Friday, August 24, 2012

Quick Hits - August 24, 2012 - Updated

If you spend a lot of time watching MSNBC, you will find that today's biggest story is that Mitt Romney, while making a campaign appearance in Michigan, quipped a joke about never being asked for his birth certificate...

...with the MSNBC pinheads terming the joke as "The basest and the most despicable bigotry we might be able to imagine."

Oh, pulleaze....there are far far far more newsworthy events to be chronicled than a simple joke being tossed by a candidate who was accused of causing the cancer death of a woman by his actions or called a felon by close advisers to the President.  Has every leftard become as thin-skinned as Barack Obama?

Let's move to some real news...

During the morning rush hour, a person who was supposedly fired from his position yesterday, confronted his  former boss on the sidewalk outside the Empire State Building in New York City, and shot him dead.  The gunman then allegedly began to fire indiscriminately as two NYPD officers in the area on an anti-terror patrol opened fire on the gunman.  In the end, the gunman was also killed, while 10 or 11 others were injured - including some who may have been accidentally shot by the NYPD officers.

Cyclist Lance Armstrong has announced that he has declined to continue to fight the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's investigation / allegation that Armstrong was a serial doper / cheater during his cycling career since August 1, 1998.  The decision by Armstrong to decline to pursue arbitration with the USADA triggers a recommendation by the USADA for a lifetime ban for Armstrong on all new events as well as the forfeiture of all titles, awards, and winnings since 1998.  This would include Armstrong's record 7 Tour de France titles and a 2000 Olympic bronze medal.  So far, the IOC has not made a statement or ruling on the status of the Olympic Medal, while the international body that governs cycling says it will wait for more information and evidence from the USADA before acting on the request to strip Armstrong of his titles.

Armstrong has faced accusations of cheating since his first Tour win in 1998.  Two former teammates, Floyd Landis, who admitted to cheating, and was formally stripped of his 2006 Tour de France win, and Taylor Hamilton, a teammate who has also admitted to cheating, were the only named witnesses against Armstrong announced by the USADA.  However the organization has also said that there are another 10 who were ready to testify against Armstrong in arbitration hearings.

Armstrong was tested regularly during and between competitions prior to retiring from competitive cycling two years ago - particularly during the Tour de France.  None of these tests tested positive.  New tests on old, stored samples, also did not come back positive.  [Landis was uncovered by a positive test during stage 17 of 2006 Tour de France race.]  Armstrong was subject to a special investigation by French authorities, including more frequent testing during his career, but no positive tests or evidence of cheating by Armstrong was uncovered.  He was also subject to a 2 year long investigation into the accusations by Landis of Armstrong's cheating by U.S federal authorities, but this investigation was closed when no evidence was found to substantiate the accusation.  The USADA commenced its investigation / accusation against Armstrong in the immediate aftermath of the end of the federal investigation.

Earlier this week, a U.S. federal court ruled that it did not have the jurisdiction to rule on the propriety of the USADA's investigation and dismissed a lawsuit filed by Armstrong against the USADA.  Armstrong continues to claim that the USADA actions are little more than a witch hunt against him based on his success, and that 'enough is enough', preferring to focus on his Foundation than respond to never-ending accusations.

Apparently USADA rules indicate that Armstrong's decision to not proceed with the USADA is the same as an admission of guilt.  Armstrong strongly disputes this in a statement released last night:
“I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair,” he said. “I know who won those seven Tours, my teammates know who won those seven Tours, and everyone I competed against knows who won those seven Tours.”
I am siding with Armstrong on this one.  In this country, we operate on the basis of presumed innocence.  The USADA is operating on the premise of presumed guilt - particularly based on the accusations made by one who was caught cheating, admitted cheating, and did not get support from Armstrong during his process to fight the positive test result.  Floyd Landis, and the USADA, seem to have a personal grudge against Lance Armstrong and his success.  Armstrong was thoroughly tested, and retested, through all of these competitions - and after the competitions the samples were subject to retesting.  Not one tested positive.  Having his wins vacated without positive tests is fundamentally wrong.

Andres Behring Breivik, the Norwegian terrorist whose bombing and shooting rampage on July 22, 2011 killed 77, has been determined sane by a Norwegian court and sentenced to 10-21 years (the maximum under Norwegian law) in prison for his crime.  Breivik was far from apologetic for his crimes...
Prosecutors said they, too, would not appeal the ruling by Oslo’s district court, which declared the right-wing extremist sane enough to be held criminally responsible for attacks “unparalleled in Norwegian history.”

“Since I don’t recognize the authority of the court I cannot legitimize the Oslo district court by accepting the verdict,” Breivik said. “At the same time I cannot appeal the verdict, because by appealing it I would legitimize the court.”

Then, Breivik said he wanted to issue an apology, but it wasn’t for the victims, most of them teenagers gunned down in one of the worst peacetime shooting massacres in modern history.

“I wish to apologize to all militant nationalists that I wasn’t able to execute more,” Breivik said.
He's getting off easy.

More effects from the pariah, Todd Akin's, moronic statement on rape and pregnancy....

Today's poll from Rasmussen shows that Barack Obama has erased Mitt Romney's 6 point lead in Missouri and has now taken a 1 point lead.  If this trend holds, a lean Romney state and likely GOP win will move to a toss-up or Obama win column - swinging 10 electoral votes.

Former GOP Presidential candidate from 2008, Mike Huckabee, reinforces to me just why he will NEVER get my support in any race he runs...
Who ordered this “Code Red” on Akin? There were talking point memos sent from the National Republican Senatorial Committee suggesting language to urge Akin to drop out. Political consultants were ordered to stay away from Akin or lose future business with GOP committees. Operatives were recruited to set up a network of pastors to call Akin to urge him to get out. Money has changed hands to push him off the plank. It is disgraceful. From the spotlights of political offices and media perches, it may appear that the demand for Akin’s head is universal in the party. I assure you it is not. There is a vast, but mostly quiet army of people who have an innate sense of fairness and don’t like to see a fellow political pilgrim bullied. If Todd Akin loses the Senate seat, I will not blame Todd Akin. He made his mistake, but was man enough to admit it and apologize. I’m waiting for the apology from whoever the genius was on the high pedestals of our party who thought it wise to not only shoot our wounded, but run over him with tanks and trucks and then feed his body to the liberal wolves.
Money did change hands Governor.  The Democrats, led by Claire McCaskill, spent $1.5 million to get Akin elected in the three-way GOP Senatorial primary.  Democrats also crossed party lines in the open primary to vote for Akin - because he was the preferred candidate for McCaskill to face.

Second, Akin's statement is so irretrievably asinine and moronic, that any effort to not call him out represents a fundamental intellectual bankruptcy - and makes the GOP no different than the Democrats when it comes to putting party ahead of country / morals / ethics.

Ace of Spades notes the stellar comments by Jim Geraghty on National Review Online's Campaign Spot...
We’ve seen this before — a candidate makes nonsensical, controversial, or nonsensical statements before the electorate, and the electorate recoils. The rest of the GOP sees signs of trouble, and starts expressing those concerns in increasing volume, but the candidate resists the urge to withdraw from the race. The candidate and the campaign insist to the rest of the party that they know what they’re doing, that the race is still winnable, and that the world will soon be shocked by a most unexpected victory. We saw it from Katherine Harris in 2006, and from Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, and Carl Paladino in 2010.

These candidates and their teams always insist that they know better. They always insist that they have some sort of secret understanding of the race, some sort of secret game plan or strategy that will completely change the circumstances. And they always, always, always lose.
Add Huckabee, in my mind, to the category of being a pariah to the new GOP - despite his other conservative positions.  Huckabee is protecting the wrong person - selected the wrong side on this.  Now he can experience the ramifications of his decision.

Akin still needs to drop out of the race.  This race is not winnable, and Akin's ego and arrogance is going to swing 10 electoral votes to Barack Obama as well as significantly place at risk the opportunity to gain a Senate majority.

Two CNN anchors / hosts are the subject to attention over their actions during recent broadcasts around the current political contests.

The first highlights an incredible demonstration of smugness, arrogance, and sanctimonious asshattery brought to the viewer by the insufferable Ashley Banfield.  Banfield whinges on in a desperate attempt to use Todd Akin's asinine comments as a wedge against other GOP candidates, in particular Paul Ryan....

This isn't the first time for Banfield either - as she has a deplorable history of anti-Americanism and shilling for Islamofascists....

The second example comes from CNN's Anderson Cooper who becomes the most recent CNN host to take DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to task for her vapid attacks on GOP candidates in the wake of Todd Akin.    Said the DNC Chair on the accusation of misrepresenting the position of Mitt Romney, 'It doesn't matter...'

DWS misquotes the LA Times in order to attack Mitt Romney - The email written by Ms. Schultz said the following:

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are now, incredibly, saying they don't agree with the policies of the party whose nomination they're about to accept, but guess what? The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that the platform was, and I quote, "written at the direction of Romney's campaign."

In fact, the entire quote from the Times as Cooper pointed out said, "Delegates for presumptive nominee Mitt Romney are voting down substantive changes to the platform language that were written at the direction of Romney's campaign." In other words, Romney delegates on the platform committee are following Romney's wishes in trying to keep the platform from being changed in a more conservative direction and none of the changes Romney proposed mentioned abortion at all.

Schultz remained steadfast in her denial that she had misquoted the Times, even going so far as to question Governor Romney’s stance that he believes abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest by saying, "I can certainly acknowledge that he says that out loud. And I think it's very clear that Mitt Romney talks the talk, certainly doesn't walk the walk."

Throughout the segment, Cooper seemed confused at what Shultz's intentions were:

But just as you don’t like being misquoted, I don’t like being misquoted, I’m sure the L.A. Times doesn’t like being misquoted to back up your political position. I don’t understand why you would need to do that.
Reminds you of the time SecTreasury Timothy Geithner, under questioning by Congressman Paul Ryan, refused to offer any plan to 'fix' the national economy - just noting that 'we don't like your plan...'.  Anything goes for this progressive team - and they will say / do anything to win.

10 U.S. Immigration agents have filed a lawsuit against the Federal Government and Department of Homeland Security over the Obama Administration's defacto amnesty program announced via executive order.  The XO, which implements major parts of the 'Dream Act' which were rejected by Congress, promoted the agents to file suit saying that they are fed up with being told they cannot do their job as federal law defines...

The Obama Administration is not just 'cooking' the Labor Department books....they are also cooking the books regarding deportations of illegal immigrants....
Internal documents obtained by the House Judiciary Committee show that the Obama administration has been “cooking the books” in order to reach their “record” number of deported illegal immigrants, chairman Rep. Lamar Smith said Friday.

Based on the internal U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) documents, the number of removals are actually down, the opposite of what the administration has been claiming.

According to the committee’s review, in 2011 officials at the Department of Homeland Security began including the number of individuals removed through the Alien Transfer Exit Program (ATEP) in its annual removal numbers. ATEP is a program which moves apprehended illegal immigrants to another point along the border.
Looking to November, President Obama is now asking the Eurozone officials to do all they can to keep Greece in the Eurozone until after the U.S election.  The President is hoping that efforts to do so will prevent a new financial crisis or turmoil impacting his reelection efforts...

However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel continues to insist that Greece honor their previous agreements to the Eurozone regarding austerity - and shows little sign of cutting Greece additional time to achieve their targets needed for additional bailout funds.

Moving to the Presidential race....

The President's 'recovery' has been worse for household income levels than the 2008-2009 recession was...

[Update - Graphic added]

Household income is down sharply since the recession ended three years ago, according to a report released Thursday, providing another sign of the stubborn weakness of the economic recovery.

From June 2009 to June 2012, inflation-adjusted median household income fell 4.8 percent, to $50,964, according to a report by Sentier Research, a firm headed by two former Census Bureau officials.

Incomes have dropped more since the beginning of the recovery than they did during the recession itself, when they declined 2.6 percent, according to the report, which analyzed data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. The recession, the most severe since the Great Depression, lasted from December 2007 to June 2009.
Jay Cost, of the Weekly Standard, has an excellent article on how to really read polls - and understand the breakdown demographics of the poll to determine how valid and representative the poll is.  This is a topic that I've tried to explain and cover in my analysis of the latest polls - but Cost does a great job laying it out.

Cost highlights the historical analysis and trending that need to be considered in the analysis - providing this breakdown of party affiliation in Presidential elections since 1972...

Cost focuses on the historical trend - what he terms as a historical D+3 advantage.  I focus on 2004 and 2008 and ask if 2012 is trending like 2008.  I consider this highly unlikely.  There is no real evidence of the 2008 enthusiasm today.  There is no 'Anybody but Bush', no 'Hope and Change', and no 'First African-American President' movement.  I see this closer to 2004 - but without even the anti-war Democrat enthusiasm that was a big part of the Kerry campaign.

Cost then looks at the current polls -

and makes the following observation...
Right now, the average across the polls is about a one-point lead for Obama; there's also a Democratic registration advantage that fits in with the long-term trend. That suggests to me that right now, this is a pretty solid take on the state of the race.

As some polls cycle in and other polls cycle out of the RCP average, that might change. A few weeks ago, Obama had a larger lead but the Democratic identification advantage was also larger on average. In that case, the best bet was to discount his margin over Romney by a little bit.

The best advice is just to remember that it’s still only August. We are some 75 days from the election and that means it is very difficult to get a read on that all-important inner circle, the elusive subsample of the adult population that actually will vote. So, all polls need to be taken with a grain of salt. These strategies are just meant as practical ways to deal with what remains a basically intractable problem.
Fox News has just released their first of the campaign poll based on Likely Voters....

This poll shows Mitt Romney is holding a 1 point lead over Barack Obama on a national basis - within the poll's margin of error. Looking deeper into the poll results, there are some interesting data points.

46% approve of Obama's job as President, 50% disapprove.

When asked specifically on the President's approval on the handling of the economy, the President gets only 42% approving of his handling of the economy, while 54% disapprove.

When asked if the country has changed for the better or worse in the last 4 years, only 29% say better, 46% say changed for the worse, and 24% said it has stayed the same.

When asked if the US is on the rise as a civilization or decline, 31% say we are on the rise and 57% say we are on the decline.

The demographics of the poll is a little better than some other recent Fox polls, D42 / R38 / I18 - showing a D+4 oversample.  I think this is too high - but it still shows that the race is tight with a lot for the Obama team to be worrying about.

The UK's Daily Mail has an interesting look at the U.S. Presidential race, and in particular, the campaign of President Barack Obama - calling the Obama campaign a 'joyless slog'...
Obama is waging a relentlessly negative campaign of changing the subject from the one that, overwhelmingly, most Americans care about – the economy. Every week there is a new issue his campaign seizes on, preferring to talk about something, anything other than jobs and 8.3 per cent unemployment.

While Obama is still drawing sizable crowds, they are nothing like the size of those who flocked to see him in 2008. In Las Vegas, Obama held a rally in a high school before more than 2,000 people but there was space for plenty more.

On the outskirts of Manchester, New Hampshire on Monday morning, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan attracted more than 3,000 people who patiently queued in lines across a field to be searched by the Secret Service.

… More significantly, the mood of the crowds is different. There is a sullenness, even resentment, that was not present in 2008. Ask an Obama supporter about their man and as often as not you will get a few words about him and then a demeaning attack on Romney or Ryan.
All of this continue to point to a race that is looking like 1980 in terms of not only the choice the voter faces, but in the mindset of the Democrat incumbent trying for reelection...

Charles Krauthammer winning line:
Obama's been in office 4 years and he's running on Clinton's economy. It's embarrassing!
Kimberly Strassel has a must read column in today's Wall Street Journal's Editorial Page - "Obama's Silent Second Term Agenda'...
The core of the Obama strategy is to make Americans worry that whatever Mitt Romney does, it will be worse. That's a harder case for Mr. Obama to make if he is himself proposing change. And so the Obama pitch is that this election is a choice between stability (giving Mr. Obama four more years to let his policies finally work) and upheaval (giving Mr. Romney four years to re-ruin the nation).

The pitch is profoundly dishonest. While the choice between four more years of Obama status quo and Mr. Romney is certainly vivid, it isn't accurate. The real contrast is between Mr. Romney's and Mr. Obama's future plans. And while the president hasn't revealed what those plans are, there is plenty of evidence for what a second term would look like.

Let's dispense with the obvious: An Obama second term will be foremost about higher taxes and greater spending. The president has been clear about the former and will consider victory in November a mandate to raise taxes on higher-income Americans and small businesses—at the least.

Just as important are the things Mr. Obama will not do. His record gives no indication he will revive America's leadership in free trade. Nor is he likely to restore America's influence in the international arena. And so we will inch closer to a nuclear-armed Iran and the threats that the regime will pose to international peace and order.

None of this is hyperbole. Mr. Obama is open about his tax aims, is proud of his spending and has never apologized for his regulatory ambitions. Despite a shellacking in the midterms, he moved left, and a November victory will reinforce his sense that he was correct to do so.

While Democrats will take careful pains in coming convention weeks to avoid outlining the president's intentions, they are sitting in plain sight. The real choice this fall will be between Mitt Romney's reform agenda and a Supersized Obama. No wonder the Democrats are keeping mum.
Today in History

79 - Mount Vesuvius erupts killing approximately 20,000 people in the cities of Pompeii, Stabiae, and Herculaneum as they were buried in volcanic ash.

410 - The Visgoths overrun Rome.  The event is marked as the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

1456 - The printing of the Gutenberg Bible was completed.

1572 - French Catholics begin their slaughter of French Protestants in Paris.  Approximately 70,000 are killed.

1814 - British troops invade and occupy the U.S. capital city of Washington D.C. - burning the White House and several other public buildings. This is said to be in reprisal for the American burning of York (now Toronto).

1968 - France becomes the 5th thermonuclear power in the world when they explode a hydrogen bomb in the South Pacific.

1989 - The Commissioner of Major League Baseball, Bart Giamatti, bans Cincinnati Reds Manager, and all time hits leader, Pete Rose, from baseball for life for Rose's gambling on baseball games - including games involving the Reds.

1991 - Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev resigns as the head of the Soviet Communist Party.

1992 - Hurricane Andrew, a category 5 storm, makes landfall on Elliott Key and later Homestead, Florida - devastating the area.  In Miami-Dade County alone, 25,524 homes are destroyed and 101,241 others damaged.  44 Floridians would lose their life as the storm becomes the most damaging storm in the history of the US ($26.5 billion in damage inflicted) until 2005's Hurricane Katrina and 2008's Hurricane Ike.

1998 - U.S. officials cited a soil sample as part of the evidence that a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant was producing precursors to VX nerve gas as the reason the plant was attacked on August 20th.

2005 - Pluto was reclassified as a 'dwarf planet' by the International Astronomical Union.

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