Sunday, June 17, 2012

Quick Hits - June 17, 2012

To all of the Dad's - Happy Father's Day!

European elections are the big story today - with major elections in Greece, Egypt, and France.

The Greek election is gaining the most attention as this has been positioned for the Greek people as a referendum on austerity and remaining in the Eurozone.  The key issue for the Greek is their obligation towards the austerity measures that were the requirement for their second bailout to prevent their default on their debt obligations which will total nearly $150 billion.  These austerity measures call for the Greek government to dramatically cut its spending - reducing entitlements, increase their retirement age, and reduce the size of the Greek government.  In addition, these are being combined with additional taxes, more intense tax collection efforts, and stringent oversight by the European Union bureaucracy.

While most Greeks, in polls, have indicated that they prefer to remain in the European Union and Euro currency, they are oppose the austerity measures.

The main players in this election are three political parties.  New Democracy and Pasok are two parties that have played a major role in leading the Greek government over the past few years - and support honoring Greece's obligation towards the austerity measure requirements of the bailout.  Syriza is a far left party that has gained significantly from taking a position that repudiates the austerity measures and calls for increased brinkmanship with the EU into restructuring the bailout deal so that Greece does not have to embrace those austerity measures when the country remains in a recession and severe economic challenges.

One of the quirks of the Greek electoral process - is that the party that comes in first in the race, gets a bonus of 50 seats in the 300 seat Greek parliament.  This means for a party to get a sufficient mandate to form their own government, they need only about 37% of the vote as opposed to 51% of the vote.  If a party fails to get a sufficient majority to form a government, they need to enlist other parties to join with them in a coalition government.  The election today was the result of May's elections - and the inability of any of the parties to form a coalition government.  The sticking points then, as is now, are the austerity requirements and to remain in the EU.

The exit polls released earlier today reflected that the two top parties, New Democracy and Syriza, would be neck and neck when the vote tabulation starts.

From the UK, the Telegraph is now reporting in their live feed on the Greek election....
We have another update on the Greek election count, although the exact figures will alter nothing about the political stalemate that awaits in the morning. After taking into account 88pc of the votes, New Democracy has 29.93pc, Syriza 26.7pc and Pasok 12.43pc.
The Telegraph also includes this graphic that shows the differences between last month's election and this month's election (from the above link)....

There is several interesting developments.  First, and most importantly, the two 'pro-bailout' parties, New Democracy and Pasok, will control between them 161 seats.  This is sufficient to form a two party coalition government.  Both parties are committed to honoring the bailout agreement and enacting the required austerity steps.  This is the outcome that the EU clearly preferred to see happen.

However, before the results have been completely tabulated, at about 9PM in Athens, word came that the leader of Pasok was threatening to withhold support for a new government unless the far left Syriza party also joined as part of a broad coalition.

If true, and this is the position of Pasok, Greece and the EU are right back in the same boat they were in after the May 6 Greek election where a coalition government could not be formed.  If this becomes the case, not only will there be another election in Greece in late July or early August, but the country will continue to operate under a 'temporary' government. That government would lack a mandate to make changes to address Greece's economic challenges.  The EU would also be still watching and waiting to see if Greece will need a third bailout (a distinct possibility) and if continued 'runs' on the Greek banks would threaten more contagion.

In this case, perhaps the best move by the EU would be to use the additional time to mitigate the contagion issues and slowly nudge Greece from the EU - because according to an international finance group, the Euro-zone's rescue funds cannot handle another big bailout....
The euro-zone's bailout funds are now insufficient to aid a large member of the currency area, the world's biggest private financial institutions said Sunday.
In its monthly report, the Institute of International Finance Inc. said that following the euro-zone's decision to provide Spain with up to €100 billion ($126.3 billion) with which to support its stricken banks, the currency area's bailout funds have resources of just €251 billion.

"This means that...the Eurogroup's rescue funds, as currently authorized and structured, will have sufficient funds to help a small economy like Cyprus, but hardly enough to deal with any large country," the IIF said.

The other closely watched election in France was to determine the control of the French parliament.  Not unsurprisingly, the French socialists who support the new French President Francois Hollande won a clear majority.  This provides Hollande with the legislative support in France to enact his tax and spend agenda which are promised to cure France's economic ills.

In reality, what this will result is another example, as if more are needed, where the progressive / leftist big government, high tax, massive government spending, and growing deficits do not result in strong economic growth, but weaken and damage a national economy.

Our own President has us racing down this path - and is running for reelection on a platform that is as much 'more of the same' as it is 'we need to do even more of this'.  On January 1st, 2013, 'Taxmageddon' hits - a perfect storm of expiring tax cuts and tax increases that will yank $500 billion out of the US economy and give it to the US government in 2013.  Then we have the President's spending record, which, far to the contrary of the President and his sycophants claims, is one where Barack Obama is the biggest government spender in world history...
In sharp contrast to Reagan, Obama’s first major legislative initiative was the so-called stimulus, which increased future federal spending by nearly a trillion dollars, the most expensive legislation in history up till that point. We know now, as thinking people knew at the time, that this record shattering spending bill only stimulated government spending, deficits and debt. Contrary to official Democrat Keynesian witchcraft, you don’t promote economic recovery, growth and prosperity by borrowing a trillion dollars out of the economy to spend a trillion dollars back into it.

But this was just a warm up for Obama’s Swedish socialism. Obama worked with Pelosi’s Democratic Congress to pass an additional, $410 billion, supplemental spending bill for fiscal year 2009, which was too much even for big spending President Bush, who had specifically rejected it in 2008. Next in 2009 came a $40 billion expansion in the SCHIP entitlement program, as if we didn’t already have way more than too much entitlement spending.

After just one year of the Obama spending binge, federal spending had already rocketed to 25.2% of GDP, the highest in American history except for World War II. That compares to 20.8% in 2008, and an average of 19.6% during Bush’s two terms. The average during President Clinton’s two terms was 19.8%, and during the 60-plus years from World War II until 2008 — 19.7%. Obama’s own fiscal 2013 budget released in February projects the average during the entire 4 years of the Obama Administration to come in at 24.4% in just a few months. That budget shows federal spending increasing from $2.983 trillion in 2008 to an all time record $3.796 trillion in 2012, an increase of 27.3%.

Moreover, before Obama there had never been a deficit anywhere near $1 trillion. The highest previously was $458 billion, or less than half a trillion, in 2008. The federal deficit for the last budget adopted by a Republican controlled Congress was $161 billion for fiscal year 2007. But the budget deficits for Obama’s four years were reported in Obama’s own 2013 budget as $1.413 trillion for 2009, $1.293 trillion for 2010, $1.3 trillion for 2011, and $1.327 trillion for 2012, four years in a row of deficits of $1.3 trillion or more, the highest in world history.
As we've covered above, the EU is struggling to bailout it's own members. Some of these members have already received at least one bailout, and in the case of Greece, it's gotten a bailout in 2010 and 2012. Spain just received about $150 billion to assist their banks. The country might need a major bailout. Italy's banks and national fiscal situation is precarious. Ireland will likely need a 2nd bailout this summer. France is also one of the possible dominoes to fall from the contagion and its own fiscal challenges.

There is no one to bailout the US...yet we are rushing down the same path that these EU countries have taken to their precarious position. This is one of the legacies of Barack Obama's presidency.

Whether 'It's the economy, stupid' or asking 'Are you more better off today than you were 4 years ago?', the American voter has to focus on these issues before we join the Europeans in far larger economic crisis than we faced in 2008.

In addition to the dismal record of this progressive narcissistic President, we also have his record towards the Constitution and the rule of law in this country....
This is a shocking expansion of executive power that Congress-loving progressives used to abhor. It turns out, though, that when the President has a D next to his name, progressives are in favor of unprecedented expansions to executive power.

Jonathan Turley, a constitutional scholar that Friess quotes, notes that "President Obama has fulfilled the dream of an impreial presidency that Richard Nixon strived for... this is a President who is now functioning as a super legislator." He's right. Progressives should be careful what they wish for. They've cheered President Obama's unilateral power expansions every step of the way - from drone strikes that kill American citizens to recess appointments done without a recess, they should stop to think what would happen if these powers were possessed by "the other side."

Imagine, a legal expert writes, that a Republican president simply announces that his Environmental Protection Agency is going to halt enforcement of pollution regulations. Or that a Republican's IRS isn't going to enforce the Obamacare mandate.
Remember the question that I posed in my QH for June 15 about Time Magazine's upcoming cover focusing on illegal immigration coincidentally hitting the newsstands the Monday after the President's illegal immigration reform via executive fiat?  Turns out, as suspected, it was no coincidence.

JON SCOTT, HOST: And then under the heading of coincidence or manipulation, we have this. Time magazine ran its cover story called “We Are Americans, Only We Are Just Not Legal.” The New York Times on Sunday ran a story on frustrated Hispanic, the frustrated Hispanic electorate, and then on Friday came the surprise announcement that the Department of Justice is going to ease up on deporting the illegal immigrant children or young people or offspring in this country. There any coincidence?

JUDITH MILLER, FOX NEWS: Utter coincidence.

MILLER: I mean, clearly, everything that the president does from this point on that affects the Hispanic community is going to be seen in a political light whether or not it is the right thing to do, which in this instance I think it was.

JAMES PINKERTON, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE MAGAZINE: The interesting question is whether the New York Times and Time magazine had any inkling that maybe the president would be doing this and they wanted to get ahead of the story and help sort of get credit for being part of the wave. That is an interesting question.

MILLER: You don't think that they would have reported it if they’d had an inkling?

PINKERTON: Actually, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have reported it because they wanted the scoop. They didn’t want to, they wouldn’t want to blow up their own story by saying, look, if they get a wink from their friend Eric Holder or Axelrod, any of these people, “Hey, we’re, the administration is going to do something good,” they want to be a part of it.

MILLER: They wanted the story.

PINKERTON: They got, they got the story, but now they get credit for having impact. They can say, “We're moving the needle."

RICHARD GRENELL, FORMER BUSH ADMINISTRATION DIRECTOR OF COMMUNCATIONS AND PUBLIC POLICY: As a former spokesman who used to brief reporters right before announcements, I can tell you unequivocally someone briefed Time and New York Times to say, “This announcement is coming. If you can hold it till a certain time, we'll give you access.” That's how it works, and in this case, absolutely how it happened.

On that same June 15 QH post, I mentioned a journalist / nitwit who was known for heckling Ronald Reagan from his position in the WH Press Corps. In the aftermath of the outage over the Daily Caller's Neil Munro asking the President a question on his immigration policy change - as the President was still making his statement - Sam Donaldson, former ABC News reporter, writes in the Huffington Post...
"Let’s face it: Many on the political right believe this president ought not to be there – they oppose him not for his polices and political view but for who he is, an African American!"
...fully embracing the lunacy of a cadre of MSNBC morons who couldn't wait to play the race card.

Ol'Sam must be really outraged that his former news organization has called President Obama an 'elitist'.

The Syrian government has resumed artillery and rocket bombardment of the battered city of Homs - with estimates of up to 69 civilians killed in this latest attack.

In Nigeria, 12 were killed and 80 wounded in bomb attacks on three churches in the predominately Muslim northern part of the country.  The attacks have all the trademarks of being conducted by the radical Islamist terrorist organization, Boko Haram, which has been conducting bombing attacks against Christians as it seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria.

Today in History

1775 - British General William Howe lands his troops on the Charlestown Peninsula overlooking Boston, Massachusetts, and leads them against Breed's Hill, a fortified American position just below Bunker Hill.  2,400 British soldiers assaulted the American position.  They were victorious, driving the outnumbered Americans back - but paid a large price.  Nearly 1,000 British troops were killed to the loss of 370 Americans.

1876 - Sioux and Cheyenne Indians score a tactical victory over General Crook's forces at the Battle of the Rosebud - part of the US campaign around the Little Big Horn.  Read the link to see why this was only a tactical victory - and not a decisive victory. 

1885 - The dismantled Statue of Liberty arrives in New York Harbor after being shipped from France.  The copper and iron statue would be reassembled and dedicated in 1886.

1940 - Marshall Henri Petain, the newly appointed Prime Minister, and announces his intention to sign an armistice with Nazi Germany.  At the same time, British troops not evacuated at Dunkirk, began their own evacuation from the ports of Cherbourg, St. Malo, Brest, and Nantes in Operation Ariel.  During this evacuation, German bombers sank the ocean liner Lancastria - carrying 5,000 soldiers and French citizens.  3,000 of the passengers drowned.

1972 - Five men are arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate, an office-hotel-apartment complex in Washington, D.C. In their possession were burglary tools, cameras and film, and three pen-size tear gas guns. At the scene of the crime, and in rooms the men rented at the Watergate, sophisticated electronic bugging equipment was found. Three of the men were Cuban exiles, one was a Cuban American, and the fifth was James W. McCord, Jr., a former CIA agent. That day, the suspects, who said they were "anti-communists," were charged with felonious burglary and possession of implements of crime.

1994 - O.J. Simpson is arrested and charged with the June 12 double murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.  The arrest comes after a nearly 9 hour low speed chase / escape effort by Simpson in his white Ford Bronco, driven by Simpson's friend Al Cowlings and a 90 minute standoff at Simpson's Rockingham estate.

No comments:

Post a Comment