Saturday, 04 April 2009

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S FAILURE AT G-20

Ken Berwitz

That's right.  Failure.  Even though it would be hard to know it from the hagiographic descriptions of this trip by most mainstream media -- especially the Today show.

Here is a healthy dose of reality from John Hinderaker and Paul Mirengoff of www.powerlineblog.com. The bold print is mine:

Failure

The London Times says that Europe's leaders were "dazzled" by Barack Obama, but his trip was a failure. There is no inconsistency between these observations:

Barack Obama made an impassioned plea to America's allies to send more troops to Afghanistan, warning that failure to do so would leave Europe vulnerable to more terrorist atrocities. But though he continued to dazzle Europeans on his debut international tour, the Continent's leaders turned their backs on the US President.

Gordon Brown was the only one to offer substantial help. He offered to send several hundred extra British soldiers to provide security during the August election, but even that fell short of the thousands of combat troops that the US was hoping to prise from the Prime Minister.

Just two other allies made firm offers of troops. Belgium offered to send 35 military trainers and Spain offered 12. Mr Obama's host, Nicolas Sarkozy, refused his request. ...

The presidential charm offensive failed to move fellow Nato countries. President Sarkozy told Mr Obama that France would not be sending reinforcements to bolster its existing force northeast of Kabul.

Europe's leaders are happy to humor us Americans and our reporters. It costs nothing to tell us how charming they think Barack is. But what they actually do will depend on their assessment of where their country's interests lie. We can only hope that Obama will also follow what seems like a self-evident rule.

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

Global regulation without the "global regulator"?

To some extent, President Obama's encounter with European leaders reminds me of the old Soviet Union era joke: "they pretend to pay us; we pretend to work." In this instance, Europe's key leaders will pretend to provide meaningful new support to our efforts in Afghanistan and the U.S. will pretend to back the new, more highly regulated economic regime that key European leaders were insisting upon.

The first half of the equation certainly holds. Obama went to Europe asking for additional troops, beyond the meagre numbers countries like France and Germany now supply. What he got was a commitment to supply economic aid and "police." In other words, no additional troops.

The second half of the equation is less certain. Clearly, most of what Obama agreed to consisted of vague directives or broad principles. It is largely left up to individual countries to implement them or not. No penalties are associated with non-compliance and no "global regulator" can overrule decisions made by individual countries, as French President Sarkozy would have liked.

But Sarkozy and other Europeans can reasonably believe that Obama will abide by, and act consistently with, their pro-regulation principles. After all, what reason exists to suppose that Obama is any more committed to robust capitalism than centrist European leaders like Sarkozy? With Obama in power in the U.S., and thinking like a European, there may be little need for a "global regulator."

Thus, although Obama received only a fig leaf on Afghanistan, and the Europeans did not agree to stimulus packages for their economies, he may have come up trumps when it comes to regulation. For he was able to give the green light to a significant increase in global regulation without giving those of us who wish to resist France's slow growth model very much to shoot at.

As for Europe's leaders, they may well have come up trumps all around.

That, folks, is failure -- unless, of course, you equate President Obama's success to media adoration.  But even that is not a success, it is just break-even.  Mr. Obama came to London with it and left the same way.


THE SUMMERS PROBLEM

Ken Berwitz

Doesn't it seem that every person selected by President Obama for his administration has financial skeletons in his/her closet? 

Here is the latest example, excerpted  from an article in (believe it or not) the New York Times:

Financial industry paid millions to Obama aide

Summers earned cash last year from firms over which he now has influence

By Jeff Zeleny
The New York Times
updated 4:35 a.m. ET, Sat., April. 4, 2009

WASHINGTON - Lawrence H. Summers, the top economic adviser to President Obama, earned more than $5 million last year from the hedge fund D. E. Shaw and collected $2.7 million in speaking fees from Wall Street companies that received government bailout money, the White House disclosed Friday in releasing financial information about top officials.

Mr. Summers, the director of the National Economic Council, wields important influence over Mr. Obamas policy decisions for the troubled financial industry, including firms from which he recently received payments.

Last year, he reported making 40 paid appearances, including a $135,000 speech to the investment firm Goldman Sachs, in addition to his earnings from the hedge fund, a sector the administration is trying to regulate.

The White House released hundreds of pages of financial disclosure forms, which are required of all West Wing officials. A White House spokesman, Ben LaBolt, said the compensation was not a conflict for Mr. Summers, adding it was not surprising because he was widely recognized as one of the countrys most distinguished economists.

Mr. Summerss role at the White House includes advising Mr. Obama on whether and how to tighten regulation of hedge funds, which engage in highly sophisticated financial trading that many analysts have said contributed to the economic collapse.

Mr. Summers, a former president of Harvard University, was Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration. He appeared before large Wall Street companies like Citigroup ($45,000), J. P. Morgan ($67,500) and the now defunct Lehman Brothers ($67,500), according to his disclosure report. He reported being paid $10,000 for a speaking date at Yale and $90,000 to address an organization of Mexican banks.

Credit to the New York Times for publishing this story and for MSNBC for making it the lead on its web page.

What we have here is a man who has been given millions of dollars from the exact same companies whose fates he has a direct infuence on.

I have three questions: 

-Are you at all comfortable with Mr. Summers being in this position? 

-Do you want him making decisions that affect the companies he directly profited  from?

-Do you agree that the time for Lawrence Summers to leave this administration is now? 

I sure do.

Ken Berwitz free -- one and the same. In truth, his comments about women at Harvard were a) not as raw as they were made out to be and b) were meant to stimulate debate rather than put down women. But, as I suspect we both agree, this is far different, far more significant, and not at all acceptable. (04/04/09)

free` Isn't this the same Lawrence H. Summers that the left forced out of Harvard University for his as they said anti women remarks? (04/04/09)


THE (LATEST) ERIC HOLDER DISGRACE

Ken Berwitz

Eric Holder is a disgrace. Until now, his single most notable accomplishment was conspiring with Bill Clinton to pardon FALN terrorists and an international thief who happily dealt with the enemies of our country. 

Michael Whelan of the Washington Post lays it all out for us below:

Look Who's Politicizing Justice Now
By Edward Whelan
Sunday, April 5, 2009; B03

Intense controversy has flared in recent years over a previously obscure but high-powered office in the Department of Justice -- the Office of Legal Counsel. OLC has traditionally provided the final word to executive branch officials on the meaning of the Constitution and federal statutes. Disputes over whether it faithfully carried out its assigned role in national security matters during the Bush administration have erupted on newspaper front pages. Whatever the merits of those disputes, virtually everyone has agreed that it is imperative that OLC provide high-quality legal advice that is not slanted to advance a president's policy agenda -- and that the president and his top advisers respect that advice.

But now it appears that we have an attorney general who is himself running roughshod over OLC.

During Eric Holder's confirmation process, his tenure as deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration sparked serious concerns among senators. In scandals involving Clinton's pardons of Puerto Rican nationalists and fugitive Marc Rich, Holder had violated departmental protocols, ignored the views of victims and law enforcement professionals, colluded with Rich's attorneys, undermined prosecutors and circumvented DOJ's pardon attorney. A congressional investigation in 2002 called his conduct "unconscionable."

At his recent confirmation hearing, a chastened Holder assured senators that he had learned from the past and was committed to upholding the department's high standards. He specifically promised not to politicize DOJ's legal positions: "We don't change OLC opinions simply because a new administration takes over," he said. Any review "will not be a political process, it will be one based solely on our interpretation of the law."

Alas, less than two months into his tenure as attorney general, according to accounts in The Post last week, Holder has abused OLC for partisan political purposes. The facts, admittedly, are somewhat sketchy -- largely because Holder isn't complying with President Obama's promise of transparency. But here's what they show.

In the course of its usual task of reviewing pending legislation to identify constitutional problems, OLC determined that the D.C. voting rights bill, which would give the District of Columbia a voting member in the House of Representatives, is unconstitutional. The acting head of OLC, David Barron -- a liberal Harvard law professor appointed by Holder -- signed an opinion setting forth OLC's conclusion. That conclusion is no surprise, as it has been the Department of Justice's consistent position, under presidents of both parties, at least as far back as Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy in 1963 and as recently as two years ago.

When Holder, a longtime supporter of the voting rights bill, learned of the OLC determination, he acted to override it. He contacted another of his appointees, deputy solicitor general Neal K. Katyal, to ask whether Katyal's office could, under its usual standards, defend the bill in court. Katyal said it could, and Holder then overruled OLC.

Now, it's legitimate, if exceedingly rare, for an attorney general to contest OLC's advice. The office is, after all, exercising the advisory function the attorney general has delegated to it. But there's a right way to overrule OLC, and then there's Holder's way. The right way would have been for Holder to conduct a full and careful formal review of the legal question. If that review yielded the conclusion that Holder's position was in fact the best reading of the law -- an extremely unlikely conclusion, in my judgment -- then Holder would sign a written opinion to that effect.

Holder instead adopted a sham review that abused OLC's institutional role. In particular, the answer he solicited and received from Katyal was virtually meaningless. Holder didn't ask for Katyal's best judgment as to whether the D.C. bill was constitutional. He instead asked merely whether his own position that the bill is constitutional was so beyond the pale, so beneath the low level of plausible lawyers' arguments, so legally frivolous, that the Solicitor General's office, under its traditional commitment to defend any federal law for which any reasonable defense can be offered, wouldn't be able to defend it in court.

Holder hasn't signed an opinion setting forth his grounds for reversing OLC, and he also refuses to make the OLC opinion available.

To test whether your own politics color your perception of Holder's action, consider this hypothetical: It's 2001, and pro-life Republicans in Congress introduce a bill that would purport to overturn Roe v. Wade by declaring that the unborn are "persons" under the 14th Amendment. The Bush administration official heading OLC issues an opinion, consistent with the longstanding position of the Justice Department, that the bill is unconstitutional. Attorney General John D. Ashcroft consults with a lawyer in the Solicitor General's office, who tells him that the office could defend the bill in court. Ashcroft informs OLC that he is overriding its opinion. Wouldn't there be ample reason to be alarmed that Ashcroft was politicizing DOJ's legal positions? Can you imagine the ensuing scandal?

Of course, Ashcroft never did anything like what Holder has done.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, the nonvoting D.C. delegate to the House who aspires to be its voting representative, has made clear that she regards questions of constitutionality as irrelevant and that she thinks members of the House and Senate do, too. "I don't think members are in the least bit affected in their votes on the question of its constitutionality," she said just last week. "People vote their politics in the House and in the Senate."

If true, that's a very sad commentary on Congress. It's even sadder that it appears to apply to our attorney general as well.


As should be evident, this "man" has no business being anywhere near a position of influence in government. And yet there he is, the Attorney General of the United States, now parlaying his deference to terrorists and thieves into utter disregard for the constitution.

Eric Holder is an embarrassment. He should summarily be fired. But, then again, he should never have been hired in the first place.

Remember: this is the same administration that gave us Timothy Geithner, a tax cheat who lied about when he knew of the AIG bonuses -- and kept him after it became public knowledge.

Why would we expect Eric Holder to be anything other than a welcome addition?


CHIA OBAMA??????

Ken Berwitz

This is a definite finalist for most idiotic marketing idea of the century:

From Fox News:

Chia Obama' booted from
local stores

Last Edited: Friday, 03 Apr 2009, 5:30 PM EDT
Created On: Friday, 03 Apr 2009, 5:26 PM EDT

Image courtesy www.chiaobama.com.

TAMPA - Some local Walgreen's stores are pulling a supposed likeness of President Barack Obama off their shelves. The 'Chia Obama' will no longer be sold there.

Walgreen's spokesman Michael Polzin explained to FOX 13 that local store managers have the ability to purchase and market products -- like the Chia Obama -- on their own.

But now, the corporate office has asked stores to pull the product from their stores because, he said, it is not appropriate for the company's corporate image.

The Chia Obama is a version of the Chia Pet line, which features a ceramic figure upon which fresh greens are planted and allowed to grow, filling out the likeness of the subject.

Assuming Walgreen's is telling the truth and this dumbkopf idea was hatched by some of its managers instead of  the chain itself (frankly I'm skeptical), maybe they should be hauled in, one by one, and asked what they could possibly have been thinking?

What next?  A chia Howie Mandel, that starts with hair and loses it?


DETROIT ANOMIE UPDATE

Ken Berwitz

an⋅o⋅mie a state or condition of individuals or society characterized by a breakdown or absence of social norms and values

I've written about the condition of Detroit from time to time.  I've written about the incredible corruption of its now-resigned mayor kwame kilpatrick.  I've written about the overt racism of its city council.  And, believe me, I could have written a lot more.

If I cared to, I could write about Detroit every day -- because every day seems to bring new examples of the city's complete breakdown of governance, order and norms of behavior. 

Here is Detroit's latest outrage, brought to us by Steve Gilbert of www.sweetness-light.com.  It is guaranteed to appall you:

Monica Conyers Got Ex-Con Brother City Job

April 3rd, 2009

A shocking revelation (just kidding) from the Detroit News:

Reggie Esters

Conyers got ex-con brother city job

Building official says councilwoman recommended him; she denies it

David Josar / The Detroit News

April 3, 2009

Detroit A top city official says City Council President Monica Conyers pulled strings to get her brother, an ex-con with a violent record, a job in the building department that was to last only 120 days but was extended for two years.

"She came up to me, handed me his resume and said You should hire him. Hes a good guy, " said Amru Meah, director of Building & Safety Engineering.

Reggie Esters, 38, was fired from the $30,500 job last summer on claims of chronic absenteeism. About the same time, he was charged with 10 felonies stemming from allegations he brandished a shotgun at two people, according to court records. He pleaded guilty to one count and faces sentencing April 17.

Records obtained this week by The Detroit News show Esters submitted a resume showing he worked continuously for two construction firms from 1999 to 2006. State records show he was incarcerated for assault and weapons charges for much of that time.

Meah said Conyers wanted her brother hired as a $50,000 inspector, but he wasnt qualified and wouldnt pass a license exam. Instead, he was hired as an investigator who checked if businesses are properly licensed.

Conyers, whose maiden name is Esters, said Meah is wrong. She denied that Esters is her brother, despite papers filed in Wayne County Probate Court in 1976 that identify them as siblings with the same parents, Robert H. and Alice Esters.

"I have no idea what Mr. Meah is talking about," Conyers said.

Calls to Marlon Evans, Esters attorney, were not returned.

The city has no rules against hiring felons and Meah said he didnt know of Esters record until a reporter told him about it Thursday.

"Human Resources is supposed to check that," he said.

Daniel Cherrin, spokesman for Mayor Kenneth Cockrel Jr., said Esters position did not require a background check although Human Resources "looks for inconsistencies and other red flags."

Esters resume "was reviewed and he met the minimum requirement for the position," Cherrin said, but added that the person who headed Human Resources a the time, James Tyler, an appointee of former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, was fired shortly after Cockrel took office.

Cherrin did not know if any references were checked. None was listed on Esters application.

According to records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, Human Resources fast-tracked Esters hire as a commercial and residential investigator after Meah wrote that there was an "immediate need" to fill the position.

"Mr. Esters has the experience that we require for this position. Please see attached resume for your review," Meah wrote in an Oct. 27, 2006, letter to Tyler. Conyers was elected to the panel 11 months before.

Meah said he fired Esters last summer after he was repeatedly missing from work.

"I said, Hes not around. Fire him, " he said.

A provisional employee does not get benefits and can be terminated at any time.

Esters, who records indicate is one of Conyers three brothers, has been arrested at least 14 times since 1988, when he pleaded guilty to shoplifting in Redford Township and was put on probation for one year. In 1990, he was charged with first-degree murder but was acquitted after a jury trial. In 1998, he pleaded guilty to carrying a concealed weapon, according to Wayne Circuit Court records.

On his one-page resume, Esters stated that he had graduated from MacKenzie High School in 1988 and had worked as a "FORMAN" [sic] for Jenkins Construction in Detroit from 2000 to 2006 with responsibilities that included "Plan, organize and manage the overall construction development."

But on Sept. 20, 2001, Esters was incarcerated by the Michigan Department of Corrections after he pleaded guilty to assault with intent to cause great bodily harm and being a felon in possession of a weapon. He began his sentence in prison but was then transferred to a boot camp until he was released on May 30, 2006.

That was about the time Meah said Conyers approached him about finding a job for her brother.

Esters was reappointed five times to the post even though he had signed a statement saying he knew the job would last 120 days.

The practice is not uncommon in Detroit.

Detroit City Council President Monica Esters Conyers.

Alas, none of these practices is uncommon in any city or district run by the Democrat Party.

In fact, corruption seems to be the rule rather than the exception. Just as it is a rule that most of the media will never call him to task for this.

And of course he will never be asked to step down or ever be unelected.

Our favorite passage:

Conyers, whose maiden name is Esters, said Meah is wrong. She denied that Esters is her brother, despite papers filed in Wayne County Probate Court in 1976 that identify them as siblings with the same parents, Robert H. and Alice Esters.

Yes, some people get the government they deserve. But we all dont deserve it.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., ...

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., right, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., center, receive a petition on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 11, 2009, from Casa Maryland Executive Director Gustavo Torres, left, asking the Justice Department to investigate Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

And yes, this is the notorious wife of the notorious John Conyers, who is currently demanding that the Justice Department investigate (the great) Phoenix sheriff Joe Arpaio for malfeasance.

Detroit has become a sick joke, with a group of pathetic punch lines running the show.  And because Detroit's governance is dominated by Blacks, I believe that national media avoid talking about the city's state of anomie for fear of being called racist (as I'm sure I will be for daring to blog these words). 

Let me tell you something:  I'm no racist.  And calling Detroit what it is does not constitute racism.  It constitutes the reality that Detroit's citizens live with every day, the reality that has utterly destroyed their city.

Detroit is a desperately, maybe terminally, sick city, run by a group of corrupt clowns.  monica conyers is high on that list.  And her equally repulsive husband john is just as bad in congress.

It is long, long past time for our wonderful "neutral" media to start acting professionally and telling its readers/viewers/listeners what's going on there.


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