Saturday, June 16, 2012

Quick Hits - June 16, 2012

President Obama's announcement yesterday to grant a defacto amnesty and immunity to young illegal immigrants in a brazen example of political pandering has created another major flash point in the 2012 Presidential campaign.  The gauntlet tossed by the President, in an apparent effort to not only redirect attention from the economic issues, but gain key Hispanic voter / fundraising support, elevates this issue and the President's modis operandi.

The Wall Street Journal has this editorial in today's edition...
In a speech last year to La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights organization that has criticized the White House for the lack of progress on immigration reform, President Obama mused that he'd like "to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own." He added, "Believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting. I promise you."

We'll take the President at his word. Yesterday he gave into political temptation. He sidestepped Congress and announced that young illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children would be spared deportation. The new policy will apply to people who entered the U.S. illegally before they were 16, have no criminal record and are currently under 30. It will not grant citizenship to these individuals but it will give them legal status and the right to work here.

Mr. Obama said that he was changing the deportation policy because "it's the right thing to do." Translation: It's the politically expedient thing to do in an election year in which Hispanic voters are expected to play a key role in determining whether he wins a second term…

…It's passing strange that the President is saying on the stump that the Republicans in Congress refuse to compromise with him at every turn. This issue, whose resolution clearly requires bipartisanship, is screaming for compromise. One vehicle for starting that process is the Dream Act, which would do legislatively what Mr. Obama is doing on his own. And in fact, there had been bipartisan interest of late in a modified version of the Dream Act, particularly from GOP Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. The White House could have worked with Mr. Rubio toward a bipartisan consensus. Instead, Obama aides trashed Senator Rubio's proposal because they wanted the issue to use against Republicans in the fall.

Unfortunately, this reflects the probable Obama modus operandi for policy in a second term. Whether immigration, energy policy or health care, executive command authority will be the blunt instrument of completing the Obama agenda. We're a long way from 2008.

The Investors Business Daily's editorial is even more to the point...
This is no different from banana-republic politicos buying votes for bags of beans. Obama's gambit is in fact straight from Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, who, facing a tight recall referendum in 2004, handed citizenship to 2 million illegal immigrants in Venezuela to secure votes, and with Jimmy Carter's help, won.

It's also been done in that other banana-republic, California, where in 2003, Democratic Gov. Gray Davis offered drivers licenses to millions of illegals to secure Latino votes for his own recall referendum. It maddened California's voters and Davis was booted.

Obama is betting that America's voters will behave more like Venezuelans than Californians, but the tragic thing is that he's harming the interests of the country.
Illegals with criminal pasts that can be punished with less than a year in the slammer will be fully eligible.

What's more, our system of law will be corrupted, as officials assure the work permits are handed out on a "case-by-case basis," an ideal setup for bribes and kickbacks. Rubio warns the move will encourage more illegal immigration — and discourage legal migrants.

The losers here are the American people, who have a leader who seems more interested in short-term political gain than actual governance — and who seems oblivious to the disruption this new amnesty policy will cause as the rule of law is undermined.
In terms of the politics, one of two things can happen.  President Obama is hoping he will get the desired bounce in Hispanic support in addition to a bump in enthusiasm from his base for his 'leadership' decision - particularly in the battleground states where he has been weakening in.  The alternative is that this action will not only galvanize the opposition to President Obama, but will also sway more of the critical independents from either undecided or in favor of him to the Romney camp.

I believe the end result is going to be the second option.

The reason behind this viewpoint comes from several major factors.  First, there is the 'how' the President has taken this step.  As Charles Krauthammer noted last night on Fox News (from RealClearPolitics)....
"Beyond the pandering, beyond the politics, beyond the process is simple constitutional decency. This is out-and-out lawlessness. You had a clip of the president himself say months ago 'I cannot do this on my own because there are laws on the books.' Well, I have news for the president: The laws remain on the books, they haven't changed," syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer said on "FOX News" tonight.

"He proposed the DREAM Act of which the executive order is a variation. He proposed a DREAM Act. The Congress said no. The Congress is the one who makes the laws. What the administration does is it administers law. And in fact, what it's pretending to do is to use discretion, that's what the Homeland Security Secretary said," Dr. Krauthammer said.

"This is not discretion," he said. "Discretion is when you treat it on a one-by-one basis on the grounds of extenuating circumstances. This is the declaration of a whole new set of criteria, which is essentially resurrecting the legislation that the Congress has said no to."

“And I think this is not how you run a constitutional Republic. This ought to be in the hands of Congress, and it is an end-run. What's ironic of course is for eight years, the Democrats have been screaming about the imperial presidency with the Bush administration, the nonsense about the unitary executive. This is out-and-out lawlessness. This is not how you govern. And I think that's the first issue that should be on the table," Krauthammer concluded.

The next major factor is the economic impact of this decision - which the Washington Post, a strong supporter of President Obama, asks about in today's paper - "What will hundreds of thousands of job permits do to the economy?"

Under the new policy, as many as 1.4 million undocumented immigrants under age 30 will be able to apply for the amnesty, allowing them to work and attend college legally. To be eligible, they must have been in the United States for five years, have no criminal record, and attend high school or college or be a military veteran.

The policy does not provide permanent legal residency, but it protects those who qualify from being deported and gives them a chance to renew their new status every two years. It also does not grant any public benefits, such as Medicare and Medicaid. Federal law already grants all undocumented immigrants the right to a public-school education and emergency hospital care.

The new policy could entail additional costs for administration and enforcement, however, and put pressure on state systems of higher education to meet growing demand for slots.

Hot Air's Ed Morrissey in his post adds some more context to the economic impact and the timing...
But now? We’re not creating enough jobs to keep up with population growth as it is. With this new policy in place, Obama will introduce hundreds of thousands of suddenly-eligible workers into an economy with an 8.2% nominal unemployment rate, a 14.8% U-6 un/underemployed rate, with a civilian participation rate that has plummeted from 65.7% at the start of the Obama recovery in June 2009 (the same as it was when he took office, too) to 63.8%, lower than it was when Reagan faced his first midterm election. Those who are already struggling to find jobs are not only going to face more competition for those slots, the glut of labor will depress entry-level wages even further.

The final aspect of this decision that will haunt President Obama is the supposed justification of needing to take action because of a 'do-nothing Congress'. As the WSJ noted in their item, work was being done on this direction in the Senate - work that was gaining bi-partisan support. It was being led by Republican Senator Marco Rubio. But for as much as the President whines for wanting 'compromise' and 'bipartisanship' - nothing in the President's actions in the past 42 months shows that he actually is willing to work towards 'compromise' in a 'bipartisan' manner.

This is the President whose definition of compromise is for the GOP to surrender their position and principles to accept those of Barack Obama. This is the President whose response to the GOP in an early 2009 meeting was 'I Won'. This is the President who demanded and celebrated his Congressional majority ramming through Obamacare, Dodd / Frank, and other elements of legislation without Republican support - or even basic meetings, discussions, and debate. While George W. Bush was decried for his 'imperial Presidency', Barack Obama by his actions has been our first 'imperial President'.

Victor Davis Hanson, writing in 'The Corner' on National Review Online, looks at this and asks, 'Are We In Revolutionary Times?'....
Legally, President Obama has reiterated the principle that he can pick and choose which U.S. laws he wishes to enforce (see his decision to reverse the order of the Chrysler creditors, his decision not to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, and his administration’s contempt for national-security confidentiality and Senate and House subpoenas to the attorney general). If one individual can decide to exempt nearly a million residents from the law — when he most certainly could not get the law amended or repealed through proper legislative or judicial action — then what can he not do? Obama is turning out to be the most subversive chief executive in terms of eroding U.S. law since Richard Nixon … He has thrown down the gauntlet and essentially boasted: This is my vision of the way the new America should work — and if you don’t like it, try stopping me in November, if you dare.

Two critical votes are taking place this weekend.

Voters in Egypt will take to the polls today and tomorrow to vote for a new President in the Presidential runoff election between a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and the former Prime Minister under deposed President Mubarak. Adding to the turmoil is the decision from Egypt's highest court late last week to dissolve the current Parliament, which is dominated by Islamists, and signs that the military leadership are reasserting themselves.

In Greece, voters return to the polls in new elections for the Greek parliament and to form a new Greek government. This is taking place in the shadow of the rapidly expanding Euro financial crisis. One of the leading parties in the last polls, the far left Syriza party, has run on a strong platform to end the Greek austerity measures enacted as a requirement for the most recent 130 billion Euro bailout Greece received. Syriza is promising the Greek people that austerity is not needed, and that the EU will give the remaining bailout funds without making austerity a requirement to avoid Greece leaving the Eurozone.

While this has appeal to the Greeks who desire keeping their 'free lunch' - it's contingent on the Eurozone 'blinking'. The problem with this - Germany, which is the key decision maker is sending a firm signal that it will not blink. Greece’s bailout will not be renegotiated, German chancellor Angel Merkel has warned.

Greece is not the only critical area in the Eurocrisis. Ireland could need a 2nd bailout before the end of summer. Spain is currently in a major banking crisis which may require the country to get a bailout. Spain's banking challenges are also impacting Italy's banks. The UK is starting to implement steps to protect their own banks from EU crisis contagion. But most importantly is the division and growing splits on direction that is taking place inside the EU - particularly between the two major members, France and Germany.

With the election of socialist President Francois Hollande, France is moving closer to the approach of Spain, Italy, and Greece - saying that more government spending, growing entitlements, and Germany funding these steps are what the region needs. German Chancellor Angela Merkel continues to advocate strong austerity measures and limiting the use of German wealth to fund the debt in troubled countries. This difference in vision is moving into the open...
…As tensions within the eurozone deepened on Friday, the German chancellor dismissed "quick fixes" and refused to consider any discussion on pooling debt for eurobonds or Germany underwriting bank deposits in other eurozone countries.

She hit out at Mr Hollande for blocking EU supervision of national spending and supporting eurobonds, which she warned would "mask" divergences between Germany and "mediocre" or declining eurozone economies, such as that of France.

"If you look at the development of unit labour costs between Germany and France, differences have now been growing a lot more strongly, a topic that must be discussed," Mrs Merkel said.

Mr Hollande, elected last month, has announced plans to increase the cost for companies of laying off workers after a jump in French unemployment.

Senior German and EU officials have expressed concern that the Socialist policies will bring market turbulence to France and increase French borrowing costs, threatening the country's long-term credit rating.

The United Nations has suspended its Syrian observer / peace mission citing rising violence in the country. They note that the increasing bloodshed was posing major risks to the 300 or so unarmed observers in the country and impedes their ability to carry out their mandate to enforce a largely ignore cease fire.
The Syrian government said it conveyed to Maj.-Gen. Mood its“understanding” of the decision taken and blamed the rebels, whom it refers to as “terrorists,” for the escalation.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it had “clarified to the leadership of the UN mission that armed terrorist groups have conducted, since the signing of the Annan plan, an increase in criminal operations that have targeted, many times, the observers, and threatened their lives.”

The opposition, for its part, has blamed the regime for the attacks near the observers.

The observers have been tasked with monitoring the ceasefire and supporting the full implementation of Mr. Annan's six-point plan, which was supposed to lead to talks between the sides. Instead, they got caught up in the bloodshed, and have often been blocked from reaching the site of massacres and other violence until too late.

HBO has announced that it is pulling the episode of it's Game of Thrones series that had George W. Bush's severed head displayed on a pike from it's playing rotation on HBO, from iTunes and HBO GO, and is freezing all shipments of DVD box sets until the offending scene can be edited out of the program.
…."We were deeply dismayed to see this and find it unacceptable, disrespectful and in very bad taste," the network said in a statement Friday. "We made this clear to the executive producers of the series, who apologized immediately for this careless mistake.

"We condemn it in the strongest possible terms and have halted all future shipments of the DVDs, removed it from our digital platforms and will edit the scene for all future airings on any distribution domestic or international."'s Noel Sheppard notes -
This is all well and good, but maybe HBO executives need to examine the culture of their organization from top to bottom to fully understand how something like this could have happened and what they're doing to foster such disrespect to right-leaning elected officials.
Wrapping up - we have this video and summary of former Presidential candidate and former Chair of the Democrat National Committee Howard Dean's appearance on Larry Kudlow's CNBC program Thursday night...From the Daily Caller, Howard Dean tells Larry Kudlow he belongs on Fox - the right wing propaganda network...

On Thursday night’s “The Kudlow Report” on CNBC, the former governor of Vermont and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee Howard Dean went on something of a tirade about the complaints coming from the business community about President Barack Obama’s economic policies on the heels of his economic speech in Cleveland.

Host Larry Kudlow first expressed his frustration with the Obama administration to Dean and explained it wasn’t just the right, but moderate Democrats that have the same opinion on the president’s re-election strategies to date.

Later in his appearance, the former Vermont governor reacted to his co-panelist Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus’ complaint that Obama’s policies were “a total disaster” and that the correct course of action wasn’t taxation. Marcus told Dean that the “government doesn’t own” his money and that he “earned” his money. Dean’s response: He said he was “tired” of hearing complaints about taxes.

“You made a lot of money because you live in the United States of America,” Dean said. “We owe something to the government to grow up in this great country. And I’m tired of hearing people in the private sector talk like they don’t owe the government anything because we do. This is a great country because we all pay into it. It’s about time we all pay into it. It is not nonsense. You’re damn lucky to live in America and you ought to pay the right bill for it.”

Howard Dean - making the progressive case that they, running the government, are entitled to the money we earn.

This Day in History

1858 – In a speech in Springfield, IL, US Senate candidate Abraham Lincoln said the slavery issue had to be resolved. He declared, ‘A house divided against itself cannot stand.

1903 – Ford Motor Company incorporated.

1940 – Marshall Henri-Phillippe Petain, a World War 1 hero, becomes prime minister of the Vichy government in France.

1941 – US President Franklin Roosevelt orders the closure of all German consulates in the United States.

1958 – Imre Nagy, a former Hungarian premier and the symbol of the 1956 uprising against Soviet rule, is hanged for treason by the country’s communist authorities.

1999 – The US Circuit Court of Appeals said a 1992 federal music piracy law does not prohibit a palm-sized device that can download high-quality digital music files from the internet and play them at home.

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