Thursday, May 31, 2012

Quick Hits - May 30, 2012

In what is turning out to be another very tough week for President Obama and his reelection efforts, he and his campaign are continuing to make a number of unforced errors which will have repercussions.

Meeting on the 29th with 'about 20 Conservative Jewish community leaders', the President not only demonstrated why so many call him the 'Narcissist in Chief', but a characteristically obnoxious 'chutzpah' towards having 'discussions' with those who have a fundamental disagreement with his actions and policies.

The Weekly Standard has this report on the meeting....
President Obama met yesterday with "about 20 Conservative Jewish community leaders, thanking them for the work they do to improve communities around the country and discussed their shared commitment to rebuilding the U.S. economy," Haaretz reports.

In the meeting, Obama reportedly boasted about his knowledge of Judaism, telling the leaders that he thinks he knows more "about Judaism" than all past presidents. He said he gained this knowledge of Judaism from reading.

"Obama ... stressed he probably knows about Judaism more than any other president, because he read about it," Haaretz reports. "[He] wondered how come no one asks Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner or Senate minority leader Mitch McConnel [sic] about their support to Israel."

Similarly, he said to the group, "I [am] not going to tell you again how I even feel about Israel, but why [are] we still talking about it?"

He then suggested that he should not be questioned about his commitment to the Jewish state because "all his friends in Chicago were Jewish - and at the beginning of his political career he was accused of being a puppet of the Israel lobby," Haaretz reports.
Knows more about Judaism than the Jewish community leaders - including probably some Rabbis.  And because many of his friends in Chicago (most being more devout towards socialism / political ideology than religious ideology), he's an expert?  Particularly when compared with the actual policies and actions of his Administration towards the State of Israel which is the key area of concern for many - Jew and Gentile.

As for the President's Chicago friends like Valerie Jarrett, Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, Eric Whittaker, Tony Rezko, and Jeremiah Wright - along with others that aren't named, the National Review suggests this election we all should put a little more effort vetting the President and First Lady's friends from Chicago than was done in 2008.

The other major gaffe made by the President this week came at the expense of Poland and the Polish people.
Poland’s prime minister said Wednesday that remarks by President Barack Obama erroneously identifying a Nazi death camp as Polish had hurt all Poles and he expected more from the US than “regret”.

“I am convinced that our American friends can today allow themselves a stronger reaction than a simple expression of regret from the White House spokesman — a reaction more inclined to eliminate once and for all these kinds of errors,” Donald Tusk told reporters in Warsaw.

Obama on Tuesday mistakenly called a Nazi facility used to process Jews for execution as a “Polish death camp.” The White House later said the president “misspoke” and expressed “regret”.

The linguistic faux pas overshadowed his posthumous award of America’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to Jan Karski, a former Polish anti-Nazi underground officer who provided the Allied powers with early eyewitness accounts of the Germany’s Holocaust against Jews.

Blogger Ann Althouse compares this gaffe regarding Poland to the one made in a campaign debate in 1976 by President Gerald Ford which played a role in his defeat by Jimmy Carter in that year's Presidential election.

Economic news continues to dominate.  Friday will see a new update on the jobs numbers - and while some growth is expected, it is also expected to be very modest and well below the amount needed to make a real impact on the unemployment numbers - and conditions across the country.

This week, the American consumer reaffirmed their vote of no confidence in President Obama's economic policies and agenda.
Consumer confidence took a "surprise" tumble in May, as home prices hit 10-year lows. Tell us again why economists keep calling bad economic news about Obama's so-called recovery "unexpected"?

Analysts had predicted the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index would climb to 70 in May. Instead it dropped more than four points to 64.9, the biggest drop since last fall.

It's the latest in another round of disappointing numbers. Just a few weeks ago, new jobs came in "unexpectedly" low.
And before that, GDP data disappointed.

Underperforming economic indicators have been so common under Obama that the only mystery is why the experts keep getting caught off guard.

Disappointing GDP data?  Unfortunately, it's not just that as the entire 'Obama Recovery' has been not only subpar, but the worst since the Great Depression.

GDP growth: The Obama recovery has also performed far worse than average when it comes to GDP growth. After 11 quarters, the economy is still only 6.8% bigger than it was when the recession ended. In contrast, GDP was 16% bigger, on average, by this point in the previous 10 recoveries, the Minneapolis Fed data show.

The current recovery is so slow, in fact, that it just barely beats GDP growth 11 quarters after the 1980 recession ended — even though there was the intervening long and painful 1981-82 recession. And unless GDP shoots up in Q2, the current recovery will soon be the absolute worst since the Great Depression.

Had the Obama recovery tracked the average GDP growth in the 10 previous recoveries, the economy would be almost $1.2 trillion bigger today.

6.5 million fewer jobs created....

An economy $1.2 trillion smaller than if the recovery was only the average of the last 10 post-World War 2 recoveries...

Over $5 trillion added to the national debt in 39 months, and on pace to add $6.4 trillion to the national debt in 48 months - this 'recovery' is proof positive of the failure of Keynesian economics.

Then there are several peripheral stories that will have an impact on this year's Presidential election that can not be directly attributed to 'unforced errors' of the President - but towards repercussions of his policies and agenda.

President Obama has already touted his 'saving' of the US auto industry as one of the major 'benefits' of his policies with the government bailout of General Motors and Chrysler.  However we are now seeing an 'unintended consequence' from the government take-over / bailout of General Motors as the companies attorney's are claiming immunity from punitive damage claims in litigation because of the government bailout - even though we've been told that the bailout doesn't bar plaintiffs from going after punitive damages on litigation over incidents prior to the 'new' Government Motors.
The dispute highlights questions now arising over how much legal protection GM and Chrysler Group LLC have in certain product liability cases following 2009 government rescues that exceeded $70 billion. A bankruptcy judge allowed Chrysler to immunize itself from new punitive-damage claims arising from alleged manufacturing defects in vehicles sold before its restructuring. Chrysler's immunity was the subject of a Page One article in The Wall Street Journal on April 5.

The skirmish in the widow's case raises complex legal issues involving federal bankruptcy rules that sometimes allow companies to discard product liability or other risks, overruling state laws that give consumers rights to sue for damages.

GM received a $50 billion government rescue at the height of the financial crisis and then sold its best assets to the U.S. Treasury in a 2009 bankruptcy sale--making it a new auto maker legally divorced from the company that manufactured the U-Haul and millions of other vehicles.
The Wall Street Journal highlights that the Obama Administration, through the Department of Education, has given waivers on 'No Child Left Behind' to 19 of the 50 states of the union.

Rather than repeal or amend the No Child Left Behind Act, the Administration has decided to do here what it has in a number of other major areas of legislation (Immigration, DOMA, etc) - selectively enforce the law. 

What makes this even worse, is that these actions are being done to appease the Teacher's Unions who oppose the testing standards of this Act in addition to the fact that these testing standards makes it now possible for parents to see which teachers and schools are successful and which teachers and schools are not.

The other aspect of this that is unseemly is that to qualify for the waiver, the state has to sign fully onto the policies and agenda of the Obama Administration which are being implemented without the benefit of legislative authority - despite the fact that the Administration enjoyed a super majority control of Congress in 2009 and 2010.

This is more federalism run amuck - with Federal government micromanagement of something that belongs locally and at the state level, not the Federal level.

The waiver program here is as political and skewed as the waiver program being run out of HHS for Obamacare - benefiting primarily the union base of the President, not the ordinary middle class citizen that this is supposed to benefit.

Planned Parenthood is again getting unwanted attention in the press - and again as a result of an undercover video sting which exposes its continued embracement of its background and history at the forefront of the eugenic movement.  This video has a Planned Parenthood employee in Austin, Texas urging a woman to seek an abortion based on the gender of the child - abort if it is a girl.

The video shows a Planned Parenthood staffer encouraging the woman to obtain a late-term abortion because she was purportedly carrying a girl and wanted to have a boy. The video is first in a new series titled “Gendercide: Sex-Selection in America,” that Live Action tells LifeNews will be exposing the practice of sex-selective abortion in the United States and how Planned Parenthood and the rest of the abortion industry facilitate the selective elimination of baby girls in the womb.

“I see that you’re saying that you want to terminate if it’s a girl, so are you just wanting to continue the pregnancy in the meantime?” a Planned Parenthood counselor named “Rebecca” offers the woman, who is purportedly still in her first trimester and cannot be certain about the gender.

“The abortion covers you up until 23 weeks,” explains Rebecca, “and usually at 5 months is usually (sic) when they detect, you know, whether or not it’s a boy or a girl.”

PP gets half a billion dollars of taxpayer's funds every year courtesy of the federal government.  Repulsive totalitarian regimes, like China, and North Korea, practice eugenics and support the abortion of fetuses based on their gender (being girls).  There's no reason why the federal government should fund an organization that promotes this same vile mindset.  If the progressives and supporters of eugenics in this country want to fund this organizations support of gender based late term abortions, then they should do so with their own direct contributions - not with funds flowing from the federal government.

Then I have to ask those progressives about how this organizations embracing of eugenics and aborting girls because of their gender fits into their desire for 'fairness' and 'social justice'?

One of the common themes coming from the President's reelection message is that the policies advocated by likely GOP candidate Mitt Romney are little more than a repeat of the same policies of George W. Bush and the conservatives which 'created the 2008 financial crisis'.  The problem is, the tax cuts and economic policies of former President George W. Bush didn't create the crisis of 2008 or result in the stagant recovery.
A recurring theme in President Barack Obama’s attacks on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his tax policies is: “We can’t go back to the same policies that got us into this mess.”

President George W. Bush’s tax cuts did not cause the fiscal crisis of 2008. Our economic calamity came in a housing meltdown — the result of years of administrations of both parties encouraging variable-interest, no-interest, little or no down payment, and no-document or liar loans that flooded people into homes they couldn’t afford under traditional mortgage lending practices.

To its credit, the Bush administration twice advanced reforms to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, major players in pushing bad loans. Each time it was blocked by powerful Democrats, Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut. Frank famously said he wanted the two quasi-governmental agencies “to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidizing housing.” Even after the home-ownership explosion was starting to be revealed to be a house of cards, Dodd declared, “These two institutions are fundamentally, fundamentally strong.”

So far, “rolling the dice” on the two “fundamentally strong” agencies has cost the taxpayer $150 billion. No wonder the Wall Street Journal calls Fannie and Freddie the “toxic twins.” The irony is that Frank and Dodd not only escaped responsibility for their roles but they foisted blame for the housing bust on high finance and authored a 2,000-plus-page bill to pile new regulations on banks and other financial institutions.
Assisting the President to try to press the meme that everything bad we are experiencing today is because of the previous Administration are large elements of the mainstream media.  Politico, which started as a bi-partisan and fair online political reporting organization, is now fully in the tank with spinning / advocating for Barack Obama.

Earlier this week I highlighted the question that the President himself raised in comparing his record in 'public equity investing' to that of Mitt Romney during his tenure at Bain Capital and 'private equity investing'.  Politico is now advancing the story - 'Mitt Romney Hopes Solyndra Will Trump Bain' - implying that the only reason that the Romney and a conservative super PAC are highlight the President's crony capitalism around investing billions of taxpayer funds in favored companies regardless of the viability of their business model is to deflect from his own experience at Bain.
On the other side of the media equation, we have some internal discipline likely forthcoming inside Fox News after a producer on the network's morning program, Fox and Friends, produced this video which highlights (negatively) the record of President Barack Obama. 

Reports are that this video did not get the vetting that normally takes place - and the senior management of the network are hinting that disciplinary action could take place against those involved in the development and airing of the video. Quite a difference from elements like Politico, the New York Times, or the Washington Post.

Hot Air highlights some info from the latest Washington Post / ABC News poll which is showing that Mitt Romney is rebounding among women. They note that no internals are available yet from this poll - which is a major issue as the last two times out, the internals showed a major oversample of Democrats which skew the poll results. Among the interesting aspects of the Hot Air analysis of this poll....
The campaign spent most of May hammering Romney on Bain Capital, which didn’t move the needle at all among Democrats, and may have damaged him among moderates (+28 in April to a +21), and certainly did with independents, as noted above. The only other major line of attack was the so-called War on Women, and the numbers among unmarried women in this series shows how well Team O’s generals have performed in that attack. Instead of being attracted by the creepy “Life of Julia,” it looks like Obama has repelled more than a few.

Bear in mind, of course, that we haven’t seen the full sample data, which presumably accompany the full release for their latest polling numbers. It’s possible that the narrowing among women could just be an artifact of improving the partisan balance, which has been ridiculously tilted all year long in this series. That doesn’t explain the momentum shift in unmarried women, though, nor the dramatic turnaround in independents between April and May. If the samples are similar, Team Obama may need to start reaching for the panic button — especially if Friday’s jobs report turns out to be a dud.
Why Tom Barrett is toast in the Wisconsin recall election against incumbent Scott Walker?
Barrett: Which School Districts Have Been Hurt By Scott Walker's Reforms...? Hmm. Hm. Hey, You Know What, I'll Run An Analysis And Get Back To You About That

I'm not making that up. He cannot name any school districts harmed by the Act 10 reforms, and appears to agree with the proposition that it's helped many (in as much as he does not dispute this part of the question).

He then says he'll "run an analysis" to find some schools he think were hurt, and get back to the reporter at some point before the election (which is six days off).

This is the central issue in this election -- Tom Barrett's failure to identify any schools harmed by Act 10 is therefore a concession that none have.

Between the dreadful polling information regarding the Wisconsin recall election (Walker up between 5 and 10 points) and the President's campaign challenges, MSNBC blowhard Ed Schultz is broaching into full panic mode....
I would venture to say that most of the people that listen to the Ed Schultz radio show are good lefties. Or maybe they just like to hear something different every now and then because we're just inundated with right-wing crap all over the radio dial in America, whatever reason. I guess I'm talking to lefties right now. Not that the rest of you can't listen and we love it when you do.

But it's pretty clear to me what's happening here. They are trying to set it up that if Mitt Romney gets elected, if Mitt Romney gets elected, there will never be a Democratic president again in the history of the United States. The future is just, this is the way it's going to be. There'll never be a Democratic president in our lifetime again. And when I say in our lifetime, I'm talking about long, long, long, long, long time.

This is why Wisconsin's so important. The people of the country need to know that you can defeat it. And this in many respects is doing the country a favor, the way they're operating, the way they're lying, the way they're backing up the worst candidate, the worst governor in the country, his record's horrendous, and who he's a puppet to.

So that's why this is so important. They're trying to make it so Barack Obama doesn't get re-elected and no Democrat ever will be elected into the White House.

Heh - 'There'll never be a Democratic President in our lifetime again...'. Wasn't the election of Barack Obama and the Congressional super majority supposed to lead to decades of Democrat control of the federal government?

When Jimmy Carter was bounced out after his feckless term in office, the Republicans controlled the White House for the next dozen years....and 20 of the next 28 years. President Carter so discredited the Democrat policies and agenda that it took the American people a dozen years and a broken promise on taxes to revisit those policies and agenda items. That will be the legacy of Barack Obama - his embracing of 'Hope and Change' combined with the desire / effort to 'fundamentally change' this country will utterly discredit the progressive movement. Hopefully, the moderates and 'blue dogs' in the Democrat party will be able to take control back from the hard left.

This Day in History

1431 - Joan of Arc is burned at the stake for heresy in the Norman city of Rouen.

1911 - The first Indianapolis 500 race is held.  Ray Harroun drives his Marmon Wasp to victory in a field of 40 cars with an average speed of 74.59 mph.

1922 - The Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court and former US President William Howard Taft (the only former President to hold a seat on the Supreme Court), dedicates the Lincoln Memorial on the Washington Mall.

1942 - The Royal Air Force launches a 1,000 plane bombing raid against the German city of Cologne - devastating 600 acres of the city, killing 469, and leaving 45,000 homeless. The chemical and machine tool industries in the city, which were the primary targets, were totally destroyed.

1982 - Spain becomes the 16th NATO member and the first to join the alliance since West Germany joined in 1955.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"Wargaming" the 2012 Presidential Election - June 2012 Update

In mid-December of 2011, I took my first look at 'Wargaming' the 2012 Presidential Election.  This involved taking a hard look at the trends apparent at that early stage of the 2012 campaign to see / project which candidate, President Obama or the presumptive Republican nominee, would have the best path towards victory in November.

Since that look at the 2012 Presidential Election, a number of major events have taken place. 

Mitt Romney has emerged as the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party, clinching the number of needed delegates on May 29th's Texas Republican Primary. 

Barack Obama has 'evolved' on his position regarding same-sex marriage, choosing to support same-sex marriage just days after North Carolina voters cast 61% of their votes supporting a state constitutional amendment defining marriage was being between one man and one woman.

Since December 2011, the economic record of the United States has not improved significantly.  While the 4th Quarter of 2011 saw a 3% GDP growth on an annualized basis, 2011 saw only a 1.7% GDP growth.  The 1st quarter of 2012 saw a return to the slumping GDP growth numbers of early 2011.

This same pattern was also apparent in jobless numbers - while the economy averaged nearly 250,000 monthly new jobs for a 3 month stretch covering the end of 2011 and start of 2012, this number collapsed in March and April of 2012.  While the 'official' unemployment number decreased over this timeframe down to 8.1% today, the entire basis of that decrease is by a reduction in the size of the labor pool - to the point that labor participation today is at the lowest level in 30 years.  If the unemployment rate was calculated today based on the labor participation rate in effect on January 20, 2009 when Barack Obama was inaugurated, we would be experiencing a 11.1% unemployment rate.

All of this information will have an effect on this glance at the 2012 Presidential election.  But we are also just over 5 months away from Election Day.  With 5 months before Americans go to the ballot box, there is plenty of time for new events to change or influence how the electoral vote may develop.  Just in June, we are looking at a real challenge of a major financial crisis in Europe related to Greece (and Spain, Ireland, and Italy) that could have major repercussions on the stability of our financial systems.

In December's report, 12 key swing states were identified as being the primary focus for our look at the 2012 election.  All of these 12 swing states voted for Barack Obama in 2008.  Many were traditional Republican states that followed the tsunami of 'Hope and Change' in 2008.  But in the reverse tsunami of 2010's midterms and polling numbers which show that moderate Democrats and Independents may be moving away from support President Obama primarily over issues related to the economy, these states were seen as being in play.  I do not believe that this has changed. 

Once again, I am using the excellent website, 270 to Win, to provide the maps.

Here is the starting position map that I used from the December report .....

Here is the starting position map from 270toWin today, based on 'swing states'....

This 'starting position' has a couple of changes from the earlier starting position - leading to President Obama having 217 electoral votes at this point, while Mitt Romney is sitting at 191 electoral votes.  New Mexico is shown by 270toWin as now trending Democrat towards President Obama.  Michigan is also shown as trending Democrat towards President Obama.  All of Nebraska is now showing on the Republican side of the ledger and Indiana has reverted from leaning Democrat in December to now leaning Republican today. 

Indiana was not identified as one of the 12 key swing states in December.  It's move to the Republican side is, in my opinion, a major reflection of the economic condition within the United States and how that has influenced the Indiana electorate despite its strong ties to organized labor.

In New Mexico, the effects of the economy seem to have less influence than the results of the debate around immigration and social issues.  Looking at RealClearPolitics for polling information, Rasmussen's last poll of New Mexico from early April (survey 500 likely voters) has Barack Obama up by 16 points.  This info is a little dated, but Rasmussen is a reliable poll and likely reflects a state that has moved to the Democrat column.

The only other challenge to consider over this new starting position is Michigan.  Michigan is part of the 'rust belt'.  It was hammered in the 2008-9 recession.  The state also suffered from a severe fiscal challenge brought on by not only the recession, but several decades of progressive governance which greatly contributed to its fiscal challenges.  In 2010, breaking the trend, the GOP candidate for Governor, Rick Snyder won 58% of the vote.  The GOP also gained a strong majority control of Michigan's House of Representatives and a two thirds majority of Michigan's Senate. 

With this Republican leadership in Lansing, Michigan, they passed earlier this year a 2012 budget that eliminated a $2B+ deficit via spending reductions and a major simplification of corporate taxes including adopting a flat tax. 

While the latest polls, which date to early this month, show a 5 point lead for President Obama, I still strongly believe that Michigan remains in play, long with neighbors Ohio and Wisconsin.  Moving Michigan to a 'toss-up' swing state resets the electoral count significantly.   President Obama still has a lead, with 201 'safe' electoral votes, while Mitt Romney trails by only 10, with 191 'safe' electoral votes.  From this, both candidates have over 150+ combinations to 270 - reflecting a very close election and one that should worry Barack Obama's campaign team.

In my original post, I wrote the following....
2012 is going to be an election based on a referendum of the policies and agenda of President Obama and Progressives. The results achieved, or more specifically, the lack thereof, will have a lot to do with the turnout and the voting direction. People will be asking themselves if they are better off now than they were in 2008 - even though the recession and banking crisis was at it's nadir during the election season. The President is looking to not only flood the airways with advertisements spending a targeted $1 Billion to gain re-election, but will also run one of the dirtiest campaigns ever seen as his base attempts to maximize voter turnout and leverage voter fraud as much as they can.
In the five and a half months since I wrote that we've witnessed that the President is well off the pace for achieving $1 billion for his reelection campaign.  His fundraising is not only well below his 2008 campaign levels, but also trails President George W. Bush's 2004 fundraising levels.  From these results, one of the main conclusions that one can make at this point is that the enthusiasm level towards supporting the President's reelection is down, perhaps even way down.  That cannot bode well for the President as we look at the contests in the swing state.

Furthermore, when I took my first look at the 2012 contest, the GOP was in the midst of a highly contentious primary battle.  This bitter fight between a number of major candidates made it a major question if the Republican party could select a candidate through the primary process - and if the party could unify behind this candidate.

As equally a concern to party unification behind a single candidate comes another challenge for the President - his record of achievement during his first term in office.  While the left rejoice over Dodd / Frank and Obamacare - these items combined with a stagnant economy and out of control spending which added over $5 trillion of new debt in 39 months, worked to unify not only Republicans, but many Independents to oppose this record.  Then we have the social issues, like same-sex marriage, that will also have an impact in some key swing states. 

As I write this, the Republican party has unified to large extent behind Mitt Romney - and unified in a manner that many thought was unlikely in December 2011.

The President is generally choosing not to run on his record, except for the record of getting Bin Laden.  He is trying to say that we need more of his policies, more spending, more taxes, all in the name of 'fairness' and 'social justice'.

So, with this basis, let's look at how the swing states are falling....

Quick Hits - May 29, 2012

Which Internet search engine do you use?

I've already made my choice, but Vodkapundit has a post which asks / answers the question via 2 simple images....

This is the Memorial Day page for Google....

 This is the Memorial Day page for Bing....

I switched to Bing a few years ago.  Things like this is a big reason why.

The blogosphere is buzzing about two issues - one is annoying, but not really threatening.  The other is threatening.  Annoying we can ignore.  Threatening we ignore at our peril.

In the annoying category, we have the loathsome MSNBC host, Chris Hayes, who said over the weekend that he was 'uncomfortable' calling America's fallen military members 'heroes'.  From

Effete: affected, overrefined, and ineffectual; see "Chris Hayes." OK, I appended the name of the MSNBC host to the dictionary definition. But if ever you wanted to see the human embodiment of the adjective in action, have a look at the video from his MSNBC show this morning of the too-refined-by-half Hayes explaining why he is "uncomfortable" in calling America's fallen military members "heroes."

Hayes is worried that doing so is "rhetorically proximate" to justifications for more war. Oh, the rhetorical proximity!
"But maybe I am wrong with that?" Ya think? At least Hayes has finally apologized for his statement.  And it was not one of the standard non-apology apologies - no reference to 'those who were offended'...

Still, with this, the VFW still is slamming the MSNBC host.

Simply, Hayes offered an opinion in an answer to a question.  I, and many, disagree with the opinion / viewpoint that he offered.  But he is entitled to his opinion just as we are entitled to disagree with his opinion and, if we wish, refuse to watch MSNBC or read The Nation because we disagree with his opinion.

Last week, and into last Friday, a number of bloggers, on both sides of the political aisle, raised issues over the efforts of a select few who sought to intimidate and threaten those who they disagreed with.  I linked to Patterico - who was 'Swatted' by one of these.  Over this weekend, another who spoke out against the effort of a few to abuse the legal system to intimidate was 'Swatted'.  Today, Michelle Malkin's new business / site, Twitchy, is reporting that one of the bloggers run through the proverbial wringer over his reporting of facts, was arrested after a legal hearing regarding what to some is an abuse of the legal system to silence constitutionally protected speech.

 This still has a way to play out - but it is a real threat to all who offer opinions, recite facts, or communicate via blogs or social media that this can happen to them.  This is terrorism, as Patterico, notes - and a far greater threat to all of us than naive liberalism as evidenced by Chris Hayes.

Several days ago, in an earlier QH, one of the entries spoke about the question - who has the better record in terms of private equity investments (Romney & Bain) or public equity investments (Obama & taxpayer funds). In the video above, which was found at Powerline, they report of how this question came to the forefront of today's White House Press Briefing when WH Press Sec Jay Carney was asked about President Obama's $537 million 'investment' into the green energy company Solyndra which failed after the 'investment' was made. From Powerline's excellent commentary...
He responded that the government made a number of “green energy” investments; some of the companies failed, but most haven’t (not yet, anyway). So an alert reporter asked Carney how that is any different from Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital experience, which has been so bitterly attacked by Barack Obama. As Romney has often said, Bain made many investments, frequently in troubled companies; most succeeded, but some failed.

More of the standard double standard? Absolutely. But it is one thing for a private company to invest its own funds, or capital it raises, on these types of investments. For a President to do so with taxpayer funds - without a choice or option of participation by the taxpayer - to companies whose ownership and key investment team are friends, relatives, and key campaign fundraisers for the President is something different entirely. Private investors know and assume the risk. In the case of the taxpayer funds, we didn't know until this was a fait accompli...and unlike private investors, we taxpayers were not going to reap the return on a successful investment. (No, the 'greater good' is not a return on the investment.) The only one's to reap the return on Obama's investment were his buddies....and Obama's campaign trough.

As I continue to work on the update to 'Wargaming the 2012 Presidential Election' - this report is something that I am factoring into the look at the electoral vote counts. 

Consumer confidence in the American economy suffered its biggest drop in 8 months.
Americans confidence in the economy suffered the biggest drop in eight months as worries about the weak jobs, housing and stock markets rattled them again. The decline comes after a few months of optimism amid some positive economic news.

The Conference Board, a private research group, said on Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index now stands at 64.9, down from a revised 68.7 in April. With gas prices falling, Americans were expected to push the measure to 70, according to analysts polled by FactSet.

But the May figure, which represents the biggest drop since October 2011 when the measure fell about 6 points, shows that consumers need more encouraging economic signs before their concerns start to dissipate. Americans remain worried about slow hiring, declining home values, big drops in the stock market and a worsening European economy that they fear will negatively impact the U.S.
Liberal reporters at The Hill are concerned that the Obama campaign has yet to identify a theme or slogan that resonates with the American voters.  They note with consternation that while the campaign as floated as trial balloons 'Forward', 'Winning the Future', 'A Fair Shot', 'An America Built to Last', and 'We Can't Wait', none of these have that same resonance as 'Hope and Change' did in 2008.  As they discuss the real need for a slogan to motivate those as 'Hope and Change' did in 2008, they note that the Republican candidate only, apparently, offers 'I'm not Obama' as his primary the same manner that one can look back at the Obama 2008 campaign and say that the real key slogan to the Obama campaign was 'I'm not Bush'.

Perhaps the Obama campaign will listen to Fox News pinhead commentator, Alan Colmes, who this morning suggested that 'More Change Needed' would be the perfect Obama slogan.  Nothing like having a slogan reminding the uncommitted that the President failed on his 2008 promise.

Victor Davis Hanson asks if President Obama is just the usual chameleon politician....
Is Obama just the usual chameleon politician? Or is Obama emblematic of postmodern America, where there is no truth, but, like an Elizabeth Warren or a Ward Churchill, we legitimately are who we declare we are — and then again are not what we are when we choose not to be? Or is Barack Obama not a metaphor for much of anything other than the fact that it is harder to be president of the United States than to be at Harvard or Chicago Law School, the Illinois legislature or the U.S. Senate, where everyone declared that you did everything by doing not much at all?

In Massachusetts, it looks like Lizzie Warren is going to have to survive a Democrat primary battle if she is going to run for the US Senate.  She is being challenged, and it looks like the challenger raised enough signatures to force a primary fight - and debates.  Could this be the opening that Masschusetts Democrats are seeking to dump Warren over the continued character issue around her on again / off again self declaration that she is of Native American ancestry - a declaration that cannot be substantiated with legal documentation?

Unlike the case during the twitter / photo scandal around disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner, very little of the mainstream media is rallying around Elizabeth Warren.  As noted in the above link, the far left San Francisco Chronicle printed a very harsh editorial condemning Warren.

Two stories are breaking out that reflect the Obama Administration's viewpoint regarding the ongoing fight that jihadi Islamic fundamentalists are waging against the United States. 

One is reflective of the above political cartoon which references the Administration providing unprecedented access and classified information to Kathryn Bigelow who is hard at work developing a movie for release during the fall election season touting Obama's 'gutsy decision' to send Seal Team 6 after Osama Bin Laden last year.  Secrets aren't quite as important as getting a major campaign advert in major theatrical release at no cost to the Obama campaign.

The other is the story from the New York Times that focuses not on a NATO airstrike that killed al-Qaeda's #2 in charge of the terrorist organizations activities, but on the President's close control, review, and maintenance of a 'Kill List'.  Apparently the President is as focused on this specific detail as President Lyndon Johnson was on defining Air Force and Navy air strike targets in both South and North Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

So much of this reeks of hypocrisy and mismanagement.  Silent are the liberal base of the President's party over his maintenance of a 'Kill List'.  They are also silent on the massive expansion by this President of the use of drones to kill suspected terrorists as opposed to capturing them and trying to gain new intelligence information from them.  For all of the complaints from the left of President Bush's unilateralism, of his 'cowboy diplomacy', and of his 'unconstitutional actions' - when this President does the same - or worse - the only sound we hear from the far left are cricket's chirping.

The feckless United Nations has determined that the 108 civilians massacred in central Syria last Friday were executed by forces affiliated with the Syrian regime of Assad.  In response, the Obama Administration and most European nations have expelled the senior Syrian diplomats from their countries.
The Obama administration is expelling Syria's most senior envoy in Washington, joining a host of other Western governments in kicking out Syrian diplomats to protest the killing of civilians, including the deaths of more than a 150 people shot in their homes last week.

The State Department said Tuesday that the charge d'affaires at the Syrian Embassy has been given 72 hours to leave the U.S.. Syria has not had an ambassador in the U.S. since the previous envoy left last year to take another post.

"This massacre is the most unambiguous indictment to date of the Syrian government's flagrant violations of its United Nations Security Council obligations," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

She said the action was taken in coordination with partner countries including Australia, Canada, Spain, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, and Germany.
But with this step, let's not forget that the United Nations is direct accomplice to this massacre...
Thanks to Russia and China, the Security Council has failed to impose any serious sanctions on Syria, much less endorse action to help the opposition amid more than 6,000 deaths. That's bad enough. But in April the U.N. turned to aiding and abetting the regime with its mission to send Kofi Annan to Damascus as a special "peace" envoy.

Mr. Annan, who as a former U.N. Secretary-General is perfectly trained for the role of accommodating dictators, brokered a cease-fire that he said Syria's Bashar Assad promised to obey. As was widely predicted at the time, Mr. Annan's truce succeeded only in buying time for the Assad regime to crush rebel havens in Homs and elsewhere and now to perpetrate the massacre in Houla.

On Monday, Mr. Annan made another trip to Damascus and proclaimed himself "personally shocked and horrified by the tragic incident in Houla." Nice to know.

He also called on "every individual with a gun" to disarm and stop the killing, which continues the moral equivalence that equates systematic shelling of civilian neighborhoods with small-arms resistance to organized military assaults. The U.N. is every bit as complicit in the Houla murders as it was when its blue-helmet Dutch peacekeepers stood by and did nothing as the Serbs massacred thousands of Bosnians in Srebrenica in 1995.

Shifting our attention to Europe and the Eurozone crisis, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel has a no hold barred interview with Alex Tsipras, the man who may be the next Prime Minister of Greece, on the game of chicken that Greece is being played with the EU and Germany with commentary from Zerohedge...
The person who has caused global stock markets so much consternation by daring to play chicken with Germany until the bitter end conducts a no holds barred interview with Germany's Spiegel. There is little love lost between the Syriza leader and the Germans, who were quite surprised to find a political leader who is willing to play blink with Germany, with the ECB, and the developed world until the very end, or June 17, whichever comes sooner.

Tsipras' bottom line: "We're trying to convince our European partners that it's also in their interest to finally lift the austerity diktat." Alas, the European "partners", as evidenced by Lagarde's Guardian interview this weekend, have an image of Greece as a bunch of lazy tax evaders, who only seek to mooch on the German teat, resulting in 60% of Germans now pushing for Greece to be kicked out of the Euro, consequences be damned. Nothing new there.

What is curious is Tsipras' answer to the question everyone wants to ask: "If Greece ultimately exits the euro, you will also bear some of the blame. You promised your voters the impossible: retaining the euro while breaking Greece's agreements with the rest of Europe. How can such a plan find success?"

His response: " I don't see any contradiction in that. We simply don't want the money of European citizens to vanish into a bottomless pit...we think these resources should also be put to sensible use: for investments that can also generate prosperity. Only then will we in fact be able to pay back our debts."

Yet the line that will draw the most ire out of the already exhausted German taxpaying public is the following:

"if our economic foundation is completely destroyed and the decisions of an elected Greek government are not responsible for it but, rather, certain political forces in Europe. Then they too will be guilty, for example Angela Merkel."
Well, in the US, it is all Bush's fault; in Greece, it appears to be Merkel's.
How likely is Alex Tsipras' party to win?
A left-wing party that opposes Greece's international bailout agreements has extended its lead ahead of next month's election, according to a new poll published Friday.

The poll gave the Syriza party 30 percent support, widening its lead over the center-right New Democracy party from 2 to 4 percentage points from a poll on May 19.
The results of the poll are hardly surprising. Greeks are being told that they need to embrace austerity - which means an end to their retirements at 50, their 14 months of government pay for 12 months in the calendar year, and economic hardship. Of course, if the country leaves the Euro, they are also looking at economic turmoil...
An exit from the euro would see Greeks lose more than half their annual income and prompt a dramatic rise in unemployment and inflation, a report from the country's largest bank has warned.

The National Bank of Greece study was published Tuesday as Greece heads to new general elections on June 17, amid Europe-wide concern of broader financial turmoil if Greece's place in the single currency is threatened by a victory for an anti-austerity party.

"An exit from the euro would cause a significant drop in the living standards of Greek citizens _ with a reduction of at least 55 percent in per capita income," the authors of the 17-page report wrote.

"This would affect those on a lower income the most, with a significant devaluation of the new currency, by 65 percent, and financial contraction of 22 percent on top of the (GDP) reduction of 14 percent that occurred between 2009 and 2011."

Given this choice, or playing chicken with the Germans and EU, why wouldn't the Greeks vote to support Syriza and the status quo - hoping that Germany will blink in order to avoid the pain of a Greek exit from the Euro and the contagion that will cause challenges in Ireland, Spain, Portugal, and Italy.

With all of this, CNBC has a simple prediction...
Greece will leave the euro zone on June 18 if the populist government wins the country’s elections on the 17 as the rest of the euro zone rounds on "cheaters," Nick Dewhirst, director at wealth management firm Integral Asset Management, told Monday.

“The euro zone is a club but you get cheaters who get away with it until everyone finds out and at that point you need to remove them otherwise everyone will cheat. It’s better for Greece to leave,” Dewhirst said.

He added that Greek society was built on cheating and scheming, saying “everyone does it” but that voters elsewhere in the euro zone were now calling Greece to account.

“The basic question is that a German has to increase working from 65 to 67 and that is to pay for Greeks retiring at 50. The 17th of June is the perfect opportunity to say either 'we’ll behave' or 'we’ll carry on cheating,'" he said.

There are lessons here for us, as Victor Davis Hanson notes as he leads a military history tour along the Rhine...
Without an America there would today be no French Alsace, no German miracle (only a Hitlerian nightmare or a Soviet ghetto). In fact, over the last forty years America worked so well that our academic utopians glimpsed radical equality for all, and then — human nature being human nature, and individual difference being individual difference — did not quite achieve it, Great Society and all. The result was that in their failure they cursed the sins of man as if they were uniquely American — as racist, colonialist, imperialist, homophobic, sexist — even as they wallowed in the material prosperity that comes with free market economics, the rule of law, and political transparency.

So here we are in the age of Obama, as we talk about looking to Asia, redirecting to South America, wanting our own Arab Spring, praising the New Africa — all the while taking for granted the very European traditions that enrich us in our daily lives, which in the abstract we deprecate.

This week I am walking in German cities along the Rhine that were nearly leveled in 1945. Not long ago I visited Detroit, which was booming in 1945. The latter now looks like its own homegrown B-24s bombed it yesterday, the former as if they had been untouched in the war that Germans started. Ponder those interchanged fates, and why and how these respective American and German cities got to where they were in 1945, and then again to where they are now.

And that answer really is all ye need to know.
Another lesson - in particular for Governor Jerry Brown of America's Greece, aka California...
New York State accounted for the biggest migration exodus of any state in the nation between 2000 and 2010, with 3.4 million residents leaving over that period, according to the Tax Foundation.

Over that decade the state gained 2.1 million, so net migration amounted to 1.3 million, representing a loss of $45.6 billion in income.
Hike taxes Jerry, like NY did, and even more will vote with their feet and leave California. At some point, the nice weather is no longer sufficient to counteract the other 'costs' associated with being in California.

This Day in History

May 28th -

1937 - The Nazi government found Volkswagen - 'The People's Car Company'

1940 - After 18 days of German attack, Belgium unconditionally surrenders to Germany.

1957 - National League owners voted unanimously to allow the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers to move to San Francisco and Los Angeles, respectively, effective the start of the 1958 season.

1987 - Matthias Rust, a 19 year old amateur pilot from West Germany, takes off from Helsinki, Finland, traverses 400 miles of Soviet airspace, and lands his Cessna on Red Square, next to the Kremlin, in Moscow.

1996 - President Bill Clinton's former business partners in the Whitewater land deal are convicted of fraud.

May 29th -

1453 - Constantinople falls after a 53 day siege to Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II.  The fall ends the Byzantine Empire after 1,123 years of existence.  Loss of the city was a major blow to Christendom - and served as a base for Ottoman invasions towards Malta, the Balkans, and two sieges of Vienna.

1914 - In heavy fog on the St. Lawrence River in Canada, the Norwegian coal freighter Storstad was underway (against accepted rules of navigation given the conditions) when she struck the stopped passenger liner, Empress of Ireland amidships.  The Empress of Ireland, with 1,057 passengers and 420 crew on board, sank in just 14 minutes.  Only 217 passengers and 248 crew members survived the collision - making this one of the worst maritime disasters in history.

1953 - Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reach the summit of Mount Everest - the first known to have reached the summit of the world's tallest mountain.  It is still unknown if George Mallory or Andrew Irvine's 1924 attempt was successful - as they perished on the mountain.  The last sighting of these 2 were of them only a few hundred meters short of the summit.  While Mallory's body was found in 1999, Irvine, who was thought to be carrying a camera that would have evidence of their reaching the summit, remains missing on the mountain.

2001 - In New York City, four members of the Islamic terror group al-Qaeda were convicted of being part of a global conspiracy to murder Americans - based on their role in the August 1998 bombings of 2 US embassies in Africa which killed 224 people.

May 28, 2012 - Memorial Day

All gave some, some gave all.

Thank you to all who are and have served.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Quick Hits - May 27, 2012

Greeks, angry at the statements made by the head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, yesterday that the Greeks need to pay their taxes and honor their austerity commitments, have commenced a Facebook war against Lagarde and the IMF.  They are also incensed over Lagarde's comments that she is more sympathetic and willing to provide assistance in Africa than to Greece if Greece reneges on their obligations in the bailout deal struck earlier this year.

This is just part of the brinkmanship game that is being played out by many Greeks, the leadership of the far left Syriza party (seeking to gain control of the government in the June 17 elections), and the IMF / Germans over the future of Greece in the Euro and Eurozone.  Syriza continues to move to the forefront in polling information - and Alex Tsipiras, the party leader, is not backing down from demanding the EU, ECB, and IMF honor the bailout and keep sending Greece billions to cover its debt obligations while Greece reverts back to the spending and entitlements that placed it in this position.

While many eyes are on this 'game of chicken', it's just one of three major 'games of chicken' that are being played in Europe - and all have Germany as a common element.  The rhetorical fight above is the first game of chicken underway.  The second is a battle between Germany (Angela Merkel) and France (new President Francois Hollande).  This is the battle over 'austerity' versus a far larger dive into statism and Keynesian economics....
The solution to the Eurozone crisis is, of course, a massive bailout. Everyone knows this. Part two of the solution is a series of gigantic loans to jump start growth across the Continent. There’s considerable argument about how this should be done (to say the least), but without economic growth the aging demographics of the Eurozone point to an almost endless economic stagnation – at best. Growth has to be on the agenda.

The question is: where does this bailout/loan money come from? The answer from all the Europeans (except the Germans, of course) is Germany. The answer from the Germans is: we know that eventually we will have to underwrite some of the bailout, but we will do it on our terms and we will not do it alone.

This is the third game of chicken that is being played out as we speak. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing off against President Obama in an advanced game of mutual assured destruction.

Basically, her message to the US president is this: “I will not lose a single vote if I force Greece out of the Eurozone. If the Grexit is messy and leads to contagion, which it almost certainly will, then the crisis will escalate to a much more menacing level. At that point, the US will have to demand that the IMF under-write a massive Eurozone bailout or we’re looking at 1930s Europe on steroids.”

“So, Barry, step up now if you hope to have any chance of re-election.
Zerohedge looks at this and asks if Europe is fighting all of the wrong battles once again?
Europe continues to fight the wrong battle, and continues to spread contagion risk. It is clear that Greece has had a solvency issue now for over 2 years. The ECB and Troika chose to treat it as a liquidity problem. Maybe, they could have argued that in early 2010, but by the summer of 2011 it was obvious to any credit observer that the problem was solvency, yet they continued to treat it as one of liquidity. That is scary because if they fail to see the problem correctly now, they will fail miserably. Not only is the problem clearly solvency, but now forced currency conversion has been added to the mix. Any "solution" from the EU must now address that risk, and it is not the same as solvency. Programs that can protect against solvency may do nothing for the redenomination risk. We keep playing with scenarios and find it hard to find out where a Greek exit doesn't result in a steep sharp decline in the market. We could go through more ideas of ECB intervention, but in the end most will have flaws. Dealing with currency conversion risk is huge. Dealing with the contagion risk that has been created by the EFSF is huge. Will Europe force Greece out thinking they have a plan; that fails miserably and sparks the miserable series of consequences we’ve outlined? Sadly, yes.
President Barack Obama is already facing a more daunting reelection task.  He is also facing a stagnant domestic economy and a record that he is increasingly unwilling to run on.  There is little real will for the President, or Congress, to underwrite billions in the US to be sent / used to fund a massive IMF bailout of the EU.  He would have to use every bit of political capital he has left - and what voters will remember is the economic turmoil in the late summer / fall of 2012 is as bad if not worse than the same time in 2008. 

Expanding on the parallels between Carter and Obama - is this last game of chicken Obama's hostage crisis?

A common meme this year, or at least since the beginning of March, is that the President is having a collection of 'worst weeks ever'.  A campaign and candidate that did little wrong in 2008 is clearly struggling in this critical phase of the 2012 campaign.  With just over 5 months to go, there is a lot of time to turn this perception around - but with the record and challenges we are facing, the reality could very well be that the campaign is trying to refight the last campaign towards an electorate that realizes the size and scope of the mistake them made in 2008.

The Obama campaign's attacks on Mitt Romney over his experience at Bain Capital, echoing some of the shots taken at Romney by Gingrich during the bitter GOP primary fight, do not seem to be resonating with middle America - the ones who will decide this election.  The basis of these attacks seem to be centered around the fact that Bain Capital, under Romney's leadership, is an 'evil' corporation - focused only on generating a return for their investors.  The alternative is the promise of the President's focus to leverage taxpayer funds towards 'fairness' and 'social justice' - generating a return for the special interests the President needs to vote for him and his party.

Who has the better record?

Over the last decade, the majority of federal expenditures did not go to fund the Defense Department / National security.  It did not go to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  65%, effectively two thirds of all federal expenditures, went towards entitlements.

This is a reflection of our path on the road to becoming Greece.

Another challenge for the President, as we look to answer the question as to who has the better record to provide the voters with a choice as to who is best positioned to address our stagnant economy, is his record in creating jobs and generating a return for the taxpayers of this country.  This President is seeking to mortgage the future with his unprecedented additions to the national debt.  This President is seeking to increase taxes, increase government revenues because he believes that government can spend and invest the earnings and income of Americans better than they can themselves and do so for the 'greater good'.

If we look at this President's record towards public equity investment, in contrast of Romney's record in private equity investment, we see a record that cannot be considered one of success.  Look at the results from one of the President Obama's biggest efforts - the 'imperative' to provide massive amounts of taxpayer funds for green energy companies in order to create green energy jobs.
Green energy jobs far short of Obama goal - President Obama has made much of his commitment to green energy as he launches his re-election bid, but the nascent industry has produced far fewer jobs than the president promised, despite massive, repeated infusions of taxpayer dollars.

Since taking office more than three years ago, Obama has routinely promoted wind, solar and other green energy efforts, touring factories — often the beneficiaries of federal grants — and touting the manufacturers as cutting-edge job producers who are leading America’s transition to energy independence. He had promised in 2008 to help those companies create millions of jobs.

“We can invest $15 billion a year in renewable sources of energy … to create 5 million new jobs, new energy jobs, all across [the] country, jobs that pay well, jobs that can’t be outsourced,” Obama, the candidate, told an Ohio crowd.

But the president has fallen far short of his own mark.

The wind industry has actually lost about 10,000 jobs since 2009, even though it doubled its domestic production, the American Wind Energy Association reports. And Republicans were quick to point out that as Obama blocks the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas, the oil and gas industry has added 75,000 jobs since the start of his term.

Obama spent $90 billion of his stimulus package on green energy projects, including weatherization of buildings and development of electric vehicles. Yet, by the end of last year, just 16,100 people landed new jobs in the so-called green industry, Labor Department statistics show, far short of the 200,000 jobs the White House projected it would help create each year.

$90,000,000,000 ($90 billion) for 16,100 new jobs. That's an investment of almost $5.6 million per job. It's the definition of FAIL...

Lurking in the background of the Eurocrisis, the domestic economic challenges, and the 2012 election campaign is the return of something that is a huge attack on American sovereignty and a massive wealth redistribution campaign from the rich (the US) to the poor (nearly everyone else)....the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST).
LOST is just the latest waterlogged power grab by the Obama administration. As I reported in 2010, the White House, through executive order, seized unprecedented control from states and localities over “conservation, economic activity, user conflict, and sustainable use of the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes.” Obama created a 27-member “National Ocean Council” by administrative fiat; the council is specifically tasked with implementing ocean-management plans “in accordance with customary international law, including as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention.”

The panel is chaired by radical-green science czar John Holdren (notorious for his cheerful musings about eugenics, mass sterilization, and forced abortions to protect Mother Earth, and for hyping weather catastrophes and demographic disasters in the 1970s with his population-control pals Paul and Anne Ehrlich) and White House Council on Environmental Quality head Nancy Sutley (best known as the immediate boss of disgraced green-jobs czar and avowed Communist Van Jones).

Other members include Dr. Jane Lubchenco — head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a former high-ranking official at the left-wing Environmental Defense Fund, which has long championed draconian reductions of commercial fishing fleets and recreational fishing activity in favor of centralized control — and fraudster Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who doctored the administration’s drilling-moratorium report.

It is not hyperbole to expose LOST’s socialist roots. Meddling Marxist Elisabeth Mann Borgese, the godmother of the global ocean regulatory scheme, made no bones about it: “He who rules the sea,” she exulted, “rules the land.” LOST is a radical giveaway of American sovereignty in the name of environmental protection. And it should be sunk once and for all.

This treaty was thought killed by President Reagan thirty years ago. But in the same manner that the President is willing to skyrocket energy prices (electricity / gasoline) in order to fulfill radical environmental objectives, decimate domestic oil production so we can send billions to Brazil, and empower a global government (United Nations) to possess sovereignty over the US, President Obama and his team of socialists, wants to adopt this treaty in the name of their definition of 'social justice'.

Massachusetts Senate candidate, Elizabeth Warren, remains on the run from the press over her continued dubious Native American ancestry claim - and that claim being touted by two Ivy League institutions (Penn and Harvard) as their embracement of 'diversity' within their faculty.  After the testy standoff with a local reporter highlighted in an earlier QH, she and her staff are no longer answering questions when they are posed - and seek the easiest / quickest form of retreat.

While some members of Harvard were quick in the early days of the scandal to insist that Warren's claim of being 1/32nd Native American had nothing to do with her hiring or the decision to grant her tenure, a former Harvard Administrator tossed Elizabeth Warren under the bus when asked to respond about the Boston Globe's article on Harvard's EEOC report and the lack of any documentation to substantiate Warren's claim.
In the reaction to the Boston Globe's controversial article on Harvard's EEOC reports which listed Elizabeth Warren as a Native American, one particular revelation has gone largely unnoticed. Alan Ray, the former administrator who filed diversity reports during Warren's tenure, distances the university from any responsibility for erroneously listing her as a Native American.

[Ray] said through a spokeswoman that he "never encouraged any faculty member to list himself or herself in a particular way." Ray added that Harvard "always accepted whatever identification a faculty member wanted to provide," a characterization another highly placed former Harvard administrator backed up.

Basically, Harvard only filed the EEOC report on the basis of Warren's self-identification. They didn't ask for any substantiation of the claim - which benefited the University and Warren.

Unfortunately, in a state that over decades sent Teddy Kennedy and John Kerry to be their Senate representation, character seems to mean little to the legions of Massachusetts's progressive voters.

This weekend is a major anniversary celebration for the gentlemen who blog at Powerline... as they celebrate their 10th anniversary blogging.  Congratulations on the 10 years blogging!

This Day in History

1703 - St. Petersburg was founded by Czar Peter I (Peter the Great) as the new Russian capital.

1905 - The Battle of Tsushima Strait - during the Russo-Japanese War, the Russian Baltic Fleet, which sailed from St. Petersburg, to off the Korean peninsula, lost 35 of its 45 ships in a decisive defeat versus the Japanese fleet.  Japan would emerge from this conflict as the first modern non-Western world power and Russia would move closer to revolution.

1937 - The Golden Gate Bridge, connecting San Francisco and Marin County, California, officially opens.  When it opened, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. 

1940 - As the evacuation at Dunkirk continues, 99 soldiers of the Royal Norfolk Regiment fought a rear guard action about 50 miles from the port.  Fighting until running out of ammunition, the 99 surrendered to the SS unit they were fighting.  The SS unit then marched the captives to a pit and machine gunned the prisoners before bayoneting the wounded.  2 members of the 99 survived by feigning being dead and surrendering to other German units.  After the war, once the scope of the atrocity was known, the German officer who gave the order for the massacre was convicted of a war crime and hanged.

1941 - The Royal Navy closes in and sinks the German battleship Bismarck in the North Atlantic about 700 miles from France.  This comes after British torpedo bombers from the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal disable the Bismarck's rudder, ending her effort to evade the Royal Navy and make a French port.  Over 2,200 German sailors perished when the Bismarck sank - there were only 114 survivors.

1969 - Construction of Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida begins

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Quick Hits - May 26, 2012

Kicking off today's QH with two excellent videos.....

First up, the latest of Bill Whittle's Afterburner series, 'Into the Sea'...

The second was forwarded to me by a reader - 'Operation Hot Mike' from American Crossroads....

The Weekly Standard has a very good effort that links the domestic job crisis and the record of President Obama in a method that uses one of the standard rhetorical fallacies of the progressives.  In progressive-speak, if they want to increase government spending (or that of a particular program) by 5% and the GOP advocates only a 2% spending increase, then we're not increasing spending, but cutting or 'slashing' spending.  It's a cut or 'slash' because the desired increase is not being received - and the increase amount is less. 

If one would apply common sense, if one party advocates a 5% spending increase, and the other is advocating a 2% increase, observers should be able to agree that spending is increasing.  For a cut or 'slash' to be achieved, one party would need to be advocating a 5% increase while the other would need to be advocating for a 2% reduction from the CURRENT LEVEL of spending.

In this Weekly Standard article, they use the progressive's logic to highlight the President's abysmal job record - not by focusing on jobs lost, but by focusing on jobs not created because of the policies of this President....
One way we can track that is by using the employment-population ratio, provided every month by the government. This is the broadest metric of employment in this country, and the peak during the last recovery was 63.5 percent of the adult, civilian, non-institutional population. If we had held constant at that level, we would have about 154 million people currently employed. As it stands, we have about 142 million people currently employed. So that is a jobs deficit of 12 million people:

Problem is, with the convoluted 'logic' of the progressives, they want it both ways.  Like with DNC Chair, the dim Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who puts progressive logic in the forefront as she tries to differentiate the jobs lost when Obama 'saved' the auto industry and when Romney's Bain Capital eliminated jobs trying to 'save' struggling companies....


Then there is this from DWS as she tells C-SPAN that the heated recall battle in Wisconsin is not that big of a deal - and there would be no major repercussions to the Democrats if Scott Walker survives the recall effort....
“I think, honestly, there aren’t going to be any repercussions,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said in a broad-ranging interview on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers.”

“It’s an election that’s based in Wisconsin. It’s an election that I think is important nationally because Scott Walker is an example of how extreme the tea party has been when it comes to the policies that they have pushed the Republicans to adopt,” Wasserman Schultz said. “But I think it’ll be, at the end of the day, a Wisconsin-based election, and like I said, across the rest of the country and including in Wisconsin, President Obama is ahead.”

That just has to thrill the union base of the Democrat party - the same union base that donated some $400 million in the 2008 election cycle.

It seems that DWS's repeated gaffe's are causing some problems - and she may be on her way out as the DNC Chair since President Obama is reportedly becoming increasingly irritated by the gaffe's which he sees as galvanizing Republican opposition and costing his campaign independents...
During Obama's trip to Florida, not only was Schultz stripped of her previously held honor of introducing the president before his speeches, he barely acknowledged her presence.

In fact, Shark Tank's source said Obama addressed Shultz personally on her destructive activities, telling her it’s not about her, it’s about him.

“Don’t forget, you work for me.”

That's right, it's all about the narcissist in chief.

The UK Telegraph is taking a look at the 2012 Presidential campaign in a manner that few US based publications are - noting that the similarities of 2012 to 1980 are increasing - with Barack Obama facing his Jimmy Carter moment as his campaign and policies become more Carteresque...
Obama’s re-election is no longer guaranteed; some pollsters think it is unlikely. Day by day, the odds are improving that Mitt Romney will be the next President of the United States.

What changed? For a start, voters are getting gloomier about the economy. Joblessness remains high and debt is out of control. According to one poll released this week, only 33 per cent of Americans expect the economy to improve in the coming months and only 43 per cent approve of the way that the president has handled it. Voters think Obama has made the debt situation and health care worse. The man who conducted the poll – Democrat Peter Hart – concluded that “Obama’s chances for re-election… are no better than 50-50.”

The president has tried to distract from America’s economic misery by playing up the so-called culture war.

In 1980, Democratic president Jimmy Carter faced an uphill struggle for re-election. Yet, despite an index of inflation and unemployment far higher than Obama’s, he was actually doing slightly better in the polls. In March of that year, Carter led his Republican opponent, Ronald Reagan, by around 25 per cent. By May, Gallup gave him a lead of 49 to 41 per cent – higher than Obama’s today. Carter’s advantage evaporated in the months that followed, but he regained ground in October and by the last week he was running even.

None the less, Carter eventually suffered a landslide defeat. The scale of his humiliation was hidden by the fact that people were unwilling to commit themselves to the conservative Ronald Reagan until the very last minute. It was only when they went into the polling booth and weighed up all the hurt and humiliation of the past four years that they cast their vote against the president. It looks like Barack Obama will be the Jimmy Carter of 2012.

Is an Obama reelection, once thought a done deal by some, really starting to look unlikely? On Monday, I will be posting my 'Wargaming the 2012 Election, Part II' where I update the look I took in December 2011 at the electoral college and the battle to 270.

Does this help or hurt President Obama? Half of all US households are receiving government benefits.

Is this, as Bill Whittle references in his video above, part of the 'long stall from 40,000 feet into the cold dark sea'?

The financial blog Zerohedge has a couple of superb posts today that apply towards a look back at 1980, a new look at the policies of Obama / Progressives today, and adds in the linkage of these with the Eurocrisis.

The first is the progressive policy model of Keynesian economics and Eugenics, and adds to one of the points I press - that theory isn't like the real world, or as its referenced here...nature.
While eugenicists and Keynesians make correct descriptive observations — like the fact that certain qualities and traits are inheritable, or more simply that children are like their parents — their attempts to use the state as a mechanism to control these natural systems often turns out to be drastically worse than the natural systems that they seek to replace.


No planner is smarter than nature...

The second offers advice from the esteemed historian Niall Ferguson who reminds us that Greece is the symptom, not the cause of the Eurocrisis...
In a brief clip from a lengthier discussion between historian Niall Ferguson and ex-Greek PM George Papandreou at this week's Zeitgeist conference, the effusive Englishman lays out perfectly what many are missing with regard to Europe: "Greece is not the problem - it is a symptom of a much more profound malaise that affects the entire monetary union." - just as Lehman Brothers was not the 'cause' of the US's problems. The wasted energy spent moralizing about the 'work habits' of Mediterranean citizens as being the problem is incorrect as this is a European-wide problem - a systemic crisis of European banking and public finance. Papandreou pipes in by noting, in typical toe-the-line manner, that Germany must swerve (in the game of chicken) or there is a major danger of disintegration because "there will be contagion".

The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, is talking as tough as Germany and the Bundesbank, when it comes to the Greek bailout, austerity, and the upcoming Greek elections...
The International Monetary Fund has ratcheted up the pressure on crisis-hit Greece after its managing director, Christine Lagarde, said she has more sympathy for children deprived of decent schooling in sub-Saharan Africa than for many of those facing poverty in Athens.

In an uncompromising interview with the Guardian, Lagarde insists it is payback time for Greece and makes it clear that the IMF has no intention of softening the terms of the country's austerity package.

Using some of the bluntest language of the two-and-a-half-year debt crisis, she says Greek parents have to take responsibility if their children are being affected by spending cuts. "Parents have to pay their tax," she says.

Shifting to the Middle East Region, Mark Steyn asks us what does the troubled Facebook IPO and the first stages of Egypt's Presidential elections which took place earlier this week have in common?
A century ago, the west exported its values. So, in Farouk's Egypt, at the start of a new legislative session, the king was driven to his toy town parliament to deliver the speech from the throne in an explicit if ramshackle simulacrum of Westminster's rituals of constitutional monarchy.

Today, we decline to export values, and complacently assume, as the very term "Facebook Revolution" suggests, that technology marches in support of modernity. It doesn't. Facebook's flat IPO and Egypt's presidential election are in that sense part of the same story, of a developed world whose definitions of innovation and achievement have become too shrunken and undernourished. The vote in Egypt tells us a lot about them, but it also tells us something about us.

In another 'read it all' essay, Victor Davis Hanson addresses this meme as well in "Winning Battles, Losing Wars'...
Are U.S. arms and influence without ground troops able to see those laudable aims realized, or would a post-Assad Syria end up like Libya or Egypt—and would that still be better or worse than the present-day Syria, for us, for Christians and other minorities, for Israel, etc.? It is not enough to state the obvious: Assad is a U.S. enemy and a monster who is killing his own; we have the ability to take him out; ergo, we should.

Yet the same calculus applies to dozens of renegade states. If some advisor, pundit, general, or senator wants to go into Syria, then he must explain why Syria is more important than, say, the Congo or Somalia or the Sudan (or that we are following strategic self-interest in the Middle East, not humanitarianism)—and why we can leave the nation a far better place than under Assad, and how that is possible, given the nature of the dissidents and the fact it is the Middle East.

Remember, there is also an ironclad law about the Middle East, one we keep forgetting: Arab intellectuals (many of them educated or residing in Western universities) hate the U.S. for backing dictators; they hate the U.S. for intervening to remove them; they hate the U.S. for trying to impose postbellum democracy upon them; and they hate the U.S. for staying clear and letting Arabs be Arabs on their own.

In Syria, government troops have shelled a string of villages in country's center before pro-regime groups swept through the area, shooting people in the streets and in their homes in attacks that killed more than 90 people. This represents some of the bloodiest attacks by the regime against civilians in the nearly 15 months since the demonstrations started.

UN monitor are also reporting that the Syrian forces executed entire families in their homes...

What are we, and the rest of the international community to do with these reports? Or the fact that despite the economic sanctions, the Iranians and Syrians are working to evade the sanctions and sell oil, while Russia continues to provide the regime with new arms shipments.

This Day in History

1907 - Iconic actor, John Wayne, is born in Winterset, Iowa

1940 - Hundreds of Royal Navy and civilian yachts and vessels cross the English Channel to the area around the French port of Dunkirk to begin the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force and allied French troops.  With a rear guard trying to hold off the German Army, and under relentless bombardment by the German Luftwaffe, these ships and yachts, under cover of the Royal Air Force,  would evacuate 340,000 troops from the Continent to Britain - although without virtually all of their heavy equipment.  The 'Miracle of Dunkirk' was a powerful morale booster for the British in the wake of the massively successful German invasion of France.

1978 - The first legal casino on the US East Coast opened in Atlantic City, New Jersey.