Friday, May 18, 2012

Quick Hits - May 18, 2012

The big news today for many is Facebook's IPO - the 2nd largest IPO in US history.

The hype about this is interesting, particularly since I am wondering just what kind of a future Facebook has.

But there is one aspect of the Facebook IPO that is not worth celebrating - and is not worthy of this country or its values.  That is the punitive tax that Democrat Senators Chuckie Schumer (NY) and Bob Casey (PA) want to impose on Eduardo Severin, a co-founder of Facebook, after he renounced his US citizenship last September and chose to reside in low-tax Singapore.  This goes beyond the usual class warfare claptrap that is becoming far too commonplace from 1% Democrats - as the Wall Street Journal notes in the opinion piece 'The Saverin Lesson'...
Perhaps he really has fallen in love with the humidity, the 12 hours of night and day year-round, and the lack of press freedom. But it's also true that Singapore has no capital gains tax, while President Obama wants to raise America's rate to nearly 24%—and 30% if his Buffett Rule becomes law. Then there is Mr. Obama's plan for a 44% dividend tax and 45% estate tax.

Whatever Mr. Saverin's motivation, the more important point is that it is his decision, however misguided. America was built on millions of similar individual decisions to come to our shores. It is precisely that ability to decide for oneself that has made America such a magnet for two centuries.

The way to continue to be a magnet for the best and brightest is not to impose Soviet-style exit taxes to punish people who want to leave the country. That is what oppressive and demagogic regimes do, and it's humiliating to see U.S. Senators posture in such fashion. The way to punish Mr. Saverin is to make the U.S. so appealing and dynamic again that he'll be sorry he ever left.
But class warfare remains, along with Blaming Bush, one of the main meme's of the Obama reelection campaign.  Bill O'Reilly opened his O'Reilly Factor Talking Points Memo addressing Vice President Joe Biden's class warfare rhetoric...

Ann Coulter says that the real class warfare in the country is not rich versus poor, but it's goverment employees versus the taxpayers who pay their salaries...
Working for the government is supposed to be a trade-off: You can't be fired and don't have to exert yourself, but you will receive smaller remuneration than in the private sector, where layoffs are common (especially in the Obama economy!).

Instead, government jobs are safe, secure, pressure-free — and now amazingly lucrative!

Whether it's in Wisconsin, Illinois, California or the nation's capital, today's public-sector workers expect to do little or no work (I'm not counting partying in Las Vegas as "work"), then be lavishly compensated.

Often, the only heavy lifting they do all week is picking up their paychecks.
This is in the 'read it all' category.

But is it really government employees - or the public sector union bosses?  In Los Angeles, the SEIU union bosses, with assists from feckless politicians who covet the union political donations, seem to working on a plan to grow their union membership, enrich themselves, and make Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) the most dangerous airport in America.
The self-proclaimed, “unabashedly progressive” and former union organizer Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (born Antonio Villar), has ceded control over much of Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) over to Service Employees International Union (SEIU) bosses. According to sources, for several years now, SEIU bosses have been running an LAWA-wide hiring hall known as First Source Hiring Program. When LAX employers attempt security verification of employees received from First Source, SEIU boss Mike Garcia threatens retaliation for the security conscious employers…

… LAX service providers must agree with union officials’ demands or they will be forced to pay for any LAWA costs incurred controlling union rallies, attempts to disrupt the airport passengers, businesses, traffic or any other union-directed nuisances or damages.

No security background checks, no verification of one's legal right to work in the US, and no employment background checks unless the LAX service providers pay the SEIU for the 'privilege' to do what should be commonplace and common sense/ particularly in an airport? Oh, and all of those employees now have to pay union dues to the SEIU...

The end justifies the means.

Like with the President's media enforcers - key among them the Washington Post and the New York Times...
Yesterday, The New York Times ran a front page above the fold story accusing “Joe Ricketts, the founder of the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade” of commissioning a “$10 million plan” to “do exactly what John McCain would not let us do,” meaning run commercials linking Obama to incendiary comments by his spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The Times was also sure to note that Ricketts “is also the patriarch of the family that owns the Chicago Cubs.”

The response from the Obama campaign and the rest of the leftist noise machine was swift and unrelenting.

But The New York Times story was completely bogus. Yes, Ricketts is funding a Super PAC called Ending Spending Action Fund that plans to attack Obama’s fiscal record. Yes, media consultant Fred Davis did prepare a presentation about an ad campaign centered around Rev. Wright. But Ricketts never asked anybody, including Davis, for any proposal on Rev. Wright. He did not pay Davis to come up with the plan. He was not even at the meeting where Davis presented his plan. All Ricketts did was announce that he wanted to spend $10 million communicating about Obama’s record as president of the United States. And for that crime, The New York Times, and their liberal allies on cable TV and in the non-profit community, have labeled him, and every company he owns racist.

Attacking Reverend Wright's anti-US, anti-Semitic, and black nationalist views is now racist? Linking Barack Obama to the 20 plus years attending Rev. Wright's church is racist? By this definition, it's now racist to link Obama to terrorist Bill Ayers or communists Frank Marshall Davis or Saul Alinsky? Isn't the black liberation / black nationalist theory as promoted by Rev. Wright and James H. Cone really racist?

Charles Krauthammer reacted on FNC's Special Report last night...
Reacting to Mitt Romney’s discomfort toward proposed independent expenditure ads reminding Americans of President Obama’s connections to Reverend Jeremiah Wright, on FNC Thursday night Charles Krauthammer delivered a rebuke to the media’s presumption raising Wright would be illegitimate. Krauthammer sure didn’t hold back:
I think there is an appalling double standard here. It’s okay for the Washington Post to run a five thousand word front page story on a prank that Romney, at the age of 15, committed. And yet it’s somehow illegitimate, the low road or whatever, for people to bring up the fact that the adult Obama had a 20-year relationship with a racist anti-American preacher whom he considered, spoke about, wrote about as his mentor and spiritual advisor.
“That,” Krauthammer emphasized, “is a double standard unlike any I’ve ever seen.”
The Obama campaign isn't much better.  Remember that Obama hit ad blaming Mitt Romney for gutting and closing down GST Steel in 2001 - 2 years after Romney left Bain Capital?  The true story of GST Steel, which was not referenced by the Obama campaign, is quite interesting - particularly since it not only shows that GST Steel would have failed years earlier if not for Bain, but that the GST Steel union was a contributor to its shakey fiscal standing.
This week the Obama campaign debuted its attack on Bain Capital, the private-equity firm Mitt Romney founded. Its two-minute ad purports to tell the story of GS Technologies, a Kansas City-based Bain investment that went bankrupt in 2001.

To hear the Obama campaign, this is a tale of greed: GST was a healthy, happy, quality steelmaker until Bain plundered its worth and stripped its 750 workers of their due. "It was like a vampire," laments one former employee in the ad. "They came in and sucked the life out of us."

The late 1990s saw a new outpouring of cheap steel from elsewhere around the globe. The Asian financial crisis walloped the mining industry, cutting demand for GST products. The price of GST's electricity and natural gas skyrocketed. The union dug in, refusing to make concessions. By April 1997, it was on strike, shooting bottle rockets at guards. Labor costs spiked, and by 1999 GSI was reporting $53 million in net losses.

In 2001 it would become one of 31 steel companies that went bankrupt from 1993 to 2003. (Mr. Romney left Bain in 1999.) The steel crash was the economic drama du jour, with Congress railing about "dumping."

At the time, GST's union blamed the company's bankruptcy on the political class, for failing to hamstring imports. "We can't compete against the steel imports that are being sold under cost," said the president of GST's union in 2001. "Our pleas fell on deaf ears in the political arena." The Bush administration would ultimately slap on giant tariffs.

The bankruptcies were led by unionized companies that, like airlines and textiles and Detroit, had negotiated pay and benefits that helped drive their employers under.

A private-equity firm looking to quickly strip value from a company—to "suck" the life out of it—does not do so by investing $100 million in modernization and holding on for eight years, through bankruptcy. Bain has surely made its share of mistakes, and one may well have been trying to resuscitate a traditional steel firm in the grip of industry upheaval. The irony, says Mr. Huselton, is that this plant "wouldn't even be in today's news, if it hadn't been the opportunity that came with Bain. Those jobs would have been gone in 1993."

That's a more revealing story—of the pressures of a global market, the dangers of an inflexible workforce, and the opportunities that come with private equity and risk-taking. It's just not one Team Obama wants to tell.
Then there is the Obama Administration's willingness to put its own self-promotion ahead of our national security...
When they published their revealing book last August about the nation’s fight against terrorism, the authors, two New York Times national security reporters, immediately felt heat from the Pentagon for dishing too much operational info about the killing of Osama bin Laden.

“I was stopped by a very senior officer in the special operations community who basically wanted to rip my lungs out,” said Thom Shanker, who co-authored “Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America's Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda,” with Eric Schmitt.

But, he revealed at a counter terrorism expo this week, the info came directly and officially from the White House, not some garbage can digging operation. “I said to him, ‘Sir, that information came officially to us from the podium at the White House,’” Shanker said.

He added, “Your civilian leaders make choices about describing missions, perhaps for their own partisan political ends, perhaps to show the nation that their tax dollars are being spent well, but that’s the way it is.”

“The media’s got a pretty good record there,” said Schmitt, the Times’ national security reporter. He said that a number of NYT stories have been held and that the paper’s publisher is pressed by President Obama to delay publication “in some cases."

Associated Press reporter Eileen Sullivan added that when a story threatens lives and the Pentagon or White House seek a delay in publishing, “we almost always comply.”
Only when the occupant of the White House has a 'D' after his name.  If its a 'R', then all bets are off.

Oh, self-promotion of the President and his reelection campaign over what's best for the nation?
On condition of anonymity, a senior EU official told Reuters it felt as if the Obama administration wanted the G8 to cooperate in the reelection campaign. "They see the debt crisis as the biggest likely drag on the U.S. economy between now and November," the official said, "and so they basically want to make sure that we find a way of muddling through."

More newe reflective of the US and Californian economic challenges - Hewlett Packard is to cut 8% of its workforce. 30,000 jobs to be lost.

Mitt Romney's campaign team releases a new advert - What President Romney would do on DAY ONE -

PJ Media's Roger L. Simon has a great post up about the's uncovering of Barack Obama's literary agent advertising from 1991 to 2007 that he was born in Kenya...and why this might have taken place...
But whatever he did, the question remains. Why did they put “Born in Kenya” in his bio and leave it there until 2007? The latter part of that question can of course be ascribed to normal human sloth, but the first part — there’s the rub.

Here are the explanations I can think of:
1. Obama told them.
2. It was in some early draft of Obama’s abandoned book (Journeys in Black and White) he submitted to them.
3. Obama wrote it in his book proposal to them.
4. Obama told them in a query letter.
5. Obama answered one of those biographical forms.
6. … Well, I’m running out because they all amount to the same thing.

There is one other possibility. The agents simply made up the place of Obama’s birth, but I have never in all my life heard of a literary agent doing such a thing. It’s possible I suppose, but hardly likely. And why?

Anyway, per Occam’s Razor, I am going with the obvious — the agent’s source for Obama’s birthplace was… Barack Obama.
But again why? Why would he lie about where he was born?

Yes, I know that’s not “fair,” in the lexicon of the Lord of Fairness, to have adopted a phony identity and deprived others of an opportunity they may have more richly deserved. But it would certainly fit with Obama’s early need to be recognized as a Kenyan by his agent and, presumably, his publisher. As we all know, it’s not the crime, but the cover-up. (In this case, actually, it’s both.)

As time went on, of course, college drifted away and politics reared its head. The Kenyan identity became less necessary, even a liability, so it was dropped.

I don’t know about you — but this makes sense to me. It also fits with the tomb-like silence around his college years.

This says what I implied on the 17th far better.

BRINKMANSHIP - The head of Greece's radical left party—throwing down a gauntlet that could increase tensions between Greece and its frustrated European creditors—said he sees little chance Europe will cut off funding to the country but that if it does, Athens will stop paying its debts.

His 'offer' to the EU?  Keep sending us money that we will never repay to fund our entitlement systems or else we will cause you as much pain as possible by defaulting on our debt obligations to you. 

So will the EU destroy itself just to save the common currency?

It's time for the EU to call Greece - and stop throwing more money down that rabbit hole. Syriza's solution for Greece's domestic economic problems are purely Keynesian in nature - just as Obama's 'solutions' for the US are. Those 'solutions' haven't worked here - we've not spent our way into fiscal responsibility or a vibrant economic recovery - and they will not work in Greece. Greece is bankrupt - and has to embrace a real 'fundamental change' in how it operates. That means no more paying 14 months of benefits / salaries for 12 months, no more retirements at nearly full salary at the age of 55, and a government that spends within its means - and lowers taxes / shrinks government to promote growth.

Today's last note - The European Union is being asked to intervene in a case to stop the Palestinian Authority from executing a man whose crime was to sell land in Hebron to Jewish families... Who are the oppressive one's in the region?

Today in History

1565 – A 200 ship armada from the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire arrived off the island of Malta – bringing 40,000 men to capture Malta from its 6,000 to 9,000 defenders – focused mainly on the 600 Knights of Malta. The plan was to take Malta, evict the Spanish from Tunis, then invade Sicily and Italy. However, the defenders of Malta defeated the Ottoman invasion over 4 months of battles / sieges – the first major defeat suffered by the Ottoman Turks in over a century.

1863 - Vicksburg, the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River is surrounded by Union General Ulysses S. Grant's Army. The city would surrender on July 4th.

1896 - The Supreme Court of the United States rules 7-1 that a Louisiana law providing for 'equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races' on its railroad cars is constitutional. The decision on Plessy v. ferguson is a major victory for proponents of racial segregation. 1954's ruling on Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka would strike down the precedent set by Plessy.

1944 - The Polish Corps takes Monte Cassino - a major stronghold on the German defensive 'Gustav Line' formed to protect Rome from the Allied advance up Italy.

1958 - Team Lotus makes its Formula One debut at the Monaco Grand Prix - Team Lotus will go on to be one of the most successful teams in Formula One history.

1974 - India joins the nuclear club - exploding their first atomic bomb.

1980 - Mount St. Helens erupts in Washington state - killing 57 people.

1989 - One million protesters take to the streets of Beijing to call for a more democratic political system in the PRC.

1998 - The US Federal government, and 20 states, filed a major anti-trust case against Microsoft Corporation citing that the success of Windows, on 90% of the computers, constituted a ‘choke hold’ on competitors and denied consumer choices.

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