Sunday, August 19, 2012

Quick Hits - August 19, 2012

80 days until the November elections, and we are one week from the kick-off of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida.

For many, the Presidential race remains a toss-up.  But there are some real undercurrents in the campaign, particularly since the selection of Paul Ryan as the GOP VP candidate, that do not bode well for President Obama and VP Joe Biden.  These undercurrents go beyond the policy debate and issues around Medicare, Healthcare reform, foreign policy, and the stagnant economic recovery that is over 3 years old.  These are undercurrents that do not  have measurements that are objective or easily quantified.  But like a rip current that isn't known to exist until it is felt, they are there and will have an impact.

One of these undercurrents exists in the well established pro-progressive / Democrat media bias that exists in the mainstream media.  Some have tried to quantify this bias as having at least a 3-5 point positive impact for the Democrat candidate in the popular vote - others call it higher.  In 2008, the pro-Obama media, enthralled with 'Hope and Change' and the concept of the first African-American President, were 'all in' for Barack Obama.  They contributed significantly to the enthusiasm and excitement for his candidacy.  They influenced independents and played a key role in the 52.8 percentage of the popular vote that Obama won.

But this election year, there are increasing signs of hairline fractures in this pro-Obama group.  These are fractures that could turn into full breaks.  They come from the growing anger in the White House Press Corps over the silence from Barack Obama - no formal press conferences since March, not answering direct questions since June, and now, the penchant for seeking Entertainment Tonight and People's Magazine, 'soft' elements, for interviews.

The pinheaded Obama Deputy Campaign Manager, Stephanie Cutter, appeared this morning on CNN's 'State of the Union' program, and likely deepened one of these hairline fractures with the WH Press Corps.  She claimed that interviews by the President with Entertainment Tonight and People Magazine are 'equally important' to formal press conferences.  Noel Sheppard, blogging at has the scoop....

In the midst of his interview with Cutter, substitute host Jim Acosta said, "Mitt Romney this week had two news conferences. President Obama had zero. As a matter of fact, the President hasn’t had any news conferences for nearly two months. When should we expect one?"

"Well, you know, the President was talking to reporters on the ground in Iowa," Cutter replied. "Do you think that that’s less important than talking to somebody like you?"

Ouch. That's a little backhanded.

She continued, "You know, everywhere the President goes, he’s talking to reporters.He’s traveling the country. We’re running for reelection. Iowa is a critical state. We’re going to spend our time talking to media all over this country."

"Entertainment Tonight, People magazine, he did that as well,” countered Acosta. “Are they more important than the national news media?”

“I don’t think that they’re more important," said Cutter, "but I think they’re equally important. I think that’s where a lot of Americans get their news. And I think the President’s going to continue doing that.”

So, the President going on Entertainment Tonight or being interviewed by People magazine is “equally important” to actually doing a press conference.

I guess this is the real transparency of Hope and Change.
Yesterday, I wondered if some of this comes from the campaign adopting a bit of a 'bunker mentality' - seeing things aren't going well, feeling or being powerless to really drive change - particularly in the grim economic numbers, trying to use rhetoric and spin to fight facts that are what they are, the WH and campaign seems to be trying to redefine the message.  Challenged on Medicare (a traditional Democrat 'winning issue'), healthcare reform, economic policies (You didn't build that), and increasing foreign policy challenges, the Obama campaign plays the race and class warfare cards - seeking to make the issue Romney's wealth and unreleased tax returns.

Missing at this point in the Obama campaign is the enthusiasm and large crowds that were so apparent in 2008.  Missing in the Obama campaign, but not in the Romney-Ryan campaign over the last 8 days since Paul Ryan was added to the ticket.

The blog Powerline notes in a post today these differences in crowd sizes and enthusiasm - looking closely at the crowd that greeted Paul Ryan in a Florida retirement community where he appeared with his mother and promoted the Romney-Ryan plan to save Medicare.  This is an appearance that Daily Kos founder, Markos Moulitsas boasted would never happen - intimating that Medicare in Florida is the 'third rail' for the GOP.  But as is usual, Markos was wrong.

Where the Powerline observation really hits home is in their use of two analogies to accentuate their point - one based on the cult classic film 'Spinal Tap' and the other on a tweet that links Barack Obama to a 1970's era 'one hit wonder'...

What makes these analogies even more fitting is reality.  Like the Obama campaign spokesman who said today that the Obama campaign is intentionally limiting crowd sizes at Obama and Biden events....
We have plenty of time for big rallies,” a campaign spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said between the rallies on Thursday. “Our focus right now is on exciting our supporters and winning over undecided voters and the smaller and medium-size events are the best venue to accomplish that because the president can closely engage with the crowd.”

Big rallies are expensive, especially given the logistical and security challenges for a president as opposed to a mere United States senator. And Obama campaign operatives, both at the Chicago headquarters and in swing states where Mr. Obama recently has stumped, say the campaign intentionally limits crowds by restricting tickets. The reason is to allow the president to better connect with supporters, aides say.
Does anyone really believe this?

There are still some 'loyal' elements of the mainstream media bias that continue to advocate for Barack Obama.  One of these is the Washington Post, the WaPoo as I now call it.  Today's edition features a partnership between the WaPoo and a left-wing foundation to declare that today's political parties are far more polarized today than ever before (more than the Republican / Democrat battle of 1860 on the issue of slavery?) - and that the degree of polarization is a 'potentially insurmountable barrier' to governance and that 'gulf between Republicans and Democrats has never been wider' (again 1860?).

What a convenient explanation for the 'failure' of the Obama policies - the polarization of Washington made it impossible for the President to 'govern'.

The article notes that both campaigns are 'extremist' and practicing 'scorched earth' - but this seems vapid when compared to the comparison offered by Michael Ramirez in his cartoon above.  One has to wonder where the objections are when the titular head of one party, when in negotiations with senior members of the other party, responded to their observations and concerns with a dismissive, 'I won' - laying out his position towards compromise.

This is just one example.'s Big Journalism site highlights today evidence that the 'fact checking' organization, 'PolitiFact', has joined with to campaign for the President - embracing intellectual dishonesty to promote the progressive agenda of Barack Obama.

There is a lot of distasteful rhetoric in this campaign - and around the battle over progressivism and conservatism - should the US be 'fundamentally changed' or should we return to the our roots of individualism over collectivism.  Under reported in the mainstream media remains the efforts of an apparent far-left wingnut, motivated by a hatred of conservative values promoted by left-wing entities, attempted to enter a conservative organization's Washington DC offices, and gun down as many workers there as possible.  The FBI has already noted a possible 'political motivation' for the attack - but the double standard of the press is in plain view.

When a deranged person without a political affiliation attempts to murder a Democrat Congresswoman, and kills 6 in a townhall meeting, the press and leftwing noise machine immediately associates that person with the  'extremist hate group', the Tea Party.  But in the case of the shooting at the Family Research Center, the silence is deafening over the complicity of far-left organizations towards the motivations of the leftist shooter. The Southern Poverty Law Center gets little attention for it's inflammatory definition that an organization that opposes same-sex marriage is based on 'hate'.   Or that Planned Parenthood labeled the FRC a 'terrorist organization' since 2006 - and now worries about renewed threats to cut off it's spigot of taxpayer funding for it's own hate.

[Side note - I am one of those who firmly believes that Planned Parenthood should not get any taxpayer funds at the local, state, or federal level (along with other similar organizations).  Those who believe in and support Planned Parenthood should donate privately to the organization.  If they cannot operate entirely on private donations, then they need to reexamine their operations and priorities.]

Policy issues are also key in this election.  This is an unacceptable record...

However, it's good to be 'king' as they say.  Seeking to boost his election chances, President Obama opens the federal spending spigot again in a renewed stimulus effect - $470 million in new road construction funding from the Department of Transportation, $100 million from the Labor Department to businesses to keep workers on the payroll as part-time employees rather than laying them off (work sharing), and more that the CATO Institute terms 'wasteful, damaging, and unneeded' during a fiscal crisis.

Another from the above report...
One such program comes out of the Transportation Department’s High-Speed Rail program. A Nevada company with ties to Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is said to have received a $4.9 billion loan from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to build a rail line between Las Vegas and Victorville, Calif, a city about an hour and a half east of Los Angeles on the edge of the Mojave desert.
When it comes to economic polices, The Telegraph, a British paper, highlights a lesson we should learn from British history - specifically Prime Minister Jim Callaghan's message at the 1976 Labour Party conference...
"We used to think you could spend your way out of recession and increase employment by boosting government spending,” boomed the Prime Minister, Jim Callaghan, at the 1976 Labour Party conference.

“I tell you, in all candour,” he went on, “that that option no longer exists. And in so far as it ever did exist, it only worked on each occasion… by injecting a bigger dose of inflation into the economy, followed by a higher level of unemployment as the next step…”

The above words are among the most important uttered in the history of modern British politics. For a left-wing prime minister to have admitted that too much state spending is dangerous, while being barracked by a rabble of bearded Trotskyists from among his own party ranks, marked a turning-point in Western economic policymaking.

For it was in 1976 that the UK government had been rescued by the International Monetary Fund. After years of industrial subsidies, soft-budget constraints and Keynesian hubris, Britain was insolvent – unable to service its debts. After months of denial, the markets forced Callaghan’s government, “cap in hand”, to seek an IMF bail-out.
Does Barack Obama have it within himself to learn this same lesson?

Fugitive leftard narcissist Julian Assange spoke to the press from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London earlier today.  Recently granted asylum by Ecuador and on the run from British and Swedish authorities, Assange urged the U.S. to release the soldier, Bradley Manning, who provided him with millions of classified U.S. documents  - and remains under court martial for his theft of these materials.  He called Manning a 'hero' and a 'political prisoner' while raving about the U.S. 'witch hunt' of Wikileaks and his fear of being extradicted by Britain or Sweden to the U.S over the release of classified information which likely cost lives.
Ricardo Patino, Ecuador's foreign minister, has said Mr Assange fears "repression and intimidation" if sent to Sweden.

But Sweden's foreign minister has accused his Ecuadoran counterpart of living in a "fantasy world" for granting political asylum to Mr Assange.

Carl Bildt described suggestions by Ecuador that Mr Assange was subject to political persecution and might be sent by Sweden to face prosecution in the United States over the website's activities as "grave accusations".
The Eurocrisis continues to dominate the European press, but what is not generally known outside of Germany (or Europe if one is well read) is that 'Germany may be the country that brings the Euro down...'
Reported daily in such papers as Die Welt, Handelsblatt and Der Spiegel, a succession of politicians, financiers and commentators have concluded that, with Greece about to go bankrupt and Spain and Italy to follow, enough is enough. Certainly, they argue, Greece must be allowed to leave the euro. But so, many add, must Spain, Italy and others. Indeed, so dire has this crisis become – with one senior politician estimating Germany’s potential liability at more than $1 trillion – that voices are now being raised to say that the only practical solution to this mess would be for Germany itself to abandon the euro. The rest of the eurozone could thus be left to sink or swim with a currency which, without Germany’s backing, would face a massive devaluation.

Anyone wanting to see the kind of headlines which have been reflecting this drama – “Greece must go bankrupt”, “Multiple countries must leave the euro”, “Germany’s trillion-dollar liability”, “The current imbalances will blow Europe apart”, “Germany must withdraw from the euro” – can find them on my colleague Richard North’s blog,, where he has been reporting on it daily.

According to North (formerly a research director in the European Parliament), one of the oddest features of this crisis is how little it has been reported outside Germany.
Wrapping up today's post, here is something that will be only briefly mentioned in the 'Today in History' feature of my QH posts.... about an event in 1942 - when a combined British and Canadian force of nearly 6,000 men stormed ashore in the occupied French port of Dieppe in a raid.  The raid was a debacle.  Not because of the lack of bravery of those soldiers, airmen, and sailors who participated, but in the planning of the raid.  Dieppe is one of those fights that all Canadians should not forget.

The Globe and Mail, one of Canada's national papers, has this article on Dieppe being remembered 70 years later by a small group of men who took part in the fight.  Like the American 'greatest generation', Canada's 'greatest generation' is shrinking rapidly.  Every man highlighted in this article is over 90 years of age.  But they recall, 'We reached the beach, and all hell broke loose...'

4,963 Canadians took part, and only 2,210 returned to England.  1,946 were captured and 913 killed.

In remembrance -

Today in History

1812 - The USS Constitution defeats the British frigate HMS Guerriere east of Nova Scotia - earning the nickname 'Old Ironsides' during the battle.  To commemorate the bicentennial of this first major victory over the Royal Navy in the War of 1812, the USS Constitution will sail today under her own power for only the second time since 1883, and the first time since 1997 - the bicentennial of her launching.

1942 - 6,000 British and Canadian troops launch a raid against the Germans at Dieppe, France.  They suffered nearly 50% casualties in the raid.

1960 - Captured U.S. U-2 pilot, Francis Gary Powers, was convicted in a Soviet court of espionage against the Soviet Union.

1974 - The U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus, Rodger P. Davis, while within the U.S. Embassy, was fatally wounded by a bullet fired into the Embassy during an anti-American protest in Nicosia, Cyprus.

1981 - Two Libyan SU-22 fighters were engaged and shot down by two U.S. F-14 fighters in international airspace over the Gulf of Sidra when the Libyan aircraft attacked the U.S aircraft.

2004 - Google's IPO on Nasdaq.  The IPO price was $85 and the stock closed the day at $100.34 per share on a volume of 22 million shares traded.

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