Monday, 01 December 2008

BLAMING BUSH

Ken Berwitz

Sometimes I think that there are journalists who could find a way to blame George Bush if their burger came out undercooked at the local diner.

Here, courtesy of Steve Gilbert at  www.sweetness-light.com, is the AP's blatantly dishonest coverage of President Bush's involvement in the subprime mortgage disaster and subsequent bank collapses:

AP Says Bank Crisis Is All Bushs Fault

December 1st, 2008

Some shameless revisionism from the DNCs Associated Press:

AP IMPACT: US diluted loan rules before crash

By MATT APUZZO

WASHINGTON (AP) The Bush administration backed off proposed crackdowns on no-money-down, interest-only mortgages years before the economy collapsed, buckling to pressure from some of the same banks that have now failed. It ignored remarkably prescient warnings that foretold the financial meltdown, according to an Associated Press review of regulatory documents.

Expect fallout, expect foreclosures, expect horror stories, California mortgage lender Paris Welch wrote to U.S. regulators in January 2006, about one year before the housing implosion cost her a job.

Bowing to aggressive lobbying along with assurances from banks that the troubled mortgages were OK regulators delayed action for nearly one year. By the time new rules were released late in 2006, the toughest of the proposed provisions were gone and the meltdown was under way

The administrations blind eye to the impending crisis is emblematic of its governing philosophy, which trusted market forces and discounted the value of government intervention in the economy. Its belief ironically has ushered in the most massive government intervention since the 1930s

In 2005, faced with ominous signs the housing market was in jeopardy, bank regulators proposed new guidelines for banks writing risky loans. Today, in the midst of the worst housing recession in a generation, the proposal reads like a list of what-ifs:

Regulators told bankers exotic mortgages were often inappropriate for buyers with bad credit.

Banks would have been required to increase efforts to verify that buyers actually had jobs and could afford houses.

Regulators proposed a cap on risky mortgages so a string of defaults wouldnt be crippling.

Banks that bundled and sold mortgages were told to be sure investors knew exactly what they were buying.

Regulators urged banks to help buyers make responsible decisions and clearly advise them that interest rates might skyrocket and huge payments might be due sooner than expected.

Those proposals all were stripped from the final rules. None required congressional approval or the presidents signature

Federal regulators were especially concerned about mortgages known as option ARMs, which allow borrowers to make payments so low that mortgage debt actually increases every month. But banking executives accused the government of overreacting.

Bankers said such loans might be risky when approved with no money down or without ensuring buyers have jobs but such risk could be managed without government intervention

One of the most contested rules said that before banks purchase mortgages from brokers, they should verify the process to ensure buyers could afford their homes. Some bankers now blame much of the housing crisis on brokers who wrote fraudulent, predatory loans. But in 2006, banks said they shouldnt have to double-check the brokers

California-based IndyMac also criticized regulators for not recognizing the track record of interest-only loans and option ARMs, which accounted for 70 percent of IndyMacs 2005 mortgage portfolio. This summer, the government seized IndyMac and will pay an estimated $9 billion to ensure customers dont lose their deposits

The comptroller of the currency, John C. Dugan, was among the first to sound the alarm in mid-2005. Speaking to a consumer advocacy group, Dugan painted a troublesome picture of option-ARM lending. Many buyers, particularly those with bad credit, would soon be unable to afford their payments, he said. And if housing prices declined, homeowners wouldnt even be able to sell their way out of the mess.

It sounded simple, but people kind of looked at us regulators as old-fashioned, said Brown, the agencys former deputy comptroller.

Diane Casey-Landry, of the American Bankers Association, said the industry feared a two-tiered system in which banks had to follow rules that mortgage brokers did not. She said opposition was based on the banks best information.

Youre looking at a decline in real estate values that was never contemplated, she said.

Some saw problems coming. Community groups and even some in the mortgage business, like Welch, warned regulators not to ease their rules.

We expect to see a huge increase in defaults, delinquencies and foreclosures as a result of the over selling of these products, Kevin Stein, associate director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, wrote to regulators in 2006. The group advocates on housing and banking issues for low-income and minority residents.

The governments banking agencies spent nearly a year debating the rules, which required unanimous agreement among the OCC, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Federal Reserve, and the Office of Thrift Supervision agencies that sometimes dont agree

Grovetta Gardineer, OTS managing director for corporate and international activities, said the 2005 proposal attempted to send an alarm bell that these products are bad. After hearing from banks, she said, regulators were persuaded that the loans themselves were not problematic as long as banks managed the risk. She disputes the notion that the rules were weakened.

In the past year, with Congress scrambling to stanch the bleeding in the financial industry, regulators have tightened rules on risky mortgages.

Congress is considering further tightening, including some of the same proposals abandoned years ago.

Indeed, the revisionism here is positively Stalinesque.

The Bush administration tried numerous times to clamp down on these dangerous mortgage practices, starting in 2001.

President Bush pushed for a whole new regulatory agency in 2003. He called for reform 17 times in 2008 alone.

There is abundant proof that Bush and other Republicans (including John McCain) tried to call attention to the looming crisis and wanted to do something about it.

We even have video of the top bank regulator, Armando Falcon, director of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, before the Congressional banking committee.

We can see how he was slapped down and insulted for even suggesting that anything needed to be done.

Compare all of that to this suddenly discovered laundry list of proposals which the AP now claims to have unearthed.

But even the AP seems confused as to exactly what these proposals were supposed to be.

Were they new regulations, or were they just calling for maintaining the existing rules? The AP writer does not seem to be able to make up his mind.

Sometimes these proposals are described as crackdowns. Other times they are calls to not ease up on the rules.

Speaking of which, here is another risible claim from the AP:

Community groups and even some in the mortgage business, like Welch, warned regulators not to ease their rules.

Yes, of course we believe this. You see, ACORN and La Raza and their compatriots were trying to crack down on these terrible lending practices but the evil Bush regime just wouldnt let them.

Moreover, is there any evidence that these proposals ever existed? Let alone that they were made to someone who could do something about them?

Where are the documents? Why doesnt the Associated Press quote from them Why dont we have photos of them and pdf files?

Are they classified as top secret? (No, then the AP certainly would publish them.)

We have only the APs word that these documents even exist.

And we know that they will tell any lie, no matter how outrageous, for their Democrat masters.

That is what they call journalism.

Steve may go overboard here and there.  But on the main points he is right on target - which is more than I can say about the article he is referencing.

President Bush warned about this impending catastrophe throughout his two terms in office.  But when he tried to do something about it, as early as 2003, he was thwarted at every turn by almost all Democrats, who, when added to a minority of Republicans, stopped him in his tracks. 

Do you see any mention in that article of chris dodd?  barney frank?  Of the Democrats who, in aggregate, made sure that the policies which brought us to this sorry state remained in effect?

Of course not.  It's Bush.  It must be Bush.  It has to be.  Why look any further.

But listen to them squeal like stuck pigs if you call them biased.

Bryan Interestingly, the "proposals" are from the draft for comment on Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued in 2005 by the Office of the Comptroller, Office of Thrift Supervision, FDIC, and Federal Reserve. The point partisans miss in attacking the AP article is that despite eventually implement rules that did not include ALL of the limits on non-traditional mortgages, the rules implrmented in 2005 included many of the "crackdowns." As a result, exotic products that imperiled the financial system were really pushed by unregulated and state regulated lenders and not by national banks which originated less than 9 perecnt of subprime mortgages in the peak year (2006) while making up more than 40% of the market. (12/01/08)


THE JONES, GATES AND CLINTON APPOINTMENTS

Ken Berwitz

Credit where credit is due.  Barack Obama has done well in putting together his foreign policy team.

-Mr. Obama has apparently (it's not 100% final yet) selected James L. Jones as his National Security Advisor.  Mr. Jones is a former Marine General, Commandant of the Marines Corps and Supreme Allied Commander for Europe.

-Mr. Obama has also asked Robert Gates, the current Secretary of Defense to stay on.

-And, subject to confirmation (this is the only one of the three appointments which needs it***) he is appointing Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.

It is true that Mr. Jones had significant differences with President Bush regarding Iraq, and Hillary Clinton is a partisan Democrat who, at least publicly, disagrees very strongly with current Iraq policy.  However, a) Jones' credentials are absolutely impeccable and b) a President certainly has the right to select a partisan from his own party for this position. 

The fact that, other than meeting a lot of foreign leaders as the President's wife, Ms. Clinton has no actual experience, makes her a very weak choice.  But the way I look at it, given the possible alternatives, this is a better pick than it could have been.

The one fly in the ointment for Ms. Clinton may be Article 1, Section 6, clause 2 of the Constitution which, it seems to me, can disqualify her for the position.  But I have a feeling that, for better or worse, this is going to be brushed aside.  And don't count on mainstream media making any issue of it, since a great many of them avidly root for her.

My opinion of these appointments is that they are appreciably better than what I expected.  It gives me hope that the incoming Obama administration will, in aggregate, have reasonable, sensible voices speaking on our behalf.

We'll find out soon enough.

----------------------------------------------------

***National Security Advisor does not require confirmation.  Secretary of Defense does, but Gates, as a holdover from the Bush administration, has already been confirmed.


ROBERT RUBIN AND BARACK OBAMA

Ken Berwitz

Robert Rubin reminds me a lot of Christopher Dodd.  Every time we see a major financial scandal he seems to be involved in it -- and mainstream media seems to give him a free pass on that involvement.

But, unbelievably, Rubin has emerged as one of Barack Obama's most important financial advisors. 

This being the case, I thought I would post excerpts from two articles - one is a 6 year old piece from Forbes Magazine and the other is a new article from The Sunlight Foundation.  I hope they will give you a better idea of who Mr. Obama is relying on.  Please pay special attention to the bold print:

From Forbes:

Rubin Red-Faced Over Enron? Not In The Times
Mark Lewis, 02.11.02, 1:30 PM ET

NEW YORK - Just in time for Valentine's Day, The New York Times today delivered a remarkable front-page bouquet to Robert Rubin, in the form of an unusually generous assessment of the former Treasury secretary's attempted string-pulling on Enron's behalf.

    More on Robert Rubin     
      
        
  
  

The Times has been a bulldog on the subject of Enron's (otc: ENRNQ - news - people ) unsuccessful attempts last fall to stave off collapse by seeking help from its friends in the Bush Administration. But Rubin's role had been oddly de-emphasized by the Paper of Record. Today, the Times finally turned the spotlight on Rubin--but the story amounted to a glowing profile of the former Clinton Administration official, wrapped around a gentle admonishment for his Enron involvement. And the Times seemed less concerned that Rubin had done anything wrong than that he had given aid and comfort to Republicans by making this a bipartisan scandal.

When the news of Rubin's involvement first hit the morning newspapers on Jan. 12, The Washington Post headlined its story "Rubin Asked Treasury About Aid to Enron," and focused on Rubin's Nov. 8 call to senior Treasury Department official Peter Fisher. Rubin is chairman of the executive committee at Citigroup (nyse: C - news - people ), which is a big Enron creditor. He asked Fisher to consider advising the bond-rating agencies against an immediate downgrade of Enron's debt. Fisher said that for him to intervene would not be a good idea, and Rubin backed down.

The Times also reported the Rubin news on Jan. 12--but lower down in a story that led with Enron President Greg Whalley's own calls to Fisher. Whalley's involvement was news, of course, but not huge news, given that by that point it was already established that Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay had placed similar calls to Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and Commerce Secretary Donald Evans. Arguably, the big story on Jan. 12 was the involvement of Rubin, a prominent Democrat and a Wall Street icon. Yet the Times not only downplayed the news, it bent over backward to let Rubin off the hook, by emphasizing that he eventually agreed with Fisher that calls to the bond-rating agencies would be inappropriate.


But alas, the Times noted, Rubin's call to Fisher "inadvertently gave comfort to the White House and to some conservative commentators" by adding a prominent Democratic name to the list of Enron's friends. "Even some of Mr. Rubin's friends say privately that it was a rare misstep for a man known for caution and foresight," the article noted, implying that it was the political embarrassment to the Democrats and not the impropriety of the call that the Times finds troubling.

Rubin's call to Fisher "will probably be no more than a footnote in the Enron story," the Times asserted. "But it draws attention to the extent, and perhaps to the limits, in Mr. Rubin's two roles. Was he lobbying his old agency on behalf of a bank? Or exploring policy options as he did at the Treasury Department?" It was both, Rubin told the Times, and he has no regrets about calling Fisher: "I would do it again."

The Times let him make that point unchallenged, then digressed to a long, fawning profile of Rubin, who "is youthfully trim but gives little evidence of overt vanity," and who "masks an overpowering intellect behind verbal modesty," and who as Treasury secretary "had some commentators calling him the best steward of the economy since Alexander Hamilton." Finally, in the very last paragraph of this lengthy story, the Times reluctantly returns to Enron: "Mr. Rubin's peers say he has the judgment to navigate smoothly between his two worlds. But the call regarding Enron illustrates that even he can steer astray. 'Bob is no longer in the public sector and had the right and every reason to make the call,' said his friend Felix G. Rohatyn, the financier. 'It's delicate--the impression is not great when it is on behalf of a company that has created the worst profile in the history of capitalism.'"

Enron is a scandal, all right, but members of both major parties have been recipients of the firm's largesse. Apparently, no Bush Administration officials responded to the firm's desperate calls for help last fall, whereas Rubin--a prominent Clinton Administration official--was happy to pick up the phone on Enron's behalf. This scandal is indeed a bipartisan affair--which may be more than one can say about the Times' coverage, at least with regard to Robert Rubin.

And from The Sunlight Foundation:

The Revolving Door, Robert Rubin, and Citigroup

POSTED BY
Paul Blumenthal

Today, President-Elect Barack Obama named the key members of economic team including Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary and Larry Summers as head of the National Economic Council. Notably, many in Obamas economic circle are acolytes of former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, the subject of much talk in the wake of the bailout of Citigroup. Rubin, a revolving door spinner between Wall Street and Washington, began his career at Goldman Sachs, moved to the National Economic Council, then Treasury, and in 1999, left government and joined Citigroup. Rubins story provides a telling story about the conflicts of interest that can occur when a high-ranking official moves so seemlessly between the public and private sector.

In this New York Times article addressing Citigroups economic troubles, Rubin appears as a key player, in both the deregulation that allowed the bank to become so large and unwieldy and as an adviser to the bank urging riskier behavior:

The banks downfall was years in the making and involved many in its hierarchy, particularly Mr. Prince and Robert E. Rubin, an influential director and senior adviser.

Citigroup insiders and analysts say that Mr. Prince and Mr. Rubin played pivotal roles in the banks current woes, by drafting and blessing a strategy that involved taking greater trading risks to expand its business and reap higher profits. Mr. Prince and Mr. Rubin both declined to comment for this article.

When he was Treasury secretary during the Clinton administration, Mr. Rubin helped loosen Depression-era banking regulations that made the creation of Citigroup possible by allowing banks to expand far beyond their traditional role as lenders and permitting them to profit from a variety of financial activities. During the same period he helped beat back tighter oversight of exotic financial products, a development he had previously said he was helpless to prevent.

But while Mr. Rubin certainly did not have direct responsibility for a Citigroup unit, he was an architect of the banks strategy.

In 2005, as Citigroup began its effort to expand from within, Mr. Rubin peppered his colleagues with questions as they formulated the plan. According to current and former colleagues, he believed that Citigroup was falling behind rivals like Morgan Stanley and Goldman, and he pushed to bulk up the banks high-growth fixed-income trading, including the C.D.O. business.

Former colleagues said Mr. Rubin also encouraged Mr. Prince to broaden the banks appetite for risk, provided that it also upgraded oversight though the Federal Reserve later would conclude that the banks oversight remained inadequate.

Once the strategy was outlined, Mr. Rubin helped Mr. Prince gain the boards confidence that it would work.

The conflict of interest line is often easy to draw when involving revolving door moves from Washington to K Street. When high-powered officials move into other parts of the private sector they still maintain large amounts of influence in Washington, and have just as much of a need to influence officials as lobbyists. (Citigroups lobbying expenses are close to $6 million for the year.)

In Rubins case, the industry into which he went has fallen into complete turmoil roiling not only economic markets but politics in Washington. Yet, Rubin remains a top transition adviser to President-Elect Obama and, as noted above, his proteges are among Obamas top picks for economic positions.

So what we have here is a man who was up to his eyeballs in Enron, and then moved on (at huge compensation, let's remember) to Citigroup where he was instrumental in its current state of near-collapse.

And what does this get him?  A key spot on the Obama team, that's what.

Incidentally, the New York Times article referenced by the Sunlight Foundation is from November 22, just over a week ago.  Nice of the Times to notice what a complete eff-up this man is now, after enabling him to eff up for the last 7 years.

I'm old enough to remember when The Times was a great newspaper.  At one time age didn't have to be invoked to be able to say that.  But now it does.  Great job, "Pinch".


CHARLES RANGEL & DEMOCRATIC ETHICS

Ken Berwitz

The 2008 elections will give Democrats the White House and large majorities in both houses of congress.  Republicans will be lucky to have anything more than tug-at-your-sleeve influence for the next 2 years.

NOW will they do something about charles rangel?

rangel is the consummately dirty representative from Harlem, New York, whose dealings are spelled out in the New York Post editorial below.  As you read it, please note that rangel currently chairs the House Ways & Means Committee, which is responsible for disbursing and allocating untold billions of dollars.  I've highlighted some of rangel's lowlights, by putting them in bold print:

DITCH CHARLIE

  • November 30, 2008
    Posted: 3:54 am

Are congressional Democrats truly committed to dealing with the economic and fiscal policy challenges they face next year?

The answer will be seen in how they address their increasingly problematic Charlie Rangel situation.

Scarcely a day goes by without yet another ethical impropriety coming to light regarding the chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee.

Last Wednesday, the DC-based National Legal and Policy Center urged the House Ethics Committee to expand its ongoing Rangel probe to include the recent revelation that he took a "homestead" tax deduction meant for year-round DC residents - though he legally resides in New York.

Tuesday, The New York Times delved into the relationship between Rangel and oil-drilling businessman Eugene Isenberg - who made a $1 million pledge toward building Rangel's school for public service at City College of New York. Rangel later preserved a controversial offshore tax loophole that saved Isenberg's company, Nabors, millions.

Rangel's previous ethical woes, though troubling, were largely personal: not paying taxes on property in the Caribbean; using one of four rent-stabilized apartments as a campaign office; improperly storing a car in a House parking garage.

The Isenberg-Nabors deal is, potentially, far more serious: It reeks of a quid pro quo between Rangel's official duties and fund-raising for his personal project.

The Times reported that Rangel held meetings the same day, at the same hotel, with Isenberg to discuss the CCNY project and then with Nabors' chief lobbyist on the tax loophole.

But what are House Democrats doing?

Speaker Pelosi has all but ruled out relieving Rangel of his chairmanship, pending the Ethics Committee probe.

Rangel's "fear" of that panel was illustrated by how quickly he reported himself: He knows it's rare for members to get much more than a slap on the wrist.

Indeed, Pelosi's statement that the ethics committee promises to finish its work by Jan. 3 - too soon for them to have even begun looking at the newest allegations - shows how unserious the probe is.

Thus, bolder Democrats on the Ways & Means Committee need to step forward.

Tax and spending bills begin in that committee: Do its members really think Rangel can credibly push through an ambitious agenda, given the cloud over his head?

Charlie Rangel has fatally compromised his effectiveness as chairman of one of the most powerful congressional panels.

If Pelosi won't act, surely a Ways & Means Committee member will, no?

There is nothing sacred about committee chairs: Earlier this month, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) dethroned the very dean of the House - John Dingell, in Congress since 1955 - to take over the Energy and Commerce Committee.

That power play was about ideology. Many Dems saw Dingell as too pro-business.

This one is about ethics.

The Obama team will have enough to worry about without having its tax and spending bills drafted by a profoundly ethically challenged committee chairman.

The new president himself surely must wonder: Can't Democrats do better?

It was bad enough that Democrats let rangel slide until now.  But with virtually airtight control over every branch of federal government, they don't need him anymore.   And since it is 100% certain that he will be replaced with another Democrat, there isn't even a partisan reason to put up with this embarrassment on legs.

Will Democrats do something about charles rangel?  Will Barack Obama step up to the plate, from his hallowed "office of the President-elect" and encourage them to act?

A party that will not dump someone this dirty, even when it has nothing to lose by doing so, is a party that will not address political corruption at all.


THE COST OF GIVING TERRORISM AN OPPORTUNITY TO SUCCEED

Ken Berwitz

I don't know how many times I've written that if we fight terrorism we may win or lose, but if we don't fight it we will assuredly lose because they will keep fighting.  Probably dozens and dozens.

Well, some countries seem determined to pretend this seemingly obvious reality does not exist.  Until last week, India was one of them.  But not anymore.

Here, from Reuters, is the country's reaction so far:

Indian security chief resigns over Mumbai attacks

Sun Nov 30, 2008 6:20pm EST

By Rina Chandran

MUMBAI (Reuters) - The fallout from a three-day rampage that killed nearly 200 people in Mumbai threatened on Sunday to unravel India's improving ties with Pakistan and prompted the resignation of India's security minister.

New Delhi said it was raising security to a "war level" and had no doubt of a Pakistani link to the attacks, which unleashed anger at home over the intelligence failure and the delayed response to the violence that paralyzed India's financial capital.

Officials in Islamabad have warned any escalation would force it to divert troops to the Indian border and away from a U.S.-led anti-militant campaign on the Afghan frontier.

Newspaper commentaries blasted politicians for failing to prevent the attacks and for taking advantage of its fallout before voting in Delhi on Saturday and national polls due by May.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he would boost and overhaul the nation's counterterrorism capabilities, an announcement which came after Federal Home Minister Shivraj Patil resigned over the attacks.

"We share the hurt of the people and their sense of anger and outrage," Singh said. "Several measures are already in place ... But clearly much more needs to be done and we are determined to take all necessary measures to overhaul the system," he said.

Air and sea security would be increased, and India's main counter-terrorist National Security Guard would be increased in size and given more regional bases, he said in a statement.

Singh also named Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram -- much derided as finance minister but respected for his work overhauling India's security agencies as a junior minister in the 1990s -- to take over Patil's job.

Singh, an economist by training, will take over the finance portfolio for now, the government said.

Analysts said they expect India's financial markets to get a boost from the personnel changes.

"Markets will rejoice," Arum Kejriwal, a strategist at research firm Kris, said of Chidambaram and Patil. "People will accept that the government has removed two non-performers and this can positively influence the markets."

Indian stocks closed up marginally after markets opened on Friday, the first time since the attacks, while the rupee fell. But analysts said it had already been under pressure.

Indian officials have said most, if not all, of the 10 Islamist attackers who held Mumbai hostage came from Pakistan.

The tension between the nuclear rivals has raised the prospect of a breakdown of peace efforts going on since 2004. The two nations have fought three wars since 1947, when Muslim Pakistan was carved out of Hindu-majority India.

They went to the brink of a fourth conflict after a 2001 militant attack on the Indian parliament which New Delhi also blamed on Pakistan.

"We will increase security and strengthen it at a war level like we have never done it before," Sriprakash Jaiswal, India's minister of state for home affairs, told Reuters on Sunday.

"They can say what they want, but we have no doubt that the terrorists had come from Pakistan," Jaiswal said.

An official in Islamabad said the next one to two days would be crucial for relations. Pakistan has condemned the assaults and denied any involvement by state agencies.

MOPPING THE BLOOD

The three-day rampage and siege in Mumbai turned India's financial and entertainment hub into a televised war zone.

On Sunday, the smell of disinfectant was strong outside Cafe Leopold, and the sidewalk wet from mopping -- a different sight from Wednesday night, when blood-splattered shoes and napkins lay strewn among broken furniture and glass.

It opened briefly before police came and shut it down again, saying investigations needed to be completed first.

Elsewhere in the trendy Colaba district where the fighting took place, shops were open and traffic flowed despite police barricades and heavy clean-up work around the Taj Mahal hotel, a 105-year-old landmark and site of the longest siege.

Broken windows were boarded up and firemen used a crane to reach the sixth floor, gutted by a fire set by the militants as they fought dozens of commandos in the corridors.

Elite Black Cat commandos killed the last of the gunmen on Saturday after three days of room-to-room battling inside the Taj, one of several landmarks struck in coordinated attacks on Wednesday night.

Hundreds of people, many of them Westerners, were trapped or taken hostage as the gunmen hurled grenades and fired indiscriminately. At least 22 of those killed were foreigners, including businessmen and tourists.

Nine gunmen and 20 police and soldiers were also killed. A tenth militant was caught alive.

On Saturday, India's navy and coast guard boosted coastal patrols, after evidence mounted that the attackers had come by boat to Mumbai from Karachi, Pakistan's main port.

India's Home Ministry said the official toll in Mumbai was 183 killed. Earlier, Mumbai disaster authorities said at least 195 people had been killed and 295 wounded.

Wonderful.  Just wonderful.

Whatever gains there were between India and Pakistan are now officially obliterated.  India's security is at "war level" (which means that Pakistan has to be as well) and we quite possibly are one new episode away from a war - probably a nuclear war - between these two countries.

Would a more serious regard for fighting terrorists have prevented this?   Would a more capable reaction when the attack started have minimized the death and destruction?  The answers, in order, are maybe and almost definitely.

But India was not prepared for this. 

While it would have been almost impossible to prevent the initial attack, India's lack of preparation made the "success" and duration of the attack way too simple.  Because of that, many additional lives were lost. 

The result?  Beyond the horrific casualty count, we now have two nuclear powers teetering on the brink of a war.

Maybe, just maybe, it is more sensible to do what has to be done to fight terrorism before it hits. 

Dyah think?


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