American Elephants

Don’t Worry, Our Alliances Are Stronger Than Ever? by The Elephant's Child

—Melanie Phillips is a longtime British author and columnist, and someone well worth paying close attention to. Iran, she says, will not “come it it’s senses.”

War with Iran is a truly fearsome prospect.

Its likely consequences would include attacks on US air bases from thousands of Iranian missiles, the unleashing of terrorist attacks within the US and Europe, the rocketing of Israeli towns from the tens of thousands of missiles trained on Israel from Lebanon,  the closing of the Straits of Hormuz thus paralysing western oil supplies, and doubtless other horrors.

The West has put tough sanctions on Iran, they have been urged for years, but the UK and the EU made threatening statements, and the Obama administration proved American weakness by extending his hand in friendship to a regime that was busy blowing up American soldiers in Iraq. Now the regime has built a secret nuclear plant inside a mountain where it is supposedly impervious to bombing raids.

The regime are religious fanatics driven by a belief in the return of the Mahdi, the last Islamic Messiah, which will take place soon either as a result of the end of days, or to bring it about. They do not worry that half of Iran might be obliterated as a result of their efforts. They would welcome that. They believe that continuing the nuclear program will facilitate his coming.  The West, she says, is incapable of recognizing or understanding religious fanaticism. They insist on treating the fanatic as a rational actor, which they are not.

— No need to worry about Latin America, the president said — “Our ties to the America are deeper.”  But oddly enough, the administration has no ambassadors in five Latin American countries. Our Latin American neighbors are building a regional organization — the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) which pointedly excludes the U.S. There was no mention of Ahmadinejad’s January visit to South America nor of the deepening ties of Iran and Venezuela. Iran wants diplomatic cover and international support against increased sanctions. Ahmadinejad plans to visit Nicaragua, Cuba, Ecuador and  Guatemala.  No mention of the war going on just on the other side of the border with Mexico with criminal organizations, that has cost nearly 50,000 lives.

Egypt is celebrating the first anniversary of the country’s revolt against the Mubarak regime. Ed Husain, author of The Islamist and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, says “Granted, it is necessary to analyze America’s influence in the world, but it is quite another matter to almost campaign for a less powerful America, believing that somehow this spells progress.”

I am not an American, but I firmly believe that, on balance, American power is a force for good in the world. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair was right to remind us repeatedly in Britain that the modern world is led by a free nation, a democracy, and not Russia or China.

Yet it’s American conventional wisdom to believe that the fall of Arab dictators, particularly Egypt’s, weakens American leverage in the Middle East. And this thinking risks becoming self-fulfilling prophecy unless the U.S. government finds its backbone and recognizes that U.S. power is not limited to backing tyrants. The current trajectory—of dancing around developments, leading from behind and expressing defeatist thinking—needs to stop.

President Obama said:”The renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe.  Our oldest alliances in Europe and Asia are stronger than ever. Our ties to the Americas are deeper.  Our iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between or two countries in history. We made it clear tha America is a Pacific power, and a new beginning in Burma has lit a new hope. From the coalitions we’ve built to secure nuclear materials, to the missions we’ve led against hunger and disease, from the blows we’ve dealt to our enemies, to the enduring power of our moral example, America is back.”

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta laid out details of a plan to cut a half a trillion dollars from defense spending, in addition to the half-trillion in cuts required under the Budget Control Act. Defense cuts already exceed 50 percent of deficit-reduction efforts.  For every dollar the President hopes to save in domestic programs — he plans on saving $128 in defense.  Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.


Look Out. Here Comes the “Financial Crimes Unit.” by The Elephant's Child

President Barack Obama announced a new unit to be devoted to major financial crimes during his State of the Union speech.  The Orwellian sounding “Financial Crimes Unit” is to be staffed with “highly trained investigators” and charged with tracking “large-scale fraud.”He also urged Congress to strengthen the penalties for financial wrongdoing.

The president also announced that Attorney General Eric Holder has been tasked with establishing a special team of federal prosecutors and state attorneys general devoted to investigating abusive mortgage lending and the packaging of risky mortgages that contributed to the financial crisis.  He is apparently not going after Barney Frank and others in Congress who forced banks to lend to borrowers who did not qualify for mortgages under normal prudent rules of banking.

Banks are the most heavily regulated entities in the business world. The Democrat Congress used suspicions of “redlining” as an excuse for requiring banks to make mortgages more available for minorities, and to specifically to reduce their standards to encourage home ownership. Obama said:

I am asking my attorney general to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorneys general to expand our investigations into abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis.

We’ve all paid the price for lenders who sold mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them.” Now, it’s lenders’ turn to pay the price.

It was Washington that ordered lenders to make those risky loans. Now they are to be punished for doing too well what they were ordered to do before the crisis. Democrats injected risk into the financial system.  Beginning in the 1990s they socialized the mortgage industry after declaring that traditional prudent standards of lending were “racist.”

Obama doesn’t care if it drives many banks out of business. That will further his claims of predatory lending and class warfare where rich bankers made fraudulent loans — as they were required to do by Congress.  These risky loans were bundled by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and sold as high-yielding securities to Wall Street and other nations as worthy investments in an era of fairly low-interest rates.

At a time when money is tight for small business, this will help to dry up credit at a time when contractors, entrepreneurs, growing small businesses are already having a hard time securing credit. Financial institutions will be even more afraid to deplete their capital, at a time when they might need it to pay protection money to this governmental scam. It’s an Alice in Wonderland world, Chicago version.

We even have an entrepreneur locally advertising on the radio seminars on how to make money “flipping houses.” Washington is still pushing for lowered mortgage requirements, which are what got us into this mess in the first place. What you are supposed to understand is that none of this is Obama’s fault — it’s the banks, it’s Wall Street, it’s the rich, and our valiant president is trying really hard to save us from predatory lenders who are trying to get rich by making loans that won’t be paid back.  Though just how that works remains a mystery.

%d bloggers like this: