Saturday, June 9, 2012

Quick Hits - June 9, 2012

While it has been obvious to political observers for several months that President Obama has been having a number of 'bad weeks', the liberal press is looking at this past week, and seeing a very bad week for Barack Obama and the Democrat Party.

The Washington Post laments the bad week here...
All you need to know about the week the Democrats just had can be summed up by noting that both President Obama and former president Bill Clinton, the two best campaigners their party has seen in decades, had to clean up verbal messes they’d made earlier. And, oh yes, Mitt Romney’s campaign raised more money last month than Obama’s — by more than 25 percent.

None of this was part of the narrative that prevailed at the start of the general election a few weeks ago.

No, there is more to this 'bad week' than just gaffes made by both President Obama and former President Clinton. 

While the 'Fundraiser in Chief' was making his third trip to the piggy bank of Silicon Valley and Hollywood in a month, the fact that the RNC and Romney campaign raised 25% more funds than the DNC and Obama campaign is a reflection that President Obama has experienced far more 'bad weeks' in the last three months than 'good weeks'.  In fact, can we even recall a 'good week' for the President since this year started?

What makes this past week stand out is the scale of the bad week that the President has had - starting with the decisive defeat that he, his party, and his critical union base suffered in Wisconsin on Tuesday.  But the exclamation point to this was the President's 'Important Announcement' Friday morning which will reverberate not for days, or weeks, but for months to come.  This exclamation point is such that, Eric Bolling, on Fox New's The Five, called June 8 the date that Barack Obama lost the 2012 Presidential election.

In about 30 minutes, President Obama, speaking about the status of the US economy in addition to taking questions about the Eurocrisis and the rash of classified information leaks from the Administration, did not, per se, commit a gaffe, but framed his Administration, his policies, and his vision in a manner that will stick in the craw of American voters for months to come.

Talk radio host, Hugh Hewitt, notes the President's claim, 'The private sector is doing just fine...' is the biggest gaffe of the year and a 'Let them eat cake 2.0' moment from 'President Clueless'.

Conservative columnist John Podhoretz echoes Bolling's comments, saying that this presser was the pivotal moment of the 2012 campaign.

Comparisons can be made to Obama's comment and other historic gaffes made which had a major role in determining the winner of a Presidential election - like that of President Gerald Ford when he proclaimed in a debate with the candidate Jimmy Carter that 'There is NO Soviet domination of Eastern Europe...'

The main difference between Ford's gaffe and Obama's stunning statement is that while Ford's was a true gaffe, Obama's comment was not a gaffe. This is what President Obama believes - and his solution is what he and his progressive socialist base believe is really needed to address our economic challenges despite the results of the past 3 years which demonstrate that this is not a solution at all.

Fox News Brit Hume sees this...

Let's look at the President's full statement that continues on from the observation that 'The public sector is doing fine...'
“The private sector is doing fine,” Obama said at a press conference on Friday. “Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy, have to do with state and local government -- oftentimes, cuts initiated by governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don’t have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in.”

Ace of Ace of Spades notes that this is not a new viewpoint of the President...
This argument has been trotted out numerous times by left-wing analysts and commentators.

It's not new.

It's what the left believes.

And it is, I think, what Obama himself reads.

And it's what he believes, even though he's been cautioned not to say it.

If there were no general chatter on this point, perhaps one could claim Obama "misspoke."

But there has been general chatter on this point. The left has been making this argument on blogs for months. The left has been claiming for a year that the private sector is "doing fine," we just need to give money to state governments so that the Democratic Client Class of bureaucrats can be spared any cuts in benefits.

They view this as a type of stimulus spending -- the best kind, because it flows into the hands of the Democratic Client Class.

So this did not come out of nowhere. This as been written about, and argued, and urged, for a long time.

Obama made a mistake, but he did not "misspeak." His error was to say aloud the talking point he's been reading -- and believing -- for months.

This is devastating to the President and his reelection efforts on a number of levels.

First, this comes on the heels of the decisive defeat of this vision / mindset in Wisconsin. Voters in that state saw the effects of a pro-growth policy that also takes back power (and wealth) from the public sector unions to appropriate taxpayer funds. A $3.6 billion deficit shrunk to $154 million. Unemployment dropped a full percentage point. Most importantly, school districts across the state, freed from the burden of rigged healthcare and pension costs of the teacher's unions, saw deficits become surpluses - permitting new hires and new programs to be established.

Second, we see even in bluest of blue California, San Jose, 70% of the electorate vote to rein in out of control public sector pensions to reduce the effects of these costs on the local government budgets.

Third, we see that despite what has happened in the economy since this Administration took power, after the massive Keynesian economic policies around a 33% increase in federal government spending, a $850 billion stimulus bill, $5 trillion in new federal debt in 39 months - exceeding the debt created by the first 42 President's combined, and being on a path for adding $6.4 trillion in debt in his term in office, we have a President who continues to advocate for more government spending and direct assistance from the Federal government to irresponsible State and local governments unable to 'pay their bills' in the name of 'economic growth'.

Do we need to remember the promises of this Administration from March 2009 over what these policies would achieve and compare them to what really happened?

Economic growth?  What economic growth?  This is the most anemic economic recovery since the Great Depression...

As New Jersey Governor Chris Christie notes - President Obama is driving America off a fiscal cliff with this progressive Keynesian economic agenda - the same agenda that has led Europe to its crisis.

The President's answer to the question about the classified leaks of information from within his Administration is another aspect of the President's appearance yesterday that will have an impact deep into this Presidential campaign.

Attorney General Eric Holder, today's John Mitchell, yesterday afternoon named a pair of US attorney's to investigate the classified leaks from the White House / Administration which provide a political advantage to the Administration.  One of these, is an Obama appointee and Obama campaign contributor.  Impartial?  Heh.

The Weekly Standard looks at this real issue of these leaks - defining a narrative around the President...
The president and the New York Times can’t both be right. If the president is correct, then the paper of record, which has so far seemed to be a willing receptacle for the administration’s leaks, must be printing fabrications. Last month the same newspaper detailed how the president directs U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen based on a classified “kill list” of terror suspects, a story based on information from “three dozen” of the president’s “current and former advisers.” So the latest Times article on Iran, revealing what the administration has now tacitly acknowledged as a joint U.S.-Israeli program, looks to be merely the most recent installment in a campaign of intentional leaks damaging to our national security.

The administration, needless to say, sees things differently. From the perspective of Obama’s handlers, and perhaps of their friends in the press, these leaks are spellbinding episodes in a Hollywood-worthy narrative of the president as ever-vigilant superhero, with his finger on the button, ready at a moment’s notice to bring the full weight of American power to bear on our adversaries, so that we may all sleep safely at night. It’s epic, all right. But it’s spin.

All White Houses engage in political stagecraft, but this is something else.

This isn't the first time that the WH has engaged in this level of political stagecraft...from the above column...
In an excerpt from his just published book, Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power, from which the cyber war story was adapted for the Times, Sanger recounts how Pentagon officials “fumed” when White House counterterrorism czar John Brennan apparently gave away “operational secrets never shared outside the tribe.” Defense Secretary Robert Gates confronted the senior administration official he perhaps believed in the best position to enact, or at least forward, his recommendation for a “new strategic communications approach.” And what was that strategic approach? asked White House national security adviser Thomas Donilon. “Shut the f— up,” said Gates.

In other words, Defense Secretary Robert Gates thought President Obama’s national security adviser was responsible, directly or indirectly, for the leaks. And if Donilon is responsible, the buck stops with President Obama.

The Eurocrisis continues to grow, with all eyes on Spain this weekend.

Fresh off the Fitch downgrade of Spain's credit rating to one level above junk status, Moody's is now warning of a Spanish downgrade and threatening other European countries, including those with AAA status of possible downgrades in the event of a Greek exit from the Euro. Moody's current rating on Spain is A3 with a negative outlook.

Moody's also warns, what everyone has known for about 2 years now, that Italy could be next: "However, Spain's banking problem is largely specific to the country and is not likely to be a major source of contagion to other euro area countries, except for Italy, which likewise has a growing funding reliance on the ECB through its banks." Of course none of this is unexpected. What will be, however, to the market, is when all 3 rating agencies have Spain at BBB+ or below, which as ZH first pointed out at the end of April will result in a 5% increase in repo haircuts on Spanish Government Bonds, resulting in yet another epic collateral squeeze for the country which already is forced to pledge Spiderman towels to the central bank.

Reports are that Spain has agreed to an 'unconditional' bank bailout to address it's banking crisis.

This bailout could be over $160 billion in size, with specific terms 'to be agreed within a week'.

Euro finance ministers are holding emergency talks today to address Spain's needs...
Fellow euro nations are expected to demand that Spain carries out reforms in its financial sector in exchange for coming to the aid of its stricken lenders - but the deal is not expected to come with economic conditions.

"The amount on the table at the moment is as much as up to €100bn but this hasn't been decided yet," a senior EU official told AFP during the nearly three-hour call. The money will come with conditions attached entailing a "clean-up of the financial sector", the source said.

The Swedish prime minister signalled the package would be in that region. "There was a question of more than €80bn," Fredrik Reinfeldt said in a radio interview. "It is in fact a question of one of the biggest financial rescues in recent history."

As the political and finance leaders in the Eurozone continue to try to put their fingers into the holes that are appearing in the dyke, there still remains no real clear direction or decision towards changing course within the Eurozone. It is as if the nations of the EU are playing chicken with the Germans - refusing to amend the ways they operate and betting that the Germans will ultimately break and pay their debts rather than let a failed idea be seen as a failed idea.
For Germany, being part of the European Union has always included an element of blackmail. France has been playing this card from the beginning, but now the Spanish and the Greeks have mastered the game. They're banking on Berlin losing its nerve.

France's Hollande reduces the retirement age from 62 to 60 because it's popular - betting that Germany, whose workers work until 67, will be willing to fund the 'easy life' for France rather than break up the Euro or Eurozone. Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Italy are also betting that the productive and hard working Germans will fund the not only the very relaxed and laid back Mediterranean lifestyle - but also fund the citizens of these countries to continue to acquire BMW's and Mercedes automobiles. This is the 'circle of life' in the Eurozone - Germany lends money to the entitlement societies of Southern Europe to help fund their lifestyle and buying German autos / appliances which in turn keeps Germans at work making money to lend to Southern Europe. Is this really sustainable?

Spain, Spanish banks, and other Euro nations are not alone looking at credit downgrades. Big US banks are also bracing for downgrades - coming as soon as this coming week.

This Day in History

1534 - Jacques Cartier discovers the St. Laurence River.

1863 - The largest cavalry battle of the American Civil War is fought at Brandy Station, Virginia.

1954 - Joseph Welch, special counsel for the US Army lashes out and bests Senator Joseph McCarthy during hearings over communist infiltration into the US Armed Forces – destroying the Senator’ arguments, accusations, and witnesses. As McCarthy became more desperate and exasperated, he made wild accusations leading Welch to reply – ‘Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or recklessness.” – before asking “Have you no sense of decency, Sir, at long last?” It was the start of McCarthy’s fall – leading to his condemnation by the US Senate for contempt.

1973 - Secretariat wins the Triple Crown - with a record setting and dominating win in the 1.5 mile Belmont Stakes. Secretariat wins by 31 lengths in a time of 2 minutes and 24 seconds - 3 seconds faster than the previous track record set in 1957.

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