Saturday, May 19, 2012

Quick Hits - May 19, 2012

The G8 meetings are underway at Camp David - as President Obama and the leaders of the other major economic powers discuss issues that range from the Eurocrisis, Syria, Iran's nuclear ambitions, and Afghanistan.....oh, and as referenced in yesterday's QH, Barack Obama's efforts to get the G8 to actively work for his reelection this November.

Barack Obama has joined with his socialist ally, the new French President Francois Hollande, to push on the Euro leadership, in particular German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to lessen on the demands for austerity to address the debt crisis, and instead promote additional government spending in 'stimulus' efforts to 'promote economic growth'.

In a meeting with President Obama, President Hollande also confirmed that France will be withdrawing their 3,500 combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012.  This fulfills a campaign promise that Hollande made during this past election. 

This should not come as a complete surprise as former French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in January he would also consider a withdrawal from Afghanistan for French troops after an Afghani soldier shot and killed 4 French soldiers.
The sense of French wavering was felt strongly in Kabul. Mr. Sarkozy’s talk of leaving early, even if rhetorical, “is not very good in terms of alliance cohesion,” said a Western official in Kabul, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media.

An early French withdrawal could lay bare “real cracks in the coalition,” the official said, at a time when the alliance is seeking a cohesive position to end the war.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has suggested that in addition to the national elections currently scheduled for June 17th, Greece should also hold a national referendum on either staying with the Euro or leaving the Euro. 

This announcement, which Berlin originally denied being made, is making Greek politicians furious.  They are seeing this as just the latest evidence of outsiders meddling in internal Greek affairs.  The leader of the far left Syriza party is playing up this 'evidence'....
"I don't believe in heroes or saviours," says Alexis Tsipras, "but I do believe in fighting for rights … no one has the right to reduce a proud people to such a state of wretchedness and indignity."
As reference before, Alex Tsipras seems to be more and more confident that the EU will blink first in the showdown over Greece honoring the commitments made by the previous government in order to receive the EU bailout.  He also believes that the EU will continue to bailout Greece's debt obligations to avoid the pain of a Greek default which would reverberate throughout the zone and likely push other troubled countries over the edge.  Given the past history of kicking the can down the road to avoid pain now - he might be right.

In Greece, indeed much of the EU, just as it is in the US, the political and economic battle remains one between capitalism and statism. 

Last December, I did a very popular post on 'Wargaming the 2012 Election' which took a very early look at the President Obama's reelection efforts which are hinging on a dozen key swing states.  I am working on an update for that post which will be coming in early June - looking at these same dozen swing states as well as some of the new dynamics over the last six months which could have an impact of the President's reelection.

The Washinton Times takes their own look at this issue in an editorial that says that President Obama's Electoral 'Lock' is about to be picked. 
The Obama campaign has had to deal with a rash of bad news lately. A souring economy combined with a series of gaffes and missteps has made the president look weak and defensive. Poll numbers are down and anxiety is rising in some Democratic quarters.

Fear not, others counsel. The Electoral College will save the day. A number of analyses show that even with public opinion evenly divided between the two major candidates, the Democrats’ advantage in the electoral vote count makes victory in November probable if not inevitable for the currant occupant of the White House.

Many models show President Obama with a likely base of 252 electoral votes out of the 270 needed to win. This includes the West coast, all the states northeast of Maryland except for New Hampshire, and seven other states in the Great Lakes region (Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota) the west (Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada) plus Hawaii. The Republican base in the South and West is around 191. This leaves 95 tossup electoral votes of which Mr. Obama needs only 18.

However, those 18 will be hard to get.

Clearly, the continued stagnation of the national economy is going to work against President Obama. The fact that the economy has shown more weakness in the first 4 months of 2012 than the last 4 months of 2011 is not going to help deflect the impression that we are moving in the wrong direction.

The challenge with this type of speculation is that not only are polling information spotty at best in a number of these battleground states, the quality of the polls taken by many pollsters leave a lot to be desired. It's hard to factor in polls that show a higher level of Democrat participation and enthusiasm than shown in 2008 being the case today. Then there are the issues with leading questions which are designed to generate certain responses - responses when compared to other questions in the same poll - leave people shaking their heads as the data points seem conflicting. The real secret, comes from one's ability to anticipate or read the emotions of the electorate.

One critical battle that I believe will have an impact on November will be the Wisconsin recall election of Republican Governor Scott Walker. Wisconsin has been in political turmoil since last spring when the Wisconsin Governor and the Republican majority in the Legislature sought to correct the state's fiscal challenges by making some fundamental changes towards public sector unions - having them pay more for their benefits, limit collective bargaining, and ending payroll deduction of union dues. While these steps have made real positive changes to the state's economic conditions, the anger around these steps resulted in nearly a million recall signatures being submitted by a highly motivated Democrat / Union alliance.

Since that point, however, the effort of the left has not matched that level of enthusiasm. The Republican base in Wisconsin turned out in significantly larger numbers for the primary election as to who would battle in the recall election. State Democrats are complaining that the Democrat National Committee has abandoned supporting the effort. The unions are spending money - but Governor Walker is raising and spending more than the unions. He's also leading in almost every poll by 5 - 7 points. Blue color Wisconsin, thought to be a major supporter for the recall efforts, also seem to be less than enthusiastic. One Wisconsin union member wrote in a letter to the editor of the Hudson Star-Observer that he supports Scott Walker over the 'Marxist' union leadership...
Dear Editor,

Scott Walker supporters are repeatedly accused of being “anti-union.” This union member of 45 years, son of a union organizer and supporter of Gov. Walker and his policies, is not anti-union. The real anti-union sentiment, which is opposed to the genuine, bottom up, pro free-market type of unionism that the Greatest Generation produced, is coming primarily from the corrupt and illegitimate leadership of the national union organizations. Leadership gained through deception and outright union election fraud.

Marxist factions within the labor movement were soundly defeated in 1955, when the recently merged AFL-CIO formally banned Communists from holding office within the union. It didn’t deter the Marxists and their fellow travelers in academia, they just stayed low and kept advancing their revolution. Leftist author Paul Buhle, in his book “Taking Care of Business” confirms that “…many ordinary Communists and Socialists acted heroically…to bring new blood into a tired labor movement.” And that they did.

In 1995, the “New Voices” stole the AFL-CIO national election. Buhle, matter-of-factly reports the theft: “…more than twice the usual number of delegates registered to attend the October AFL-CIO convention….these were not, in large part, ordinary union members or even chosen by union members, but…counted nevertheless.” The newly elected Marxist leaders promptly rescinded the bylaw that banned Communists from holding office.

The bottom line, as Mr. Lancette sees it, is not about union or non-union. "It’s about whether we defeat those who conspire to 'fundamentally transform the United States of America,' or whether we choose to be ruled by 'muscular Socialists.'”
To me, this is one of the first voices of what would have been called in 1980 a 'Reagan Democrat', starting to speak out about the values, direction, and fundamental issue that will dominate not only Wisconsin's recall election, but November 2012.

Not to telegraph my update, I think that Barack Obama and his campaign team should be very very worried - far more worried that Jimmy Carter's team was at this point of 1980.

There are few bigger wastes of taxpayer funds than what is given to NPR - National People's Radio or PBS.  The last thing taxpayer funds should be used to do is to fund what are essentially propaganda arms for Progressive Democrats and their agenda.  The level of left wing bias that exists within these elements is stunning.  One of the biggest practitioners of this media bias is Nina Totenberg.  She's the one who infamously in 1995 wished Jesse Helms to die from AIDS because he voiced an opinion different from hers.  She was also the 'journalist' who 'broke' the Anita Hill story in an effort to derail Clarence Thomas from being appointed to the Supreme Court.

Now she's offering 'expert commentary' over the latest kerfuffle around President Obama, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and the 'horror' of a Republican Super PAC that may run a political ad connecting the President to the odious views of a racist, anti-US, anti-Semitic Reverend whose church Obama attended for over 20 years...

GORDON PETERSON, HOST: Why is Wright off limits?

NINA TOTENBERG, NPR: He’s not off limits, but why is he relevant anymore?

PETERSON: Oh, well okay. That’s another question.

TOTENBERG: Reverend Wright’s biggest sin was talking about 9/11 as if somehow, you know, the United States government was involved, and it was a reprehensible speech in many ways. But, you know, Barack Obama killed, ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden. How is this relevant?

This is incredibly vapid on several levels. Let's start with the obvious - Barack Obama gets a pass because he 'got' Osama Bin Laden? Where else does the OBL card get played and what else does it cover?

Second, it should be clear at this point that there is nothing that the progressive left would like to see sunk down the memory hole than 9/11/01. They want to make it as the attack never happened. We shouldn't commemorate it anymore, and by all means, it's time to stop fighting the 'War on Terror'.

Finally, the primary issue with Reverend Wright is far more about how he used his 'pulpit' to speak out against this country that made him wealthy, spoke out against Jews, and prompted racial divisions...

The progressives in the media is mobilizing to downplay Wright and his relevance to Barack Obama specifically because this relationship is relevant again - and the GOP is not going to give Barack Obama the pass that he got in 2008 on this issue.  If a haircutting prank versus a classmate with long hair in 1965 is relevant against Mitt Romney, then Barack Obama's 20 plus year relationship with this bigoted blowhard is fair game. takes a flashback look at how the mainstream media worked so hard to bury some of the worst of Wright's comments - to hail Obama's 'race speech' of 2008 to 'bridge' the divide...
The networks completely ignored soundbites of Wright’s conspiracy theory about the U.S. government inventing AIDS to kill blacks, and mostly ignored his comments about the September 11 terrorist attacks being "America’s chickens coming home to roost." None of the network morning or evening shows found one opportunity to air Wright’s 2003 sermon accusing the federal government of hiding the truth about their "inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color." His attack on America’s alleged record of terrorism and violence was ignored by all three evening shows, as well as by CBS’s The Early Show.

The broadcast networks gave clips of Obama’s "race speech" on March 18 more than twice as much air time in a few hours than they gave all of the Wright bites aired in the month of March. The evening news shows on March 18 carried almost six minutes (348 seconds) of highlights from the Obama speech, or roughly five times more than all the Wright bites in March. The morning shows carried roughly nine and a half minutes (572 seconds) of sound from the speech. The three morning shows gave almost twice as much time to the Obama speech clips as they devoted to Wright soundbites in March. Combined, Obama’s one speech drew about 15 minutes of clips, while Wright’s years of sermons drew about six minutes.

There seems to be little end to the kerfuffles regarding Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren efforts to promote herself as a Native American or the Obama literary agent who listed from 1991 to 2007 that Barack Obama was born in Kenya.  Both are still trying to be pushed off as minor mistakes that had no real effect on things - but that's not the case.  Both of these issues reflect not only a major character flaw of each - but also just how far into the tank the mainstream media is for a fellow progressive.

Just last week, we witnessed the end result of the outrage over the former CEO of Yahoo reflecting on his resume a university degree in computer science that he did not earn.  For most of us, if we lie about our past - misrepresent some basic fundamental information on a resume or employment application, we risk dismissal.  In academia, if one misrepresents one's research or plagiarizes materials - at the very least one's academic standing is called into question and dismissal is quite likely. 

How or why did that literary agent think that Obama was born in Kenya?  If Harvard didn't factor in Warren's claim of being a Native American, why did they rush to highlight her as one in its diversity reports?

Fundamentally, didn't Obama just seek to make his past a little more 'exotic' - just like Elizabeth Warren?

Mark Steyn takes a run at this in a superb column, 'The Great Barry'....
The more obvious explanation of the variable first line in the eternally shifting sands of Obama’s biography is that, rather than pretending to have been born in Hawaii, he’s spent much of his life pretending to have been born in Kenya. After all, if your first book is an exploration of racial identity and has the working title “Journeys in Black and White,” being born in Hawaii doesn’t really help. It’s entirely irrelevant to the twin pillars of contemporary black grievance — American slavery and European imperialism. To 99.99 percent of people, Hawaii is a luxury-vacation destination and nothing else. Whereas Kenya puts you at the heart of what, in an otherwise notably orderly decolonization process by the British, was a bitter and violent struggle against the white man’s rule. Cool! The composite chicks dig it, and the literary agents.

And where’s the harm in it? Everybody does it — at least in the circles in which Obama hangs. At Harvard Law School, where young Barack was “the first African-American president of The Harvard Law Review,” there’s no end of famous firsts: As The Fordham Law Review reported, “Harvard Law School hired its first woman of color, Elizabeth Warren, in 1995.” There is no evidence that Mrs. Warren, now the Democrats’ Senate candidate, is anything other than 100 percent white. She walks like a white, quacks like a white, looks whiter than white. She’s the whitest white since Frosty the Snowman fell in a vat of Wite-Out. But she “self-identified” as Cherokee, so that makes her a “woman of color.” Why, back in 1984 she submitted some of her favorite dishes to the Pow Wow Chow cookbook, a “compilation of recipes passed down through the Five Tribes families.”

Read it all....

Today in History

1536 - Anne Boleyn, the 2nd wife of King Henry VIII is beheaded after being convicted of adultery.

1588 - The 130 ships of the Spanish Armada sets sail from Lisbon on a mission to secure sea control of the English Channel and transport an invasion army from the Spanish Netherlands into Britain.

1864 - The Battle of Spotsylvania ends as Union General Ulysses S. Grant, tired of being unable to breach the Confederate fortifications, shifts again on another southern flanking movement around the Confederate positions. During the 12 day battle, the Union lost 18,000 men to the Confederate losses of 12,000.

1916 - Great Britain and France secretly reach the Sykes-Picot Agreement which divides most Arab lands under the current role of the Ottoman Empire between Britain and France at the conclusion of the First World War.

1935 - T.E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia, dies from injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident 6 days earlier.

1943 - President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill set a target date for the cross-Channel invasion of France (D-Day) of May 1, 1944.

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