Sunday, April 22, 2012

Quick Hits - April 22, 2012

"Since this is an era when many people are concerned about 'fairness' and 'social justice,' what is your 'fair share' of what someone else has worked for?"

Thomas Sowell

Yesterday's QH talked about the President and Congressional Democrats trying to bring back the 'magic' from the kerfuffle over the Temporary Social Security Payroll Tax Reduction with Congressional Republicans - this time over extending the 5 year temporary reduction of federally subsidized student loan interests rates which are slated to return to their 6.8% rates on July 1, 2012.

One of the reasons this is a real issue for the President to regain the youth vote that seems discouraged and unfocused, is because over half (53.6%) of all new graduates under the age of 25 are unemployed.  In 2000, the percentage unemployed of this group was 41%.

This is a reflection of the anemic economic recovery that we continue to experience under the policies of this administration which are doing little to stimulate real economic or job growth despite the 'cooking of the books' on the U-3 unemployment number to try to make the picture appear rosier than it really is.

The President is now looking at extending the interest rate subsidiary - and adding to the national debt - because he needs the vote of those under 25 for this November's election.  The majority of these graduates don't have the jobs they need to begin paying back their student loans now - let alone if the interest rate moves from 3.4% back to 6.8%.

Another Sunday morning, more Sunday morning talk shows, and more Sunday cluelessness being offered by senior Obama campaign official David Axelrod.

Today, in an interview on CNN, Axelrod is warning of the GOP 'bankrupting our country' - just a few weeks after the Obama Administration crossed the $5 trillion threshold of new debt in just 39 months in office.

President George W. Bush was branded 'unpatriotic' by the then candidate Barack Obama for adding over $4 trillion in new debt during the 8 years he was in office.  But Obama adding over $5 trillion in 39 months, and on pace to top $6 trillion by October / November 2012, is not 'unpatriotic' and is not 'bankrupting our country'?

Axelrod is also claiming that the GOP today is being controlled by a 'far right 'Reign of Terror'' - which only demonstrates his complete cluelessness when it comes to history.  'The Terror' - the carnage of the French Revolution - was perpetrated by the philosophical ancesters of today's modern progressives - the Jacobins who took to use 'Madame Guillotine' to settle their political scores and ensure their new 'progressive' vision for France would take root.

In the French Presidential election today, Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande was the winner - and will face current French President Nicolas Sarkozy in a run-off election on May 6 according to the WSJ.

President Sarkozy is seen getting 25-26% of the vote from today, while the leftist Hollande collected 28-29% of the vote.  Polls prior to today's vote predicted a Hollande election if a run-off vote between the two would be needed.

This is being seen as more of an anti-Sarkozy vote as the French economy is in crisis.  The French national credit standing was downgraded, unemployment is nearly 10%, and the national debt under Sarkozy increased by a third to now be over 90% of the GDP.  Combine this with the sliding of the country into a second recession (to the French, the US's GDP growth of under 2% looks good) - and Sarkozy has some major challenges.

Mr. Hollande is running on the platform to reverse the austerity cuts made by Mr. Sarkozy, restore entitlements that were cut, and dramatically increase taxes on the 'wealthy' - with a 75% top income tax rate.

The challenge with France, even with it's second largest Eurozone economy, is not dissimilar to the challenges being faced in Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal - too many entitlements, too many working in / for the government (almost 1 in 4 in France), too many government subsidiaries and protective regulations / laws, and too few policies and provisions to encourage economic growth in a vibrant private sector.

Faced with the choices of the Sarkozy economic solutions - and the promise of a return to the 'easier' days under Hollande - the French population looks to be locked on a myopic short-term vision as they hope the can will be kicked down the road for another decade.  But there is more turmoil underlying even this situation.  Marine Le Pen, representing the extremist far right, earned 20% of today's vote - far better than was expected in the pre-election polls.  Jean-Luc Melenchon, of the extreme leftist Socialist Party (he advocates a 100% tax on income about 350,000 Euros), earned 11.7% of the vote.  This was the communist party's best showing since 1981 - but still was weaker than expected.

Syrian troops shelled and stormed districts in a suburb of Damascus earlier today according to reports from activists in the area.  This latest breach of the cease fire comes a day after the UN Security Council votes to expand their observer program in Syria from 30 to 300 in a new effort to salvage a peace plan that has been marked by government violations of the cease fire.
"This U.N. observers thing is a big joke," said Mohammed Saeed, an activist in the sprawling Damascus suburb of Douma, which came under fire from regime troops on Sunday. "Shelling stops and tanks are hidden when they visit somewhere, and when they leave, shelling resumes."

His comments reflect a widespread lack of faith among many Syrians in international envoy Kofi Annan's cease-fire plan for ending the violence in Syria and launching talks between President Bashar Assad and those trying to oust him. Syria's opposition and its Western supporters suspect Assad is largely paying lip service to the truce since full compliance — including withdrawing troops and heavy weapons from populated areas and allowing peaceful demonstrations — could quickly sweep him from power.

The Public Editor of the New York Times, Arthur Brisbane, takes about 22 paragraphs in today's edition to make the case that the New York Times not only can be 'tough' on President Obama - but is tough on the President by citing observations of the Times' political editor Richard Stevenson as 'proof'. Specifically, the case is being made that since there have been about half a dozen articles critical of President Obama's decisions this year alone, most around Obama campaign decisions, there isn't a problem with the NY Times around bias or favoritism towards President Obama.

It's a laughable misdirection - typical of the some of the usual rhetorical games I see played by the left and their advocates. It's an effort to narrow the argument from the domestic and foreign challenges that we face - the 15.6% U-6 unemployment number, the $5 trillion plus to the national debt, the lack of viable economic growth, a series of scandals and coverups which include crony capitalism, all of which are ignored by the Times - and point to a few articles complaining about the President's decision to embrace his Super PAC or other related choices.

We're nearly 4 months into 2012 - and 6 or so articles are indicative of 'fairness'? This is even more lame when one considers the coverage of the Times towards the preceding President.

One additional thought - I wonder if Mr. Brisbane considers today's column by the vapid Thomas Friedman about America needing an Arab Spring counts as another example of the Times being 'critical' towards President Obama?

Speaking more on media - shines a light on the reprehensible Los Angeles Times and their history of journalistic malpractice when it comes to the War on Terror and Barack Obama.

In sports news -

Chicago White Sox pitcher Philip Humber threw the 21st perfect game in Major League Baseball history - as he blanked the Seattle Mariners.

In Boston, losing to the struggling Red Sox 9-1 after 6 full innings, the New York Yankees score 7 runs in the 7th and 8th innings to come from behind and defeat Boston by a score of 15-9. The comeback tied the largest deficit the Yankees have overcome in their history.

This Day in History

1864 - The US Congress mandates that all coins minted as US currency bear the inscription 'In God We Trust'

1915 - German forces shock Allied soldiers along the Western Front by firing more than 150 tons of lethal chlorine gas against 2 French divisions near Ypres, Belgium - devastating the French divisions and opening a 4 mile gap in the Allied defensive line. This is the first major gas attack of World War I. During that war, nearly 30,000 were killed and 500,000 wounded on both sides from the use of chemical weapons.

1970 - Earth Day is celebrated in the United States for the first time.

1978 - The Blues Brothers make their world premiere on Saturday Night Live

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