Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Quick Hits - May 9, 2012 - BREAKING NEWS

May 8th wasn't a major primary / election day.  It's not 'Super Tuesday' - and for all practical purposes the race for who will challenge President Barack Obama this November ended when Rick Santorum suspended his campaign leaving Mitt Romney as the presumptive GOP nominee.  However, the elections yesterday were quite informative - and none of that information bodes well for President Obama's reelection bid.

North Carolina became the 30th state to pass a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage - with about 60% voting in favor of defining marriage as only being between one man and one woman.  6 states plus the District of Columbia permit same-sex marriage - but only 1 of these states has done so through the legislative process.  The other states had same-sex marriage imposed via judicial fiat.

Six term Republican Senator for Indiana, Dick Lugar, lost his effort to get his party's nomination for a 7th Senate term, losing to challenger Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock who had substantial support by the various Tea Party's throughout Indiana.  With 80% of the vote counted, Mourdock had 60% of the vote compared to Lugar's 40%. 

In the primaries before next month's recall election for Governor, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett soundly defeated the union candidate, Kathleen Falk, for the right to represent the Democrat Party in their effort to bounce Republican Scott Walker from the governorship.  Walker, handily won his primary setting up a repeat of the November 2010 matchup that Scott Walker won.

The surprising news in the West Virginian primary election results is that four out of ten West Virginian Democrats voted for a man who is currently in prison in Texas over President Obama.  The convicted felon carried at least 10 of the state's counties and will have delegates for the DNC convention later this summer in North Carolina.

Think about these implications.  The only clearer way West Virginia Democrats could have expresses their dissatisfaction with the policies and record of President Obama would have been to have defeated him in the primary. 40% of the vote went for a person currently serving time in prison.  Why do you think so many in West Virginia, home to a Democrat Governor, two Democrat Senators, would vote against the President?  Perhaps it has to do with the effect his policies are having on that state - particularly around the Administration's war on fossil fuels.

In the Administration's own words and picture's - the President's 'All of the Above' energy strategy is not an 'All of the Above' strategy...

A larger view focused on the graph...

Let me give you a hint. It’s dark, hard, comes out of the ground, and creates jobs for hundreds of thousands of Americans. That’s right — coal. But hey, that’s no big deal, right? We don’t rely much on coal in the US. Why, it only accounts for, er … 46% of all electricity produced in the US:

Coal provides 46 percent of U.S. electric power generation, providing power for more than 60 million homes and 3.4 million businesses. The U.S. uses 979.6 million short tons of coal to generate 1,850.8 billion kilowatt hours of electricity.

Direct and indirect employment generated by U.S. coal mining accounts for 555,270 jobs, for a combined payroll of $36.3 billion.

In fact, that Team Obama graphic is terribly misleading. According to EIA statistics for 2010, 88.3% of all electrical production came from coal, natural gas, and nuclear power. Wind only accounted for 2.3%, while solar power didn’t even account for enough for one decimal place, amounting to just 0.0294% of all electricity produced in the US for the year. Biofuels added 1.4%.

Coal is a huge industry in West Virginia - and the workers in coal are union members, mainly Democrats, and far from being part of the 1%.  They are however, going to lose their jobs over the Admin's war on fossil fuels like coal - and they are going to be negatively impacted by soaring electricity prices.

The recall election of Scott Walker found it's genesis in the legislation and policies of Governor Walker and state Republicans to lessen the stranglehold that public sector unions had on the state, municipal, and school district funding and budget processes.  Those unions in particular seethed against Walker over his success, despite the 'fleebaggers', to weaken the unions power and wealth.  But not only did the favored union candidate get soundly defeated by the liberal Mayor of Milwaukee, but only about half of the 900,000+ who signed the recall petitions even bothered to vote Democratic in yesterday's primary.

In an election next month that will depend on voter enthusiasm, Republican Walker gained more votes cast than both of the top 2 Democrat candidates did combined - and with 80% of the vote counted, only trailed the entire sum of Democrat votes by 8,000.  Clearly there is more enthusiasm and momentum going for Scott Walker than the Democrats - particularly a tax and spend liberal who lost by over 5 points in November 2010 - and is advocating more taxes (including higher property taxes) and more spending.

Indiana's election results gives us a confirmation that the Tea Party movement is not dead.  One of the biggest issues promoted by the Tea Party is there displeasure with the traditional GOP leadership and icons.  They believe that many of these have lost touch with the voter they are supposed to be representing.  They believe that many also are seeking compromise at all costs, going along to get along, as opposed to standing on principles and fighting for what they believe in.  To Indiana Republicans, the 80 year old Dick Lugar was one of these who lost touch, did not represent them, and was far too willing to appease and compromise.

Lugar was all of those things - but in addition, he was someone who clearly overstayed their welcome and their purpose in DC.  He seemed to think the Senate seat was his - not that of the people of Indiana.  That makes him part of the problem in DC - not part of the solution.  Frankly, at the age of 80, RETIRE already.  The Senate is the institution - not you.

North Carolina is going to be hosting the 2012 Democrat National Convention later this summer.  It was a state that went for George W. Bush in 2004 - but Barack Obama in 2008.  Yet, the voters of the state clearly approved a constitutional amendment that barred same-sex marriage.  We can ask ourselves as to how long it will before gay groups and their supporters start petitioning and demanding the DNC to move the convention from the state, but even in this, there is a message for President Obama.

A major part of this message is related to the President's 'present' vote when it comes to the topic of same-sex marriage.  Through yesterday, the President would not specifically endorse same-sex marriage - though he would couch it by also saying he opposed discrimination based on sexual preference.  He maintained this position despite pressure from advocacy groups wanting same-sex marriage - because he knows that many in other elements of his base, Blacks and Hispanics, oppose same-sex marriage.

We spoke yesterday of WH Press flack Jay Carney saying that the President's view on the issue was 'evolving'.  That evolution is continuing as the President is said today to be disappointed by the NC voting results...
“The President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same sex couples," North Carolina campaign spokesman Cameron French said in a statement. "He believes the North Carolina measure singles out and discriminates against committed gay and lesbian couples, which is why he did not support it."

"President Obama has long believed that gay and lesbian couples deserve the same rights and legal protections as straight couples and is disappointed in the passage of this amendment," she added.

In breaking news this morning...
President Obama is expected to discuss his position on same-sex marriage during a hastily arranged interview at the White House Wednesday afternoon, a source close to the president told Fox News.

The source, who is a Democratic adviser outside the White House, said Obama during this interview is likely to go further than he has in the past on the controversial topic.

"He'll make some news," the source said. "He's not just going to talk about old ground ... and will not be rehashing" his old position.

Whether that means Obama will endorse gay marriage, or offer a more nuanced position, is unclear.

Is this evolution happening before our eyes? Or more dancing on the head of a pin to avoid taking a stand?

Apparently, it's more of the latter. Punting a real decision until when he can't be held accountable for it.
Snr. Obama Advisor reported – Obama will ‘certainly’ endorse same-sex marriage ‘after the election’…
President Obama today announced that he now supports same-sex marriage, reversing his longstanding opposition amid growing pressure from the Democratic base and even his own vice president.

In an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts, the president described his thought process as an “evolution” that led him to this place, based on conversations with his own staff members, openly gay and lesbian service members, and conversations with his wife and own daughters.

Political expediency wins again....

Painting oneself into a corner, digging a hole for oneself - and rather than stop digging in order to climb out, one redoubles their efforts to dig their way out - all of these depict those who trap themselves and just cannot admit their mistake and move on.  Fauxcahontas, Elizabeth Warren, is still trying to do this from her claim that she is a Native American, based on a at best 3% claim (see below, it might only be 1.5%) made by an ancestor and her grandfather's high cheekbones.

Officials at Harvard Law are trying hard to help - telling all who will listen that even though the school touted her as their only 'Native American' on staff, that her claimed minority status had nothing to do with why she was hired - it was entirely based on her merit as a professor.

However, the IBD has an editorial today that looks at this record and her merits based on her scholarship - and it raises some interesting questions.
In fact, colleagues and media for years have complained about her scholarship. It's notoriously sketchy. And so is her pedigree.

First the research. Claiming to be an "authority" on bankruptcy law, Warren has written papers and books wildly inflating the role medical bills play in personal bankruptcies.

A Northwestern University peer review of her 2005 paper on the subject, for example, ripped it apart, arguing "the methods were so poor they gave cover to those who want to dismiss the problems of the uninsured — they can say the only paper out there uses a suspect method."

This begs the question: If Warren's scholarship is so deeply lacking academic vigor, how did she land a full professorship at Harvard?

Her curriculum vitae shows she bounced from college to college, working as a lecturer or researcher, for a full decade after graduating from Rutgers Law, ranked 82nd by (She got her bachelor's degree from the University of Houston, one of the least competitive colleges in the country).

She was offered a full professorship after she started listing herself as a minority. Harvard hired her in the mid-1990s, when the school was under fire for not having enough minority professors.

Did the minority listing give her a leg up? It appears pretty obvious it did, especially in light of the fact Harvard Law today says it has one (unidentified) faculty member of Native American heritage.

Read it all for more details - but one does have to wonder.

Also telling, Ms. Warren is now trying to dodge the issue - particularly since the purposed claim to connection is starting to fail real investigation....
For over a quarter of a century, Elizabeth Warren has described herself as a Native American. When recently asked to provide evidence of her ancestry, she pointed to an unsubstantiated claim on an 1894 Oklahoma Territory marriage license application by her great-great grand uncle William J. Crawford that his mother, O.C. Sarah Smith Crawford, Ms. Warren's great-great-great grandmother, was a Cherokee.

After researching her story, it is obvious that her "family lore" is just fiction.

As I pointed out in my article here on Sunday, no evidence supports this claim. O.C. Sarah Smith Crawford had no Cherokee heritage, was listed as "white" in the Census of 1860, and was most likely half Swedish and half English, Scottish, or German, or some combination thereof. (Note, the actual 1894 marriage license makes no claim of Cherokee ancestry.)

But Paul Reed, a Utah genealogist who is a fellow at the American Genealogical Society, said he found primary documentation that shows Warren’s great-great-great grandfather Jonathan Crawford served in a Tennessee militia unit that rounded up Cherokees before they were force-marched to Oklahoma in the infamous “Trail of Tears.”

“Jonathan H. Crawford did serve in the Indian wars,” said Reed. “He is listed as serving in the company that rounded up Cherokees.”

Thousands of Native Americans died after they were forced to relocate under the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Warren’s family link to the genocidal exodus was first reported yesterday by conservative websites and

Warren also brushed off Brown’s demand to release her law school and job applications.

“If Scott Brown has a question about my qualifications for my job, he can talk to the people who hired me,” Warren said.

It seems the one's that hired her are almost as bad as she is.

Global markets are down today as more concerns are coming forward regarding the Eurocrisis - particularly around Greece and the statements of the leader of the Greek far left party yesterday which pronounced Greece's compliance with the bailout agreement as 'null and void'.

Greece is going to need another multi-billion portion of the bailout in mid-June when another series of debt obligations becomes due.  The EU, ECB, and IMF hold the purse strings for that bailout - and cannot be reacting well to the announcement that Greece will not fulfill their obligations towards the agreement...which include undertaking major reforms and austerity measures around government spending and entitlements. 

What does the Greek far left, which is working now at forming a government, see as a solution to the problem?  As opposed to cuts, they seek to increase taxes on the wealthy to generate additional government revenues to fund more spending, more government hires (propose to add at least 150,000 unemployed to the government rolls), and more entitlement programs.  They are also looking to blackmail the Germans who they believe are willing to anything to keep Greece in the EU, and keep Greeks buying German goods and products.

There are several major and fundamental problems with this approach.  Doubling, trebling, or quadrupling down on the same fiscal irresponsibility that created the Greek debt crisis will not solve it.  Hike taxes?  The wealthy also happen to be the most mobile in the Greek society so they will use that mobility in many cases to go elsewhere.  Government revenues will decline - not increase.

Then there is the other side of the gamble that they are taking with Germany and the rest of the EU, ECB, and IMF.  What if the latter come to the conclusion that the pain of having Greece in the systems is greater than the pain of letting Greece leave the EU?

That, my friends, seems to be the point where Germany is at today...

Germany is now telegraphing that it is set to cut Greece loose from the EU and Euro if they renege on the bailout package agreement from March.  They are willing to gamble that as Greece fails - the systems are in place to help prevent Spain, Portugal, Italy, and France from following Greece into bankruptcy.

As we talked yesterday, austerity, which hasn't really been tried in Europe, isn't the only step towards a solution for these countries in a debt crisis.  They also need to fundamentally reform how they operate in order to stimulate private sector growth within their countries.

Here's an example from France that demonstrates how bad the Euro state has gotten regarding private sector operations and growth....
Here’s a curious fact about the French economy: The country has 2.4 times as many companies with 49 employees as with 50. What difference does one employee make? Plenty, according to the French labor code. Once a company has at least 50 employees inside France, management must create three worker councils, introduce profit sharing, and submit restructuring plans to the councils if the company decides to fire workers for economic reasons.

Sadly, we're on this same path here in the US under President Obama.

More grim news on the US economy...

Remember the disappointing 1st quarter 2012 GDP growth of only 2.2% - less than anticipated after the last quarter of 2011 surged to a 3% growth rate? Goldman Sachs is now saying that the 1st Quarter 2012 GDP growth rate really was only 1.9%.

Hot Air has a story up on a young OWS supporter being very patiently educated by a refugee from the former Soviet Union - gaining an education in history, politics, economics, and statecraft he clearly never got in any of the schools he attended.

Watch it all...

The article also links a couple of photo essays of OccupyLA's May Day festivities - Ringo and Zombie....
Check out the pictures - they aren't all that different from the one's I've taken at the LA anti-war demonstrations in years past.  Here are some shots from Ringo and Zombie - but hit their links for the full essay's.  They, and the OWS supporter above, show all that we need to know about OWS...and how it's nothing like the Tea Party....

This Day in History

1671 - Thomas 'Captain' Blood tries to steal Britain's Crown Jewels - he and 3 accomplices gained entry into the Jewel House, but are uncovered and apprehended when they tried to flee with several of the Crown Jewels.

1955 - West Germany joins NATO

1974 - The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee opens impeachment hearings against President Richard Nixon over the scandal / cover-up around the bungled burglary of the DNC offices located in the Watergate complex in Washington DC on June 23, 1972.  President Nixon would resign in August 1974 before being the 2nd President to be impeached.

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