Tuesday, May 29, 2012

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 Newsbusters.org...

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 slogan....in 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 CNBC.com 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.

No comments:

Post a Comment