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.

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