Thursday, April 30, 2009

Spinning dizzily:the Obama press conference on Chrysler Chapter 11 was unreal.

How many press conferences must we be subjected to? This one, to announce as a triumph, what was patently a failure to get an agreement in time, is divorced from reality except for blatant efforts to conform reality to Obama's preconceptions. Significantly, the President "predicted" a quick outcome of the bankruptcy process while actively demonizing at least one of the parties to a judicial proceeding. This is especially grievous since bankruptcy judges are not Article III Federal judges and DO NOT have life tenure ( being appointed for 14-year terms ). Thus, the President expressing his strong "opinion" that, for example, the bondholders in the Chrysler situation are unreasonable "speculators" might have unconscionable weight.
His description of the various players is, likewise, unduly favorable to some ( the unions have made concessions; Fiat is transferring "billions of dollars" worth of technology -- hardly marked to market--; Nardelli deserves credit for stepping down -- he was already working for nothing and hardly had a choice ). Obama further exhorted the purchase of "American" cars eliding over the point that it's not just assembly -- and the participation of UAW workers--that makes a car domestic but the percentage of domestic value-added and that isn't as different between brands as he would have us believe. Obama plays fast and loose with history in his speeches ( or, more likely, doesn't know and doesn't care ) when he put Chrysler in the earliest days of the American car industry. 1925 was NOT the beginning.

It's likely that his exhortations and announcement of special preferences violates free trade agreements entered into by the U.S. but he cares not. He predicts what the nature of consumer-desired cars will be without the slightest understanding except his desire to satisfy his environmentalist supporters. How many people does anyone know in the U.S. who drives a Fiat car? or wants one? My own recollection of American Fiats puts them in the Yugo category.If Chrysler was historically known for anything, it was its engineering, in preference to that of Fiat but now we are to believe that the situation is reversed. (Even fuel efficiency was the hallmark of the 1980s K-cars.) With the UAW owning much of Chrysler and about to own much of GM, what will be its posture at the bargaining table when it is on both sides of the table? Will either company be able to make a profit when so compromised? I've always favored "American" cars for patriotic reasons of solidarity and presently drive a Lincoln. In future, Chrysler and GM will be last among cars that I consider and suspect that I'll not be alone.

Age of the PR-Supported Phony; Don't pay the unsuccessful and don't praise them.

Incredible! A paean to Jeff Immelt, arguably the worst ( and certainly least successful ) CEO in GE's last hundred years. "Jeff Immelt and The New GE Way," by David Magee (McGraw Hill, $25.95) Reviewed by Scott Malone 4/30 (Reuters) - ... book follows Immelt, the son of a lifetime GE employee, from his first job -- a brief stint at Procter & Gamble Co (PG.N) where shared an office with now Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) CEO Steve Ballmer -- through the October 2008 early morning phone call when he persuaded a bathrobe-clad Warren Buffett to invest $3 billion of Berkshire Hathaway (BRKa.N)'s money in GE.***Begging, and offering an incredible deal to Buffett, is more like it. ***
...worst financial crisis in decades has given Immelt the chance to emerge fully from the shadow of his famous predecessor, who was a darling of Wall Street in the 1990s, Magee said...."All of a sudden you're not hearing so much about Jack Welch and everybody is turning their attention to find out, 'What do we have here? Let's look at this plan, let's look at how this company is being reshaped for the long term and the future.'" ****Incredible spin! Whatever Welch's contribution to GE's being built on financial sand, Immelt bears clear responsibility for the failings of recent years. **** ...adopted a different management style, including putting aside some of Welch's famous rules -- such as the desire to be No. 1 or No. 2 in a business or to exit it.****Change! But is it good? ****... gets Immelt most emotional is GE's beaten-down stock price, Magee said. GE shares ... have sharply underperformed the broader market over the past year. "It frustrates me," Magee quotes Immelt as saying. "It makes me angry, but you have to step back." ***Sure, reject the judgment of the market.***

British Midland Airways indulges alternate reality; expunges Israel from its map.
BMI - doing Mahmoud the Mad’s bidding?SnoopyTheGoon
BMI...provided today a...scoop...passengers flying from UK to Israel were surprised to see on their TV screens that the destination they considered to exist is no more. ...explanation...issued by BMI sounds as following: two new Airbus planes, purchased by BMI to cover flights to Arabic Middle East destinations, were provided a slightly modified maps by the manufacturer. To accommodate the specific tastes of the customers flying to these (unnamed) destinations. The planes in question weren’t intended to fly to Israel oversight...
conclusions follows: * Airbus (or its subcontractor)...different...realities) for different customers...BMI are going ensure the highest level of satisfaction...* Different realities for different people work!
***...only city that appears is Haifa, and this under its Arabic name...One hopes the PILOTS had correct land at Tel Aviv.***

And this is why Airbus caters to Arab purchasers ( UNBELIEVABLE ):

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Scary how history repeats itself

Chicago Tribune cartoon from 1934

Here is an editorial cartoon 75 years old! Seem familiar? Most all of us know what happened and how long it took to get things straightened out. Most of those in DC weren't even born then!
Look at this cartoon from 1934 and look especially carefully at the plan of action. Remember the adage, "Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it" Looks like we could be in for difficult times. Frightening. Could have been drawn yesterday.
What has changed?

Obama never read Sun-Tzu ( among other things he missed at Columbia )

Had he done so, he might weigh the consequences of making a warrior army desperate, with no way out.
A Brief Reminder About Purpose by Daniel Gordis, April 24, 2009
There's a certain look to a widow who's in her mid-twenties, whose husband was killed in Gaza in January. Eyes swollen with tears, yet with steely determination at the same time. A certain vulnerability on her still very young face, and a face that seems too old for her age, all at the same time. An image of pain and of unspeakable sadness, but not asking for pity. Was it just me, or was it clear that even in the midst of her unbearable burden, she knew full well that she - like the young husband who was taken from her far too early - is part of something much larger than she is? Is that why, looking at her, I had a sense of - more than anything else - strength?

I would have liked many more people to see her. President Obama, for example, as he prepares for another stab at Middle East peace-making. Hillary Clinton, who's now telling us to make peace lest we lose American support in the looming confrontation with Iran. All those Jews out there, beating their breasts, despondent that the Jewish state is so "un-Jewish" in its seeming unwillingness to make peace.

We hear all those people - of course we do. And as we do, we can't help but wonder if the world has begun to tire of us, to regret the decision that it made on November 29, 1947. (We know without doubt, for example, that were the UN to vote today, Israel would not be created.) Calls for Israel to negotiate with Hamas despite the latter's commitment to Israel's destruction, the poisonous environment of Durban II and the Obama administration's willingness to engage with Iran even as it continues to enrich uranium, all contribute to this sense.

So to all those who are wringing their hands about Israeli intransigence and inflexibility, on this eve of Israeli Independence Day, a brief word about nations, and states, and purpose. For without understanding purpose, there's no understanding Israel.

Israelis elected Ehud Barak in 1999 because he promised peace with the Palestinians. When Barak put the majority of the West Bank and even parts of Jerusalem on the table, most Israelis went along. The deal fell apart because Palestinians unleashed the Second Intifada. The majority of Israelis supported Ariel Sharon's decision to disengage from Gaza and to uproot all the Jewish communities there. They even elected Ehud Olmert in 2006, after he ran on a platform of further withdrawal from the West Bank. How did a country that has continually favored painful concessions for peace end up with Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman as Prime Minister and Foreign Minister respectively? It is that which Obama, Clinton and all the hand wringers must understand if they have any hope of being heard here.

To appreciate today's Israeli sentiment, all those people would do well to keep in mind two iconic photographs on which virtually every Israeli is raised. These images have come to represent two radically different eras - Jewish powerlessness under the Nazis, and Jews at the height of their power, when they captured the Old City of Jerusalem from the Jordanians.

The former period is represented in the minds of many Israelis by a black and white photograph of a Jewish boy, probably no older than nine or ten, dressed in his finest coat and hat, his black dress socks pulled up almost to his knees. He is the model of innocence, of European-Jewish financial and social success, and yet, he is pitiful - the very picture of vulnerability. His parents are not at his side, and no onlookers have come to comfort him. His hands raised high in surrender as a Nazi points a gun in his direction, the boy's fate depends entirely on the whim and will of his enemies. He might as well already be dead.

A very different image was taken at the Western Wall in the aftermath of the paratroopers' conquering of the Old City during the June 1967 Six Day War. This photo, by David Rubinger, is equally iconic. It, too, portrays Jews and soldiers - three, in fact. But now, the Jews and the soldiers are one and the same. No longer is the Jew the frightened boy looking away from the Nazi's gun somewhere in Europe. He is home, in Jerusalem, responsible for his own destiny.

Nothing in this image celebrates war. The soldiers' weapons are nowhere to be seen. Their helmets have been removed. The figure in the center ­is young, almost boyish. What captured the Jewish imagination was not the Jew as soldier, but image of a Jew whose existential condition had been entirely altered in the period between those two photos, all because of the creation of the Jewish state. The Jewish state, Zionism promised, would radically alter the condition of the Jew in the world. No longer would Jews live and die at the whim of others. No longer would our children's safety be dependent on what our enemies decided.

Today, Israelis are concerned that that has begun to change, that we are sliding inexorably back to the reality represented by the first image. For eight years, Palestinian rockets and mortars turned Israeli childhoods in Sderot and other cities into years of incessant fear. Thousands of Israeli children studied and slept - and some died - at the whim of Palestinian Kassam-launchers. And when Israel finally did respond, the world's outrage was instantaneous.

Now, Israelis wonder if the Americans have quietly resigned themselves to a nuclear Iran. If Israelis become convinced that that is the case, it will be not Netanyahu or Lieberman, but American policy, which will have caused Israeli intransigence. For an Iranian nuclear weapon, even were it never used, would reverse the change in the existential condition of the Jew that Israel made possible. Once Iran has nuclear capacity, every Israeli parent will put their children to bed at night knowing that once again, our survival and that of our children will depend not on what we do, but on what others decide our fate should be. An Iranian nuclear weapon would represent not only a failure of American deterrence, but the failure of the promise of Zionism, to create and sustain a Jewish state that could keep its citizens safe.

An international community committed to significant progress in the Israel-Arab conflict must first convince Israelis that we are not being abandoned, that the world is committed to the purpose for which Israel was created. Very few of us relish sending our sons and daughters off to war, to bear for life the scars of battle, or worse. We, too, would like nothing more than an end to this horrific conflict. Our voting record proves it.

But as we prepare to celebrate independence once again, one fact must remain clear: we will not end the conflict at all costs. That is what the international community must demonstrate it understands. For on this Erev Yom Ha-Atzma'ut, as on all the others, we, at least, know well what is at stake. Given the choice between sending our children off to fight yet again, or of returning to the world of that first photograph in which someone else will decide if we live and for how long, almost all of us will choose the former. ****Gordis is too civilized to point out that the ramifications of sending Israeli youth to fight yet again might have consequences reaching around the world and cause historians ( if there are any ) to ask, "What the hell did Obama think was going to happen?" ****

Abbas as a "moderate" is a sham; he's no better than Hamas whatever Clinton/Obama say.

Abbas Doesn’t Recognize Israel, Renounce Violence or Keep Past Agreements Either by Daled Amos April 29, 2009
The Obama administration has embarked on a path some feel may lead to recognition of Hamas. True, Hamas remains on the official list of terrorist groups: But the administration has asked Congress for minor changes in U.S. law that would permit aid to continue flowing to Palestinians in the unlikely event that Hamas-backed officials become part of a unified Palestinian government. Now whenever there is any hint of recognition of Hamas, the response is that any recognition would require that Hamas acquiesce on the big 3:
U.S. officials insist the proposal does not mean they would be recognizing or aiding Hamas. Under law, any U.S. aid would require that the Palestinian government meet three long-standing criteria: recognizing Israel, renouncing violence and agreeing to follow past Israeli-Palestinian agreements.
The question is–does the US require the same from the PA?

This week, Abbas came out with his refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state:

“A Jewish state, what is that supposed to mean?” Abbas asked in a speech in the West Bank’s political capital of Ramallah. “You can call yourselves as you like, but I don’t accept it and I say so publicly.”

He said it’s not his job to define the state of Israel. “Name yourself, it’s not my business,” He said. “All I know is that there is the state of Israel, in the borders of 1967, not one centimeter more, not one centimeter less. Anything else, I don’t accept.”
Now you could argue that Abbas is only refusing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state–in order not to mess the negotiations for the return of Palestinian Arabs to Israel. But Abbas has gone further than that.

Joel Mowbray wrote in March of last year that Abbas’s definition of simple recognition of Israel has also been dummied down:
“Defending his “recognition” of Israel on TV network Al-Arabiya in October 2006, he explained that it was more a practical reality than a meaningful political position. He cited as an example the need for the PA to get $500 million from Israel: “The Palestinian finance minister has to come to an agreement with the Israeli finance minister about the transfer of the money. So how can he make an agreement with him if [the PA finance minister] does not recognize him? So I do not demand of Hamas nor any other to recognize Israel. But from the government that works with Israelis in day to day life, yes.””

This is not the kind of minimal recognition that one expects of a peace partner; it is the cynical kind of recognition that is the minimum necessary to get the money. Of course, the fact that Abbas himself would not require Hamas to recognize Israel makes the US claim that they would require Hamas to recognize Israel somewhat less than meaningful. But that is what Obama’s promise to look out for Israel’s security has become– Less than meaningful.
Note: Come to think of it, what about the other 2 requirements: renouncing violence and agreeing to follow past Israeli-Palestinian agreements.
When is the last time that Abbas renounced violence against Israel? What we get instead, according to Mowbray’s article:

Appearing much less careful than when speaking in English, ****Following in the --Koran-endorsed --prevaricating tradition employed by Arafat, who typically said one conciliatory thing in English while denying it vehemently in Arabic, ****Mr. Abbas last week told the Arabic-language Al-Dastur, 'I was honored to be the one to shoot the first bullet in 1965', the year his organization, Fatah, initiated terrorism against Israel. (Transcript provided by PMW.) The renowned moderate Palestinian leader then explained his pride in having taught resistance to many in this area and around the world … including Hezbollah, who were trained in [PLO] camps. ****Strangely, Abbas admits that Fatah started its terrorism years BEFORE the supposed watershed event of June 1967. Why then go to the pre-1967 ANYTHING? ****

As far as keeping past agreements, phase one of the Road Map requires “Issue unequivocal statement affirming Israel’s right to exist in peace and security.” Abbas’s comments about Israel not being a Jewish state–and his watered down version of what recognition means–run counter to that. Then of course there is Abbas’s refusal to disarm terrorist groups, stop attacks against Israel, and use force to confront terrorism–remember that the Kassam rockets did not suddenly begin when Abbas was kicked out of Gaza. So the question really is: if recognition of Hamas is based on recognizing Israel, renouncing violence and agreeing to follow past Israeli-Palestinian agreements–what is recognition of (and aid to) Abbas and the Palestinian Authority based on?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Arekat's attempted distortion notwithstanding, the record on Truman is revealed by Clifford and Holbrooke.
President Truman's Decision to Recognize Israel
Clark Clifford with Richard Holbrooke

* President Truman regarded his Secretary of State, General of the Army George C. Marshall, as "the greatest living American." Yet the two men were on a collision course over Mideast policy. Marshall firmly opposed American recognition of the new Jewish state.
* Officials in the State Department had done every­thing in their power to prevent, thwart, or delay the President's Palestine policy in 1947 and 1948. Watching them find various ways to avoid carrying out White House instructions, I sometimes felt they preferred to follow the views of the British Foreign Office rather than those of their President.
* At a meeting in the Oval Office on May 12, 1948, I argued: "In an area as unstable as the Middle East, where there is not now and never has been any tradition of democratic govern­ment, it is important for the long-range security of our country, and indeed the world, that a nation committed to the democratic system be established there, one on which we can rely. The new Jewish state can be such a place. We should strengthen it in its infancy by prompt recognition."
* Since at the time a significant number of Jewish Americans opposed Zionism, neither the President nor I believed that Palestine was the key to the Jewish vote. As I had written in 1947, the key to the Jewish vote in 1948 would not be the Palestine issue, but a continued commitment to liberal political and economic policies.
* The charge that domestic politics determined our policy on Palestine angered President Truman for the rest of his life. In fact, the President's policy rested on the realities of the situation in the region, on America's moral, ethical, and humanitarian values, on the costs and risks inherent in any other course, and on America's national interests.

To commemorate Israel's 60th anniversary, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs is publishing excerpts from "Showdown in the Oval Office," the first chapter of Counsel to the President, the memoirs of Clark Clifford with Richard Holbrooke, published in 1991, that describes in detail the drama in Washington surrounding the Truman administration's then-controversial decision to recognize Israel. This text is being reproduced with the permission of Ambassador Holbrooke....

Abbas refuses to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state.

The PA endeavored to produce a legalistic argument that is, in any event, a total distortion. How thin a reed to rely on and how transparently tricky these folks are!

Abbas Rejects Calling Israel a Jewish State - Isabel Kershner
PA leader Mahmoud Abbas on Monday dismissed a demand by Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Palestinian negotiators have long refused to recognize Israel's Jewish character. In an attempt to bolster the Palestinian argument, Saeb Erekat, a senior Abbas aide and veteran negotiator, on Monday produced a copy of a letter signed by President Harry S Truman on May 14, 1948. In its original form, it recognizes the provisional government of the new Jewish state, but the typed words "Jewish state" in the second paragraph have been crossed out and replaced with the handwritten "State of Israel."
Shlomo Avineri, a professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said Erekat was misinterpreting the American president's intention. The Truman letter had been prepared hours before Israel declared its independence, before the new country had chosen its name. It was later corrected by a Truman adviser, Clark M. Clifford, after the declaration of independence in order to call the country by its name, not to deny its Jewish character. (New York Times)
****It's hard to believe that Erekat was not DELIBERATELY misrepresenting the historical record, not merely misinterpreting it. Can one trust such people? On the other hand, they have invariably, over many years, given affirmative reasons to DISTRUST them. And Clinton/Obama want to push through a "two-state" situation without clearing up this nonsense? It must be very hard to be diplomatic. ****
The current administration that is so persistent on the need to honor "past agreeemnts" seems to ignore unwavering support by past Presidents and both Houses of Congress for reconstructing the JEWISH national home in Palestine:
U.S. Resolution 322 June 30, 1922 "...irrevocable right of Jews to settle in ...Palestine--anywhere between the Jordan and ...Mediterranean.
President Woodrow Wilson March 3, 1919: "...the Allied nations, with ...our own government and people, ...agreed Palestine shall be laid ...a Jewish Commonwealth.
President Warren G. Harding September 21, 1922: Signed Lodge-Fish joint resolution ...establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
President Calvin Coolidge March 2, 1925 (after Senate ratified February 20, 1925: "...the U.S. ...recognized and confirmed the irrevocable right of Jews to settle in ...Palestine--anywhere between the Jordan... and the Mediterranean..."
U.S. Congressional Record 9801 (1922) : "Palestine of today...believe in the necessity of reestablishing the Jewish land...something prophetic ...that during the ages no other national has taken over Palestine and helt it in the sense of a homeland; and ...for 1800 years it has remained in desolution as if waiting the return of its people."

During the Lincoln-Douglas debates one spoke ex tempore for 1 hour, the next for 1 1/2 hours and back to the first for 1/2 an hour.

The speeches were taken down in short-hand but were improvised on the stump and delivered without even notes. Contrast that with our teleprompter-bound President.
Nevertheless, he seems to be talking on TV all the time. Subtract the 1 1/2 hours a day he plays basketball, and the meetings of any bureaucracy, and one wonders when he has time to think. Perhaps he did his lifetime's worth of thinking when he was younger and merely keeps rehashing his sophomoric musings. Too bad; most of us were socialists before we were 20 but gave it up by 40, but that presupposes a continuing pace of thought. Teleprompter follies Teleprompter follies Barack bows to the Guardian of the Two Shrines Comparison of bows: Queen of England and King of Saudia

Obama tries to convince Arabs that appeasing Iran is "OK."
What Israel's Arab neighbors grasp that the Obama administration won't By Caroline B. Glick
You can't help but get a funny feeling when you see the Arabs defending Israel from American criticism. But with the Obama administration's Middle East policy firmly grounded in La La Land, what choice do they have?
...strange...when Egypt and Jordan...defend Israel against American criticism.... Clinton told the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee that Arab support for Israel's bid to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is contingent on its agreeing to support the rapid establishment of a Palestinian state. In her words, "For Israel to get the kind of strong support it's looking for vis-a-vis Iran, it can't stay on the sidelines with respect to the Palestinians and the peace efforts." As far as Clinton is concerned, the two, "go hand-in-hand."
But... Jordan's King Abdullah II was telling The Washington Post that he is satisfied with... Netanyahu...on the Palestinians.... Netanyahu has "sent a message that he's committed to peace with the Arabs. All the words I heard were the right words."
...last week's visit by Egypt's intelligence chief Omar Suleiman...demonstrated that Egypt wishes to work with the government on a whole host of issues. ... Suleiman's visit was a clear sign...Egypt ... keen neutralize Iranian power... preventing it from acquiring nuclear weapons... not alone in supporting Israel's commitment... leaders of the Gulf states from Bahrain - which Iran refers to as its 14th province - to Saudi Arabia to Kuwait and, of course, to Iraq - are praying for Israel to strike Iran's nuclear facilities... "As far as the Gulf leaders are concerned, Israel cannot attack Iran fast enough. They understand what the stakes are."... nature of those stakes has clearly eluded the Obama administration. As the Arabs line up behind Israel, the Obama administration ...under the delusion .. Iranians will...give up ...nuclear program if Israel destroys its communities in Judea and Samaria....Obama's in-house post-Zionist...Rahm Emmanuel, told... that for Israel to for preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear... it must not only say that it supports...a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and Gaza, it must begin expelling its citizens from their Judea and Samaria to prove its good faith....the Obama administration's...obsession with Judea and Samaria tells us...its Middle East policies are based on a willful denial of reality.
...the Middle East will be a very different place if Iran becomes a nuclear power... opponents of using military force to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons compare ... what the region could look like... after... an Israeli campaign against Iran's nuclear installations....warn that Hizbullah and Hamas may launch massive retaliatory missile attacks against Israel, Egypt, Jordan ... US military personnel ...likely be...attacked by Iranian and Syrian proxies.... deployment of terror proxies from Beirut to Bolivia, from Managua to Marseilles, and from Gaza to Giza ... things could get very ugly worldwide ...
But...ugliness, all of that instability and death will look like a walk in the park compared to ... the world - will look if Iran becomes a nuclear power. This is something that the Arabs understand.. why they support... an Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear installations.... Iran's current control over Palestinian terror groups suffices to expose the Obama administration's plan to force misguided...Iran calling the shots for the Palestinians,...any land Israel vacates will fall under Iranian control. ...every concession the US forces Israel ...redound directly to Iran's benefit. ...Netanyahu's claim ...impossible to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians without first neutralizing Iran....... nuclear-armed Iran means that any chance of marginalizing these Iranian-controlled forces in Palestinian society will disappear. ... best case...continuous war with Iranian proxies ...little option for victory... terror armies would fight under Iran's nuclear umbrella...nuclear-armed Iran would...compel both Egypt and Jordan to abrogate their peace treaties with Israel. ...exposure... Iranian sabotage ring in Egypt last week... Iran seeks to ...overthrow or dominate the Arab world...Iran becomes a nuclear..., roundups of Iranian agents... inconceivable. Iranian agents...given free reign...regionally and worldwide.
For Israel, abrogation of ...treaties with Egypt and Jordan ... raise the danger of regional war...all-time high. Goaded by Iran, ... Egypt and Jordan may well be made to decide that the time has come to invade Israel again...
scenarios, ... favorably to the worst case scenarios...nuclear-armed Iran ... detonate its nuclear bombs over Israel,... an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack or ...a direct nuclear strike. An EMP attack...rendering the population defenseless...a direct nuclear strike... likely kill between 50,000 and several million Israelis...
...a nuclear-armed Iran would ... take over the world's oil markets....Saudi Arabia's main oil ... in ... Shi'ite eastern provinces,...threaten to destroy Saudi oil installations... Iran's strategic alliance with Venezuela,... controls Saudi oil fields... would...become the undisputed ruler of the oil economy.
...Europe would put up no resistance... much of Europe already within range of Iran's ballistic missiles, with Iranian-controlled terror cells...dependent on Persian Gulf oil, ... little doubt of ...its foreign policy would take in the event that Iran becomes... nuclear.... economic sanctions would disappear as European energy giants lined up to develop Iranian gas fields, and European banks clamored to finance the projects...
Israel...destroyed, ... Arab world and Europe bowing before the mullahs,... much of Central and South America fully integrated into the Iranian axis, America would ... find itself at greater risk of economic destruction and catastrophic attack than at any time in its history since the War of 1812. An EMP attack ...could... send the US back to the pre-industrial age... Iranian controlled oil economy, financed by euros, would...displace the dollar and the US the backbone of the global economy. ...US's military options - particularly given Obama's stated intention to all but end US missile defense programs and scrap much of its already aging nuclear arsenal - would be more apparent than real.
... Clinton's statements before Congress, Emanuel's statements... Obama's unremitting pandering... make clear...none ... has made a dent in the administration's thinking. ... Obama White House ... Iran will be talked out of its plans for regional and global domination the minute that Israel agrees to give its land to the Palestinians. evidence... support this assertion...
... Washington Post...claimed...Obama will not publish...policy on Iran until after he meets with Netanyahu...during that meeting...Obama will... convince Netanyahu that there is no reason to attack Iran...
that Obama could even raise such...shows that his arguments are based on a denial of the danger a nuclear Iran...
... funny feeling when you see the Arabs defending Israel from American criticism. ...Obama administration's Middle East policy firmly grounded in La La Land, what choice do they have? They understand that today all that stands between them and enslavement to the mullahs is the Israel Air Force and Binyamin Netanyahu's courage.
A likely Obama speech on the destruction of Israel:
Appeasement: Déjà vu All Over Again By Elliot Chodoff
Some thoughts as Israel commemorates her fallen today on Memorial Day and prepares to celebrate her 61st Independence Day that begins tonight at sundown.It remains clear that after six decades of independence, the Jewish State still exists in a world with many who would deny its right to be. Iran and friends, terrorist organizations worldwide, and NGOs from the “enlightened” West join local Palestinians in the hope that Israel can be eradicated by means of a strategy of weakening, undermining, and ultimately eliminating the Jewish People’s homeland in the Land of Israel.

In a bit of macabre fantasy, we have composed a hypothetical address to Congress by a hypothetical American president sometime in the future. He has just imposed an agreement on Israel, for her own good (of course), to guarantee the future of peace in the Middle East and the world:

“Before I come to describe the Agreement which was signed at Tehran in the small hours of Friday morning last, I would like to comment on two things which I think it very essential not to forget when those terms are being considered. The first is this: We did not go there to decide whether the predominantly Palestinian areas in the West Bank should be passed over to the Palestinian Authority. That had been decided already. Israel had accepted the American proposals. What we had to consider was the method, the conditions and the time of the transfer of the territory. The second point to remember is that time was one of the essential factors. All the elements were present on the spot for the outbreak of a conflict which might have precipitated the catastrophe. We had populations inflamed to a high degree; we had extremists on both sides ready to work up and provoke incidents; we had considerable quantities of arms which were by no means confined to regularly organized forces. Therefore, it was essential that we should quickly reach a conclusion, so that this painful and difficult operation of transfer might be carried out at the earliest possible moment and concluded as soon as was consistent, with orderly procedure, in order that we might avoid the possibility of something that might have rendered all our attempts at peaceful solution useless.

To those who dislike an ultimatum, but who were anxious for a reasonable and orderly procedure, every one of [the] modifications [of the Oslo Accords by the Tehran Agreement] is a step in the right direction. It is no longer an ultimatum, but is a method which is carried out largely under the supervision of an international body.

Before giving a verdict upon this arrangement, we should do well to avoid describing it as a personal or a national triumph for anyone. The real triumph is that it has shown that representatives of great nations can find it possible to agree on a way of carrying out a difficult and delicate operation by discussion instead of by force of arms, and thereby they have averted a catastrophe which would have ended civilization as we have known it.

The relief that our escape from this great peril of war has, I think, everywhere been mingled in this country with a profound feeling of sympathy. We must feel profound sympathy for a small and gallant nation in the hour of their national grief and loss. I say in the name of the people of this country that Israel has earned our admiration and respect for her restraint, for her dignity, for her magnificent discipline in face of such a trial as few nations have ever been called upon to meet.

The Israei Army, whose courage no man has ever questioned, has obeyed the order of their prime minister, as they would equally have obeyed him if he had told them to march into battle. It is my hope and my belief, that under the new system of guarantees, the new Israel will find a greater security than she has ever enjoyed in the past.

I pass from that subject, and I would like to say a few words in respect of the various other participants, besides ourselves, in the Tehran Agreement. After everything that has been said about the Iranian president today and in the past, I do feel that we ought to recognize the difficulty for a man in that position to take back such emphatic declarations as he had already made amidst the enthusiastic cheers of his supporters, and to recognize that in consenting, even though it were only at the last moment, to discuss with the representatives of other states those things which he had declared he had already decided once for all, was a real and a substantial contribution on his part. With regard to Mr. Abbas, I think that United States and the world have reason to be grateful to the head of the Palestinian government for his work in contributing to a peaceful solution.

In my view the strongest force of all, one which grew and took fresh shapes and forms every day was, the force not of any one individual, but was that unmistakable sense of unanimity among the peoples of the world that war must somehow be averted. The peoples of the United States were at one with those of Iran and others in the Middle East, and their anxiety, their intense desire for peace, pervaded the whole atmosphere of the conference, and I believe that that, and not threats, made possible the concessions that were made. I know you all will want to hear that throughout these discussions the governments of our allies have been kept in the closest touch with the march of events, and I would like to say how greatly I was encouraged on each of the journeys I made to Iran by the knowledge that I went with the good wishes of our allies. They shared all our anxieties and all our hopes. They rejoiced with us that peace was preserved, and with us they look forward to further efforts to consolidate what has been done.

Ever since I assumed my present office my main purpose has been to work for the pacification of the Middle East, for the removal of those suspicions and those animosities which have so long poisoned the air. The path which leads to appeasement is long and bristles with obstacles. The question of Israel is the latest and perhaps the most dangerous. Now that we have got past it, I feel that it may be possible to make further progress along the road to sanity.”
Impossible? For those who do not recognize the speech, it was the one given by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to the British Parliament on October 3, 1938, upon his return from Munich, having signed an agreement with Adolf Hitler to cede Czech Sudetenland to Germany. (The Czech leadership was not invited to participate in the negotiations.) Names have been changed to bring it up to date, and some sentences deleted, but otherwise it is presented verbatim. (Partial key: Germany = Iran; Czechoslovakia = Israel; Dominions = Allies; British Empire = United States).
Historical postscript: Germany overran the rest of Czechoslovakia five months later, in March 1939, and invaded Poland, triggering WWII, on September 1, 1939. The agreement that was meant to bring “Peace for our time,” as Chamberlain declared, ushered in the most destructive war in history in less than a year.
Israel is certainly not Czechoslovakia, but there are those who seem to be intent on having the Jewish State play that role in modern history. It can only be hoped that world and local leaders have learned the lessons of history – since as George Santayana so aptly put it over a century ago “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Monday, April 27, 2009

What religion, what culture can spawn an ax murder of a child?

Cleared for publication: Bat Ayin terrorist arrested
West Bank resident, 26, admits to attacking and killing 13-year-old boy at Gush Etzion settlement in early April, says he carried out attack for religious reasons, wanted to die as a 'shahid'. Victim's brother: It's a shame murderer is still alive
The terrorist who murdered 13-year-old Shlomo Nativ at the Gush Etzion settlement of Bat Ayin was arrested two weeks ago by the Shin Bet, the Israel Defense Forces and the Border Guard, it was cleared for publication Sunday.
Nativ was murdered in the attack after being hit with an axe by a terrorist who infiltrated the community, and a seven-year-old boy was lightly injured. Following the attack, the IDF launched an extensive search in the area and asked all residents to remain in their homes.
Sadly, the Gush Etzion area was the scene of a famous massacre in 1948.
The Israeli histories of the Kfar Etzion massacre (such as Levi, 1986, Isseroff, 2005) note that the defenders had put out the white flag and lined up to surrender in front of the school building of the German monastery. There were 133 people there. After they were photographed by a man in a kaffiyeh, an armored car apparently belonging to the Jordanian legion opened fire with its machine gun, and then Arab irregulars joined in. A group of defenders managed to crawl into the cellar of the monastery, where they defended themselves until a large number of grenades were thrown into the cellar. The building was then blown up and collapsed on them. According to this reckoning, about 129 persons were murdered.Only three of the remaining Kfar Etzion residents and one Palmach member survived.

Obama's intelligence is highly over-rated; worse is that he doesn't know it.

Does President Obama understand economics? This passage, from a Friday speech on higher education, suggests not:

"And yet, in a paradox of American life, at the very moment it's never been more important to have a quality higher education, the cost of that kind of education has never been higher."

Something that is more valuable than ever is also more costly than ever? That isn't a paradox, it's a tautology!
Barack Obama and 'Profit and Earnings Ratios'Posted by Tom Elia in Satire
The other day, in talking about the declining stock market, President Obama said: (emphasis added)
"... what you're now seeing is profit and earning ratios are starting to get to the point where buying stocks is a potentially good deal if you've got a long-term perspective on it."
The problem with this statement is that, up until now, there has never been anything called a 'profit and earnings ratio.'
The president's defenders argue that he simply misspoke, and meant to refer to 'price-to-earnings ratios,' while Obama's detractors argue that this statement simply shows the president's inexperience and lack of knowledge about the stock market.
I think both of the explanations are wrong. When President Obama spoke of 'profit and earnings ratios,' he wasn't misspeaking and he wasn't showing his ignorance of the market. Instead, he was inventing a new stock-market measurement, proving to all who will bother to listen that he is a trendsetter and all about 'change.'
Divide profit by earnings and what do you get? More proof that Barack Obama is the one.
Time to pray for Obama: remember that Biden is next in line and then comes ...Pelosi.
According to alarming reports from Mexico City, Felipe Solis, a distinguished archaeologist who showed Mr Obama around the city's anthropology museum during his visit to Mexico earlier this month, died the next day from "flu-like symptoms".
Mr Solis met the President at a gala dinner which was held at the museum on 16 April, before Mr Obama travelled on to the Americas summit in Trinidad and Tobago. Yesterday, the museum was shut, in common with most public attractions in Mexico City, and the nation's Health Minister confirmed that Mr Solis had died of pneumonia – but that it was not thought he had contracted swine flu. In the US, the White House said that the President's doctors had given him an all-clear. Mr Obama showed no symptoms after the usual incubation period, his spokesman said.

The blind rolling the blind, with the force of government

Busting Bank of America
A case study in how to spread systemic financial risk. * APRIL 27, 2009
The cavalier use of brute government force... story of how Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke forced CEO Ken Lewis to blow up Bank of America is still shocking. It's a case study in the ways that panicky regulators have so often botched the bailout and made the financial crisis worse.
... they all but ordered him to deceive his own shareholders. And ...they have so mistreated Bank of America that bank executives everywhere have concluded that neither Treasury nor the Federal Reserve can be December Mr. Paulson threatened him not to cancel a deal to buy Merrill Lynch. BofA had discovered billions of dollars in undisclosed Merrill losses, and Mr. Lewis was considering invoking his kill the merger. But Washington decided...BofA had to risk its own solvency to save it. ...Paulson, who says he was acting at the direction of Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke, told Mr. Lewis that the feds would fire him and his board if they didn't complete the deal.****Since when does Treasury work for the Federal Reserve System? ***... the government would provide cash from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to help BofA swallow Merrill. But... Paulson and Bernanke rejected Mr. Lewis's request to get their commitment in writing."We do not want a disclosable event," ...Mr. Paulson told him. "We do not want a public disclosure." ... Lewis executed the Paulson-Bernanke order without informing his shareholders...merger closed on January 1. ...wait weeks to learn that the government had invested another $20 billion plus loan portfolio insurance in BofA, and that Merrill had lost a staggering $15 billion in the last three months of 2008....second time in three months that Washington had forced Bank of America to take federal money....But it is the Merrill deal ...transaction fundamentally increased systemic risk.... feds spread the risk to one of the country's largest deposit-taking banks.... should have made the public case for it....make sure that their Merrill "rescuer" of choice -- BofA -- had the capacity to bear the losses. Instead they transplanted the Merrill risk to BofA shareholders, the bank's depositors and the taxpayers... And then they had to bail out BofA too....also undermined the transparency that is a vital source of investor confidence. Disclosure the foundation of the American regulatory system and a reason investors have long sought to keep their money within U.S. borders....Mr. Paulson ...also kept former SEC Chairman Christopher Cox out of the loop while forcing BofA to rescue Merrill. Mr. Cox wasn't the only one.... Minutes of the meeting show no mention of BofA or Merrill....Let's hope they treated their government colleagues better than they've treated Ken Lewis, whom they hung out to dry.... no banker in his right mind trusts the Fed or Treasury, and no wonder nobody but Pimco and other Treasury favorites i... Washington has been complicit every step of the way, from the Fed's easy money to the nurturing of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and since last autumn with regulatory and Congressional panic that is making financial repair that much harder. The men who nearly ruined Bank of America have some explaining to do.

More on immigration from Gov. Dick Lamm: On destroying the nation.

American Suicide...................Very sobering
...Dick Lamm... former Governor of Colorado . ... Last week there was an immigration overpopulation conference in Washington , DC , filled to capacity by many of America 's finest minds and leaders. ...Victor Hansen Davis talked about his latest book, 'Mexifornia,' explaining how immigration - both legal and illegal- was destroying the entire state of California . He said it would march across the country until it destroyed all vestiges of The American Dream.

Moments later, former Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm stood up and gave a stunning speech on how to destroy America
The audience sat spellbound as he described eight methods for the destruction of the United States.
He said, 'If you believe that America is too smug, too self-satisfied, too rich, then let's destroy America . It is not that hard to do. No nation in history has survived the ravages of time. Arnold Toynbee observed that all great civilizations rise and fall and that 'An autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit suicide.'' ****Now, who might think that America is too smug ("arrogant", perhaps ), too rich( a "mean country",perhaps ), too self-satisfied ( perhaps happy with guns, religion and xenophobia )? *** 'Here is how they do it,' Lamm said:

'First, to destroy America , turn America into a bilingual or multi-lingual and bicultural country. History shows that no nation can survive the tension, conflict, and antagonism of two or more competing languages and cultures. It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; however, it is a curse for a society to be bilingual. The historical scholar, Seymour Lipset, put itis way: 'The histories of bilingual and bicultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension, and tragedy.' Canada , Belgium , Malaysia , and Lebanon all face crises of national e xistence in which minorities press for autonomy , if not independence. Pakistan and Cyprus have divided. Nigeria suppressed an ethnic rebellion. France faces difficulties with Basques, Bretons, Corsicans and Muslims.' ***Lots of countries are having difficulties with Muslims: the U.K., Holland, Sweden...****Lamm went on:

'Second, to destroy America , invent 'multiculturalism' and encourage immigrants to maintain their culture. Make it an article of belief that all cultures are equal; that there are no cultural differences. Make it an article of faith that the Black and Hispanic dropout rates are due solely to prejudice and discrimination by the majority. Every other explanation is out of bounds.

'Third, we could make the United States an 'Hispanic Quebec ' without much effort. The key is to celebrate diversity rather than unity. As Benjamin Schwarz said in the Atlantic Monthly recently: 'The apparent success of our own multi-ethnic and multicultural experiment might have been achieved not by tolerance but by hegemony. Without the dominance that once dictated ethnocentriy and what it meant to be an American, we are left with only tolerance and pluralism to hold us together.' Lamm said, 'I would encourage all immigrants to keep their own language and culture. I would replace the melting pot metaphor with the salad bowl metaphor. It is important to ensure that we have various cultural subgroups living in America enforcing their differences rather than as Americans, emphasizing their similarities.'

'Fourth, I would make our fastest growing demographic group the least educated. I would add a second underclass, unassimilated, undereducated, and antagonistic to our population. I would have this second underclass have a 50% dropout rate from high school.'

'My fifth point for destroying America would be to get big foundations and business to give these efforts lots of money. I would invest in ethnic identity, and I would establish the cult of 'Victimology.' I would get all minorities to think that their lack of success was the fault of the majority. I would start a grievance industry blaming all minority failure on the majority.'

'My sixth plan for America 's downfall would include dual citizenship, and promote divided loyalties. I would celebrate diversity over unity. I would stress differences rather than similarities. Diverse people worldwide are mostly engaged in hating each other - that is, when they are not killing each other. A diverse, peaceful, or stable society is against most historical precet. People undervalue the unit y it takes to keep a nation together. Look at the ancient Greeks. The Greeks believed that they belonged to the same race; they possessed a common language and literature; and they worshipped the same gods. All Greece took part in the Olympic games.. A common enemy, Persia , threatened their liberty. Yet all these bonds were not strong enough to overcome two factors: local patriotism and geographical conditions that nurtured political divisions. Greece fell. 'E. Pluribus Unum' -- From many, one. In that historical reality, if we put the emphasis on the 'pluribus' instead of the 'Unum,' we will 'Balkanize' America as surely as Kosovo.' ****Al Gore in 2000 actually misconstrued e pluribus unum as meaning from one to many, extolling diversity as he was wont to do. ***

'Next to last, I would place all subjects off limits. Make it taboo to talk about anything against the cult of 'diversity.' I would find a word similar to 'heretic' in the 16th century - that stopped discussion and paralyzed thinking. Words like 'racist' or 'xenophobe' halt discussion and debate. Having made America a bilingual/bicultural country, having established multi-culturism, having the large foundations fund the doctrine of 'Victimology,' I would next make it impossible to enforce our immigration laws. I would develop a mantra: That because immigration has been good for America , it must always be good. I would regard every individual immigrant the same and ignore the cumulative impact of millions of them.'

In the last minute of his speech, Governor Lamm wiped his brow. Profound silence followed. Finally he said, 'Lastly, I would censor Victor Hanson Davis's book 'Mexifornia.' His book is dangerous. It exposes the plan to destroy America . If you feel America deserves to be destroyed, don't read that book.' ****Hmm. "America deserves to be destroyed?" Is that the same as "God damn America"?? ****

There was no applause. A chilling fear quietly rose like an ominous cloud above every attendee at the conference. Every American in that room knew that everything Lamm enumerated was proceeding methodically, quietly, darkly, yet pervasively across the United States today. Discussion is being suppressed. Over 100 languages are ripping the foundation of our educational system and national cohesiveness. Even barbaric cultures that practice female genital mutilation are growing as we celebrate 'diversity.' American jobs are vanishing into the Third World as corporations create a Third World in America. Take note of California and other states. To date, ten million illegal aliens and growing fast. It is reminiscent of George Orwell's book '1984.' In that story, three slogans are engraved on the Ministry of Truth building: 'War is peace,' 'Freedom is slavery,' and 'Ignorance is strength.'

Governor Lamm walked back to his seat. It dawned on everyone at the conference that our nation and the future of this great democracy is deeply in trouble and worsening fast. If we don't get this immigration monster stopped within three years, it will rage like a California wildfire and destroy everything in its path, especially The American Dream.

When a Congressman like Mark Kirk stands out from his peers by making sense, he INVARIABLY makes sense.Obama and Hillary, however, do not.

Is U.S. Changing Stance on Hamas Funding? - Paul Richter
The new U.S. administration has opened the door, if only slightly, to engagement with the militant group Hamas. The Palestinian group is designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization and under law may not receive federal aid. But the administration has asked Congress for minor changes in U.S. law that would permit aid to continue flowing to Palestinians in the unlikely event that Hamas-backed officials become part of a unified Palestinian government. The proposal is akin to agreeing to support a government that "only has a few Nazis in it," Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week.
U.S. officials insist the proposal does not mean they would be recognizing or aiding Hamas. Under law, any U.S. aid would require that the Palestinian government recognize Israel, renounce violence, and agree to follow past Israeli-Palestinian agreements. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said the proposal sounded "completely unworkable." (Chicago Tribune)
****If Hillary had to be told this by Mark Kirk ( one of the very few counter-examples to Illinois' justified reputation for bad public officials ), she's either devoid of principles or sense ( although "both" is a possibility.) ***
Is the US preparing to sell out to Hamas? Monday, April 27, 2009 Ami Isseroff
The US government ...loosen restrictions on aid money so it can aid... the Hamas terrorist group. Israeli consternation was met by...doubletalk:... Obama administration has asked Congress to amend U.S. law to enable the Palestinian Authority to receive federal aid even if Hamas joins a unity coalition....Hamas, ...deemed a terrorist organization...cannot not legally receive U.S. government aid... Washington said there would be no change in policy, only a change in the language used... Hamas insists that their mission is to murder all the Jews, who are guilty, among other crimes, of starting the French Revolution and the Soviet Revolution. Hamas seized power from Fatah ... taking from Fatah all the US military equipment...Aid money to Hamas would be used to entrench their rule ...import weapons. The US had promised that no aid voted for reconstruction of Gaza would go to the Palestinians unless and until Hamas changed its ways. ... What does it mean: "A change in language, but not a change in policy?"... Abbas said that the organizations that compose a unity government do not have to accept the principles of that government - such as recognition of Israel. Alluding to the dispute over whether the Palestinian government should recognize Israel and abide by past Palestinian agreements, Abbas noted that "forces don't need to accept what the government accepts, and we say that the government has to accept the international legitimacy."***This is gibberish but evidently acceptable to Obama/Hillary, who are bilingual and speak gibberish.****


A good justification for high-end immigration and then a non sequitur.
We Need an Immigration Stimulus WSJ By L. GORDON CROVITZ * APRIL 27, 2009
A recession is exactly when we want innovative outsiders.
At the dawn ...Which brings us to our...era, and the debate on immigration reform ...skeptical about immigration reform, given the alliance between nativists and labor unions for tighter borders. Still, an economic downturn is the right time to move on immigration, one of the few policy tools that could clearly boost growth.... lower-skilled migration has slowed due to higher unemployment.... could make it less contentious to ease the path to legalization for the 12 million undocumented workers... It's also a good time to ask why we turn away skilled workers, including the ones earning 60% of the advanced degrees in engineering at U.S. universities....Immigrants have had a disproportionate role in innovation and technology. Companies founded by immigrants include Yahoo, eBay and Google. Half of Silicon Valley start-ups were founded by immigrants, up from 25% a decade ago. Some 40% of patents in the U.S. are awarded to immigrants. A recent study by the Kauffman Foundation found that immigrants are 50% likelier to start businesses than natives. Immigrant-founded technology firms employ 450,000 workers in the U.S. And according to the National Venture Capital Association, immigrants have started one quarter of all U.S. venture-backed firms. ****It's hard to see how one can later conflate unskilled workers with this group, clearly HIGH-SKILLED. ****... saddled with new hurdles to get visas for skilled workers. The wait for H-1B visas for skilled people from countries such as China and India is now more than five years, with only 65,000 visas granted annually among 600,000 applications. But countries such as Canada and Singapore actively recruit technologists and scientists.... instead of sending the half million higher-education students from overseas home when they graduate, we should "staple a green card to their diplomas."...New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg ... launched a business-plan competition targeting business and engineering students...
There's a strong case that we need both more skilled and unskilled immigrants...****NO!! If there is a case for "both", it certainly has NOT been made here ( or anywhere else. ) ****...Much of this activity is being done by foreigners who want to become economically successful Americans. This makes more open immigration one of the few stimulus packages Washington can deliver with confidence that it would help. ****Open immigration should be restricted to high-skilled workers as below. After making a compelling case for increasing immigration of skilled workers, the author blithely adds the non sequitur "There's a strong case that we need both more skilled and unskilled immigrants." This extension to unskilled immigrants is done without the slightest justification. In fact, bringing in H1-B types is so unexceptionable it should be expanded without limit but bringing in low-skill (or worse, unskilled), and hence low-productivity, workers is not good for the economy or the country. ( The article certainly does NOT present an argument for legalizing the present illegal, largely unskilled, populaton.)
A prime measure of the standard-of-living is the GNP per capita which means the productivity per capita. As an example, even U.S. agriculture is not internationally competitive because of the availability of stoop labor: it is because of innovation and the capital and technological intensivity of American industry. That can be enhanced by bringing in immigrants who are inventive and entrepreneurial and who add to the average productivity, not detract from it.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Demographic Islamic Bomb, Immigration and Tolerance of Intolerance of Non-Muslim Rights
****Belatedly, the Western world has awakened to the Trojan Horse allowed into our midst. While the fertility rate of Western-culture society is well below replacement and viability level throughout Europe and Canada ( with the U.S. only slightly balanced by immigration of Latinos ), Muslim populations already let in have a fertility rate vastly greater ( 1.6 to 8.1 ). It's a fact ( probably due to the subservient place of women in Islamic society and also polygamy )and had no dangerous consequences when restricted to "Muslim countries" (where it actually had the effect of retarding Muslim society ). Having brought the Trojan Horse within the city gates, there is little that can be done to stop Western society from being Islamicized. Moreover, Islam is not merely a religion: it is a complete societal system with Sharia law profoundly affecting the values and lives of anyone living in a Muslim-dominant country. It is intolerant of other value-systems and deliberately resistant to assimilation and adaptation to ( what are, for now, the )host cultures.
The remedy proposed by the clip seems somewhat weak being the proselytization for other religions. First of all, Islam punishes apostasy severely ( death being prescribed in the Koran ). Second, it is not merely a religion but a life system. The major things that come to mind to preserve Western culture are restrictions on further immigration ( although this is locking the barn door after the horse has been stolen )and pressure to further assimilation to Western values. This pressure can only consist of firm resistance to unassimilable Islamic practices such as the subjugation of women, madrassa education, preaching intolerance from mosques and Muslim media, and such barbaric practices as honor killings, forced and underage marriage and various other Sharia-sanctioned practices.***

Janet Napolitiano shows more incompetence, even in swine flu scare.

Michelle Malkin 4-25-09
I’ve blogged for years about the spread of contagious diseases...into the U.S. as a result of uncontrolled immigration...reckless open-borders ideologues... insist there’s nothing to worry about...dangers of allowing ...pass across our borders and through our other ports of entry without proper medical screening — as required of every legal visitor/immigrant to this country — is RAAAACIST.
***The very expert Ja-No had a press conference on the swine flu problem but mentioned not a thing about increased (southern)border control although the focus on Mexico is inescapable.****
Janet Napolitano said what?
By Michelle Malkin • April 21, 2009 08:59 AM She said this on CNN over the weekend:
KING:...Democrats in Congress want...investigate [Joe Arpaio]. ...He says he is just enforcing the law...
NAPOLITANO: ...Sheriff Joe,...very political in that statement,...when we find illegal workers, yes, appropriate action, some of which is criminal, most of that is civil, because crossing the border is not a crime per se. It is civil. Julie Kirchner gently reminds the DHS Secretary of what the law actually says:
ENTRY WITHOUT INSPECTION IS A CRIME: In fact, pursuant to 8 U.S.C. 1325, crossing the border illegally is a crime–a misdemeanor for the first offense and a felony for the second and subsequent offenses. ...mischaracterizing the law is a very convenient avoid the laws they find most inconvenient...
****Ja-No is peculiarly gaffe-prone in an administration sporting Joe Biden.****
Janet Napolitano screws up again By Michelle Malkin • April 22, 2009 01:56 PM
Gaffestastic Janet Napolitano is at it again —...earning...derision of Canadians after suggesting that 9/11 terrorists entered the U.S. through the northern border:
...Napolitano was asked to clarify statements...about equal treatment for the Mexican and Canadian borders, despite ...flood of illegal immigrants and... drug war are two serious issues on the southern border...

Obama feckless politicization hurts security; Dems don't care and lie, to boot.
Security Before Politics By Porter J. Goss 4/25/09
...CIA director ... our government has crossed the red line between properly protecting our national security and trying to gain partisan political advantage. ...amnesia ...plaguing my former colleagues on Capitol Hill. ...In the fall of 2002, while... chairman of the House intelligence committee, senior members of Congress were briefed on the CIA's "High Value Terrorist Program," including ..."enhanced interrogation techniques" ... an ongoing subject...Today, ...slack-jawed...that members claim to have not understood...or that..."waterboarding" ...never mentioned...hard for ...common sense to imagine ...a member of Congress can forget...perhaps it is not amnesia but political expedience....It is my recollection that:-- The chairs and the ranking minority members...were briefed that the CIA was holding and interrogating ...-- We understood what the CIA was doing.-- We gave the CIA our bipartisan support.-- We gave the CIA funding to carry out its activities.-- On a bipartisan basis, we asked if the CIA needed more support from Congress to carry out its mission against al-Qaeda.... not single objection from my reveal filed "memorandums for the record" ...quietly filed away in case...political winds shifted...CIA has been pulled into the center ring before. ... a hollowed-out service of diminished capabilities. ... our intelligence officers will soon resort to wordsmithing cables...while opportunities...are lost....we cannot succeed unless we have good intelligence. Trading security for partisan political popularity will ensure that our secrets are not secret and that our intelligence is destined to fail us.
... was director of the CIA from September 2004 to May 2006...chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence from 1997 to 2004. ***Goss peculiarly qualified to opine.Periodically the government decimates American intelligence capability: cryptography was abandoned in the 1920s because "gentlemen do not read each other's mail" ( forgetting that developing enemies were not gentlemen ); the Church committee in the 1970s set back intelligence operations almost irreversibly; we're due, I suppose, for another irresponsible ( invariably leftist-liberal) effort to reduce our capabilities and Obama and the Democrats are providing it.***

Obama consideration of criminalizing Bush LAWYERS for their legal opinions raises other possibilities

Although Obama has flip-flopped several times on the issue of seeking retribution from Bush officials and field officers during the Bush years about the issue of "torture", the current situation seems to be that it is the lawyers who prepared memos on the subject who are being considered for targeting. That is, lawyers who prepared opinions based on their research and reading of the Constitution and case law are in danger of suffering criminal prosecution for what are essentially scholarly activities. Heretofore, malpractice has been the only sanction against lawyers for such professional activity and the standard has been very strict such that any lawyer would recognize malpractice as unprofessional and incompetent beyond simple difference of opinion.

The current witch hunt goes to the limit of holding lawyers criminally liable if their opinions differ from those currently in the majority ( not even necessarily by lawyers ). What are we to think of judges whose opinions are overturned by higher courts? Surely, their liability should be similar. The Supreme Court itself would be open to absurd potential liability: every minority of 4 or fewer who have their opinions outvoted by a majority would seem to be guilty of "opinion crime." The idea of an honest difference of opinion seems alien to the thinking of such as Nancy Pelosi and even President Obama who wants the matter subject to the opinion of ONE lawyer, Attorney General Eric Holder ( whose own record raises questions of his past competence and ethics. )

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Obama Transnationals, the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution,and the worst of everything

Transnational lawyers and citizens of the worldl,would-be or real, believe that American law should be subservient to laws generated elsewhere. Some Supreme Court Justices have cited case law from outside the U.S. to justify their opinions. This has been considered idiosyncratic by many in the U.S. who have heretofore believed that the Constitution lays out the law by which Americans live and that this preserves our values.

The Constitution, however, has a "Supremacy Clause" which stipulates that treaties properly entered into and ratified are the supreme law of the land, trumping state law. Originally this was believed by the Founding Fathers to keep international matters out of the hands of the states. The rise of such transational organizations as the United Nations, however, has extended the reach of international law into areas traditionally thought to be properly the province of the states and local American practice. Thus, if the President and the U.S. Senate decide, in their wisdom and philosophical orientation, to approve a treaty that addresses even domestic matters, that treaty becomes part of the highest law of the U.S. and overrides state law. A treaty that has been festering for years, but now seems ripe for resurrection by the Obama administration ( perhaps properly termed "non-American" rather than "un-American ) and Democratic Senate, would substitute a U.N. specification about the "rights of children" for state laws and would trump normal American practice in the raising of parents' own progeny.

What happens when an approved and ratified treaty conflicts with the Constitution itself is also problematical with respect to Federal law. Certainly, if it goes to the Supreme Court and there are Justices who believe in the applicability of foreign law to override American practice, the Constitution may lose its primacy in protecting our rights. Heretofore, common sense on the part of the U.S. Senate and restraint on the part of the President have prevented this circumstance from becoming an issue; with the election of 2008 this is no longer true.
***It also happens that transnationals like Harold Koh want to visit the worst part of the American legal system on the rest of the world.****
Harold Koh, Serial Violator of International Law [Ed Whelan] 4-20-09
That’s the gist of this interesting post by Eric Posner (on the Volokh Conspiracy) concerning Harold Koh’s “champion[ing] of the modern (post-1979) use of the ATS [Alien Tort Statute] to impose tort liability on international lawbreakers”...Posner explains:Many (most? all?) foreign international lawyers believe that ATS litigation violates international law. They believe that the American tort system is a lunatic asylum...Foreign governments believe that ATS litigation infringes on their sovereignty...Koh has long supported a type of litigation that probably breaches international law and in any event universally offends foreign opinion...These facts provide further support for the notion (set forth by Justice Scalia in his dissent in Roper v. Simmons) that Koh and other American transnationalists use international law selectively as an ideological weapon: they invoke it when it advances their own hard-left ideological agenda and ignore it when it doesn’t.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Dumb "Dumb Intelligence"

Dumb Intelligence
By Robert Baer TIME Thursday, Apr. 23, 2009
...when the U.S. began interrogating ... in 2002, the CIA had no idea what it was doing...The wisdom inside the CIA has always been that the best intelligence is obtained through persuasion rather than coercion. ...knew nothing about how the cumulative effect of waterboarding might affect the quality of the information he was trying to extract....we tortured people for almost no verifiable information....The harsh tactics--isolation, sleep deprivation, humiliation, waterboarding--...much of it was also acknowledged to have originated in "Communist Attempts to Elicit False Confessions from Air Force Prisoners of War," a 1957 article written for the Air Force about abusive Chinese interrogations ....suspected that torture can't be relied on to produce more than false confessions--because people will say anything to make the pain stop. ...whether he thought the abusive tactics worked. His answer: to a degree.... Valuable stuff, but stuff that could have been extracted through patient and relentless persuasion.
...former CIA director Michael Hayden asserts that it was only after the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah that authorities learned about Ramzi Binalshibh, was because of the waterboarding of Mohammed that U.S. intelligence learned about a "second wave" of attacks planned for after Sept. 11. .... maybe Mohammed made it up to stop the waterboarding.
... But torture won't get us any closer to discovering when they're going to go off.
Baer is a former Middle East CIA field officer and's intelligence columnist

***This article is a farrago of internal inconsistency, false distinctions, conflation of disparate goals and unwarranted assumptions.

1) He first tells us that "the CIA had no idea what it was doing" but then appeals to groupthink by pointing out that the conventional "wisdom inside the CIA has always been...persuasion...rather than coercion." Which is it: no idea or wisdom?
Even here, he would be more credible if he said "cross-examination" rather than "persuasion" although the issue is whether coercion is at all persuasive.

2) He seems to conflate, either inadvertently or deliberately, four possible goals of interrogation, especially the more coercive kind.
a) First is punishment. The Constitution, although legalistically applicable only to citizens and permanent residents, prohibits that. Nevertheless, we don't do that to anyone. The standard of "cruel and inhumane" is being dropped ever lower and whether execution is in this category is an issue.
b) Second is terror: beheading, or torturing someone sadistically, terrorizes the victim, if left alive, and those who learn of it, even if not. We do not, should not, do that.
c) Extraction of confessions. Coerced confessions are inadmissible under our legal system and are generally unreliable. Any
confession that stands by itself must be disregarded absolutely.A confession that yields independent evidence of guilt is different: the evidence is admissible under the British system ( not a bad one ) but is often dismissed in the U.S. under the "fruit of the poisoned tree" doctrine. In any case, we have little interest in confessions without information here.
d) Extraction of information. Having dismissed the first three ends of interrogation, we must consider this one more carefully since it is really the issue at hand. Referring to any of the first three is totally beside the point.Baer refers to "almost no verifiable information" but he doesn't know that. Indeed, the only kind of information worth having is what Karl Popper called "falsifiable" information. It is meaningful only if it can be independently verified.If information is obtained that a bomb is ticking behind Door #3, one can look behind #3 and verify it. If it's not, although he asserted it was, he's screwing with the interrogators and he goes back in. Gentle methods of persuasion have the same problem: when the information is "falsified" in the Popperian sense it is either true or not. If Ramzi Binalshibh couldn't be found after being given up by Abu Zubaydah, the information might have been in the tooth fairy category. He did exist, however, and was who he was said to be. If "Mohammed made it up to stop...", we can ask if anything occurred to indicate it was either true or made up. I trust Baer knows the distinction between Type I and Type II errors.

To claim that the methods came from a 1957 memo is irrelevant. Waterboarding is said to have been "discovered" during the Spanish Inquisition ( seeking goal 2c, of course )to trigger a profound feeling of panic in an untrained subject without the permanent damage of the Inquisition's less charitable methods.The danger of too much disclosure of methods is that training is possible and effective in resistance when one knows the limits used. In any case, science knows more about human thinking and motivation and more reliable lie detectors, drugs, etc are being developed. The "humaneness" and effectiveness of interrogation are being developed and eschewing every method is silly.

3) Baer's most unsubstantiated claim is that equivalent information "could have been extracted through patient and relentless persuasion." How patient, how relentless, how true is this assertion? Trial lawyers will tell Baer that they don't "persuade" opposition witnesses on the stand: they cross-examine them trying to elicit contradictions or inadvertent admissions of fact.
However, the witness can't sit there and refuse to answer; the judge has a club with which to coerce both talking (contempt) and truth-telling (perjury.) What does the interrogator do if the subject just refuses to cooperate at all? Mohammed is said to have done this prior to waterboarding, "Just wait and you'll see." While permanent damage of either a physical or psychological sort is to be avoided, and was avoided, making the subject increasingly uncomfortable by "enhanced interrogation" makes it likely that he will say something. Questions must be designed to be falsifiable and then what he says can either be verified or gainsaid. If the former, you've gained something not clearly obtainable from persuasion; if the latter, he goes back to discomfort.
If the subject actually knows nothing of utility, the case of an "innocent subject", at least interrogation can determine if he is telling the truth insofar as he knows it. When sufficient effort has been expended, someone in this situation can be released. Lack of cooperation, however, is invariably an indication that something useful is being withheld.

Within a well-defined ambit of usage, enhanced professional interrogation can be useful and its downside limited. To claim willy-nilly that patient ...persuasion is better in all cases is absurd.****

The taxpayer-funded UAW subsidy and relief program

Treasury lends $2 billion more to General Motors
13 GM Factories Facing Temporary Shutdowns WASHINGTON – Taxpayers invested another $2 billion in General Motors Corp. this week as the struggling auto giant continued efforts to restructure and avoid bankruptcy court. ****Why avoid bankruptcy court? Because the UAW sweetheart deals would be abrogated and Obama owes the UAW bigtime. GM is furloughing plants for nine weeks BUT UAW workers still get 95% of their pay FOR DOING NOTHING. ****
The Treasury Department said Friday it lent the additional money to GM on Wednesday to provide working capital. The loan pushes the total amount of GM's government aid to $15.4 billion after the company said it would need more money in the second quarter to stay afloat. ****GM shuts plants but saves no money on labor. This isn't a bailout of GM; it's a direct subsidy to UAW workers with GM merely serving as an intermediary. When does the outrage start? How blatant can the Obama Administration get?****

Realism vs Pandering, Negotiation vs. Capitulation: hallmarks of the new Israel FM

In Israel, a voice of realism
by Jeff Jacoby The Boston Globe April 5, 2009
IF ...Israel's new foreign minister did nothing else, it certainly
vexed the media..."dropped a political bombshell,""sparked an
uproar,"..."blunt and belligerent," ...
***The NYTimes hates him.. how bad can he be? ****

Headlines an attack on peacemaking: "Lieberman
dashes peace hopes," "Israeli official hits peace efforts,"
"Lieberman dumps peace deal." But the headlines
were wrong,
as anyone can ascertain by
reading Lieberman's short address. ... committed himself to
upholding the Roadmap --a step-by-step blueprint to a "two-state
SOLUTION" adopted by Israel,the Palestinian Authority (assuming it has any authority), and the international
Quartet (the United States, the United Nations,Russia, and the
European Union) in 2003.
****He just doesn't want to skip steps.***
...the Roadmap,
... binds this government as well." However, he insisted, it must
be implemented "exactly as written" and "in full." The Road Map
imposes specific obligations that the Palestinians must meet prior
to achieving statehood --above all, an unequivocal end to violence,
terrorism, and incitement against the JEWISH state -- and
Israel will not agree to waive them
in order to negotiate a final settlement.
***The other side is now even denying that
one of the two states, Israel, be a JEWISH state...we may
finally see an end to Israel's fruitless attempts to buy peace
with ever-more-desperate concessions and retreats. Under
Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert,Israel surrendered the entire
Gaza Strip, released hundreds of terrorists from prison,
expelled thousands of Jews from their homes, and even offered to
divide Jerusalem..."none of these...measures... brought peace,"said Lieberman.
"To the contrary."The steeper the price Israel has been willing to pay
for peace,the more it has been repaid with violence...
stop genuflecting to a feckless and counterproductive "peace
process" and to return instead to the pre-Oslo policy of
deterrence. "The fact that we say the word'peace' 20 times
a day will not bring peace...only makes Israel seem weak and
irresolute, encouraging ...murderous jihad, ...redouble(d)...
Sixteen years of appeasement have left Israel more demonized
and isolated than ever...when was Israel most admired...?
"After the victory of the Six Day War," when no one doubted
the Jewish state's audacity or resolve..."If you want peace,
prepare for war," ...more clearly understand the nature
of Israel's adversary if the media weren't forever
fanning moral outrage at the Mideast's only bulwark of
freedom and democracy.
In recent weeks, the Palestinian Authority has: warned Arabs that it
is "high treason" punishable by death to sell homes or property to
Jews in Jerusalem; shut down a Palestinian youth orchestra
...because the ensemble played for a group of ...Israeli Holocaust
survivors; and celebrated the
deadliest terrorist attack in Israel's history
-- a PLO bus
hijacking that left 38 civilians dead -- with a TV special extolling
the massacre;...after a Palestinian terrorist used an axe to murder
a 13-year-old Jewish boy,...a wing of the supposedly "moderate" Fatah
party -- issued a statement
There is no appeasing such hatred
,and demonizing those who
say so will not change that fact. "If you want peace, preparefor war."
How refreshing, at last, to hear an Israeli leader say so.
(Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for The Boston Globe.)

Recollections of days of happy cooperation...too bad Obama/Farrakhan/Wright don't know about this.
When Jewish Scholars Fled to the South
European academics' exodus to small black colleges had lasting effects, an exhibit shows...
'Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow'
View Slideshow at URL
...Friendships like these had a cost in the segregated South. One night in 1942, Prof. Rasmussen and her husband were arrested for dining with an African-American in a blacks-only cafe....artifacts, photographs, documents, and paintings are part of an the Museum of Jewish Heritage -- A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York's Battery Park City. The exhibit illuminates a period during and after World War II when scores of German-Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany found havens teaching in small black colleges throughout the South.... forged bonds that in many cases lasted long after the students had graduated and the professors had left the South for other posts."Even now, I can read almost any German scientific literature," says Dr. Joycelyn Elders, who served as surgeon general of the U.S. under President Bill Clinton...Several thousand German-Jewish scholars and academics fled Nazi Germany and Austria in the 1930s and 1940s,...distinguished backgrounds -- most notably Albert Einstein -- were hired by research institutes and prestigious schools such as Harvard and the New School....younger or less-established German-Jewish colleges offered them positions, they set about making homes for themselves in these schools,... "Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow: Jewish Refugee Scholars at Black Colleges," draws on a book of the same name published in 1993 by a German-Jewish refugee, Gabrielle Edgcomb...Some of the German-Jewish professors became active in the emerging civil-rights movement during the 1950s. ...In an oral history taken by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Prof. Borinski recalled telling students: "I am not from here, I am not even from America, but when I see the kinds of laws you have here I assure you it cannot last very long....I don't want you to accept any one of them."

Originally, peace was the goal and a "two-state SOLUTION" was a means to that end.. Now it's an end in itself and peace or terrorism be damned.

Clinton: Progress on a Palestinian State Goes "Hand-in-Hand" with Efforts to Stem Iran
[Washington Post] Glenn Kessler - Progress on establishing a Palestinian state must go "hand-in-hand" with efforts to stem Iranian influence in the Middle East, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the House Appropriations Committee Thursday. "For Israel to get the kind of strong support it's looking for vis-a-vis Iran, it can't stay on the sideline with respect to the Palestinians and the peace efforts, that they go hand-in-hand," Clinton said. Clinton noted that every Arab official she has met with "wants very much to support the strongest possible policy toward Iran." But "they believe that Israel's willingness to reenter into discussions with the Palestinian Authority strengthens them in being able to deal with Iran."

****This is unprincipled haggling of the worst kind. If the US doesn't consider Iranian influence important on its own, what is? Why should Israel throw in the towel when Clinton can't deliver on anything IN ANY EVENT? The Palestinian state is now a separate end for the State Dept irrespective if it leads to peace or not, whether or not it threatens the existence of Israel, and whether or not it will create more problems than it solves. How can the story of Gaza not give pause to anyone with an IQ above room temperature? How can any people demonstrate more dysfunctionality than the Palestinians except when it comes to innovating terrorism? Corruption is still their hallmark while they live on the international dole:
Gaza's Power Plant Makes Millions
[Reuters] Adam Entous - While Gaza's residents face electricity shortages, the Palestine Electric Co.'s profits were $6.3 million in 2008, up from $4.4 million in 2007. Critics decry what they call a lopsided deal that guarantees the PEC a fixed annual fee from the Palestinian Authority, which is bankrolled with aid from Western governments. Past efforts by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to reopen the PEC's contract stalled. Many large PEC shareholders are close to PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, officials say. Since 2006, the EU and member states have aided the PA by paying for fuel for the Gaza power plant, costing some $130 million last year.

****Perhaps it's expedient for Israel to note that Obama's U.S. abandons its friends and embraces its enemies and that the erstwhile friends might band together. Who else is Obama throwing under the bus ( subvehiculating)? Britain, India, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Colombia, the Czechs, Poles, Ukrainians, Georgians etc.Even Mubarek's Egypt and Abdullah's Jordan might regard Israel as less of an issue than the threat of Iran and the US is looking unreliable. ****

Obama is at his best when he (only) lies; most dangerous when sincere.

Austan Goolsbee's Vindication
Obama backtracks on Nafta, as his economic advisor said he would.
Three cheers for President Obama's decision, announced quietly on Monday, to repudiate a campaign promise and not press for new labor and environmental regulations in the North American Free Trade Agreement. The last thing the Western Hemisphere needs are more trade barriers that would snarl supply chains and damage commerce.

Perhaps we should call this Austan Goolsbee's revenge. Recall that last year the Obama economic adviser had told a Canadian diplomat to ignore Mr. Obama's Nafta campaign rhetoric; the candidate was merely pandering to Big Labor. When that disclosure became news, Mr. Goolsbee was banished to the campaign's isolation ward for imperfect spinners. Now we know Mr. Goolsbee -- not the candidate -- was the one telling the truth.

Mr. Obama got an earful on trade from his counterparts at the Summit of the Americas over the weekend and that might have something to do with his Nafta walkback. But three other trade issues to watch are the unilateral U.S. ban on Mexican long-haul trucks, which has sparked a trade war with that country, the U.S. failure to ratify a free trade agreement with Colombia, and the 54-cent per gallon U.S. import duty on Brazilian ethanol. Mr. Obama has promised to discuss each one. But the real test will be his willingness to spend political capital to defeat protectionists in Congress.

Mr. Obama's stonewall on Colombia is especially damaging. On the weekend the White House was still repeating the AFL-CIO talking points about "violence against labor leaders in Colombia." But even Mr. Obama's own trade rep, Ron Kirk, admits Colombia has made enormous human rights progress. Mr. Obama's Nafta decision signals he's not keen to pick another trade fight, but he still has some major repair work to do with our Latin American friends.

For Lewis to say "The Devil made me do it" reflects ill on both Lewis and the Devil(s)

Pressure builds on BofA's Ken LewisBy Colin Barr, senior writer 4/23/09
Blaming Hank Paulson for being forced to keep details about the Merrill deal secret won't help the Bank of America CEO in a struggle with shareholders.
NEW YORK (Fortune) -- Questions about whether Bank of America breached its duties to shareholders come at an inconvenient time for embattled CEO Ken Lewis.... the BofA (BAC, Fortune 500) chief met repeatedly late last year with federal regulators and the bank's board to discuss the deteriorating condition of Merrill Lynch,...At one point,...Lewis told then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson that BofA was considering backing out of the Merrill deal -- only to relent when Paulson said... might respond by removing Lewis and his directors....But worse, to some observers, is BofA's failure to disclose any of this information to its shareholders -- regardless of Lewis's claim he was being leaned on by Paulson....It's hard for me to believe the Treasury and the Federal Reserve would tell Ken Lewis to violate securities laws," ..."Regardless of the pressure he may have felt, Ken Lewis still had a duty to protect shareholders and disclose relevant information." ****It IS plausible that Lewis was leaned on.****...BofA's 'shotgun wedding' regret
But some observers aren't bowled over by Lewis' claim that he was strong-armed by regulators...."You need to talk to all the participants in the conversation before you can come up with a conclusion of 100% of what happened," ...(but) Paulson generally confirmed Lewis' account, the Cuomo report said..... "Our right to transparency trumps any concern Lewis may have had about saving his job or keeping the current board in place."... the most damning allegations in the Cuomo report come from the minutes of the BofA board meetings Dec. 22 and 30 of last year.These minutes describe the "detailed oral assurances" federal regulators supposedly made to BofA executives. The Federal Reserve and Treasury agreed to provide financial support to the bank after it completed its acquisition of Merrill Lynch and before the bank's scheduled Jan. 20 earnings release, the minutes said. On Jan. 16, the bank and regulators announced that the government did cough up $20 billion in new capital and $118 billion in asset guarantees for Bank of America. BofA had received $25 billion, counting Merrill's allocation, in the first round of TARP funding.
But in late December, before the deal's Jan. 1 completion, regulators couldn't make those promises in writing, according to the minutes, "because any written assurances would require formal action by the Fed and Treasury -- which formal action would require public disclosure."... suggests neither party was faithful to its own decision making processes and disclosure duties, ..."Secretary Paulson said he could not provide a letter...would instead rattle markets by creating more questions than it answered," ...
****I tend to believe Lewis, although that makes him a wimp transgressing securities laws. I had bought MER when the merger was announced because of favorable arbitrage. Close to the shareholder vote, however, there were many public rumors ( e.g. on CNBC ) that MER was sour and that the deal wouldn't be approved by BAC shareholders. I sold MER and bought BAC in anticipation of this so I recall the situation and was surprised when Lewis said nothing and the shareholders approved it. For Paulson/Geithner/Bernanke to say that the deal was legally binding before the SH vote is untenable. At worst, BAC could be sued by MER ( not likely in view of their 11th hour bonus story!). PG&B doubtless leaned on Lewis w/o government "lawyers."
A credible story is that PG&B were in a panic ever since the French Finance Minister Christine LaGarde called Paulson in a hissy fit that Societe Generale would go down unless the U.S. did something ( mostly about AIG but everything was in play.)****