Monday, June 11, 2012

Quick Hits - June 11, 2012

Happy Monday!

It's the start of a new week - and Barack Obama has to be wondering if he might enjoy a 'good' week since it's been quite a time since he's had one.

Let's consult the Magic 8 ball to see if this week will be a 'good' week for President Obama....

What could be giving the Magic 8 ball this impression?

One of the headlines from the Washington Times - House moving to hold Holder in contempt...
The House of Representatives is moving forward with proceedings to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress — a major escalation in the separation-of-powers battle over “Fast and Furious,” the Obama administration’s botched gun-walking operation.

Katie Pavlich, writing on, provides some additional details -
The House Oversight Committee led by Chairman Darrell Issa will vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt over Fast and Furious stonewalling on June 20. The vote comes after Issa offered to dismiss the charges so long as Holder complied with an October 2011 Congressional subpoena. Holder has failed to do so. The charges will require a majority vote to pass out of the committee and then will be brought to the House floor for a vote; Speaker Boehner is on board.

More worrisome for the President and the Attorney General, the GOP House leadership is fully onboard with taking this step and moving forward...
“The Justice Department is out of excuses,” Boehner said. “Either the Justice Department turns over the information requested, or Congress will have no choice but to move forward with holding the Attorney General in contempt for obstructing an ongoing investigation.”

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) also weighed in with his support.

"Assuming Attorney General Holder continues to stonewall, we will have no choice but to hold him in contempt for his failure to provide the documents necessary to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again," Cantor said.

As I've noted before, this scandal, made far worse by the actions related to the cover-up, will come to a head at the worst possible time for the President - in the middle of his reelection campaign.

But what's also interesting about this - is that while this is a significant step being taken against a leading member of the Obama Administration, progressive news outlets like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post are either not reporting this story on their websites or, in the case of the WaPo, have the story buried.

Then there are the felony charges of hit and run being filed against Commerce Secretary John Bryson over several accidents he was involved in while in Los Angeles. Statements from the Commerce Department say that the accidents and actions by Secretary Bryson were caused by medical seizures.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson is either operating in denial or arrogance or both as she insists that her policies and regulations are not responsible for the challenges in America's coal industry.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson says that her policies aren’t the cause of stiff headwinds facing the coal industry.

“[I]n my opinion the problem for coal right now is entirely economic,” Jackson tells the Guardian in an interview published Monday.

The comments come as the Senate prepares to vote as soon as this week on Sen. James Inhofe’s (R-Okla.) proposal to overturn EPA rules that require cuts in mercury and other pollutants from coal-fired power plants.

These rules and regulations are hitting hard at a key industry in a number of states that are critical for President Obama's reelection. They are also going to spark not only a surge in electricity costs, but also the potential of shortages of electricity. But what is most galling is in Jackson's claim that the problem for coal is entirely economic. Given that the new EPA regulations make it economically impossible for companies in the coal industry or utility companies that use coal for electricity generation to conform to the new EPA regulations, I suppose, I can say with that their problem is 'entirely economic'. But to deny that the overbearing regulations of Jackson's EPA have no role in that - strikes me as typical progressive arrogance.

During the contentious GOP Presidential primary fight of the latter half of 2011 and through April of 2012 left many progressives and Democrats excited. Pundits in the mainstream media were already celebrating an Obama reelection as they wrote about the GOP in turmoil, in civil war, and seemingly unlikely to be able to unify around a Presidential candidate. While the primary battle was contentious - once Mitt Romney pulled away as the clear front runner, the GOP has unified considerably behind his candidacy. As this happens, it appears that the Democrats are starting to break into civil war -
Divisions in the Democratic coalition have burst into view, endangering both President Obama and his party colleagues in Congress as November’s election nears.

Fissures have opened over everything from tax policy and former President Bill Clinton’s off-message comments to recriminations following the party’s fiasco in the Wisconsin recall, which some say should have been avoided.

At the Netroots Nation, or as I refer to them, the Nutroots Nation, this hard left element of Barack Obama's base is depressed. This will have an effect on the President going forward, as John Fund notes on National Review Online...
If elections are won partly on the enthusiasm of a candidate’s base, Barack Obama is in trouble. Netroots Nation, the annual left-wing conference for bloggers and activists, held its seventh annual rally here this weekend. The skies were sunny outside, but there was clearly a cloud hanging over attendees inside the cavernous Rhode Island Convention Center.

It wasn’t only last Tuesday’s jarring defeat of public-sector unions in Wisconsin, or President Obama’s refusal to campaign in person against Governor Scott Walker — or unease that the Supreme Court may be only weeks away from sweeping much or all of Obamacare onto the ash heap of history. On Friday, in the middle of the conference, President Obama famously declared that “the private sector is doing fine,” calling into question his campaign’s basic competence in getting out a coherent message.

Indeed, enthusiasm for Obama was decidedly absent from this year’s gathering. Administration officials weren’t invited to attend (Valerie Jarrett and others have appeared in the past), and President Obama limited his role to an unpublicized surprise video shown to delegates late on Saturday, when many people had already left. “Change is hard, but we’ve seen that it’s possible, as long as you’re willing to keep up that fight, I’ll be right there with you,” Obama offered.

Somehow, to me, that video message would seem to go more like this one....

Unfortunately for the President, this isn't the last of the issues that make it very unlikely that the this will be the week to break his string of 'bad weeks'.

While AG Eric Holder has appointed 2 investigators to look into the classified information leaks coming out of the Obama Administration, and the President complains that the thought his highly political Administration would do so for political gain, one of the NY Times journalists around publicizing some of the classified information defends his actions and reporting...
David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent for the New York Times, appeared on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” to defend his reporting on U.S. involvement in deploying the Stuxnet computer virus against Iran.

Sanger said that during 18 months of reporting for his book “Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power,” he obtained information from the ground up. He said he had serious doubts as to whether there were any political motivations behind the leaks.

“Did I talk to a lot of people in the administration? Of course,” he said, as would be expected when writing a book about national security.

Sanger contended that how Obama conducts himself in the theater of international military action is key for the public to know, and is a necessary story for the media to report on, regardless of the secrecy associated with national security issues.

This is the typical NYT argument that the 'need for the public to know' outweighs the importance of national security and the protection of classified information. It's a hollow and vapid argument - one based on their own self-importance and self-appointment as the arbitrator of what the public should or should not know. No one elected these fools to make these decisions - decisions which can and has cost lives. Frankly, there is little moral or ethical difference between David Sanger and the contemptible Julian Assange - the founder of Wikileaks and publisher of US classified information. When it comes to looking at modern day journalistic ethics, I can imagine Ernie Pyle spinning in his grave.

President Obama's statement from last Friday's economic press conference where he noted the 'Private sector is doing just fine...' will also reverberate to his chagrin this week (and beyond). Mitt Romney's campaign is not going to let up on this either...

In other news involving Attorney General Eric Holder, 85 Member of Congress are sending a letter to the AG demanding that he begin to investigate the 'Swatting' cases of several bloggers in an effort to intimidate those bloggers into silence. Here's an excerpt of the letter going to the AG courtesy of
Dear Attorney General Holder:

We write you concerning the growing threat of “SWAT-ting” and its costly ramifications. These crimes occur when individuals call emergency dispatchers under the guise of another person’s name with fraudulent claims, causing local law enforcement to swarm the home of innocent Americans. SWAT-ting first arose in 2002, but as technology and the Internet has expanded, the dangers of SWAT-ting are also on the rise.

Investigators have concluded that the majority of SWAT-ting cases utilize voice over Internet (VOIP) connections between the suspect’s computer and a distant telephone network, and then dialing 911. This enables the suspect to falsify their identifying information, such as their telephone number and address, and make it nearly impossible for emergency dispatchers to identify or track the true origin of the call, or even pin-point calls from VOIP connections.

Some of these calls involve embellished schemes, including armed suspects and hostages, and in some instances, the caller claims that he has just killed someone. Moreover, the caller knowingly uses the identifying information of another person, who is usually an adversary of the caller. This elaborate hoax is all done with the goal of having law enforcement swarm the home of the caller’s foe, which only incites fear in and tarnishes the reputation of an innocent person.

Even worse, SWAT-ting is quickly becoming a scare tactic used against political bloggers, essentially stifling those bloggers’ First Amendment rights.

Read the entire letter at the link above. There is no reason why any Member of Congress would not sign on to support an investigation into this deplorable tactic. I see that my Congressman, Buck McKeon (R-CA) does not have his name on this letter. Time to add your name to the letter Congressman McKeon.

Progressive columnist E.J. Dionne writes a column today in the Washington Post that proclaims that 'Government is the Solution' to the economic challenges our nation faces. He makes the usual progressive, Keynesian argument...
Indeed, our unemployment rate is higher today than it should be because conservatives blocked additional federal spending to prevent layoffs by state and local governments — and because progressives, including Obama, took too long to propose more federal help. Obama’s jobs program would be a step in the right direction, and he’s right to tout it now. But he should have pushed for a bigger stimulus from the beginning. The anti-government disposition has so much power that Democrats and moderate Republicans allowed themselves to be intimidated into keeping it too small.

Let’s turn Ronald Reagan’s declaration on its head: Opposition to government isn’t the solution. Opposition to government was and remains the problem. It is past time that we affirm government’s ability to heal the economy, and its responsibility for doing so.

Moronic is just one way to describe this argument. Dionne doesn't walk the evidence and the facts to develop a solution - he takes the inverse path where he has already a solution - bigger government and more government power is what he sees as the solution. He then tries to build a case to support that preconceived solution.

We're at 8.2% unemployment today because of layoffs by state and local governments? We're down 5 million jobs in the work force since Obama took office, and these are not all public sector jobs. In fact, the only reason we are even talking about an 8.2% unemployment rate is that we're talking about a number that has been cooked by the Administration in conjunction with the lowest labor participation rate in three decades. We should be at a 10.9% national unemployment rate.

In May 2012, the national economy created 82,000 jobs in the private sector. Nationally, the public sector lost 13,000 jobs. We're to believe, according to Dionne and other progressive nimrods, that these lost 13,000 jobs brought the unemployment to 8.2%? depending on the source, we need, every month, between 90,000 and 150,000 jobs to be created to just maintain pace with the population growth we experience. This economy of Barack Obama and the progressive Democrats failed, in May 2012, to stay pace with population growth even if we ignore the 13,000 public sector jobs between 8,000 and 68,000 jobs.

Then we need to ask ourselves why the public sector lost 13,000 jobs in May.

The anemic economic recovery created by Obama's policies and agenda is reducing tax revenues for state and local governments. This is putting many states into fiscal challenges - like California, Illinois, New York, and others with progressive governments which have decades of deficit spending / debt that they are forced to manage. Their policies create conditions that work against stimulating economic growth in those states. Because of this feckless fiscal irresponsibility, they can't pay their bills - and this is before we even look at their massively unfunded pension obligations to their government workers - massive because of the demands of the public sector unions - or the other aspect of this same problem, skyrocketing healthcare costs. In California, since 1999, the number of state employees has grown by 33% - far exceeding the growth in the state's population.

Here in the Valley, one of the local school districts is laying off about 3 dozen teachers. Why? Their budget challenges - which are brought on by the pension and healthcare demands of the teacher's unions which result in ever increasing costs to the school district. In Wisconsin, hundreds of school districts saw the same problems. But the reforms of Republican Scott Walker towards public sector unions resulted in a major change. Employment is up in the state. Costs are down. School districts, with lower pension and healthcare costs, now have funds to expand services and hire. Wisconsin disproves Dionne.

Victor Davis Hanson has his own answer to E.J. Dionne in his column for this week, 'The Liberal Super Nova' [Yes, please read it all...]
The liberal model — borrowing huge sums, rigging interest and the currency to enable state profligacy, turning large swaths of the population into less productive unionized government workers or dependents on the dole who vote in thanks to political hacks — simply does not work. How could beautiful blue-state California lose million of refugees to arid Texas? I like Texas, but Dallas had far less of nature to work with than did San Francisco. (It takes a lot of human failure for thousands to give up verdant California to move to Utah or the Nevada desert.) What we are witnessing is nothing short of surreal: in the manner that Tijuana was a different universe from San Diego, so too the entire state of California is becoming a different world from its neighbors. Whether one examines its near dead-last schools, its oppressive income and sales taxes, its decaying roads and infrastructure, its absurd prison system, its dysfunctional state offices (try the DMV), or its priestly public employee caste, California is becoming Detroit.

Do any believe pre-Walker Wisconsin was more viable than it is now? Did union memberships of public workers soar after Wisconsin state employees were given the chance to join or not join the union, or did they dip precipitously among the very class who protested the reforms? (So is it to scream publicly against Walker and then quietly go home to quit the union and get your dues back?)

From Greece to Italy to California to Wisconsin to Obama’s Washington, the verdict is in: the democratic model of trying to provide cradle-to-grave benefits, administered by an elite technocratic class, using demonization to bully the opposition and redistribute income, not only does not work, but cannot ever work. Note that President Obama — $5 trillion in new debt, “stimulus,” millions added to food stamps, unemployment benefits vastly expanded, near-zero interest rates, enormous subsidies for wind and solar — never concedes his blue-state neo-socialism is not working (even though it is almost impossible to stymie the U.S. economy).

Dionne argues theory, as he and other progressives think the real world should operate...while Hanson argues from real world results and conditions. The case that VDH makes is the one that appears to be resonating with the American voter.

Despite the Prime Minister of Spain saying over the weekend that the EU bailout of Spanish banks will not have conditions, the real situation, as announced by the European Commission, is quite different.
The European Commission said the ECB and IMF will monitor Spain's banking bailout, suggesting the deal may be more stringent than signaled by Madrid.

At's Big Peace, they are reporting that relief at the Spain bailout package is short lived...
Market relief that Spain had secured European Union help to save its banking sector quickly turned to concern Monday, as investors began to question the mechanics of the (EURO)100 billion ($124.68 billion) loan package and whether the country could manage the extra debt or be forced ask for more help.

Monday had started well with markets in Asia and Europe rising on the news on Saturday that Spain had become the fourth _ and largest _ European country to seek a bailout.

The move was portrayed by Spanish and European officials as a bid to contain Europe's widening recession and financial crisis that have hurt companies and investors around the world. Providing a financial lifeline to Spanish banks was designed to relieve anxiety on the Spanish economy _ the fourth-largest in the 17-country eurozone.

Zerohedge looks at this, and the possibility that the EU will take even more draconian methods in order to not only preserve the EU, but expand the EU bureaucracy and powers....

Here we go:




In other words, that money you thought you had... You don't really have it. We can only hope this message was not meant to restore confidence and prevent future bank runs. Because if Europe wanted a continental bank run, it may have just
gotten one.

This is getting scary very fast.

None of this seems to be slowing down or bringing the Eurocrisis into control. As noted in Big Peace's World View for today -

So, the bailout of Spain buys a little more time, and moves more private debt onto the public's books. Sooner or later, Germany will have to succumb to the pressure and agree to eurobonds, and than the debt will have moved from the 17 individual nations to the eurozone as a whole. Then the next step will be pressure on Britain (a non-euro country) to agree to an EU-wide bond, which means that all 27 EU countries will be responsible for the debts of Spain's banks. Under those circumstances, why should anyone practice austerity?

The Eurocrisis is another crisis that will have an impact on the US election this November...

This Day in History
1776 - The Continental Congress selects Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston to draft a declaration of independence.

1955 - Pierre Levegh, racing in a Mercedes-Benz 300SLR in the 24 hour race at Le Mans, loses control of his race car and crashes into the stands. In addition to the death of Levegh, 81 spectators are killed in the fiery crash. The accident resulted in the cancellation of the German and Swiss Grand Prix races - and Switzerland has a permanent ban on auto racing still in effect.

1963 - President John F. Kennedy faces down Alabama Governor George Wallace and orders Wallace to comply with federal court orders and desegregate the University of Alabama.

1967 - The Six Day War ends as Israel and its Arab neighbors accept a UN brokered cease fire.

1979 - John Wayne, the iconic American actor, dies at the age of 72 after battling cancer for more than a decade.

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