Monday, May 14, 2012

Quick Hits - May 14, 2012

Firewall - How did America become a 'Beta Nation'?

A must watch!

The latest poll on the Wisconsin recall election on June 5th has Republican Governor Scott Walker expanding his lead to 9 points over his Democrat challenger - Tom Barrett in a repeat of November 2010's election. Republican enthusiasm seems high for the turning back the attempted recall, and Barrett is in a deep hole trying to convince voters how he would have turned things around in the state, as Walker has done, via the standard left policies of higher taxes, higher spending, and restoring power to public sector unions. As Mayor of Milwaukee, Barrett's policies have placed the city in a worse financial position today than when he took office.

Wisconsin Democrats are also apparently 'furious' with the lack of support they, and Tom Barrett, are getting from the DNC...saying that the national Democrat party is not allocating any funds for the recall election and that they are being outspent by the Walker campaign.

The Obama campaign team is picking up on an attack path that Newt Gingrich utilized against Mitt Romney during the GOP Presidential Primaries - releasing a 2 minute advertisement that slams Mitt Romney for layoffs made at a company controlled by Bain Capital built around interviews of former employees of GST Steel.

The advertisement tells the story of a number of former GST Steel employees who lost their job when the company was shut down in 2001 - and how, in their words, Bain raided the company, sucked the value out, and then sent them packing.

The problem with the advertisement is that Mitt Romney left Bain Capital in 1999 - 2 years before GST Steel was shut down. It seems like a fundamental failure to accuse Romney of being responsible for this when he left Bain 2 years before. But as's Big Government notes...
However, there was a political power-player serving as a director of Bain at the time of the company's bankruptcy and layoffs--Jonathan Lavine. Lavine joined Bain in 1993. He is currently Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer. He is also a major bundler for Barack Obama, raising between $100-200k for the his reelection. While we don't know the specific role Lavine had in decisions regarding the bankrupt company, he certainly had more influence than someone who had left Bain two years before.

Perhaps Obama should use some of Lavine's donations to help the steelworkers featured in his ad.
Markets in Europe fell sharply as the Greek Eurocrisis appears to be hitting a new tipping point.  The DJIA opened sharply lower in the US, but has recovered slightly - the dollar is gaining against the Euro.  The primary sticking point remains around the inability of Greece to form a new government - as is required by Thursday - in the wake of the May 6 national elections.

No coalition government has been agreed upon as the political parties continue to feud over the message from the election - and if the country should remain committed towards the EU, ECB, and IMF bailout requirements of significant austerity steps or if the country should default on the bailout agreement and ultimately leave the EU / Euro currency.
"No unity government can emerge," Fotis Kouvelis, head of the Democratic Left party, told Antenna television, pointing to the refusal of the second-place radical leftist Syriza party to join a coalition.

"A government without Syriza would not have the necessary popular and parliamentary backing," said Kouvelis, a former Syriza senior member who broke away from the party in 2010.

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras has already announced he will not attend the 1630 GMT talks under Papoulias, who has also invited the conservative New Democracy and socialist Pasok parties in a bid to break the impasse.

Kouvelis repeated his party's position that Greece must "immediately" start to disengage itself from an EU-IMF loan memorandum deemed to have plunged the country into a bottomless recession.

If no coalition government can be formed by Thursday, new elections will be held in June - which the far left Syriza party, the leading voice opposing the austerity measures being demanded of Greece, is expected to do even better than they did on May 6th.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel continues to warn Greece that if it did not honor its commitments made around the most recent bailout package, 'Europe's solidarity with Greece would end abruptly...'

Key payments part of the Greek bailout package apparently are being placed on hold - which could threaten a Greek default on debt obligations due in the next several weeks.  If Greece does break its commitment and defaults on its obligations, a departure from the Eurozone for Greece would appear certain.

The German newsmagazine, Der Spiegel, makes a case that it would be best for all if Greece would leave the Euro - painful, but ultimately the best course for Greece in the long term.
No one can force the Greeks to give up the euro. And yet it is now clear that withdrawal would also be in the country's best interest.

It isn't a matter of abandoning the Greeks. Greece is and remains an important part of Europe. A Greek withdrawal from the euro will have serious social, political and economic consequences -- mostly for the Greeks, but also for the rest of Europe. The continent's solidarity is not tied to the euro, which is why other European countries will still have to support Greece with massive amounts of money.

But only a Greek withdrawal from the euro zone will give the country a chance to get back on its feet in the long term. The Greeks would have their own currency once again, which they could then devalue, making imports more expensive and exports cheaper. As a result, say American economist Kenneth Rogoff and others, the Greek economy could become competitive again.

At the same time, a Greek exit from the euro would send a strong message to other financially ailing countries, namely that Europe cannot be blackmailed. Populist politician Tsipras is merely expressing views that are already widespread within large segments of the Athens establishment, namely that the Europeans will ultimately give in and pay up, because they fear a Greek bankruptcy as much as people in the Middle Ages feared the Black Death.

What is being lost, however, is that the reason we are still having these challenges - in Greece and other Eurozone countries like Italy, Spain, and France, is because of the fundamental bankruptcy of Euro-style socialism.

Greece is just the first of these country's to reach the tipping point of, to paraphrase Margaret Thatcher, running out of other people's money to spend.  It's anti-business regulatory and taxation policies discourage business growth.  It's tax policy to 'soak the rich' creates an environment where tax cheating is rampant - and the rich avoid paying punitive taxes.  Far too many in the country are dependent on the government for their jobs - or their entitlements that come from being able to retire at 55 or 60.  (A socialist was elected in France on the platform of reversing the national retirement age increase from 60 to 62 made by former President Sarkozy.)  The country has for decades spent far more than it brought in via revenues - to the point where it's debt is more than 165% of the value of all of the goods and services it produces in a single year.

Yet, with so many used to suckling on the government's teat, they are unwilling to change any of these policies to move towards a philosophy that is based on smaller government, pro-business, more individual accountability and responsibility, keeping wealth within the private sector as opposed in the public sector.

President Obama's vision of 'fundamental change' is to implement as quickly as possible euro-style socialism in the US - just as we witness euro-style socialism implode in Europe.  Michael Ledeen notes on PJ Media that he's trying to emulate the Italian economy (but this works also for Greece, or Spain, or France..):
The European economy is famously gasping for energy — with productive niches in Holland and Germany — and explosive forces are bubbling through the crust of the self-satisfied welfare state that’s been happily and irresponsibly taking care of Europeans’ every desire for decades. Now that they’ve been caught spending much more than they ever had (and having most of their military needs covered by Uncle Sam), and suddenly being told to get serious, they’re blowing a lot of political steam. Thus, the Greek riots. Thus, the sprint to socialist fantasies in France. Thus, the recent bombs set off at Italian welfare offices, and the kneecaping of a welfare official.

The “technicians” in charge of the Italian government nowadays started by cutting government spending and raising taxes. I have long believed that it’s incoherent to raise taxes during a recession, and indeed the Italians are now talking about ways to stimulate “growth.” But, rather like our own deep thinkers in Washington, the stimulation they’re talking about is all supposed to come from on high, from the state. Which of course is the root cause of the crisis in the first place. But the Europeans made a Faustian deal with their politicians–I’ll leave you alone if you take good care of me, and I’ll just indulge myself–and it’s hard for them to ask their failed leaders to get out of the way and let the people work their way out of the mess.

We even have a far closer model of this failure in the once Golden State on the left coast...

...where soaking the rich isn't working...
California is suffering this tax drought even as most other states enjoy a revenue rebound. State tax collections were up nationally by 8.9% last year, according to the Census Bureau, and this year revenues are up by double digits in many states. The state comptroller reports that Texas is enjoying 10.9% growth in its sales taxes (it has no income tax), while California can't seem to keep up despite one of the highest tax rates in the land.

This would seem to suggest that California should try cutting tax rates to keep more people and business in the state, but Sacramento is intent on raising them again. Governor Brown and the public-employee unions are sponsoring a ballot initiative in November to raise the state sales tax by a quarter point to 7.5% and to raise the top marginal income-tax rate to 13.3% from 10.3%. This will make the state even more reliant on the fickle revenue streams provided by the rich.

Meanwhile, an analysis by Joseph Vranich, who studies migration of businesses from one state to another, finds that since 2009 the flight of businesses out of California "has increased fivefold due to high taxes and regulatory costs."

This month Chief Executive magazine reports that its annual survey of CEOs ranked California dead last among the 50 states in business climate. Texas was number one. The silver lining for Jerry Brown, if not for the California fisc, is that if you're already ranked 50th you can't get any lower—though he seems willing to try.

...nor is the anti-business environment that has sprouted in Sacramento...
The state of California is becoming legendary for creating the most anti-business climate in the country because of its high taxes, excessive regulations, forced unionism, and bloated public sector. For the second year in a row, a large group of America’s CEOs recently rated California as the worst state in the country to do business in an annual survey conducted by Chief Executive Magazine. California currently ranks No. 49 among U.S. states for “business tax climate” according to the Tax Foundation’s 2011 State Business Tax Climate Index, and it ranks No. 48 for “economic freedom” according to a recent study by the Mercatus Center.

It shouldn’t be any surprise then that companies are leaving the “Golden State” in record numbers this year (see chart below) for “golder pastures” and more business-friendly climates in other states. In just the last two years, the number of companies leaving California has accelerated more than five-fold, from one per week in 2009 to 5.4 per week this year, according to California relocation expert Joe Vranich.

If it is not working in Greece, Spain, Italy, France, or even California - why would we expect these same policies and approaches to work for the better in Washington DC? Are we that stupid where we look at all of the places where this philosophy and approach have failed - and tell ourselves it wasn't because the approach is fundamentally flawed, but the implementation was bad - or do we look at the models that were successful (based on traditional American values) and try to convince ourselves that this success was a fluke?

It seems as if Europe isn't learning much - as they appear to be trebling down on failure.  Just as with the election of the French socialist Francois Hollande, the election in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, delivered a crushing defeat to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and empowered the left to push harder against austerity measures advocated by Merkel.  This is a key bell weather because this German state has a bigger population than the Netherlands, and an economy the size of Turkey's.

Will the US break this movement towards a continued embrace of failed economic policies in November by defeating Barack Obama's run for a second term in office?

This past weekend we lost one of the best blues bass players of all time.  Donald 'Duck' Dunn died in Tokyo while on tour on Saturday.  He was 70 years old.  Many will remember him as one of the cornerstones of the Blues Brothers band - appearing in the 1980 hit movie, The Blues Brothers, but he was also part of Booker T & the MG's....

Rest in Peace - thanks for the music.

Elizabeth Warren, candidate for Senate in Massachusetts, aka Fauxcahontas, continues to dig with her claim of being a Native American....saying this weekend that 'I'm proud of my Native American heritage...'

But Warren isn’t backing down from her claims of Native American ancestry. In an appearance on CNN’s “Starting Point” on Monday to promote her call for J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon to step down from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York., Warren doubled down and said she was proud of her disputed heritage.

“You know, I’m proud of my Native American heritage,” Warren said. “I’m proud of my family. It’s now the case that people have gone over my college records, my law school records, every job I’ve ever had to see that I got my work. I got my jobs because I do my work. I work hard. I’ve been a good teacher.”

She contended the heritage questions were an effort by Brown, along with allies on Wall Street and in Washington, to “change the subject.”

Change the subject? It's a valid question to ask why did she not claim her heritage, then claim it, then not claim it again, and now claims it again throughout her professional career.
If Warren never told Harvard about her background and she quit listing herself as “minority” in those professional directories in 1996, who’s the Native American woman professor noted in this Harvard EEOC report three years later?

A newly revealed document taken from a 1999 Affirmative Action Plan Book published by Harvard University indicates that Elizabeth Warren was officially listed as a Native American by Harvard Law School. Though Warren is not mentioned by name, the report shows just one Native American member of the law school. Reports in the Harvard Crimson from 1996 and 1998 both identify Warren as the Native American member of the staff…

Warren has said that she was not aware Harvard was using her minority status to publicly deflect criticism over the school’s hiring practices. However, the fact that she was officially recognized as a Native American by the school raises the question of how they first obtained the information which led them to classify her as one.

She's supposed to be an acclaimed academic - but her research, her work, appears as flawed as the 'documentation' supporting her claim appears to be...

Research based on dubious academic standards....
Warren’s findings, based on research of dubious academic standards, exaggerate the magnitude of the problem and affect policymakers’ ability to make informed, unbiased decisions regarding pending legislation. Yet perhaps because of the Harvard label attached to the papers or dismay over the plight of medically distressed households, far too many in Washington seem willing to accept these findings without question.

In addition to the statistical-sampling and econometric issues in Warren’s research, the studies she co-authored found a high incidence of medical bankruptcy because the definition of medical bankruptcy they used was implausibly broad. In her first paper, “medical” included any sort of addiction, including uncontrolled gambling problems. The second study excluded gamblers and addicts but still managed to conclude that more than 60 percent of bankruptcy filings are due to medical reasons, even though only 29 percent of respondents believed their bankruptcies were caused by medical bills.

The original document that 'proves' her claim doesn't exist....
The only documentary evidence he can find that Warren is 1/32 Cherokee is a 2006 newsletter by an amateur genealogist who claims she found a marriage application in which one of Warren’s ancestors said he was part Native American. Leahy found a marriage license for that ancestor, but there’s nothing about race on it. Two questions, then. First, is there a separate marriage application somewhere that does mention race? Second, if so, er, where is it? Leahy himself can’t find it and the amateur genealogist who cited it in that newsletter isn’t replying to e-mails. And what about the professional genealogist who told the media a few weeks ago that Warren was indeed 1/32 Cherokee? Turns out he isn’t replying to e-mails either, and the genealogical society for whom he works says they’re done talking about Warren. Surely he had some hard evidence on which to base his claim, though, right? Actually … maybe not. Leahy points to this paragraph in a CNN story from May 3 that I hadn’t noticed until now:
The New England Historic Genealogical Society provided CNN with initial research showing several members of Warren’s maternal family claiming Cherokee heritage. The Native American link extends to Warren’s great-great-great grandmother O.C. Sarah Smith, who is said to be described as Cherokee in an 1894 marriage license application. NEHGS gathered that information through a 2006 family newsletter, and says the original application cannot be located.

...and now the amateur genealogist at the root of this says that the claim is without supporting documentation...
Lynda Smith, the amateur genealogist who unknowingly found herself at the root of the false “Elizabeth Warren is 1/32 Cherokee” meme introduced to the media by “noted” genealogist Chris Child of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, acknowledged in an email to me this past Saturday, May 12, that her statement in a March 2006 family newsletter upon which Mr. Child based his claim of Ms. Warren’s Cherokee ancestry was made with no supporting documentation. It was, in fact, an honest mistake that Ms. Smith now acknowledges is entirely without foundation.
Unfortunately, in a state that elected Teddy Kennedy to the Senate for decades, that has / is still electing John Kerry to the Senate, character is not the issue it should be given that Kennedy, Kerry, and Warren are all fundamentalist progressives.  Warren doesn't belong in the Senate - or for that matter given her continued claims - to be employed at Harvard.  She fails the test around academic ethics...but remains a poster child for all that is wrong with progressivism.

Of course, idiocy isn't just limited to progressive academics.  Progressives like Obama campaign advisor, actress, and activist Eva Longoria delivers her entry for moron of the week while appearing with Bill Maher on his HBO program 'Real Time' and saying that the US occupied the Mexican people....

Wow...just wow.

This Day in History

1804 - The Lewis and Clark expedition departs St. Louis to begin the exploration of the Northwest territory obtained the year before in the Louisiana Purchase.

1940 - German bombers attack and destroy most of the Dutch city of Rotterdam, causing 30,000 civilian casualties on the same day that the Netherlands surrenders to the Germans.

1948 - The State of Israel is proclaimed

1955 - The Soviet Union and 7 of its Eastern European puppet's sign a treaty establishing the Warsaw Pact - a mutual defense organization set up under a unified military command led by the USSR

1975 - US forces raid the Cambodian island of Koh Tang and recaptured the merchant ship Mayaguez.  The ship's 39 man crew is freed - 40 US military members die in the raid.

1998 - Frank Sinatra dies of a heart attack in Los Angeles at the age of 82.

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