Saturday, July 14, 2012

Quick Hits - July 14, 2012

Ever since the Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare, determining that the individual mandate cornerstone of the legislation was a tax and therefore constitutional under the powers of Congress to levy taxes, the Administration has been loath to refer to it as a tax - despite the Solicitor General arguing before the Court that it was a tax.  The President, his staff, and Democrat Congressional leaders still continue to try to push the false meme that the mandate is not a tax, but a penalty - all to avoid being held accountable by the American voters for passing the largest tax increase on the American taxpayer when they passed Obamacare.

In a Friday evening campaign speech in Roanoke, Virginia, President Obama apparently is now conceding that Obamacare is a 'tax'....
At a campaign speech this evening in Roanoke, Virginia, President Obama seemed to concede that his signature legislation, Obamacare, is in fact a "tax."

"Six million young people who did not have health insurance can now stay on their parents' plan and get health insurance," President Obama said, touting Obamacare, according to a rush transcript. "Seniors are seeing their prescription drug costs go down and, by the way, if you have health insurance, you are not getting hit by a tax."

The implication is obvious: Since those who "have health insurance ... are not getting hit by a tax," it seems to follow that those who do not have health insurance will get hit by a tax under Obamacare.

The central tenet of Obamacare is the individual mandate, which requires all Americans to have health insurance.

Last month the Supreme Court upheld most of Obamacare, and ruled that the individual mandate is a constitutional under Congress's power to tax Americans.

But, since the Supreme Court weighed in, President Obama and his team have mostly avoided calling Obamacare a tax, and suggest that it is instead a "penalty," a semantic distinction that would allow President Obama, the thinking goes, to have kept his promise not to raise taxes on those earning under $250,000 per year.

So either tonight was a slip up by the president, or it's a signal that he's ready to begin calling Obamacare what it is--a tax.

But will this be noticed by an electorate that is 'tuning out a President'?
Again, examine any current topic — green jobs, the Chevy Volt, cash for clunkers, the stimulus, tax hikes, ObamaCare, unemployment, amnesty, the debt, the deficits, race relations — and more or less incoherence follows. Either things have gotten worse or what Obama says is either untrue or not consistent with what he earlier had asserted. The result is that when he starts one of those long teleprompted orations, with the dropped g’s and the faux-African-American preaching patois, we still are impressed how the cadences can package the rather empty content and serial half-truths.

None of the above means that Barack Obama is necessarily going to lose the election, and here is why, given the following paradoxes. There are roughly now two groups of tune-outs: the first are the 50% who are either partisan opponents or who have had it with a president who does not speak the truth and blames his own failures on others. The second are the 50% who likewise don’t pay much attention to Obama’s rhetoric anymore, but they assume that mortgage bailouts; loan forgiveness; massive public hiring; more food stamps, unemployment insurance, and disability payments; freedom from income tax; racial and class resentments; and more still all offer, for the poorer, welcome material, and, for the richer, psychic and philosophical, recompense.

In other words, supporters, both the poor and rich, don’t worry all that much what Obama says, but focus instead only on the fact that he either wishes them to have more government stuff or abhors the same people they’ve always abhorred.

But either way, both the president’s critics and his supporters now are tuning him out.

As Victor Davis Hanson notes in the above link, there are no signs that its clear that Barack Obama is going to lose in November despite the condition of the national economy, the massive tax increase and fiscal irresponsibility of Obamacare, or the crony capitalism and corruption that is rampant in his Administration. Many polls continue to show the race between President Obama and Mitt Romney within the margin of error - yet still attempt to hide the built in skew of +6 to +10 for Democrats, or the focus on registered voters or adults, which add to the pro-Democrat skew.

The media focuses on supporting their candidate, Barack Obama, and tries to picture this as a good time for the President and his campaign despite the regular missteps, gaffes, and poor decisions that come from both the Obama Administration and Obama campaign.

We have, just in this past week, 5 significant Obama campaign gaffes that were committed. How many did you know about?
1. Obama charged that Mitt Romney is not “qualified to think about the economy as a whole.” To be clear, a man who has never owned or run a lemonade stand is challenging the economic bona fides of a man who ran one of the most successful equity firms in America.

2. Obama told an audience that “if you have health insurance you will not be hit with a tax.” The cringe-worthy implication of course being, if you do not have health insurance, you will be subject to a tax.

3. The Obama campaign charges that Romney is a…felon? A man who is so vanilla he won’t so much as consume caffeine is a hardened criminal? Hardly bumper sticker worthy.

4. "There's a term limit thing in the presidency," Obama said. "This isn't like Congress, I can't just keep on running." That’s correct, Mr. President. Right you are, sir!

5. According to Obama, viewers of the most-watched cable news network (Fox News) are “stubborn.” Insulting voters generally doesn’t yield votes.

Senior Obama campaign adviser, David Axelrod, takes the week long smear attacks forward in one of his latest interviews - and then fires off a verbal molotov cocktail by saying there is a 'reign of terror going on in the Republican party'....
In the interview, Axelrod decried the “politics of obstruction” — and then compared Republicans to Robespierre:

NJ President Obama has been vague about what he would accomplish in his second term.

AXELROD The president believes you build a strong, sustainable economy by building a strong, viable growing middle class. You have to continue to upgrade our educational system and improve access to higher education and technical training. We have to invest in research and development and the kinds of things that will create high-end, advanced manufacturing jobs. We have to continue to open up markets all over the world for American products. We need to continue with an all-of-the-above energy policy and really push for the development of all sources of energy. Immigration reform is an unfinished piece of business. But the principal thing we need to be pursuing is a very aggressive strategy of putting people back to work.

NJ How would the president accomplish those goals with a Republican-controlled House and possibly Senate?

AXELROD They have had a policy of obstruction from the day the president arrived. When the president is reelected, it will be a rejection of the politics of obstruction. There’s this reign of terror going on in the Republican Party.

Axelrod is not just a cheap demagogue, he’s also a cheap small-d democrat. Voters sent a Republican-controlled House to Washington specifically to force a change in policy, a message that Axelrod and Barack Obama ignored. The House, by the way, has passed budgets and more than a dozen jobs bills. It’s the Democratic-controlled Senate that has been the obstruction, refusing to pass budgets so that conference committees can resolve issues, and ignoring the House jobs bills altogether. Obama has shown zero leadership on this issue, griping about Republican dissent while ignoring completely that his own party has yet to cast one single supporting vote in three tries on his own budget proposals, and won’t even attempt to hold a vote on Obama’s tax proposals.

What Axelrod said, simply was a series of flat out lies intended to obfuscate and confuse the reader of the interview of the facts. With this being Bastille Day, I find it even more ironic that Axelrod uses that specific choice of words to smear the Republican party - when today's Democrat Party, and in particular the vision and mindset of Barack Obama and his key team, are far closer to the vision and mindset of the Jacobin fascists behind the 'Reign of Terror' than that of the classic liberalism of the conservative Republican party.

Of course, one can also make the far simpler argument - just what happens to those in the Democrat party who are not entirely and completely loyal to the 'Dear Leader', the 'Messiah', or 'The One'? Rather than the direct introduction to Madame Guillotine, it's under the bus...

Powerline asks, 'Can a candidate lie his way to the Presidency?'...
Barack Obama has developed quite a record as a liar. He lied for more than a decade about where he was born. He lied about many aspects of his life in his fictional “memoir.” He lied about his Chicago years and has activities and associations there. (Has anyone ever asked the question, what did Obama do when he lived in Chicago, and whom did he know there, since it seems that all of the activities and associations of which we have a record are now, as Nixon might say, inoperative.) To answer my own question, I think a candidate likely can lie his way into office, but I doubt that in incumbent president can lie his way to re-election. For the first time in his life, apparently, Barack Obama has a record.

Which doesn’t stop him from trying. The Obama campaign’s current Bain Capital smear, which many media outlets have taken up, ranks with Quemoy, Matsu and Checkers as absurd campaign “issues.”

Despite the case made by Dr. Victor Davis Hanson that much of the electorate is tuning out the President and not aware or caring over the lies, smears, and irrational contradictions of the President, members of his Administration, or his Congressional / Media supporters, I do believe that the onslaught of such careless and irresponsible statements is going to resonate with the silent majority of American voters in November.

How else can one respond when the Obama Administration Department of Energy officials tell Congress that the loan program that produced the Solyndra crony capitalism an 'enormous success'....

And brings forth a simple, but clear response from the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee that highlights to all the extent of the lie that was just told Congress...
Abound Solar – The solar manufacturer received a $400 million DOE stimulus loan guarantee - BANKRUPT

Solyndra – The solar manufacturer received a $535 million DOE stimulus loan guarantee - BANKRUPT

Beacon Power – The solar company received a $43 million DOE stimulus loan guarantee – BANKRUPT

Nevada Geothermal Power – Internal audit for the firm that received a $98.5 million stimulus loan guarantee revealed $98 million in net losses and significant debt. MAJOR LOSSES & DEBT

Ener1 – The battery maker, #67 on the White House list of 100 Projects that are Changing America, received a $118.5 million stimulus grant - BANKRUPT

A123 – The battery maker received a $249 million DOE stimulus grant - LAYOFFS

Fisker Automotive – The electric vehicle manufacturer received a $529 million DOE ATVM stimulus loan - LAYOFFS

This is the record of a program that is an 'enormous success'?

Then we have the latest example of the 'imperial Obama Presidency'...

... as President Obama issues another Executive Order that effectively invalidates / repeals a federal law that he personally disagrees with - in this case, the 1996 Welfare Reform legislation signed into law by President Bill Clinton.  This decision was quickly slammed by GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney - both for the way in which it was done, and the act which eliminates any work requirements by welfare recipients in order to maintain their benefits.

The Obama Administration's USDA is finally moving to end their controversial advertising program intended to drive more people to the national Food Stamp program and increase their dependency on the federal government.  Since the President was inaugurated in January 2009, more than 15 million more Americans have joined the Food Stamp rolls (a 50% increase) and costs for Food Stamps have soared from $23 billion per year to over $80 billion per year.  Increased media attention, particularly on a 10 part series of advertisements as part of Spanish language 'novelas' pushing Hispanics towards applying for Food Stamps, was instrumental in the reversal in direction.

Scranton, Pennsylvania, the home town of Vice President Joe Biden, made the news this week as the latest city dominated by decades of progressive politicians that is crippled by the fiscal irresponsibility that comes from the progressive agenda.  Rather than declare bankruptcy as Stockton, CA and San Bernadino, CA have done, the Mayor of Scranton decided to reduce the pay of every city employee, including first responders, to that of minimum wage - even after the public sector union leaders got an injunction to supposedly prevent the Mayor from taking that action.

As they squabble as to what will be done, what is not being addressed are the policies that put the city into this dire fiscal situation.  The Investor's Business Daily went to Scranton to talk to people there about the cause of the problem - and what to do....
IBD talked to multiple sources in Scranton. A Chamber of Commerce source said a survey of the group's members showed many were worried about taxes and health care costs. A recurring theme was that the "Progressive City" had engaged in, well, progressivism.

Coffers are bare because the city's business base is too small. The big job opportunities in Scranton are in government. The federal government is Scranton's top employer, while state and city jobs are in the top 10.

There's also the nonprofit sector so praised by the Obama administration as superior to the grubby profit-oriented business. That includes hospitals and schools which are vital, but which don't pay taxes. Schools were the top recipient of Scranton's $192 million in stimulus.

Another issue is that the city has state-instituted no-tax zones for some businesses, which leaves the remaining companies — about 60% — carrying the tax burden.

So, it's little wonder some are voting with their feet to leave the city without funding for its 300-some police, firefighters and garbage collectors.

Scranton would do well to replace its lopsided tax code with a flat tax that ends the picking of winners and losers. Scranton's strife is complicated but it's a cautionary tale of what happens when government grows at the expense of the private sector. It won't be the last.

Alas, the progressives will not permit those simple steps to take place.

Progressivism? Socialism? or just old fashioned Fascism?

French automaker Peugeot has announced that they are going to eliminate 8,000 jobs and close a Paris auto manufacturing plant because of the effects of the dismal economy in the Eurozone which is negatively impacting their sales - and the company's bottom line.

However, new French socialist President Francois Hollande is furious over the decision made by the business leaders of Peugeot...
Peugeot job cuts are ‘unacceptable’ - PSA Peugeot Citro├źn's plans to slash 8,000 jobs are "unacceptable" and must be renegotiated, French President Francois Hollande said on Saturday.

Speaking on national television, the French president insisted that he would press the company to amend the plan. “The plan in the current state is not acceptable, it won’t be accepted,” he said.

Mr Hollande, who took office in May, said the government had asked experts to assess the struggling carmaker's finances and make recommendations for the company.

So, in France today, business owners / leaders no longer are entitled to make decisions regarding their company or stockholders that are based on fiscal realities, but have to accept the dictates of the French government which are demanding decisions based on political interests - even if those decisions force the company to lose money and perhaps fold.

A Russian flagged merchant ship is now underway from Russia sailing to Syria carrying a load of Mi-25 attack helicopters for the Syrian government in defiance of an arms embargo established against the Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad's regime. Several months ago, an earlier attempt to deliver the attack helicopters to the Assad military was disrupted when British marine underwriters cancelled the insurance on the ship - preventing its sailing. Moscow effectively reflagged the ship as a Russian ship - and is providing the insurance for the voyage, promising that the ship will deliver it's cargo despite Western disapproval.

This comes as the carnage in Syria being conducted by the Syrian regime is increasing. Today there are reports of another major massacre of civilians in Syria at the hands of the regime, with over 200 killed in the Sunni village of Tremseh. This is the latest of sectarian ethnic cleansing that has resulted in an estimated 18,000 or more civilian deaths in the last 15 months.

The Economist reports is that tensions continue to rise in the South China Sea over the expansionist actions of the People's Republic of China. This time, the flashpoint is between Vietnam and the PRC over the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands - the latter a chain that comes within 37 nautical miles of the Vietnamese coast. China has, contrary to history and the UN approved economic limits, is demanding control of almost all of the South China Sea – and has established a prefecture to ‘manage’ what they claim is their territory. On June 28th, the PRC Defense Ministry announced it is launching ‘combat ready’ patrols through the area – after Vietnam announced it was conducting aerial patrols over it’s territory. In 1988, a naval engagement with the PRC in the Spratly’s left over 70 Vietnamese dead.

It should come as no real surprise to many that I am what some 'denounce' as a climate change skeptic. I do not accept the politically and ideologically motivated claims of leftists like Al Gore who claim that the globe is on the precipice of disaster caused by man-made global warming - a disaster that can be prevented by adopting progressive / leftists political solutions and a massive redistribution of wealth from rich nation to poor nation. The scientific methodology pushed by those like James Hansen, Michael Mann, and others is the worst form of unethical scientific malfeasance....and this report from the UK's Daily Mail highlights a study that runs opposite of their claims and rigged computer models....
Rings in fossilised pine trees have proven that the world was much warmer than previously thought - and the earth has been slowly COOLING for 2,000 years.

Measurements stretching back to 138BC prove that the Earth is slowly cooling due to changes in the distance between the Earth and the sun.

The finding may force scientists to rethink current theories of the impact of global warming.

It is the first time that researchers have been able to accurately measure trends in global temperature over the last two millennia.

Over that time, the world has been getting cooler - and previous estimates, used as the basis for current climate science, are wrong.

Their findings demonstrate that this trend involves a cooling of -0.3°C per millennium due to gradual changes to the position of the sun and an increase in the distance between the Earth and the sun.

While man, clearly, can negatively impact his environment, and does, we have also in the developed nations, implemented reasonable and balanced steps to limit this damage. As for global climate - far too many advocates ignore or disregard solar effects and cycles - and instead focus on politically motivated solutions.

According to Gallup, American confidence in television news is at a new low, with only 21% of adults of expressing a great deal or a quite a lot of confidence in it.
This marks a decline from 27% last year and from 46% when Gallup started tracking confidence in television news in 1993.

The findings are from Gallup's annual update on confidence in U.S. institutions, conducted June 7-10 this year. As such, the findings preceded the erroneous initial reports by cable-news networks CNN and Fox News regarding the U.S. Supreme Court's June 28 decision about the constitutionality of the U.S. healthcare law.

Among 16 U.S. institutions tested, television news ranks 11th, following newspapers in 10th place. The 25% of adults who express a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in newspapers is down slightly from 28% last year. Confidence in newspapers is now half of what it was at its peak of 51% in 1979.

Then there are broadcasters like the loathsome and vile lib-talker / ranter Mike Malloy who 'phoned Satan' to check up on the late Andrew Breitbart, who apparently deserved a trip to Hell because he wouldn't 'just accept' the 'dear leader's great teachings'...


Today in History

1099 – The First Crusade captures Jerusalem - during the final assault and in the days immediately after the capture, tens of thousands of Jerusalem’s residents, primarily Muslims and Jews, were slaughtered by the Crusaders.

1789 - Parisian revolutionaries and mutinous troops storm and dismantle the Bastille, a royal fortress in Paris that had come to symbolize the tyranny of the Bourbon monarchs. Signaled the beginning of the French Revolution – a decade of political turmoil and terror including the overthrowing of the French monarchy, and the butchering of tens of thousands, including the King and Queen, via the guillotine.

1798 – The US Congress passes the Sedition Act – making it a federal crime to write, publish, or utter false or malicious statements about the US government.

1881 – Sheriff Pat Garrett shoots Henry McCarty, aka Billy the Kid, to death at the Maxwell Ranch in New Mexico.

1945 – US Navy battleships and cruisers bombard the Japanese home islands for the first time.

1963 – USSR releases a statement that provides the first clear indication of a growing rupture between the two largest communist states in the world, the USSR and PRC, over the future of the communist ideology. From this point until the collapse of the USSR, relations were strained with the PRC.

2008 – The iTunes Music Store reached 10 million applications downloaded.

2009 – The iTunes Music Store reached 1.5 billion applications downloaded.

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