Friday, May 18, 2012

Quick Hits - May 17, 2012

This Presidential campaign is, as some of the hype proclaims, one of the most important we've faced.  There is a clear choice this year.  While it may seem like hyperbole - it's not.  Because of our financial condition, particularly over the last 5 years, it should not be debatable that this is a major choice for the voters of this country - or one that is clearer in terms of direction, ideology, and effects.  We have a choice of continuing down the progressive ideological path - and those results - or embracing a conservative ideological path with the likely results taking that path should provide.

The effects of one choice - the primary direction of this country since January 2009, is all around us.  We also have the benefit of a longer term view of the ramifications of that ideology - in Greece, in Spain, in Detroit, in California...

We can continue down the path of 'fairness', 'social justice', 'fundamental change', and all the effects of those words in a political and fiscal environment.  More taxes on the wealthy, to pay their 'fair share'.  Equality in results as opposed to equality in opportunity.  Providing entitlements - even if those entitlements are not fiscally sustainable.  Deficits?  We can always borrow or print more funds.  Bigger government is better government - and centralized planning is supposed to be more reliable and accurate than depending on free markets that someone is likely to try to cheat.

We have poll - all kinds of polls that take not only a snapshot of where we are towards the election - but are used to influence the election results by appealing the lemmings of society. 

Earlier this week - a New York Times / CBS News poll garnered attention - primarily in the manner that this poll reflected badly on the President's reelection bid. 

Today, we have a poll that reflects, against many of the other trends, President Obama with a 7 point lead over his presumptive GOP challenger, Mitt Romney.  The source of this poll?  The 'evil' Fox News empire.  Is this realistic or is it an outlier?

My vote is for an outlier.  In fact, I'm wondering if Shepard Smith took this poll for FNC...

Why is this poll an outlier?  Let's look at the sample of this poll.  The party breakdown of the poll is 42% Democrat, 34% Republican, and 20% Independent.

WTF?  Now, this is a common message I've been repeating for a while - look at the party breakdown demographics and ask yourself - does the breakdown reflect 2008?  How about the Tea Party surge of 2010?  Do those numbers make sense with today's level of enthusiasm?

In the Hot Air post linked above, Allahpundit acknowledges that in the poll, 'Independents' overwhelmingly shifted to Obama.  But, there were other questions in the poll, that didn't seem to reflect that same 'enthusiasm'.  Key metrics and questions about who is more trusted to create jobs or manage the economy - went heavily for Mitt Romney.  Allahpundit wonders if part of this is one of the positive effects of the current Administration and main stream media 'cooking the books' to make things look better than they are?  Do people see and accept the books are being cooked - or do they want to hide the heads in the 'challenges' of their lives?

The problem with this poll is similar to the problem with other polls - its with the sample.  The sample that FNC used is 42% Democrat, 34% Republican, and a 20% Independent breakdown/

Think about this.  A plus 8 difference between Democrats and Republicans.
A newly released Fox News poll includes 42 percent Democrats and only 34 percent Republicans — an 8-point Democratic edge — and shows President Obama leading Mitt Romney by 7 points (46 to 39 percent). Among independents, however, the poll shows Romney leading by 5 points (34 to 29 percent).

In 2008, back when Rasmussen’s polling on party affiliation showed Democrats outnumbering Republicans by 7 percentage points (40 to 33 percent), Democratic turnout in the election exceeded GOP turnout by 7 points (39 to 32 percent) — and Obama won by 7 points (53 to 46 percent). By the end of the month in which Obama took office, Rasmussen showed Democrats enjoying an 8-point lead in party affiliation (41 to 33 percent). Now, after nearly three and a half years of Obama, Rasmussen shows party affiliation favoring Republicans by 2 points (35 to 33 percent) — a 10-point swing since the week after Inauguration Day.

But surely the Fox News poll is right: If the Democratic party has not lost any support since 2008 (and perhaps has even gained some), Obama will win.

Does this election cycle look like it is at or surpassing 2008 levels of Democrat / Obama enthusiasm? I don't think me, it looks far more like another 2010 than a 2008. Obama's fundraising is well behind his 2008 campaign pace. Unlike the days of 'Hope and Change' - Barack Obama has a record to run on.  That record is not exactly stellar....not with the fiscal irresponsibility, the scandals and crony capitalism, the foreign policy debacles, and the stagnant economy in the weakest recovery since the Great Depression.

President Me....

Reflecting on his two terms in office, President George W. Bush said in 2010, “You realize you’re not it. You’re a part of something bigger than yourself.”

This is a sentiment President Barack Obama did not inherit from his predecessor. Over the past month we have witnessed several displays of arrogant power emanating from our White House, emphasizing fealty to a person over the integrity of an American institution. Some are more serious than others.
  • Editing the biographies of past Presidents and inserting a bullet point or two about President Obama in each historical narrative...
  • Exposure of a 'Nixonian' enemies list - and punitive actions being taken against Republican donors
  • Telling ABC News' Robin Roberts, 'When I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or - sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf'....His behalf?
  • How many times did he use the pronoun 'I' in his announcement of the death of Bin Laden - and compare this to how many times President Bush used the same pronoun in his announcement of the capture of Saddam Hussein?
  • Telling 60 Minutes that he is, about three years into his term, the fourth greatest President of all time
  • Then, appearing earlier this week on The View, the President insinuated that if one doesn't support his policies, it's not because of those policies or ideological differences, but because of his name and race... 'When your name is Barack Obama, it's always going to be tight. Barack Hussein Obama."
Taxes will increase by an estimated $5 trillion over the next decade if Congress does not extend expiring law by Dec. 31. The nation also faces an automatic $1.2 trillion spending cut and the expiration of the payroll tax holiday and benefits for the unemployed.

Bernanke warned Democrats at a lunch meeting that the combined effect would have severely damaging consequences for the recovering economy.

This was being said just before Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's caucus unanimously voted down not only President Obama's irresponsible FY2013 budget proposal, but also 4 Republican budget plans. It was also before the President met with Congressional leaders in a preliminary stage for a new round of debt ceiling negotiations (the $16.4 trillion ceiling will be reached this fall)...
According to a readout of the meeting from the Speaker’s office, Boehner asked Obama if he was proposing that Congress increase the debt limit without corresponding spending cuts. The president replied, “Yes,” the Boehner aide said. At that point, Boehner told Obama, “As long as I’m around here, I’m not going to allow a debt-ceiling increase without doing something serious about the debt.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney audaciously said, in response to Boehner's concerns about the Obama Administration's lack of a budget reform plan, "he knows exactly where it is," and pointed to Obama's budget plan.
Um, Mr. Carney, that's the same budget plan that every single Democrat in the Senate voted against - as did every Republican - garnering no votes in Congress. (Defeated in the House 0-414, and in the Senate 0-99).

What are one of the focuses of the Senate Democrats? Trying to force those who renounce their US citizenship to still pay their US taxes anyway...
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has a status update for Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin: Stop attempting to dodge your taxes by renouncing your U.S. citizenship or never come to back to the U.S. again.

In September 2011, Saverin relinquished his U.S. citizenship before the company announced its planned initial public offering of stock, which will debut this week. The move was likely a financial one, as he owns an estimated 4 percent of Facebook and stands to make $4 billion when the company goes public. Saverin would reap the benefit of tax savings by becoming a permanent resident of Singapore, which levies no capital gains taxes.

At a news conference this morning, Sens. Schumer and Bob Casey, D-Pa., will unveil the “Ex-PATRIOT” – “Expatriation Prevention by Abolishing Tax-Related Incentives for Offshore Tenancy” – Act to respond directly to Saverin’s move, which they dub a “scheme” that would “help him duck up to $67 million in taxes.”

Zerohedge has a simple question that they would like Senator Chuckie Schumer to answer..
In light of recent media reports of rampant abuse of various international tax loopholes by US corporations (recall the Double Irish with a Dutch Sandwich), but much more importantly, the glaring abuse of offshore tax shelters by hedge funds - organization such as Paulson & Co., RenTec, York Capital, etc., and financial institutions, such as Lazard, Blackstone, and Credit Suisse, can Senator Schumer please rep, warrant and guarantee that none of his corporate sponsors, i.e., his Top 100 Contributors, have ever engaged in any form of explicit or implicit tax avoidance, tax offshoring, and tax shelter. To facilitate his checklisting, we have presented his top 100 contributors below. Because if he can't, one may be left with the impression that his whole anti-tax tirade and legislation is, you know, hypocritical.

Let's save a little time - Schumer is a hypocrite. And he doesn't care that he is a hypocrite.

As Florida investigates over 180,000 in the state who may be illegally register to vote (and casting ballots), we have a new disclosure from state election officials...that they have identified and purged 53,000 dead voters from the voter rolls. And there are those who say voter fraud is not a problem. This is before Florida tries to identify those who vote in that state - as well as have a residence and vote in another state.

As Greece appears to be at the cusp of runs on their banks in their financial crisis, we are also seeing possible signs of bank runs starting in Spain - another EU state teetering on fiscal viability.  Bankia, the fourth largest bank in Spain, and one that the government partially nationalized last week to keep it solvent, saw their share value plunge by more than 25% on Thursday morning after a report came out showing that customers had withdrawn over $1.3 billion from the bank in the past week.

In another example of how the challenges of the fiscally teetering EU nations - and several states in the US have far too much in common, we have this report on California - and the linkage between that state's fiscal challenges and its public sector unions...
What makes California so special? A profound antipathy to private enterprise and simultaneous embrace of public employee unions. (Does this sound familiar?) In Shakedown, author Steven Malanga notes that public school teachers in the state are the highest-paid in the country, prison guards make six-figure salaries and that “state workers routinely retire at fifty-five with pensions higher than their base pay for most of their working life…”

He also chronicles the rise of the powerful public employee unions who, alarmed by tax-restraining Proposition 13 passed in 1978, moved to solidify their clout through strikes, advertising campaigns and political endorsements. Riding the wave of the tech boom thirty years ago, union-backed state legislators passed uber-generous benefits packages for public employees that continue to strangle local economies.

As Stockton proceeds through the mediation process now required of cities considering bankruptcy, it faces the most problematic legacy of union power – invincible public employee pensions. The city pays $37 million annually into its pension scheme – a hefty chunk of its annual $196 million budget. Another $17 million goes to retiree health care. While corporations in bankruptcy expect to negotiate with all its creditors, including pension funds, in California the public unions, aided and abetted by CalPERS, refuse to enter into discussions with cities seeking relief. Pensions are sacrosanct – a position that may well end up before the courts.

While state and local obligations have soared, California has steadily hiked taxes and enacted regulations that make it difficult to do business in the state, leading to shrinkage of the tax base.

This is a major part of why Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, and now France have major fiscal challenges...and increasing taxes on the 'wealthy' does not raise sufficient revenues to cover the massive obligations of the entitlement society combined with 'uber-generous benefits packages'. Debt skyrockets - and it hits a point where one effectively runs out of someone else's money to spend. Austerity is not just reduced spending, it also has to include fundamental reforms in the entitlement programs and not only restructuring the bad deals made with the public sector unions, but weakening their ability to suckle off the state taxpayers...a la Wisconsin. In just one year, that state's finances have turned around 180 degrees...but they weren't in the same hole as California or Greece.

There was an interesting development in the afternoon courtesy of - one that also included a disclosure - a disclosure that also fits my point of view...
Note from Senior Management:

Andrew Breitbart was never a "Birther," and Breitbart News is a site that has never advocated the narrative of "Birtherism." In fact, Andrew believed, as we do, that President Barack Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on August 4, 1961.

Yet Andrew also believed that the complicit mainstream media had refused to examine President Obama's ideological past, or the carefully crafted persona he and his advisers had constructed for him.

It is for that reason that we launched "The Vetting," an ongoing series in which we explore the ideological background of President Obama (and other presidential candidates)--not to re-litigate 2008, but because ideas and actions have consequences.

Why was this disclosure needed? Because of this - dating back to 1991 and from Barack Obama's literary agent promoting his client...(from

The agent responsible said that he made a simple mistake when he said Barack Obama was born in Kenya.  Probably.  But all goes in marketing, eh?  And using every possible advantage to advance his client (and his client to advance himself)?  That opens up new questions about how did the President get into Occidental, Columbia, and Harvard - did he game the system?

Disco Queen, Donna Summer, died yesterday at the age of 63 after a battle with cancer.  RIP - and thanks for the music. 

This Day in History

1943 - The crew of the B17 bomber, Memphis Belle, becomes the first to complete their 25 combat mission tour of duty over Europe.

1954 - In a major civil rights victory, the Supreme Court of the United States hands down an unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka ruling that racial segregation in public education facilities is unconstitutional.

1974 - The Los Angeles Police Department surround a home in Compton where the leaders of a terrorist group known as the Symbionese Liberation Army are hiding out.  The resulting firefight saw police fire more than 1,200 rounds at the 6 terrorists barricaded in the home - which caught fire from tear gas canisters tossed into the home.  All six refused to surrender and died in the standoff.

1998 - NY Yankee pitcher David Wells becomes the 13th player in modern major league baseball history to throw a perfect game.

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