Monday, September 15, 2008

Obama - record of embelishments

Co-Workers: Obama Inflated His Resume

Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., gives a thumbs up after speaking at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2008. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
I can't verify if this is accurate, but given the pattern that seems to exist in Sen. Obama's difficulty in producing documentation of his achievements, and having other witnesses able to account for his stories, this would seem to be a natural for the Main Stream Press to pursue and review.  Here's the rest of this story...

And here's the backdrop to it.....

The Perfect Stranger

Friday, August 29, 2008; Page A15
Barack Obama is an immensely talented man whose talents have been largely devoted to crafting, and chronicling, his own life. Not things. Not ideas. Not institutions. But himself.

Nothing wrong or even terribly odd about that, except that he is laying claim to the job of crafting the coming history of the United States.

A leap of such audacity is odd. The air of unease at the Democratic convention this week was not just a result of the Clinton psychodrama. The deeper anxiety was that the party was nominating a man of many gifts but precious few accomplishments -- bearing even fewer witnesses.  MORE....


It seems as if I've heard the term "Exceptionalism" quite a number of times the past few weeks.  Usually its been voiced by a politician, and associated with America.  Some have had a difficult time expressing exactly what they mean by it, so as a Public Service (which has also been mentioned a lot, and I plan on talking about soon), I offer the following video.  It clearly depicts the difference between a number of player in the scene, and that difference equates to what I think everyone has been attempting define in the term "Exceptionalism".  See if you don't agree that this is one exceptional little guy.....This is the type of spirit that I want to see in everyone associated with me.

Atlantic Monthly Photog Doctored McCain Pics

Atlantic Monthly Photog Doctored McCain Pics. Unfortunately, they weren't exactly flattering...

Do you think that there's a pattern emerging in the coverage that McCain's been getting?

There'd be hell to pay in the MSM Press if this had been done to Sen. Obama.

The editor of The Atlantic Monthly said Monday he is sending a letter of apology to John McCain after a woman the magazine hired to photograph the Republican presidential nominee posted manipulated pictures from the photo shoot on her Web site.

Photographer Jill Greenberg, who is vehemently anti-Republican and expressed glee that the photos would stir up conservative ire, took pictures of McCain for the cover of The Atlantic’s October issue.

During the shoot, she took several other backlit pictures, which she then doctored and posted to her site. In one photo, she added blood oozing from McCain’s shark-toothed mouth and labeled it with the caption “I am a bloodthirsty warmongerer.” In another, a caption over McCain’s head says, “I will have my girl kill Roe v. Wade,” an obvious reference to his running mate Sarah Palin’s anti-abortion positions.  MORE....

An here's the work that she did.

Egypt draws up plan to end Palestinian crisis (Could it be?)

Could this be the October Surprise?

GAZA, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- Egypt drew up a plan to end internal Palestinian
crisis and would put it forward after obtaining the Palestinian factions'
acceptance, sources said Saturday.

Egypt envisioned the plan after rounds of bilateral talks with
representatives of several Palestinian factions. The Egyptian officials
will meet leaders of feuding factions of Hamas and Fatah separately
next month to get their acceptance.

The Egyptian plan also carries several goals, including to strike a national
Palestinian agreement that could force Israel to end its occupation of the
territories it seized in the 1967 war, resolving the issues of Palestinian
refugees and end the internal Palestinian political split.
Fatah said its talks with the Egyptian officials on launching the
Palestinian dialogue will be on Sept. 22 

The Law of Unintended Consequences - Strikes again!

The Law of Unintended Consequences - Strikes again!
It seems to me that every time Congress reacts to a painful market situation, they're like an army preparing to fight the last war.  They wind up creating completely new aberrations, that of themselves generate new demon offspring that have to have a stake driven through their hearts somewhere down the line.  Guaranteed, with the recent problems in the financial industry, our Wizard's in Washington will boil up a new brew that will stink to heaven.  Given the election year convergence with the market problems, this will undoubtedly be a potent brew that's cooked up, especially with Pelosi, Rangel, Reid, and Schumer holding the wands....
Some think that this weekend's melt down can be traced directly back to this legislation, which allowed significantly greater latitude for investment banks in the market.  As you may have noticed, Fmr. Sen. Phil Gramm, who had been fairly visible in the McCain entourage, has now virtually disappeared.
From Wikipedia....
The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, also known as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act, Pub. L. No. 106-102, 113 Stat. 1338 (November 121999), is an Act of the United States Congress which repealed the Glass-Steagall Act, opening up competition amongbankssecurities companies and insurance companies. The Glass-Steagall Act prohibited a bank from offering investmentcommercial banking, and insurance services.
The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) allowed commercial and investment banks to consolidate. For example, Citibank merged with Travelers Group, an insurance company, and in 1998 formed the conglomerate Citigroup, a corporation combining banking and insurance underwriting services. Other major mergers in the financial sector had already taken place such as the Smith-Barney, Shearson, Primerica and Travelers Insurance Corporation combination in the mid-1990s. This combination, announced in 1993 and finalized in 1994, would have violated the Glass-Steagall Act and the Bank Holding Acts by combining insurance and securities companies, if not for a temporary waiver process [1]. The law was passed to legalize these mergers on a permanent basis. Historically, the combined industry has been known as the financial servicesindustry.
Many of the largest banks, brokerages, and insurance companies desired the Act at the time. The justification was that individuals usually put more money in investments when economy is good, but they put their money into savings accounts when it turns bad. With the new Act, they would do both with the same company, so it would be doing well in all economic times.
Prior to the Act, most financial services companies were doing this anyway. On the retail/consumer side, a bank called Norwest led the charge in offering all types of financial services products in 1986. American Express attempted to own almost every field of financial business (although there was little synergy between them). Things culminated in 1998 when Travelers, a financial services company with everything but a retail/commercial bank, bought out Citibank, creating the largest and the most profitable company in the world. The move was technically illegal and provided impetus for the passage of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.
Also prior to the passage of the Act, there were many relaxations to the Glass-Steagall Act. For example, a few years earlier, commercial Banks were allowed to get into investment banking, and before that banks were also allowed to get into stock and insurance brokerage. Insurance underwriting was the only main operation they weren't allowed to do, something rarely done by banks even after the passage of the Act.
Much consolidation occurred in the financial services industry since, but not at the scale some had expected. Retail banks, for example, do not tend to buy insurance underwriters, as they seek to engage in a more profitable business of insurance brokerage by selling products of other insurance companies. Other retail banks were slow to market investments and insurance products and package those products in a convincing way. Brokerage companies had a hard time getting into banking, because they do not have a large branch and backshop footprint. Banks have recently tended to buy other banks, such as the recent Bank of America and Fleet Boston merger, yet they have had less success integrating with investment and insurance companies. Many banks have expanded into investment banking, but have found it hard to package it with their banking services, without resorting to questionable tie-ins which caused scandals at Smith Barney.
Senator Phil Gramm led the Senate Banking Committee which sponsored the Act; he later joined UBS Warburg, at the time the investment banking arm of the largest Swiss bank.
By the way, here's a sampling of the opinions of the market back in 2000 from Patrick McGeehan:
''What we have seen is the last frenetic scramble for the big firms to position themselves as global top-tier companies,'' said Jerome Kenney, who plots corporate strategy for Merrill Lynch. Foreign banks rushed to capitalize on relaxed regulations about who could own what, and some American companies did not want to be left without a partner, he said.
''You can make a lot of money as a major investment bank, but the market can't support 50 of them,'' Mr. Kenney added.
Few analysts or financial executives think that the merger trend is over, but some say that they expect fewer marriages of convenience and more strategically focused transactions. They may be stating the obvious because, by most measures, only two major Wall Street firms of digestible size remain independent -- Lehman Brothers Holdings and the Bear Stearns Companies. But they argue that simply becoming bigger is not a panacea; what is more important is having a leading market share in core businesses.....

Given the situation today, with the bankruptcy filing for Lehman Bros., can you believe that the following issue was the preeminent issue of concern for our lawmakers at the time?  Doesn't surprise me.  If any of those folks had been financial genius' they wouldn't have been working as our Representatives. In fact most of the articles published since the inception of the act have focused on this issue rather than the new lattitude in operation that the Act provided the investment community.  Amazing!  MORE...

Victoria's Secret and Financial Privacy

By Chris Jay Hoofnagle and Emily Honig
Victoria's Secret Masterfile
Outside the Beltway, it is not well known that a Victoria's Secret catalog is one of the key reasons that Congress included privacy protections for financial information when passing the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA). The GLBA sought to "modernize" financial services--that is, end regulations that prevented the merger of banks, stock brokerage companies, and insurance companies. The removal of these regulations raised significant risks that these new financial institutions would have access to an incredible amount of personal information, with no restrictions upon its use.In a session where House Commerce Committee Members "marked up" a draft version of the GLBA, Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced an amendment that would add privacy protections. The Markey Amendment was strongly opposed by the banking industry. It added "Title V" to the Act, giving individuals notice and an ability to control some information sharing.
Prospects for privacy protection remained dim despite a series of testimonials by Members who recounted their experiences of having their Social Security Numbers and financial information sold. Representative John Dingell (D-MI) complained that the information sharing operated primarily to enrich banks at the expense of individuals' privacy. Referring to a recent speech by then OCC Comptroller John Hawke and a lawsuit brought by Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch, Dingell noted that big banks had sold account information to telemarketers who defrauded consumers. Representative Gene Green (D-TX) complained that his mortgage was sold along with his personal information to another bank. Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA) noted that someone had obtained her Social Security Number and used it to file a false IRS claim.
Critical support for the Markey Amendment came from Representative Joe Barton (R-TX). Barton expressed concern that his credit union had sold his address to Victoria's Secret. Representative Barton noted that he started receiving Victoria's Secret catalogs at his Washington home. This was troubling—he didn't want his wife thinking that he bought lingerie for women in Washington, or that he spent his time browsing through such material.
Barton explained that he maintained an account in Washington for incidental expenses, but used it very little. Neither he nor his wife had purchased anything from Victoria's Secret at the Washington address. Barton smelled a skunk; he reasoned that since he spent so little money in Washington, his credit union was the only business with his address. Barton believed that he should be able to stop financial institutions from selling personal information to third parties, and supported the Markey Amendment. Congress enacted the bill, and now individuals have the right to direct financial institutions not to sell personal information to third parties. MORE....

McCain Employs the OODA Loop Gambit

I don't know if I buy into Michael Barone's analysis of McCain's strategy against Obama.  But it is an interesting perspective just on it's insight into war, and fighter pilot tactics.  I'd never hear of an OODA Loop before so I was intrigued.

I'd love to think that John McCain's team (and the candidate himself) had actually set ou to employ this approach in the selection of Gov. Sarah Palin, but for some reason that I can't define, I don't think that's how the selection came about.  

Here's the basis of Michael Barone's report.  John McCain, trained as a fighter pilot has gotten inside Obama's OODA Loop.  What's that you say?

That term was the invention of the great fighter pilot and military strategist John Boyd. It's an acronym for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act.

"The key to victory is operating at a faster tempo than the enemy," Boyd's biographer Robert Coram writes. "The key thing to understand about Boyd's version is not the mechanical cycle itself, but rather the need to execute the cycle in such a fashion as to get inside the mind and decision cycle of the adversary."

For a fighter pilot, that means honing in above and behind the adversary so you can shoot him out of the sky. For a political candidate, it means acting in such a way that the opponent's responses again and again reinforce the points you are trying to make and undermine his own position.

The Palin selection — and her performance at the convention and on the stump — seems to be having that effect. Obama chief strategist David Axelrod admitted of the Palin pick: "I can honestly say we weren't prepared for that. I mean, her name wasn't on anybody's list." But it was known that McCain's VP adviser had traveled to Alaska, and anyone clicking on could see Palin's impressive performance in political debates. The McCain campaign shrewdly kept the information that she was on the short list and that she was the choice to a half-dozen people, who didn't tell even their spouses. The Obama team failed to Observe.

Then they failed to Orient. Palin, as her convention and subsequent appearances have shown, powerfully reinforces two McCain themes: She is a maverick who has taken on the leaders of her own party (as Obama never has in Chicago), and she has a record on energy of favoring drilling and exploiting American resources. Instead of undermining these themes, they dismissed the choice as an attempt to appeal to female Hillary Clinton supporters or to religious conservatives.

Then team Obama and its many backers in the media failed to Decide correctly, so when they Acted they got it wrong. Their attacks on Palin tended to ricochet and hit Obama. Is she inexperienced? Well, what has Obama ever run (besides his now floundering campaign)? Being a small-town mayor, as Palin said, is like being a community organizer, "without the actual responsibilities."

Is she neglecting her family? Well, how often has Obama tucked his daughters in lately? For more than a week we've seen the No. 1 person on the Democratic ticket argue that he's better prepared than the No. 2 person on the Republican ticket. That's not a winning argument even if you win it. As veteran California Democrat Willie Brown says, "The Republicans are now on offense, and Democrats are on defense.".......
Robert Coram describes what can happen when one player gets inside another's OODA loop. "If someone truly understands how to create menace and uncertainty and mistrust, then how to exploit and magnify the presence of these disconcerting elements, the loop can be vicious, a terribly destructive force, virtually unstoppable in causing panic and confusion and — Boyd's phrase is best — 'unraveling the competition.' ... The most amazing aspect of the OODA loop is that the losing side rarely understands what happened."
Good stuff, but I'm not sure.  We'll have to see if we can detect a continued use of the OODA Loop principles.  If so it will definitely be a new political operatives tool.  MORE....

OODA Loop - Wikipedia

“Legislate in haste, repent at leisure”

Jerry Bower has a great insight into the Lehman Meltdown.  It's similar to the same problem that we had before 911, when the Clinton administration banned all information exchange between the FBI and the Justice Department.

Debunking Laissez Faire Lehman
This morning on CNBC Governor John Corzine (D) of New Jersey blamed the current crises in the market on what he called the "laissez faire" mood of regulation which we have seen "over the past decade.” Does he even believe this stuff? Lehman Brothers, like Bear Stearns and others was basically lobotomized by Corzine’s former colleague Eliot Spitzer, who severed communication between the research divisions of these firms from the trading operations. He did this in the name of "conflict of interest." Who’s interest was served by severing the higher brain functions of these firms from the rest of the nervous systems? With one populist fell swoop, allegedly designed to make Wall Street safer for investors, Spitzer made it dumber. 

The most destructive aspect of government control is always its unpredictability. It’s not that the regs are costly (they are, though), it’s that new regs undo prior decisions. Large financial institutions like Lehman Brothers [LEH 0.19    -3.46  (-94.93%)   ]built their balance sheets under certain sets of rules. But then those rules were changed. In the wake of the Enron scandal, numerous regulations were modified in ways that guarded against future attempts to make corporate earnings appear to be higher than they really were. No one seemed to be guarding against the opposite danger; that these new regulations would force companies to report their earnings under the most pessimistic assumptions. It was not, at the time, considered dangerous to force companies to downplay earnings.........
However, when the climate of opinion shifts to panic selling, then all of the rules, with all their draconian penalties and their figurative death penalty for Arthur Anderson, and their literal death penalty for Ken Lay, and the steady stream of perp walks for corporate execs push an already panicky market into full-blown heart-palpitation mode. It’s not just Sarbox, and Spitzer; it’s stuff like FASB 157, which forces firms to "mark to market" even when the market has collapsed. Under political pressure the financial accounting system now takes localized panic pricing and imposes it on the whole system.

These companies built their balance sheets over many decades under what were then the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. Did we think that changing those rules in a flurry of legislative retribution would not have tremendously disruptive effects on those balance sheets? Did our legislators think about the effects at all? Apparently not.


Barack Obama's White House campaign angrily denied (?) Monday a report that he had secretly urged the Iraqis to postpone a deal to withdraw US troops until after November's election.
In the New York Post, conservative Iranian-born columnist Amir Taheri quoted Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari as saying the Democrat made the demand when he visited Baghdad in July, while publicly demanding an early withdrawal.
"He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington," Zebari said in an interview, according to Taheri.
"However, as an Iraqi, I prefer to have a security agreement that regulates the activities of foreign troops, rather than keeping the matter open," Zebari reportedly said.
The Republican campaign of John McCain seized on the report to accuse Obama of double-speak on Iraq, calling it an "egregious act of political interference by a presidential candidate seeking political advantage overseas."
But Obama's national security spokeswoman Wendy Morigi said Taheri's article bore "as much resemblance to the truth as a McCain campaign commercial."
In fact, Obama had told the Iraqis that they should not rush through a "Strategic Framework Agreement" governing the future of US forces until after President George W. Bush leaves office, she said.
Which is exactly what Amir Taheri quoted Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari as saying....Obama has now confirmed the report!

Has Obama committed a fatal mistake?  A Crime?

Amir Taheri has reported in todays NY Post that during his trip to Iraq, Sen. Obama attempted to pressure Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and others into delaying the removal of US Troops until after the election, and the swearing in of the new President.  He also attempted to persuade the US Military commanders to take the same position, and not recommend sending the troops home. They declined. 

LONG VIEW: Barack Obama tours Iraq with Gen. David Petraeus in July, when he sought to stall any agreement for US troop withdrawal until President Bush left office.

Not only is this in direct opposition to the position that Sen. Obama has consistently pressed (getting the troops out immediately), but may also be a violation of US law.

Interestingly, although the Iraqi's felt that Sen. Obabma had a higher probability of winning the election, they did not trust Sen. Obama.  Maybe we shouldn't either.

Full story here....

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