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.

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