Friday, May 29, 2009
Let’s give Andrews the benefit of the doubt and agree that the bankers were guilty of greed and were wrong in giving them this mortgage; although at no point is there inkling that there was any arm-twisting or intimidation on the part of the financial institutions. And now let's continue with some quotes from the book:
Patty spent little on herself, but she refused to scrimp on top-quality produce,
Starbucks coffee, bottled juice, fresh cheeses and clothing for the children and
me. She regularly bought me new shirts and ties to replaced the frayed and drab
ones in my closet. She thought it wasn't worth agonizing over nickles and dimes.
And so it was that not to agonize over nickles and dimes, the couple ran up $50,000 in credit credit card debt. Quoting again from Andrews' narrative:
In the previous December alone, we charged $2,845 on the Chase card for
Christmas gifts, food, gasoline, clothing and other expenses. The charges
included almost $350 for groceries, $700 in clothes from J. Crew, $179 at
GapKids and $700 for airplane tickets for two of Patty's children to to visit
their father in Los Angeles. Our balance climbed from $14,118 to $17,
135 and in January 2006 we maxed out at our $19,000 credit limit.
The narrative continues describing additional expenses which include $1,600 to rent a beach house. He calls this rental and "embarrassing mistake." I guess Starbucks and J. Crew were not embarrasing mistakes.
And now to the punchline. Who is, you ask, Edmund L. Andrews, the author of such revealing book about financial genius? He is no other than the famed Edmund L. Andrews, reporter on economics for The New York Times. If he manages to tie his financial mismanagement with Bush's policies, he too might join Krugman as a Nobel laureate.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
For the purpose of discourse, let us assume that the allegation is correct. So what? The Koran is the sacred book of Muslims, and as such, they should treat it with the utmost respect. To me, and millions of what the Muslims refer to as “infidels”, the Koran is not more sacred than The DaVinci Code or Angels and Demons, and just as believable. So, go ahead, riot. Demand respect, as the rioters asked in Athens have. Let me tell you, dear Muslims, give respect, if you want to be respected.
A week ago four Muslims in New York attempted to blow up a couple of synagogues and a USAF plane. Of course this was done also in the name of The Most Merciful. Immediately we heard from politicians about the need to understand that these four Muslims where not real Muslims. That real Muslims condemn such behavior. Radical Muslims are but a tiny minority within Islam. Forty-eight hours later a rabbi and an Imam were hugging for the press in a synagogue in Riverdale. Brotherhood has triumphed again. Or at least till their next attempt to kill us.
And no Jew or Christian has rioted. Perhaps this is our mistake, and we should take a page of the Muslim manual as to how to achieve respect. Let us start rioting in front of the Saudi embassies around the world, asking for the confiscated Bibles taken from Christians upon arrival in this corrupt kingdom which condones slavery, oppression of women, exploitation of children as camel jockeys, decapitations and honor killings, just to name a few elements that many of us find offensive, and are prevalent in the corrupt kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Let us riot demanding the building of churches and other houses of worship on the Arabian Peninsula. Let us riot demanding the right to send preachers to their prisons and try and convert their prisoners into what we consider the true religion.
But reading about Athens I noticed another group, just as guilty as the rioters. The media. The reports are about “immigrants”, the need for respect, understanding, tolerance and diversity. The mantra of the left in their criminally neglect of accurate reporting. Articles around the globe quoted the following sentence “Greek rights activist Thanassis Kourkoulas said the protest showed the migrants ‘have a voice’.” Did any of the reporters bother to check who Kourkoulas is before quoting him? Did they realize that they were quoting a communist revolutionary who in his desire to foment revolution is allying himself with those who upon triumphing would cut his head because of his radical beliefs?
Is it cowardice or is it ignorance that is making reporters paint pictures that are so far removed for reality? What is it about our politicians that makes them repeat again and again “peaceful religion?” How can a religion be deemed peaceful when at he core of its beliefs is the word Jihad? It is only in the non-Muslim world that a debate is taking place as to the meaning of this word. Within the Muslim world Jihad if fully understood. It means holy war. And if a religion can use the term holy war to justify its actions, they cannot clamor for the title of religion of peace. They have given up this right
I am so sick and tired of Muslim wounded pride and imbecilic sensitivity. Come on Muslims, grow up!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
In the first case BMI fired Lisa Ashton, a 37 years old stewardess who was ordered to wear an abaya, the black dress that covers every part of the body except hands and face, and walk behind her male colleagues while on stopovers in Saudi Arabia. The dismissal came when Ms Ashton asked to be sent on flights to Saudi Arabia claiming discrimination. Ms Ashton has sued, but the early court decisions have sided with the airline claiming that they had the right to impose rules that take into consideration other cultures.
The same airline is using a map that shows the progress of the flight. The maps are programmed not to include Israel, and instead have placed a dot with the city of Haifa, only that they spelled it Khefa, old Arab name by which it was known. The airline promised to correct this “error.”
Like Bob Grant used to say: “It’s sick and getting sicker”.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
• "Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has upheld a Bush administration finding that the Endangered Species Act is not a suitable tool for restricting carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases threatening the polar bear and its habitat. We agree, with this codicil: . . ."--editorial, New York Times, May 13, 2009
Quoted from Bestofthe web
Monday, May 11, 2009
Arctic winds are blowing into Jerusalem from Washington these days. As PrimeMinister Binyamin Netanyahu's May 18 visit to Washington fast approaches, the Obama administration is ratcheting up its anti-Israel rhetoric and working feverishly to force Israel into a corner.
Using the annual AIPAC conference as a backdrop, this week the Obama administration launched its harshest onslaught against Israel to date. It began with media reports that National Security Adviser James Jones told a European foreign minister that the US is planning to build an anti-Israel coalition with the Arabs and Europe to compel Israel to surrender Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem to the Palestinians.
According to Haaretz, Jones was quoted in a classified foreign ministry cable as having told his European interlocutor, "The new administration will convince Israel to compromise on the Palestinian question. We will not push Israel under the wheels of a bus, but we will be more forceful toward Israel than we have been under Bush."
He then explained that the US, the EU and the moderate Arab states mustdetermine together what "a satisfactory endgame solution," will be. As far as Jones is concerned, Israel should be left out of those discussions and simply presented with a fait accompli that it will be compelled to accept.
Events this week showed that Jones's statement was an accurate depiction of the administration's policy. First, quartet mediator Tony Blair announced that within six weeks the US, EU, UN and Russia will unveil a new framework for establishing a Palestinian state. Speaking with Palestinian reporters on Wednesday, Blair said that this new framework will be a serious initiativebecause it "is being worked on at the highest level in the American administration."
Moreover, this week we learned that the administration is trying to get the Arabs themselves to write the Quartet's new plan. The London-based Al-Qudsal-Arabi pan-Arab newspaper reported Tuesday that acting on behalf of Obama, Jordanian King Abdullah urged the Arab League to update the so-called Arabpeace plan from 2002. That plan, which calls for Israel to withdraw from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights and accept millions offoreign Arabs as citizens as part of the so-called "right of return" in exchange for "natural" relations with the Arab world, has been rejected bysuccessive Israeli governments as a diplomatic subterfuge whose goal is Israel's destruction.
By accepting millions of so-called "Palestinian refugees," Israel would effectively cease to be a Jewish state. By shrinking into the 1949 armistice lines, Israel would be unable to defend itself against foreign invasion. And since "natural relations" is a meaningless term both in international legal discourse and in diplomatic discourse, Israel would have committed national suicide for nothing.
To make the plan less objectionable to Israel, Abdullah reportedly called on his Arab brethren to strike references to the so-called "Arab refugees" from the plan and to agree to "normal" rather than "natural" relations with the Jewish state. According to the report, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was expected to present Obama with the changes to the plan during their meetingin Washington later this month. The revised plan was supposed to form the basis for the new Quartet plan that Blair referred to.
But the Arabs would have none of it. On Wednesday, both Arab League General Secretary Amr Moussa and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas announced that they oppose the initiative. On Thursday, Syria rejected making any changes in the document.
The administration couldn't care less. The Palestinians and Arabs are no more than bit players in its Middle East policy. As far as the Obama administration is concerned, Israel is the only obstacle to peace.
To make certain that Israel understands this central point, Vice President Joseph Biden used his appearance at the AIPAC conference to drive it home. As Biden made clear, the US doesn't respect or support Israel's right as a sovereign state to determine its own policies for securing its national interests. In Biden's words, "Israel has to work toward a two-state solution. You're not going to like my saying this, but not build more settlements, dismantle existing outposts and allow the Palestinians freedomof movement."
FOR ISRAEL, the main event of the week was supposed to be President Shimon Peres's meeting with Obama on Tuesday. Peres was tasked with calming the waters ahead of Netanyahu's visit. It was hoped that he could introduce a more collegial tone to US-Israel relations.
What Israel didn't count on was the humiliating reception Peres received from Obama. By barring all media from covering the event, Obama transformed what was supposed to be a friendly visit with a respected and friendly headof state into a back-door encounter with an unwanted guest, who was shooed in and shooed out of the White House without a sound.
The Obama White House's bald attempt to force Israel to take full blame for the Arab world's hostility toward it is not the only way that it is casting Israel as the scapegoat for the region's ills. In their bid to open direct diplomatic ties with Iran, Obama and his advisers are also blaming Israel for Iran's nuclear program. They are doing this both indirectly and directly.
As Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel made clear in his closed-door briefing to senior AIPAC officials this week, the administration is holding Israel indirectly responsible for Iran's nuclear program. It does this by claiming that Israel's refusal to cede its land to the Palestinians is making it impossible for the Arab world to support preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Somewhat inconveniently for the administration, the Arabs themselves are rejecting this premise. This week US Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited the Persian Gulf and Egypt to soothe Arab fears that the administration's desperate attempts to appease the mullahs will harm their security interests. He also sought to gain their support for the administration's plan to unveil a new peace plan aimed at isolating and pressuring Israel.
After meeting with Gates, Amr Moussa - who has distinguished himself as one of Israel's most trenchant critics - said categorically, "The question of Iran should be separate from the Arab-Israel conflict."
Just as the administration is unmoved by objective facts that expose as folly its single-minded devotion to the notion that Israel is responsible for the absence of peace in the Middle East, so the Arab rejection of its view that Israel is to blame for Iran's nuclear program has simply driven it to escalate its attacks on Israel. This week it opened a new campaign of blaming Israel directly - through its purported nuclear arsenal - for Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Speaking at a UN forum, US Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller said, "Universal adherence to the [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] NPT itself, including by India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea... remains a fundamental objective of the United States."
As Eli Lake from The Washington Times demonstrated convincingly, by speaking as she did, Gottemoeller effectively abrogated a 40-year-old US-Israeli understanding that the US would remain silent about Israel's nuclear program because it understood that it was defensive, not offensive in nature. In so doing, Gottemoeller legitimized Iran's claim that it cannot be expected to suspend its quest to acquire nuclear weapons as long as Israel possesses them. She also erased any distinction between nuclear weapons in the hands of US allies and democratic states and nuclear weapons in the hands of US enemies and terror states.
The Israeli media are largely framing the story of the US's growing and already unprecedented antagonism toward Israel as a diplomatic challenge for Netanyahu. To meet this challenge, it is argued that Netanyahu must come toWashington in 10 days' time with an attractive peace plan that will win over the White House. But this is a false interpretation of what is happening.
Even Ethan Bronner of the The New York Times pointed out this week that Obama's Middle East policy is not based on facts. If it were, the so-called "two state solution," which has failed repeatedly since 1993, would not be its centerpiece. Obama's Middle East policy is based on ideology, not reality. Consequently, it is immune to rational argument.
The fact that if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, all chance of peace between Israel and the Palestinians and Israel and the Arab world will disappear, is of no interest to Obama and his advisers. They do not care that the day after Hamas terror-master Khaled Mashaal told The New York Times that Hamas was suspending its attacks against Israel from Gaza, the Iranian-controlled terror regime took credit for several volleys of rockets shot against Israeli civilian targets from Gaza. The administration stills intends togive Gaza $900 million in US taxpayer funds, and it still demands that Israel give its land to a joint Fatah-Hamas government.
REGARDLESS OF the weight of Netanyahu's arguments, and irrespective of the reasonableness of whatever diplomatic initiative he presents to Obama, he can expect no sympathy or support from the White House.
As a consequence, the operational significance of the administration's anti-Israel positions is that Israel will not be well served by adopting a more accommodating posture toward the Palestinians and Iran. Indeed, perversely, what the Obama administration's treatment of Israel should be making clear to the Netanyahu government is that Israel should no longer take Washington's views into account as it makes its decisions about how to advance Israel's national security interests. This is particularly true with regard to Iran's nuclear weapons program.
Rationally speaking, the only way the Obama administration could reasonably expect to deter Israel from attacking Iran's nuclear installations would be if it could make the cost for Israel of attacking higher than the cost for Israel of not attacking. But what the behavior of the Obama administration is demonstrating is that there is no significant difference in the costs of the two options.
By blaming Israel for the absence of peace in the Middle East while ignoring the Palestinians' refusal to accept Israel's right to exist; by seeking to build an international coalition with Europe and the Arabs against Israel while glossing over the fact that at least the Arabs share Israel's concerns about Iran; by exposing Israel's nuclear arsenal and pressuring Israel to disarm while in the meantime courting the ayatollahs like an overeager bridegroom, the Obama administration is telling Israel that regardless of what it does, and what objective reality is, as far as the White House is concerned, Israel is to blame.
This, of course, doesn't mean that Netanyahu shouldn't make his case to Obama when they meet and to the American people during his US visit. What it does mean is that Netanyahu should have no expectation that Israeli good will can divert Obama from the course he has chosen. And again, this tells us twothings: Israel's relations with the US during Obama's tenure in office will be unpleasant and difficult, and the damage that Israel will cause to that relationship by preventing Iran from acquiring the means to destroy it will be negligible.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
• "Senate Democrats, who have been willing to block ideologues nominated to the lower courts, will certainly do everything they can to prevent a right-wing ideologue from joining the nation's highest court. Before that fight begins, Mr. Bush should ask himself whether Americans want to live in a country where the handicapped cannot find a champion in the law, where women are stripped of all abortion rights, where universities are barred from offering a hand up to deserving minority students."--editorial, New York Times, July 2, 2005
• "Far-right activists are pressuring President Bush to choose an extremist. . . . The far right's agenda for the court is a frightening one. Activists want a justice who will radically reinterpret the Commerce Clause and other parts of the Constitution to tie Congress's hands, so it no longer has the power to protect people from discrimination, unsafe working conditions and pollution. They want to obliterate the constitutional right to privacy, which is the basis not only for the right to abortion, but also for such elemental protections as the right to buy contraception."--editorial, New York Times, July 17, 2005
• "Never mind that President Obama has not even tipped his hand about his choice to replace Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court. It's never too early, it appears, to start the character assassination . . ."--editorial, New York Times, May 8, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Today I was thinking about Steyn and his forecasts when reading an article published in the London Times. The headline of the article is “Muslim population 'rising 10 times faster than rest of society”. A study by the British Office for National Statistics has shown that the Muslim population in England is multiplying at a rate ten times faster than the rest of the population. This, combined with conversions and immigration has led to the Muslim population increasing in the last four years by 500,000 while the number of Christians has declined by 2 million.
This trend is not different from the trend seen in countries across Western Europe. The Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, France, Spain, Germany and Italy are facing similar demographic changes, and in many of this countries the shifts have become irreversible. After all, if a German couple marries when the woman is 27, and have a couple of children by the time she 30, in no way can they reverse the demographic changes occurring when a Muslim couple who is married when the woman is 19 and who by age 30 had six children. Many of this couple's children will at age 18 be sent to their ancestral lands to marry a native cousin, who will then migrate to Europe ensuring that by the end of the twenty first century Europe will become Eurabia.