Monday, April 9, 2012

Quick Hits - April 9, 2012

The UN sponsored peace plan for Syria is, for all effective purposes, collapsing as the Assad regime has now added a number of additional conditions that must be fulfilled before the regime will sign off on the plan.  These additional conditions include:

  • All opposition groups must lay down their arms.
  • All opposition groups must turn over all their weapons to the Syrian government.
  • All opposition groups must sign a written statement to cease all activity against the government.
  • Turkey signs a written statement of non-interference.
  • Saudi Arabia signs a written statement of non-interference.
  • Qatar signs a written statement of non-interference.
Basically, none of these newly added conditions will be met...and the Assad regime will continue to use their military to bombard civilian cities and towns that show any sign whatsoever of supporting the opposition to the Assad dictatorship.  This means more thousands of civilians will be killed, wounded, arrested / tortured, and driven from the country. 

The Assad regime knows that both the Arab League and United Nations are effectively powerless to stop his slaughter of his own people.  While the Arab League may take steps to help arm the opposition groups - it would not be like the NATO intervention in Libya which was instrumental in the overthrow of Qaddafi.  In the United Nations, which did take action against Qaddafi, Russia and China are protecting their ally / trading partner Syria from any real threat to the regime.  Knowing this means that Assad will keep slaughtering his own people until he has crushed the opposition - or the international community decides that it can no longer ignore the carnage.

One reason it may decide that it can no longer ignore the carnage is if it starts to spread like it did earlier today as Syrian forces opened fire on a Syrian refugee camp in Turkey - wounding at least 5 and a cameraman in Lebanon was struck and killed by small arms fire coming from Syria.  More violations of the borders, particularly of Turkey, could result in an expansion and escalation of the conflict.  How this will impact the region is uncertain - but cannot be good.

On the domestic front, President Barack Obama is continuing to have a very challenging time - despite reports from pollster Gallup that his approval ratings are surging.  These numbers are increasing, but Gallup for the last series of polls is not providing the D / R / I breakdown of those being polled.  Rasmussen is not showing the same surge with their polls, so concerns have to be raised about the validity of the poll methodology / segmentation.

Today, The Hill is reporting that the White House is diverting $500 million to the Internal Revenue Service for the specific purpose of implementing the IRS enforcement actions required under the healthcare law...
The Obama administration is quietly diverting roughly $500 million to the IRS to help implement the president’s healthcare law.

The money is only part of the IRS’s total implementation spending, and it is being provided outside the normal appropriations process. The tax agency is responsible for several key provisions of the new law, including the unpopular individual mandate.

Republican lawmakers have tried to cut off funding to implement the healthcare law, at least until after the Supreme Court decides whether to strike it down. That ruling is expected by June, and oral arguments last week indicated the justices might well overturn at least the individual mandate, if not the whole law.
By taking this action outside the normal appropriations process is just another toss of the gauntlet towards Congress by the Obama Administration.  The step will rally and enthuse the President's base, but given the SCOTUS is in the process of ruling on the future of the healthcare legislation - I suspect that many will see this as another ill-advised and arrogant step by the Administration.

The President has had a very challenging March - starting with the Sandra Fluke / Religious freedom kerfuffle and ending with a less than encouraging three days of oral arguments before the SCOTUS on Obamacare.  April is not quite a third done - but it's not been a good month for the President either.  Not only did the President step in it with his gaffe / attack on the SCOTUS over 'precedent', but we now have the embarrassment of the needing to make wholesale changes at the GSA over their irresponsible spending at a 2010 training conference where 300 people attended an event that cost over $800,000.

Nothing was done by the Administration in the aftermath of the conference - even though the IG responsible for the GSA flagged this excessive spending and notified the White House of the issue in May 2010.  Only once the press found out about the excessive spending by the Agency did the Administration take action - getting the resignation of the head of the GSA, terminating two of her close aides, and suspending 4 managers.  Faced with hard questions as to why this was tolerated for so long - the Administration has decided to point the finger of blame for the cause of the excessive spending.  Whose fault was it?  Why, it was President George W. Bush's fault.

That should help the President's reelection efforts...It's All Bush's Fault...

Do you remember several months ago when the President was giving a campaign / online town hall meeting stressing what he was doing for jobs and the economy?  One participant in that online town hall meeting took the President to task over the efforts by the Administration to expand providing visas for foreign workers when there are domestic workers who could do those jobs.  Jennifer Wedel spoke specifically about her husband, Darin, who was an unemployed semiconductor engineer.  The President asked for a copy of Darin's resume.  Here's the 'rest of the story, courtesy of McClatchy...
Wedel's résumé, the phone is quiet, e-mails are no longer flooding in and the long-sought-after job interviews -- which had begun to be scheduled -- have petered out.

"Not even recruiting companies are calling anymore," said Jennifer Wedel, the Fort Worth mother of two who chatted online this year with Obama about her out-of-work husband.

She says his job search has been hurt by a program to hire skilled foreign workers.

It's been more than three years since Darin Wedel lost his job as a semiconductor engineer at Texas Instruments.

But the family had newfound hope after Jennifer Wedel participated in a Jan. 30 video chat with the president using the "hangout" feature on Google Plus.

She asked the president why the government issues and extends H-1B visas to foreign workers when highly skilled Americans like her husband can't find full-time work.

Obama, who said industry leaders have told him that the U.S. doesn't have enough high-tech engineers to meet its needs, ended up asking for Darin Wedel's résumé.

This is endemic of the continued challenges we are facing with unemployment in this, the most anemic post World War II economic recovery we've seen. The President took considerable credit for 'turning the economy' around with jobs numbers November / February that added about 800,000 jobs - but this was still less than the population grew during that timeframe. March resulted in dismal numbers - 120,000 net jobs added, far less than the 200,000 plus that were expected.

We're being asked to focus also on the drop in the  'official' unemployment rate - now down to 8.2% and ignore the fact that 88 million people are not being included in the job participation numbers - the highest this number has ever been.  The labor participation rate is at a near record low - and is the only reason the unemployment rate has dropped from the 10.9% rate it would reflect if the participation rate was the same today as when the President took office.  From Zerohedge...

Here is today's chart of the day from BofA, which begs one simple question: when will the two time series recouple, because recouple they will, and how will America react to the realization it was lied to for 2% worth of unemployment "improvement"? The chart says it all.

Very simply, the Administration has taken to lying to the American people in order to mask their incompetence and the utter failure of their domestic economic policies.

Again, despite Gallup's cheerleading, more evidence of the President's challenges for this year's November election is apparent in the President's reelection campaign - and his far less than impressive fundraising efforts.
Interestingly, there isn’t a mention in this article about the less-than-impressive fundraising efforts of Team Obama, which has fallen behind the pace set by George W. Bush in his 2004 bid, despite having Obama attend three times as many fundraisers in the same period of time. A little over a year ago, sources in the campaign suggested that Obama could raise a billion dollars, a pace which they have utterly failed to match. Wall Street donors have turned their backs on Obama. None of this gets mentioned in the “game on” spin of the anniversary of opening the campaign HQ, although BuzzFeed does mention that they now expect to get outspent in 2012 by Romney and super-PACs.
As noted in previous QH's - the campaign has once again embraced turning off all security measures for the processing of credit card contributions - which means that campaign finance laws are being broken when it comes to donating to the Obama campaign.  They have no record of note to run on - and are still working around the 'blame Bush' meme as well as blaming the 'Republican Congress' or anyone else as opposed to taking responsibility and accountability for their record and actions since January 2009.  'Hope and Change', the campaign slogan from 2008 is a joke today, and the Obama campaign hasn't found a new slogan for 2012 yet...

This will be a tough campaign for the President when the GOP starts running more adverts like this one..

Another area of concern for the Obama campaign has to be the challenges and baggage that is coming from the Department of Justice and Attorney General Eric Holder.   People still remember the political decision of the Civil Rights Division of the DoJ dropping the charges of voter intimidation against members of the New Black Panther Party from November 2008.  PJ Media undertook a major investigation that detailed the unprecedented hiring of hard left progressive activists to key roles and positions in the DoJ with the intent to create a bureaucracy that would promote and advocate progressivism.  Then there is the obstruction and lies related to 'Operation Fast and Furious' which facilitated the transfer of thousands of weapons from the US to Mexican drug cartels.  These weapons were then used by the cartels to murder hundreds if not thousands.

Eric Holder has also taken to file lawsuits against states which have passed legislation to address key challenges that they face in both immigration and voter fraud.  With regard to the latter, AG Holder has taken steps to invalidate any state effort to require those who cast a ballot at an election to provide a photo ID to prove they are the person under who's name the vote is being cast.  Holder calls these laws discriminatory against minorities as he claims that these minorities cannot get the photo ID's that are needed.  He, and others who oppose Voter ID laws, also say that since there are so few charged and convicted on voter fraud - we do not have an issue with voter fraud (again despite evidence that illegal votes have been cast which have decided elections).

Why we need Voter ID laws....

From -
In a shocking new video, James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas demonstrates to the Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder, just why he should be concerned about lack of voter ID laws – by walking into Holder’s voting precinct and showing the world that anyone can obtain Eric Holder’s ballot. Literally.

The video shows a young man entering a Washington, DC polling place at 3401 Nebraska Avenue, NW, on primary day of this year – April 3, 2012 – and giving Holder’s name and address. The poll worker promptly offers the young man Holder’s ballot to vote.

It is far too easy to cast an illegal ballot - or misappropriate a legal ballot as the video shows. This is why we do need voter ID laws - and for the AG to deny that they are needed is irresponsible, partisan, and reflective of an official who puts party / ideology before the best interests of the country - or the Constitution that he took an oath to protect and defend.

This is why the President faces a very hard hill to climb if he wants reelection...and Middle America is paying attention to these missteps - not the chattering of the mainstream media telling us how great this President is.

This Day in History

1865 - At Appomattox, Virgina Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia (only 28,000 men remaining) to Union General Ulysses S. Grant effectively ending the American Civil War.

1912 - The first exhibition baseball game was held at Fenway Park in Boston.  The match featured the Red Sox taking on Harvard University.

1917 - The Battle of Arras begins as Canadian forces assault the Germans at Vimy Ridge.

1940 - Germany invades Denmark and Norway.  Denmark surrenders the same day.  The German invasion of Norway is greatly assisted by Norwegian fascists under Vidkin Quisling which operated as a fifth column against the Norwegian government.  Quisling is now another word for 'traitor'.

1942 - US Major General Edward King, Jr. surrenders the US-Filipino forces attempting to defend the Bataan peninsula to the attacking Japanese.  12,000 Americans and 66,000 Filipinos capitulated.  This is the largest contingent of US soldiers ever to surrender.  The Japanese then marched their captives 55 miles in what became known as the Bataan Death March - at least 600 Americans and 5,000 Filipinos died during the forced march.  Those who survived faced more challenges from disease, maltreatment, and starvation while in POW camps.

1959 - NASA introduces America's first astronauts to the press:  Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., John Glenn, Virgil 'Gus' Grissom, Walter Schirra, Jr., Alan Shepard, Jr., and Donald Slayton.  The 7, all military test pilots, were selected to take part in Project Mercury - the first US manned space flights.

1965 - The Houston Astrodome hosts its first baseball game - an exhibition game between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees.  Mickey Mantle hit the first home run at the Astrodome.

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