Monday, October 8, 2012

Quick Hits - October 8, 2012 - UPDATED

Mitt Romney hammered President Barack Obama this morning on the issue of foreign policy, delivering a major address at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, VA.

Saying, 'Hope is not a strategy', the GOP Presidential candidate pointed specifically to the President's failed policies in the Middle East, in particular Libya in the wake of the 9/11 terror attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi which killed the US Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.  Mitt Romney also assailed the President regarding his direction towards undermining and alienating our friends while seeking to appease our enemies.  Embracing a plank from Ronald Reagan, Romney also spoke of the need for a strong US military in order to help preserve the peace - a 'peace through strength' policy.

The comments regarding Libya should gain additional focus and traction as new details are coming out around the short sighted and feckless policy of the Obama Administration towards the region and the threats that existed against our diplomatic personnel.  While the diplomats in Libya were asking for more security, the Obama Administration, one month before the September 11 anniversary attack, withdrew a 16 member US Spec Op team from Benghazi tasked to provide protection for the consulate and State Department personnel.  This withdrawal came despite nearly a dozen previous attacks against Western diplomatic facilities and personnel in the city - and known threats coinciding with the September 11 anniversary.

This left the sole security protection to an outsourced British firm which contracted with local Libyans of unknown reliability and allegiance - and whom ultimately not only failed to protect the Consulate and personnel, but may have tipped off the terrorists to the safe house used by personnel fleeing the consulate.

Over the last several days, I've referenced Princeton University Economics Professor Harvey Rosen who undertook a study of the tax plan offered by Mitt Romney which the Obama campaign team has been denouncing as a '$5 trillion tax cut for the wealthy'.  The attacks on Romney, and Professor Rosen have prompted the Professor to respond via an open letter to the Weekly Standard complaining that the President, and his campaign team, are 'misquoting me'...
Last night, the Obama campaign blasted out another email claiming that Mitt Romney’s tax plan would either require raising taxes on the middle class or blowing a hole in the deficit. “Even the studies that Romney has cited to claim his plan adds up still show he would need to raise middle-class taxes,” said the Obama campaign press release. “In fact, Harvard economist Martin Feldstein and Princeton economist Harvey Rosen both concede that paying for Romney’s tax cuts would require large tax increases on families making between $100,000 and $200,000.”

But that’s not true. Princeton professor Harvey Rosen tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD in an email that the Obama campaign is misrepresenting his paper on Romney’s tax plan:

I can’t tell exactly how the Obama campaign reached that characterization of my work. It might be that they assume that Governor Romney wants to keep the taxes from the Affordable Care Act in place, despite the fact that the Governor has called for its complete repeal. The main conclusion of my study is that under plausible assumptions, a proposal along the lines suggested by Governor Romney can both be revenue neutral and keep the net tax burden on taxpayers with incomes above $200,000 about the same. That is, an increase in the tax burden on lower and middle income individuals is not required in order to make the overall plan revenue neutral.
Some of the main counterattacks launched by the Obama campaign team in the wake of the President's dismal debate performance relate to accusing the GOP candidate of being a 'liar' when it comes to his tax plan and its intended effects.  However, commentary and evidence like this points far more towards the Obama campaign team as being the desperate liars - and fits within their usual modis operandi of raising then slaying numerous strawmen in order to defend their indefensible agenda.

The left leaning, Obama cheerleading online site, Politico, is highlighting their latest Politico / GWU Battleground poll taken primarily before last Wednesday's Presidential debate.  They are showing President Obama holding onto a slim 1 point lead in their survey, 49% to 48% - a statistical tie.

As with all of the major polls this election season, the devil is in the details, or rather, the internals of the poll.

Yes, there is an issue with the sample of the Politico / GWU Battleground poll.  While the 2008 Presidential election, with all of the enthusiasm towards President Obama and against the GOP, the Democrats had a +7 turnout advantage on election day.  The above poll, showing a slim 1 point lead, is based on a  D+8 sample - 1 point higher than the Democrat turnout in 2008.  Do we really expect the Democrats to be more enthusiastic and turnout in greater numbers this year than in 2008?  And that bigger turnout only generates a 1 point lead for the President?

This isn't the only bad news for President Obama and his campaign.  Within the D+8 sample, the poll also asked about how likely was a respondent to vote on November 6th.  The answers to this question finds a 13 point enthusiasm gap between the 2 parties, with Republicans far more enthusiastic and 'extremely likely' to vote on Election Day than Democrats.  Not only are the Republicans more motivated to vote, in a breakdown of 'extremely likely' voters, Mitt Romney leads Barack Obama 52% to 46%!

And no, this isn't the last of the bad news for the Obama campaign in what should be a 'friendly' poll.  About 85% of the calls made to conduct this poll took place BEFORE last Wednesday's debate and Mitt Romney's decisive win.  The GOP candidate was tracking very good in those calls taken after the debate, but the sample on that night was too small to report by the pollsters.

All in all, this is a dismal poll for President Obama, particularly since we are less than 30 days from Election Day.  His is the campaign that is in trouble - and this latest indicator of sliding Democrat voter enthusiasm, including of key minorities like African-Americans and Hispanics, will likely lead to acts of desperation.

Obama friendly media elements are continuing to highlight the record breaking September fundraising report by the Obama campaign - where they report they raised $181 million.  But as we wait for the rumored Newsweek / Daily Beast report on campaign finance fraud and illegality being conducted by the Obama campaign, new media elements like Breitbart.com, The Daily Caller, and Townhall.com are offering stories today highlighting violations and highly questionable practices.

UPDATE #1:  It appears now that Newsweek / Daily Beast, rumored to be the national magazine / website working on this story, has spiked the story.  Last week as rumors floated of this story being prepared by a national magazine and national website, there were reports that the Obama campaign was actively trying to kill the story from being published.  

Under federal election laws, only American citizens can legally donate directly to political campaigns.  In the 2008 Presidential campaign, the Obama campaign circumvented these laws by removing all standard / best practice eCommerce security and fraud protections and checks from their websites for the processing of online / credit card contributions.  Election laws also require the campaigns to track and report on all contributions larger than $200 - just as there are also maximum caps to how much an individual can contribute directly to a campaign in a year.

An organization, the Government Accountability Institute, has undertaken a study of the 2012 Obama campaign practices and has raised some serious questions of improprieties being done by the campaign in violation of federal election law.

Of that huge September haul of $181 million, only 2% of all contributions exceeded $200 and required reporting to the FEC.  This means that the vast majority of the contributions came in under $200 - and it is suspected from the other evidence uncovered in the study by GAI, that many of these contributions are illegal.

Katie Pavlich, of Townhall.com and the author of a major book exposing the Fast & Furious scandal, writes in today' edition of the problem around the action of the Obama campaign to not require normal eCommerce security practices for credit card processing...
Because of the lack of a CVV code requirement, the door is opened for OFA to accept robo-donations, or in other words, large numbers of small and automatic donations made online to evade FEC reporting requirements. Although it isn’t illegal to decline the use of a secure CVV credit card code for campaign donations, it is illegal to accept campaign donations from foreign sources. Campaigns are required under criminal code not to solicit, accept or receive foreign donations in any amount. The Federal Elections Commission doesn’t require campaigns to disclose the names of donors making contributions of less than $200 unless audited. In addition, FEC rules don’t require campaigns to keep records of those giving less than $50. These rules combined with the lack of a CVV numbers make it easy for campaigns to get away with taking foreign donations.

According to GAI, it is the duty of the campaign to “ensure compliance with the law. Indeed, they risk criminal prosecution for the conscious failure to do so. This means that whether or not the FEC requires it to be reported, campaigns have an independent duty under the law to discover and protect against criminal campaign contributions.” Protecting against criminal campaign contributions is easily accomplished by requiring a CVV code on the campaign donation page.

OFA has specifically touted its “grassroots” success by showcasing the majority of its donations coming from those giving less than $200. It appears the campaign also solicits funds for less than $200 in order to avoid having to report the name of the person making a donation under FEC rules.
But, as noted by GAI, nearly half of the members of Congress also do not have a CVV code requirement on their fund raising sites.  They cite Florida Senator Marco Rubio as not having this requirement in place until March of this year - so he could have also received illegal contributions during his campaign.

This is a problem and one that has to be addressed by the FEC, but there are other aspects and practices of the Obama campaign that make up the rest of the story - and the probability that the Obama campaign is violating Federal Election laws.

As The Daily Caller notes in their article today, the Obama campaign is also actively and illegally soliciting and accepting foreign campaign donations through its social-media website.  Non US citizens around the world are blogging and providing evidence of making illegal campaign contributions to the Obama campaign.

Breitbart.com is reporting today that the owner of the campaign site, Obama.com, is not the President's campaign team, but rather by an Obama campaign bundler, Robert Roche, a U.S. citizen living in Shanghai, PRC and someone with close business ties to the communist government of the People's Republic of China...
In an explosive report set to send shockwaves through official Washington, the Government Accountability Institute (GAI) released a 108-page GAI investigation into the threat of foreign and fraudulent Internet campaign donations in U.S. federal elections (visit campaignfundingrisks.com to download the full report).

Breitbart News obtained an advance copy of the bombshell report which reveals that the Obama.com website is not owned by the president’s campaign but rather by Obama bundler Robert Roche, a U.S. citizen living in Shanghai, China. Roche is the chairman of a Chinese infomercial company, Acorn International, with ties to state-controlled banks that allow it to “gain revenue through credit card transactions with Chinese banks.”

There’s more.

The unusual Obama.com website redirects traffic directly to a donation page on the Obama campaign’s official website, my.barackobama.com, which does not require donors tob enter their credit card security code (known as the CVV code), thereby increasing the likelihood of foreign or fraudulent donations. The website is managed by a small web development firm, Wicked Global, in Maine. One of Wicked Global’s employees, Greg Dorr, lists on his LinkedIn page his additional employment with Peace Action Maine and Maine Voices for Palestinian Rights. According to the GAI report, 68 percent of all Internet traffic to Obama.com comes from foreign visitors.

And still more.

In 2011, Mr. Roche obtained one of the most sought-after pieces of real estate in Washington, DC: a seat at the head table for President Obama’s State Dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao. How Roche—a man whose infomercial company hawks fitness equipment, cell phones, and breast enhancement products—landed a seat alongside Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton, Sen. John Kerry, former President Jimmy Carter, and Chinese President Hu Jintao remains unclear.

Since 2009, White House Visitor Logs list the name Robert Roche at least 19 times, despite the fact Mr. Roche’s primary residence is in China.
All in all, the GAI investigative report, which includes traffic analysis of the websites, points to a set-up for the Obama campaign which permits foreign nationals to skim from the donations made to the campaign and allow the campaign, via 'a wink and a nod', ignore (and break) federal election laws by accepting and using illegal campaign contributions.

UPDATE #2:  Traffic analysis is showing that 68% of all traffic to Obama.com comes from foreign (non-US) sources - and if one clicks to donate, they are linked to a contribution page which does not use any of the standard eCommerce security, identification, and fraud protection services - like requiring the CVV.  As long as the amount donated is under $200, the donor does not have to be reported to the FEC.

With domestic enthusiasm declining for President Obama's reelection, the record haul for September also conveniently seems to coincide with a major international campaign to illegally flood money into the President's reelection effort - all with the apparent knowledge and complicity of the President's campaign team - the 'wink and a nod'.

In the 1990's there was outrage and criminal prosecutions into illegal contributions being made by foreign nationals (the Riady's) into the Clinton campaign as well as circumstantial evidence that the PRC was the ultimate source of those contributions in an effort to influence the election and US policy.  However, in 2012, the Obama team has taken their illegal campaign donation actions from 2008 to a far larger level

Will there be any prosecutions or repercussions for the Obama campaign's apparently illegal actions this year?

Venezuela's Marxist dictator, Hugo Chavez was announced the winner of the country's Presidential election - winning by a 1 million vote margin over his challenger.  However there are real questions about the election results since there were no external monitors -only Chavez's own people counting and asserting that the election was legitimate. The Spanish language network Univision reported yesterday after voting ended that their exit polls showed the challenger leading by 3% - but when the count was completed, well, it's a reminder that what is important is who is counting the votes.

President Barack Obama, who received the endorsement of Hugo Chavez last week, is reported to have called the dictator to congratulate him on winning another 6 year term as President of Venezuela earlier today.

Meanwhile the anti-American hard left movement in South / Central American retains its primary blowhard and instigator - as the people in Venezuela continue to suffer in the country whose economy he has wrecked as he nationalized and placed under government control nearly all major industries.  Store shelves will continue to be frequently bare of essentials, prices will remain high, and the people will continue to suffer.  At some point the people will realize that despite the charade of elections, the only way to remove leftist despots  will be via action against those despots.

Unfortunately, given the past words and actions of President Obama, towards Venezuela, Syria, Iran, and other lands ruled by despots, if the people do decide enough is enough, it's unlikely a US under President Obama will do much to help them out.

Finally, California's Governor Jerry Brown, with gas prices at all time highs (LA County's average price for a gallon of regular now $4.75), has ordered the state smog regulators to permit winter-blended gas to be sold earlier than usual in the state in order to boost supplies and bring down gas prices.

This Day in History

1871 - Flames breaking out in the barn owned by Patrick and Catherine O'Leary spread into the city of Chicago, igniting the Great Chicago Fire which burned for 2 days.  Between 200 and 300 people were killed and 100,000 were left homeless as the fire destroyed 17,450 buildings and caused, in 2007 dollars, $3 billion in damages.

1918 - Corporal Alvin C. York, a member of the 82nd Infantry Division, earns the Congressional Medal of Honor in combat in the Argonne Forest as he kills at least 20 Germans and captures 132 leading a small detachment of soldiers.

1956 - New York Yankee pitcher, Don Larsen, pitches the only perfect game in the history of the World Series, as the Yankees defeat the Brooklyn Dodgers 1-0 in front of 61,519 fans at Yankee Stadium.  Larsen faced 27 hitters and retired them all without one reaching base.

1967 - Communist revolutionary Che Guevara, in Bolivia attempting to lead a communist revolution, is defeated in a skirmish with a special detachment of the Bolivian army. Guevara, wounded and captured, would be executed on the 9th.  Guevara, an Argentinian by birth, played a pivotal role in the Cuban Revolution and is said to have convinced Fidel Castro to adopt communism.  As a close confidant of Castro, he was a blood thirsty murderer of those suspected of opposing the Castro regime before departing Cuba in 1965 to promote communist revolution.

1998 - The House of Representatives votes to proceed towards impeaching President William Clinton on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.  By December of 1998, the House had sufficient information developed from an investigative committee to vote to impeach the President, making Bill Clinton the second US President to be impeached.  President Andrew Johnson, impeached in 1868 was the first.  Like Johnson, Bill Clinton would be acquitted by the US Senate after his trial.




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