Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Quick Hits - August 14, 2012

The Presidential campaign continues to dominate the news - and focus.  We continue to have one side focusing on demonization, scare tactics, blatant misrepresentations, and appealing to those voters who have the attention span and political intelligence of a table lamp, and then we have those who do not.  But today, there are a couple of real surprises that I'll spring on you as we work our way through the post...

More classic Iowahawk:  'Screaming hysterical hecklers at Ryan IA State Fair speech rush stage, punch supporters, get arrested.  I guess because Ryan's an extremist.'

Vice President 'Clueless' Joe Biden appeared at a campaign event in the swing state battleground of Virginia - near the VA-NC border - and said this to the crowd present - 'With your help, we can win North Carolina again!'

JammieWearingFool has a copy of a DCCC fundraising letter sent out yesterday that has just the slightest tinge of panic over the size of the crowds that are now greeting both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan at their campaign events.

This is as reports from Florida where hundreds were turned away from a Mitt Romney campaign event as screeners could not keep up with the size of the crowd.

Yesterday, VP Biden was in North Carolina (yes, really, it was NC this time) and this appearance offered an interesting contrast to the two campaigns.  Some estimates of the crowd at the Romney / Ryan appearance in High Point, North Carolina estimated the crowd approaching 15,000 (we reported it conservatively as over 10,000), Joe Biden's appearance brought out a rousing....660.
Vice President Joe Biden spoke before a crowd of 660 people in Durham, N.C., at the Durham Armory during a campaign stop for President Barack Obama on Monday.

Biden’s appearance before a comparatively meager crowd came a day after the newly formed Republican ticket — presidential candidate Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan — rallied a crowd of over 10,000 in High Point, N.C., about an hour away, and a crowd of approximately 4,700 people in Mooresville, N.C., about two and a half hours away.
Both 'The Hill' and 'Politico' openly shill for the Democrats today - with articles touting unnamed anonymous 'Republican strategists' who are worried about Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan for his running mate will  cost the GOP seats in the House and Senate in November as his record and views provide the Democrats with fodder to run on.

Which is more reprehensible - the media outlets running with unsubstantiated crap like this, or the so-called 'Republican strategists' who lack the integrity to put their names to their concerns.

At least Paul Ryan has the support of this person - a former President Bill Clinton Chief of Staff, Co-Chair of the Bowles-Simpson Deficit Reduction Commission established by President Barack Obama, Erskine Bowles who speaks very positively of Paul Ryan and his GOP budget proposal that was rejected by Congress...

There are others who also are putting their approval of Paul Ryan forward...

Rush Limbaugh - Ryan the 'last boy scout'...
“I look at the Democrats try to tar and feather this guy as they’re going to,” Limbaugh said. “Have you noticed in three days we already know more about Paul Ryan’s life than we knew about Obama’s and Biden’s in more than four years. And Ryan hasn’t even written two biographies. Ryan hadn’t written one biography and we know more about Paul Ryan and his wife and his kids than we know today bout Barack Obama. And I have to laugh. It’s as predictable as the sun coming up in the morning. News media carrying the Obama campaign’s water immediately labeling Ryan ‘radical, extreme.’”

Limbaugh compared Obama to Ryan and based on what is out there about each of them, Ryan he said was a “boy scout.”

“Here you have Barack Obama, who is a street agitator, a Saul Alinsky disciple, a man who called Jeremiah Wright his spiritual mentor, who never called ‘radical’ or ‘extreme’ by the news media,’” Limbaugh said. “But Paul Ryan, who may well be the last Boy Scout, who may well be the last Boy Scout — Paul Ryan is called radical and extreme and anathema to women? That women only care about contraception and abortion — well we know this all a crock.”
George Will, writing in the Washington Post, notes that selecting Paul Ryan as his running mate has made Mitt Romney 'Presidential'...
In his “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” King wrote, “You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. . . . But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love. . . . Was not Amos an extremist for justice. . . . Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel. . . . Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”

Remember this episode when you hear, ad nauseam, that Ryan is directly, and Romney now is derivatively, an extremist for believing (a) that “ending Medicare as we know it” will be done by arithmetic if it is not done by creative reforms of the sort Ryan proposes, and (b) that the entitlement state’s crisis cannot be cured, as Obama suggests, by adding 4.6 points to the tax rate paid by less than 3 percent of Americans.

When Ryan said in Norfolk, “We won’t replace our Founding principles, we will reapply them,” he effectively challenged Obama to say what Obama believes, which is: Madison was an extremist in enunciating the principles of limited government — the enumeration and separation of powers. And Jefferson was an extremist in asserting that government exists not to grant rights but to “secure” natural rights that pre-exist government.

Romney’s selection of a running mate was, in method and outcome, presidential. It underscores how little in the last four years merits that adjective.
Much of the focus still remains around Medicare / Mediscare (D version).  Medicare is a central battleground around not only the fiscal responsibility and future of the country, but also around Obamacare and the entitlement state.  The Wall Street Journal today reminds us of 'Criticality in the Medicare Debate'...
There was a small but instructive moment in 2010, the summer after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, that shows why Paul Ryan is so unusual for Washington.

A panel at the American Enterprise Institute featured Richard Foster, the Medicare actuary who estimates that ObamaCare's $716 billion in Medicare cuts will cause one of six hospitals to become unprofitable. In the audience was Chip Kahn, the president of a for-profit hospital trade group that lobbied for ObamaCare, who stood up to defend the bargain his industry cut in return for 30 million new subsidized customers.

Mr. Foster noted that the cuts, which come via a technical change to Medicare payment rates, apply in perpetuity. But the hospitals only get the extra patients once, so the wedge between costs and benefits for hospitals widens over time. "Well," Mr. Kahn replied, "you can say, 'Did you make a bad deal?' Fortunately I don't think I'll probably be working after 2020." When Mr. Foster pressed him, he joked again, "I'm glad my contract only goes another six years." [Ed note - note this point]

The core problem is that open-ended Medicare, which spends one of five dollars in health care, buys services whose costs are rapidly increasing. It is a "defined benefit." Mr. Ryan wants to move to a "defined contribution," where seniors would get a fixed-dollar subsidy to buy private insurance. Seniors who desire more generous benefits would pay at the margin. This shift to "premium support," akin to the private-sector transition to 401(k)s from pensions, would change the incentives in health care and make medicine more accountable to patient choice.

Today, Medicare's arbitrary fee-for-service price controls pay the best hospitals and the worst hospitals equally, regardless of quality or value. Innovators who deliver better care at a lower cost are rarely rewarded, as they would be in any other industry. Under premium support, networks of providers would be competing for consumers and become more efficient over time, instead of billing taxpayers for their current negative rate of productivity.

The reality is that the status quo that Democrats pretend is an alternative to "privatization" is already irretrievably gone and Medicare is already changing, for worse or for far worse. The Affordable Care Act pegs Medicare spending to the growth of the economy plus 1% with the crude across-the-board cuts to providers identified by Mr. Foster. A bureaucratic panel of 15 men and women will enforce the cap by decreeing how medicine should be practiced and how doctors and hospitals are organized.
And economist / columnist Thomas Sowell looks at this, and proclaims that President Obama is doomed in a fact based campaign...
If this year's election is going to be decided on the basis of hard facts, the Obama administration is doomed. But the Obama campaign is well aware of that, which is why we are hearing so many distracting innuendoes and outright lies about such peripheral issues as what Mitt Romney is supposed to have done while running Bain Capital -- or even what is supposed to have happened at Bain Capital, years after Mitt Romney was long gone.

The Obama campaign's big smear, about how Romney is supposed to have caused a woman to die of cancer, has been exposed as a lie by CNN, hardly a Republican network. What smears like this show is that the Obama administration cannot run on its track record, so it has to run on distractions from the country's real problems. When Senator Harry Reid claims that Mitt Romney hasn't paid his income taxes, and demands that Governor Romney disprove this unsubstantiated allegation, that raises an obvious question as to why the Internal Revenue Service has not prosecuted Romney, instead of leaving that to a partisan politician in an election year.

When Ronald Reagan ran against President Jimmy Carter back in 1980, he asked the question that should be asked of the voters when any president is seeking reelection: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

Four years later, when Reagan ran for reelection, he implicitly asked and answered that same question in a campaign commercial titled "Morning in America," which listed the ways the country was better off than it had been four years earlier. Don't look for any "Morning in America" ads from Obama. "Mourning in America" might be more appropriate.

This election is a test, not just of the opposing candidates but of the voting public. If what they want are the hard facts about where the country is, and where it is heading, they cannot vote for more of the same for the next four years. But, if what they want is emotionally satisfying rhetoric and a promise to give them something for nothing, to be paid for by taxing somebody else, then Obama is their man. This is not to say that the public will in fact get something for nothing or that rich people will just pay higher taxes, when it is easy for them to escape taxation by investing overseas -- creating jobs overseas.
The Obama campaign is not based on facts, regardless of their efforts to try to spin it otherwise.

Bill Burton, the head of Priorities USA and the man behind the discredited Joe Soptic 'Mitt killed my wife' advertisement continues to claim that there is 'not one fact wrong with the ad'.  I suppose in a 'Clintonesque' way, he is right. It's not just one fact that is wrong - there are multiple facts wrong with that advertisement as I've highlighted in previous QH posts.

CNN's vapid anchor, Soledad O'Brien, has no grasp of the facts either.  Seeking assistance in a debate / interview with Romney campaign senior adviser Barbara Comstock, O'Brien is seen on the air reading an article from the far left website 'Talking Points Memo' for her talking points...

Here's a close-up of O'Brien...

What she's reading from is a TPM article titled "The Myth Of Paul Ryan The Bipartisan Leader" published Monday at 6:08 PM only a few hours before this program started.
Newsbusters.org then brings us the next of Soledad O'Brien's stint representing the Obama campaign...
Less than twelve hours after getting caught reading from a liberal blog during a heated debate with a Romney adviser, CNN's Soledad O'Brien was back on the air Tuesday echoing Democrat talking points.

In fact, things got so hot with former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu (R) on CNN's Starting Point that he ended up saying, "Put an Obama bumper sticker on your forehead when you do this"

Yet, CNN offers us one of our media surprises in today's post.  CNN's Wolf Blitzer, during an interview with Democrat National Committee Chair, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, actually becomes a relentless and responsible journalist.  Guy Benson, Townhall.com gives credit where credit is due...

Poor Debbie. She's totally out-gunned and has nowhere to hide. Her talking points are pitifully hollow and cannot withstand even basic questioning. She stubbornly rejects the (correct) premise that the Romney/Ryan Medicare reform plan exempts everyone over the age of 54, and plays fast and loose with numbers -- conflating 55 and 65 on several occasions. When she is brow-beaten into finally acknowledging -- if not admitting -- the truth around the 3:45 mark, she quickly realizes her "mistake" and reverts back into denialism. When Blitzer asks her to specify exactly how current or soon-to-be seniors would be impacted by the GOP plan, she cannot. Because they're not. The Left is intellectually bankrupt on the very subject they claim will allow them to crush Mitt Romney in November. They despise the bipartisan solution Republicans have offered, but they have no alternative of their own. Dear Democrats, Medicare is slated to go bankrupt in 2024. You say it's wrong for future seniors to be denied Medicare as it currently exists. Okay, what's your plan, guys? We know that your actions have already cut Medicare by $700 Billion to pay for part of Obamacare. We also know that Obamacare establishes a government panel to ration care for the elderly. And yet the 2024 deadline is still coming. Again, what's your plan, Democrats? Mr. President? Anyone? I confronted Wasserman Schutlz on this very question last summer, and she gave an incoherent and inaccurate response.
It's really unbelievable.  As Benson notes later in his post, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is Barack Obama's hand-picked choice to lead the Democrat National Committee.  She's not some fringe player or member of Congress.  And she cannot defend the vapid talking points or how wrong these points are with the real facts - because the base position is indefensible and not based on any facts.

The Congressional Budget Office, on July 24th of this year, said that the $500 billion that Obamacare yanks out of Medicare over the next 10 years  - the loss of said funds weren't included in the Medicare actuarial report that said the program would be insolvent in 2024 - has grown to $714 billion over the next 10 years.  No matter how much Democrat operatives - in office or in newsrooms - try to spin it otherwise - the funds are being yanked out of Medicare, Medicare 'as we know it' is going to fail in a dozen years, and that those who are older than 55 will not see their Medicare change under the Romney / Ryan plan - and those under 55 will have the option to replace today's Medicare with the exact same health insurance program that current Federal government employees enjoy.

The one's lying are the Democrats who are lying about the funding of Obamacare and Medicare.  As I quoted a few days ago - here's HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius testifying before Congress and telling the truth...
Even more fraudulently, Team Obama simultaneously dedicates these (un)Affordable Care Act funds to underwrite future Medicare benefits.

“So,” Rep. John Shimkus (R., Ill.) asked Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at a March 3, 2011, House hearing, “are you using it [the $500 billion] to save Medicare, or are you using it to fund health-care reform? Which one?”

Secretary Sebelius admitted: “Both.”

“So,” Shimkus responded, “you’re double-counting.”
Matt Lauer, of NBC's Today program, also shocks us with a surprise hardball question to Obama Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter during an interview today....using the President's own words to question the direction and message of the Obama campaign in promoting 'Mediscare'...

Lauer: Well when you say that, Stephanie, you know, President Obama addressed Paul Ryan at a GOP retreat in 2010 and he said this, quote, "We're not going to be able to do anything about these entitlements if what we do characterize whatever proposal's are put out there as 'well, you know, that's the other party being irresponsible...the other party trying to hurt our senior citizens.'" Which sounds exactly what – like what you just said.
Didn't Matt know that everything Barack Obama says has an expiration date on it?

Did you catch one of the 'Big 3' evening newscasts last night?  All three highlighted President Obama's charge made during an appearance at the Iowa State Fair that Representative Paul Ryan is holding up a farm aid bill - but only CBS notes that in reality, Ryan and the House of Representatives did vote in favor of a drought relief bill that has been delayed for the past 2 weeks in the [Democrat controlled] Senate.

And how many did stories on the filing of the Contempt of Congress civil lawsuit against Attorney General Eric Holder over Fast and Furious?

Have you seen the stories touting the positive economic news and signs of a revitalized economic recovery since the release of the July retail sales numbers show a 0.8% increase in retail sales?  I just heard one on the local radio news channel.  Are you like me and now start taking these positive gains with several grains of salt?

You should, because this 'positive' news comes from our old friend in the Obama Administration - cooked books...
The July retail sales beat came as a surprise to many: an 0.8% increase (full series here) at a time when the data was supposed to grow at less than half this would surely be indicative of a potential turnaround in the US economy. Then we decided to do a quick spot check if maybe the Census Bureau had not adopted one of the BLS' worst habits: fudging seasonal adjustment factors. The reason for this is because we happened to notice that Not Seasonally Adjusted (full series here) retail sales data in July actually declined by 0.9% from $405.8 to $402 billion. Of course, if the Census Bureau was using a consistent, or at least remotely comparable July seasonal adjustment factor as it has in the past, this would make sense and we would move on. So we decided to look at what the July seasonal adjustment variance over the past decade has been. What we found would have shocked us if indeed this is not precisely what we expected: with the July seasonal adjustment factor routinely subtracting a substantial amount from the NSA number, averaging at -$5.2 billion, in 2012, for the first time this decade, the seasonal adjustment not only did not subtract, but in fact added "value" to the NSA number, resulting in a seasonally adjusted number that was $1.9 billion higher than the NSA number at $403.9 billion.
More economic news - Small business optimism hits a 9 month low....

One of the more common complaints I see are those leftists who get upset when we highlight and contrast the Reagan economic results with those of Obama.  A frequent whinge is that the economic mess that Reagan inherited was not as bad as the economic mess that Obama 'inherited'.  Here's a factual comparison of not only the results of Reagan recovery compared to the Obama recovery, but compares the economic hole that each inherited.

The Obama Treasury Department is saying in a new report the government expects to lose more than $25 billion on the $85 billion auto bailout program. That's 15% higher than its previous forecast.

In Europe, banks and investors are preparing for the collapse of the Euro as the debt crisis continues....

Greece has bought itself a little more time...but at what cost?
Greece held its biggest debt sale since its economy imploded two years ago as it raised €4.06 billion ($5.01 billion) in a short-term debt to pay off a bond due next week.

Athens will now avoid having to ask for emergency funding to pay off a €3.2 billion ($3.9 billion) bond that matures Aug. 20 and is held by the European Central Bank.

However, the debt-crippled country saw its borrowing costs rise, while demand for the 13-week treasury bills was much lower than in last month's issue. The interest rate in the auction was 4.43 percent, up from last month's equivalent 4.28 percent, Greece's debt management agency said in a statement. In comparison, Germany offers near-zero yields in its T-bill issues.

The auction was 1.36 percent oversubscribed as against 2.12 times last time.

Today in History

1248 - The rebuilding of the Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany begins after being destroyed by fire.

1880 - The Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany was completed after 632 years of rebuilding.

1896 - The Yukon Gold Rush begins as gold is discovered in Canada's Yukon Territory.  Within the next year, 30,000 would rush to the area to search for gold.

1900 - An international military relief force comprised of troops from 8 nations life the siege of Peking against the diplomatic legations of those nations.  It also marked the end of the Boxer Rebellion - aimed to purge China of foreigners.

1935 - President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act in law.

1945 - President Harry Truman announces to the American people that Japan has surrendered unconditionally - ending the Second World War.  The formal surrender ceremony would take place on September 2, 1945 on board the USS Missouri anchored in Tokyo Bay.

1947 - Pakistan becomes independent from British rule.

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