Friday, April 23, 2010

Just look in the mirror

Ernest Hemingway said once that to live and thrive in the world, one needs a "finely honed crap detector." When this was said years ago, if may have seemed overly blunt, but certainly on target. Today this device is an absolute necessity, especially when listening to Barrack H. Obama. His recent attack speech on Wall Street may have been useful in a short term political sense, but it further illustrates why this president has a large and growing credibility gap.

By implying all Wall Street until now has been "bilking" America is a lie to say the least. Obviously, people lose money in markets. Obviously, people lie and commit fraud in this and other markets. When the SEC isn't ogling porn, they catch them and send them to jail. If Obama doesn't like the fact we have fraud in some markets, perhaps we should just abolish markets and have [drum roll please] communism. Perhaps I should take this back since he's already to taken this suggestion far too seriously.

Obviously, a man like Obama with such a limited understanding of capital markets really only embraces Will Rogers investing: "Only buy stocks that go up." To ideologue Obama, losing money is fraud, somebody betting against you dishonest, and people making more money you is not "fair." Funny, didn't JFK, the last decent Democratic president have something to say on this point? His quote was: "life is not fair." People lie and commit fraud all the time with little or no consequence. Ball players like Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Miguel Tejada etc. . . lied and committed fraud and never went to jail or forfeited one dime. And they continue to ply their trade. (though with Ortiz , who knows how much longer.) Back to politics, Barrack Obama said he wouldn't take private money for his campaign, but then he did. And lo and behold, the fraud was elected president. Barrack Obama raised cigarette taxes which raised taxes on those making less than $150,000 a year. Yes, politicians break promises all the time, but Obama has lied about breaking this promise ever since. One standard seems to apply to Democrats and another to everyone else.

Take this financial reform for instance. It doesn't even mention Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which provided most of the sub-prime loans that those "evil" Wall Street firms then repackaged, sold or shorted. In other words, the gasoline that caused our financial house to burn down is still lying around waiting to catch fire again. And this is touted as "real reform?" As we'll see later Obama and the Democrats have good reason for exempting Fannie and Freddie. But now, what about the banks themselves?

Are these banks still too big to fail? According to the bill, the government will simply step in and bail them out again. Doesn't this sound reminiscent of the mess we just got out of? The obvious threat of large institutions flopping and the taxpayer picking up the tab is still very much alive. This bill doesn't address that point at all. In fact, by creating a $50 billion dollar bailout fund, some might be further encouraged to make risky investments and again have the government clean up the mess. Also, chew on this: the first bailout of AIG was over $80 billion. That was just the initial bailout. So this bailout fund will be like fighting a house fire with a garden hose -next to useless. Right now, the government is already on the hook for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to the tune of over $400 Billion. Sad to say, but in bailout terms $50 billion is chump change.

Speaking of Freddie and Fannie, it is interesting that Rahm Emanuel, Obama's chief of staff was on the board of Freddie Mac. Should he give back his his $320,000 in salary and his $100,000 from sale of stock for helping run Freddie into the ground? Of course not! That would identify him as one of those dreaded Wall Street fat cats that the President is always decrying. No one wants Rahm to get in any trouble. After all, he wants to be the mayor of Chicago and we all know how spotless the reputation of that office is. Rahm also snatched $51,000 from Fannie and Freddie serving in Congress, after his stint with Freddie. My favorite taker of the cash from Fannie and Freddie has to be Democratic representative Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania. Kanjorski, a regular on CNBC, is chairman of the subcommittee overseeing Fannie and Freddie. He grabbed $65,000 in campaign cash from Fannie and Freddie. That sure is some oversight! Please ignore that politician with "his pants down and money sticking in his hole" as Lou Reed used to sing. Sure Obama could get off his lazy duff, walk down the hall at the White House and collar his very own fat cat, but he really doesn't have to go even that far. Who was the third largest collector of campaign cash from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac all time? That's right: Barrack H. Obama.

Let's dig on this more. The other campaign cash hogs were Chris Dodd and John Kerry. Dodd was elected to the Senate in 1980. Kerry was elected in 1984. Both of these tainted money boys have been in Washington for 28 and 24 years respectively. So they had been on the Fannie and Freddie money train for awhile. Dodd collects $133,900 and Kerry grabs $111,000. Dodd, by the way, is the principal author of this financial "reform" bill. Certainly, no reason for him to leave Fannie and Freddie unmentioned.

So here comes Barrack Obama elected in 2004. He serves less than 4 years and heists $105,000! He certainly bilked Freddie and Fannie fast. Forget returning the Goldman campaign contributions for Goldman is still solvent. Will Obama give back the campaign cash from Freddie and Fannie? That money could go right back into the U.S. Treasury now that Fannie and Freddie are broke, Call it sharing the wealth, paying back the tax payer dime or just doing the right thing. If Obama really wants find one of the fat cats responsible for this financial mess, all he has to do is look in the mirror.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Afghanistan Lost

Do I sound like Harry Reid? The Nevada Senator referred to the Iraq war as lost during the debate on President Bush's surge in Iraq. Unlike Harry Reid and his exercise in wishful thinking, I have no desire to see the U.S. fail in Afghanistan. I believe failure there would mean someday we would have to return and pacify that country all over again. Also, unlike Harry Reid I do not wish the Obama Administration take the wrong course in this war. I have made my thoughts plain as to what I felt was the right way: an increased force size backed by a larger U.S. Army with no timetable so our enemies could not plan around our thrust. Also, unlike Harry Reid, I believe we have chosen to lose this war, not been defeated on the battlefield.

It's been a little over two weeks since current President Obama visited Afghanistan in drive-thru fashion. Following, the usual Obama lecture and a few pictures, he was gone. Sadly the few photos and the brief discussion of this vital issue quickly disappeared in the next issue du jour and then the next.. First, came a phony off shore drilling proposal, followed by an appeasement arms control deal with Russia and finally, a Potemkin village dressed up as nuclear security summit. These were calculated gimmicks all. Transitory fluff aimed at obscuring a train wreck in progress.

Bill Clinton and Dick Morris pioneered the issue of the day mode of operation back in the nineties. The big difference is that the Clinton issues were minor and at worst, guilty of the usual left wing condescension and time wasting. School uniforms springs to mind. With Obama, the ante has been upped. Minor distractions no longer suffice. If the issues that distract America from a war she will lose, be large and complex, then so much the better. It does not matter in Obama's mind that America has stripped itself of missile defense or that foreign energy dependence is disguised or that banter about Chile replaces confronting Iran. All that matters is that a war that will be lost in two years time is given a quick push to the side. Then we're off to the next propaganda item.

Make no mistake this war is not being lost by the troops. Even now, U.S. troops and allies have made large strides in controlling former hot spots, but this is for naught. President Obama has declared that the United States will give up, turn tail and run and leave our Afghan allies twisting in the wind in two years. It's no wonder that Afghan President Hamid Karzai is talking about joining the Taliban. In two years, Kabul will be back under Taliban control. Obama will try to time the withdrawal near the 2012 election. This may work politically, but after the election, Mullah Omar and his pal Usama Bin Laden will be back in their old haunts. This will obviously be a large complex problem for Obama's second term (provided he lies well enough to get one) but he won't really care. He'll never face the voters again.

Am I too cynical?(perish the thought!) Take the example of sainted FDR and the Invasion of North Africa in 1942 during World War II. Lagging in the polls, FDR urged the generals to invade before the November Congressional elections. The generals informed the Democratic president that they weren't ready to invade. Lacking a positive event to spin, FDR and the Democrats watched as the Republicans made hefty gains in the Congressional elections. Trading lives for spin isn't new, but usually those who do have done so tend to have been Nazis or Communists, i.e. the political extremists.

Nowadays, Obama is often called a Communist/Marxist for his economic policies. By touting "social justice" and telling people what's "fair" he seeks to level society swiping from one class and giving to another, creating a group dependent on his stolen handouts. This fairly straightforward communist money grab has been widely commented on. Obama has reacted like a brazen hussy caught in a cat house by in effect saying "Who me a commie?" I'll let others fry the chief executives fish regarding the "share the wealth" con. My concern here is for the men and women who fight a war in Afghanistan that Obama has already thrown in the towel. Coincidentally or not, here too Obama is following a communist game plan. Remember who the last invader of Afghanistan was?

In his book, The Great Gamble, Gregory Feifer details the savage, insipid attempt by the communist Soviet Union to subdue Afghanistan. At first, there wasn't much resistance when the Soviets first invaded in 1979, but soon there was a fierce guerrilla war raging in the hills and mountains of Afghanistan. Gradually, the Soviets began to make headway. By the mid eighties, the Soviet trained Afghan Army was actually effective when used in tandem with Soviet forces. Fighting had become even more intense, yet the Soviets were "gaining the upper hand in the war." Then Soviet leader Gorbachev ordered the military to wrap up the war in one to two years. In December 1986, Gorbachev met with Najibullah, the Afghan communist leader to tell him that the Soviets would completely withdraw in two years time. In February 1989, a little more than two years later, the last Soviet troops left Afghanistan. The mujahedin quickly began to fight amongst themselves which led to almost complete anarchy. Out of this chaos, rose the Taliban, who subsequently rolled out the welcome mat for Bin Laden. For the record, in 1996, Najibullah was caught by the Taliban in Kabul castrated then beheaded.

It has been said history repeats itself, just not in the same way. In this instance, it seems once the U.S. and other coalition forces pullout, history will take the same path. For now, we are in the pullout stage. Obama may try to stiffen the spine of Hamid Karzai with talk, but Karzai better have his plane tickets for Geneva ready. It's beyond sad the sacrifice that U.S. servicemen and women have made and are being asked to make for a war already categorized as lost. As horrible as the waste our troops and treasure, it's even worse for the Afghans. They get played with this hoax of hope and soon the night of the Taliban will return. Hell is returning to Afghanistan. What is right next door to this future hell hole? That's right, tottering unstable nuclear armed Pakistan. The sheer stupidity, senseless waste and nauseous political grandstanding by the Obama Administration boggles the mind.

Afghanistan never was and probably never will be an easy place to fight a war, but sometimes preventing things like another 9/11 are not easy. Sometimes, it requires decades of time, thousands of lives and billions of dollars. Some people don't want hard answers, but the answers life gives are in accord only to themselves.

Can Karzai survive on his own? Let's let Najibullah answer that one. Perhaps the dead can provide a view that will be illuminating. After a departing Russian Communist general gave him a pep talk, the Afghan Communist had a curt response. "There used to be 100,000 Soviet troops here," Najibullah replied defiantly. "And together with our army they couldn't neutralize the enemy. Now your forces have gone. What can we hope for?"