Thursday, May 3, 2012

Quick Hits - May 3, 2012

Newt Gingrich announced the suspension of his GOP Presidential nomination in a 30 minute speech yesterday afternoon from Arlington, Virginia.  The candidate places his campaign on hold faced with nearly $4 million in debt.

However, despite expectations that he would endorse Mitt Romney for President, the former Speaker did not endorse the GOP likely nominee - and offered at best a lukewarm level of support.
"This is not a choice between Mitt Romney and Ronald Reagan," Gingrich said, invoking the president to whom he often compared himself on the campaign trail. "This is a choice between Mitt Romney and the most radical leftist president in American history."
Afterwards, a Gingrich spokesman indicated that the former Speaker would endorse Mitt Romney 'in the coming weeks'.

Fox News's Shepard Smith unloaded on the former Speaker after his campaign speech...

Gingrich faces two real challenges at this point - one is the large campaign debt that he has incurred.  The other is the nature of the campaign that he ran and in particular the inflamed rhetoric he pushed in his effort to derail the Mitt Romney candidacy.  Ultimately, he inflicted far more damage on himself than on the Romney campaign - and the effect on his reputation and character will last long beyond this campaign season.

Later today, former GOP Presidential candidate, Representative Michelle Bachmann, is expected to endorse Mitt Romney as the GOP Presidential choice. 

Earlier this week, I highlighted the challenges that the Democratic candidate for the Massachusetts Senate seat currently held by Republican Scott Brown, Elizabeth Warren, has created for herself over her past history of calling herself a 'Native American' despite any real concrete linkage to that ancestry beyond a claim that her great-great-great-grandmother was a Cherokee (and giving her a 1/32nd link to being a 'Native American'.

Warren seems to continue to operate in violation of the first rule of hole digging...speaking to a local reporter, she also cites her ancestor's 'high cheekbones' as evidence of her Native American heritage.  [Which prompts the question - is she dropping the 1/32nd link as proof of her claim?]  She also explained that she listed herself as a 'Native American' on professional and school directories so she could meet others 'who are like I am'...

Huh? Like you are? What is that? Hard left progressive? Entitled? Class / Status conscious? Arrogant? Untruthful?

Since Warren isn't stopping her digging, the Washington Examiner does a little more digging into Warren's credentials...
That “box checking,” as critics call it, likely played a role in her Harvard hiring especially when her background is compared to those of the other near-100 Harvard Law School professors and assistant professors, according to an analysis of law schools the professors attended. Most graduated from Harvard, and all from the nation’s top 10. Warren graduated from Rutgers University in Newark, ranked 82nd by

What’s more, only Rutgers has current law school professors who graduated from Rutgers. And in the analysis of the law school degrees of the roughly 350 Ivy League law school professors provided by a Warren critic, only one graduated from a lower-ranked law school than Warren, a Yale professor who attended the University of Nebraska Law School, ranked 89.

Two new interesting factoids about the Ivy league - the level of 'inbreeding' at the top law schools - and how much one's pedigree is a factor in hiring decisions.

Allahpundit, writing on Hot Air, asks the $64 question....
Riddle me this. If it was all about making Native American friends in order to get in touch with her roots, why’d she keep up the “minority” listing in that professional directory for fully nine years (1986-1995)? She says she stopped checking it off because the hoped-for socializing never happened, but that’s not a conclusion that should take nine years to arrive at. Also, if she was serious enough about discovering her Cherokee ancestry that she’d describe herself as minority in a faculty listing, she must have been reaching out to the Cherokee community in her spare time too. Makes no sense that the professional listing would be her only attempt to befriend this group of people. So what else did she do in that vein? If the answer’s “nothing,” then it becomes awfully hard to believe this was anything more than her way of adding a diversity credential to her CV.

My call - adding a diversity credential to her CV for 'competitive advantage' purposes. For the liberals in Mass, I'm sure they still see her as a fitting Senate partner to John (Swift Boat) Kerry.

Republican Rep. Darrel Issa released a 64 page draft contempt order targeting Attorney General Eric Holder over his refusal, and that of the Department of Justice, to cooperate with Congressional investigators and committees over the ATF's 'Fast and Furious' gun running program.  This program resulted in thousands of weapons being acquired and transported from the US to Mexican drug cartels - and being used in the murders of hundreds of Mexicans in addition to US law enforcement agents.
The documents specifically charge that Holder's Justice Department has not properly complied with a subpoena sent Oct. 12, 2011, which listed documents requested in 22 categories.

According to the draft contempt order, the department "has yet to provide a single document for 12 out of the 22 categories contained in the subpoena schedule."

The draft order pointed to three categories in particular. Those categories concerned: who among the department's top brass should have known about the "reckless tactics" in Fast and Furious; how department leaders ended up figuring out the program was a bad idea; and how a special task force "failed" to share information that could have supposedly led to key gun-trafficking arrests.

U.S. officials had used the Fast and Furious program to allow firearms to "walk" across the U.S.-Mexico border as part of an anti-gunrunning probe. However, they lost track of many of those weapons, which later turned up at crime scenes on both sides of the border -- including the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

Issa noted that "only 567 of the nearly 2,000 weapons from the operation have been recovered."
Also an issue - the evidence that the AG, under oath, lied about his knowledge and actions about the program that was a foundation around progressive requests for additional gun control legislation being implemented in the United States.

The full draft contempt order is at this LINK.

Barack Obama inherited everything from George W. Bush - - - - except the intelligence network that tracked down Osama Bin Laden.

Any worries or concerns over the Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement that was one of the focal points of the President's campaign trip to Kabul, Afghanistan?  How about the fact that it focused far more on symbolism than substance?  
Which brings us to the ostensible reason for Obama’s trip, the agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, a “legally binding executive agreement, which does not require it to be submitted to the Senate” for approval, according to White House spokesman Tommy Vietor. What it will require from Congress, however, is annual funding of an unspecified amount to support Afghan security forces after the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops in 2014 -- shaky ground on which to base an important national security priority. Congress is easily distracted, the Treasury will be stretched thin for years to come, and the U.S. annual contribution will run tothe billions, not hundreds of millions, of dollars.

What that money will pay for is unclear -- the agreement has no specifics in terms of Afghan troop strength or the pace of the drawdown of U.S. troops. On the latter, we urge expediency: Almost all American combat troops should be brought home as quickly as commanders in the field say is practical and safe, probably sometime in 2013.

The partnership agreement’s expansive provisions on social and economic development are likewise vague and wishful. For starters, getting countries to follow through on their pledges of aid has always been a challenge. According to one assessment, only 43 percent of the $62 billion promised by donors to Afghanistan since 2002 has been disbursed. Rampant corruption has claimed a lot of that money, and the Afghan government’s commitment to fighting it has what the Pentagon describes as “minimal political support.”

In light of that dismal track record, we find it remarkable that the agreement reiterates a commitment to channel “at least 50 percent” of assistance -- one of the pact’s few specific numbers -- through the central government. We would argue instead for making more “on-budget” assistance conditional on progress against corruption, and in the meantime channeling as much aid as possible to those outside Kabul with a demonstrated track record of using such money effectively.

We recognize the symbolic importance of a strong U.S. commitment to Afghanistan’s future. The lack of detail in this “Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement,” however, suggests that it will be anything but. As the clock ticks toward 2014, the Afghan people would be best served if the U.S. and its allies focused more on what works, instead of what just looks good.

A treaty that is not subject to Senate 'advice and consent'. Potentially billions in aid for the next decade plus some continued military ground presence for another decade. Far too few details and substance - but then, this was all for the symbolism in an election year. in cooking the economic books.

The Associated Press is fully invested in supporting (and encouraging) the cooking of the books in order to present the best possible case for the reelection of Barack Obama. They're telegraphing the government's plan regarding jobs data - predicting that the unemployment rate will be 7.9% in November - and that will be great news for the President's reelection since it's down significantly from it's recession high - and the 8.2% we 'officially' have today.
That's the view that emerges from an Associated Press survey of 32 leading economists who foresee a gradually brighter jobs picture. Despite higher gas prices, Europe's debt crisis and a weak housing market, they think the economy has entered a "virtuous cycle" in which hiring boosts consumer spending, which fuels more hiring and spending.
Elizabeth MacDonald, of Fox Business News, hammers the Administration on the job numbers they are providing in Lies, Damned Lies, and Government Job Data...
The U.S. economy is creating jobs, but it is struggling, adding jobs at a rate of just 131,000 a month in 2011, which is not enough to reduce the unemployment rate.

Morici says the U.S. economy “must add 13 million jobs over the next three years -- 362,000 each month -- to bring unemployment down to 6%. GDP would have to increase at a 4% to 5% pace.”

So there you have it.

Since when does a nation’s labor force shrink during a recovery? It should not shrink, it should grow in a recovery. The labor force participation rate is at the rate it was in 1979 and 1982, even around the same rate it was back in 1969, while the worker population has grown dramatically since.

The rate now is 63.8%, trending at the 30-year low it just hit this past January, at 63.7%. Today there are 154.7 million people over age 16 who either have jobs or want jobs, but out of a much bigger total U.S. population of 16 or older, 242.6 million.

That’s around the same level in July 1982, when the labor force participation rate was 65.3%. There were 110.3 million people working or who wanted to work out of a smaller population of 172.2 million people aged 16 or older.

The labor force participation rate has stayed pretty much the same as it was in 1969, at 60.1%, and 63.8% in February 1979, when the total U.S. population of 16 or older was smaller. The same holds true for more than a decade ago, in April, 2000, when the employment-to-population ratio was 64.7%. That’s when the overall population was lower. at 282 million, versus the 310 million today.

One other observation about the labor force participation rate - if the rate was the same in today as it was in January 2009, the 'official' unemployment rate would be 10.6%.

But that's all about the Obama Economic Policy.... If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.

The challenges with our economy do go well beyond just the shenanigans around the jobs data. What about the economic growth of this 'recovery'? What about the economic policies of Obama, Summers, Romer, Geithner, and Goolsbee in terms of 'stimulating' a vibrant economic recovery? In this research paper - there are some real challenges with the real effects of the 'recovery' in terms of economic growth.

Look at this chart...

What is shown is the deep drop in output in the 2007-09 recession, a slow recovery up to the output level of four years ago, but now a trend line at least 12% (about $1.7 trillion in output!) below the prior trend. If not ameliorated, this will imply a permanent loss in incomes and standard of living, via a forever-lowered trajectory for growth in the U.S.

The graph below highlights the years after 1997, including 1997-2000 and its near 4% average real growth, on up to the present, to again show the devastating losses inflicted on the U.S. economy in the last four years:

Change you can believe in...

In the latest effort to influence the Supreme Court of the United States decision regarding the constitutionality of Obamacare's Individual Mandate and healthcare reform, the Administration is now warning the SCOTUS that overturning the legislation by the court would have major consequences for Medicare's payment systems...
In papers filed with the Supreme Court, administration lawyers have warned of “extraordinary disruption” if Medicare is forced to unwind countless transactions that are based on payment changes required by more than 20 separate sections of the Affordable Care Act.

Tom Scully, Medicare chief during former President George W. Bush’s first term, does not foresee major problems, although he acknowledges it would be a “nightmare” for agency bureaucrats.

“It is highly unlikely in the short term that any health plan or provider would suffer,” said Scully. “They’re probably likely to get paid more going forward. If you look at the way the law was (financed), it was a combination of higher taxes and lower (Medicare) payments. That’s what you would be rolling back.”
Creating turmoil to justify their policy agenda?  From this Administration?

Nah - that would like an Administration that launched a program like - - - Fast and Furious to create a justification for more gun control....

Back on healthcare - remember during the debate throughout most of 2009 and into 2010 regarding the program?  One of the major initial goals was to invoke a 'single payor' where healthcare is completely administered by the federal government.  Even though the hard left progressives backed down from that model in Obamacare - they seem to be using intended unintended consequences to promote the key aspects of their agenda...

Companies would save billions by dropping employee health coverage...
On a confidential basis, 71 Fortune 100 companies supplied information to the committee regarding the cost and coverage of their health insurance plans. The committee used the data to calculate the potential savings of dumping employees into the exchanges and paying the employer mandate penalty.

The report’s findings will likely scare the many Americans who like their current employer-sponsored insurance. The report concludes that companies could save $28.6 billion in 2014 alone by dumping their employees into the exchanges.

Moreover, the savings grow over time: Between 2014 and 2023, dropping health coverage would collectively save these companies $422.4 billion—and that’s after paying the penalty.

According to the report, in 2011, the average per-employee cost of providing health insurance to these companies was $5,197 after taxes and is expected to increase to $6,487 in 2014. The employer mandate costs only $2,000 per full-time employee. The financial incentive to forgo offering health insurance coverage to employees is obvious and enormous.
This is the executive of the Cloward-Piven create so much turmoil and issues that the only 'solution' acceptable is to invest more power and more control in the Federal Government to 'solve' the problems.  As the former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel was so fond of saying - 'Don't let a crisis go to waste'.

In France - the only Presidential debate before Sunday's Presidential election took place last night.  The Socialist candidate Francois Hollande and incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy spent three hours debating the major issues of the election - in particular the fiscal status of France and the Eurozone.

Trailing in the polls, President Sarkozy needed a dominating debate in order to rebound - but he was met by his challenger who performed far better than expected in the tough and wide ranging debate. 

The Economist concludes their review of the debate performance saying...
Mr Sarkozy’s real difficulty was that Mr Hollande kept turning the debate back to the incumbent’s own record. It was missing the point, he said, to declare that France was doing less badly than Spain or Italy: unemployment and debt have soared on Mr Sarkozy’s watch. “With you,” snapped Mr Hollande, “it’s very simple: it’s never your fault.”

For a voter who doesn’t share Mr Hollande’s logic, his performance last night won’t have made any difference. What it did, though, is show him to be more solid, and have a firmer grasp of detail and a tougher temperament than the image that even his own friends were once happy to spread—before he started to look like a winner.

There was no single killer strike, nor gaffe, last night; both contesters played hardball, and for once dealt with the issues. But my view is that, for Mr Sarkozy, this will not be enough. As Christophe Barbier, editor of L’Express magazine noted last night, he needed to dominate his opponent, not just to match him. And, on that score, he did not succeed.

If elected, M. Hollande will be providing us with more proof that Keynesian economics doesn't work.

Wrapping up today - we feature a video of Michelle Malkin debating Juan Williams over the May Day Occupy protests. Juan Williams attempts to compare the OccupyWallStreet Movement with the Tea Party movement. The result is predictably one-sided, but very entertaining...

Restore and preserve versus tear down and destroy. The contrast could not be more clear and it’s a disgrace that people who consider themselves to be mainstream Democrats would support or defend a movement as transparently anti-American as this.

This Day in History

1921 - West Virginia imposes the first state sales tax.

1942 - The Battle of Coral Sea begins - two Japanese invasion forces move out, one occupies Tulagi and Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, the other moves to launch an attack on the Allied base at Port Moresby, New Guinea.  This 2nd force, escorted by 2 large and 1 small Japanese aircraft carriers are countered by a US Navy task force built around the aircraft carriers USS Lexington and USS Yorktown.  This was the first naval battle fought entirely by air - neither fleet directly saw the opposing fleet.

1992 - The Los Angeles riots end - the days of arson and looting resulted in 53 deaths.

2006 - Called the 20th hijacker, al-Qaeda member Zacarias Moussaoui was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the 9/11/01 terror attack on the United States.

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