Sunday, August 26, 2012

Quick Hits Weekend Edition - August 25 / 26, 2012

A special weekend edition today of Quick Hits - as we recap the developments over this weekend, and prep for the Republican convention in Tampa.... which is being delayed by one day because of the disruption expected by the passage of Hurricane Issac to the west of Tampa, Florida.

RNC Chair, Reince Priebus announced that Monday's events will be cancelled - with speakers scheduled for Monday being worked into the remaining schedule of events...
“The reason why we ultimately ended up making this decision was for the safety of our delegates and guests,” he said. “We couldn’t really be assured of total safety over all the bridges over open water with sustained winds. The Secret Service took tents outside down and understandably so, but what that meant was fewer entrances into the building and people standing outside for a long time in the driving rain and wind.”

“If you get the arena here behind us full and things end up deteriorating on Monday and you can’t get people back, that’s a problem,” Priebus added. “It’s the right thing to do.”

Priebus told reporters on Saturday that the decision to cancel Monday’s events was "unanimous” and was taken among “members of the RNC, Romney staff, and officials who are conducting the convention.”
Before we spend time looking at the political and international news, there is a sad news event that has to be acknowledged...

... Neil Armstrong, the commander of Apollo 11, and the first man to walk on the moon, died on Saturday at the age 82 from complications of cardiovascular disease.
One small step for 'a' man, one giant leap for mankind.
Armstrong, a quiet hero who shunned the spotlight, was a U.S. Naval Aviator and test pilot who personified the 'right stuff' throughout his career.  He made few public appearances, but did speak out against the policies of the Obama Administration towards NASA and manned space flight.

His family released a statement on Saturday -
"Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink."

Unfortunately, the nattering nitwits at NBC News, just could not get the announcement of the passing of this American hero right...

On the political front, the Barack Obama and his campaign continued their attacks on Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

The latest Obama campaign advertisement features Republican women who have thrown their support to Barack Obama based on the GOP positions on 'women's rights' - specifically contraception...

However, there's an interesting twist in this advert.... One of the so-called Republican women has been a registered Democrat since 2006!  [UPDATE - 2nd Woman in ad also said to be a long time Democrat!]
One of the women in the Obama campaign's new video of Republicans supporting the president because of GOP positions on women's rights appears not to be a Republican at all.

Maria Ciano who is featured in the web video has been a registered Democrat since October 2006 according to voter registration records.

"People like me and my family have realized that the Republican Party once was inline with our views, but are no longer," the Colorado resident says in the video.

The video is one component of a larger Obama campaign push on women in light of the recent controversy surrounding Todd Akin.
The President also continued his attacks on Romney-Ryan via his weekly radio address, pushing back on the subject of Medicare...
President Obama, accused by the Republican Romney-Ryan ticket of cutting Medicare to fund his health care reforms, used his weekly Saturday radio address to defend the Affordable Care Act.

“As part of the Affordable Care Act … we’ve extended the life of Medicare by almost a decade,” the president said. “And I’ve proposed reforms that will save Medicare money by getting rid of wasteful spending in the health care system and reining in insurance companies – reforms that won’t touch your guaranteed Medicare benefits. Not by a single dime.”

Without mentioning Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan by name, the president criticized Republican plans for Medicare reform.

“They want to turn Medicare into a voucher program,” he said. “And it would effectively end Medicare as we know it.”

The president’s remarks came after two weeks of Mr. Romney, Mr. Ryan and other Republicans hammering the president on the Affordable Care Act’s reduction of $716 billion in Medicare spending over the next decade.

The president dismissed the attacks on his signature legislative accomplishment as “misinformation” and “overheated rhetoric.”
Interesting choice of words / projection - 'misinformation' and 'overheated rhetoric'.

Speaking of 'misinformation' and 'overheated rhetoric', the President, in a major interview with the Associated Press, continued to blame the GOP for the partisan divide, and notes that, 'I'm prepared to make a whole range of compromises' in his second term.

Compromises?  From the same candidate who promised building unity in the United States if elected and whose response to the GOP leadership in negotiations was, 'I won'!?

In the same interview, President Obama also accused his GOP challenger of having 'extreme' ideas....
In an interview with The Associated Press, Obama said Romney lacks serious ideas, refuses to "own up" to the responsibilities of what it takes to be president, and deals in factually dishonest arguments that could soon haunt him in face-to-face debates.
How are we to reconcile these statements with the oft-forgotten comment to the Russian President promising  'more flexibility' in a second term when he would not be constrained by the needs to run for another election?

After all, prior to running for President, Barack Obama spent years claiming he was born in Kenya in order to promote his book sales...

How about his record?  Barack Obama claims to be fighting for the middle class as part of his 'fundamental change', but in reality, 2009 to present have been brutal on the middle class....
A key driver of higher wages in the 1980s and 1990s was a surge of capital investment in computers, plant and equipment, which made Americans workers more productive. When Mr. Obama pledges to raise taxes on investment income (capital gains, dividends and small-business profits), he is making it costlier to innovate and modernize. That plays out over time into slower gains in productivity and wages.

Consider the toll from America's corporate tax rate, which is the highest in the industrial world. A 2011 study by economists at the American Enterprise Institute found that because of the capital flight from the U.S. as a result of this high rate, "every additional dollar of tax revenue [from the corporate tax] leads to a $4 decrease in aggregate real wages." American workers would be the biggest beneficiaries of tax reform.

The new income data reveal other eye-opening trends. The group that has suffered the most during the Obama Presidency has been black Americans, whose real incomes have fallen by more than 11%.

Mr. Obama also likes to say that government workers like teachers are hurting and the private economy is doing "just fine." But the data indicate that over the past three years households with government workers saw their incomes decline less than households with private workers. The public-private pay gap is now wider than ever ($77,998 government versus $63,800).

Every age group has seen a decline in income—except the elderly. Those between the ages of 65 and 75 saw an average 6.5% gain in income, though most are not working and collect Medicare and Social Security.

The last time incomes fell this fast was during the late 1970s under Jimmy Carter, and it's no coincidence that economic policies then and now are so similar.
...or his expansion of the entitlement state?

Speaking of entitlements, Zerohedge has an excellent post highlighting interactive graphics created by the California Healthcare Foundation which show who paid for the nation's healthcare and how much its costs have shifted since 1960.  Combined with data from The Economist, we see that American healthcare costs have increased roughly 100 times, from $27 billion in 1960 to $2.7 trillion in 2010.

For example, when it comes to prescription drugs, in 1960, these were primarily paid for 'out of pocket' - 96% of all expenses related to prescription drugs were out of pocket. Today, only 19% of all prescription drug expenses are paid 'out of pocket' and the federal government pays for over half of prescription drug costs.  In hospital care - when Ronald Reagan was President, the federal government paid only about one third of these costs - private insurance and out-of-pocket covered the rest.  Today, the federal government pays about one half of the cost of hospital care - with private insurance and out-of-pocket covering far less of the overall costs.

A sign that the President is in trouble or a sign of the contempt that Barack Obama has towards his opposition?
Obama to break with precedent and will campaign heavily during the Republican convention – usually candidates lay low during the opponent’s conventions as a simple courtesy – but Barack Obama will break with this and wage an aggressive campaign in an attempt to upstage the Republican convention.
Stephen Hess, a scholar on the presidency at the Brookings Institution, downplayed the suggestion by some that the 24/7 news media cycle is responsible for breaking the unwritten rule about not campaigning during an opponent’s convention.

“I prefer to think of the new habit of campaigning during opponents’ conventions as just another example of disrespect for the forms of behavior that define civilized conduct,” Mr. Hess said.

Does this mean America is really a center-right country?  More of America is reading 'red' books over 'blue' books....

Surprised?  70% of the President's 19 million Twitter followers are actually fake...

Remember when Obama Deputy Campaign Manager, Stephanie Cutter, falsely claimed that the Obama jobs record created more jobs than the Reagan recovery? asks where are the mainstream media's 'fact checkers' on that claim?

The outgoing public editor of the New York Times, in a final column, notes that progressivism bleeds through the fabric of the New York Times....
When The Times covers a national presidential campaign, I have found that the lead editors and reporters are disciplined about enforcing fairness and balance, and usually succeed in doing so. Across the paper’s many departments, though, so many share a kind of political and cultural progressivism — for lack of a better term — that this worldview virtually bleeds through the fabric of The Times.

As a result, developments like the Occupy movement and gay marriage seem almost to erupt in The Times, overloved and undermanaged, more like causes than news subjects.
Which prompted the NYT Executive Editor, Jill Abramson, to strongly respond that she doesn't accept that there is a progressive bias in the New York Times....bringing us today's Pauline Kael moment.

In the 'sore loser' moment, we have the yawns associated with the former Governor of Florida, who lost in 2010 to Marco Rubio in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, Charlie Crist, announcing that he is endorsing Barack Obama for President.  Crist remains one of the poster children for 'Republicans in Name Only'.

Where's Nanny Bloomberg on this?

10 of the 11 victims of Friday morning's shooting outside NYC's Empire State Building were shot by the two members of the NYPD - who fired a combined 16 shots to kill the gunman who ambushed and murdered his former boss.  All of the injured are expected to survive - but one has to really wonder about the level of training of NYPD members if they will fire in this manner on a crowded rush-hour sidewalk.  It appears that the gunman was seeking 'suicide by cop' and did not fire on or return fire on the officers at the scene.

Rich Lowry, the editor of the National Review, had a classic smack down this week written in response to threats by Michael Mann, the creator of the 'hockey stick' global warming climate graph, to sue the National Review...
So, as you might have heard, Michael Mann of Climategate infamy is threatening to sue us.

Mann is upset — very, very upset — with this Mark Steyn Corner post, which had the temerity to call Mann’s hockey stick “fraudulent.” The Steyn post was mild compared with other things that have been said about the notorious hockey stick, and, in fact, it fell considerably short of an item about Mann published elsewhere that Steyn quoted in his post.

So why threaten to sue us? I rather suspect it is because the Steyn post was savagely witty and stung poor Michael.

Possessing not an ounce of Steyn’s wit or eloquence, poor Michael didn’t try to engage him in a debate. He sent a laughably threatening letter and proceeded to write pathetically lame chest-thumping posts on his Facebook page. (Is it too much to ask that world-renowned climate scientists spend less time on Facebook?)

All of this is transparent nonsense, as our letter of response outlines.

… My advice to poor Michael is to go away and bother someone else. If he doesn’t have the good sense to do that, we look forward to teaching him a thing or two about the law and about how free debate works in a free country.

He’s going to go to great trouble and expense to embark on a losing cause that will expose more of his methods and maneuverings to the world. In short, he risks making an ass of himself. But that hasn’t stopped him before.
In a major battle over patent rights, a California jury sided with Apple over Samsung, and awarded Apple $1.05 billion in compensation from Samsung for that company's infringement of Apple patents.
In a huge victory for Apple, a California jury has found that Samsung infringed on Apple patents when it created 25 tablets and smartphones and awarded Apple $1.05 billion in compensation. Samsung is likely to appeal. A similar trial in Samsung’s native South Korea, also found that Samsung did infringe on Apple patents, but also found wrong-doing by Apple. Samsung calls the decision a ‘loss for consumers’ as the decision will limit / prevent innovation and competitive tablet / smart phone products from being developed. Apple touts the recognition that those who innovate and obtain patents see their intellectual property protected.
CNET features this link of the infringing devices by Samsung... and a scorecard.

At least 200 people were killed Saturday in Daraya, a suburb of Damascus that has been the focus of what the Syrian rebels term is a 'scorched earth' campaign being waged by Syrian forces against rebels.  This is the latest of a series of atrocities that continue to be committed by forces loyal to the Syrian dictator, Bashir al-Assad.

The website, WeaselZippers, highlights a story that indicates the jihadists responsible for a wave of terror attacks along the Israeli-Egyptian border in the Sinai, were recently released by the new Egyptian President Morsi, who is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Egyptian security officials claimed on Saturday that several of the terrorists involved in an attack on a border post with Israel earlier this month are Jihadis who had been recently released from prison by the Egyptian president.

The sources told the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency that forensic authorities have determined the identities of some of the seven terrorists who were killed by the Israeli army during the assault on August 5, and can confirm that at least three of them are Egyptians.
Sunday is the 40th anniversary of the Opening Ceremonies that launched the 20th Summer Olympic Games held in Munich, West Germany.  The games were marred by a terrorist attack by members of the Palestinian Liberation Organization on the Israeli Olympic team that resulted in the deaths of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches.  There is now a report that in the aftermath of this terror attack, the West German government met with representatives of the PLO and demanded a quid pro quo from the PLO representatives...
In its Sunday issue, Spiegel reported that the talks were initiated at the behest of the West German government, located at the time in Bonn, for fear that Black September would commit additional acts of terror on German soil.

According to the report, just several months after the murders, the government proposed a secret meeting between a Black September official and then-German foreign minister Walter Scheel, the aim of the which was to create a “new basis of trust.”

Germany’s government demanded a quid pro quo: the PLO would cease terror attacks on German soil in exchange for a political upgrade of the PLO. In addition, the German government would pull the plug on any criminal charges for the murders in Munich.
Deals with contemptible.

Today in History

August 25

1814 - The U.S. Library of Congress is destroyed by invading British forces.

1941 - Soviet and British forces invade pro-German Iran

1944 - Paris is liberated by American and Free French troops as they capture the headquarters of the German commander of the city - who disregarded Hitler's orders to destroy the city.  Charles De Gaulle arrives in Paris to celebrate the liberation in a parade on the 26th.

1950 - U.S. President Harry Truman orders the government seizure of U.S. railroads to avert a strike by railroad workers.

1990 - Military action against Iraq over its invasion and annexation of Kuwait was authorized by the United Nations Security Council.

August 26

55 BC - Julius Caesar leads a seaborne invasion and the Roman conquest of Britain.

1946 - George Orwell publishes 'Animal Farm'

1957 - The first Edsel, made by the Ford Motor Company, rolls off the assembly line.

1972 - The 20th Olympic Summer Games opens in Munich, Bavaria, West Germany.

1992 - A 'no-fly zone' was imposed over the southern third of Iraq by the U.S., France, and Britain in order to protect Iraqi Shiite Muslims.

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