Thursday, June 21, 2012

Quick Hits - June 21, 2012

Even without the US Supreme Court releasing its ruling on either Obamacare or the Arizona SB1070 Immigration law, it's an extremely busy news day.  Let's dive in and try to cover as much as possible with today's post....

To set the domestic political stage, Author, Lawyer, Professor, and Talk Radio host, Hugh Hewitt has a blog post headline / description that encapsulates the Obama Administration perfectly....

'An Administration that discloses what should be kept secret and which keeps secret that which should be disclosed.'

The Administration remains under increasing fire over its decision to invoke executive privilege to justify not releasing to Congressional investigators documents requested under subpoena related to DoJ Operation Fast and Furious and the original DoJ responses to Congress - many of which were later retracted after being found materially untrue.

The Baghdad Bob of the White House, Press flack Jay Carney struggled in today's WH press brief to deflect, misdirect, and obfuscate the use of executive privilege and to spin the action taken by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to charge Attorney General Eric Holder with Contempt of Congress as being 'purely political' and a 'fishing expedition' by the GOP majority in the House.

The progressive wing of the mainstream media wasted little time rushing to the assistance of the Administration and promoting the same meme...

Columnist Dana Milbank of the Washington Post rushed to circle the wagons for President Obama and AG Holder in his column this morning noting the GOP's 'shamefully insincere prosecution of Eric Holder' and promoting the false meme that Fast and Furious was a botched effort similar to Operation Wide Receiver run by the Bush Administration (with the full knowledge, support, and partnership of the Mexican government).  Milbank also makes a vapid, almost Colmesian argument that proof that this is purely 'political' is that the Congressional investigators are only interested in DoJ materials since Feb 2011, the date of the first information by the DoJ to investigators, rather than asking for information effective the date of US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry's murder.

Note to Mr. Carney and Mr. Milbank - The Department of Justice was forced to retract AG Holder's claims  linking Fast and Furious and Wide Receiver made under testimony because the DoJ was unable to produce any proof to back up the claims of the AG.  In a letter dated June 18th, the DoJ officially retracted the claim.  But as noted in the link for this - the Attorney General's references to Wide Receiver during his testimony have been anything by inadvertent.  They were attempts to deflect and 'blame Bush'.

Former US Attorney Andrew McCarthy also exposed the false assertion that Fast and Furious was similar to Wide Receiver...

Former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, spoke out last night and earlier this morning on the party line vote to charge the Attorney General with contempt of Congress.  Last night she attacked the Chairman of the Committee, Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) for his actions, saying that as Speaker, 'I've could've arrested Karl Rove on any given day'... but declined to do so.

Karl Rove responds....

“She’s dead wrong… It’s nice to know Speaker Pelosi wanted to have me arrested. It’s nice to know she thinks she had the power to. But, we’re still a nation of laws and she had no authority to do so and had she attempted to arrest me on any of the number of times that I was in and out of Capitol without a resolution passed by the entire House of Representatives she would have been up the proverbial creek without the proverbial paddle. She sounds a little bit like Inspector Clouseau and a little like the Mad Red Queen.”

Clouseau or his boss, Commissioner Dreyfus?

This morning, the Mad Red Queen of Haight Ashbury held a press conference where she accused the GOP launching the contempt vote against the Attorney General in an effort to suppress minority voters in November.

Apparently, because the DoJ under AG Holder is actively working to block various state's efforts to enact Voter ID laws and purge illegal immigrants from their voter registration laws, the GOP is going after the Attorney General in order to suppress minority voters voting for President Obama and Democrats.

And this nitwit was 3rd in the line of Presidential succession...

Inanity aside, there are a number of serious looks and questions being asked about this growing scandal - and the use of executive privilege to deny Congressional oversight.  In the UK, the conservative paper Telegraph looks across the pond at this and sees this becoming President Obama's Watergate...
The Fast and Furious scandal is turning into President Obama's Watergate: And, forty years later almost to the day, here we have Obama making the same mistake. Perhaps it’s an act of chivalry to stand by Holder; perhaps it’s an admission of guilt. Either way, it sinks the Oval Office ever further into the swamp that is Fast and Furious. Make no mistake about: Fast and Furious was perhaps the most shameful domestic law and order operation since the Waco siege. It’s big government at its worst: big, incompetent and capable of ruining lives.

The question now - What did the President know and when did he know it?

The gentlemen at Powerline also are recalling Watergate - particularly since we are at the 40th anniversary of the infamous break-in...and wondering what is in those documents that the Administration is working so hard to keep away from investigators...
Even with his fawning press, [President Obama] will pay a price for this one. He knows this, meaning that the documents now to be withheld must be dynamite. They have to show either that Holder knew what was going on with Fast and Furious and approved it, or that he directly committed perjury in his Congressional testimony, or both. I just can’t see any other explanation for such a risky move.

Wasn’t the Washington Post just covering big time the 40th anniversary of Watergate? I wonder how much coverage this one will get.

However, to me, the most interesting reading was around the legal analysis of the President's claim of executive privilege. There are some smart lawyers at Powerline, and one of them, John Hinderaker, provides this fascinating analysis...
Holder’s letter is a remarkable document. Viewed from a strictly technical standpoint, it is a terrible piece of legal work. Its arguments are weak at best; in some cases, they are so frivolous as to invite the imposition of sanctions if they were asserted in court. I will explain why momentarily, but first this observation: if an opposing party requests documents that plainly are protected by a privilege, a lawyer will routinely assert the privilege, on principle, even though there is nothing hurtful to his case in those documents. On the other hand, a lawyer will not assert a lousy claim of privilege unless he badly wants to keep the documents in question out of the opponent’s hands because of their damaging nature. If I am correct that the administration’s assertion of executive privilege is baseless, it is reasonable to infer that the documents, if made public, would be highly damaging to President Obama, Attorney General Holder, or other senior administration officials.

John then conducts a serious legal analysis of the letter to Rep. Darrell Issa and the case for claiming executive privilege. It's not a 'fisking' - but more like a grading of a poorly written, reasoned, and documented legal contention. For example, this part of his analysis:
Fourth: the case that is most directly pertinent to Holder’s assertion of executive privilege is In re Sealed Case (Espy), 121 F.3d 729 (D.C. Circuit 1997), which, along with Judicial Watch v. Department of Justice, 365 F.3d 1108 (D.C. Cir. 2008), which cites and relies upon Espy, contains the most up to date judicial exposition of the doctrine of executive privilege. Unbelievably, Holder’s letter never cites or mentions the Espy case. If a first-year associate wrote a memorandum for me in which he failed even to mention the most significant case, I would fire him. (The Espy Court noted that its holding as to how deep into the federal bureaucracy the presidential privilege may extend was in the context of a subpoena in a criminal proceeding, and a conflict between the executive and Congress might implicate different factors. That appropriate qualification in no way sheds any doubt on the Court’s exposition of the deliberative process privilege, as discussed below.)

The conclusion is as bright as Hugh Hewitt's headline at the top of this post...

'Why is the Attorney General of the United States reduced to making transparently bad legal arguments in order to hide government records from public view? The question, really, answers itself.'

Yes it does.

Jumping back to the domestic economy, this week's jobless claims numbers were released - along with the usual cooking of the books by the Department of Labor.  CNBC has this report on this week's numbers....
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 387,000, the Labor Department said. The prior week's figure was revised up to 389,000 from the previously reported 386,000.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims falling to 380,000 last week. The four-week moving average for new claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends, increased 3,500 to 386,250 - the highest level since early December.

Notice the line in bold. As what is now standard operating procedure for the Department of Labor, the previous week's numbers were revised upwards to above the current week's level so the headline can be - 'Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 387,000, the Labor Department said.' Without cooking the books, the number would have increased by 1,000. As Breitbart's Big Government notes...
After last week's jump in claims, economists had expected 383k to file first-time claims for unemployment benefits. The actual number was slightly higher; 387k filed claims. Last weeks report of 386K filing claims (which was also higher than expected) was revised higher, to 389k claims. It is very likely that this weeks number will be revised higher next week. This is not a good trend.

No, it's not a good trend, but this is how the Admin has been playing this game all year.

More bad news on the employment front - Fed Reserve: Unemployment to stay high...

One of the common arguments by the rabid Keynesians, like Paul Krugman, is that the massive government spending in World War II set the stage for the massive post-war economic boom. In this article from the Hoover Institute, the case is made that it was not the massive government spending during World War II, but the major government spending cuts following World War II that launched the postwar boom.
“[A]t the end of 1946, less than a year and a half after V-J day, more than 10 million demobilized veterans and other millions of wartime workers have found employment in the swiftest and most gigantic change-over that any nation has ever made from war to peace.”
—Harry S. Truman, January 1947

We often hear that big cuts in government spending over a short period of time are a bad idea. The argument against big cuts, typically made by Keynesian economists, is twofold. First, large cuts in government spending, with no offsetting tax cuts, will lead to a large drop in aggregate demand for goods and services, thus causing a recession or even a depression. Second, with a major shift in demand (fewer government goods and services and more private ones), the economy would experience a wrenching readjustment, during which many people would become unemployed, and the economy would slow down.

But if such claims were true, wouldn’t history confirm them? And wouldn’t the decline in the economy be large when the government cuts spending a lot? That’s certainly what the late Keynesian economist Paul Samuelson thought. Well, Samuelson was wrong, and not just wrong, but spectacularly wrong.

In a 2010 study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, I examined the four years from 1944, the peak of World War II spending, to 1948. Over those years, the U.S. government cut spending from a high of 44 percent of gross national product (GNP) in 1944 to only 8.9 percent in 1948, a drop of over 35 percentage points of GNP. The result was an astonishing boom. The unemployment rate, which was artificially low at the end of the war because many millions of workers had been drafted into the U.S. armed services, did increase. But between 1945 and 1948, it reached its peak at only 3.9 percent in 1946. From September 1945 to December 1948, the average unemployment rate was 3.5 percent.
More Obamanomics - the Food Stamp Fiasco...

If the Washington Post insists, it must be correct, right?  'The political fight on health care is over. Republicans won.'

Senior Obama campaign official whinges: 'We are going to be the first incumbent outspent...'

On the international scene, Egyptian state television is reporting that authorities are delaying the announcement of the results of last week's Presidential election 'indefinitely'....the results were promised to be released today. This adds to the turmoil in the country as to who is leading - the Muslim Brotherhood who claim a mandate from the voter or the Egyptian military.

Egypt's former President Hosni Mubarak is reported in a coma, but off life support according to Egyptian security officials. The ailing former President was reported to have suffered a stroke yesterday with conflicting information about his condition - including reports he was clinically dead and kept alive via life support machines.

The President Mubarak is dead / is not dead reminds me of the running SNL gag regarding Spain's former strongman dictator Francisco Franco...

From Ace of Spades - 'Obama is so weak 'They Don't Give a Damn What the United States Says' -

Death panels in nationalized healthcare are real - Top Doctor: Britain's NHS kills off 130,000 elderly patients every year...

Let's wrap up today with some 'lighter' items - fecklessness in the media and a clueless Fauxcahontas and a President accepting blame.....

The tedious and insufferable pinhead, Janeane Garafalo - 'There's a big difference between criticizing Bush and Obama because criticism of Obama is racist'

How do people this vapid even function?

Then there's Andrea Mitchell of NBC News...
Days after airing manipulated footage of Romney speech at Wawa store, NBC still hasn’t offered an apology or explanation as to why it was deceptively edited to make it appear Romney was amazed at the store’s use of technology. In reality, Romney was comparing the tech-savvy private sector to the clumsy government bureaucracy.

“All standards have gone out the window,” said Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, which compared the edited MSNBC clip to unedited video of the rally on YouTube.

“They are editing at will and it doesn’t matter that they are caught. My guess is that they will continue to do it,” Bozell added.

Former MSNBC anchor David Shuster said the network should have owned up to its mistake.

"Covering up Wawa video is bad for accuracy," said Shuster, who was guest hosting for Bill Press on MSNBC competitor Current TV. "Digging in their heels, they have made this, instead of a one-day story, a three-day story," he said.

Writing in Investor's Business Daily, Andrew Malcolm recalled similar distortions aimed at Dan Quayle and President George Bush.

Reports are that NBC's Today Show is firing co-host Ann Curry because of falling ratings... Rather than blaming Curry, perhaps the problem is with the network and its collective hard left wing bias that is costing it ratings?

Melting down under the pressure? Elizabeth Warren blames 'Right Wing Extremist' for Scandal...
Somewhere lurking out there is a Right-Wing Extremist who, decades ago, foresaw the possibility that Elizabeth Warren would be a rising Democrat star – their only hope to unseat a Republican and hold on to the majority in the U.S. Senate. The plot was a dastardly one, and this Right-Wing Extremist executed it perfectly. In the dead of night, he would sneak into Little Lizzie's room and whisper over and over in her delicate ear: You're Cherokee. You're Cherokee. You’re Cherokee.

Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren appears to be cracking under the strain of a scandal that she alone is responsible for bringing down upon her flailing campaign. For it was Elizabeth Warren who ran around for decades pretending to be something she apparently isn't: a "woman of color," specifically, part Cherokee.

I often ask for a President who will stand up and accept blame for what is happening. Here's one who has -and should be a model for both the current and future Presidents...

Today in History

1788 – New Hampshire becomes the 9th and last necessary state to ratify the Constitution of the United States, making the document the law of the land.

1813 – A large allied British, Portuguese, and Spanish force under the command of British General Arthur Wellesley (to become the Duke of Wellington) routs a 60,000 man French army at Vitoria (175 miles NE of Madrid Spain), and drives the French from the Iberian peninsula. In October 1813, Wellesley would launch an invasion of France from Spain.

1942 – 30,000 British and allied troops surrender to General Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps in the port of Tobruk. In the previous year, Tobruk successfully resisted a German siege and impeded Rommel’s efforts to reach the Suez Canal. With the capture of Tobruk, Rommel was now free to continue to drive towards Cairo and the Suez. The fall of Tobruk was a major blow to British morale – and briefly a motion of no confidence was considered in Parliament over Churchill’s leadership.

1963 – The French government shocks its allies by announcing that it is withdrawing its navy from the North Atlantic fleet of NATO.

1964 – The KKK kills three civil rights activists in Mississippi to register black voters.

1989 – The US Supreme Court ruled that burning the American flag as a form of political protest was protected by the First Amendment.

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