“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Friday, May 21, 2010

Iran, Brazil, Turkey, Hillary & Nukes

Tuesday's Wall Street Journal had a scathing lead staff editorial regarding the recent coup by Iran involving nuclear material, Turkey and Brazil.

By far the best single line of the piece, and maybe any editorial in that space in months, was,

"In her first game of high-stakes diplomatic poker, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is leaving the table wearing a barrel."

Thanks to Wonderboy leaving America toothless and completely unnecessary to be feared by any rogue nation, or (former) friendly nation, Iran has found confederates among once US-friendly nations.

Good job, guys. In less than four years, this administration has put a nuclear weapon within reach of Muslim radicals in Iran. Meanwhile, Clinton is baldfacedly assuring Congress that the recent START treaty with Russia is a good deal- really.

With Hillary's recent failure fresh in our minds, let's hope nobody on the Hill believes her in that testimony, either.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Curious Case Of ShoreBank of Chicago

Since stories about large New York financial institutions chipping in to help avoid the closure of a modest bank in Chicago named Shore Bank, I've been wondering what would lead so many titans of finance to help some insignificant little Midwest bank.

This morning's Wall Street Journal provided the likely answer- corruption.

Framing a grinning mugshot-drawing of our First Rookie, the article stated,

"In letters to the White House, the lawmakers questioned whether the big banks are curring favor with the Obama administration at a time when many are under federal scrutiny. The lawmakers also asked whether the White House has been pressuring the big banks to help.

The White House denied putting pressure on bankers."

According to the piece, no less an august person than Lloyd Blankfein

"was personally making fund-raising calls to other banking executives, seeking private-sector pledges totaling $125 million for the failing community-development lender, Chicago's ShoreBank Corp."

Further on in the Journal article, various other denials are noted on the part of administration mouth pieces. They allege that all contact occurred between Treasury, regulators and the bank, not the White House.

Well, sure. I mean, does anyone really think Wonderboy is personally calling Lloyd Blankfein to suggest he help rescue ShoreBank? Or even one of his henchmen?

Everyone's smarter than that. All that need have occurred is for Rahm Emanuel to mention to Geithner that it sure would be a good thing if ShoreBank could be kept open.

I believe in espionage circles, this is what is known as 'using a cutout.'

There's never a direct, traceable link between the highest corrupt official and the people doing the actual questionable actions.

So it is here.

Because if you think Lloyd Blankfein just got out of bed one morning and decided his good deed for the day was to save a small community bank in Chicago, well, Lloyd probably has a few CDO's to sell you, too....

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rand Paul For Senate: R-KY

I was watching Neil Cavuto's program last night when, at about 4:10PM, Cavuto interviewed a triumphant Rand Paul.

It's unclear to me how the results were available so soon, but Paul knocked out Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's chosen favorite for the Republican nomination to replace retiring GOP Senator Jim Bunning.

Paul's victory sure sends a powerful signal about grass-roots activism this year. And, I suppose, the Tea Party movement, as well.

I'm looking forward to writing more for today on the electoral results for Arlen Specter, Blanche Lincoln and the Connecticut AG who was found to be lying about his Vietnam-era military service.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Borking Kagan?

I vividly recall watching the Bork confirmation hearings in 1995. I was packing for a ski trip while watching, incredulously, as Teddy Kennedy, an unindicted murderer, hounded Robert Bork for imagined sins that bore no resemblance to reality.

Specifically, what is stuck in my mind is Kennedy lambasting Bork for being insensitive in his ruling on a case involving a truck driver, while Bork attempted to teach Kennedy about appellate cases, i.e., the judges on the appellate court were only allowed to rule on those issues on appeal, not the full merits of the entire original case.

Maybe Teddy was busy driving drunk the day that they taught this point in law school.

Now we have Elena Kagan engaging in surreal self-referential cloaking of her legal views.

First, she authored a book in which she opined on the Bork nomination. In a well-written editorial in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, Gordon Crovitz noted that Kagan got the true impact and nature of the Bork hearings all wrong,

"Ms. Kagan disagreed. She wrote that the most notable quality of the Bork hearings "was not the depths to which it occasionally descended, but the heights that it repeatedly reached." She claimed that "senators addressed this complex subject with a degree of seriousness and care not usually present in legislative deliberation."

Really? The most famous comment by a senator was by Ted Kennedy, speaking on the floor just after President Reagan announced the nomination: "Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens."

The standard for dishonest claims against Judge Bork thus established, the hearings became a farce. The daily drill, funded by dozens of liberal lobbying groups, was to take the facts of a case, twist them into a sound bite, then ignore the underlying legal issue. "

Never the less, Kagan must have already begun hedging her bets, because nowhere is there a substantial record of her views on anything of import in the legal field. Somewhere recently, another writer observed that she and Wonderboy both share a rather troubling distinction. As attorneys who taught at major universities, neither published anything of note.

We've finally arrived at a point where lawyers contemplating government jobs, whether elected or appointed, are careful to confine their true beliefs on constitutional matters to themselves and perhaps a few trusted friends. Or private meetings where no obvious cameras are in evidence.

Thus, Kagan is now famously silent on key issues which may come before the court. As Crovitz wrote at the end of his column,

"The lesson that prospective judicial nominees learned was that to avoid public positions that would enable anyone to bork them. The Oxford English Dictionary has defined the verb bork as "to defame or vilify (a person) systematically, esp. in the mass media, usually with the aim of preventing his or her appointment to public office; to obstruct or thwart (a person) in this way."

The long-term impact of the Bork hearings is that nominees for the highest court are now selected on the basis of how little can be known about their views. This makes Ms. Kagan's erstwhile supporters nervous. As a New York Times editorial said, "Whether by ambitious design or by habit of mind, Ms. Kagan has spent decades carefully husbanding her thoughts and shielding her philosophy from view."

Indeed, Ms. Kagan may not have the courage of her previous convictions on nomination hearings. When she was being confirmed to be solicitor general last year, she was asked about this law-review article.

Ms. Kagan responded that she was "less convinced than I was in 1995 that substantive discussions of legal issues and views, in the context of nomination hearings, provide the great public benefits I suggested." It seems her bork is worse than her bite."

So scared is Kagan of divulging her true beliefs that she even countered her own written work, and, hilariously went on record as now believing that less is more when it comes to learning about a Supreme Court nominee's views.

How's that? We are better served by knowing less about the views of a young lawyer about to be named to a life appointment on the nation's highest court?

Honestly, on that sentiment alone, Kagan should be summarily dismissed from consideration as a shallow idiot, or a complete charlatan seeking to hoodwink the entire nation into nominating her on no relevant basis whatsoever.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Regulatory Zeal

I've been following two separate but equally important regulatory actions lately. Perhaps you have been, too.

The first involves Goldman Sachs. This weekend's Wall Street Journal carried a very extensive article detailing Mary Shapiro's rabid pursuit of the investment bank. Shapiro is portrayed as feeling the need to rescue the SEC's image and reputation from the stain of missing the Bernard Madoff fraud.

The other regulatory actions involve the Gulf coast oil spill from the rig hired by BP and partially operated by Haliburton.

In that case, while the regulatory agency is getting a black eye from possibly becoming too cozy with industry firms, our First Rookie and his henchman, Ken Salazar, have wasted no time letting voters know that they consider any and all companies involved to be untrustworthy and generally badly-intentioned entities.

While believing in capitalist economies, I also believe such economies need to be well- and effectively-regulated.

In the case of Goldman, if it can be proven, to the satisfaction of a jury or judge, to have clearly engaged in material fraud of customers, then it should be penalized appropriately.

Regarding the oil spill, recent news stories cast doubt on the management of the drill plugging process on the TransOcean rig leased to BP.

I'd be the first to insist that BP, Haliburton, or whoever the responsible managing firm which may be found to have been inept at handling the plugging be penalized.

But, surely, it would be better for everyone involved were the president to have waited until various investigations had discerned which entity or entities were culpable in the case of the oil spill, assuming it was not simply equipment failure and natural causes.

Then the president could have met privately, first, with that firm's CEO, and taken a more reasoned approach, ensuring the cooperation of the firm in making restitution and reforming their practices.

It does no good for our politicians to simply demonize private entities, especially in advance of due processes finding guilt.

Instead of calm, deliberative approaches to applying regulations to sectors in which business practices are found to be unacceptable, we have an administration which simply engages in thuggery and public accusations before the facts are known and available legal and regulatory processes have been allowed to operate.

This does our society no long term good.