If they don’t, they don’t sustain. The General Services Administration workers who made videos about the money they wasted would have been fired if they had worked in the private sector. Employers with their own money at stake can’t afford such employees.

But because government uses force to take other people’s money, we have no way of measuring whether government workers produce value. Government can spend a dollar for work that returns 70 cents.
America is now the foodstamp nation....

46.5 million Americans are in the program as of January 2012, representing 22.2 million households.  That's 15% of the entire US population - and just over 1 in 5 of all households.  Since the end of the 'Great Recession' in June 2009 - 10 million have been accepted into the program -nearly a third more than in the program prior to the recession. 

Think about it - the government has to buy the food for slightly more than 1 out of every 5 households in this country.

Is this a conflict of interest - or just a combination of rampant ego and contempt for the residents of California?

California's Lt. Governor, Gavin Newsom, the hard left progressive former Mayor of San Francisco has been hired by Al Gore's Current TV to host a regular program on the network - while he remains California's Lt. Governor.  His program, 'The Gavin Newsom Show' will begin airing in May.

Dick Clark, the iconic host of American Bandstand for over 40 years, in addition to a regular host of New Year's Eve celebrations from New York's Time Square, as well as a hugely successful producer, died earlier this week at the age of 82.

Levon Helm, the drummer in The Band, also died earlier this week at the age of 71 after a long battle with cancer.  Here's The Band, with Helm on lead vocals, singing one of their top hits....

Finally - April 19th was Holocaust Remembrance Day....


This Day in History - April 19th

1775 - The American Revolution begins when 700 British troops march into Lexington, Massachusetts and find themselves confronted by 77 armed Minutemen on the Lexington Town Green.  The British order the colonists to disburse - as the colonists appear to start to comply, a musket fires 'the shot heard around the world' followed by regular volley's of musket fire.  8 Minutemen were killed, 10 wounded, and one British soldier was wounded at the Battle of Lexington.  The Revolutionary War started.

1897 - The first Boston Marathon was held

1943 - The Warsaw Ghetto uprising begins as Jewish residents in the ghetto take to small arms and molotov cocktails to prevent the Nazi closure of the ghetto - and the shipment of the resident's to Nazi concentration camps.  They would fight for 28 days before being overwhelmed by SS troops.

1993 - The FBI launches an assault on the Branch Davidian compound at Waco, Texas seeking to end a 51 day standoff between the government and an armed religious cult.  During the assault a fire started within the compound which burned it to the ground - killing 80 Branch Davidians including 22 children.  In 1999, the FBI admitted using tear-gas grenades in the assault - grenades known to cause fires.

1995 - A massive truck bomb explodes outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma - collapsing the north face of the 9 story office building killing 168 people - including 19 children in the building's day care center.  Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, and Michael Fortier were arrested for the bombing.  McViegh was convicted, sentenced to death, and executed in 2001 for his role in the bombing.  Nichols was convicted and is serving a life sentence for his role.  Fortier was found guilty of not warning authorities about McVeigh's plans and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

This Day in History - April 20th

1898 - President William McKinley asks Congress to declare war on Spain.

1912 - Fenway Park in Boston opens for Major League play as the Boston Red Sox take on the New York Highlanders.  The Red Sox won the game 7-6 in 11 innings.  In 1913, the New York Highlanders become the New York Yankees.

1978 - Soviet Air Force fighters force a Korean Air Lines passenger jet en route from Paris to Seoul to land in the USSR after the jet veered into Russian airspace.  2 were killed as the jet made a hard landing on a  frozen lake 300 miles from the city of Murmansk.

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