March 13, 2013
According to the Wall Street Journal, Henrik Fisker has announced his resignation from Fisker Automotive. He was the founder.
DETROIT—The founder and executive chairman of electric-car startup Fisker Automotive Inc. said he resigned Wednesday because of "disagreements" over business strategy with the ailing company's management.
Henrik Fisker said in an email sent to a small number of journalists that has "left the company." Reached by phone, Mr. Fisker confirmed that he sent the email and that he had resigned.
Fisker Automotive is the maker of the Karma, a battery-powered luxury sports that sells for about $100,000.
Like Solyndra, Fisker was among the beneficiaries of Obama's green energy initiatives, winning approval for a $529 million U.S. Department of Energy loan to build battery powered cars. Not only would Fisker help beat back global warming with its electric cars (as if global warming needs to be beaten back), it would also put 2,000 Americans to work building them.
April 23, 2010 - 12:00am
Washington, DC - The Department of Energy announced today the closing of a $528.7 million loan with Fisker Automotive for the development and production of two lines of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). The loan will support the Karma, a full-size, four-door sports sedan, and a line of family oriented models being developed under the company's Project NINA program.
"The story of Fisker is a story of ingenuity of an American company, a commitment to innovation by the U.S. government and the perseverance of the American auto industry," said Vice President Joe Biden. "The Boxwood Plant is opening again, employing workers in Delaware, and is serving as a roadmap for all we can accomplish if everyone works together. Thanks to real dedication by this Administration, loans from the Department of Energy, the creativity of U.S. companies and the tenacity of great state partners like Delaware - we're on our way to helping America's auto industry reclaim its top position in the global market."
Fisker, a startup based in southern California, expects to manufacture the Karma and Project NINA lines at a recently shuttered General Motors factory in Wilmington, Delaware. Fisker anticipates that it will employ 2,000 American assembly workers. Industry experts expect that domestic parts suppliers and service providers also will increase employment substantially.
Unfortunately, a year and a half later it was beginning to look like the Obama administration had put our money on another green energy loser. Instead of 2,000 new jobs in Delaware, Fisker began production in Finland.
Oct. 20, 2011
With the approval of the Obama administration, an electric car company that received a $529 million federal government loan guarantee is assembling its first line of cars in Finland, saying it could not find a facility in the United States capable of doing the work.
Vice President Joseph Biden heralded the Energy Department's $529 million loan to the start-up electric car company called Fisker as a bright new path to thousands of American manufacturing jobs. But two years after the loan was announced, the company's manufacturing jobs are still limited to the assembly of the flashy electric Fisker Karma sports car in Finland.
So millions went to Fisker, jobs went to Finland, and Fisker's American workers got... laid off.
Published February 07, 2012
DOVER, Del. (AP) — Fisker Automotive, an electric car maker that received a half-billion-dollar loan from the federal government, said Monday that it has laid off workers in Delaware and California.
The layoffs include 26 workers at a former General Motors plant in Wilmington that Fisker is retooling to manufacture its Nina plug-in hybrid sedan. Another 40 contractors and employees who were working in design and development of Fisker's Karma luxury car in Anaheim, Calif., also have been cut.
The layoffs come as Fisker is seeking to renegotiate its loan agreement with the Department of Energy.
Fisker has received $193 million of the $529 million DOE loan, mostly for work on the Karma, which sells for about $100,000.
The Wall Street Journal article that reported Henrik Fisker's resignation, also mentioned that Fisker the company is up for sale.
In recent weeks, Fisker management has been looking into selling the company, weighing bids including a $350 million offer from China's Dongfeng Motor Corp.
$350 million. That puts a value on Fisker that's less than it originally planned to borrow. Wouldn't it be nice if voters could keep stories like this one in mind as we listen to Obama accuse, abuse, and browbeat because he wants to boost spending at the rate of 5% per year over the next ten years instead of the 3.4% that Republicans propose. I suspect most voters have never even heard of Fisker so I won't count on anybody's memory.
Instead, we can expect the administration to find ways of causing more people more pain if Obama doesn't get his way on more spending and more taxes. We can also count on the Obama-infatuated media to make certain that Republicans get the blame for it.
January 27, 2013
The Question Never Asked
Secrectary of State Hillary Clinton was the star this past week when she testified before Congress. The ostensible purpose for her visit to Capitol Hill was to shed some light on why there was no help for the four Americans killed in Benghazi, Libya on September 11th of last year. We still don't know. But the highlight moment was her confrontation with Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin over the tale told by UN Ambassador Susan Rice on the Sunday following the attacks.
Johnson to Clinton: “We were misled that there were supposedly protests and something sprang out of that — an assault sprang out of that. And that was easily ascertained that that was not the fact, and the American people could have known that within days and they didn’t know that.”
Clinton to Johnson: “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans! Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and to prevent it from ever happening again.”
What a moment for Hillary. Members of the left leaning press were ecstatic.
It was refreshing to see someone fire back at the kind of rudeness that has come to typify the new brand of GOP swarming Capitol Hill.
With each of these experiences, Clinton learned the do’s and don’ts of public combat, especially with Republicans. That she gave as good as she got from Johnson bespoke a woman comfortable enough in her own skin and with her considerable stature to tell Johnson to stuff it. Brava!
A beautiful bit of double talk, though. A nonsensical response. What difference does it make, who did it and why — "Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans?" — when our job is to find out who did it and why — "It is our job to figure out what happened and to prevent it from ever happening again?”
Let's leave that aside. The more important questions arose months earlier. Those questions centered around apparent refusals to beef up security at the consulate in Benghazi, even in the face of repeated requests for more of it.
Eric Nordstrom earlier told congressional investigators that he had requested more security but that request was blocked by a department policy to "normalize operations and reduce security resources." Under questioning, though, he said he had sought mainly to prevent any reduction in staff, rather than have a big increase.
How about those words "department policy?" There was a department policy to "normalize operations." Nordstrom went on to say that State Department officers carried out their duties.
"I'm confident that the committee will conclude that Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service and Mission Libya officers conducted themselves professionally and with careful attention to managing people and budgets in a way that reflects the gravity of their task," Nordstrom said.
Nordstrom's testimony squares with that from another State Department official who also said that they had done what they were supposed to do.
"We had the correct number of assets in Benghazi at the time of 9/11," said Charlene Lamb, the deputy secretary of state for diplomatic security in charge of protecting American embassies and consulates around the world.
How can one say they had assigned the "correct number of assets" when four Americans wound up dead? There were certainly not enough security forces to protect them or evacuate them. Ah, but they had "the correct number of assets" according to department policy.
Which brings us to the real question. Who made up the policy dictating that the consulate in Benghazi, Libya would normalize operations? We think we know who carried it out.
The highest-ranking official caught up in the scandal, Assistant Secretary of State Eric Boswell, has not “resigned” from government service, as officials said last week. He is just switching desks. And the other three are simply on administrative leave and are expected back.
The four were made out to be sacrificial lambs in the wake of a scathing report issued last week that found that the US compound in Benghazi, Libya, was left vulnerable to attack because of “grossly inadequate” security.
But nobody seems anxious to find out, whose policy was it. In a full day of testimony nobody asked our resurgent rock star Hillary Clinton if she's the one who formulated it. And if it wasn't Hillary, wouldn't it have to have been Barack Obama? Strange that no one cares to know, because if Hillary and her State Department colleagues are to be believed, it was department policy — the one that said normalize operations in Benghazi — that was responsible for four American deaths.
It's no surprise the media couldn't be bothered with asking it. It's done and over now. Hillary's 2016 aspirations remain viable. That's all that really matters, after all.
January 15, 2013
Sandy and the Bureaucrats
Roger Kimball, columnist at PJMedia, has been having a time of it with FEMA and his local Zoning Authority ever since his house was wrecked by Hurricane Sandy.
Yet it wasn't until the workmen we hired had ripped apart most of the first floor that the phrase "building permit" first wafted past us. Turns out we needed one. "What, to repair our own house we need a building permit?"Of course.
Before you could get a building permit, however, you had to be approved by the Zoning Authority. And Zoning—citing FEMA regulations—would force you to bring the house "up to code," which in many cases meant elevating the house by several feet. Now, elevating your house is very expensive and time consuming—not because of the actual raising, which takes just a day or two, but because of the required permits.
Kafka would have liked the zoning folks.
It's not only us, of course. Thousands upon thousands have been displaced, but the bullying pedantry of the zoning establishment never wavers. While our house stands empty, the city authorities even showed a sense of humor by sending us a bill for property taxes. For a house they won't let us repair.
If this were happening any place but the United States you could easily think somebody has an eye on that property and wants Roger Kimball out of it.
January 10, 2013
James Buchanan 1919-2013
James Buchanan, 1986 winner of the Nobel Prize for economics, died yesterday at the age of 93.
Among his conclusions was that public officials often act in their own self-interest instead of the public's interest. Thus, he argued, bureaucracies tend to grow and politicians tend to favor new spending and tax cuts, leaving the bills for the future.
To prevent such choices, Mr. Buchanan advocated a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget, to force politicians to curtail spending.
Within the field of economics, Mr. Buchanan's ideas were seen as a challenge to John Maynard Keynes, who called for government intervention in the economy, including running up budget deficits, to provide stimulus in lean times.
Judging by today's standards of government intervention Keynes has certainly withstood Buchanan's challenge. We are watching Buchanan's theories played out right before our eyes.
So, for example, he could explain why bureaucracies had an incentive to expand their turf in order to increase their financial resources and power. Or why politicians keep tax rates high so they can dole out special credits and exemptions for those who would reward those same politicians. Or why pork-barrel politics is the abiding concern of legislators.Buchanan acknowledged that public-choice analysis had not "dislodged the prevailing socialist mindset in the academies." But he could rightfully claim to be a major influence in helping the public understand why the modern state produces such poor outcomes. His work should be required reading for everyone in a government job.
I'm not sure how helpful that reading assignment would be for the rest of us. Let me re-word that. I'm not sure how helpful it would be for the rest of us for everyone in government to complete the reading assignment. Buchanan's work would most likely become a "How to..." manual for aspiring potentates.
The theme of his life's work is best summarized in the title of his 1997 article "Politics Without Romance." With longtime colleague Gordon Tullock, Jim launched a research program—public-choice economics—that challenged the widespread notion that politicians in democratic societies are more nobly motivated and trustworthy than are business people and other private-sector actors. In a wide river of books and papers, Jim warned against the foolishness of romanticizing government.
It's surprising and more than a little disheartening how many people subscribe to the notion that government actors are so much more nobly motivated than the rest of us.
January 09, 2013
When National Rifle Association chief executive Wayne LaPierre appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press," host David Gregory confronted him with a high capacity magazine in his hand and asked,
“Here’s a magazine for ammunition that carries 30 bullets,” Gregory says. “Now, isn’t it possible that if we got rid of these” — he sets it down and picks up a smaller one — “if we replaced them and said, ‘Well, you can only have a magazine that carries five bullets or 10 bullets,’ isn’t it just possible that we could reduce the carnage in a situation like Newtown?”
The answer is, "No," it won't reduce the carnage, and that's how Wayne LaPierre responded. But the more interesting thing about their conversation is that it happened in Washington, DC where possession of a 30-round magazines, such as the one in David Gregory's hand at the time, is already illegal. What's more, NBC asked the DC police, would it be OK if they used the magazine as a prop. The answer was "No."
“NBC contacted [D.C. police] inquiring if they could utilize a high capacity magazine for their segment. NBC was informed that possession of a high capacity magazines is not permissible and their request was denied. This matter is currently being investigated.” A police spokeswoman confirmed that the e-mail was authentic.
Gregory appears to have used a large-capacity ammunition magazine anyway.
The DC police had little choice but to investigate. The result? The case has been given to the DC Office of the Attorney General.
In an e-mail, a spokeswoman for D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said her department has “completed the investigation into this matter, and the case has been presented to the OAG for a determination of the prosecutorial merit of the case.”
Possessing a magazine capable of holding 10 or more rounds of ammunition, even if empty, is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Should Gregory, the fabulously wealthy host of NBC's award winning "Meet the Press," be thrown in jail because he used a prop for dramatic effect while he interviewed the CEO of the National Rifle Association? Even the NRA President doesn't think so.
NRA President David Keene told CNN last month that he did not think Gregory should be prosecuted, saying the incident shows “in a very graphic way, perhaps not intentionally, but in a graphic way just how silly some of these laws are.”
It's in the hands of the OAG. DC's head prosecutor may exercise discretion.
Prosecutorial discretion refers to the fact that under American law, government prosecuting attorneys have nearly absolute powers. A prosecuting attorney has power on various matters including those relating to choosing whether or not to bring criminal charges, deciding the nature of charges, plea bargaining and sentence recommendation. This discretion of the prosecuting attorney is called prosecutorial discretion.
Call me mean spirited, but I have mixed feelings about this. More and more we find ourselves living in a society where laws are for the little people. Like me. I have no doubt that if I ever made the mistake of putting my hands on a high capacity magazine while inside the DC city limits and in sight of the law, David Gregory would heartily approve of me going to jail for a year and paying $1,000 for the privilege.
On the one hand I don't wish Gregory any harm. But on the other, if punishing somebody for possession of a high capacity magazine is such a good idea, as he seemed to argue in his interview, shouldn't he, too, be subject to that law?
I can't wait to hear what the DC OAG decides. David Gregory asked for permission to use the magazine and was refused. By using it anyway, he deliberately and flagrantly broke the law. On national TV, no less. How's that for "in your face!"
It's true that this magazine law is pretty much useless, particularly as it applies to the situation with the host of "Meet the Press." Why should anybody care if Gregory had a high capacity magazine when he didn't have a rifle to go with it? There was no threat. Nobody would be protected if he couldn't bring it onto his show.
The same is true of gun control laws in general. They don't protect anybody. Let me step back. They have always been intended to protect someone, but it's not who you might think. Gun contols laws were first imposed on U.S. citizens in the "Black Codes" of post Civil War south.
Section 1. Be it enacted by the legislature of the state of Mississippi, that no freedman, free Negro, or mulatto not in the military service of the United States government, and not licensed so to do by the board of police of his or her county, shall keep or carry firearms of any kind, or any ammunition, dirk, or Bowie knife; and, on conviction thereof in the county court, shall be punished by fine, not exceeding $10, and pay the costs of such proceedings, and all such arms or ammunition shall be forfeited to the informer; and it shall be the duty of every civil and military officer to arrest any freedman, free Negro, or mulatto found with any such arms or ammunition, and cause him or her to be committed for trial in default of bail.
Back then it was the Ku Klux Klan that was looking for protection. The Klan wanted their raids on black communities to be risk-free.
Previous issues of America’s 1st Freedom have told the story of how the defeated Confederate states enacted the Black Codes, which explicitly restricted gun possession and carrying by the freedmen. Sometimes these laws facilitated the activities of the terrorist organization Ku Klux Klan, America’s first gun control organization. The top item on the Klan’s agenda was confiscating arms from the freedmen, the better to terrorize them afterward.
Outraged, the Reconstruction Congress responded with the Freedmen’s Bureau Bill, the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the 14th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1870—every one of them aimed at racial subordination in general and racist gun control laws in particular.
President Ulysses S. Grant (1869-77), who would later serve as president of the National Rifle Association, vigorously prosecuted Klansmen, and even declared martial law when necessary to suppress KKK violence.
Reconstruction formally ended in 1877 with the inauguration of President Rutherford B. Hayes and the withdrawal of federal troops from the South. Even before that, white supremacist “redeemer” governments had taken over one Southern state after another.
Because the new 14th Amendment forbade any state to deny “the equal protection of the laws,” gun control statutes aimed at blacks could no longer be written in overtly racial terms. Instead, the South created racially neutral laws designed to disarm freedmen. Some laws prohibited inexpensive firearms while protecting more expensive military guns owned by former Confederate soldiers. Meanwhile, other laws imposed licensing systems or carry restrictions. As a Florida Supreme Court justice later acknowledged, these laws were “never intended to be applied to the white population” (Watson v. Stone, 1941).
In the bad old days the color of your skin determined the extent to which you were protected by law and whether or not you would be allowed use a gun to protect yourself. The 14th amendment was adopted to fix that. But as always has been the case, we have legislatures tailoring laws so that favored constituencies are exempted.
And when all else fails we have prosecutorial discretion. It will be interesting to see if it comes into play here. After all, David Gregory is a very popular and influential guy. Is there really any reason he should be subject to the same laws as you and me? I'm sure he doesn't think so.
December 29, 2012
Cops In Schools
Yes, it's old news, but it's a story worth repeating. It's about the liberal outrage over Wayne LaPierre, CEO and Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association. Last week he held a press conference where he offered the N.R.A. perspective on the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Some excerpts:
LAPIERRE: You know, five years ago after the Virginia Tech tragedy, when I said we should put armed security in every school, the media called me crazy. But what if -- what if when Adam Lanza started shooting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday, he’d been confronted by qualified armed security? Will you at least admit it’s possible that 26 little kids, that 26 innocent lives might have been spared that day?
I call on Congress today, to act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation. And, to do it now to make sure that blanket safety is in place when our kids return to school in January.
So, why is the idea of a gun good when it’s used to protect the president of our country or our police, but bad when it’s used to protect our children in our schools? They’re our kids. They’re our responsibility. And it’s not just our duty to protect them, it’s our right to protect them.
The New York Daily News was one of those liberal news organs that took LaPierre's proposals badly.
Less than two hours after the moment of silence for the dead of Newtown, after the solemn sound of church bells ringing for the children and staff of Sandy Hook Elementary on the last school morning before Christmas, there was Wayne LaPierre, executive director of the National Rifle Association, calling for more guns in America, not fewer.
So LaPierre wasn’t just the biggest gun guy in the whole country on Friday, he was the dumbest, and most delusional, and most dangerous.
LaPierre’s solution is a “police officer in every single school and a protection plan for every single school.” More guns! He talks about the Secret Service guarding one President and makes it sound simple to establish a Secret Service for every school in America.
Dumb! Delusional! Dangerous! Deranged! Really?
Flashback. The date is November 1, 1998. The New York Times reported,
Two weeks ago, President Clinton announced a program called Cops in Schools, aimed at making it easier for school districts to get money to hire police officers in hopes of preventing the types of shootings that have resulted in the deaths of students and teachers in half a dozen schools in the last three years.
Governor Whitman recently encouraged local school districts to invite police officers to patrol schools. And the state Attorney General's office and Department of Education have just drafted new guidelines for school-police partnerships.
Although most school districts have police officers teaching the DARE antidrug program, the police are still rare in schools in other capacities.
Security is usually handled by private firms, except in some urban settings like Jersey City, where officers have patrolled five city high schools for more than a decade.
Turns out Clinton's proposal for Cops in Schools was adopted. The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), which falls under the United States Department of Justice, includes a COPS in Schools (CIS) program.
COPS has announced 19 rounds of funding under the COPS in Schools program, including five that were a part of the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative, a joint initiative between the Departments of Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services. The Safe Schools/Healthy Students grant program was developed to provide students, schools, and communities with the benefit of enhanced educational, mental health, and law enforcement services to promote a comprehensive healthy childhood development.
COPS announced the first round of the CIS program in April 1999, and the most recent in July 2005. COPS has awarded in excess of $753 million to more than 3,000 grantees to hire more than 6,500 SROs through the CIS program. COPS has provided more than $10 million to hire approximately 100 SROs through the Safe Schools/Healthy Students program.
The contradictions that coexist in the progressive mind are pretty easy to figure out, though. A cherished progressive goal is the disarming of American citizens. If progressives had their way, private ownership of firearms of any kind would be strictly forbidden and the ban would be vigorously enforced.
Bill Clinton was a champion of gun control. His administration was responsible for the first assault weapons ban, a predictably useless piece of legislation from the stand point of preventing violent crime. But it's purpose wasn't so much to prevent crime as it was to condition the American public to the gradual infringement upon the citizens' right to keep and bear arms. So when the great and wonderful Clinton called for Cops in schools, what a great idea. The New York Times concluded its article on Clinton's proposal on a positive note.
''The bottom line is to make schools safer,'' said Chief Stephen J. White of the Doylestown, Pa., police department who is a juvenile justice expert with the International Association of Chiefs of Police. ''And you're going to do that by making officers more accessible to students and teachers, especially in schools that have trouble with crime and violence.''
What a contrast from the reception given Wayne LaPierre. As head of the N.R.A. Mr. LaPierre is a defender of the U.S. Constitution, in particular the Second Amendment rights. He opposes gun control and so the liberal/progessive media opposes him. Here's a more recent reaction from the New York Times to essentially the same proposal as the one implemented by Clinton in 1999.
We cannot imagine trying to turn the principals and teachers who care for our children every day into an armed mob. And let’s be clear, civilians bristling with guns to prevent the “next Newtown” are an armed mob even with training offered up by Mr. LaPierre. Any town officials or school principals who take up the N.R.A. on that offer should be fired.
Mr. LaPierre said the Newtown killing spree “might” have been averted if the killer had been confronted by an armed security guard. It’s far more likely that there would have been a dead armed security guard — just as there would have been even more carnage if civilians had started firing weapons in the Aurora movie theater.
Is police protection in schools a good idea only when Democrats propose it? Is armed security appropriate for, let's say the New York Times building but not for the elementary school down the street? According to the liberal media, the answer to those questions would seem to be, "Yes."
And the children of Sandy Hook? They've just become the latest symbols in the political cause of gun control.
December 28, 2012
The "Atruthful" Obama
Amoral is defined this way:
1. not involving questions of right or wrong; without moral quality; neither moral nor immoral.
2. having no moral standards, restraints, or principles; unaware of or indifferent to questions of right or wrong: a completely amoral person.
Substitute the words "truthful" and "untruthful" for "moral" and "immoral" in the definitions above, and you get a pretty good feel for Barack Obama's politics. For Obama, truth is completely irrelevant.
Benghazi is a good example. Five days after the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans at the consulate in Libya, Obama ordered his UN ambassador Susan Rice to go out to all the Sunday news shows to blame their deaths on a Youtube video that was supposedly so insulting that it sparked rioting throughout the middle east. It was such an unlikely story, but it was one that fit in with Obama's image. His presidency by itself was supposed to cast a new and attractive light on America for the Muslim world to see. The planned terrorist attack destroyed that narrative. Benghazi was a protest.
Later on President Obama himself went to the UN where he repeated his protest story in a speech to the General Assembly. Then weeks later during a presidential debate against Mitt Romney he contradicted all that. To Romney's obvious bafflement, Obama said that he had called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror the day after it happened. Almost everybody was caught be surprise, except the debate moderator. In what looked to have been a beautifully choreographed move, Candy Crowley jumped into the debate to declare that, yes, it was true. She had specifically looked into it and she could confidently support what the president said. Time to move on to our next debate topic. Sorry, we really don't have time for more questions on this. Obama would not have to face questions on where the protest story came from.
Remarkably, Barack Obama went on to win the election. In the midst of the most dire economic circumstances we've experienced in the last half century, Obama managed to beat out the guy who made a fortune rescuing companies from their own dire economic circumstances and putting them back on their feet. If ever there was a man equipped to deal with the hardships facing our country, it was Mitt Romney. Yet the atruthful Obama beat Romney, the turnaround artist.
He did it without offering any kind of a plan to deal with the worst unemloyment in 30 years, or any plan to deal with the rest of our economic problems. After running trillion dollar deficits for four straight years, boosting the national debt from $10.6 trillion to more than $16 trillion, he managed to sucker just enough people into believing he would fix everything by taxes on 2% of American taxpayers. Arithmetic anyone?
Obama said what he had to say, himself and through surrogates.
He said that Romney and the Republicans were waging war on women because they didn't believe the Catholic Church should be forced, against Church doctrine, to pay for women's birth control. He said that Romney got rich destroying companies, not rescuing them. He said Romney was a felon, that he misrepresented his position on corporate filings to the SEC. He said Romeny was responsible for a woman's cancer death. Her husband lost his job when the company Romney rescued went under, long after the rescue and long after Romney's involvement. The woman died six years later.
No matter that there was no truth to any of it. Barack Obama said whatever would defeat Mitt Romney. And that's where we are now. America's rescue has been put on indefinite hold. Obama won.
In place of any expectation of economic growth we have a "fiscal cliff" before us. A confrontation between Obama and Republicans over spending and taxes looms. It was contrived by Obama because he thinks that any confrontation with Republicans is one that he will win it. He might. Obama will say whatever he has to say to do it. He said so.
In an Oval Office meeting last week, he told Mr. Boehner that if the sides didn't reach agreement, he would use his inaugural address and his State of the Union speech to tell the country the Republicans were at fault.
It will be hard for the two sides to reach an agreement. The give and take one might expect during any negotiation are not there. Obama won the election. End of story.
At one point, according to notes taken by a participant, Mr. Boehner told the president, "I put $800 billion [in tax revenue] on the table. What do I get for that?"
"You get nothing," the president said. "I get that for free."
There is no middle ground. In one sense that's a benefit. There is next to no time left for negotiating any kind of a deal. When there is no middle ground there's not much to be negotiated. The process won't take a lot of time.
After the election, Boehner aides tried to shape the debate by offering early concessions, including that the GOP would agree to raise new tax revenue. A speech Mr. Boehner planned to give was rewritten 18 times and included input from top Republican leaders.
He and Mr. Obama didn't sit down together for another 10 days.
So many other things to do. Most recently it was vacation. With only days remaining the Obamas jetted off to Hawaii. He doesn't want an agreement.
One of the speaker's aides, Brett Loper, asked the president's legislative liaison, "Can you get back into the zone of where you were in July 2011?"—when Mr. Obama and Mr. Boehner were close to a large deal on revenues, spending and entitlements. The president's man replied, "No, we were probably overextended then, and there's no way we would do it now."
July 2011. Think about that. Here we are a year and a half later, still, with no agreement on revenues, spending, and entitlements. For a year and a half Barack Obama has been inching the bar higher. When agreement seems close Obama backs away. He preserves the confrontation. Suddenly there are new demands, ones that Obama knows are unacceptable to Republicans. How about let's permanently raise the debt ceiling?
It's pretty safe to say no opposition congressional majority is going willingly cede power to a president. If Obama's condition for reaching a deal is permanent removal of the debt ceiling, there will be no deal. Obama is content with that. His governing purpose is partisan advantage above all else. As Kimberly Strassel wrote in the Wall Street Journal today,
For all the ugliness of this lame-duck session, it did have one merit: It has exposed how President Obama intends to govern in a second term. He's intent on narrow political victories and on damaging his opponents.
Where confrontations don't exist, Obama will contrive one. He'll say what he has to say so that Republcans are blamed for something. The country will suffer damage as well, but like the truth, that's irrelevant.
December 23, 2012
December 14, 2012
A Well Scripted Mission Accomplished
Susan Rice has withdrawn her name from consideration to be the next Secretary of State.
In a letter to the president, Ms. Rice wrote she had been honored to be considered. "However," she added, "if nominated, I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly—to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities."
Timing has been perfect. Rice, you may recall, was trotted out to the Sunday talk shows immediately after Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were murdered in an 8-hour terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Her story on five different shows was the same: There was no evidence whatever that the attack had anything to do with terrorism. It was really a protest by Muslims, justifiably outraged in administration minds, over a YouTube video that was said to be insulting to the Prophet Mohammed. According to Rice, it was sheer chance that the protest took place on the eleventh anniversary of the September 11 attacks on America. Just as it was sheer chance that the protesters were armed with mortars and RPGs.
Rice's appearances on the Sunday talk show circuit changed the conversation. When Republicans reacted with skepticism to Rice's wildly unlikely explanations, the mainstream media switched their coverage away from Benghazi and over to the unfair, partisan mistreatment of poor Susan Rice. No need to bring up any embarrassing questions about why there was no help for Ambassador Stevens and his staff members during the eight hours they were under attack.
So the questions remain. Whose idea was it to normalize operations at the Libyan missions? Libya is not quite like Paris or London, you know. What happened after the president ordered the military to do everything possible to save the ambassador and his staff? Wouldn't an order like that have been transmitted in writing? Where is it? Why were the ambassador's earlier written requests for more security for the Benghazi mission ignored?
Those questions and more awaited the confirmation hearings for Secretary of State nominee Susan Rice. Not that there would be answers. We already know what Rice would say. She doesn't know anything about any of that stuff. But the questions would have been asked anyway, and Susan Rice would have gone on record saying that she knew nothing. She would have said, yet again, that she relayed the best information available at the time.
But there might be a problem. She did say, on those Sunday shows, that there was no evidence of a planned terrorist attack. We know that's not true. There most certainly was evidence. What could she say about that now? And how would the press cover it?
The press might actually have had to get to the real story: How could the administration have left the Ambassador Christopher Stevens unprotected after he repeatedly asked for more security forces? How could the administration have been caught be surprise on the anniversary of 9/11.
But with exquisite timing Rice withdrew her name from consideration, and all those questions have been avoided for now. Now President Obama signals the media. Let's get the coverage back on track. This is about the mistreatment of Susan Rice, not Benghazi.
"While I deeply regret the unfair and misleading attacks on Susan Rice in recent weeks, her decision demonstrates the strength of her character, and an admirable commitment to rise above the politics of the moment to put our national interests first," Mr. Obama said in a statement released by the White House.
The media are only too happy to oblige. Here's a sample of what we get from just the Washington Post today on the topic of Susan Rice:
Text of Susan Rice's letter to Obama withdrawing her name for secretary of state
Susan Rice, the embattled U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, abruptly withdrew from consideration to be the next secretary of state on Thursday after a standoff with Republicans. Here is the text of the letter she submitted to President Barack Obama:
Associated Press, AP 4:21 AM ET
Susan Rice, really the victim of conservative media?
So Chuck Todd says that Susan Rice was the victim of insufficient PR staff, the conservative media and other forces. Hmmm.
Erik Wemple, The Washington Post DEC 13
O'Malley blames Susan Rice's exit on 'a small cabal' of GOP senators
The Maryland governor defended Rice on the Rev. Al Sharpton's MSNBC show.
John Wagner, The Washington Post DEC 13
Susan Rice withdraws as candidate for secretary of state
Action ends weeks-long fight with Republicans.
Karen DeYoung and Anne Gearan, The Washington Post DEC 13
President Obama's statement on Susan Rice's decision
The statement released by the White House on Thursday in which President Barack Obama accepted the decision by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to withdraw from consideration to be the next secretary of state:
Associated Press, AP DEC 13
The ignoble hounding of Susan Rice
Three senators belittled her experience, questioned her competence and wondered about her temperament for a job that she was only rumored to be considered for.
Jonathan Capehart, The Washington Post DEC 13
An ugly end to Rice's non-nomination
The lengthy public twisting-in-the-wind process reflected badly on nearly everyone involved.
Ruth Marcus, The Washington Post DEC 13
Why wasn't Hillary Clinton the one to make the talk show cirtcuit back in September instead of Ms. Rice? 2016, maybe? Hillary was a principal. As Secretary of State she was in the murdered ambassador's chain of command. She was somebody who had knowledge and some degree of control over events in Benghazi. She knew that Christopher Stevens thought he was in danger. Did she have enough control to comply with his request for more security? Or was that somebody else's decision? Inquiring minds may never find out. That is, if the coordinated efforts of the media and the administration win out.
This has been such a well orchestrated diversion. Rice was the administration spokesperson that day precisely because she could plausibly say she didn't know anything. She could say just what she said: She was just passing along the information that was available at the time. She was only there because Hillary was on a trip.
But Hillary promised to come back and testify to congress. Naturally, she'd want to let things cool down a bit before she makes an appearance. Now it looks like Hillary wants things to cool down even more.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee has also already announced its Dec. 20 hearing featuring Clinton's testimony. The title of the HFAC hearing is "Benghazi Attack, Part II: The Report of the Accountability Review Board"
But State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said today that the ARB is not complete, might not be complete by Dec. 20, and Clinton has not agreed to testify on Dec. 20.
"The Hill has talked about a planning date on the calendar. That presumes that the ARB is finished," Nuland said. "That's dependent on all of the work getting done between now and then... The ARB is continuing to do its work, to my knowledge it has not yet completed its work."
Clinton has not agreed to testify in open hearing at all in fact, only to brief the House and Senate foreign relations committees on how she interprets the ARB report, whenever it surfaces.
Susan Rice's well scripted mission has been accomplished. Her performance in September brilliantly drew attention away from Hillary and Barack. And just when we might expect congress to begin getting to the bottom of what went wrong about Benghazi, she withdrew. It's about Susan Rice all over again. Legitimate questions about administration competence have gone unanswered for months, and we can expect them to go unanswered for months more. Hell, they may never be answered.
December 09, 2012
How 'Bout a Little Perspective?
So what's so bad about Susan Rice, asks Frank J. Fleming.
This idea that President Obama should only appoint honest, competent people is really unfair. The guy is a Chicago politician; he’s probably never once met anyone like that.
Just look at his first Cabinet to see how out-of-the-blue this demand for competency is. He has a treasury secretary who couldn’t figure out how to pay his own taxes. His attorney general leads a Justice Department that somehow thought selling guns to Mexican drug cartels would have good results.
Then there are Obama’s secretaries of commerce, who were supposed to be promoting job creation and economic growth — who in the world knows what they’ve been up to these past four years?
So as long as Rice is reasonably loyal to the United States (i.e., identifies it as one of her five favorite countries) and probably won’t accidentally start any wars (or, given recent history, not more than one), we can declare her as “good enough.” And what more can we expect from government?
November 30, 2012
Let's Play Name That Party!
Not far into this Ruth Marcus column entitled Susan Rice and Double Standards, we come to this:
For perspective on this complex question, it helps to return to 1974 and the nomination of another woman, Alice Rivlin, to head the Congressional Budget Office.
As Rivlin tells the story, the office had just been created, she was selected by a search committee — and the House Budget Committee chairman made clear his adamant, gender-based opposition.
“Over his dead body was a woman going to run this organization,” Rivlin recalled at an Atlantic magazine “Women of Washington” lecture last year.
The omission sticks out like a sore thumb. Who on earth could that dastardly, chauvinistic, bigoted House Budget Committee chairman have been!!?
Why, that would have been Albert C. Ullman, Democrat from Oregon. I wonder why Ms. Marcus didn't think it was worth a mention. Maybe if it been a Republican — she is writing about Rice's supposed mistreatment at the hands of Republicans, after all. You might think there was some kind of a double standard.
Tax Hike Champions
Among the billionaires favoring higher taxes on people earning more than $250,000 per year are Bill Gates, Charles Munger, and Jim Sinegal. Aside from their billionaire status their stance on raising taxes, what might these three gentlemen have in common? Well, they're all on the board of directors for Costco. In fact, Jim Sinegal is a founder and former CEO of Costco.
There is newsworthiness here. It came about when the Costco board voted voted itself a $7.00 per share stock dividend in time to beat the Obama tax hikes. Not only that, they're borrowing $3.5 billion to do it. The payout to the board amounts to about $29 million, of which $14 million goes to Sinegal. He will pay taxes on his $14 million at the rate of 15% instead of up to 43.4% if they had waited until the first of the year. That 's a difference of about $4 million in taxes that Sinegal won't pay.
The Wall Street Journal writes:
We emailed Mr. Sinegal for comment but didn't hear back. Mr. Galanti explained that while looming tax hikes are a factor in the December borrowing and payout, so are current low interest rates. Mr. Galanti adds that the company will still have a strong balance sheet and is increasing its capital expenditures and store openings this year.
As it happens, one of those new stores opened Thursday in Washington, D.C., and no less a political star than Joe Biden stopped by to join Mr. Sinegal and pose for photos as he did some Christmas shopping. It's nice to have friends in high places. We don't know if Mr. Biden is a Costco shareholder, but if he wants to get in on the special dividend there's still time before his confiscatory tax policy hits. The dividend is payable on December 18 to holders of record on December 10.
To sum up: Here we have people at the very top of the top 1% who preach about tax fairness voting to write themselves a huge dividend check to avoid the Obama tax increase they claim it is a public service to impose on middle-class Americans who work for 30 years and finally make $250,000 for a brief window in time.
Whenver those those billionaires favoring higher taxes are asked why they just don't write a check to the treasury if they don't think they're paying high enough taxes, they say no. They say how we're all in this together so we all should make the sacrifice. Well... Here's their idea of how the sacrifice should be shared.
Hat tip to reader Marian for pointing out this story.
November 29, 2012
The Balanced Approach BS
Two things about Obama's famous "balanced approach" to paying down the debt. First, there's not a soul on the planet who believes there will be any pay-down while Obama is in office. The national debt is projected to reach $20 billion at the end of his next term — up $4.4 trillion from the end of this one.
Trilion dollar deficits are in store for each of the next four years, and Obama's only solution is "asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little bit more in taxes." We have to combine cuts with revenue, he used to say. But now Obama wants to raise taxes this year, then talk about spending cuts next year.
So spending restraint is out. As is usual with Obama's promises — closing Guantanamo, keeping unemployment below 8%, the list goes on — a promise to address spending cuts next year will have its expiration date.
That leaves only tax hikes to fill in the budget hole. So, how's that going to work? Well, how did it work in England?
In the 2009-10 tax year, more than 16,000 people declared an annual income of more than £1 million to HM Revenue and Customs.
This number fell to just 6,000 after Gordon Brown introduced the new 50p top rate of income tax shortly before the last general election.
The figures have been seized upon by the Conservatives to claim that increasing the highest rate of tax actually led to a loss in revenues for the Government.
It is believed that rich Britons moved abroad or took steps to avoid paying the new levy by reducing their taxable incomes.
Can there be much hope that things will be different here? Even if we actually get the revenue that Obama's tax hike on the wealthy is calculated to produce, it will only give us enough money to run the government for about week. Eight and a half days, actually. The greater likelihood is that raising taxes in the way he proposes won't raise the revenue Democrats say it will, and it may not raise any revenue at all.
Obama's re-election has immunized him from accountability for our dismal economic growth. His place in history is secure. Left leaning media and academia will glorify Barack Obama no matter what happens. He doesn't need the economy to get better.
Obama's insistance on tax hikes, and now his plan to skip the part where we cut spending, are calculated to be unpalatable for House Republicans. It's part of a political bet. Since a recession is coming anyway, everything will be aimed at focusing blame for it on the Republicans.So let's let him have his due. I'm with Ann Coulter on this one. Repubicans should give in on taxes. Let's see how the Obama plan works.
Republicans have got to make Obama own the economy.
They should spend from now until the end of the congressional calendar reading aloud from Thomas Sowell, Richard Epstein, John Lott and Milton Friedman and explaining why Obama's high tax, massive regulation agenda spells doom for the nation.
Then some Republicans can say: We think this is a bad idea, but Obama won the election and the media are poised to blame us for whatever happens next, so let's give his plan a whirl and see how the country likes it.
Republicans need to get absolute, 100 percent intellectual clarity on who bears responsibility for the next big recession. It is more important to win back the Senate in two years than it is to save the Democrats from their own idiotic tax plan. Unless Republicans give them an out, Democrats won't be able to hide from what they've done.
Even Democrats might back away from that deal.
Give Obama his tax hikes. Then we'll see the true balance in Obama's BS.
November 28, 2012
Majority Opposes Federal Health Care Guarantee
According to Gallup, a majority of Americans polled said they oppose a federal healthcare guarantee.
An interesting graph. A clear majority favored a federal guarantee until ObamaCare was proposed and then passed. Then it wasn't quite so popular. Wishing for a better health care system got us ObamaCare instead. Americans suddenly aren't so happy. Buyers remorse setting in?
We thought we were getting the post-racial society and an end to divisive politics, too. We got Obama instead.
Hat tip Hot Air.
November 27, 2012
No One Intended To Mislead?
Well, that's what UN Ambassador Susan Rice would like us all to believe. But that nonsense is even less believable than the story she peddled on the Sunday talk shows when she explained how the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya was really a protest over a YouTube video.
Under fire from congressional critics, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice stressed in a Tuesday statement that she did not intend to mislead the public about the September 11th attacks on the Benghazi consulate.
"Neither I nor anyone else in the administration intended to mislead the American people at any stage in this process, and the administration updated Congress and the American people as our assessments evolved," Rice said.
This exercise with Susan Rice has proven to be quite the useful little distraction for the Obama administration. It has given Democrats and their allies in the media yet another excuse to spew a lot of fake righteous indignation about Republicans being racist and sexist — they questioned Rice's wild fantasy about rioting over a YouTube video. Meanwhile, with the exception of Fox News, Democrats and the media ignore the really important questions.
Fox News has learned from sources who were on the ground in Benghazi that an urgent request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. consulate and subsequent attack several hours later on the annex itself was denied by the CIA chain of command -- who also told the CIA operators twice to "stand down" rather than help the ambassador's team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in Benghazi on Sept. 11.
Who told the CIA to stand down, and why? And why wasn't there any military presence near enough to make a rescue attempt? It's not as if the administration didn't know that the consulate could not be defended.
The U.S. Mission in Benghazi convened an “emergency meeting” less than a month before the assault that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, because Al Qaeda had training camps in Benghazi and the consulate could not defend against a “coordinated attack,” according to a classified cable reviewed by Fox News.
Summarizing an Aug. 15 emergency meeting convened by the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, the Aug. 16 cable marked “SECRET” said that the State Department’s senior security officer, also known as the RSO, did not believe the consulate could be protected.
Security request were denied in spite of the Ambassador's fears. It seems the administration, the State Department in particular, was hot to "normalize operations and reduce security resources."
Eric Nordstrom, the former Regional Security Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Libya, told congressional investigators looking into the murder of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, that the State Department was eager for the American diplomatic presence in Libya to reduce its American security footprint and to rely more on locals, sources tell ABC News. A senior State Department official denies the charge.
In an email from Nordstrom from earlier this month obtained by ABC News, the former Regional Security Officer referred to a list of 230 security incidents in Libya that took place between June 2011 and July 2012, writing that “(t)hese incidents paint a clear picture that the environment in Libya was fragile at best and could degrade quickly. Certainly, not an environment where post should be directed to ‘normalize’ operations and reduce security resources in accordance with an artificial time table.”
A policy of normalizing operations would fit right in with Barack Obama's claims that al Qaeda was on the run, that the Muslim world now sees America in a new and attractive light. On the other hand, admitting what actually happened might damage that perception, and horror of horrors, damage it right before the election.
And then there's Hillary. How will it work for her 2016 presidential aspirations when it comes out that she and Obama refused requests for more security in Benghazi just so they can maintain this fairy tale story about how the Muslims really like us now?
Democrats are their liberal media allies are right when they complain that Susan Rice and her silly story aren't the issue. They keep saying it over and over again in hopes that we'll forget about the real problem. What we really need to know is by whose order were four Americans left unprotected in Libya, and why. And who made certain they remained unprotected?
Getting back to Susan Rice, by her participation in a diversion from those questions, she has proven herself unfit to be Secretary of State. Did she and the rest of the administration intend to mislead? You betcha!
On Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming
Dr. Walter Starck, a marine biologist who pioneered in the scientific investigation of coral reefs, is not a fan of the CAGW theories.
The climate gravy train can provide a sumptuous ride for those whose work shows promise of producing what the government wants.
For third rate academics CAGW has much to offer. One doesn’t need to be particularly capable to speculate about some dire consequence of warming, receive widespread publicity and be treated as an important expert. Unlike in real science, no colleagues will dispute them and the few sceptics willing to question anything will generally be ignored and denigrated by all their peers. The news media will describe them as experts and provide the public attention they know they deserve but somehow had never been recognised by anyone else until they climbed onto the climate bandwagon. Grants then flow and jetting off to attend important conferences in attractive places with all expenses paid provides frequent welcome breaks from the tedium of academia. Perhaps best of all, is a delicious feeling of importance and moral superiority over all of the high achievers striving so hard to discover something of consequence about the real world. The only personal cost is to one’s own scientific integrity and that’s not worth much if one is just another unrecognised minor league academic no one had ever heard of before they joined into the climate alarm. In any case, saving the planet is the noblest of all causes and absolves any tinge of guilt in such regard.
Via Power Line.
November 26, 2012
BS from the Oracle of Omaha
I've been wondering why nobody thinks to call Warren Buffet on his disingenuous challenge on taxes.
SUPPOSE that an investor you admire and trust comes to you with an investment idea. “This is a good one,” he says enthusiastically. “I’m in it, and I think you should be, too.”
Would your reply possibly be this? “Well, it all depends on what my tax rate will be on the gain you’re saying we’re going to make. If the taxes are too high, I would rather leave the money in my savings account, earning a quarter of 1 percent.” Only in Grover Norquist’s imagination does such a response exist.
Buffet must think we are such stupid people. No, Warren. We don't forego buying into investment based on our individual income tax rates. But we would think twice about sellling an asset depending upon on the capital gains taxes. The prospect of a future hike in capital gains might encourage us to sell assets sooner, while the prospect of a future drop might make us hold onto an asset a little longer.
Let's say you have a piece of commercial real estate you'd like to unload, not that this is a particularly good time to unload real estate, but work with me here. There are some weirdos who actually try to figure what they're going to get out of a sale after all the taxes and commissions are paid. Not only that, they might actually include capital gains taxes in that calculation.
Now strange as this may sound, some of these folks might actually ask a higher price if the bottom line comes to less than they'd like to get. Yeah, the greedy bastards. And that higher price might make the investment a little less attractive. In fact it might make it so unattractive that a buyer and a seller never reach a deal. And all because of the capital gains taxes.
So, while capital gains taxes may never discourage investors from making investments, they can discourage or even prevent an investment opportunity.
Warren Buffet knows this. He also knows Obama's proposal for taxing the rich won't get us to a balanced budget, and he knows that it won't even put an appreciable dent in Obama's projected annual deficits. Guess whoses taxes have to go up to tackle that problem.
November 23, 2012
Yesterday the Washington Post described a failed meeting of the economic and political minds that occurred last year at the White House. Barack Obama brought in seven of the world’s top economists to get their advice on how to fix the ailing economy.
“I’m not asking you to consider the political feasibility of things,” he told them in the previously unreported meeting.
Never mind that it was rather late, even a year ago, to start bringing in the big guns to talk about fixing the economy. It wouldn't have mattered if the president brought them in on day one, the result would have been the same. They advised him to introduce a big plan to forgive part of the mortgage debt owed by millions of homeowners who are underwater on their properties. He ignored them.
It had long been thought that when property values declined in value, homeowners would spend less because they would feel less wealthy.
But Mian and Sufi’s research showed something more specific and powerful at work: People who owed huge debts when their home values declined cut back dramatically on buying cars, appliances, furniture and groceries. The more they owed, the less they spent. People with little debt hardly slowed spending at all.
There are lots of reasons to object to mortgage debt forgiveness, not the least of which is how unfair it would be to all of those homeowners who by scrimping and saving and sacrifice didn't go in over their heads and didn't need to be bailed out. I don't think that would be a persuasive argument to Obama who seems routinely to favor one citizen over another as a matter of course. It's good politics to have people owe you.
At a more basic level, officials simply did not believe that a big program of debt forgiveness was a smart investment, costing hundreds of billions of dollars — money that it preferred to spend on a massive economic stimulus package that could much more quickly lift the economy. The administration also announced a more modest program designed to avert foreclosures by reducing mortgage payments but not the total debt balance.
How quaint that officials worried about hundreds of billions of dollars in debt forgiveness. Better to go with a massive Keynesian stimus. And we can all see how that worked!
In late 2009, the economy started to grow at a pace of 4 percent per year — fast enough that employment would have returned to normal by just about now. But in 2010, growth sputtered to 2 percent. The administration responded with more stimulus. But the pattern repeated itself in 2011 and this year.
I don't recall any 4 percent growth, but if the Washington Post says so, why it must be gospel. Maybe we got it for about a week and a half in September of 2009, spurred by a massive rally in Washington DC. Since then the economy as crawled but the stimulus spending has been phenomenal. Five trillion dollars in deficits in four short years, with $5 trillion more anticipated in the next four.
The administration never saw the mortgage debt overhang as the big drag on the economy, and they still don't. Why would they, when their alternative theory tells them to spend, spend, spend. Unlike George Bush whose half a trillion dollar defict was unpatriotic, the Obama administration will happily spend us into bankruptcy in the interests fairness — everybody gets a fair shot at poverty. It's all very disappointing but the housing debt is not to blame, they say.
Obama’s advisers believe the ultimate pace of recovery is understandable, if disappointing, given the financial crisis and the collapse in housing prices, as well as surprises such as a drought this year, the European debt crisis, rising oil prices and the trade-disrupting Japanese earthquake.
It's the drought, the earthquake, the hurricane, Europe. they've get plenty of excuses. They also have a crisis which we can be sure won't go to waste.
November 14, 2012
Petraeus to Testify
Fox News reports that Former CIA Director David Petraeus has agreed to testify before the House and Senate intelligence committees about the terror attack in Benghazi, Libya in which four Americans were murdered, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
While Petraeus prepares to give his side, lawmakers have begun to openly question when Petraeus first knew about the investigation that uncovered his affair -- and whether it impacted his statements to Congress on Sept. 14 about the Libya terror attack.
Petraeus briefed lawmakers that day that the attack was akin to a flash mob, and some top lawmakers noted to Fox News he seemed "wedded" to the administration's narrative that it was a demonstration spun out of control. The briefing appeared to conflict with one from the FBI and National Counterterrorism Center a day earlier in which officials said the intelligence supported an Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda-affiliated attack.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., told Fox News he now questions whether Petraeus' statements -- which were in conflict with both the FBI briefing and available raw intelligence -- were in any way impacted by the knowledge the FBI was investigating his affair with Broadwell.
Charles Krauthammer, for one, thinks Petraeus's testimony was "impacted" and in a deliberate way.
KRAUTHAMMER: Of course it was being held over Petraeus’s head, and the sword was lowered on Election Day. You don’t have to be a cynic to see that as the ultimate in cynicism. As long as they needed him to give the administration line to quote Bill, everybody was silent. And as soon as the election’s over, as soon as he can be dispensed with, the sword drops and he’s destroyed. I mean, can you imagine what it’s like to be on that pressure and to think it didn’t distort or at least in some way unconsciously influence his testimony? That’s hard to believe.
So the White House "outed" Petraeus even though there was no crime. The FBI had kept their investigation under wraps while it was going on, and presumably they could have continued to do so after it was over.
How does the White House avoid damage from this? The story Petraeus gave congress back in September was not true. What's the story now? Does the White House have anything else to hold over Petraeus's head?
The affair was over, and the investigation was over. David Petraeus thought he was going to keep his job, his family, and his reputation. The job is gone, his reputation has been badly damaged, and it remains to be seen if he can keep his family together. I can see where payback might be an attractive option at this point.
November 13, 2012
Conservatives Are Aghast at Bill Kristol!
The headline on Breitbart: "Bill Kristol Caves on Higher Taxes." Oh, the hand wringing...
Giving in on Obama's tax hikes would not win many votes. But it would certainly end the GOP as a viable opposition.
Kristol has embraced a policy that is nothing more than a left-wing, soak-the-rich meme. It would not close the budget deficit; at best, it would reduce the annual $1 trillion-plus deficit by 7 cents on the collar. Raising taxes would, however, hurt investment and punish success. And Republicans have been burned before by agreeing to deals in which Congress hikes taxes and the promised spending cuts never materialize.
Author Joel B. Pollack is laboring under one huge misconception. He seems to think Democrats care about the economy. Oh, he's certainly right about civilian Democrats, the ones not in politics. They'd like the economy to bounce back so that there are jobs and pay raises again. And he might be right about one or two of the Democrats in Washington.
As for the rest of them, Obama has demonstrated that they don't need a good economy to get re-elected, and what's more, a bad economy is so much more useful. Think of it as a crisis that won't go to waste. When people are suffering, that's the time to devise programs to assist. Mostly the programs assist Democrats' re-election prospects.
And let's not forget, Obama's goal has always been the transformation of America. He's been pretty successful so far, but there's more to come. An economy in crisis is the more fertile ground for achieving it.
In fact, our economy is in such dire straits right now that neither tax cuts nor tax hikes will make a noticeable difference. The absolute best we can hope for is continued sluggish growth that merely fails to keep pace with population growth. It's more likely that we're headed back into recession, or worse we might be in for a catastrophic meltdown. But the only question of interest to Democrats is who gets the blame for it.
Obama spent the past two years warning voters about going back to the policies that got us into this mess to begin with. The great failure of the Romney campaign was to let Obama keep repeating his nonsensical theory without challenge him on it. Everybody knew he was blaming "the Bush tax cuts," but no one ever made Obama say it out loud and then have to defend it.
Repeated endlessly without challenge, Obama's campaign sound-bite became a plausible explanation for enough voters to make a difference. Bill Clinton even trotted out on the campaign trail to reinforce the message, implying that the economy boomed in his day because the wealthy paid more taxes.
I know. It's really simple minded, but there it is. Never mind that the Clinton boom was the result of a lot of Republican policies that Clinton wisely adopted after 1994 when congressional Democrats got booted out of the majority for the first time in 40 years. The North American Free Trade Agreement, welfare reform, spending restraint, and a dot-com bubble. All of these things, in combination with a broadened tax base, stunned the world with the first U.S. budget surpluses since the Kennedy administration. It was shocking. No one would ever have dreamed it.
There will be no such boom in the Obama second term. Tax and regulatory policies will keep the damper on, and for at least the next two years Republicans will be powerless to turn this disastrous economy around. The best we can hope for is that they block or delay the more permanently damaging policies that Obama intends to put in place. We just have to hope that the tipping point has not been reached, and that Republicans will be able to return America to a more market oriented economy and get some jobs growth.
In the meantime, a rise in marginal rates from 36% to 39% for high income taxpayers is not the most damaging policy proposal Obama has come up with, but fighting it could be the most damaging thing Republicans do. When negotiations are under way to avoid the fiscal cliff, Republicans can stick to their principles by announcing that they oppose the tax hikes because of the damage they'll do to the economy, but going over the fiscal cliff would be even more damaging. Republicans have to announce that Obama's tax and regulatory policies are killing the economy and killing jobs and there is nothing they can do about it, and then remind voters every day that Obama owns the economy.
Obama doesn't own it right now. He's sticking to the story that he's inherited George W. Bush's mess — again! He will continue to blame Republicans, and voters will continue buy it, especially if Republicans fight him on tax rates. The worst case is if we go over the fiscal cliff because Republicans fight a 3% tax increase. The damage to the Republican brand will be incalculable. The next worse case is if Republicans win on taxes. The economy will continue to stagnate but Republicans will be saddled with ownership of it. It's those Bush tax cuts that are killing us, you know.
Republicans have to wake up and realize that Democrats don't care if the economy goes to hell, in fact they'd prefer it. Instead of fighting the Obama on taxes, Republicans should go along with him, while at the same time announcing that they strongly disagree, but that it would be worse to go over the cliff. The point is to make clear that Obama's policies are not going to help the economy. But he won the election and now the economy belongs to him. It's a message that they must repeat every day from now until 2016.