Witch’s Will For A January Morning
My Pick of the Litter Today
Fly in the ointment
O’s coming woes
President Obama is riding high in the afterglow of his second Inauguration — but the signs of trouble ahead are already becoming clear.
First off, it now looks like the US economy peaked in the third quarter last year — growing at 3.1 percent, a huge leap from 1.3 percent in the second quarter and 2 percent in the first.
That was perfect timing for his re-election, bringing unemployment below 8 percent for the first time since Obama took office and robbing Mitt Romney of one of his top talking points.
But top economists believe things slowed in the fourth quarter and again this year. Many are openly predicting that fourth-quarter growth will come in at between 1 and 1.5 percent, and growth is unlikely to top that rate in the near future.
We’re already seeing the signs of an economy far from recovery. Retail sales in December, the most important shopping month of the year, were a flop. Holiday-related sales rose just 0.7 percent from Oct. 28 to Dec. 24, compared with a 2 percent rise the year before.
And according to a Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan report, consumer confidence is at its lowest point since December 2011.
The president may continue to claim that the economy’s woes just aren’t his fault, but in his fifth year in office, those excuses are wearing exceedingly thin. It won’t help that his Inaugural Address included barely a mention of jobs or economic growth: He’s made his real priorities clear.
Meanwhile, he’s dealt himself another problem that will frustrate all his efforts to deal with the economy.
A year ago, Democratic pollsters Doug Schoen and Pat Caddell warned in an oped column that Obama could only win re-election by running “the most negative campaign in history,” and that the political damage from such a campaign would leave him unable to govern in a second term.
It was one of the boldest predictions of the election season — and it was right.
Court to Obama Admin: Actually, Those Recess Appointments Were Unconstitutional
by Kate Hicks
The DC Circuit Court of Appeals today unanimously slapped down the controversial “recess” appointments President Obama made to the National Labor Relations Board way back in early January of 2012, in what the Associated Press rightly calls an “embarrassing setback.” Indeed, if the Supreme Court upholds the decision, it very well may nullify everything the board has done since the appointments, as it won’t have actually had the quorum of three members required to issue
RE: Obama’s Power Grab Slapped Down
Assuming this decision holds up—and it is powerfully argued—President Obama’s overreach here has had the effect of severely limiting his power to make recess appointments.
It will be far more constrained than the power such presidents as Eisenhower and George W. Bush exercised. Indeed, since Congress is now in session most of the year, unless the vacancy occurs in the month of December, after Congress has gone home for the year, he no longer has any recess appointment power.
Serves him right.
Yes, President Obama, the Constitution applies to you, too
Sometimes, Barack Obama acts like the Constitution does not apply to him and the Congress is an imaginary being. Friday, the United States Court of Appeals brought the president back to Earth and reminded him that that the Constitution’s Appointments Clause and the U.S. Senate are very much part of reality by voiding three of Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.
The D.C. Circuit ruled that the president could not end-run the confirmation process merely because at the beginning of 2012 the U.S. Senate was meeting every three business days in, what lawyers call, pro forma session. Oh, and during that pro forma session the Senate was also busy passing the payroll tax extension. Some pro forma session.
‘Boomtown’ Special Assails D.C. for ‘Extracting’ Wealth from Taxpayers
In a blockbuster one-hour investigative special that aired on Fox News’ “Hannity” on Friday, Peter Schweizer, Steve Bannon, and Sean Hannity exposed how Washington, D.C. has extracted power and money from the United States into a centralized location to become the country’s greatest “boomtown,” despite not creating anything.
Schweizer, the president of the nonpartisan Government Accountability Institute, highlighted how the permanent political class that relies on lobbying and influence peddling makes more money by “growing the size of government,” which leaves no incentive on either side of the aisle to limit government.
As a result, he noted the three richest counties and seven of the top ten wealthiest counties in the nation are in the Washington, D.C. region. The District also consumes the most fine wine in the nation. He asserted the business in Washington is now “not politics” but “money.”
Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, said the best and the brightest now come to Washington because they see Washington as a Tammany Hall that will allow them to get rich off of influence peddling. He noted that Washington D.C. runs the equivalent of a $4 trillion private equity fund every year and essentially doles out 25% of the country’s wealth to those who are connected.
“Nobody has ever turned a camera on them,” Bannon said, indicating he intends to change that in the future. “This is a permanent political class that has now formed an aristocracy. That’s why nothing has changed in Washington.”
Bannon explained people arrive in Washington as country lawyers and then decide to “turn the business of government into a family business” by having their wives and kids work in lobbying.
“And this is how they become a permanent political class,” he concluded.
Hannity mentioned that Washington politicians “kick money back to family, friends, or people that hire them when they retire.”
And Schweizer concurred. He claimed the permanent political class is bipartisan and those who are a part of this permanent aristocracy either marry or are born into it.
US Wasted Millions Of Dollars On Afghan Police Cars That Don’t Exist
The U.S. unnecessarily paid $6.3 million on contracts for Afghan police vehicles from April 2011 to September 2012, according to a report released last week from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
The latest gross overpayment stems largely from cash going to maintenance on vehicles that have been out of service for over a year or even had been destroyed.
We hear so many stories of money thrown away, wasted, lost or stolen that we tend to just shake our heads and move on. I know that I do. That’s sad because every one of those dollars was “taken” from an American Citizen or an American Company and should be dispersed thoughtfully, carefully and competently.
Instead our government throws “our” money around like Monopoly dollars. In doing so they prove that they, even if they haven’t stolen a dime are as corrupt as the thieves and as inept as the incompetents who allow things like the story above to happen. We, you and I, shouldn’t shrug and move on. We should be as angry and outraged as if some mugger had just assaulted us and stolen our purse or wallet. Because the government is doing just that.
What’s Up With the Democrats?
Why did Harry Reid Cave on the Filibuster?
It was not because of the strength of the opposition. If we have seen anything lately it is not a strong and formidable Republican Congress. These hapless warriors concede on all of their ideals with a similar battle cry. We’ll get you next time!
Basically the new filibuster deal limits the time allowed for debate and gives the minority party the ability to propose two amendments to each bill. The number of votes needed to stop discussion or to move to cloture did not change. Harry Reid is being praised for this huge bipartisan deal.
But let’s get real here, if the filibuster rules would have been changed who would have benefited? We know the Republicans wouldn’t have, they don’t ever win. Even when they are right they are wrong.
The win for the Democrats would have only been theatrical. Yes, they claimed that it is prudent to be aware that their party may not always be in control so therefore they would be giving this minority tool away. This is logical.
It has been reported that Harry Reid did not have the votes to pass this legislation even with the nuclear option.
What Up With Republicans?
Reince Priebus reelected chairman of the Republican National Committee
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has been overwhelmingly reelected to his post by committee members.
There were no surprises at the Charlotte meeting. Priebus announced back in November that he had more than enough votes to earn a second term, despite the GOP’s losses in that month’s presidential and congressional elections. He ran unopposed.
Going for Broke
There was $4.5 for art in embassies, but no money for Benghazi security.
While Baradar is often referred to as second-in-command of the Taliban, with Mullah Omar’s whereabouts and aliveness still uncertain, he was in practice the leader of the Taliban.
What Difference Does It Make that Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Care Why Terrorists Killed Americans in Libya?
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remark — “What difference does it make?” — regarding how the motive of the terrorists in the attack that killed four men, including a U.S. ambassador and two former Navy SEALs, isn’t important will always be associated with her.
She added that the only important thing was to punish those responsible. Other than a number of obvious points, two things deserve more consideration.
First: the motive of an attack is always important.
Which is right: Stocks or economy?
The difference of opinion between Wall Street and Main Street is growing as equities soar but growth stalls.
The stock market and the economy have always maintained a tenuous link. Equities are prone to periods of extreme fear and greed, pulling valuations around what the economic fundamentals suggest is “fair value.” It gets really bad near major turning points, such as the exuberance and the “subprime is contained” falsehoods of 2007 to the terror and “the bailouts won’t work” panic of 2009.
I think we’re seeing another turnaround point right now as the major averages go vertical and gauges of investor sentiment reach levels not seen since the 2000 dot-com bubble; even as the economy, by some measures, shows signs of falling back into recession.
So, which is right about where we’re headed?
The driver of the disparity is central bank intervention, with the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, and Bank of England, and the Bank of Japan all flooding the financial system with cheap cash. Much of the impetus for the market rally of the past two months has been indications the Bank of Japan is about to throw conservatism to the wind and indulge in even more aggressive monetary stimulus.
While hedge fund types love this, and a liquidity starved economy loved it in 2008 and 2009, there is just simply too much money floating around to make a difference now. The Fed’s balance sheet has swelled past $3 trillion, up from $800 billion before the financial crisis, $1.4 trillion of which is simply sitting at the Fed’s vaults as commercial banks have nothing to do with the money but hold it as deposits.
Moreover, as the deterioration of the economic data suggests, all this cheap money isn’t preventing the natural business cycle from working its will, resulting in new recessions in Europe and Japan, with another one headed for the United Kingdom.
Things aren’t looking good here at home.
15 Lies of Liberalism
Liberalism offers up a utopian vision of the world and then invites its practitioners to feel good about themselves for embracing it. Not only does this beautiful fantasy world never come to pass, liberalism fails to address the root causes of the problems it sets out to solve while creating whole new disasters in the process. In other words, it’s a never ending circle. There’s a problem, liberalism is offered up as the solution, it doesn’t work and creates more problems, for which liberalism is offered up as the solution, etc., etc., etc. until you’re starving, bankrupt, or your society is tearing itself apart at the seams.
Liberalism says that….
1) …it’s all about choice — unless you want to choose which gun or lightbulb to use, which school your child will attend, or you’d prefer more freedom and smaller government.
2) …it cares about the environment, when in practice, not only do liberals like Al Gore live some of the most resource-wasting and ostentatious lifestyles on the planet, but they hurt the environment by blocking environmentally friendly energy production here in favor of energy sources from nations that care little about pollution.
3) …you can have lots of free government services and somebody else will pay for them. The trillion dollar deficit we’re running every year that will have to be paid back says otherwise.
4) …as long as you use birth control that someone else is forced to pay for, there are no consequences whatsoever to having lots and lots of sex. Meanwhile, more than 50 million children have been killed by their own mothers via abortion and 1 out of every 4 adults in New York City has herpes.
5) …. “government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn.” Do you know anyone with crabgrass on his lawn? DO YOU?
6) …it’s all about compassion and taking care of the less fortunate, unless liberals have their own money on the line, in which case they give less to charity than those stingy, greedy, heartless conservatives.
Obama Off To A Slow Start In Capitol Hill
Gun campaign emails its massive list demanding calls to Congress.
Bad timing — and nobody seems to have noticed.
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s campaign operation appeared to be getting off to a shaky start Friday, sending out an ill-timed email calling on millions of supporters to flood the Capitol Hill switchboard with calls supporting gun control.
Call in campaigns can be a powerful tool in lobbying Congress: when done right, lawmakers’ offices are inundated with thousands of constituents demanding to speak with the senator or congresswoman about a particular issue. Well-orchestrated campaigns can even result in the congressional switchboard going down for hours at a time, disrupting everyday life in the Capitol and giving everyone in the building a sense of a national grassroots surge.
But the Obama email, penned by Former Obama campaign manager and National Chairman for OFA Jim Messina, didn’t seem to be having much of an effect Friday afternoon. Five Democratic and Republican offices contacted by Buzzfeed from Illinois, Kentucky, California, Oklahoma and Tennessee reported either normal or below normal call traffic during Friday afternoon, and no perceptible increase in calls about gun control.
Maybe no body wants to play Obama politics any more. How many times can you cry wolf before even the densest shepard get tired of running to help?
Clueless Carney Doesn’t Know What White House Will Do For Women
Good for the reporter that refused to just let Carney brush her question aside. A rare occasion.
Phil Mickelson isn’t the only future former Californian
California voters approved a $50 billion tax hike in November, bestowing the highest marginal income tax rate in the nation on California taxpayers — 13.3 percent.
Now professional golfer Phil Mickelson is thinking of leaving the state. He’s fortunate. He can practice his chosen profession in any region where snow doesn’t cover the ground for too long, and if he moves to Texas or Florida, his state income tax will drop to zero.
Mickelson won’t be the first pro golfer to leave California. Tiger Woods, who used to live in my old Orange County legislative district, moved to Florida in 1996.
Michael Moore in la-la land
Michael Moore: NRA ‘Doomed’ as Result of Newtown
Schlockumentary filmmaker and gun control advocate Michael Moore sure is feeling his oats in the wake of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.
On Friday he told the Huffington Post, “The NRA, they are doomed as a result of this.”
“I think this was a tipping point,” Moore said. “I think the mood of the country is not changed. People did not forget about this after Christmas.”
“In fact,” he continued, “after Christmas, when parents started taking their kids back to school and dropping them off in the morning, they couldn’t get this out of their heads.”
“That is the worst,” Moore added, “that’s the thing that, the NRA, they are doomed as a result of this, because every day now, every parent that drops their kid off at school or sends them out to the bus stop or whatever can’t help but think, you know, worry, ‘What if I don’t see my child later?’”
What’s funny is this same so-called news outlet reported earlier this month that since Newtown, the NRA has increased its membership by 250,000.
Not surprisingly, that fact didn’t come up during Moore’s interview.
Hillary’s Little Helpers
The cult of Clinton is alive and well.
The late Christopher Hitchens was one of Hillary Clinton’s most bullish critics. When Clinton was nominated to be secretary of state, he noted a chasm of opinion:
“It still divides us,” he said on Hardball,“as between those of us who think that a job must be found for Hillary Clinton, that the country would be somehow disgraced if she wasn’t in an important position, and those of us who could do without her.”
Hitchens’ main concern was that Clinton would use her leverage as secretary of state to benefit foreign friends and cronies. He was vindicated the next year when James Riady, the Indonesian businessman who’d been barred from the United States for illegal contributions to Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign, mysteriously obtained a waiver and returned to Arkansas. Say what you will about the Clintons, they don’t waste any time.
But Hitchens’ first point, that fealty to Hillary would divide us, was also prescient. That divide still exists today, albeit in a different form. In one camp are those who believe that Hillary should be judged on her merits and held accountable when necessary. In the other are those who admire her to the point of deification, who believe her critics are beneath her, and who scramble the fighter jets every time someone gives her a sour look.
American Idol Racism Row: Nine Black Rejects Sue Fox Show
Idol is at the centre of a racism row after nine black former contestants claimed that they were all forced off the show as part of a racist plan to boost ratings.
The singers, from various seasons, are preparing to take legal action against the hit talent show which they say “permanently and severely impaired” their personal and professional lives.
Hey it works for Obama…
Worth a Read:
Va. governor signals opposition to GOP lawmaker’s Electoral College scheme
Sarah Palin Parts Ways With FOX News
Saxby Chambliss, citing gridlock, to retire at end of term
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
The great mass of people … will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one. ~ Adolf Hitler