Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Worst Predictions of 2008

Here is an interesting list published by Business Week about the worst predictions of 2008. I wonder why number 4 is included in the list. President Bush’s prediction has been confirmed every day by the Stock Market.







1. "A very powerful and durable rally is in the works. But it may need another couple of days to lift off. Hold the fort and keep the faith!" -- Richard Band, editor, Profitable Investing Letter, Mar. 27, 2008
At the time of the prediction, the Dow Jones industrial average was at 12,300. By late December it was at 8,500.

2. AIG (NYSE:AIG - News) "could have huge gains in the second quarter." -- Bijan Moazami, analyst, Friedman, Billings, Ramsey, May 9, 2008
AIG wound up losing $5 billion in that quarter and $25 billion in the next. It was taken over in September by the U.S. government, which will spend or lend $150 billion to keep it afloat.

3. "I think this is a case where Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE - News) and Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM - News) are fundamentally sound. They're not in danger of going under I think they are in good shape going forward." -- Barney Frank (D-Mass.), House Financial Services Committee chairman, July 14, 2008
Two months later, the government forced the mortgage giants into conservatorships and pledged to invest up to $100 billion in each.

4. "The market is in the process of correcting itself." -- President George W. Bush, in a Mar. 14, 2008 speech
For the rest of the year, the market kept correcting and correcting and correcting.

5. "No! No! No! Bear Stearns is not in trouble." -- Jim Cramer, CNBC commentator, Mar. 11, 2008
Five days later, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM - News) took over Bear Stearns with government help, nearly wiping out shareholders.

6. "Existing-Home Sales to Trend Up in 2008" -- Headline of a National Association of Realtors press release, Dec. 9, 2007
On Dec. 23, 2008, the group said November sales were running at an annual rate of 4.5 million -- down 11% from a year earlier -- in the worst housing slump since the Depression.

7. "I think you'll see (oil prices at) $150 a barrel by the end of the year" -- T. Boone Pickens, June 20, 2008
Oil was then around $135 a barrel. By late December it was below $40.

8. "I expect there will be some failures. I don't anticipate any serious problems of that sort among the large internationally active banks that make up a very substantial part of our banking system." -- Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve chairman, Feb. 28, 2008
In September, Washington Mutual became the largest financial institution in U.S. history to fail. Citigroup (NYSE:C - News) needed an even bigger rescue in November.

9. "In today's regulatory environment, it's virtually impossible to violate rules." -- Bernard Madoff, money manager, Oct. 20, 2007
About a year later, Madoff -- who once headed the Nasdaq Stock Market -- told investigators he had cost his investors $50 billion in an alleged Ponzi scheme.

10. A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win, the title of a book by conservative commentator Shelby Steele, published on Dec. 4, 2007.Mr. Steele, meet President-elect Barack Obama.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

About the Situation in Israel

Still on vacation, but here are some interesting Israeli links.

The IDF has placed its own videos on YouTube. It offers an alternative to the mainstream media.

Caroline Glick has an article in The Jerusalem Post about Hamas new Sharia criminal laws that among other things it includes the legalization of crucifixion. I guess it was done in the spirit of the season.

The Washington Post has an article about innocent Gazans suffering. Innocent Israelis suffered under a barrage of 4000 Qassam missiles, now it's their turn. Besides, if the Gazans elected Hamas and allow the storage of weapons in civilian buildings, how innocent can they be?

The usual anti-Israelis and anti-Semites are using "humanitarian efforts" to make Israel look bad. Cynthia McKinney is among them. Case closed.

Paper on the international legal issues of the conflict between Israel and Gaza.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Great Quotes

It is fascinating to see that politicians whose interventions in mortgage lending have created a disaster in financial institutions are now moving on to intervene in the automobile industry. Thomas Sowel, PhD.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

From Mark Steyn, Journalist Extraordinaire


Mark Steyn
Since I am on vacation, I decided to cut and paste some of my favorite articles, enjoy!

This is a fantastic article by one of my favorite commentators, Mark Steyn. If you don't know him, look him up on the Internet. He wrote a book, America Alone, a simple and to the point study of the West and Islam. By the way, he is not Jewish.


WHO'S VULNERABLE? Mark Steyn on the World Saturday, 13
December 2008

Shortly after the London Tube bombings in 2005, a reader of Tim Blair, the
Sydney Daily Telegraph's columnar wag, sent him a note-perfect parody of a
typical newspaper headline: "British Muslims Fear Repercussions Over Tomorrow's
Train Bombing."Indeed. And so it goes.

This time round - Bombay - it was the Associated Press that filed a story
about how Muslims "found themselves on the defensive once again about bloodshed
linked to their religion."Oh, I don't know about that. In fact, you'd be hard
pressed from most news reports to figure out the bloodshed was "linked" to any
religion, least of all one beginning with "I-" and ending in "-slam." In the
three years since those British bombings, the media have more or less entirely
abandoned the offending formulations - "Islamic terrorists," "Muslim extremists"
- and by the time of the assault on Bombay found it easier just to call the
alleged perpetrators "militants" or "gunmen" or "teenage gunmen," as in the
opening line of this report in the Australian: "An Adelaide woman in India for
her wedding is lucky to be alive after teenage gunmen ran amok." Kids today, eh?
Always running amok in an aimless fashion.

The veteran British TV anchor Jon Snow, on the other hand, opted for the
more cryptic locution "practitioners." "Practitioners" of what, exactly? Hard to
say. And getting harder. Tom Gross produced a jaw-dropping round-up of Bombay
media coverage: The discovery that, for the first time in an Indian terrorist
atrocity, Jews had been attacked, tortured, and killed produced from the New
York Times a serene befuddlement: "It is not known if the Jewish center was
strategically chosen, or if it was an accidentalhostage scene." Hmm. Greater
Bombay forms one of the world's five biggest cities. It has a population of
nearly 20 million. But only one Jewish center, located in a building that gives
no external clue as to the bounty waiting therein. An "accidental hostage scene"
that one of the "practitioners" just happened to stumble upon? "I must be the
luckiest jihadist in town. What are the odds?"

Meanwhile, the New Age guru Deepak Chopra laid all the blame on American
foreign policy for "going after the wrong people" and inflaming moderates, and
"that inflammation then gets organized and appears as this disaster in
Bombay."Really? The inflammation just "appears"? Like a bad pimple? The "fairer"
we get to the, ah, inflamed militant practitioners, the unfairer we get to
everyone else. At the Chabad House, the murdered Jews were described in almost
all the Western media as "ultra-Orthodox," "ultra-" in this instance being less
a term of theological precision than a generalized code for "strange, weird
people, nothing against them personally, but they probably shouldn't have been
over there in the first place." Are they stranger or weirder than their killers?

Two "inflamed moderates" entered the ChabadHouse, shouted "Allahu Akbar!,"
tortured the Jews and murdered them, including the young Rabbi's pregnant wife.
Their two-year-old child escaped because of a quick-witted (non-Jewish) nanny
who hid in a closet and then, risking being mown down by machine-gun fire, ran
with him to safety.

The Times was being silly in suggesting this was just an "accidental"
hostage opportunity - and not just because, when Muslim terrorists capture Jews,
it's not a hostage situation, it's a mass murder-in-waiting. The sole surviving
"militant" revealed that the Jewish center had been targeted a year in advance.

The 28-year-old rabbi was Gavriel Holtzberg. His pregnant wife was Rivka
Holtzberg. Their orphaned son is Moshe Holtzberg, and his brave nanny is Sandra
Samuels. Remember their names, not because they're any more important than the
Indians, Britons, and Americans targeted in the attack on Bombay, but because
they are an especially revealing glimpse into the pathologies of the
perpetrators.

In a well-planned attack on iconic Bombay landmarks symbolizing great power
and wealth, the "militants" nevertheless found time to divert 20 percent of
their manpower to torturing and killing a handful of obscure Jews helping the
city's poor in a nondescript building. If they were just "teenage gunmen" or
"militants" in the cause of Kashmir, engaged in a more or less conventional
territorial dispute with India, why kill the only rabbi in Bombay?

Dennis Prager got to the absurdity of it when he invited his readers to
imagine Basque separatists attacking Madrid: "Would the terrorists take time out
to murder all those in the Madrid Chabad House? The idea is ludicrous." And yet
we take it for granted that Pakistani "militants" in a long-running border
dispute with India would take time out of their hectic schedule to kill Jews.

In going to ever more baroque lengths to avoid saying "Islamic" or "Muslim"
or "terrorist," we have somehow managed to internalize the pathologies of these
men.We are enjoined to be "understanding," and we're doing our best.

A Minnesotan suicide bomber (now there's a phrase) originally from Somalia
returned to the old country and blew up himself and 29 other people last
October. His family prevailed upon your government to have his parts (or as many
of them as could be sifted from the debris) returned to the United States at
taxpayer expense and buried in Burnsville Cemetery. Well, hey, in the current
climate, what's the big deal about a federal bailout of jihad operational
expenses? If that's not "too big to fail," what is?

Last week, a Canadian critic reprimanded me for failing to understand that
Muslims feel "vulnerable." Au contraire, they project tremendous cultural
confidence, as well they might: They're the world's fastest-growing population.
A prominent British Muslim announced the other day that, when the United Kingdom becomes a Muslim state, non-Muslims will be required to wear insignia
identifying them as infidels. If he's feeling "vulnerable," he's doing a
terrific job of covering it up.

We are told that the "vast majority" of the 1.6-1.8 billion Muslims (in
Deepak Chopra's estimate) are "moderate." Maybe so, but they're also quiet. And,
as the AIDs activists used to say, "Silence=Acceptance." It equals acceptance of
the things done in the name of their faith.

Rabbi Holtzberg was not murdered because of a territorial dispute over
Kashmir or because of Bush's foreign policy. He was murdered in the name of
Islam - "Allahu Akbar."

I wrote in my book, America Alone, that "reforming" Islam is something only Muslims can do. But they show very little sign of being interested in doing it, and the rest of us are inclined to accept that. Spread a rumor that a Koran got flushed down the can at Gitmo, and there'll be rioting throughout the Muslim world. Publish some dull cartoons in a minor Danish newspaper, and there'll be protests around the planet. But slaughter the young pregnant wife of a rabbi in Bombay in the name of Allah, and that's just business as usual. And, if it is somehow "understandable" that for the first time in history it's no longer safe for a Jew to live in India, then
we are greasing the skids for a very slippery slope. Muslims, the AP headline
informs us, "worry about image." Not enough.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

See you in 2009

I am on vacation and will return to blogging in 2009. To all my friends, Happy Holidays.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Donations or Baksheesh?

Former President Clinton has just released the list of donors to his foundation in an effort to help Hilary navigate through the confirmation hearings. The donations included $ 10-25 million from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, $ 5-10 million from Friends of Saudi Arabia and $ 1-5 million each from Nasser al-Rashid from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Brunei and Oman.

The list continues with other names of foreign nationals with donations in the millions of dollars.

I find it extremely hard to believe that those donations were made without a quid pro quo, and simply out of an altruistic concern for world poverty. The above-mentioned nations are not known for their altruism nor concern for the poor, and very well known for using the “baksheesh” as a method of lubrication.

When former President Reagan received $ 2million speaking fee from Japan, there was an outcry from the media, which considered this fee outrageous, and beneath the dignity of a former president. Clinton has received over $ 100 million in speaking fees and almost half a billion dollars in contributions to his foundation and the media calls him a statesman.

Perhaps Hilary will do her job as secretary of state with impartiality, but the doubts will remain with every decision taken by the State Department. India will complain when we side with Pakistan, and Pakistan when we side with India. The same will occur in the Middle East.

These donations and the ethical reputation of the Clintons do not bode well for foreign affairs in the Obama administration.

Finally, why do politicians report donations and their worth in scales? $10-25 million, $1-5 million. Can't they report in concrete approximations? Imagine doing your taxes and reporting income of $25-100 thousand. Which number do you suppose the IRS would use?

Where is the Free Flow of Ideas and Opinions?


Deniers are shown that man made global warming is real

CNN meteorologist Chad Meyers, discussing the snowfall in Las Vegas, called the belief of man made global warming arrogant. Myers, who earned a bachelor's degree in meteorology from the University of Nebraska and holds the American Meteorological Society Seal of Approval, has 22 years experience in the field. He went on to ridicule the notion that increases in hurricanes were caused by global warming and proceeded to explain the lack of information concerning weather patterns, since the data available is limited to the last 100 years.

Mr. Meyers drew strong condemnation from the usual subjects, and proceeded to retract the next day stating “the globe is getting warmer and humans are the likely the main cause of it.”

Once again, this illustrates the stifling of debate on this subject and the power held on the flow of information by environmentalist Torquemadas who have yet to retract for anything they have ever said and proven wrong.

If we allow the continuation of a one sided debate on the issue of man made global warming, there will definitely be a rise in temperatures, but it will be caused the amount of hot air produced by the high priests of the environmental movement.

Well, forgive me for writing such a short entry, but I have to go spread some salt in the driveway. New York expects 6 inches of snow. Must be global warming.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Banks, Bailouts, Economic Stimuli and Inflation.


We all remember the history lessons about the Weimar Republic, and we have all seen the German stamps with new prices reprinted on top of the old ones reaching into the billions of Marks. I have a 5 million pesos bill from Argentina that I use as a bookmarker. The economist Walter Williams in his latest column reminds us of Hungary in 1946, when prices doubled every 16 hours for an annual inflation rate of 1 quadrillion percent and Zimbabwe where prices doubled every 25 hours for an inflation rate of 80 billion percent, making the 30,000% of the Weimar republic seem almost insignificant.

Imagine taking a cab ride in the morning and then the same ride in the evening costing 10% more, and 10% more the next morning and so on again and again. And the same phenomenon occurring with groceries, housing, commodities and the cost of living in general. This is inflation. The most devastating taxation a government can impose while evading the legislative process, all achieved by the uncontrolled printing of money.

The policies that the Bush administration has put into place and which Barack Hussein Obama seems to enthusiastically approve of are preludes to an inflationary period probably unprecedented in the economic annals of the United States. The stimulus and bailout proposed will cost, by conservative estimates, a trillion and a half dollars, and it probably will end up costing twice as much, as all governmental projects always do. For the uninformed, trillion is a 1 followed by 12 zeros. This sum cannot be produced without borrowing and printing. And the result of this is always inflation.

We are not looking into inflationary periods such as the ones described above, but 20% to 40% could have a devastating effect on this country. People on fixed income would find that the purchasing power of their savings and pensions has eroded dramatically. The middle class would face extinction, as their income today becomes the poverty level of tomorrow.

The Federal Reserve lowering of interest rates to 0-0.25% has to be seen as an acknowledgement that they don’t know where to go from here. The last resort thus, becomes the printing press, or as some irresponsible politicians want, higher taxes. Both of these will move us closer and closer to economic disaster.

The government is taking these measures to prevent loses of jobs, but losing a million to two million jobs will look insignificant in comparison to the economic devastation of a period of 30% inflation.

We must insist that the government proceed with the only policy that it is qualified to do, namely, get off our backs and let the collapse of incompetent companies take place. Companies have failed before and will fail in the future. This is how the market disciplines itself. A message that the taxpayers will be here to rescue them sends the wrong signal.

The same is true about the banking industry. Lately I have heard often that banks are different, and must be rescued. Nonsense. Let those banks that were managed correctly take over the ones who were not.

Another fallacy is that banks are not providing credit. More nonsense. Banks are not lending to those who shouldn't be borrowing in the first place. Many of us have opened CD’s in the last few months, and the banks were glad to take our money. How will they pay us the interest owed if they don’t lend it? Lending to the wrong borrowers is what put us in this crisis in the first place.

I am amazed at the arrogance of those politicians who believe that they can control uncontrollable economic forces. Their only experience has been controlling the weather, and producing alternative sources of energy. And we have all seen how successful they have been in these endeavors.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

We Gave Them Freedom; They Give Us Shoes

Here we are, in the first decade of the 21st century, discussing an incident that took place in Iraq and is reflective of the Arab world and its medieval retrograde culture and mentality. I am referring to the incident where “journalist” Muntadar al-Zaidi threw his shoes at President Bush, and managed to become overnight the darling of the Arab world, MSNBC, and those around the world who suffer from Bush Derangement Syndrome. I read several articles that although critical of al-Zaidi, attempted to explain the resentment felt by many towards president Bush. What these comments failed to convey was the hatred towards America. Al-Zaidi is but a manifestation of this hatred. The shoe was aimed at Bush, but the intended target was the United States.

Arabs use shoes as a major insult because they are considered unclean, and based on my experience with Arabs I can understand why. It seems that Arabs do not consider shoe polish too important. In any event, Arabs do not even cross their legs to avoid offending the person sitting next to them by showing their soles. Such sophisticated culture. Let’s see. You can marry a child; rape victims can be stoned for having had sex; women must cover every part of their body; women can be killed by relatives to preserve the family honor; homosexuals are thrown from high buildings; one can blow himself up to gain access to paradise and fulfill fantasies about sex and virgins, but you are not to show the sole of your shoe. And to think that they criticize Western societies.

Watching the incident on the news, I couldn't’t help but reflect on how much Bush did for the Iraqi people. Where else in the Islamic world can you throw a shoe at a leader and survive? My regret at this point is for every American life that was sacrificed to free a people who deserve a Saddam. They idolize tyrannies and will restore a despot as soon as the last American leaves Iraq. Saddam gave Iraqis executions, bullets, grinders, nooses, electrocution, poison gas, and every sadistic tool at his disposal, we gave them freedom and they show their gratitude with shoes.

Meanwhile, some articles are reporting that the imprisoned journalist was beaten in jail. Interesting. I guess there is not too much debate among Arabs about torturing prisoners in jail. Of course, as long as the prisoner is not hit with a shoe.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Global Warming and Hysterical Reporting


Click on the graph to enlarge.
AP is again in the business spreading fear rather than reporting. In a hysterical article about disappearing ice in the Arctic Sea, rising levels of the oceans, disappearing species and a connection between solutions and the economic crisis, we are told that Barack Hussein Obama will have to act immediately to save the planet from sure extinction, an event that might start as early as 2013. Where have I heard this before? Oh, it was in 1975 when the prophets of doom told us that by the year 2000 overpopulation was going to lead to a billion people dying of starvation and the Eastern coast of the United States was about to become a desert because of acid rain.

The report proceeds to explain that since 1992, the USA increased the emissions of carbon dioxide by 20% while China more than doubled these emissions. I guess that among the many miracles performed by the new administration, convincing China to curb its economic growth will be at the top of the list. No mention in the article about India and Brazil and their increase in emissions.

Meanwhile, the article concludes by explaining that 2008 is coming to an end with a decline in temperatures. This cooling is offered as further evidence of global warming. Yes, you may read this paragraph again. I did.

Meanwhile, I didn’t see anything in this report about the exaggerated forecasts of James Hansen from NASA’s Goddard Institute, whose forecasts are contrasted in the above graph. When will incorrect scientific forecasts receive the same amount of headlines as when the forecasts were initially made? Probably when Chicago elects honest politicians.

The Wisdom of the Elders of Chelm

The myth of the Elders of Chelm in Jewish literature represents a collection of tales about the Jewish residents of this city, opinionated, but not too swift. For example, one resident demanded that a fish be sentenced to death by drowning.

However on global warming they were right on target when they explained the reasons for the fluctuations in temperature. It makes as much sense as the explanations offered by Al Gore.

…Gronam [the oldest of the Elders of Chelm] said, “Last night I couldn’t sleep a
wink for thinking about why it is hot in the summertime. Finally the answer came
to me.” “What is it?” the elders chorused.

“Because all winter long the stoves are heated and this heat stays in Chelm and makes summer hot.” All the elders nodded their heads, excepting Dopey Lekisch, who asked, “Then why is it cold in the winter?”

“It’s clear why,” replied Gronam. “The stoves are not heated in the summer, so there is no heat left over for the winter.”

Saturday, December 13, 2008

No Separation of Church and State for Muslims in the West


A woman is caned in Indonesia for illegal contact with a man. This punishment is sanctioned by sharia law.

In an entry on November 27, 2008, I linked to an article dealing with the issue of Sharia Compliant Finances to illustrate how the West is going out of its way to satisfy the demands of Muslims. Several additional examples of this can be seen in the following articles.

On September 14, 2008, the Times of London reported that the first official Sharia courts had opened in the United Kingdom, in the cities of London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester with the network’s headquarters in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. Two more courts are being planned for Glasgow and Edinburgh. These courts have the power to rule on civil cases. The article goes on to report:

The government has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence. Rulings issued by a network of five sharia courts are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court.

How does English common law reconcile it's laws against domestic violence with sharia law which sanctions wife beating? Are we next going to see a murderer exonerated when a daughter is assassinated for dishonoring the family?

Another report from Tucson, Arizona, explains how Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, set up cleansing stations for Muslim limo and taxi drivers so that they can cleanse and wash their feet before prayer. Airport management explained that the facility was funded through airport user fees, and not at taxpayer expense. I fail to see the difference. Non-Muslim passengers are forced to pay for the practices of Muslims.

In another report on educational issues we find that cities such as New York, Dearborn, Dallas and San Diego, with heavy concentrations of Muslims, are providing students of this faith with accommodations for prayer. Some school districts in Michigan have gone as far as purchasing halal food for their school lunches.

Finally, the insanity of this situation is best illustrated by an article from England in The Telegraph which explains that Catholic schools were informed by Catholic bishops in England and Scotland that they should set aside multi-faith prayer rooms to accommodate Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh students. If students and parents of non-Catholic children are so concerned about their faith, why are they sending their children to Catholic schools? And why are Catholic Bishops so spineless? I can imagine the reaction of an Imam in a private Muslim school if parents of non-Muslim students demanded kosher food, or ham and cheese sandwiches and a chapel for their Catholic or Jewish children.

This time of the year, when we hear about the ACLU and other liberal organizations demanding that a creche or a Chanukah menorah be removed from public places in the name of an imaginary constitutional command for "separation of church and state," their silence on Muslim religion encroachment into public institutions is deafening.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Let's Emulate Europe on Torture

Opponents of torture have long argued that besides being inhuman, torture doesn’t work and prisoners lie or just tell what they expect the interrogators want to hear. Europeans in particular voiced some of the most stringent opposition to the use of torture for interrogation.

In an article by John Rosenthal published in Policy Review this debate is presented with a concrete case that occurred in Germany and was eventually supported by The European Court of Human Rights (echr). The article juxtaposes the case of a kidnapper, Magnus Gäfgen, and the policy of The Pentagon concerning torture. Furthermore, this case shows that under the threat of pain suspects do provide valuable information.

Here is a summary of the article that was posted by James Taranto in Best of the Web:

In the Frankfurt police headquarters, the atmosphere is tense. Deputy
Police Chief Wolfgang Daschner is losing patience. On the previous day, his
officers arrested one Magnus Gäfgen, a 27-year-old law student. Gäfgen is
suspected of having kidnapped 11-year-old Jakob von Metzler, son of the banker
Friedrich von Metzler. Two days earlier, Gäfgen had personally collected a
1-million-euro ransom payment. But there is no sign of the boy and Gäfgen has
refused to give police interrogators accurate information about his whereabouts.
A police psychologist, observing the questioning, describes Gäfgen's responses
as a "pack of lies" [Lügengebäude]. Deputy Police Chief Daschner fears that
Jakob's life may be in danger. In a memorandum, he writes: "We need to ascertain
without delay where the boy is being held. While respecting the principle of
proportionality, the police have an obligation to take all measures in their
power to save the child's life."

Daschner decides to act. He dispatches police inspector Ortwin
Ennigkeit to the office in which Gäfgen is being held for interrogation.
Ennigkeit's assignment: to make Gäfgen talk--if necessary by threat of torture.
Indeed, Daschner has resolved not only to threaten Gäfgen with pain, but to
carry out the threat if his prisoner is not otherwise forthcoming. A doctor has
been found to supervise the proceedings.

In the interrogation room, Ennigkeit tells Gäfgen that a "special
officer" is on his way. If Gäfgen does not tell Ennigkeit where the boy
is, the "special officer" will "make him feel pain that he will not forget." On
Gäfgen's own account, the formula is still more menacing: the officer "will make
you feel pain like you have never felt before." "Nobody can help you here,"
Ennigkeit tells him, according to Gäfgen's testimony. "We can do whatever we
want with you." On Gäfgen's account, moreover, Ennigkeit already begins to rough
him up: shaking him so violently that his head bangs against the wall and
hitting him in the chest hard enough to leave a bruise over his collarbone.
Gäfgen's testimony is consistent with the tenor of Daschner's instructions,
which, on Daschner's own admission, called for the "use of direct force"
[Anwendung unmittelbaren Zwangs].

Gäfgen broke and told police where he had buried Jakob's body. That was
October 2002: In June 2005, the child-murderer and law student Magnus Gäfgen
lodged a complaint against Germany with the European Court of Human Rights
(ECHR). In his complaint, Gäfgen accused Germany of having violated his rights
under the European Convention on Human Rights and, more specifically, of having
violated the prohibition on torture contained in Article 3 of the Convention.

On June 30, 2008, the European Court of Human Rights rejected Gäfgen's complaint and cleared Germany of the charge of tolerating torture.

Also in October 2002, interrogators at Guantanamo Bay asked for permission to use similar methods on al Qaeda terrorist Mohammed al-Qahtani. The Pentagon said no. Now that Barack Obama has won the presidency, perhaps it is time for American interrogators to revise their practices to bring them into line with European ones.

Schadenfreude

Some interesting facts about Chicago as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times in 2006. Since 1976, 79 elected officials were convicted of corruption. They included 27 aldermen, 19 judges, 15 state legislators, three governors, two congressmen and one mayor.

Somehow, I have the feeling that the number will increase significantly in the coming months. Will Washington be affected by Chicago housecleaning? Rahm Emanuel remains uncharacteristically silent on the topic.

Thank God, in New York we don't have any corruption. Charlie Rangel himself said so.

Parody

We have learned that Chicago Democrats have overheard Governor Blago discuss the value his resignation would have on the party. “You don’t resign for free. The resignation of a corrupt official is too f….ing valuable, and I am not f….ing resigning until they give me a f…ing pardon.”

In the meantime, Reverend Jackson has denied being the emissary for his son in the discussions over the appointment of a replacement for B. Hussein Obama’s senate seat. He stated in his defense: “I don’t have experience offering payoffs to extortionists. My field of expertise is limited to being the extortionist.” He then proceeded to explain that in the old days his son would have gotten the appointment by using the "R" word, but against Obama that wont fly.

As he left the press conference Rev. Jackson was overheard mumbling to himself that he still feels like performing testicular removal surgery on Obama.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Umbrellas Fold

Ha’aretz reports from Israel that the Obama administration is willing to offer Israel a nuclear umbrella in case of a nuclear attack on the part of Iran. This would mean that the United States would retaliate with a devastating nuclear attack if Israel were ever attacked by Iran with nuclear weapons. Analysts view this as acceptance on the part of the United States that Iran will become a nuclear power.

Israel should just say NO! Retaliation would come too late.

A nuclear attack would mean the annihilation of Israel. The retaliation, if it took place, would do nothing to save Israel. As long as religious fundamentalists, who expect the return of the Mahdi, continue to rule Iran, the retaliation by the United States might be actually viewed as a positive incentive, since they also believe that the Mahdi's return would be preceeded by a catastrophic event. The concept of nuclear deterrence can work only when you have two rational opponents who understand the cost of using these weapons. The Soviet Union, at the height of the Cold War, understood this, and acted accordingly. Furthermore, I don’t believe that Barack Obama would ever order a nuclear strike. He will be saddened and disappointed, but ultimately he would not have the fortitude to order an attack that would result in the death of hundreds of thousands of Iranians.

Wouldn’t it make sense and save countless lives to eliminate Iran’s nuclear capabilities before the atomic weapons are ready? All the United States has to do is give Israel the green light and the right to land on American carriers in the Persian Gulf.

Israelis have plenty of practice. Remember Osiraq?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Coincidence

It’s pure coincidence, but the last three entries into Portal deal with the same topic.

Plus ca change...

This Nast cartoon from 1878 was a contributing factor in the fall of boss Tweed. Reading about the Chicago political machine all I can say is plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

While we talk about corruption, reading The Chicago Tribune’s articles on the corruption charges against governor Blagojevich the following paragraph caught my attention:

"In one charge related to the appointment of a senator to replace Barack Obama, prosecutors allege that Blagojevich sought appointment for himself as secretary of Health and Human Services in the new Obama administration, or a lucrative job with a union, in exchange for appointing a union-preferred candidate. "

Lucrative job with a union! Why would a sociopath such as Blagojevich see money in a union job? Because like Willie Sutton said "It's where the money is."

For many of us, no fans of unions, this comes as no surprise. The leadership of major unions has become a replica of the forces the unions were formed to fight.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Will Work for Louis Vuitton Purses

The International Herald Tribune, the global edition of the New York Times, has taken its reporting about the economic crisis to new heights of ridiculousness when it printed an article on the impact of the crisis on prostitution. A report from Prague explains how this city, now a major destination for sex tourism, copes with a diminution in clientele to its brothels.

The article is mostly an analysis of prostitution full of the typical clichés about legalization, prostitutes and Johns. “Everybody needs sex,” explains a person who in the past would have been called a pimp but is now described as a marketing manager who looks like Harry Potter. Profound.

I guess that the article was intended as a serious look into the oldest profession in the midst of a recession, but it is difficult to worry about whores when millions are losing their jobs.

The most hilarious quote of this article has to be when Ester, an eighteen year old prostitute, is quoted saying that “big-spending clients had diminished, but noted that she was still earning nearly €3,000 a month, enough to pay rent and to pay for her favorite Louis Vuitton purses.” Remember when prostitutes had a heart of gold and worked to pay for the education of a kid brother? Now the motivation is Louis Vuitton.

I hope former governor Spitzer doesn't read this blog. Otherwise I can just see him buying a Louis Vuitton purse and a one way ticket to Prague. Do you think Mrs. Spitzer would mind?

Senate Seat for Sale in Illinois

I just heard on the radio that Governor Blagojevich of Illinois and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested on charges of corruption. Curious to find out more, I went to the sites of The Chicago Tribune, The Smoking Gun, wires from Associated Press, the Chicago Sun-Times, and CBS 2 Chicago . I noticed that none of these news reports mentions Blagojevich's party affiliation. I'll let you guess to what party he belongs.

News reports are beginning to connect others with this scandal. Tony Rezko is one of the characters mentioned. How long will it take till we hear "This is not the Blogojevich I knew."

I am going now to do some research and see how often in the last few months Blagojevich spoke about greed in Wall Street. I'll bet he did so quite often.

Greece's Turn to Burn

And now it’s Greece’s turn.

Reading the reports about the riots currently taking place across Greece, I couldn’t help but feel that only a tiny part of the story is reported accurately. The mainstream press describes the riots as caused by the shooting of a youth at the volatile district of Exarchia, a known hangout for anarchists. The protests that ensued have extended throughout Greece and into some other European nations.

This again is an example of the insanity that has taken hold throughout “civilized” Europe and North America. Societies fall prey to so called “youth” who paralyze nations by rioting and burning, and engaging in an orgy of destruction. The events that trigger these riots are often irrelevant. A shooting, an international conference, global warming, communism, anarchism, or whatever excuses these urban vandals choose. The reporters immediately appear offering a sympathetic ear and a way for the rioters to promote their causes around the world.

Is allowance of rioting an integral part of a society’s desire to protect freedom of speech? The answer is no. What we have here is a basic case of “youth” having fun, and political activists fanning the fires and promoting these riots. Who these activists are is never mentioned. Again and again we see the same “anarchists” around the world smashing the windows of a McDonald’s, burning a bank, and in a feast of wealth redistribution, looting the businesses they despise. It’s fascinating to see how those who despise the West, thrive on Western technology and entertainment.

Organizing these riots requires much more than a trigger event. Traveling to Seattle, Rome, Berlin, Athens, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and other places that have suffered from this savage vandalism requires actual financing that can be afforded only by wealthy individuals, powerful organizations, and perhaps, in some cases, nations. And here is where reporters fail in their reporting. At no point are the rioters and their supporters identified by picture, name, age, residence, profession or wealth. To what extent are the rioters in Europe connected to foreign agitators? How do they manage to finance their traveling? Who pays for their lawyers? These are questions that must be answered for us to understand how the riots start and how to prevent them.

Finally, we have the politicians. Since when has it become a requirement for a politician to be an invertebrate? These spineless politicians, who consider reelection more important than fulfilling their jobs, seem terrified of giving the orders to deal with the rioters the way you deal with criminals, which is what they are.

Pirates in the seas, Islamo-Fascist terrorists across the globe, anarchists in the cities, fires in Greece. Where are the Spartans when you really need them?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Bye Bye "Cold Cash" Jefferson



The stench emanating from Congress while congressman William Jefferson remained in office was partially deodorized with the election of Anh “Joseph” Cao to represent the 2nd congressional district in New Orleans. Cao will be the first American from Vietnamese descent elected to the House of Representatives.

Jefferson’s defeat was attributed to low turnout. In the primaries held on November 4, Jefferson got 57% of the vote. Many attribute this to his running on the coattails of Obama. If this is so, then it is a sad comment on New Orleans and the voters of this beautiful, fun and corrupt city.

Let’s hope that from now on cold cash remains just an expression rather than the literal meaning given by Jefferson and his $90,000 in the freezer.

Great Quotes to Restore Confidence in the Economy

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. FDR

The economy is going to get worse before it gets better. Obama on Meet the Press

Saturday, December 6, 2008

They Love Hillary


One thing I like about Obama's supporters is that they would never treat a woman as a sex object.
The guy on the left is Obama's top speechwriter.

GET OFF OUR BACKS!

This entry in the blog is dedicated to the community board in my Brooklyn neighborhood with a loving message…

GET OFF OUR BACKS!!!

For decades community boards around Brooklyn have been in the pocket of interest groups that have forced them to stand in the way of progress and development. This has been particularly evident in the areas of Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay and Marine Park, where you cannot buy a book or a cappuccino at a Starbucks unless you take the subway or the car and travel to some distant location. Suddenly the carbon footprint is not important.

Busybodies without anything else to do spend their time attending community meetings where they seem to arrive and ask “What are you discussing so that I can oppose it.”

These busybodies first opposed the building of a large Barnes and Noble on Flatbush Avenue, not far from the Belt Parkway. If you are not familiar with Brooklyn, this area is a wildlife refuge for some exquisite rats, and future archeologists will find there ample evidence of extensive crime and sexual activity. Across from this parcel of land there is a golf course. Still, community board members and some of their constituents managed to raise traffic and environmental concerns and put an end to B&N. Next there was opposition to Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, Home Depot, condominium buildings, private schools, and Starbucks. State Senator Kruger in particular had the gall to compare Home Depot to terrorists. Talk about jerks.

Then the first Starbucks in this area was approved last week. Halleluiah! Our neighborhood is getting its first Starbucks in 2008, probably because in a few months Starbucks will declare bankruptcy.

In the meantime, walking along major thoroughfares like Kings Highway and Avenue U is like running an obstacle course. Dozens of vegetable stores pile up boxes and produce on the sidewalk, leaving a couple of feet free for thousands of pedestrians. The stench from some of these stores is horrendous. Delivery boys ride their bicycles on the sidewalks, but our community board and Kruger continue to pander to the bastions of fairness, economic justice and labor protection known as “mom and pop stores.”

Since much of the opposition to large stores is under the guise of protecting mom and pop stores, can anyone tell me whether these stores pay minimum wage and provide medical insurance for the thousands of illegal aliens they employ? Somehow I doubt it.

Well, I am leaving now. I am driving to Long Island to shop at Wal-Mart, and buy a book at Barnes and Noble. I will drink the cappuccino in Brooklyn. I want to patronize the local Starbucks before it goes out of business.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Revisionist History in Japan


After many years of either teaching, studying or just reading history, I have become aware of the many views and contradictions in the narrative of historical events which depends on who is doing the writing. The same historical event will always be viewed differently and the historian will always find in his own biases the perceptions that shape his writings. Thus, events will be explained differently by those who belong to opposing countries, religions, cultures, political ideology or simply are anxious to be published in academia where “publish or perish” is the motto to follow, and the more controversial the writing, the better the chances of publication. The problems occur when the line is crossed between interpretation and denial. Historians can debate events within the Holocaust, however they cannot deny that Holocaust took place.

I decided to write about this after reading a report on the BBC dealing with firing of General Toshio Tamogami from his post as chief of the Japanese Air Force. This took place after he entered and won first prize in a history essay writing contest organized by the APA Group, a real estate company, where he promoted some very controversial revisionist ideas. Some of his most controversial statements were that Japan was entrapped by FDR, and Chiang Kai-shek into attacking Pearl Harbor, that the Comintern manipulated FDR and that failure to wage war would have made Japan into a white nation’s colony. He then proceeded to argue that the war ended up bringing prosperity to occupied China, Taiwan and Korea. Finally the essay argues that many Asian countries view the role of Japan positively. According to Tamogami the descriptions of Japanese brutality were mostly rumors spread by those who never witnessed it.

Revisionism in history is not a new phenomenon, and in some cases it even has a positive outcome, since it offers serious historians the intellectual exercise required to engage in the refutation of these theories. But in most cases the revisionist views remain in the peripheries of history. In the case of General Tamogami however, there are two differences, his position within the Japanese military hierarchy and the fact that the essay won first prize. This historical revisionism has gained support among many in Japan and especially in the Japanese military, where the glorious past with its samurais and bushido code are viewed through a nostalgic prism.

Now for a little bit of history. Leaving aside political and economic causation, I want to concentrate on the brutality of the Japanese during the period between the late 19the century and 1945. Tamogami denies the charges of brutality. But, like their Nazi allies, the Japanese forces were quite efficient in documenting their actions, and in many photographs one can actually see the pride exhibited by Japanese soldiers while performing the most despicable acts. For example, a bet between two officers as to which one of them will be the first one to kill one hundred Chinese with their samurai swords was used as a propaganda tool.

Starting in 1870, Japan emerged as a major power in Asia and began to flex its muscles demanding that Korea abandon the Chinese sphere of influence and move into the Japanese, and in China, territorial claims were soon followed by the invasion of Manchuria.

When Miura was appointed Japan’s resident minister extraordinary and plenipotentiary in Korea he ordered the assassination of Queen Min. The fact that Miura was found not guilty of this assassination while on trial in Japan, does not exculpate this action. In 1910, Korea was further humiliated when forced to sign the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty which kept Korea under Japanese occupation until 1945. By 1931 the invasion of Manchuria gave further evidence to the imperial ambition of Japan and their desire to rule over Greater Asia.

By 1939, five million Koreans were conscripted into forced labor, thousands of Koreans were forced to join the Japanese army and two hundred thousand Chinese and Korean women were forced to prostitute themselves by becoming what the Japanese euphemistically called comfort women. This is not historical conjecture, since many victims and witnesses are still alive, and Japanese officials admitted and apologized for these acts.

Unit 731 offers another example of Japanese behavior during the war. This unit was in charge of scientific experimentation, and their behavior was not different from the worst Nazi atrocities. Prisoners were subjected to vivisection, amputations and served as guinea pigs in the testing of biological weapons. All experiments were carried out without anesthesia, since it was believed that anesthetizing subjects would interfere with the results of the experiments.

The death toll in prisoners of war camps was 30%, 26% higher than in Nazi camps. Millions across Asia died of starvation when their rice was confiscated for shipment to Japan. The list continues and papers and books have been written documenting Japanese conduct during the war. General Tamogami has done an actual disservice to the cause he wants to promote, namely that Japan should rearm and become a military power not a dependant of the US for its security. With ideas such has his, I would take my time allowing the rearming of Japan. I am sure China, Korea, The Philippines, and the rest of Greater Asia feel the same way.

Why in Brasil and not in Detroit?


As you try to make sense of the bailout requested by the evershrinking three, this video about a Ford plant in Brasil , gives an insight into what might have been, had both labor and management developed a plan for making car manufacturing in the USA competitive.

Has Reality Changed?


Under the headline Campaign Promises on Ending the War in Iraq Now Muted by Reality, The New York Times proceeds in a contortionist way to explain why Barack Obama has reneged on his campaign promise to bring back the troops. For those of us who believe in a withdrawal based on political and military realities, Obama’s change of heart is a welcome development. For those who voted Democratic based on this promise, it must be a bitter disappointment.

It will be interesting to see how this venerable newspaper manages to put a positive spin on this development that contradicts what their editorial stated about Obama when they endorsed him for president:

While Iraq's leaders insist on a swift drawdown of American troops and a
deadline for the end of the occupation, Mr. McCain is still talking about some
ill-defined "victory." As a result, he has offered no real plan for extracting
American troops and limiting any further damage to Iraq and its neighbors.

Mr. Obama was an early and thoughtful opponent of the war in Iraq, and
he has presented a military and diplomatic plan for withdrawing American forces.
Mr. Obama also has correctly warned that until the Pentagon starts pulling
troops out of Iraq, there will not be enough troops to defeat the Taliban and Al
Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Notice the first two lines in the second paragraph. The fact is that pundits and journalists on the left in conjunction with democratic operatives, used the issue of troops withdrawal in a cynical and misleading way. The attacks on McCain over his “one hundred years in Iraq” using this statement out of context were unfair. The promises made by Obama, especially during the primaries, were a typical case of bait and switch.

What did the NYT mean when they used the term muted by reality in their headline? Was the reality different prior to November 4th? I assume that the reporters and editorial writers of the Gray Lady must have been aware of these realities in the pre-election period. If so, they were not reporting; they were campaigning.

To think that we paid to get from the New York Times what we could have gotten for free from the Democratic National Committee.

Is it a sucker that is born every minute or a NYT reader?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Honoring CAIR in Tampa


For the fourth consecutive year, Pam Iorio, Mayor of Tampa Bay, Florida, will issue a proclamation honoring the radical Muslim organization Council on American Islamic Reltions,CAIR, proclaiming a day in its honor. This city has had a problem with Radical Islamism for many years, and it was the home base of Sami Al-Arian and his Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. Two Muslim students, residents of the Tampa area, have been arrested for possession of explosives and creating a video explaining how to detonate explosives. The website of the Muslim American Society-MASTampa, has had postings promoting hatred and jihad. All these associations are interconnected with CAIR.

CAIR is not Islam, and honoring this organization is not honoring Islam or the Islamic community, unless this community agrees with the philosophy espoused by CAIR. Either way, the sooner the proclamation is rescinded, the better.

The Cult of Personality

A couple of weeks ago I was flying from Minneapolis to New York, and several individuals caught my attention because they were wearing shirts with large pictures of Obama. Two weeks ago, walking around Union Square there were two tables selling buttons and T-shirts with the pictures of Obama. A table in front of the Metropolitan Museum was selling the same merchandise. In Miami a street was renamed after Barack Obama, on Long Island a school was renamed for the president elect. And so it goes across the nation. Now there is talk of a Barack Obama Day.

Most Americans do not seem to be bothered by this phenomenon. For me, however, having grown up in a country that for many years was under the grip of dictators, the pictures on clothes, buttons, streets and institutions, this represents a development that makes me feel very uncomfortable. I still remember the pictures of Peron and Evita in the first pages of textbooks, notebooks and on the walls of all schools and governmental institutions. The day at school started with the singing of the national anthem and the Peronist anthem. This example can be multiplied many times. Mao, Stalin, Idi Amin, Sadam, Ayatollah Khomeini, Mugabe, just to name a few.

The cult of personality is something that is seen in totalitarian regimes. There seems to be a rule that the number of pictures of a leader increases in proportion to his grip on the country. Have you ever seen a picture of North Korea without Kim Jung “mentally” Il?

I understand the historical significance of the last election and I am not comparing Obama to any dictator. My concern is with reaching a degree of comfort with the adulation of the individual that is incompatible with a democracy. I only hope that in the United States this is just a passing fad. The problem is that certain fads tend to become engrained in the fabric of society and become part of our traditions.

If presidential pictures become ubiquitous, then in the next election I will have no choice but to vote for Charlize Theron; and she is not even American!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Down With Bush

A joke circulating during the Cold War describes how in a dialogue between an official of the USA and his counterpart from the USSR, the American explains to the Russian how in democratic America anyone can demonstrate and yell “Down with Nixon” without fear of retribution.

“Russians too are free to yell Down with Nixon without fear of retribution,” replied the Soviet official.

For those of us who like to watch periodically the debates in the House of Commons on C-Span, and enjoy seeing the democratic process in action, this report from Janet Daley, writing from London for the Telegraph, should give us pause and make us wonder where is democracy heading in the birthplace of the Magna Carta.

The article explains how Damian Green, MP and Shadow Minister for Immigration was arrested by anti-terrorist members of the Metropolitan Police, held for questioning for 9 hours and had his papers and computers at home and in his office in the House of Commons confiscated. Given the dangerous period we are living through, one would think that Mr. Green was guilty or suspect of plotting some horrendous crime against England. It is surprising then to find out that he was incarcerated for doing exactly what a member of the opposition is expected to do; namely, question the ruling party and the prime minister. Mr. Green had the temerity of asking questions and revealing:

* the fact that the home secretary knew that the Security Industry Authority had
granted licenses to 5,000 illegal workers, but decided not to publicize it.
* the fact that an illegal immigrant had been employed as a cleaner in the House
of Commons.
*a whips’ list of potential Labor rebels in the vote on plans to increase the pre-charge terror detention limit to 42 days.
So, here we see that the real crime committed by Mr. Green was humiliating the Brown administration. This is a dangerous development that we in the United States should watch with grave concern. The left wing of the Labor Party, as does the left wing of the Democratic Party seem to believe that freedom of speech was designed to protect what they agree with. Rumors about the resurgence of the Fairness Doctrine, hate crime legislation and intimidation in academia should worry those who want a free exchange of ideas and opinions.

Well, at least we will always be free to yell “Down with Bush.”

Thank You, Georgia!

Mr. Chambliss 57.5%
Mr. Jim Martin 42.5%

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Ted Turner Award

Portal of Ideas has decided that it would periodically offer awards to people in the news. The first award will be named The Ted Turner Award, which will be given to persons who specialize in moral equivalency; root causes analysis, or just pure imbecility.

After careful deliberation, this blog is pleased to announce that the first recipient of this award will be Dr. Deepak Chopra who in interviews on CNN and Fox managed to explain all the root causes for the attacks in Mumbai, and placed them on the doorsteps of the United States. For a deeper analysis of Chopra’s idiocy, read Dorothy Rabinowitz’s article in The Wall Street Journal. No need to improve on her words.

Somehow I don’t think that this blog will have a difficult time finding recipients for this award. Nominations are welcome.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Can we call someone a liar and mean it as a compliment? This is my dilemma today.

The day after the elections I promised not to do to Barack H. Obama what the left did to President Bush. I would wait and see and give him the benefit of the doubt. The complaints would begin when deserved.

Well, today I start by calling Obama a liar, however not as a grievance but rather as a compliment. He lied, he lied, he lied, and gosh, am I grateful he did.

The appointments to his cabinet are 180 degrees from what he promised in his campaign. Clinton, Gates, Jones, Geithner, Susan Rice are not exactly what the left hoped for and the right feared. These appointments, and the remarks made by Obama during the press conferences introducing his new appointees, are beginning to show a rather pragmatist politician who six weeks prior to assuming the presidency has began to worry about his legacy.

I am convinced that in domestic policies and judicial appointments he will give me plenty of material to complain about. But so far in dealing with the financial crisis and foreign affairs he is steering in the right direction, much to the chagrin of Air America and the Daily Kos.

Those who hoped to see America surrender on January 20th will be disappointed. Obama’s pronouncements are showing that Iraq will not be abandoned nor will the USA turn isolationist.

Would I have voted for Obama knowing what I know today? No. But I sleep a little better now, knowing that my liberal friends are not.

Mendicants, Beggars and CEO's


As Detroit sends its mendicants, tin in hand to Washington, and flying commerial airlines, the following graph illustrates the hurdle that American automakers are facing.

The bailout could be the requested $25 billion or ten times as much. The fact is that among my friends who own cars made mostly in America by Toyota, Kia, BMW, Nissan, Mercedes or any of the other eight foreign automakers, none is planning on buying an American made vehicle. I am not being judgmental about the correctness of their decision, just stating a fact that we must face.

Having a bureaucrat in Washington telling American automakers what kind of car to manufacture will not solve the problem. Those bureaucrats will design a car that will satisfy the Sierra Club and its acolytes, but not the American consumer who insists on entering or exiting his or her car without using a shoehorn and hates being overtaken in the highway by a jogger.

I have an idea for solving the current crisis. How about letting supply, demand and bankruptcy take care of the bailout?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ted Turner, Buffoon Extraordinaire

On Meet the Press, Ted Turner was asked by Tom Brokaw about Putin’s background working for the KGB. He responded by stating:

“We have an FBI and, and, and, and, and we're not prejudiced against somebody
who's worked at the FBI. It's an honorable place to work. And the KGB, I think, was an honorable place to work. And it, it gave people in the former Soviet Union, a communist country, an opportunity to do something important and worthwhile.”

What a pathetic and ignorant buffoon. Did he ever hear of the gulags, Lubyanka prison, the torture and execution of dissidents and so many acts of brutality described not by the U.S. but Alexander Solzhenitzyn, Boris Pasternak, Andre Sakharov and so many victims of Soviet persecution?

Turner in the last few years has found a way of interjecting moral equivalency into every act of brutality committed around the globe by comparing it to an act committed by the United States. The problem with such comparisons is that they fail to take into account the reasons and outcomes ot the actions. The Soviet Union invaded to conquer, we, to liberate. The KGB worked to suppress freedom, our FBI worked to preserve it.

There is no doubt that being married to Jane Fonda can be dangerous to a man's mental health. All you have to do is listen to Ted.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

“Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil” Thomas Mann

The following was quoted from The Jawa Report:

An Indian doctor involved in the autopsies of the victims at Mumbai stated “the bodies of the victims in this attack bore such signs about the kind of violence of urban warfare that I am still unable to put my thoughts to words"

Asked specifically if he was talking of torture marks, he said: "It was apparent that most of the dead were tortured. What shocked me were the telltale signs showing clearly how the hostages were executed in cold blood," one doctor said.

The other doctor, who had also conducted the post-mortem of the victims, said: "Of all the bodies, the Israeli victims bore the maximum torture marks. It was clear that they were killed on the 26th itself. It was obvious that they were tied up and tortured before they were killed. It was so bad that I do not want to go over the details even in my head again," he said.

Silence Means Approval

Eight Jews were asassinated at Mumbai. A report from Israel offers an insight into the horror at the Chabad House. The body of Rabbi Noach Holtzberg was found next to the assassinated kashrut supervisor. The body of Rivka Holtzberg was found wrapped in a tallit. It is believed that she was murdered before her husband’s eyes, and he managed to wrap the tallit before his own execution. Their baby’s birthday is today. Heartbreaking.

The same report mentions that some of the terrorists were British born. This should give us an insight into the mindset of these savages. These are not fighters for a rational cause. It is not Palestine, and it is not Kashmir. It is not poverty. Nor unemployment. This is pure unadulterated hatred for the infidel. I don’t want to hear anymore that they represent a tiny minority among peace loving Muslims. If Muslims don’t condemn it, their hands are as bloodied as if they pulled the triggers.

I am not talking about the pro forma condemnation of some Muslim leaders designed to make the Le Figaro, The Guardian, and the New York Times happy. I am talking about the ever-effervescent Muslim street ready to riot at the call of an Imam offended by a cartoon or the false report of the desecration of a Koran.

The time has come to tell this over a billion Muslims. You either condemn it, or your silence means approval. If it’s approval you choose, live with the consequences.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

$$$

Post-election violence in Nigeria has brought the number of dead to thirty-five.

I only hope that Abdullah Mngambi survived. He is the guy who emailed me that he would give me 10 million dollars if I helped him cash 30 million dollars his uncle Muhammad Mngambi, the former oil minister, had in a secret account in New York.

I only had to send him $10,000 as a sign of good faith. This represents a wonderful rate of return.

I have to leave now. I must send $5,000 for taxes to the guy who emailed me that I won the Canadian lottery. Canada is such a wonderful country. You can win the lottery without buying a ticket.

Obama's Judges

One of the main reasons for my concern with the presidency of B. H. Obama, had to do with the appointment of judges. The Supreme Court has five justices that are older than seventy. However, appointments to the Court of Appeals, is where the real impact will be felt. Obama has offered an insight into his philosophy when he stated:

"And in those circumstance what I do want is a judge who is sympathetic enough to
those who are on the outside, those who are vulnerable, those who are powerless,
those who can't have access to political power and as a consequence can't
protect themselves from being dealt with sometimes unfairly, that the courts
become a refuge for justice."


This statement represents a demagogic logic that endangers judicial rationale. If we are to have a government with checks and balances and separation of powers, presidents should appoint judges who will interpret the law and not legislate from the bench. It is not the job of a judge to decide to right the wrongs of society because of sympathetic views towards the vulnerable or powerless. This role should be on the shoulders of the legislature.

The assumption that the powerless are right by the mere fact that they lack power is ridiculous and dangerous. Every totalitarian regime has used this view to justify the obliteration of opposing views.
Obama has not become president yet, and I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. But the more I learn about him, the more I worry.

Friday, November 28, 2008

High Definition Photo Essay

Click on this link Great photo essay from India

The Politics of Jealousy

The great economist Thomas Sowell likes to illustrate his arguments through the use of old jokes from the defunct Soviet Union. Those jokes helped Russians survive in a system designed to crush the individual.

In his last column he uses a tale about two poor peasants, Ivan and Boris. The only difference between them was that Boris had a goat and Ivan didn't. One day, Ivan came upon a strange-looking lamp and, when he rubbed it, a genie appeared. She told him that she could grant him just one wish, but it could be anything in the world.

Ivan said, "I want Boris' goat to die."

Somehow this fable comes to mind after every discussion I have with my liberal friends about the American economy.

One such a friend, a newly retired teacher, who collects a pension in the neighborhood of $70,000 dollars a year, kept ranting about the oil companies and their obscene profits. When I asked her if she realized that retirement funds such as the one from which she is collecting her pension were among the greatest stockholders in those corporations she retorted with the same intellectual acumen I have gotten from most bleeding hearts:

Where did you get that from?

The argument was over. The Merlot definitely helped.

The New Beggar Economy

Once again Charles Krauthammer has managed to synthesize a complex issue into a coherent short commentary. The topic of his column this week is the new phenomenon that has developed in corporate America. Whereas in the past you succeeded by making a profit, the new model requires the right connection with Washington to get part of the subsidies. This will change the nature of lobbying from pushing for a break in taxes or the regulatory process to pushing for the actual survival of the corporation.

The Obama administration, which ran under the promise of change and curtailing the power of lobbyists, will actually face an army of petitioners as no administration has ever faced before. How those beggars are handled will determine the nature of our market economy.

The sooner we rediscover that loses and bankruptcies are the method by which the market determines winners and losers, the sooner we will get out of the current economic mess.

I am not holding my breath waiting.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Jewish Targets in Mumbai

News reports are emerging from Mumbai showing that one of the targets of the Muslim terrorists was a Jewish center. Are we going to hear once again that Israel must settle with the Palestinians to end terrorism?

The fact is that these terrorists and their millions of supporters were raised full of hatred for infidels, and carry the anti-Semitic gene inbred in them. Thousands of miles from Israel, and fighting for Kashmir, the Islamist terrorists couldn’t miss the opportunity of attacking the Jews.

I am sure that the Jews will once again seek revenge by sending a planeload of medicine to treat the wounded Muslims. Amnesty International will condemn this action by claiming that one planeload is not enough.

Sharia-Compliant Finances

The Middle East Research Forum has published a very good article dealing with the issue of Sharia-Compliant Finances (SCF). If you are not familiar with this issue, it is worth reading because it exemplifies the way that Sharia is slowly but surely crawling into Western societies. Countries that for decades have been fighting for separation of church and state are kowtowing to petrodollars and Islamist threats and imposing religious concepts that would have never been accepted if demanded by Judeo-Christianity.

Read the whole article by clicking on the link.

Saying Goodbye to The Shield

Yesterday, after seven seasons, FX aired the last episode of The Shield, probably the best police show ever created for television.

I remember Ironside, The Naked City, The F.B.I, Hill Street Blues and other such shows that caught my imagination and entertained me for many hours, but none has brought the realities of crime and life in a precinct as realistically and with the brutal honesty of this show.

The writers were able to connect events years after they took place, the actors were as realistic as the persons you come across walking in the streets of your neighborhood. I was always amazed by the extras. They must have been recruited among the gang members of LA. None of the actors looked like they just came out of a photo session with Vogue.

The acting was superb. I will not mention names because there were so many great actors involved in this show. However, this series will always be associated with the bald headed Michael Chiklis. It was he who created a character that despite the many terrible things he did, deep in our hearts we wanted to see triumph and survive.

If you have not seen this show, and you are not afraid of blood dripping from you TV screen, get the DVD's, buy a large screen television, get rid f anyone who might interrupt your viewing, and enjoy the show. The only other way to get a similar rush of adrenaline is fighting crime in Los Angeles. And we all know that that can be too dangerous.

A Reminder From Mumbai

For a short while we have taken a break from the financial crisis, when the events in India and the threat to attacks on Pen Station in New York reminded us that the threat to our civilization is no coming from some greedy capitalist on Wall Street but from the brutality of Islamism and its adherents.

Just like on 9-11, terrorists struck on Mumbai, a major financial center in India and a symbol of the success of economic freedom. It seems that every success story serves to remind Islamists of their failure to accomplish anything in centuries and like a spoiled child who prefers to break the toy of a friend if he cannot have one, so do they, in their savagery, intend to destroy us rather than strive to climb out of the dark age in which they are stuck.

The usual suspects, better known as “experts”, have crawled out of their offices in think tanks and academia to remind us that we must engage in dialogue with Islam and that Islamists constitute a minority of no more than 10% of Muslims. Is this supposed to make us feel better? Only 150 million savages want to destroy us and are whiling to die with us in the process and this is supposed to comfort us.

I too am for dialogue; the same type of dialogue we had with Nazism.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Canary in the Coal Mine

Argentinean president Cristina Kirchner has announced a massive program to deal with the global financial crisis by infusing $21 billion dollars into rebuilding the country’s infrastructure. This program is expected to create 362,000 jobs. In addition, the Argentinean government has announced a plan of incentive for the repatriation of funds.

For the last several months the Kirchner administration has started an aggressive program that included the first steps in the nationalization of the country’s two largest airlines and the nationalization of 26 billion dollars of private pension funds.

Given the failure in the past of Argentina to run efficiently its government owned companies such as telephones, railroads and oil, and its inability to upkeep its infrastructure, one can look at the measures taken by the actual administration with skepticism. Furthermore, since some of these policies, such as the nationalization of pension funds have been launched as trial balloons by some of Obama’s advisors, Argentina should be used as the proverbial canary in the coal mine. If the past is any indication, the canary will not sing for too long.

Welcome to Portal of Ideas


Welcome to Portal of Thoughts, a blog dedicated to exploring events, ideas, art and whatever catches our imagination.

If you enjoy what you read, post a comment. If you don't, post a comment. Let us make this a forum for the free and open exchange of ideas. Just keep it clean.

If you post a comment or email me an article for posting, the rules of plagiarism apply. Give credit where credit is due, and place the sources of information.

And now...let's get rolling.

Mario M.