Monday, September 24, 2012

Quick Hits - September 21, 2012

Earlier today, Mitt Romney released his 2011 tax return, as promised during the primary race, and included with the release of his 2011 return a notarized letter from PriceWaterhouseCoopers attesting to the taxes paid by the Romney's between 1990 and 2009....
Regarding the newly-filed 2011 Tax Return:

-In 2011, the Romneys paid $1,935,708 in taxes on $13,696,951 in mostly investment income.

-The Romneys’ effective tax rate for 2011 was 14.1%.

-The Romneys donated $4,020,772 to charity in 2011, amounting to nearly 30% of their income.

-The Romneys claimed a deduction for $2.25 million of those charitable contributions. …

Regarding the PWC letter covering the Romneys’ tax filings over 20 years, from 1990 – 2009:

In each year during the entire 20-year period, the Romneys owed both state and federal income taxes.

-Over the entire 20-year period, the average annual effective federal tax rate was 20.20%.

-Over the entire 20-year period, the lowest annual effective federal personal tax rate was 13.66%.

-Over the entire 20-year period, the Romneys gave to charity an average of 13.45% of their adjusted gross income.

-Over the entire 20-year period, the total federal and state taxes owed plus the total charitable donations deducted represented 38.49% of total AGI.

During the 20-year period covered by the PWC letter, Gov. and Mrs. Romney paid 100 percent of the taxes that they owed.

Will this put to rest the kerfuffle promoted by the Obama campaign, Harry Reid, and the Obama media sycophants about Romney's taxes?

Of course it will not.

One, when have facts ever stopped a politically motivated class warfare class demonization kerfuffle?  Never.

Second, to the class warfare obsessed progressives, most of whom are in the in 1% themselves, this only fuels more demonization against Mitt Romney and the rich, in particular, rich Republicans.

'He only paid 14.1% effective tax rate' - when so many others pay >24%.... casually forgetting that not only is the rate after pretty much all of the Romney's income came from capital gains - taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income in order to stimulate investments, but that the Romney's also donated nearly 30% of their total 2011 income to charity - donations that are tax deductible.

Beyond the type of income the Romney's received being different - but their effective tax rate is lower because of their generosity towards private charity.

Now this chafes the progressives to no end - because in their vision and viewpoint, only government should operate in this manner - not private charities.  They contend that private charities are inefficient and ineffective with government being the best provider to those in need of assistance.  This is seen in the wide differences between the amounts that conservatives / Republicans give to charity and the amounts that liberals / progressives / Democrats (Hello Joe Biden, Hello Barack Obama prior to 2008) give to charities.

Just about the only real surprise to me from the 2011 tax return information is that while the Romney's donated just over $4 million to charity, they only deducted $2.25 million of these donations in order to, according to the Governor, keep the effective tax rate above 13%.

Yes, the Romney's also made a charitable (non-deductible) donation to the US government.

The PWC letter also provides some good information that counters the base accusations of those like Harry Reid who claimed that the Romney's didn't pay any taxes - like over the 20 year period covered (1990-2009), the Romney's actually paid 38.49% of their income to federal and state taxes plus their tax deductible charitable contributions.  It also discloses that the Romney's paid 100% of the taxes they owed and no year had an effective tax rate of less than 13.66%.  Their average effective tax rate over that same 20 year period was 20.20% - just slightly higher than the 20.5% that the Obama's paid in 2011....except in the case of the Obama's, most of their income was ordinary income not capital gains.

I won't hold my breath for Harry Reid to release his tax returns (not his annual financial statement) and in particular some of the details about some of those real estate deals which made him so much money.

Both Republicans and Democrats say that the US Federal Tax Code needs a major overhaul - but only one party is advocating tax simplification across the board, across the board tax reductions, and a broadening of the tax base so that more taxpayers have real skin in the game and will hold the federal government accountable for how the taxpayer's money is spent.

The House Ethics Committee announced today that after several years of investigating, they will not be charging the far left Democrat Representative Maxine Waters for allegedly intervening for federal bailouts for a bank her husband had a substantial investment position in.

Scott Brown, the incumbent Republican Senator from Massachusetts and his Democrat challenger, Elizabeth 'Fauxahontas' Warren held the first debate in their contest for November's election.  Warren, the self-described spiritual founder of the OccupyWallStreet movement and self-described Native American, faced an immediate challenge from Mr. Brown as he accused her of using false Native American claims to gain affirmative action advantages in advancing her career.

Warren responded by denying that she ever used the claims to advance her career - despite not making any claims to Native American status until her last two jobs, including her position on the faculty of Harvard Law School - or that after her claim, Harvard Law School filing official affirmative action reports showing a Native American now on staff.

She also repeated her mantra that her information regarding her status comes from long known and accepted family folklore...

The House of Representatives voted by a margin of 250 - 164 to block President Obama's changes (made by Executive fiat) to the work requirement rules that are part of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act legislation which reduce the work requirements needed in order to collect welfare payments.  19 Democrats joined the Republicans in their counter to what is largely seen as an unconstitutional change by the Chief Executive of a federal law - a change that can only legally be done by Congress.

The Washington Post, desperately trying to spin the campaign talk from the Administration's blatant lying over the 9/11 terror attack and the connection between the violence in the Middle East with the President's feckless foreign policy, touts that in the past week Mitt Romney 'had the worst week in Washington'!

The article defies credibility.  In the past week, the Department of Justice was implicated and called out for its incompetence / actions regarding running thousands of assault rifles to Mexican drug cartels and being complicit in hundreds of deaths [Fast and Furious]; the Department of Justice was linked to using a George Soros funded slime firm, MediaMatters, to smear and attack critics of the DoJ and AG Eric Holder; news that the Secretary of HHS, Kathleen Sebielus, was found to have violated the Hatch Act, the Secretary of State; US Ambassador to the United Nations, and the President repeatedly lying about the root cause and conditions around the terror attack in Benghazi which killed 4 Americans including the US Ambassador to Libya (the first Ambassador killed since 1979) and the sacking of the US Embassy in Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen; Barack Obama snubbing Israeli PM Netanyahu saying he didn't have time for a meeting, but having time to appear on David Letterman's show and attend a fundraiser hosted by Beyonce and Jay-Z, then agreeing to meet with the Muslim Brotherhood Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi; to reports that the State Department is using taxpayer funds to run advertisements on Pakistani television apologizing for the US having free speech; to another dismal jobless report (382,000); and another round of downgrades of the US credit rating by international credit rating organizations in the wake of the Fed announcing QE3.

And it was a bad week for Romney because someone provided a hard left organization, 'Mother Jones', an edited film from a May 2012 fundraiser where Romney says what 90% of all conservatives already believe?

If there is any doubt that the Washington Post is not all in shilling for the President's reelection - this article kills it.

A few political cartoons -

This Day in History

1780 - American General Benedict Arnold meets with British Major John Andre to discuss handing over West Point to the British in return for the promise of a large sum of money and a high position in the British Army.  The plot was foiled with the capture of Major Andre and the discovery of papers which confirm Arnold's treachery.  Arnold fled before being captured.  Andre was convicted of being a spy and executed.  Arnold went on to lead British troops during the Revolutionary War in Connecticut and Virginia - fleeing to England when the war was lost.  He never received all that he was promised.  Today, Benedict Arnold is synonymous with the word 'traitor' in the United States.

1792 - In Revolutionary France, the Legislative Assembly votes to abolish the monarchy and establish France's First Republic.

1904 - Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce tribe dies on the Colville reservation in northern Washington at the age of 64.

1938 - A powerful category 3 hurricane slams into Long Island and Southern New England causing 600 deaths and devastating coastal cities and towns.  The unnamed storm, nicknamed the Long Island Express, was the most destructive storm to strike the region in the 20th century.  The damage was made worse because of the lack of modern tools to track the storm or warn of its approach.  The tidal surge was at least 40 feet high and winds were in excess of 100 mph.

1942 - The Boeing B-29 Superfortress 4 engined heavy bomber made its debut flight in Seattle, Washington.  The B-29 was able to carry bomb loads nearly equal to its own weight at altitudes of 30,000 ft to 40,000 ft, a pressurized cabin, and extremely long range at speeds far faster than contemporary bombers in service.  It would make its combat debut in June 1944 flying missions from China to the Japanese mainland.  The aircraft would, in August 1945, drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

1949 - Mao Zedong celebrated the victory in the Chinese Civil War over the Nationalist Chinese forces and announced that the new Chinese government will be 'under the leadership of the Communist Party of China' at the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Peking - now Beijing.

Quick Hits - September 20, 2012

As the debate around Mitt Romney's '47%' comments continue to percolate around the mainstream media and blogosphere, the deeper debate needs to take place on the role of government and tax policy.

Who owns the money they earn?  The wage earner?  Or does the government get to say what it takes and then the remainder is left with the wage earner as an example of the 'generosity' of the government?

Conservatives believe that the wage earner is the owner of one's wages - and that there is an obligation to society to contribute some of these earnings towards government to fund the limited functions of the government...but the best use of these funds is to remain within the private sector.

President Obama has a different approach.  He believes that government is the best solution, not the private sector.  He believes that the private sector is such that the government needs to control and regulate the private sector to ensure 'fairness' - the 'equality of results' for all.

To fund this large government, the President sees the need of the wealthy to pay 'their fair share' to support those in need - and the President has campaigned in both 2008 and 2012 promising that he will not increase taxes on the middle class.

In addition to taxes, there are costs associated with the growing number of government regulations that are being used to ensure 'fairness'.

Hot Air today has a report that shows that not only are the middle class seeing their taxes increase, but that the regulatory costs of the Obama expansion of government regulations is in reality 20 times (20X) higher than what the Administration is estimating on an annual basis.
Despite President Obama’s assiduous promises that he would scrupulously avoid raising taxes whatsoever on the middle class, the CBO released yet another of its revised reports yesterday, informing us that the ObamaCare mandate tax is going to overwhelmingly impose itself upon members of the middle class, with an average penalty to the tune of $1,200.

And today, the Competitive Enterprise Institute via the Washington Examiner has more info concluding that current federal regulations, in addition to ObamaCare’s upcoming regulations, impose a cost on individuals and businesses that amounts to more than twenty times what the Obama administration originally anticipates, annually.
Current federal regulations plus those coming under Obamacare will cost American taxpayers and businesses $1.8 trillion annually, more than twenty times the $88 billion the administration estimates, according to a new roundup provided to Secrets from the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute.

And it could grow, warned the author of the report, Clyde Wayne Crews, a CEI vice president.

Complying with Health and Human Services Department requirements alone, he revealed, costs $184 billion a year, yet regulators are still drafting the rules for the 2,400-page Obamacare law that kicks into gear in 2014.

Crews has made a working project of his “Tip of the Costberg” report which he regularly updates. In it, he compares the cost of regulations estimated by federal agencies to a much broader list of estimates from multiple federal and independent sources.
Here's the link to the CBO report - which also highlights that even more Americans than previously expected are going to be hit by Obamacare's individual mandate TAX - which will apply to 6 million by 2016...
Of the 30 million Americans whom Obamacare leaves uninsured and without affordable insurance options, 6 million will have to pay the penalty, an increased estimate from 2010. According to CBO, “About two million more uninsured people are now projected to pay the penalty each year, and collections are now expected to be about $3 billion more per year.” The total cost to uninsured Americans will be around $7 billion in 2016 and is projected to be about $8 billion every year from 2017 to 2022.

The tax penalty is calculated in different ways depending on income levels. If they do not obtain Obamacare-mandated health insurance, households with lower incomes will pay a flat dollar amount each year, and those with higher incomes will pay a penalty equal to a percentage of their incomes.

Despite claims made by Obamacare’s advocates that the law will help middle- and low-income Americans, CBO’s table reveals that the distribution of the tax falls heavily on those making less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL)—meaning the majority of this new tax falls on the very people the law was supposed to help. For instance, a family of four making about $24,600 per year, the projected FPL in 2016, could be subject to this egregious tax penalty.
Um, you did know that Obamacare did leave about 30 million uninsured - about 10% of the national population?  That we're paying $2.4 trillion over the next 10 years to 'fundamentally change' healthcare for about 30-45 million people total as well as making sure that the young college graduate, only about 50% can get jobs, can remain on their parent's health insurance until age 26 and that coverage can no longer be limited by pre-existing conditions.  [Is it still a surprise that the majority of Americans want to repel this boondoogle?]

Far too little attention is made on the 'hidden costs' of the 'fundamental change' being implemented by the Obama Administration - the costs associated with federal government regulations.

As the above report on Obamacare indicates, many regulations are still be developed for not only Obamacare, but the Dodd / Frank banking legislation which will increase regulations on financial institutions and on consumers (directly and indirectly).  For example in Obamacare, there is the 'Contraception Mandate' which will drive up costs for businesses and insurers as they are now required to provide free coverages for their employees for abortafacients, contraceptives, and sterilization.

Inc Magazine, in a September 2010 article, noted that many of these federal regulations, by design, cost small businesses, the cornerstone of the domestic economy, far more than they cost large businesses.
Businesses with 20 employees or fewer pay 36 percent more than their larger counterparts (defined as those with 500 or more employees), says the report – called "The Impact of Regulatory Costs on Small Firms" -- from the SBA's Office of Advocacy. This is because a lot of costs are fixed -- the same whether you have two employees or 2,000. Total annual cost of following the rules for a small business: $10,585 per employee, or about $2,830 more than big business. Businesses with 20 to 499 employees paid about $7,454 per employee, or about $300 less than the largest companies.

"That is an unfair burden to place on American small business,' said Winslow Sargeant, the SBA's chief counsel for advocacy.

The report estimates that 89 percent of all firms in the U.S. employ fewer than 20 workers. By comparison, large firms account for only 0.3 percent of all U.S. firms.
The Heritage Foundation has a research report that highlights the specifics of rising red tape that is impacting businesses specific to the massive number of regulations added during the first three years of the Obama Administration...

The Heritage Foundation also has a very interesting listing of some of the regulations and effects... Tales of the Red Tape :

  • The EEOC has issued a regulation that defines conducting a criminal background check on job applicants could trigger charges of racial discrimination against the company.  This impacts small business hiring practices and increases their costs / risks associated with hiring employees.
  • 120+ regulations were created in the last year regarding enhanced accomodations for disabled individuals at 65 different types of public and private facilities - totally around 7 million privately owned sites.  Compliance for these regulations is estimated to cost more than $1 billion annually for each of the next 15 years.  Among these, requirements for public pools, even those serviced by HOA's to install and maintain elevators for disabled access into the pool.  There is now a new cottage industry of investigators and litigators going to businesses (large and small) and filing lawsuits for those who do not 100% comply with the new regulations.
  • Returning back to the EEOC, not only can we check to see if an applicant has a criminal background, but we also risk discrimination lawsuits if we ask if an applicant has a High School diploma.
In fact, so much attention is starting to turn towards the regulatory excesses of the Obama Administration throughout the Executive Branch, regulations that have hit businesses for more than $46 billion in new annual costs in the past three years, that for the election season, the regulatory agenda is going undercover....

Throughout President Obama’s tenure, the number and cost of major regulations has approached record levels—exceeding $46 billion in new annual costs during his first three years. The impact has been economically crippling, of course, notwithstanding the administration’s boasts of regulatory benefits. Yet the White House seems rather shy of late about its hyperactive rulemaking, all of the president’s promises of transparency be damned.

Here it is almost September, and the administration has failed to publish its spring 2012 Regulatory Agenda as required by law. The compendium of planned regulatory actions is required each spring and fall under the Regulatory Flexibility Act as well as Executive Order 12,866, which originated with President Clinton and was reaffirmed by President Obama last year.

With no word from the White House on its failure to comply, Sen. Rob Portman (R–OH) sent a letter of inquiry this week to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. “Concerns about bad press … are no excuse for keeping these plans under wraps,” Portman said. “With regulatory burdens already hindering job creation, the American people are entitled to know the full magnitude of new Obama Administration regulations coming down the pike.”

The fall 2011 agenda listed 2,576 newly proposed and final regulations in the pipeline, including a disproportionate share from the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Health and Human Services, Treasury Department, Security and Exchange Commission, and Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

There’s plenty of evidence that this regulatory frenzy will persist—if not escalate—with or without warning. Whether or not the White House reports it, Obamacare and Dodd-Frank alone would spawn dozens of new major regulations with annual costs in the tens of billions of dollars.
Here's the link to the Fall 2011 Unified Agenda which lists the 2,576 newly proposed and final regulations in the pipeline...

Have we as a society changed our approach towards those who lie?  Is there still a price to be paid for those who lie, prevaricate, mislead for personal gain?

Or is the question more along the lines, 'Does character and integrity matter any more?'

At what point do we stop believing in, or trusting, or listening to, or voting for pathological liars - particularly if that liar is from a particular political party or is named Barack Obama.

It's pretty obvious that much of the mainstream media is completely in the tank for Barack Obama.  They share the same ideological vision and viewpoint as Barack Obama - and are willing to ignore the character issues and habitual lying.

For a week since the 9/11/12 sacking of the US Embassy in Cairo, and the murder of US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, State Department employee Sean Smith, and two security personnel not directly connected to the protection of the US Consulate in Benghazi or Ambassador Stevens, the Administration made the case that the violence in both locations was not related to the 9/11 anniversary, was not related to a terrorist attack on US facilities, but entirely related to an obscure 14 minute trailer of a film 'The Innocence of Muslims' posted on You Tube in June that enraged the rage boys of fundamentalist Islam...

Now we are learning that the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya that resulted in four murders was not because of a 'spontaneous' demonstration over that obscure video that 'insulted' Muslims.  There was no demonstration.  Just an attack on the US Consulate by 50+ heavily armed terrorists followed by a second attack at a supposed 'safe house' that those in the Consulate evacuated to.

The storming of the US Embassy in Cairo seems far less connected to that video, despite the asinine statements issued by the Embassy (without approval from Washington DC) or the subsequent 'more' official statements which blamed the video for inciting the mob (without defending our free speech principles), that the demonstration was far more related to an act scheduled specifically for the anniversary of the 9/11/01 terror attack on the US and the 'spiking of the football' by the Administration for the killing of Osama Bin Laden.  The chant - 'We are all Osama Obama' referenced the video....oh, wait, that's the video that Sony Pictures and the Administration are collaborating on to 'spike the football' once again due out next month.  The leadership of the storming of the Embassy?  The Muslim Brotherhood, Salafists, and supporters of al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian leader of al-Qaeda.

Simply, the Administration lied to the American people to hide the effects of their feckless MidEast foreign policy.  Barack Obama lied.  Hillary Clinton lied.  Susan Rice lied.  Jay Carney lied.

When asked during an interview with the Spanish language network Univision, 'Why wasn't your Administration better prepared to secure America's embassies on September 11?' - the President not only could not answer, but filibustered and moved the goalposts for 6 minutes.  Video at the link...

Barack Obama will also lie about his own background for political gain...

Here's Chapter Two from the above report on Obama's crafted false biography linked above...
Time magazine gushed in 2008 about Barack Obama's 12-year tenure as a law lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, saying, "Within a few years, he had become a rock-star professor with hordes of devoted students."

That may have been true during his first two years, when he ranked first among the law school's 40 instructors, with students giving him a rating of 9.7 out of a possible 10.

But law student evaluations made available to The Washington Examiner by the university showed that his popularity then fell steadily.

In 1999, only 23 percent of the students said they would repeat Obama's racism class. He was the third-lowest-ranked lecturer at the law school that year. And in 2003, only a third of the student evaluators recommended his classes.

His classes were small. A spring 1994 class attracted 14 out of a student body of 600; a spring 1996 class drew 13. In 1997, he had the largest class of his tenure with 49 students. But by then, his student rating had fallen to 7.75. Twenty-two of 40 faculty members ranked higher than Obama.

It is often claimed that Obama was a "Constitutional law professor." Well...

Obama has often cited his days at the law school as an important part of his preparation for the presidency. At a March 30, 2007, fundraiser, for example, he said, "I was a constitutional law professor, which means, unlike the current president, I actually respect the Constitution."

From 1992 until 2004, Obama taught three courses: "Current Issues in Racism and the Law," "Voting Rights and the Democratic Process," and "Equal Protection and Substantive Due Process."

Three areas of the law that do involve the Constitution. It should also be noted all three are areas where leftwingers try to make the most impact on America.

It's Thursday, time for the week's jobless claims numbers....

This week new jobless claim number is a seasonally adjusted 382,000 people filing for first time jobless benefits - higher than the 375,000 that the 'experts' were predicting for this week.  This is the 5th out of the last 6 weeks where the expectations of the 'experts' were missed.

Last week's jobless claims numbers were politically adjusted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 382,000 first time filers to 385,000 first time filers which allowed the sycophants in the mainstream media to announce that this week's number was lower than last weeks followed by drivel around an improving economy.

Also on the job front, Bank of America has announced that between now and the end of the year, it will eliminate 16,000 jobs.

Labor Unions, the ACLU, and other progressive organizations are using the Michigan Secretary of State because she is championing efforts to identify and remove non-US citizens from Michigan's voter rolls.  They are terming the Secretary of State's (a Republican) actions to conform to US and Michigan law 'discriminatory'.  I suppose it is - it discriminates against those who have broken US and Michigan law as well as those who benefit from voter fraud (Democrats).

This Day in History

1519 - Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan set sail from Spain with 5 ships and 270 men to find a western sea route to the Spice Islands of Indonesia.  He discovered the Straits of Magellan on October 21, 1520 - and it took him 38 days to traverse the straits from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans.  Entering the Pacific, he sailed 99 days until making landfall on March 6, 1521 at Guam.  10 days later, Magellan's expedition arrived at the Philippines.  While there, Magellan was killed by a poison arrow on April 27th.  The expedition's survivors, in two ships, sailed on to Indonesia where they filled their holds with spices.  One attempted to recross the Pacific and was lost.  The last sailed across the Indian Ocean, around the Cape of Good Hope, and returned to Spain on September 6, 1522 - becoming the first ship to circumnavigate the world.

1806 - Lewis and Clark, returning from the Pacific / Northwest territory reach the first white settlement on the Missouri River.

1863 - The Confederates score a victory at the Battle of Chickamauga in northern Georgia.  This was one of the largest battles in the Civil War, and costliest - resulting in 18,500 Confederate casualties and 16,100 Union casualties.

1881 - Chester A. Arthur takes the oath of office as the 21st President of the United States, succeeding the late President Garfield.  He also becomes the third US President to serve in 1 year.

1943 - British launch Operation Source as three midget submarines, out of six dispatched, attacked the German battleship Tirpitz as it is anchored inside a Norwegian fjord.  They did not sink the battleship, the sistership of the Bismarck, but damaged it severely enough for it to remain out of action for 6 months....reducing the threat against British convoys to the Russian port of Murmansk.

1973 - Billie Jean King defeats Bobby Riggs in Battle of the Sexes II at the Houston Astrodome before a sellout crowd of 30,492 - the largest ever for a tennis match.  The match came from Riggs defeating Margaret Court in straight sets in the Battle of the Sexes I.  King dominated Riggs, winning 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

Quick Hits - September 19, 2012

Back in catch-up mode for posts....

The primary meme from the feckless mainstream media is the latest of the monumental 'gaffes' that have doomed the Presidential aspirations of Mitt Romney and ensure that 'The One' will be reelected.  This latest is a video tape of a Romney fundraiser from last May released and promoted by the hard left 'Mother Jones' organization and the equally rabid left David Corn who claim that it 'ends the Romney campaign'.  In the video, Mitt Romney tells the audience of contributors that 47% of the country does not pay federal income taxes and that those preferring to receive and exist on government entitlements are going to vote for Barack Obama.

But there is a kerfuffle behind the video.  Close examination of the video shows that it suddenly ends effectively mid-statement as Romney makes his case - as the candidate later described, 'inelegantly'.  The video then picks up at least a minute or two later.

How inelegant was Mitt Romney in that answer?  With the missing materials, what really is the full context of his statement?  After all, when we see the Romney campaign hammer Obama on things like 'You didn't build that...', the immediate hew and cry is that the evil Romney campaign has taken the President out of context and is misrepresenting the President's entire meaning.

Seeking the full context, the Romney campaign demanded that David Corn and 'Mother Jones' release the full unedited tape so that the voters can see the context and decide on their own.  Corn and 'Mother Jones' then responded that they did release the full tape - but subsequent information that is coming out today shows that their claim that they have released the full tape is nothing but a flagrant lie...because they released all they had and the person who made the tape at the fundraiser had a 'technical challenge' during that portion of the Governor's remarks.

When GOP activist filmmaker James O'Keefe took hidden videos that devastated Planned Parenthood as well as the ease with which voter fraud could be committed in New Hampshire during the Presidential primaries, we heard all of the whinging over 'context', 'selective editing', and related accusations to deflect what we were seeing and protect some progressive organizations and memes.  Through, the full unedited videos were released.  They reflected in the light of full 'context' that there was no selective editing and that the accusations / points highlighted were not only in context, but if anything, full context made the actions even more of a concern.

Yet there is little to no outcry over Mother Jones and David Corns blatant lies about their video - saying the video offered was complete and unedited when it is clearly edited either by deliberate action or by a technical glitch.

Rather than address what is a complete journalistic ethical violation almost as brazen as Dan Rather, Mary Mapes, and CBS News using fraudulent documents to smear a Republican President just a few weeks before Election Day, the sycophants in the mainstream media embrace another 'Fake, but accurate' meme to support a Democrat incumbent President unable to get 50% support except in the most cooked polls.

Both CNN and ABC focused on hyping the Romney tape as a 'monumental gaffe' and a 'political earthquake'...

Not holding back, Sawyer hyped, "Today there was a political earthquake in the presidential race and all because of a small camera secretly recording from the side of a room."

A political earthquake? ABC's over-the-top language started earlier in the day on Tuesday. Good Morning America's hosts pushed the "bombshell rocking" the campaign that is sending out "shock waves."

Later on World News, Sawyer introduced reporters Jon Karl and Jake Tapper to "bring us two perspectives on this seismic day."

Karl highlighted Rush Limbaugh suggesting, "This is such an opportunity to espouse conservatism and to explain. And we know Romney's got it in him because of what he said to these people."

Tapper, it should be pointed out, made the connection to 2008 comments by Barack Obama about small town voters. The then-candidate suggested "because of tough economic circumstances, they get bitter. They cling to religion and guns and xenophobia."
Are nearly half of Americans so beholden to entitlements that they will vote for the candidate who promises to expand entitlements regardless of the national fiscal status?  Or are so many of Middle America just 'bitter' clingers who focus on religion, guns, and xenophobia?

Let's look at who pays federal income tax in chart that is the specific claim made by Romney.

46.4% of Americans do not pay federal income taxes.  But 28.3% do pay payroll taxes which are based on income.  10.3% are elderly, 6.9% have incomes less than $20,000, and 0.9% are in other categories.

Romney's claim is that 47% don't pay federal income taxes.  This is true.  But the spin is to read between the lines and as Romney goes on to talk about the cycles of dependency that growing entitlements have created with a growing number of our population - he is not making the case that all 47% fit into this group.  But he is raising a core issue with conservatives - that government is getting too big and too active in expanding entitlements well beyond those of a temporary safety net.  He is also looking back at the record and perceptions that come from the War on Poverty that was launched in the mid-1960's as part of President Lyndon Johnson's 'Great Society'.  He is also looking at a very progressive and bloated federal income tax code that is in desperate need of a major reform - a reform that he proposes results in fewer deductions, fewer tax loopholes, lower tax rates at all levels and a broader tax base than one of just 53.6% of the population - most likely with a minimum federal income tax payment so that all 'have skin in the game'.

Zerohedge, the financial blog, has a superb post at this LINK that highlights all anyone needs to know about who pays what in federal taxes in the United States.  A sample of some of the materials:

The top 1% of income earners in this country earn 17% of the all the income earned - but pay 37% of the federal income taxes.  The next 4% (2%-5%) of income earners,earn 15% of all of the income earned, but pay 22% of the federal income taxes.  So, the top 5% of wage earners account for 32% of the total income earned, but pay 59% of the federal income tax burden.  This is the definition of a progressive income tax.

Federal income taxes on individuals is the primary source of revenue for the federal government.  The second largest is the payroll taxes - which is supposed to be funding Social Security Insurance.  Then comes other taxes and fees.  All told in 2011, based on this chart, the Federal Government brought in $2.3 trillion in revenues.  It spent far, far, far more than it brought in - which is why we have the deficit and debt challenges that we currently do.

The progressives, led by President Obama, say we need to increase taxes in the name of 'fairness', 'social justice', and increase federal revenues.  But there is a problem with this approach...

Where Mitt Romney did little more than talk about the conservative viewpoint about the problems we face, a dramatically growing federal government, a massive expansion of the entitlement state, a growing cycle of dependency - and the willingness of these people to vote for those who promise to continue / expand that path as opposed to voting for those who seek to reign in government, spending, and entitlements to provide a temporary safety net for those in need, Barack Obama is doing the exact same with his vision for not only expanding government, entitlements, but in his core belief of 'wealth redistribution' which was highlighted earlier this week in QH.  In that audio from 1998, Barack Obama directly says he is 'all for' wealth redistribution.

That's the President's appeal to progressives and the progressive base.  It's fundamentally wrong and against traditional American values, but he's expressing his point of view just as Romney expressed his.  But because the nattering nitwits in the mainstream media are primarily progressives first, and the race is close, they toss their journalistic integrity out of the window to spin the story.

Unsurprisingly, NBC / MSNBC are leading the way in bias and stupid - this time coming from the increasingly shrill Andrea Mitchell....

Yes, that is Mitchell's 'official' position...

What makes this clearly an example of Mitchell's lack of ethics and shilling for Obama is that NBC's Chuck Todd had already aired it on MSNBC earlier in the day.  Both Jay Carney, the WH Press Flack and Ben LaBolt, the Obama Campaign Press Flack have confirmed its Barack Obama.  They aren't trying to spin or run away from the fact that Barack Obama wants wealth redistribution.

The real story here is not Mitt Romney's comments made at the May fundraiser.  He is stating a problem and advocating a conservative solution to the problem - and noting that the entitlement society makes it harder and harder for conservatives to get elected. [Look at Greece or Italy or France - when faced with austerity or maintaining the course assuming that someone else will pony up the cash - many voters prefer to keep taking 'free' money from the government as opposed to austerity.]

The story also is not Barack Obama advocating an expansion of government and an expansion of government entitlements and services - he believes that the wealthy have enough money for themselves as well as nearly everyone else....and that the role of government is to ensure that their wealth is given to those in 'need'.

This is what the 2012 election is about.

It is about, as Barack Obama above calls for in 1995, 'Democracy with a small 'd'' while pushing for a society based on collectivism and the 'common good'.  Where unions and collective bargaining encapsulates the 'common good' and previews the message of his 2012 campaign by urging society to collectively move 'Forward'...

Has the mainstream media aired this video of Barack Obama and his 'real' beliefs?

Of course not.

They will not even how photos of the 18 foot tall  Champagne bar that was the focal point of Obama's Beyonce / Jay-Z fundraiser in NYC because, as the NY Post notes in their report of the fundraiser, the campaign is prohibiting photos of the club before / during the fundraiser.  But courtesy of the UK's Daily Mail...which also notes that the tower, with the $800 per bottle of champagne, is worth more than twice the median US income...

In other news, the United States drops 10 spots in the latest ratings of Economic Freedom to 18th place, it's lowest position ever on the rating.  Canada moves into the top 5, tying Australia.

Countdown for blaming this on George W. Bush..... 5, 4, 3, 2, .....

Speaking about blaming George W. Bush, what does it say about the President who increased the national debt by the largest amount of any President in our history, and larger than the first 41 President's combined - and doesn't know what the current debt level is and lies about the source of this level of debt?

This Day in History

1777 – The First Battle of Saratoga is fought – largely to a draw, although the British held the field, the Americans had inflicted more than double the casualties on the British than they suffered. Battle was notable for the massive disagreement between the American commanders – General Horatio Gates in command, and General Benedict Arnold, his second in command. While many in the army attributed the successes of this day to Arnold, Gates did not mention Arnold at all in his reports to Congress and the Governor of New York. This led to a massive argument, and Gates relieving Arnold of his command. {This is said to be the start of Arnold’s considerations to change sides – which he would do in 1780}

The second Battle of Saratoga would be fought October 7 and result in a major American victory. The victory would also convince France to recognize the US and join in the fight against the British.

1881 – 80 days after being shot while walking through a railroad waiting room in Washington DC by a failed office seeker, President James Garfield dies from complications of the wound and blood poisoning. Vice President Chester A. Arthur would be inaugurated as the 21st President of the United States on the 20th.

1957 – A 1.7 KT nuclear device is detonated in an underground tunnel at the Nevada Test Site, a research facility about 65 miles north of Las Vegas – it is the first underground nuclear test – and produced no radioactive fallout.

1985 – 8.0 Earthqauke strikes Mexico City, destroying 400 buildings and killing up to 40,000 people.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Quick Hits - September 18, 2012

According to the Chicago Tribune, 'radical socialists' within the Chicago Teacher's Union are pushing for the union to reject the proposed settlement agreed to Sunday - preferring to remain out in order to achieve all of their demands as opposed to the compromise which they term a 'sellout' by the Union leadership.

The Chicago teachers walked out on strike last week over issues related to pay increases, teacher evaluations and accountability, a longer work day, and the re-hiring of 500 dismissed teachers.  On Sunday, a vote on the acceptance of the proposed agreement was delayed for 2 school days to 'permit' the teachers to fully evaluate and understand the settlement.

The teachers are mulling over a three year contract which provides them a 12% pay increase over the duration of the contract (original demand was for a 30% increase), the rehiring of 500 dismissed teachers, and that teacher's evaluations on their job performance would be 30% based on the standardized test scores of their students.  The union also agreed to the request that the teachers, who today work one of the shortest work days, work a longer day - amounting to about a 7 hour work day in addition to creating a framework where the worst performing teachers could be dismissed.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel attempted to use the courts to force the teachers back to work while the 'evaluation' continued - filing a motion with the Cook County Circuit Court yesterday morning.  The Chicago Teacher's union was angered by the action and increased their rhetoric against the actions of the City - but this step ultimately became immaterial as a judge declined the city's request for a same-day hearing for the injunction to force the teacher's back to work.  The hearing will be held on Wednesday, the same day the union is supposed to vote on accepting the proposals.

This is turning into an interesting battle, one that the union sees as one that they cannot lose.  They are negotiating with their strongest supporters, the progressive Democrats that run Chicago - and were elected largely on the dollars and support of public and private sector unions. The political leaders are in a challenging position.  Chicago is already projected to be running a $3 billion deficit for their school budget over the next three years.  Only 60% of the students of the Chicago Public School system graduate, well below the national average - and only a fraction of the system's 8th graders can read at an 8th grade level.  Apparently 40% of the teachers send their own children to schools other than Chicago's public schools - favoring either charter or private schools.

Will the Chicago Democrats continue to embrace fiscal irresponsibility and encourage / protect the ability of teachers in the union to avoid accountability for the quality and results of their efforts?  Or will they look 90 miles to the north and see what has happened in Wisconsin and take a stand against the union and for once actually put the children first?

I expect the Union is correct, the city will fold - but the real story will be if the radical socialists in the union ranks will be able to make this into a real war - with the teachers remaining out until they get 100% of their demands.  If that happens, it might be a pyrrhic victory for the union(s).

Violence and demonstrations are continuing against the United States throughout the Middle East and other countries.  The Administration continues to insist that the low budget movie, whose trailer was posted on You Tube in June, and raised the ire of Egyptian Salafists, is the only spark for the violence which has lasted a week.  However, evidence is growing that the Administration is lying / trying to deflect the issue - with now reports that the US State Department warned the Embassy in Cairo on the 10th of possible violence, and assertions (backed by other information and actions) by the Libyan President that the US was warned of possible violence against Western diplomats and facilities in Benghazi.

Several days ago, I noted that the leader of al-Qaeda, al-Zawahiri's younger brother was an active participant in the storming of the US Embassy in Cairo on the 11th.  I also noted that the size of the demonstration exceeded the number of views that the infamous movie trailer had gotten on You Tube since it was posted three months earlier.  A Fox News reporter asks the younger brother of the al-Qaeda leader, 'How can you call for a protest about a movie you haven't seen?'

His answer...
'It's the title."
The title is, by the way, 'The Innocence of Muslims'.

It's not the movie that is provoking this.  It's the weakness of the Obama Administration and the weakness of the policies it is enacting in the region.  But that isn't the only reason either.  The other main reason is that the islamofascists are at war with the West - they see a threat of our values towards their values and are waging 'jihad' against the 'infidel' to defeat us.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali has a very interesting commentary in Newsweek Magazine this week (also online at Daily Beast) which features as its cover story the Muslim rage that is taking place.  Ali offers a good perspective to this as she was a Muslim and is under death threat for speaking out against some of the practices of Islam that are embraced by the fundamentalists behind the rioting and violence....
But that was nothing compared with what happened when I made a short film with Theo van Gogh (titled Submission) that drew attention to the direct link between the Quran and the plight of Muslim women. In revenge for this act of free thinking, Mohammed Bouyeri, a 26-year-old Dutch-Moroccan man, murdered van Gogh—shooting him eight times and stabbing him with two knives, one of which pinned a note to his body threatening the West, Jews, and me. As he was dying, my friend Theo reportedly asked his assailant, “Can’t we talk about this?” It’s a question that has haunted me ever since, often in bed at night. One side proposing a conversation; the other side thrusting a blade.

Now I knew what it was like to be a combatant in the clash of civilizations.

... How often have I endured bizarre conversations with government officials who cling to the illusion that the threat is temporary or that it can be negotiated. And then there are the even more delusional positions staked out by some prominent intellectuals who blame the writer, the politician, the filmmaker, or the cartoonist for provoking the threat. In the days after van Gogh was murdered, too many prominent Dutch individuals expressed precisely this position, declaring smugly, “Yes, of course killing is wrong, but Theo was a provocateur ...” Will they never cease looking for ever more ingenious ways of apologizing for free speech?

As the latest wave of indignation sweeps across the Muslim world, we should not be despondent. Yes, this is a setback for the Arab Spring. Yes, it is bloody, dangerous, and chaotic on the streets. Yes, innocent people are dying and their governments are powerless. But this too shall pass.

Utopian ideologies have a short lifespan. Some are bloodier than others. As long as Islamists were able to market their philosophy as the only alternative to dictatorship and foreign meddling, they were attractive to an oppressed polity. But with their election to office they will be subjected to the test of government. It is clear, as we saw in Iran in 2009 and elsewhere, that if the philosophy of the Islamists is fully and forcefully implemented, those who elected them will end up disillusioned. The governments will begin to fail as soon as they set about implementing their philosophy: strip women of their rights; murder homosexuals; constrain the freedoms of conscience and religion of non-Muslims; hunt down dissidents; persecute religious minorities; pick fights with foreign powers, even powers, such as the U.S., that offered them friendship. The Islamists will curtail the freedoms of those who elected them and fail to improve their economic conditions.

After the disillusion and bitterness will come a painful lesson: that it is foolish to derive laws for human affairs from gods and prophets.
This is a read it all article.

Islam is a religion that is not only at war with us, but with itself.  The problem is that the moderates are not speaking out.  It is a religion that is need of it's own reformation - not unlike the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century in Christianity.

Can those Muslims who see the need for reformation, make the not only the case and argument for reformation, but have the courage to stand up to the violence that will be directed their way by the fundamentalists?  One of the legacies of the Protestant Reformation was the Thirty Years War which devastated Germany - killing between 25% and 40% of the population of the German states.  Can Islam be reformed without this bloodshed - or is the bloodshed inevitable unless we decide to surrender or submit to the demands of the islamofascists?

Will eventually the rights and interests of the people move beyond their faith / religion and see that they and Islam need to move beyond a 7th century mindset?  Can they enact change, reform, and modernization?  Or will this only come from the same way that Nazism as an ideology was ultimately defeated?

Before these questions are answered, we have to stop make apologies for our values, for our beliefs, and stop trying to negotiate with those who will not negotiate.

Lost in this, are growing anti-Japanese demonstrations throughout China, some of which have resulted in Japanese company facilities in China shutting down.  This violence is being fueled by Chinese propaganda and insistence that Japan is infringing on Chinese sovereign territory - a number of islands in the China Sea that have been owned by Japan for decades, but now coveted by the Chinese for the mineral rights in the waters around those islands.  Many of the demonstrators are calling on the Chinese government to go to war with Japan over these 'insults' and 'provocations'.

On the tech front, US software giant Microsoft is warning consumers that malware, viruses, trojans, and spyware, are being installed on computers in factories in China....
Microsoft researchers in China investigating the sale of counterfeit software found malware pre-installed on four of 20 brand new desktop and laptop PCs they bought for testing. They found forged versions of Windows on all the machines.

The worst piece of malicious software they found is called Nitol, an aggressive virus found on computers in China, the US, Russia, Australia and Germany. Microsoft has even identified servers in the Cayman Islands controlling Nitol-infected machines.

All these affected computers become part of a botnet – a collection of compromised computers – one of the most invasive and persistent forms of cybercrime.

The findings were revealed in court documents unsealed on Thursday in a federal court in Virginia. The records describe a new front in a legal campaign against cybercrime being waged by the maker of the Windows operating system, which is the biggest target for viruses.

The documents are part of a computer fraud lawsuit filed by Microsoft against a web domain registered to a Chinese businessman named Peng Yong.

The company says it is a major hub for illicit Internet activity. The domain is home base for Nitol and more than 500 other types of malware, making it the largest single repository of infected software that Microsoft officials have ever encountered.

What is the difference between the National Football League and the Mainstream Media?

The NFL will pull a referee from refereeing a game that involves a team that the referee is 'openly rooting' for.

True story - the NFL has replaced one of its replacement referees for a game involving the New Orleans Saints when it became known from the Facebook page of the referee that he is a huge fan of the Saints.

It would be a novel concept for the mainstream media to adopt.

Newspaper advertising revenues are collapsing as readers are moving from print / newspapers - which is matching the fall that is taking place regarding broadcast network news as viewers also move from these programs.

Some media nitwits put the blame on this on the rise of the Internet and cable TV - while others point to the changing times and priorities of people who just aren't that interested in the news at the same level as they were a quarter or half century ago.

The reality is that people don't have the time or money to waste on something that does not provide value to them.  Newspapers, weekly news magazines, and the broadcast network news no longer provide any real value or objectivity to the consumer.  That is their fundamental problem.

The ones that do work to provide value and objectivity are the ones that are doing the best.  It's just that simple.  But for the mainstream media to see this, they will have to admit that they are no longer objective - and little more than propagandists toiling at an Orwellian 'Ministry of Truth'.

The latest MSM manufactured kerfuffle against GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney comes from comments he made at a private fund raiser which became public.  Mitt Romney basically pointed out that there are those who think government programs and entitlements benefit them, are good, and will vote for Barack Obama because of this - and because of Obama's embracing and expansion of entitlements and wealth redistribution.
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney says in one clip. "There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing."

Adding to his argument about entitlement, Romney said his "job is not to worry about those people."

"I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives," he added.

The horror - people who will not vote for Mitt Romney are being alienated.  Add to this the claim that there are those in the country who prefer to receive something for 'nothing' from the government and therefore are willing to vote to empower those who will give them something for 'nothing' from the government, and I am reminded of the words of Alexis de Tocqueville who noted in the 1830's that, to paraphrase him, the American republic will only last until the politicians realize that they can bribe the public with the public's own funds.

While this makes a convenient move of the goalposts from the President's failed policies around the economy and foreign policy, it brings to the fore one of the real core debates that we need to have on the future of this country.

Middle America sees that the entitlement state in this country is out of control.  They can look at other entitlement states, past and present, and see the effects of the inevitable bankruptcy of the entitlement state.  Middle America sees the importance of a temporary safety net, but not at >40% of the people and not to the  fiscally and socially irresponsible level we've achieved.

While the mainstream media / progressives / RINOs will whinge and moan about Romney's 'gaffe' - this isn't a gaffe for Middle America. Even those who might be in this 47% that Romney named, will see and think that this doesn't apply to them... after all they pay payroll taxes and other taxes / fees to government even if they are getting income taxes back from the government because of tax credits, tax breaks, and things like the earned income credit.  They will not be taking this personally because they do not see themselves as 'freeloaders'.  'Those' are other people.

This is one of the debates that we need to have.  It goes beyond liking and wanting 'free' stuff - because this stuff isn't free.

Victor Davis Hanson in a recent commentary talked about a women he went to assist in a local WalMart parking lot.  She was struggling with trying to get a large screen television from the shopping cart into her car.  One of the things hampering her efforts was that in one hand she still held the EBT card that she used to purchase the large screen television set.  EBT is the electronic card that is used for food stamps - it works like a credit card - but is supposed to only be used for the purchase of food for a poor family.  Here's someone who used it to buy a large screen television.  Is that what the safety net is for?

Or is this the real goal - Barack Obama saying he believes in wealth redistribution.

We need to maintain a safety net - but not expand or continue the level of entitlements or wealth redistribution the President and progressives are advocating.

The problem is, in this financial condition, the President and progressives do not want that debate.

This Day in History

1759 - The French formally surrender Quebec to the British.

1793 - President George Washington lays the cornerstone of the US Capitol building

1931 - Japan stages the Mukden Incident as a pretext to launch the invasion and occupation of Manchuria.

1947 - The United States Air Force was established as a separate military branch by the National Security Act of 1947.

1961 - United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammaskjold is killed when his plane crashes under mysterious circumstances near Ndola in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia).

1975 - Newspaper heiress and wanted fugitive Patty Hearst is captured in a San Francisco apartment and charged with armed robbery. She had been kidnapped in 1974 by the violent leftist group, the Symbionese Liberation Army. In April she was seen in a surveillance photo participating in the armed robbery of a San Francisco Bank. On May 17, LAPD raided the SLA’s headquarters in Los Angeles, starting a massive gun battle which killed 6 of the 9 known members of the SLA. Hearst would be convicted in 1976 of bank robbery despite a claim of being brainwashed by the SLA and sentenced to 7 years in prison. President Jimmy Carter commuted her sentence and she was released in February 1979. President Bill Clinton fully pardoned Hearst in 2001 as he was leaving office.

Quick Hits - September 17, 2012

There are certain points in time and history where the events that take place have ramifications far greater than people might realize at the time that they happened.  The United States was at one of these inflection points 150 years ago today.

Four days after Union Army infantrymen found a few cigars wrapped in a handwritten document, read that document, and forwarded up the Army chain of command, Confederate Robert E. Lee, near the Maryland town of Sharpsburg, and between the Antietam Creek and the Potomac River, took up defensive positions when Union General George McClellan, leading nearly 75,000 Union soldiers prepared to attack the Confederates.

The document that the Union infantrymen found by chance in the field was a copy of General Robert E. Lee's Special Order No. 191 - the detailed plans for the Army of Northern Virginia's invasion of the north.

In the West, the Civil War was not going well for the Confederates.  The Union, with the exception of the area around Vicksburg, Mississippi, had control of the Mississippi River.  In the East, things were looking better.  The Confederates had just driven back the Union Army from the gates of Richmond, and defeated the Union Army once again at the Second Battle of Manassas (Second Bull Run).  Lee believed that the best course for his Army would be to invade the North, win a decisive battle there, and not only demoralize the  northern population, but provide the example needed to get Britain and France to diplomatically recognize the Confederacy.

With knowledge of Lee's plans, McClellan was able to bring his Army to engagement with Lee possessing a strong numerical advantage.

Despite his advantages, McClellan failed to win a decisive victory in what would be the single bloodiest single-day battle in US history.  He launched uncoordinated attacks on the Confederate lines which permitted Lee to re-position troops using his interior defensive lines to the areas under attack, negating much of the Union's numerical advantages in these tactical fights.  Ultimately, the battle came to be a bloody draw as nearly 6,000 lay dead on the battlefield, and approximately 19,000 were wounded.

The next day, the 18th, McClellan's battered army permitted Lee's equally battered army to withdraw from Maryland, across the Potomac, and return to Virginia.

The Confederate invasion of the north had been halted, but neither commander was able to deliver the decisive victory they each believed was needed to fully turn the tide in the war.  But, by stopping the Confederate invasion and forcing the Army of Northern Virginia to retire south across the Potomac, this was enough of a victory to turn the tide - even though the Civil War would continue until the spring of 1865.

On September 22, President Abraham Lincoln would issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on the basis of the victory achieved at Antietam.  This gave the Confederacy 100 days to submit to the Union or face the prospect of the immediate emancipation of the southern slaves.  In addition to making the stand against slavery upfront and center - sending a strong message to Britain and France - this also represented a fundamental change in the character of the war as defined by the President.

In the President's own words he said, 'the character of the war will be changed.  It will be one of subjugation and extermination.'  In other words, the Civil War would now be war fought as total war - militarily and economically by any and all means.  From this point forward, there would be no possibility of a negotiated end to the hostilities - one would either win the war, or one would lose the war.

This was the turning point which, I contend, caused Britain and France to stay disengaged - to not recognize the Confederate States of America.  It also reminded the population of the north what the war was really about and what would be needed to win the war and restore the Union.  While the Confederacy at this point was at or very near their maximum effort towards the war in terms of manpower and their economy, the Union was far from achieving a total effort.  Now the North was set on the path to make that total effort.  While the North could still lose the war in 1863, if it did not, the end would be inevitable for the Confederacy.

The depth of this 1862 turning point was impossible for all to see at the time.  Clarity only came after several years and the advantages of hindsight - seeing the other connected actions play out. Some at the time felt that an opportunity was at hand for a turning point - and in the case of Abraham Lincoln, he saw enough come from the carnage at Antietam to permit him to take that next step with the Emancipation Proclamation.  The timing was critical - done either sooner or later and it would not have had the impact that it did.  But it was a risk nonetheless.

When we look at the events that are happening around us today, we could very well be at inflection or turning points every bit as critical that took place in Maryland fields 150 years ago today.  Are our leaders, or we as a people looking at these events happening, not only here in the US, but around the world, and really looking at the strategic picture as opposed to the tactical picture?  Are we really considering the implications of our choices and decisions, particularly with what history has already taught us?

Last week, President Obama faced a test of his leadership on 9/11/12.  When the call came into Washington regarding an Islamic mob sacking the US Embassy in Cairo where were the priorities of the President?  When the call came in later regarding an attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya where armed terrorists murdered the US Ambassador to Libya, a State Department officer, and two American contractors, where were the priorities of the President regarding these technical acts of war?

President Obama's priority was his reelection.  Specifically, it was a fundraiser in Las Vegas.  The messages from the Administration has been, against all common sense and other sources, including US intelligence sources, that these acts were not planned, were spontaneous, and the result of a obscure 14 minute trailer of a movie posted three months ago on You Tube which Salafist clerics in Egypt deemed 'an insult' to Islam.

At a time when leadership was needed, the Administration that defined it's style as 'leading from behind' not only still is leading from behind, but for a large extent has abdicated its responsibility to lead.  Despite the lessons from history about projecting weakness, from promoting appeasement as a policy to dissuade a threat, that is the very course President Obama is taking us.  The threats are encouraged not discouraged by this approach.  Because of this, the threats will increase not decrease.

The Israeli Prime Minister is warning us that Iran is 6 to 8 months away from achieving the 90% uranium enrichment level that is needed to produce nuclear weapons.  He believes that they are committed to building nuclear weapons.  The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has uncovered evidence that Iran has been using computer simulators for determining yield levels of nuclear weapons over the past three years and is disturbed by this finding.  It would only be done if one is planning / actively engaged in the effort to build nuclear weapons.

Yet, the US President is more interested in attending fundraisers or appearing on the David Letterman show than he is with meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister.  Barack Obama contends that the current level of sanctions against Iran are more than sufficient - while also saying that without physical proof of an Iranian nuclear weapon, we cannot know for certain what the intentions of the Iranian regime are.  Rather than assume the worst and be prepared, he prefers to assume the best.

The challenge we face is that its hard to match the rhetoric from the Iranian regime to the concept of not developing nuclear weapons - or a peaceful intent.  They know weakness when they see it.  They know that courtesy of their allies, Iraq, Russia, and China, they can avoid most if not all of the sanctions.

How different is their approach today to that of Nazi Germany under Hitler in the 1930's when faced with the naive appeasement from Britain and France?

In 1862, an American leader took a decisive step in leadership and set his country towards victory and reunification.

In the 1930's British and French leaders declined to take decisive steps, sought appeasement and negotiation, and facilitated a bloody global conflict.

Which path is Barack Obama taking us?

General Motors has decided that it no longer wants to be known as Government Motors.  Executives of the company are saying that the linkage is hurting the company and they are offering to buy out 200 million of the 500 million shares in GM held by the US government as part of the $85 billion bailout given to GM and Chrysler in late 2008 and early 2009.  Then, the US government can sell its remaining holdings in a public stock offering.

The problem for the US government, and in particular Barack Obama's reelection campaign, is that this deal will cost the American taxpayer about $15 billion in losses just on the 200 million shares.  How much more will the taxpayer lose in a public offering giving GM shares are down about 35% since its IPO last year?

One of the other challenges here is that the executives of GM are seeking to blame their new challenges on the consumer's perception against the company based on the ownership stake taken by the US government during the Obama engineered restructure.  The problem with this is that many of the problems of GM are self-inflicted - and similar to the problems that put GM in the position to be begging for a bailout in late 2008.

It is making a car that it loses $49,000 on every single car produced and purchased by a consumer.  This is the same car that still costs, after a $7,500 federal tax credit, that costs twice as much as a Toyota Prius which is larger, more reliable, and more fuel efficient.  It's a car that the consumer is not buying - which has been placed on month long production hiatus twice this year, but remains seen as one of the keys of the future of the company?  

Perhaps that is where the government influence is damaging GM.  The Obama Administration has so much invested in the progressive green energy boondoggle that they will not let GM stop making the Chevy Volt.

Another example of Presidential leadership?

This Day in History

1862 - The Battle of Antietam.

1939 - The Soviet Union invades eastern Poland as part of their agreement with Nazi Germany.

1944 - The Allies launch 'Operation Market Garden'.  This is a plan developed by British Field Marshall Montgomery to drop three airborne divisions behind German lines in Holland to seize critical bridges as the British XXX Corps attacks up a single highway / axis in an effort to reach and cross the Rhine into northern Germany.  The offensive ran into major challenges from logistics, poor intelligence, and far stronger German resistance than expected around both the armored breakthrough and the airborne landings / attempts to seize the bridges.  The British 1st Airborne Division, dropped near the Dutch city of Arnhem, had the mission to take and hold the bridge crossing the Rhine.  Only one element of the Division was able to make it from the drop zones into town and seize one side of the bridge.  German forces encircled and nearly wiped out the division as the battle raged over 8 days.  Of the 10,600 men from the 1st Airborne dropped into Holland, 1,485 were killed and 6,414 were captured.  

The offensive failed - and it would take the Allies until March 1945 to force a crossing over the Rhine River.  

The offensive is detailed in an excellent book by historian Cornelius Ryan titled 'A Bridge Too Far'.  In 1976, an excellent movie was made with the same title - telling the story not only from the Allied side, but that of the Germans and Dutch.

1998 - The United States announced a plan to compensate the victims of the August 7th terror bombings by al-Qaeda of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Wargaming the 2012 Election - Part 3

This is the post-convention look at the state of the Presidential election - the third part in a series that I started in December 2011.

One of the better sources for viewing the state of the Presidential race is RealClearPolitics.  In addition to political news, the site features a collection of key polls for each individual state as well as an average of all of the polls to define in which direction each state is currently leaning.  Here, using the map from the website,, is how RealClearPolitics sees the race today based on their RealClearPolitic averaging of each state's polling results.

In this view, President Obama holds a clear electoral college lead, 237 electoral votes to Mitt Romney's 191.  The critical swing states are identified as New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, and Nevada - totalling 110 undecided electoral votes.

However, one of the challenges with the RealClearPolitics average is that they determine where a state leans based on the average of the recent polls taken within the state.  The problem with this is that if some of the polls used to compute the average as based on a skewed polling sample - that poll will then skew the average and could impact the where the state is.

I consider this a major issue.  Throughout many of my daily posts, I've highlighted numerous polls from what one would expect to be unbiased organizations, basing their samples not only on the outlier 2008 turnout, but on a stronger pro-Democrat turnout model today than we saw in 2008 which was a D+7 turnout.

For polling, the sampling data is critical. Here's a look at the historical party turnout data:

Historically, there has been more Democrats voting than Republicans - when measured by party identification.  But 2008 was a huge swing, 7 point change from the previous Presidential election year.  Only in the 10 point decrease in Democrat turnout between 1980 and 1984 surpassed the 7 point change of 2008.

Where do we stand today?

If we only look at the Presidential elections, then one can try to make a case to use either an average or to work around the 1996 and 2000 level which reflects a similar divided government to what we have today.  Hugh Hewitt, the conservative talk radio host, had a very interesting interview with the Public Polling Director of the Marist Institute, Lee Miringoff, earlier this week where Miringoff made the case to justify, statistically speaking, the D+8-12 polls that we are commonly seeing today.  The link is for the transcript of the interview.

I am as skeptical as Hewitt when it comes to the justification made by Miringoff for the D+8 or more poll samples that we are commonly seeing...and are part of the RealClearPolitic average.

For one point, this justification does not take into consideration that massive electoral blowback the Democrats and President Barack Obama received in the 2010 mid-term elections.  The policies of the first two years of the Obama Administration and Democratic control of Congress swung the pendulum far in the other direction.  Independents and Republicans were highly motivated to express their dissatisfaction with the policies and agenda of the Democrats leading our country.

Despite the assurances of the mainstream media that this level of dissatisfaction doesn't remain at the same levels in 2012, I believe that they do.

This is more than just a gut feeling of someone who is a self-professed conservative.

When I look closely at these polls with the D+8 or more sample skews, almost every time I see 2 factors that reflect on the race being significantly different than what we are being told by the 'experts' is the case.

The first aspect is that even with these D+8 or more samples, President Barack Obama holds a very small, tenuous lead - usually within the polls margin of error of 2 to 4 points.

The second aspect is that with these slight leads held by Barack Obama, in nearly every one of these polls, the independent voter is by a range of 8 to 12 points (or more), choosing Mitt Romney over the President.  In both parties, their candidate enjoys a roughly 90% support level of their own party faithful.  The keys to this election, therefore lie with the independents and their vote.  In 2008, the independents went strongly to supporting Barack Obama over John McCain.  In 2010, the independents went strongly to support the local Republican candidate over the Democrat candidate.  In 2012, it appears that the independents are significantly lining up to vote against the reelection of Barack Obama - as is shown in these polls.

Given this, I see the map as starting at this point:

This map has three main differences from the first map.  In addition to the other states listed as swing, I've added Connecticut, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Michigan to the list.  This moves 32 electoral votes from Barack Obama into the undecided list - and makes the race a virtual tie, 191 to 189 in electoral votes.

Recent polls from Connecticut are starting to show a move in that state away from Barack Obama and the Democrat senate candidate seeking to gain the seat of the retiring Senator Joe Lieberman.  The GOP Senate candidate, Linda McMahon, who lost to Richard Blumenthal in 2010, has had a number of polls showing her with a lead and the state's fiscal crisis, behind a tax and spend Governor seeking to increase taxes once again, are providing fuel for those who oppose progressive Democrats.

We are seeing a similar move in New Mexico.  This was undoubtedly assisted by the superb speech given by the state's Republican Governor Susana Martinez during the Republican National Convention.

Pennsylvania remains a critical bell weather state for the President.  With strong minority and union worker support in the key cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, this has usually been sufficient to offset the more conservative support from the rest of the state for the GOP.  But Pennsylvania is being hit hard by the economic challenges we face as well as the effects of progressive policies.  Add to this the effects in Pennsylvania by the EPA's 'War on Coal', and we have a state that is very well a battleground.

I also moved Michigan to the swing state category for very much the same reasons as both Connecticut and Pennsylvania.  There are polls that are showing Romney in a slight lead - and the economic conditions combined with the economic policies of the progressive Democrats are impacting voters.  While the union supporters around Detroit are applauding the auto industry bailout which Obama claims 'saved the US auto industry', there are still some major issues in play.  Michigan is also very much like Wisconsin in terms of the now GOP controlled state government trying to reverse the economic challenges - and Wisconsin's success has provided a viable road map.

In this first cut of winnowing down the battleground states, I believe there are three that look strongly as if they are going in this direction.  Barack Obama should be able to hold onto Connecticut at the Presidential level.  The elite progressives outnumber the independents and conservatives.  If he cannot hold onto Connecticut, then we are looking at an extremely bad night for Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress.

From what I am seeing, I project that New Hampshire, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and New Mexico are very good bets to vote for Mitt Romney as President.  All will be relatively close, but in each case, they will reject Barack Obama's request for a 2nd term in office on largely economic grounds.  North Carolina has suffered under both progressive Democrat policies and the agenda of the Obama Administration.  Wisconsin is acclaimed the birthplace of progressivism, but under the policies of GOP Governor Scott Walker, fiscal responsibility has been restored - and he remains in his office because of winning a recall election earlier this year that reflected the power of the GOP in the state.

New Mexico, under GOP Governor Susana Martinez, has also addressed some significant fiscal challenges her progressive predecessor created.  Combine this with a superb RNC speech, and Martinez will help propel Mitt Romney to win her state.

While Mitt Romney has a lead, at this point, in the electoral college, both sides have over 20 possible winning combinations to push them over the 270 mark.  The race is still at the point where the remaining battleground states will determine who will lead the US for the next four years.

As I noted, if Pennsylvania goes to Mitt Romney, as is a strong possibility, then Barack Obama realistically does not have a viable option (a mathematical option, but not a viable one) to propel him to reelection.  This was the 'old' worst case scenario for Barack Obama - the 'new' one includes losing Connecticut (and perhaps some other traditionally liberal states in a Reagan-like election).

If the President retains Pennsylvania, that's 20 more electoral votes to his column.  But on the east coast, we have 2 other battleground states.  Despite the RealClearPolitics average of the polls, what I am seeing, particularly when I look beyond skewed polls, are Virginia and Florida both very likely to swing to Mitt Romney.  I am seeing Tea Party strength in both states and stronger pro-Republican enthusiasm in campaign events in each.  With the possible exception of the GOP Senate candidate in Florida, Connie Mack, I am also seeing signs of both states strongly supporting the GOP Congressional candidates.

In this event, the future looks very grim for Barack Obama.  Mitt Romney would be only 3 electoral votes from the 270 needed to win - with 55 electoral votes remaining.

This sets the stage for how I see the election ending in the early hours of November 7th...

With the exception of Colorado, I see all of the remaining undecided states ending in the column for Mitt Romney.  Colorado is a state that has trended more towards liberalism - and while there is a vocal and active conservative population in the state, they are becoming increasingly outnumbered - as well as gaining new liberal support from many who are relocating to the state.  While not likely enthralled by 'Hope and Change' over the past four years, I think Coloradans are going to fall for the false bet that Barack Obama will do a Bill Clinton-esque triangulation in a second term - and support that second term.

Just as Wisconsin is rejecting progressivism and the challenges it created for the state, Michigan, Ohio, and Iowa will also reject progressivism.  For Ohio and Michigan, it is their last opportunity to avoid falling down the same path as New York, Illinois, and California.  They have a clear choice - to follow those states or to follow Wisconsin.

I suspect many Nevadans believed they made a huge mistake when they sent Harry Reid back to the Senate - particularly given Reid's record over the past 2 years.  That said, they also didn't have the best possible alternative in the GOP candidate.  No state has been hit harder by the failed policies of the progressives and Barack Obama than Nevada has been hit.

As I've noted in many of my daily QH posts, the mainstream media is actively shilling for Barack Obama's reelection.  The level of bias and propaganda is incredible.  They are pulling out all of the stops to try to spin reality and save progressivism.  But reality for far too many Americans is too hard to spin.

Unemployed, under-employed, reduced wages and personal wealth, the distractions of class, gender, and race warfare, the real wars with radical islam, on energy, and the concept of equality of results over equality of opportunity cannot be easily spun away.

I continue to see and feel an undercurrent around the United States where people are starting to look at the places that are succeeding and those who are not, and determining for themselves why some are winning and some are losing.  I think there are those in swing states, and states that will become swing states (the Oregon's, Washington's, New Jersey's) who are seeing that the fundamental problem with liberalism / progressivism is in the fundamentals of the ideology - not just in the implementation.

Barack Obama's victory in 2008 was hailed as the start of decades of Democrat / Progressive leadership in the United States.  But I think that Obama's term in office, comparable in modern times only to the debacle that was the Carter presidency, will actually fuel another decade of conservative leadership and the start of a move, not to the compassionate conservativism of Bush 43, but far closer to the conservativism of smaller government, a safety net as opposed to an entitlement state, a strong national defense and foreign policy, and  supporting the private sector.

At some point, reality will hit home in New York, Illinois, and California when they run out of other people's money.  When that happens, what will the progressives do then?