Monday, August 6, 2012

Quick Hits - August 6, 2012

Oak Creek, Wisconsin authorities investigating yesterday's tragic shooting at a Sikh temple that killed 6, said the shooter was Wade Michael Page, a dishonorably discharged military veteran who lived near the center and harbored extreme racial viewpoints.  The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that Page was 'a frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band' called 'End Apathy'.  Page was fatally shot at the scene by a police officer after he wounded another police officer responding to the attack on the Sikh's.

Late Sunday night, Pacific Time, the NASA Martian rover, Curiosity, successfully landed on the red planet and began almost immediately transmitting photos back to Earth. 

The complex and risky landing after traveling 150 million miles went off without a hitch - to the cheers of the team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.  'Curiosity' marks a major new exploration effort on Mars, with a probe that is 5 times larger than the previous rovers / probes that have explored the planet's surface.

Syrian Prime Minister al-Hajib and his family have reportedly defected to Jordan - marking the highest ranking civilian member of al-Assad's despotic regime to defect.  
“I am announcing that I am defecting from this regime, which is a murderous and terrorist regime,” the statement said. “I join the ranks of this dignified revolution.”

Reuters news service quoted an unidentified Jordanian government official as confirming that Hijab had defected and taken refuge there.
With the defection of such a senior official, could it mean that the we are far closer to the end of al-Assad's rule in Syria than we might expect?  Violence (and the carnage) is continuing in Damascus and Aleppo - but except for Russia, China, and Iran, al-Assad has few friends remaining. Russia and China continue to effectively block any formal United Nations actions against the Syrian regime.

July was another good month for the fundraising activities of GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney as his campaign brought in $101 million - their second consecutive month exceeding the $100 million mark.  His campaign outraised Barack Obama's by $26 million - marking the third consecutive month that he has done so - bringing in $77 million than the President's campaign across those three months.

This will fuel more concerns in the Democrat circles over fundraising - particularly given the heavy burn rate the Obama campaign has been on with negative ads against the GOP candidate in key battleground states.  We're already seeing new additional fundraisers being added to the President's schedule - who has already held more fundraisers thusfar in his reelection effort than the total of the previous 5 Presidents combined in their reelection efforts.  The campaign is also sending out more frequent mail and email pleas for contributions which highlight's their desperation.

Today, in Westport, Connecticut, Barack Obama is attending a $40,000 per person fundraiser that is resulting in the closing of a State Park and public beach to the public.

The economy continues to be a major millstone around the neck of President Obama - with a number of editorials and commentaries published today about the President's tax and economic policies - as well as the 'cooking of the books' by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to put the best possible spin on a sputtering economy 3 years after the end of the 2008-2009 recession.

In the NY Post - a commentary that highlights the fraud that was last Friday's jobs report....
What really matters to you and me is that the economy is creating jobs again, right?

As I’ve explained before, Labor each month guesses at the number of jobs that it thinks are being created by newly formed companies that it really can’t prove actually exist. This is called the birth/death model, in case you want to impress your cocktail-party friends.

So far this year, 400,000 of these phantom jobs have been added to Labor’s count. July is not a big month for these phantom jobs. In fact, Labor usually subtracts phantom jobs in July — but not this year.

Yesterday’s report included the addition of 52,000 phantom jobs. In July 2010, by comparison, Labor subtracted 18,000 jobs because small, invisible companies were dying and killing jobs.

In July 2011, Labor subtracted 38,000 jobs. On average, 20,000 phantom jobs are subtracted in July.

This year, the economy is now officially growing much more slowly than it was last summer and Labor suddenly adds 52,000 jobs to the July count that it can’t prove exist.

Let me put this into a different perspective: When the economy was still booming in the summer of 2007, Labor subtracted 57,000 phantom jobs.

Could the fact that this is an election year have anything to do with this remarkable discrepancy?
What we really have in place, entirely as a result of the economic policies of the Obama Administration, is 'The Incredible Shrinking Economy'...
• Contradicting what the Establishment Survey primarily used to report job growth and contraction contained — namely that 163,000 more Americans were working in July than were in June — the Household Survey showed an employment contraction of 215,000 and job growth of only 186,000 in the past four months.

• The civilian labor force, workforce participation rate, and employment-population ratio all dropped, reflecting an economy where a growing number of Americans sees little opportunity, and where the benefits of staying on the dole in its various forms all too often outweigh those involved in trying to get away from it.

• Not coincidentally, the number of adults not in the labor force increased by 348,000. That number has ballooned by over two million in the past twelve months to 88.34 million, and is a shocking 7.4 million higher than when the recession officially ended in June 2009.

• Everyone seems to be assuming that the looming disaster known as ObamaCare is something that, other than its obvious contribution to the “Taxmageddon” visiting us on January 1, 2013, won’t otherwise harm the economy until 2014. Really? Then someone needs to explain why the economy is shedding full-time jobs. Full-time employment has dropped by 945,000 in the past four months, while the number of part-timers has increased by over a million.

The above points, especially the cratering in full-time employment, which is now 7.5 million below its November 2007 peak, make a mockery of the establishment press’s crowing about how supposedly wonderful the 163,000-job pickup mentioned earlier was.
Art Laffer, the esteemed (in conservative circles) economist and the man behind the 'Laffer Curve', lays out the facts that increased Government spending slows growth, not increases growth as the Keynesians claim...
Policy makers in Washington and other capitals around the world are debating whether to implement another round of stimulus spending to combat high unemployment and sputtering growth rates. But before they leap, they should take a good hard look at how that worked the first time around.

It worked miserably, as indicated by the table nearby, which shows increases in government spending from 2007 to 2009 and subsequent changes in GDP growth rates. Of the 34 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations, those with the largest spending spurts from 2007 to 2009 saw the least growth in GDP rates before and after the stimulus.

The four nations—Estonia, Ireland, the Slovak Republic and Finland—with the biggest stimulus programs had the steepest declines in growth. The United States was no different, with greater spending (up 7.3%) followed by far lower growth rates (down 8.4%).


Federal government spending as a share of GDP rose to a high of 27.3% in 2009 from 21.4% in late 2007. This increase is virtually all stimulus spending, including add-ons to the agricultural and housing bills in 2007, the $600 per capita tax rebate in 2008, the TARP and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailouts, "cash for clunkers," additional mortgage relief subsidies and, of course, President Obama's $860 billion stimulus plan that promised to deliver unemployment rates below 6% by now. Stimulus spending over the past five years totaled more than $4 trillion.

If you believe, as I do, that the macro economy is the sum total of all of its micro parts, then stimulus spending really doesn't make much sense. In essence, it's when government takes additional resources beyond what it would otherwise take from one group of people (usually the people who produced the resources) and then gives those resources to another group of people (often to non-workers and non-producers).

Often as not, the qualification for receiving stimulus funds is the absence of work or income—such as banks and companies that fail, solar energy companies that can't make it on their own, unemployment benefits and the like. Quite simply, government taxing people more who work and then giving more money to people who don't work is a surefire recipe for less work, less output and more unemployment.
Yet, we have the President and his liberal progressive allies and supporters who continue to demand that we increase taxes on the wealthy - to get them to 'pay their fair share'.  The problem is - they are already paying well beyond their 'fair share' in the vast majority of cases, particularly when we are starting to reach the point where nearly 50% of Americans effectively pay no taxes.
The top 5%, top 1% and top 0.1% of Americans have been getting a bigger slice of all the income and paying a growing share of federal taxes.

Average tax rates have come down for everyone. On average, the tax bite on the rich is bigger—except for those whose income mainly comes from capital gains and dividends.

The share of taxes paid by the bottom 40% of the population has been shrinking along with their share of income.
With a burdensome tax code of over 70,000 pages in length, what we need far more than more 'social justice' or 'fairness' is a complete redesign of the tax system.  The purpose of taxes are not to address wealth redistribution or fund an ever expanding and inefficient (with limited accountability) government.  The purposes of taxes are to fund the necessary government services like national security, critical national infrastructure and services, and ensuring the operation of a vigorous private sector.

Unfortunately, we are getting more political brinkmanship, partisan divides, and executive branch overreach by the most left leaning Administration in the history of the United States.  We've seen in the past 12 months multiple cases of the President ignoring the limitations on his power, and that of the Executive Branch, that are established in the U.S. Constitution.  Ranging from the Obamacare religious mandate, to the selective enforcement of legislation (DOMA, Immigration, Voter ID), and then the use of executive orders to bypass Congressional authority or recess appointing lackeys when Congress remains in session, this has been an Administration where the 'ends justifies the means'.

The latest example?  This comes to us from Labor Secretary Hilda Solis who seeks to protect the President from a potential Election Day embarrassment.
One of Big Labor's legal pride and joys is the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, a 1988 law that requires federal contractors to tell employees at least 60 days in advance of potential large-scale layoffs. Well, what do you know, last week the Department of Labor issued "guidance" on its website that this law doesn't need to be followed for the purposes of the looming January 1 budget sequester.

This legal evasion is intended to help President Obama escape the political consequences of his strategy to use the threat of defense cuts to force Republicans to raise taxes. Absent a deal between Congress and the White House, the Pentagon will be hit with huge across-the-board spending cuts that will cost thousands of jobs among defense contractors. As the date approaches, Lockheed Martin has said it may have to tell 100,000 of its workers that they could lose their jobs, and EADS, Northrop Grumman and others could do the same.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis knows these notices could land in mailboxes shortly before the election. One of the most critical swing states, Virginia, is home to many of these defense jobs. So are Ohio and Florida. Voila, Labor now says that it would be "inappropriate" for contractors to send warnings, citing "the lack of certainty about how the budget cuts will be implemented and the possibility that the sequester will be avoided before January."

As it happens, Ms. Solis's department has no legal jurisdiction over the applicability of this law. That's up to the courts, and her "guidance" wouldn't spare companies from lawsuits if they followed it. Her opinion amounts to a political démarche to business to desist before Election Day, or face unspecified consequences afterward.
2008 Obama campaign adviser, and current Obama aide, David Plouffe, is under fire as we have learned that he has taken a $100,000 speaking fee from a company with close affiliations to the despotic regime of Iran...
Eh… look, the lawyer’s job is probably to find things that will get Plouffe arrested. There is no law that bans former campaign managers and soon-to-be White House staffers from accepting large speaking fees from companies that do a lot of business in Iran, with the approval of the regime. Of course, “legal” is not the same as “a good idea.”

The bigger lesson from this is that in between his campaign work and his White House work, David Plouffe wasn’t that worried about the business ties or the moral character of who paid him. That’s perfectly legal – and completely against the message and professed ideals of the campaign that he managed in 2008.
As we say, if it weren't for double standards, they would have no standards whatsoever.

Richard Cohen, a liberal columnist writing in the WaPoo, is hammering Democrat Senator Harry Reid's 'disgraceful gutter politics' on his continued and unsubstantiated attacks on Mitt Romney over taxes and releasing tax returns.
Harry Reid is exactly what’s wrong with Washington… For Reid, this is yet another brazen and tasteless partisan attack. As majority leader, he has managed to sink the public image of the Senate even lower than it would otherwise be. He contributes to bad feelings, gridlock and the sense — nay, the reality — that everything is done for political advantage. Reid is a crass man, the very personification of the gaudy and kitschy Las Vegas Strip.

Still, he is not some backbencher, but the Senate majority leader. He is the face of the Democratic Party in the Senate and the ally of President Obama. Yet, not a single Democrat has had the spine to rebuke Reid. The White House has been given the chance and explicitly ducked its duty. Other members of the Senate have run for cover. They fear Reid and, if truth be told, sort of like what he’s doing — constantly needling Romney, keeping him on the defensive about taxes and his insistence on releasing only two years of his returns. …

When Reid accuses the Republicans of being overly partisan, he now lacks all credibility. For a long time it’s been difficult to believe anything he says. Now, it’s impossible.

The White House is now appearing to be distancing themselves from the alleged pederast Harry Reid...
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Monday that Reid “speaks for himself” and had spoken on the issue without any guidance from Team Obama.

“He certainly speaks for himself,” Carney said, adding that Obama hasn’t expressed an opinion on Reid’s recent comments.
The question that we have to ask is, why isn't anyone holding Reid accountable - or at least accountable to the same level of demands and investigations.  There are plenty of questionable ethical events in Reid's past - and in his bank accounts / real estate holdings?  How about Reid's efforts to provide direct assistance to a Chinese solar company....represented by his son?

Harry Reid is one of the most corrupt in Congress - yet he get's a pass?  Must be the power of that 'D' after his name.

In August 3rd's Quick Hits, I blasted the WaPoo's 'Fact Checker' Glenn Kessler over his fecklessness, vapidity, and partisan bias - specifically noting that his most recent 'fact check' was marked by Kessler essentially flushing what little credibility he had remaining down the proverbial drain.

Today, John Nolte, writing in's Big Journalism site, wields his own 'clue by four' upside the head of the partisan Kessler, noting that Kessler is going 'full Orwell' to protect Barack Obama...
Apparently Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler has decided to go the route of the thoroughly discredited Politifact and make a complete and public fool of himself -- all, of course, in a crusade to protect Barack Obama…

…In order to protect Obama from these FACTS, in a piece of pathetic dissembling Orwell would appreciate, Kessler pulls together information that backs a conclusion I'm willing to bet he very much wanted to come to. And by doing so, under the phony shield of a fact checker, he attempts to bail Obama out and declares Romney and The Emergence Committee liars -- liars for stating FACTS.

If Kessler wants to write an opinion column refuting these ads, that's perfectly acceptable. But to puff himself up as a fact checker and do this is not only arrogant, it's dishonest.
Unfortunately, embracing journalistic ethics has been non-existent for a long time at the WaPoo.

Victor Davis Hanson has another excellent essay on PJ Media - this one talking about two writers who passed away last week.  Gore Vidal and historian Sir John Keegan.  Read the entire essay...and I agree with  VDH...
Gore Vidal may not have been as poor a writer as I allege, or John Keegan as gifted an historian as I have argued. I met the former at ten, the latter as an adult. One did nothing for me, the other everything. So be it: I will miss not reading another new sentence from Keegan as much as I am unconcerned about the absence of another 500-page book from Vidal.
RIP Sir John Keegan.

Then we have the case of Jane Lynch, one of the star's of the TV program, 'Glee', who shared her political  viewpoints regarding Chick-fil-A on a recent Comedy Channel appearance....

Frankly, Ms. Lynch, who gives a flying *** what you and the other nattering leftard liberal fascists of Hollywood have to say about politics.  You honestly think that your time 'play acting' is somehow the anointment of wisdom so that your political viewpoint, crassness, and insufferable smugness and arrogance actually amounts to something beyond adding more CO2 into the atmosphere?  Nimrods like Lynch have egos that are only matched by their self-appointed elitism.  You are part of the 1% - the stupidest effin 1% on the planet - with perhaps the exception of the ones who put you on a pedestal in the first place.

Oh, you're entitled to your opinion - and you're free to boycott Chick-fil-A or any other business that you disapprove of.  Take a look at your ratings - it's pretty clear that there are millions boycotting you and your television show - likely because they tire of your hypocritical foul-mouthed political rants.  Just read the freaking lines that someone else writes for you, play-act, and collect your big won one of life's lottery's.  Other than that, you aren't special, or elite, or even interesting.

Today in History

1890 - The first execution via the electric chair takes place at Auburn Prison in New York.

1926 - Gertrude Ederle becomes the first woman to swim the English Channel - covering the 21 miles between Cape Griz-Nez in France and Dover, England in 14 hours and 31 minutes.

1945 - At 8:16am local time, an American B-29 Superfortress named the Enola Gay, drops the world's first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.  Approximately 80,000 are killed and 35,000 are injured in the blast that was estimated to be at 12.5 to 15 kilotons in force.  (A kiloton is the explosive force equal to 1,000 tons of TNT.)  Some estimates would say that another 60,000 would be dead by the end of the year from the effects of radioactive fallout from the explosion.  The city was devastated.  Of the 90,000 buildings in the city, only 28,000 remained after the bombing.

1990 - The United Nations Security Council ordered a worldwide trade embargo on Iraq.  The action was in punishment for the Iraqi invasion and annexation of Kuwait.

1998 - Former White House Intern Monica Lewinsky spent 8 1/2 hours testifying before a grand jury about her relationship with President Bill Clinton.

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