Saturday, June 30, 2012

Dear Readers, It's Saturday and the Times are A'changing

That is certainly true. Dylan was right.
And, before I forget, Dodie jumped in yesterday, and I hope we see more Dodie comments because the comment was useful, Thanks.
The November 2012 election is critical. That's why Romney got $5.5 Million in contributions in the day after the decision fell. And, even more interesting, the latest ABC poll shows that only 21% of independent voters want to keep Obamacare in place. That's an invitation for the GOP and Romney, if ever there was one. And the overall poll shows a 46%-46% tie about what to do with Obamacare. So, we have room to work in.
Putting practical politics aside...
Taxes - impractical if ever there was anything impractical - if you remember Boston and its first Tea Party, there is a lot we can do about taxes. I'm not recommending revolution, but nothing smokes out politicians like angry voters on the Mall in Washington and marching all over America. It worked in 2010, at a time when most Americans said there was nothing that could be done. There was. It worked. 2102 is no different, and maybe it will be easier, if we can get the voting public in gear.
On the Supreme Court front - lower federal appellate courts will now have to sort out what the law means in light of the Court decision. And, you can be sure there will be more Supreme Court cases to follow. The legal pundits on TV who say that everything is now cast in concrete are wrong...sometimes even lawyers are wrong. Wow, what an insight.
Happy Sunday, everyone.

Russia and China Save al-Assad Once More

The meeting in Geneva on Saturday of the UN action group for Syria was a success, if you count success as hammering out an agreement. The agreement is about a post-Assad Syria.
What follows is a summary of the world media's version of events, as they reported it with a straight face and not a hint of cynicism.
Russia and China were present, along with the United States, France and Great Britain, countries representing the Arab League, Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar, Turkey and the secretaries general of the Arab League and the United Nations. The high representative of the European Union also participated.
(Take note, dear readers, that neither Bashir al-Assad, nor any representative of his regime, nor of the Syrian opposition, was present.)
The United States will present the agreement to the UN Security Council for approval in order to give the agreement more weight. The next steps will be for the al-Assad regime to name a representative to the new transition government and for the opposition to do the same. Annan will go to Damascus soon to begin work on this. He will also set in place a new ceasefire.
Russia and China re-affirmed that the Syrians themselves must be allowed to determine their future. So, the agreement calls for a government of transition which will include members of the opposition, other important groups and the al-Assad regime, but Kofi Annan said he doubts that the Syrians will select someone “with blood on their hands” to be the new leader of Syria.
The transition government, to be chosen by mutual consent, will have executive powers.
Kofi Annan said that the future of al-Assad will be in the hands of the new government and the Syrians themselves, as they follow the procedures set out in the agreement.
Russia and China remained firm in their position that Syria must decide its future without excluding anyone or any group from the process. They also stated that the UN Chapter 7 right to intervene with force will not be permitted under the agreement.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the US still insists that al-Assad leave Syria and that this will be discussed at a July meeting of the Friends of Syria in Paris, where the Syrian opposition will be present.
Kofi Annan, in calling for the action group meeting said that it was necessary to find an agreement for the transition in Syria,otherwise “history would judge them severely.”
End of media report summary.

In Syria on Saturday, al-Assad forces took back one of the important suburbs of Damascus, Douma, and there are reportedly people fleeing, and many arrested as the troops advance, with reports of 82 dead, including 30 civilians killed by a bomb as they participated in a funeral procession.
The London-based Syria human rights group is calling on the Red Cross to supply medical equipment and supplies to Douma, where the hospital was abandoned and some patients were left behind without care.
Body count - 15,800 dead in Syria, mostly civilians, since March 2011.
Dear readers, this is the reality concerning Syria today. The civil war goes on, with al-Assad forces being supplied by Russia while the West, mostly Qatar and Saudi Arabia, supply the opposition but with lighter equipment.
One has to marvel at the Alice in Wonderland quality of the Geneva meeting and “agreement.” It was rather like a theatre of the absurd, with the participants taking decisions for al-Assad knowing that he will refuse to cooperate.
A ceasefire? Hasn’t that been tried? I suppose it never hurts to try, try again, but surely the action group knows there is no possibility of a real ceasefire until al-Assad has stopped the insurrection by decimating its participants or has, himself, been killed or captured.
One more time, Russia and China have stonewalled any possibility of peace in Syria. They knew what was going on in Geneva on Saturday, and they played hardball with a group that seems to be sedated and unable to think.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Well, Let Me try to Answer

The Supreme Court is not supposed to win beauty contests. It is supposed to determine, when cases are brought to it and it sees a constitutional issue in them, if the law fits into the principles of the Constitution or not.
That's it.
If politics is present, and let us not be so naive as to suppose that the Court lives in a bubble sanitized from what's going on in the world, then it is the constitutional politics of making that great document safe in the face of newer and even more "unheard of by the Drafters" ideas.
But, the US Constitution is extremely flexible, in the good sense of that word. It encapsulates in few words what makes a government work for its people. And, it is not for nothing that the US Constitution is copied and used all over the world when people are seeking a format for governing themselves.
But, the members of the Court are human and subject to all the errors that entails. So, sometimes they stray from their constitutional path and try to "fix" something. That usually means the Commerce Clause gets a new overhaul. Surprisingly, the Court recognized in the Obama care case that the Commerce Clause just couldn't be stretched far enough to make Obamacare's "penalty" pass constitutional muster.
But, there is a taxing power in the Constitution and it rests with Congress. And, if the penalty could be called a tax, voila! Obamacare works.
Remember when Justice Ginsberg commented during oral argument that a lot of people need health care? That's a "fixing something" question.
I'll do more this weekend, but as for Chief Justice Roberts, he will have to live and die with the Obamacare decision. Rather like Queen Mary of England said in the 16th century after losing Calais to the French, that she would die with Calais carved on her heart. Cold comfort. But, one does not get to the Chief Justiceship without wanting to make a mark in history. Roberts has done that, for good or bad.
As for deciding that the decision was a priori null, I doubt that would win. But, what about impeaching Roberts? I doubt it because that would need to entail gross morality issues.
But, there is still a lot of room to undo what Roberts did. That's why the November election is so important. If Americans give another mandate to Obama and the Democrats, then as we all say from time to time, the rest is history - unconstitutional history.

Allergies, Politics, Action and the Supreme Court

When I was a child, my mother had severe allergies. I often wondered how one “caught” an allergy, and as other family members suffered, each in their own way, with allergies, I thanked God that I had been spared. Well, the “sparing” was not to last a lifetime, because I now have allergies, too. But, what separates me from my mother is that I have cortisone that’s safe to use and antihistamines. She had very little except to suffer and try to survive the attacks. I can act.
Then, as I got older - well, in my 20s, if that counts as older - I was immersed in politics, Republican politics. And, naïve that I was, I thought that good ideas, a reasonably good public appearance and someone to manage your rise was all you needed. I learned that ideas counted for very little. It was the managers, the “handlers”, who counted because they could sell almost any idea, or lack thereof, if they were good enough, and the politician up front being presented to the public was only the “pretty face” of it all. I bailed out into law school, even though my handlers were honest and anchored in ideals, because I was sure that they could do better without me to bother them with my ideas.
After law school, I joined a corporate law department, and I felt like I was doing what I had been meant to do. Because of my political background, I got to represent the corporation’s public affairs group. I even wrote the model legislation that became the “it’s okay for corporations to contribute as long as they divulge the amounts and it’s within reason” legislation that spread to Congress and most of the 50 states. I drafted the legislation because I knew that corporations and their ideas and their input were essential to the American political process, and that it was grossly dysfunctional to allow unions to do what corporations were forbidden to do.
But, while I was trying to make the system work better for everyone, the handlers of my legal efforts had other ideas - corporations and unions and political parties and candidates.
It made me understand that, except for an overwhelming occupying army, every country gets the government it deserves.
Why do I tell you this, dear readers?
Because it is time to reconsider all of the above in the light of what’s going on in the world today.
You see, despite the views of Anonymous, I am not calling for Apocalpyse Now.
I still believe that we get what we deserve politically. And, when I see that just 51% of the eligible Egyptians turned out to vote for their new and first “democratically” elected president, I understand just how little we human beings really deserve in our governments. The percentages are not much better in the US or Europe. Surprisingly, Iraq did much better in very trying and dangerous circumstances the first time they were given a democratic vote.
Why do people ignore the most important part of their existence? Why do they not understand that it matters, Matters, who is elected to Congress and it even matters who is elected sheriff or the proverbial dogcatcher.
The flim-flam of people who are professional political “counsel” or “analysts” or “advisors” or “campaign managers” has co-opted us. They have taken away our right and our desire to be an active part of the political process.
And with that separation of politics from the belief of Everyman that he can make a difference and be a player, politics becomes a profession, just like being an engineer or a beautician or a pro tennis player. It means nothing but money, power, TV time and adulation.
Politics is not about any of that. It is about groups of citizens joining together to debate and choose the people who will work for their political structure, large or small, until the same people join together the next time to decide what the future ought to look like and who best will represent it for them.
The notion of citizen politicians died with Franklin D. Roosevelt, I suppose, in America. He hung on to power for 12 years, until he died - and it forced a change in the Constitution to limit a president to two consecutive terms.
If I were re-writing my model legislation today, my focus would not be on who spends how much. That was never the issue. The issue was always ACCESS. Everyone has the right to access to the political process. When that access is eliminated or ignored by the majority, they get what they deserve. Bad leaders. Bad policies. Bad government.
Today’s model legislation ought to focus on how to limit the power of the counsel, advisors, analysts, campaign managers, and all the hangers-on. They have corrupted our political system beyond recognition. Along with citizen politicians we need citizen campaign staff.
That brings me to the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare, whose analysis will follow this weekend.
What we ought to take away from the decision is that we were co-opted. By Obama. By his Democratic Congress. By the Supreme Court, for which I have huge respect. But this time they blew it.
It is time to take back the United States. As the Tea Party, despite all its amateur flaws, is trying to do. And Mitt Romney said it very well yesterday.
He will be vilified for his MassachusuettsCare. That is not the issue. He will be vilified for not understanding where the US is going with universal health care. That is not the issue.
The issue, as he put it so succinctly, is what we want from our government and President.
If we are willing to let others decide for us, vote for Obama. If we are willing to let others decide what is best for us without even bothering to ask our opinion, vote for Obama.
But, as Mr. Romney said yesterday, if we have had enough, it is necessary to send Obama back to Chicago, and most of the Democrats in Congress with him.
We in America, and citizens everywhere in the world, get what we deserve in political leaders.
Never has that been most true in America than in 2012.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Europe and Failure

Dear Anonymous,
As always, thanks.
Now, just to be clear, I support the banks of the world or Europe just as I support the governments -- only as long as they do their job, stay solvent and stay out of my private life if I'm not hurting anyone.
I don't expect either the Euro or Europe to collapse, because Germany will lose more than the rest of the member states if that happens. But, Germany wants a rational process and the rest of Europe is anything but rational. There's the rub, to quote the Bard. And, that's how they all got into the mess they're in now.
And, if Europe goes belly up, the rest of us will suffer, too.
Maybe in a rational world we could let the market do its job, but are we really prepared for another GREAT Depression, or wars all over the planet, or worse, anarchy -- because today's pampered and spineless human beings are likely to lose all sense of decorum and brotherhood in such a crisis and become the first real generation of Mad Maxes.
That's my worry...and what is yours? TKS
Casey Pops

Obamacare Upheld by Supreme Court

Dear readers,
I haven't had time to download read the entire Supreme Court Opinion because I was in my car when the news came across Swiss radio. At first, I thought they had got it wrong, and misunderstood the decision vote. Then, the voice said, one of the conservative Justices sided with the liberal Justices to form the 5-4 majority. I knew then the Swiss had got it right. I then thought that perhaps Justice Kennedy had voted with the majority, but there was no detail in either the Swiss or French radio report, which I then turned to.
I have to say I was stunned. It was one of those moments when you know you will remember for the rest of your life where you were and what you were doing when you heard the news.
After reading the Opinion, I will comment in detail, but I would like to give you my first reactions to the US Supreme Court's decision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, i.e., Obamacare.
Why is this decision so important?
Because it drives a stake through the individual liberty enshrined in the American Constitution. When I found out that it was Chief Justice Roberts who held the stake so that the four liberal members of the Court could pound it into the heart of the American vision of liberty, I felt faint.
What the Court ruled is that while the Commerce Clause does not allow Congress to enact legislation that requires individuals to purchase anything, the taxing power of the Constitution allows Congress to tax those who choose not to do the "thing" if they have sufficient wealth or income to pay the tax.
The silly "if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck" aphorism comes to mind. Or as Abe Lincoln liked to explain such events, "How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."
A construction of the penalty levied on those who choose not to act to have health insurance that makes the penalty a tax does not make the penalty less unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause, as even the majority apparently wrote in their Opinion. We will follow this after I have read the full decision.
I fear we have entered a new age in constitutional interpretation. It runs along the lines of "if you cannot use the Commerce Clause, try taxing." Or some other trick, because we now know that the federal government is not to be constrained, not even by the Constitution.
So, we will now face taxation for what? Not choosing to vote? Not choosing to join a union? Not choosing to keep your children at home until they are 26? Not choosing to play basketball? The possibilities are endless.
And, they all add up to one thing - Americans have had their individual and personal liberty to act or not to act cut off at the knees.
"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance" was never more true. It is time to take back the Constitution from those who would simply post it as a relic in the Supreme Court Rotunda and make it live again. Because America is special and it is the Constitution that makes it so.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Arizona Supreme Court Decision

See my Monday, 25 June's about the Arizona decision.

Dear Reader Anonymous

You are certainly welcome. Deb is, too, and you are probably right about her time crunch. Maybe you will coax her out more.
I'm also quite conservative, but I do not believe in mixing religion with politics - morality, yes because it makes sense of policy; religion, never.
And often we lawyers use too many words in trying to be exact. Hope you can put up with it. I try my best.
The baptism was really a good occasion for the family - thanks for asking.
I've been around the other world a good bit myself, and I know how lucky we are and how easy it woudl be to toss it all away for a smooth smile and voice. That's the danger of democracies, that they implode from lack of effort to keep them inflated.
I've tried ot get my essays published but most publishers are so leftist that they disagree with my ideas and say, sorry. I haven't given up, though.
Anyway, have a terrific day and send us your next input. We're all waiting.
Casey Pops

"Not as Long as I Live"

The European Union has reached its crunch point. It is very reminiscent of the American colonies under the Articles of Confederation. The loose EU federation is not working and there is a real and profound division among European leaders about how to fix the problem.
Germany is leading the way, refusing to agree to tighter integration meant to solve the short-term problems related to the banking and fiscal crises now occurring. France, which was a firm partner of Germany in the period when the EU was formed (both under Socialist French president François Mitterrand and under the conservatives Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy), is now leading the opposition to Germany’s views.
Nothing could be more dangerous for the EU and for its currency, the Euro, which was adopted 10 years ago without the complete integration of the Eurozone that would have made it work.
Let’s take a look at what’s going on.
Eurozone banks are in debt, largely either because of real estate busts or because they have been buying the government bonds of EU countries which now do not have sufficient funds or the expectation of tax revenues sufficient to pay off their debts to bondholders. Since the EU banks do not have enough capital put aside to cover the debt, they are asking the Eurozone and its partners, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, to lend them sufficient funds to cover their outstanding debt.
France and most of the rest of Europe are willing to lend the money needed, i.e., the bailouts, but Germany says, “No.”
The instruments most often recommended to provide the bailouts for EU banks are Eurobonds. These do not exist now. They would be created and sold by the ECB and the proceeds would be made available to EU banks and countries in debt.
The Eurobonds would be guaranteed by the EU collectively. That means that the interest rate for borrowing would come down for debtor countries like Spain, Italy and Greece, but borrowing costs would rise for countries like Germany or France or Great Britain. This is because the interest rates demanded by lenders who would buy Eurobonds are presumed to become an average of the current interest rates of all EU countries.
This is the sticking point. Germany has low interest rates, has spent a lot of money already to buy the government bonds of debtor EU countries (estimates are in the range of the equivalent of 1 Trillion US Dollars) which are now sitting in the German central bank and other German banks as loans that may never be repaid.
What Germany wants is a slow and methodical process leading to banking, fiscal and political union in the EU. The other countries say there is no time for that because the current crisis is going to destroy the Euro, and perhaps the EU, before it would have time to go slowly to such integration.
Let’s look at these three items.
Banking integration would mean that EU banks would be regulated by a single agency, which could close failing banks, demand capital set asides, and oversee all the banks in all EU countries. Germany is not willing to do now this because her banks are much stronger than the others. Great Britain, which has never taken on the Euro, is also opposed because it will not give up its banking sovereignty in the form of the Bank of England.
Fiscal integration would mean that EU countries would be regulated by a single agency that could oversee their taxation policies, demand budget cuts and changes if a country is too much in debt, and take away much of the power of each EU country’s central bank. Germany and France and Great Britain are opposed because they want to protect their sovereign control over their own fiscal policies.
Political integration would mean that all EU countries would give up a large chunk of their sovereignty to become states, in the American sense of that word, of a federal Europe that would control all their political activities. This is a real no-go for most EU countries right now.
Back to the Articles of Confederation and America in 1787-89.
Each state could issue its own currency - like EU countries today.
The US Central Bank did not exist as we know the Federal Reserve today - same as in the EU now.
Each state was responsible for its debt, even the debt incurred during the Revolutionary War on behalf of all the colonies’ fight against England. Ditto the EU today - there is no war debt but EU countries have debt at varying percentages of their GDP and many have no hope of ever repaying it.
In America, there was a solution. The states came together and drafted the Constitution. It formed the federal government with states retaining powers not specifically ceded to the federal government in Washington,
This allowed President Thomas Jefferson, for example, to “buy” all the states’ debts and repay them over time with federal funds earned by selling US bonds. In the EU, this is the fiscal question that Germany says it will not agree to.
Why was it so relatively easy for the America of 1789 to come to the solution that the EU is incapable of finding today?
For me, the answer is rather simple.
The America of 1787-89 was English - common culture, common language, common ideals, common ideas about morality, common history in the Revolution that bound them together against England. They trusted each other and were led by men of exceptional vision and integrity.
The European Union of 2012 is anything but common - 27 different countries with their own unique languages, cultures, histories (often including wars with one another and long-felt animosities), different currencies, and no sense of a common goal, except to save their skins against the international financial wolf at their door. And, although Angela Merkel is a serious and determined leader trying to do the right thing, there is no real EU leadership.
As an aside, I believe that the America of 2012 looks more like the EU of today than the America of 1789, and that is why we have political gridlock in Washington.
That is what is wrong with the EU and the Eurozone. It will not be solved by treaties or integration or anything else. It is doomed to remain a loose federation no matter how it is described on paper in treaties.
Europe needs to sit down and reconsider the basic elements of the EU and find the lowest common denominator that could hold it together in some way.
This will probably break open the experiment and take it back to its original goal - a customs union that makes the free flow of goods and services possible without any one European country trying to get the upper hand commercially, except by making and selling better goods and services.
Germany and Great Britain know this instinctively. That is why they are opposed to banking, fiscal or political integration.
That fully explains what German Chancellor Merkel is reported to have said about Eurobonds and complete integration in a private German parliamentary meeting yesterday: “Not as long as I live.”

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dear Anonymous

I think you'd be missed if you stop commenting. My readers are in many parts of the world where they are not as free as we are to comment on anything. As for the rest, maybe they read to understand, to consider other opinions -- mine and now yours. Deb'h is always there, but she seems to like quick answers instead of long ones. But, she's loyal and I feel sure she finds you interesting.
I'm going to try to get down on paper a reply to your major recurring points. It's just that the world keeps me busy these days.
So, stay aboard, and let us have the benefit of your opinions and views. We're all basically here to support America and democracy - wherever it exists. It's not an easy job, because democracy is not an easy way to govern ourselves.
Casey Pops

Syria, Turkey and Egypt, Opportunities for Success

Turkey announced on Tuesday that it will retaliate against anyone who breaches its border with Syria.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke before the Turkish parliament, saying that “the rules of engagement of the Turkish armed forces have now changed. Every military element that poses a threat and a danger to the security of the Turkish borders with Syria will be considered a military target.”
Erdogan said that the shooting down in “international air space and not Syrian air space” of the F-4 Phantom while it was on a training mission was a “hostile act” and showed that the “Syrian regime has become a clear and close menace for Turkey and her people.”
The Turkish prime minister added that his country will respond to the attack “at the opportune moment” and with “determination.”
Erdogan also pointed out that Turkey will continue to support the Syrian people until they have made the “cruel dictatorship” of al-Assad fall.
At the same time, a NATO meeting in Brussels found the shooting down of a Turkish jet by Syria “unacceptable” and gave its full “support and solidarity” to Turkey.
NATO met under Article 4 of the Alliance’s treaty, which states that when any member country considers its territorial integrity threatened, it may call the other members to take the matter into consideration.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that the Alliance is “indivisible. We are at Turkey’s side in a strong spirit of solidarity.”
Rasmussen echoed Erdogan’s words, noting Syria’s “contempt for international rules, peace and security, as well as for human life.”
Syria, and it seems Russia, are taking the position that the Turkish F-4 Phantom was testing the Syrian air defense system for NATO when it was shot down. Experts specializing in Russian military affairs said that the Russian State Agency Ria Novosti said that the fact that the plane was shot down proves the effectiveness of the Russian-built Syrian air defense system.
Turkish vice prime minister Bulent Arinc stipulated that a Turkish rescue airplane was fired on by Syrians on Monday while trying to find the F-4 pilots presumed lost at sea.
Turkey is threatening to stop the delivery of electricity from Turkey to Syria as a reprisal for the F-4 incident. This could mean the loss of electricity for Syrian civilians.
Iran said on Tuesday that it will use its good relations with Turkey and Syria to try to resolve the matter.
Syria’s al-Assad regime has other matters, which it surely considers more pressing, to address right now. Today, the Syrian armed forces is reported to have used heavy artillery within 10 kilometers of Damascus in an attempt to stop rebel forces now moving toward the capital. The last two days, at least 110 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the fighting in suburban areas around Damascus.
These suburbs contain large bases that house Syrian military and are very important for the al-Assad regime. It is also in these suburbs that many al-Assad military officers and their families live.
Farther north in Homs, the rebel forces and civilians are calling for help, reporting that Alaowite forces loyal to al-Assad are targeting Sunni civilians, as in the massacres of two weeks ago.
That, dear readers, is what is happening in, and related to, Syria this week.
But, it calls to my mind another question.
There is an elected president, Mohammed Mosri, in Egypt. He is the head of government (with a lot of power still in the hands of the Egyptian army) of the largest and one of the most influential Muslim Arab countries in the Middle East.
Mosri is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist force that fought against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for thirty years, insisting on a more conservative, Islamist form of government for the country.
The Brotherhood has now won. And Mosri insists that he will preside over an Egypt that is democratic, non-religious, and respectful of women and Christians. He says he will honor Egypt’s international commitments, a code phrase for the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli accord.
In brief, President Mosri is making the right noises. Will he keep his word? Time will tell.
But, the West, and America in particular, may be missing the boat here. Focusing so tightly on the word “Islamist” may actually be causing the West to miss Mosri’s message. I don’t say we ought to lower our guard and give him full rein, but perhaps we ought to be listening and responding as if he were sincere.
Consider --
1. We have pounded away at the terrorist line in the Middle East for ten years. We have brought down Saddam Hussein and essentially wrecked Iraq, which is trying to put itself together but which won’t have the leisure of playing a large regional role for some time.
2. We have seen that while the Arab Spring has freed millions from the grip of horrible dictatorships, these peoples are not ready to govern and are on a long learning curve about government and democracy.
3. We have watched a hostile Iran flex its muscles in the region, trying to gain hegemony over its neighbors with a nuclear threat that the West seems unable to address with urgency.
4. We see Israel surrounded now more than ever by hostile governments that would either like to see her eliminated or which have no desire to make her a part of their future.
So, what does the West, and America in particular, have to lose by trying to get along with the new Egyptian president?
There’s a Kenny Rogers song that talks about poker. It says “you have to know when to hold and know when to fold.”
The West may be at that point in the Middle East. Folding, i.e., quitting, is not the thing to do. But, holding on with a better draw from the deck might give us a chance.
If we can cajole Mosri to keep his social promises, if we can convince him to let Egyptians rule themselves, if we can help him to rebuild the Egypt gutted by Mubarak’s cronies, if we can find ways for him to look good as he honors the Egyptian commitment to Israel, then maybe there would be a stable democratic country at the heart of the Middle East.
And, there is Turkey on the other end of the troubled area in the region. The Syrian mess has made the European Union temporarily put aside its objections to Turkey as a European power. Now may be the time for America to raise again with quiet diplomacy its commitment to Turkey being admitted to the EU, if Turkey still wants to be a member.
These things combined might give the people of the Middle East a chance to develop their democracies, to gain new economic and educational power, and to rebuff the real Islamists who would bring down the region just to make the West weaker and to pound home their brand of religious extremism.
It may be the West’s last best chance to salvage its position in the Middle East, to grow partners for peace in a strategic region that sorely needs it, and to put behind us the notion that people in the Middle East, individually or collectively, can be won over by pointing guns at them.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The US Supreme Court Decision on the Arizona Immigration Law

Many of us were expecting the US Supreme Court to issue its ruling on Obamacare today.
Instead, we got its ruling on the Arizona immigration law.
We are still waiting for the landmark decision on the federal health care overhaul, which is now expected to be released on Thursday.
The Court overturned three of the four provisions of Arizona’s controversial law but left intact the state’s right to require immigration checks in conjunction with routine stops. But, since the Court threw out the provision allowing Arizona police to make arrests of anyone they suspect of having committed a deportable offense, the continuation of immigration checks may be little more that window dressing without enforcement powers, something that could turn into a form of police “harassment” that could itself draw lawsuits.
The other two provisions struck down were those making it a crime for an illegal immigrant without a work permit to seek a job, and requiring all immigrants to carry their immigration status papers with them at all times.
The Court was unanimous about allowing the checks to continue and divided about the other three provisions struck down.
Democratic commentators were mostly positive, saying that the ruling has repudiated the Arizona law. Republicans were muted in their comments, choosing to continue their demand that the Obama administration move forward with immigration law reform.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, a Republican, said that the state would comply with the Court’s decision and go on with its checks. She cautioned Arizona police, saying "Law enforcement will be held accountable should this statute be misused in a fashion that violates an individual's civil rights."
"Our critics are already preparing new litigation tactics in response to their loss at The Supreme Court, and undoubtedly will allege inequities in the implementation of the law," the Governor added.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, and was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.
Here are some highlights of The Supreme Court decision:
1. On the immigration checks provision, Kennedy wrote that "uncertainty" over how that policy would be carried out prevented the Court from assuming it would conflict with federal law. "As a result, the United States cannot prevail in its current challenge," Kennedy wrote.
He also issued a warning about the rest of the law: "Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration while that process continues, but the State may not pursue policies that undermine federal law."
2. Justice Kennedy wrote that "discretion in the enforcement of immigration law embraces immediate human concerns," and also "involve(s) policy choices that bear on this Nation's international relations….The pervasiveness of federal regulation does not diminish the importance of immigration policy to the States. Arizona bears many of the consequences of unlawful immigration."
As might be expected, the Obama administration, which was hostile to Arizona’s position in enforcing immigration law, lost no time in reacting to the Supreme Court decision.
Administration officials said Monday they are suspending a key program, known as 287(g), which permitted state and local law enforcement to jointly enforce federal immigration law by allowing local authorities to make immigration-based arrests. This action will further weaken efforts by Arizona and other states to take the lead on immigration enforcement.
The Obama administration’s action was partly explained as a reflection of its concern about the possibility of "racial profiling," although Governor Jan Brewer denies this will occur.
To address those concerns, Obama administration officials will stop enforcement cooperation with local jurisdictions, which means that even if local police perform immigration checks, they will have to rely on federal officials to make the arrests.
Officials also said Immigration and Customs Enforcement will be selective in responding to the expected increase in calls from Arizona and other police agencies about the immigration status of people they pull over. Officials said ICE will not respond unless the person in question meets certain criteria -- such as being wanted for a felony.
If this sounds like something more than a reaction of the Obama administration to possible racial profiling, you may be right, dear readers.
It sounds a lot like President Obama is trying to strike down by executive action the part of the Arizona law that The Supreme Court left in place. Just one more example of President Obama’s over-reaching attempts to take away judicial powers and roles granted under the US Constitution and largely preserved until now.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Dear Readers...

Dear Readers,
There is a family baptism with lots of celebrating this weekend, so I won't be publishing a blog until Monday. But, think about our little one-year-old boy and how happy we will be for him on Sunday.
Casey Pops

Senator Rubio's Impassioned Call for Compromise on Immigration

Florida Senator Marco Rubio addressed the Hispanic leaders conference (NALEO) this afternoon before President Obama appeared on the same podium.
Senator Rubio last week saw his effort to organize a comprehensive immigration bill pushed into limbo by the President’s temporary Executive Order solution to let about 1 million young illegal immigrants stay for two years if they meet certain condition.
Obama’s solution is no solution at all, really, just an election year attempt to curry favor with the Hispanic vote.
Rubio told it like it is today and he had unkind words for both Democrats and Republicans.
“I don’t care who gets the credit,” Rubio, a possible Mitt Romney running mate, told 1,000 Hispanic leaders at the annual NALEO conference. “I don’t. But it exposes the fact that this issue is all about politics for some people. Not just Democrats, Republicans too.”
Responding to complaints that he had taken too long to introduce his bill, Rubio said, “I wasn’t looking to influence the election in November,” he said. “I was looking to help these kids that I’ve met. These aren’t kids I’ve read about in the newspaper, these are people that I have met, who came here when they were five, who didn’t even know they were undocumented until they applied to go to college.”
Senator Rubio offered the American electoral season something we have not seen until today - passion about his subject and interest in actually doing something worthy of Congress instead of looking for points to put into a negative campaign ad.
“I was tempted to come here today and rip open the policies of the administration,” Rubio said. “I know in a few moments you’ll hear from the president. I was tempted to come here and tell you, hey, he hasn’t been here in three years. What a coincidence; it’s an election year. I was tempted to tell you, why didn’t he make this issue a priority?”
Some in the responded with applause; others gave a few jeers.
“I guess I just did tell you,” Rubio continued. “But that’s not the direction I want to go in my speech.”
Of his own scaled-back DREAM Act effort, Rubio argued, “I proposed some specific ideas and I publicly talked about it; the reaction from many on the left was an immediate dismissal.”
“I saw people say on the left that I was proposing a new three-fifths compromise, harkening back to the days when a slave was only considered three-fifths of a person,” he said. “I was accused of supporting apartheid. I was accused of supporting a DREAM Act without a dream.”
He continued: “Of course, a few months later, the president takes a similar idea and implements it through executive action and now it’s the greatest idea in the world.”
Rubio called for a “balanced approach” to immigration reform – a phrase that Democrats have used to describe national debt reduction plans.
“I’d try to raise the issue and people would say, ‘Look, I just don’t want to go there again. I tried that five years ago, I tried that three years ago, and all I got was grief,’” Rubio said. “That’s the impression I got when I walked into the Senate, and I want you to know, it wasn’t just Republicans. It was senators who had been burned by the way this issue was discussed and approached, and just really didn’t want to talk about it anymore.”
One thing he now understands, he said, is “how truly complicated this issue has become.”
“Both sides like to talk about this issue like it’s an easy yes-or-no answer,” Rubio said. “It’s much more complicated than that. And those of us involved in the debate need to start to recognize that openly – that both sides of it raise valid points.”
“Yes, it is a law-and-order issue, but it’s also a human issue,” he said. “These are real people. These are human beings who have children and hopes and dreams. These are people who are doing what virtually any of us would do if our children were hungry, if their country were dangerous, if they had no hope for their future. Who among us would not do whatever it took to feed our children and provide for them a better future?”
The other side, Rubio continued, “is equally guilty of oversimplifying it; illegal immigration is a real problem.”
“Sometimes I feel like people are demanding their rights. The truth is there is no right to illegally immigrate to the United States. And when we talk about illegal immigration, it’s not about demanding rights; it’s about appealing to the compassion of the most compassionate nation in the history of the world.”
In what seemed to be a direct plea to the GOP’s far right, he also contended that “some people take the legitimate concerns of illegal immigration and turn it into panic and turn that panic into fear and anger and turn that anger into votes and money.”
Some political forces want the immigration debate to continue to be deadlocked, Rubio argued, because “they have concluded that this issue unresolved is more powerful.”
“They want it to stay unresolved -- it’s easier to influence elections,” he said. “It’s easier to use to raise money.”
Rubio did not offer specifics about how to solve the problem, much as Mitt Romney did not on Thursday when he addressed the conference. But Senator Rubio said that compromise is the only way forward.
“I’ve talked about what you do about the kids, but what about everybody else?” he said. “Here’s the truth, if we’re honest with ourselves: We don’t know yet. It’s not easy. I know we’re not going to round up and deport 12 million people. I know we’re not going to grant amnesty to 12 million people. Somewhere between those two ideas is the solution – that will never be easy, but I promise you it will get easier to find if we have a legal immigration system that works and the confidence of the American people that we’re serious about enforcing the laws.”
Senator Rubio -- a voice in the wilderness perhaps, but perhaps he ought to be given the GOP immigration portfolio officially. He is the only political leader in America right now who is addressing the real issues or reaching out to try to solve them.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

America Needs a Leader with Vision

Earlier this month former Florida Governor Jeb Bush made waves in the Republican Party by saying that Ronald Reagan probably couldn’t be nominated today by the GOP because he wouldn’t pass all the conservative tests of loyalty, measured by being unwilling to compromise on almost any bill or idea placed in the national hopper, imposed on all Republicans at the national level (I’m sure the tests exist at local levels, but that is another issue).
“Back to my dad’s time and Ronald Reagan’s time — they got a lot of stuff done with a lot of bipartisan support,” Bush added. Reagan today “would be criticized for doing the things that he did.”
The Washington Post took this statement to mean that the Republican Party has become so “intransigent” that even Ronald Reagan would be booted out.
Of course, we know about the Norquist “no new taxes” test. And we know about the social conservatives’ demand for purity in matters of abortion and gay rights.
We also saw US Senator Richard Lugar lose his primary in Indiana this spring, explained by many as being the result of his willingness to compromise. Here, I take umbrage. Dick Lugar has served his country long and well. He has been a major force for balance and reason in Washington. But, at 80, it was time for him to pass the torch. Nobody is immortal - with the possible exception of Strom Thurmond. Lugar lost to the younger blood in the GOP, and rightly so. He should have had the good sense to retire.
But, Jeb Bush is another matter. His comments are serious and ought to be considered long and hard.
I have said before that politics is not religion. It is not ethics. It is not the guardian of morality except in a broad sense. It is the art of governing, and from the Athens of Pericles to today, that art has included compromise.
So, to be elected only to stonewall in the hope of lasting longer than the opposition without blinking is rather like playing poker, or being on the front line in a war. These are the places for bluff and patience.
Gandhi did not try to get his people elected to the Raj parliament in India. He put them on the streets as passive resisters who would not leave until they had taken back their own country from the British -- because his goal was not, at the bottom, political. He was in a war with the British who controlled his country. There, compromise had no place. We could say the same of the Egyptian rebellion of 2011.
But, in the America of 2012, there is no occupier. There is no need to take to the streets. There is no outside enemy thwarting an American wish for self-government. America, with all its other faults, is still the best example of self-government ever conceived.
But, Americans are in great danger of losing their government and their country to those who would make it a theocracy of sorts, or a dictatorship dedicated to a particular brand of morals.
And, I do not accuse the GOP alone. Have you heard a Democrat say lately that any topic was one for compromise? And, have you heard that there are 100 bills passed by the GOP House of Representatives which are collecting dust on Senate Democrat Majority Leader Harry Reid’s desk because he has labeled them DOA. Dead on arrival because of what??? Their sin is that they are the work of the GOP. That, dear readers, is not the spirit of compromise.
While America needs to get its economic and fiscal house in order as soon as possible, and while the November election is all about whether Obama or Romney can do this better, there is a larger, even more important role for the next President of the United States.
It is called Leadership.
America desperately needs a leader who can mend fences, bring opposing views to a middle ground, find common cause in major issues so that something can get done.
America needs VISION. That is what President Reagan had. He could put into simple words the spirit that made America great. And then he took those words and that vision and worked them through Congress to make his vision reality.
Of course, we will never have another Reagan. Perhaps we don’t even need one -- he did his job in his time.
But, America needs a leader. The clock is ticking on her capacity to survive in the viciously polarized political environment she finds herself in.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Greece Has a New Prime Minister, the Conservative Antonis Samaras

Greece has a prime minister. He is Antonis Samaras, the head of the conservative New Democracy Party that won the most parliamentary seats in last Sunday’s election, who was sworn in by the Greek president today.
Mr. Samaras won the support of two other parties, the socialist Pasok and the moderate leftist Dimar, in order to put together the coalition he needed, since his party, the NDP, didn’t win a majority in the new parliament.
He must now name his cabinet, urgently, because the new finance minister will need to attend a meeting of European finance ministers on Thursday, where the hot topic will be - Greece. Greek media are predicting that the new finance minister will be Vassilis Rapanos, an economist and the current head of the Bank of Greece. He was part of the group that led Greece into the Eurozone and would be able to pick up his portfolio quickly.
Mr. Samaras said after his swearing in : “With the aid of God, we will do what is needed to get our country out of the mess it is in. I will ask the new government to work full-throttle to give hope to the Greek people.”
The socialist Pasok Party was important to forming the coalition because its leader, Evangelos Venizelos, had all along taken the position that Pasok would not cooperate in any coalition not led by the left.
That a conservative Greek government is being formed also gives hope to the European Union and the International Monetary Fund that Greece will keep its austerity commitments, even though they may be somewhat eased.
This will keep the conservative German government happy, and it will give a boost to the idea that the Euro and the Eurozone may eventually be able to solve their fiscal problems and leave the crisis behind. German Chancellor Merkel has already invited Mr. Samaras to Berlin for consultations.
On June 29-30 Greece will present its plan for easing its obligations to an EU summit meeting, and afterward, the IMF and representatives of the EU will visit Greece to check on progress so far (there hasn’t been any, really), and to get a sense of what can be produced by the Greek government and economy during the rest of 2012 and 2013.
The leftist party Syriza said today that it is sceptical that the new conservative Greek government can help Greece put its house in order. The Syriza leader said that the first order should be to get rid of favoritism and corruption in the Greek government and to focus on a tough re-negotiation of the terms of Greece’s austerity program so that social needs are met first, before other commitments are carried out.
So, while the Greek crisis is in abeyance for the moment, solving Greece’s fiscal and economic problems will take years, not months, if it ever occurs.
And putting the Greek house in order will not be a complete panacea for the Eurozone since the looming banking crises in Spain and Italy dwarf the Greek problem.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Welcome to Our New Reader

Dear Readers, I want to welcome the Anonymous commenter who appeared for the first time this week.
I would like to hear from more of you, and the comments don't need to be long or involved, just honest and not vitriolic.
To our new reader - I agree with much that you say, and if you go back and read my blogs over the past 18 months, you'll see that.
But, perhaps we disagree in one important way.
Just because the world seems to be rapidly going to hell in a hand basket doesn't mean we ought to sit back and say, that's it, boys, we lost.
If human beings had done that all along:
1. there would have been no ancient Greek democratic spirit to make us understand that we are our own government.
2. there would have been no Christian movement in the face of Imperial Rome's crucifixion of Jesus and we would all still be worshipping Roman gods.
3. there would have been no Renaissance of the arts and sciences and we would still be clinging to the edge of a flat European world.
4. there would have been no Continental Congress and Declaration of Independence and the American Colonies would still be being taxed to support Britain.
You see my point, I'm sure. When we disagree with public leaders, it is time to take up "arms" either as words or actions, but not, need I say, violence. Americans and Europeans are old hands at turning out dictators and unworkable political ideas.
So, instead of giving up, why not do something - as I am - as you are - as we all should.
To the right of my blog you see what I live by politically: "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."

Egypt's Future Is Rapidly Taking Shape

The news of Hosni Mubarak’s heart attack circled the world today. His attack, followed by a defibrillator treatment and, apparently a move to a military hospital from his prison clinic, has left the former Egyptian president in a condition described as critical.
The 84-year-old Mubarak has not been well for some time, and his family has repeatedly asked that he be moved to a hospital where he could receive more sophisticated treatment. That has now been done, but, it seems, too late to really help.
And in Cairo, Tahrir Square is again filled with protesters. They are not there because of Mubarak but because they support the presidential candidate Mohammed Mosni, who is declaring that he won the election. The official results will be announced on Thursday.
But Mosni and his Muslim Brotherhood have already suffered several setbacks in their attempts to gain power: *having the candidacy of his opponent, a former Mubarak-era prime minister whose candidacy was questioned because of a ruling that former Mubarak officials were nor eligible for office, approved, *having his own party’s preferred candidate ruled ineligible because of procedural irregularities so that he became a candidate himself late in the process, *having his Muslim Brotherhood parliamentary majority ruled in violation of Egyptian law so that a new parliamentary election will need to be held after a new constitution is drafted and adopted by referendum. That ought to be enough to stop anyone.
But Mosni is still there and today an estimated 100,000 people demonstrated in Tahrir Square in support of him.
Is the Brotherhood sensing the power vacuum that has been created with Mubarak’s deteriorating health?
Has the Brotherhood decided that it must act now to challenge the Egyptian Army’s grip on the country’s political life or risk an entrenchment of the Army so firm that it will once again declare “war” on the Muslim Brotherhood, as it did under Mubarak?
Has the Brotherhood realized that it can defeat the Army on the streets of Cairo, and that it has the support of sufficient numbers of Egyptians to make the tactic work?
Or, has the Brotherhood simply decided to put an end to secular politics and move forward with an Islamist state agenda, daring the Army or anyone else to try to stop them?
We simply do not know.
The Muslim Brotherhood says it wants a democratic, secular Egypt and is not interested in a religious Islamist state.
The Brotherhood says it will respect all religions, something the Coptic Christian community, which is 10% of the Egyptian population, is sceptical about.
The Brotherhood says it will work with all political parties and interest groups so that Egypt’s new government represents all of them.
However, we have seen them in a position of power in the parliament, where they pushed through a committee to write the new constitution that was packed with Islamist leaning members. This may be the flavor of things to come if the Brotherhood gains real power.
And it is just this that the Army seems determined to prevent.
What we do know is that things are now moving at a rather rapid pace in Egypt and we may have many answers this summer about the future of Egypt and her 82 million citizens.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Weekend Events in Greece and Egypt

Where are we today, dear readers? Several important elections took place this weekend - in Greece and Egypt, but the results are not all in. Do we know enough to evaluate the results?
Let’s say what we can today and watch events this week to see what may still happen.

1. First Greece.
No party won an outright parliamentary majority in Sunday’s elections, but the conservative parliamentary parties believe they can find a coalition to form a government. What is certain is that some leftist parties will have to agree to participate in the coalition in order to have a parliamentary majority. And, the strongest voices from the left are not ready to lay down their anti-Euro guns just yet.
The Greek election result is being hailed as a vote to stay in the Eurozone and accept the austerity programs in place for Greece to continue to receive financial support from the Eurozone leadership and European Central Bank. This is critical to keeping Greece from defaulting on its debt load and also to pay its normal bills each month.
The head of the New Democracy party, Antonis Samaras, said Sunday night that it is “imperative to form a government.” This means he will put together a list of names, selected from the cobbled coalition to be ministers in the new government. Samaras is calling it imperative because he sees the new government negotiating with the Eurozone and the ECB to keep Greece in the Eurozone and to discuss the terms of the austerity program going forward.
Does that sounds like it falls a bit short of all-out Greek capitulation to the austerity program already in place? Probably. Because, no matter what the new Greek government does, the financial and fiscal facts have not changed. Greece cannot borrow what it needs on the open markets. It is still dependent on the ECB and the Eurozone to lend it all it must have to continue to function. This is not going to change any time soon.
France, the European Union and even Germany have said they are now willing to agree to easing the terms of the Greek austerity program.
The EU now seems to understand that what it demanded of Greece was not the best medicine for the “sick man of Europe.”
But, financial markets opened on Monday on a very cautious note, not flaming upward as one might have thought. The experts are still saying that Greece cannot continue as it is forever, that the weekend’s election has only bought time and not created a “cure.” The Greek stock market was the exception, soaring 6.9% on Monday morning.
Most analysts see the Greek vote as a reaction against the unknown -- the unknown consequences of leaving the Eurozone and the Euro currency behind, defaulting and returning to the Drachma. And with a rather fragile coalition government in place, say the experts, perhaps Greece has bought only months before the truly hard decisions must be made, i.e., stay or leave the Eurozone.

2. Now, let’s try to figure out what is happening in Egypt.

Egypt held its presidential election this weekend. The Muslim Brotherhood says it won and its candidate, Mohammed Morsi will be the new president. The other candidate, a former Mubarak prime minister, says when all the votes have been counted, he will be the winner. If Mosri is the winner, it will be the first time that an Islamist will lead Egypt, the largest Muslim country in the Arab world.
What is most likely is that the Egyptian military will be the real winner, even though the army is promising to turn over power on June 30 to the new president, whoever he may be.
This is because the Army junta that has ruled Egypt since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, gave itself broad powers while the election was being held.
Egyptian newspapers are saying, more or less, that the Army will turn over power on June 30 to itself and that the newly elected president will be largely without real power.
Many of the young leaders of the rebellion against Mubarak say that the Army will never cede power to civilians and that what is happening now amounts to a military coup.
At the same time, the Egyptian Constitutional High Court ruled that the parliamentary election earlier this year that gave the Muslim Brotherhood a majority, was flawed and threw out the results. The consequence is that Egypt has no parliament until new elections are held. A date has not yet been set.
And, the new constitution must be adopted before any parliamentary election will be valid, according to the High Court. This was an issue during the parliamentary elections which was brushed aside by political groups that supported the Brotherhood, and who controlled the constitution adoption process still not completed.
The High Court ruled that a constitutional reform committee that representatives of all factions of Egyptian society must be included in the committee that controls the writing and adoption of the new constitution, which must then be approved by popular referendum. The High Court kept for itself the right to veto any part of the constitution that is contrary to “the supreme interests” of Egypt. And, the Court noted that it will also have the last word on anything that concerns the Egyptian Army.
Are you still with me, dear readers?
One might say that things are now clearer in Egypt. Whether they are more democratic, time will tell. But, at least for the moment, the High Court seems to be in control of the messy birth of Egyptian democracy.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Is the Democratic Party Trying to Oust Obama and Nominate Hillary Clinton

Well, dear readers, you can now say you read it here first last week. Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell made it almost official when he gave an interview this week to Newsmax TV, and among other things, said when asked if he ever regretted Obama’s 2008 victory over Clinton:

“I think Barack Obama took the worst set of problems any American president had been given, and has done admirable. Do I think Hillary would have done as well? Sure. But she would have been encumbered with the same set of problems. Might she have done better? She had a little bit more experience.
“Sen. Obama was a legislator all his life. Sen. Clinton had a little bit of experience in the executive branch when she was with her husband. So she might have done things a little differently, but again, with those overwhelming problems, who knows?”
Rendell, how worked very hard for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, said: “I believe Hillary Clinton would have made a great president in 2008, and, as you know, I worked my heart out for her. In the last month and a half of the campaign I was almost the last spokesperson she had; in fact, one reporter called me the last of the Mohicans. But her job as secretary of state has convinced me, and I think also has convinced millions of Americans, that she would have been a lights-out president.”
Rendell also stated that President Obama is wrong to attack people in the center of his party when one of them criticizes his policies. Rendell says they are not being disloyal.
Governor Rendell is apparently ready to help Obama, but he says that the center of the Democrat Party has taken to the TV circuit because the White House does no accept outside input very well.
He included Bill Clinton’s recent discussion of the tax cut extensions in this and said by criticizing the President’s position when it needs to be done, these Democrat leaders are actually building their bona fides with the public for supporting Obama later in the campaign.
“I guarantee you that Bill Clinton in October, when it counts, when the rubber meets the road . . . will be the best salesperson for the Obama re-elect that you can find,” Rendell said.
“The Obama campaign sometimes takes the position that if we say anything critical we’re being disloyal. We’re not. We’re being realistic. And I think, as a result, we’re much better persuaders, much better advocates for the president’s re-election.”

The important thing in this glancing attack on Obama’s presidency is that it comes from a former Governor of a critical state for the November election, who was also Homeland Security Secretary, who represents the center of the Democratic Party, and who has been a friend of the Clintons for a long time.
It is, dear readers, a classic “attack with on hand and apply the bandage with the other hand” approach to telling someone things they do not want to hear, rather like saying, “this is for your own good” when you take privileges away from a child for something he has done.
And, to do it in public during a closely contested presidential campaign year when you are ostensibly on the side of the candidate you are attacking - and to boot he is the incumbent President - is very risky at best.
Personally, I think this may be the beginning of a test program to see if there is sufficient support for easing out President Obama and nominating Hillary Clinton in 2012.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Is Italy the Next...Spain and Greece

If you are watching Spain, dear readers, as a gauge of the health of the Eurozone bailout program and the Euro itself, you may be watching the wrong indicator.
In Europe itself, many experts have already abandoned Spain to the same trash heap where Greece is resting. Why? Because the cost of borrowing money for 10 years for Spain (i.e., its 10-year bond) has risen above 7% for the first time. This spells doom in the minds of financial experts, who now believe that the 100 Billion Euros lent to Spain by the Eurozone leadership and the European Central Bank will not solve the problem and that Spain will require a full-blown bailout of its governmental fiscal house, like Greece, Portugal and Ireland.
Some are betting that Spain may quit the Euro and go back to its Peseta before Greece returns to its Drachma.
The experts are watching -- Italy.
This week the Austrian Finance Minister predicted that we can “forget Spain, Italy is the next bailout.”
There were loud denials and anger all around in Europe at the Austrian’s statement, called lies by some, but he is far from being alone in his thought.
But, this is just the Emperor’s New Clothes Syndrome (Europe likes acronyms so let’s call it the ENCS).
A small boy shouts that the Emperor is not wearing any clothes, and all the adults, who know full well that the Emperor is naked, say that the boy doesn’t know what he's talking about.
ENCS - it is the taking of a public position by an elected or appointed European official that Spain and Italy are just fine and that the problem has been solved with the 100 Billion Euro life jacket tossed to Spain’s banks.
ENCS could not be farther from the truth, even though the European leadership loves to deny anything that confronts their fairytale house of glass with real stones.
First, Italy is selling 10-year bonds at above 6% - this is the danger zone on your car’s instrument panel that says you are revving your engine too much. Italy, just as any other nation, cannot sustain repayments at above 6%. There is not enough money coming in as tax payments anywhere in the world to do this over an extended period.
Second, Italy is also deeper in national debt than Spain, which actually has a lower national debt as a percent of GDP than Germany. Italy's debt, alas, is somewhere near 120% of its GDP. So, Italy is already far down the road that experts are expecting Spain to trudge.
Think about America, where the national debt burden, while well below 100% of GDP, is rising by about 1 Trillion Dollars per year, and it will not be able to be repaid with bonds sales when the cost of borrowing begins to rise as it has in Italy.
Think about it in your own terms, if you have a debt so big that it requires you to borrow more money (more debt) to pay it off, and if you are now making less money that you used to - what will happen? You will not be able to pay off the first debt because secondary lenders will not continue to give you credit except at very high interest rates that you cannot afford. This, dear readers, is Greece and may soon become Italy. Spain has not reached this point, but it will, be sure.
The good news for Italy is that the country does not have a real estate bubble that could bring down its banks. Spain’s major problem is its real estate bubble and the bank crisis caused by its collapse.
So, continue to watch Spain, but in the next few weeks, Italy seems poised to become the new kid on the bailout block.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bill Clinton Is Favored over Obama to Run the Economy

The latest Rasmussen Reports poll shows that Americans trust former President Bill Clinton more than they trust current President Obama. I suppose that bit of news didn’t require a national poll, because most Americans could have given the answer in a micro-second.
But, okay, let’s take a look at the results.
Actually they trust Clinton to manage the economy (55% think Clinton is better at managing the economy) more than they trust Obama (26% think Obama is better at managing the economy).
For that matter, Americans also trust Clinton on the economy more than they trust Mitt Romney, but the Republican candidate does better than Obama against Clinton (55% Clinton - 39% Romney).
Twenty percent were undecided.
My guess is that most Americans would trust almost anybody, even their local Scout Master, to manage the US economy better than the President, considering the mess Obama’s ideas have produced.
Remember that Bill Clinton recently raised a real stir in his own Democrat Party when he disagreed with the White House and called for an extension of the so-called Bush tax cuts. Most voters agree with Clinton and support extending those tax cuts and have more confidence in Clinton’s economic judgment than that of both President Obama and Mitt Romney.
Despite the White House pressure on Clinton, and his repeated rather weak apologies and attempts to get back “on page” as the White House apparently put it, Clinton is now firmly seen by Americans as favoring an extension of the Bush tax cuts.
Last night on CNBC, a White House spokesman took on Maria Bartoromo, saying the White House had never contacted Clinton about his tax cut remarks. She refused to back down, saying she knew for a fact that Clinton had been told to get back “on page.”
This all occurred because at the end of this year, several tax breaks and holidays are scheduled to expire, including the Bush tax cuts. At the same time, automatic spending cuts are will kick in because the Congress couldn’t resolve the debt issue last autumn.
The combination of expiring tax breaks and automatic spending cuts - known as a fiscal cliff - has become THE hot topic because it could derail recovery and throw the country right back into a recession, something which economists think could happen.
"The so-called fiscal cliff would, if allowed to occur, pose a significant threat to the recovery," Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke is reported to have said at a congressional hearing recently.
Clinton said the Bush tax cuts should remain in place, at least until after the November presidential and congressional elections, and he also suggested that it might be wise to keep the tax cuts in place until the economy improves, even though President Obama wants them to expire for wealthier Americans at the end of this year.
Most Americans, the Rasmussen poll finds, agree with Bill Clinton.
"Obama is opposed to extending the Bush tax cuts that are supposed to expire at the end of this year, but only 28 percent of voters agree with him that those tax cuts should be allowed to die," Rasmussen Reports adds.
"Sixty-three percent favor extending the tax cuts, including 36 percent who agree with Romney and think they should be extended permanently and 27 percent who agree with Clinton and believe they should be extended until the economy improves."
This is a key issue for the presidential election and could decide the outcome. Cynic that I am, I still wonder if Bill Clinton and other Democrat Party leaders are not trying to set up a scenario in which President Obama finds it convenient to withdraw as a candidate. Highly unlikely but not impossible. And who would benefit? Hillary Clinton, of course.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on June 7-8, 2012 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Mix of News about Syria Today

There are days when Syria just won’t stay away. Today is one of those days. So, dear readers, let’s try to cover the major topics that are coming at us from TV, the Net and newspapers.

1. The UN Syria monitor head said today that Syria is entering a grave new chapter in its rebellion. While he was quoted as saying there is now a civil war, it was in fact a reporter who used the term and the UN leader seemed to agree. Later, a UN spokesman said that the term used is not important. What is important for the UN, he said, is that children under ten are being used a human shields and being tortured and killed by al-Assad partisans and military. Also, he added, there is more coordination and counterattack by the rebel army, with destruction of infrastructure. This makes a full blown conflict likely unless somehow the UN and the Arab League can intervene. Refugees are now fleeing into Jordan, as well as Turkey and Lebanon. It is not an encouraging picture.

2. One European TV channel reported today that Russia is now sending helicopters to Syria. If true, it confirms what I have thought for some time, that Russia is not interested in peace but in the largest possible conflict in the Middle East. Why? Because in this way, Russia might be able to cobble together some semblance of her former influence in the region. If you go back and look at the Balkan conflict of the early 1990s, the pattern of Russia’s behavior is similar. But, Russia did not win in the Balkans and it will not win in the Middle East. The world has moved on and imperialism has died. Good riddance. Perhaps the anti-Putin protesters in Moscow ought to add Russia’s role in Syria to its list of grievances against the man who calls himself an elected Russian president but who is in reality a petty dictator clinging to power wherever he thinks it is available.

3. No lesser a world leader than Israeli President Simon Perez, who will receive the American Freedom Medal in Washington later this week, said on CNN today that he supports the Arab Spring protesters. He said the war in the Middle East is not religious, it is generational - that the young generation in the Middle East does not want to go on as their parents did. He said it will all be for the better. We can always count on Perez and the Israelis to take the longer view of history - that is the only way they have managed to survive as a people. Don’t count Perez’ view out. He will probably be proven right in the longer term.

4. And, finally, a small note from none other than Christiane Amanpour of CNN. She noted on her program tonight that it was 25 years ago today that President Ronald Reagan stood in Berlin and challenged Soviet President Gorbachev: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” It signaled the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union and its hegemony over Eastern Europe. And, Amanpour added, President Obama has the same chance that President Reagan had. Obama could call on the Syrians and the Middle East to end the fighting and build a region that is based on democratic principles. She looked into the TV camera and ended with, “But will he?”

Monday, June 11, 2012

Germany's Grand Plans for Europe

During the past weekend, the European leadership and the European Central Bank agreed to lend Spain 100 Billion Euros - to be used to re-capitalize Spanish banks that have seen their reserves fall dramatically because of the collapse of the Spanish housing market.
Stock markets rallied this morning in Europe and America, but the rally was short-lived because the European move amounted to just one more temporary band-aid pasted on a large, gaping wound.
And, as Greece, Portugal and Ireland realized what the Spanish had “pulled off,” they were publicly vocal about the unfairness of the deal Spain got.
You see, Greece, Portugal and Ireland also needed money for their banks and other economic problem areas, but to get the Euro funds they had to agree to severe austerity packages that have seriously depressed their economies and, in particular, job markets - because austerity is a buzz word for eliminating public employees, cutting social services, and drastically reducing government projects that pumped money and jobs into their economies.
The result was that the economies almost came to a halt, with unemployment skyrocketing toward 20% and above, especially in the younger age groups -- for example in Greece where youth unemployment is estimated to be at 50%. And, with such slowdowns, tax revenues fell sharply, leading to even more cuts in government services.
But, Spain avoided the “austerity” route since, as explained by the European leadership, Spain had already cut 38 Billion Euros out of its government spending.
Now, Greece, Portugal and Ireland are denouncing a “two track” system for treating Eurozone countries in trouble.
Before you say, who cares, think about this.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has for more than a year held every bailout seeker’s feet to the austerity fire. But, Spain slipped through just this past weekend. Is it a coincidence that it was also this weekend that the German Chancellor was outlining her plans for a “two track” Europe? I doubt it.
In yesterday’s blog, you read the quote about Merkel wanting nations "in a currency union have to move closer together", reinforcing the shift to "a multi-speed Europe" which began with the introduction of the single currency.
Chancellor Merkel also this past week emphasized her commitment to encouraging Eurozone governments to cede some fiscal power to Brussels.
"We need more Europe. We don't only need monetary union, we also need a so-called fiscal union," she said. "And most of all we need a political union -- which means we need to gradually cede powers to Europe and give Europe control."
The German Chancellor and her government believe that only a political and fiscal integration will bolster investor confidence in the Euro over the longer term.
To put pressure on other Eurozone countries to agree, Germany has asked Herman van Rompuy, European Council president (with no power except what he has by virtue of being appointed by the European leadership), to make suggestions about a banking union at the next EU summit at the end of June.
But persuading even countries like The Netherlands, which usually follows Germany’s lead, to transfer sovereignty to a European entity will be very difficult, as became clear last week when it questioned Merkel's call for some countries to integrate faster than others.
Dutch finance minister Jan Kees de Jager said "one of the fundamental causes" of problems in Greece, Italy and Spain was that the single currency had fostered economic divergence, not the promised convergence. "Within a single European economic and monetary union, I don't think it's possible to have structurally different paths."
The Dutch government is facing elections later this year in which both the far right and left are very opposed to tighter European political integration, putting the government on the defensive over any delegation of political power to Europe.
This was also seen in the recent French presidential election where the Socialists promised that they would oppose European financial and fiscal rules when they disfavor France.
So, Chancellor Merkel has traded one rejected idea (severe austerity as the cure for fiscal and budgetary woes) for another idea (political and fiscal integration) also very likely to be rejected for some time to come.
But one idea floated in Europe a year ago seems to be gathering steam - and it is a very worrisome idea indeed - a tax on every financial transaction in the Eurozone.
Germany is pushing forward with its financial tax unilaterally with the apparent support of all parties in the Bundestag (parliament).
Great Britain has a similar tax, in the form of a stamp duty, much like the tax stamps one has to buy for property deed transfers in America. The Socialists in France now say they will go ahead with their own version of the financial transaction tax.
German political leaders see these moves as "a basis for a first step at European level" fiscal integration.
Why is all this a bad idea - one which, by the way, even President Obama has put aside? Because money moves freely and rapidly. So, if a financial transaction costs more in European financial centers because of the transaction tax, the deals, i.e., the money will move - probably to Singapore and Hong Kong and other Asian and Middle East financial centers. And, once money has moved, it takes time and costly incentives to lure it back.
So, Europe, beware. You may be using a tool that will deliver unexpected, negative results - big time!
Meanwhile, back in Berlin, the German government is waiting to see what happens with the new parliamentary elections in Greece next Sunday, and it feels no need to hurry with new proposals to help Greece get out of its economic hole until it knows who it will be dealing with - unlike Spain that got what it wanted fast because it suited Germany’s plan.
And you thought Europe was a democratic operation. Think again.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

David Cameron, Angela Merkel and John Maynard Keynes

The Financial Times reported from London on Friday that German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants a “core group” of European countries to push forward with more steps toward integration to fight the Eurozone crisis.
The FT reasoned that Merkel’s call was a direct slam at British Prime Minister David Cameron, who last week visited Berlin and said afterward that the Eurozone needs to enact more short term measures to fight the crisis.
The Chancellor said that the countries in the "currency union have to move closer together", reinforcing the shift to "a multi-speed Europe" which began with the introduction of the single currency. "We cannot just stop because one or other doesn't want to join in yet."
This comment was certainly aimed at Britain, which has always refused to adopt the Euro as its currency, and at the same time, has offered advice to the Eurozone leadership about what it should be doing.
If Germany and its Chancellor are irritated at Great Britain for having the good sense to stay out of the Euro common currency, perhaps the irritation is the result of Germany’s own rather bitter experience as a Eurozone member.
The fact is that while Germany has profited from the Euro because it has helped Germany to capture a market for its industrial products, Germany is now on the darker side of the Euro moon. The reality is sinking in all over Europe that only Germany has the financial clout and deep pockets necessary to save the Euro and perhaps the European Union as well.
As you can imagine, this is not the best of news for a German population that has spent the last 20 years paying to re-integrate communist East Germany into the German state and economy, a very expensive job that is not yet complete.
So, imagine the cost of saving 15 other countries from fiscal collapse. Even Germany’s pockets might not be deep enough.
And, to have the British Prime Minister remind Germany of its duty and tell it to get cracking on the job at hand does not sit well either with German voters or Mrs. Merkel and her government.
But, it must be said that David Cameron, and all the British Prime Ministers before him who have rejected the Euro, are right.
The current European attack against Cameron and his government these days is that they have cut back on government spending to the point that Britain is close to recession.
The unspoken premise is that John Maynard Keynes and his economic philosophy of spend-to-jumpstart-economies-in-trouble is out of mode in Britain. It may be that Britain will have a few quarters of flat growth (don’t you love that term for stagnation?), but in the medium term, Britain will be much better off because it is not saddled with the expensive and non-performing Euro common currency experiment.
And what are the rules the German Chancellor wants to adopt?
Tighter fiscal controls so governments cannot drastically outspend their income stream - doesn’t that sound a lot like what the British Prime Minister is already doing? Or re-capitalizing Eurozone banks to provide a cushion when they are left with zero-value government bonds they bought from Eurozone member countries. Britain has already recapitalized its banks.
Even the United States is jumping on the bandwagon, telling Germany and the other Eurozone leaders to solve the problem NOW.
Keep in mind that America recapitalized its banks during the 2008-2010 period as part of pasting together the banks hit by the housing market collapse. And, America has already spent a lot on staving off recession, but Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said last week while testifying before Congress that more spending to bolster banks would be done only if things deteriorate from hereon.
So, dear readers, we have two examples of countries whose governments spent early then cut back so that the private sector could re-calibrate and get on its feet again - Great Britain and the United States. It must be said that the Republican House and its Speaker John Boehner have put on the spending brakes while President Obama and the Democratic Senate would like to go on with Keynsian style spending.
We also have 16 Eurozone countries that have delayed taking their spending brakes medicine for so long that the dosage and suffering of the patient will be even worse when the medicine is finally swallowed.
And, the fault can be laid at the door of Germany and its Chancellor, Angela Merkel, whose wait-and-see and don’t-ask-Germany-to-foot-the-entire-bill attitudes have made the Eurozone weaker and perhaps have killed off Greece’s chances of ever recovering as a Eurozone member.
It should also remind American voters that more government deficit spending is not the answer to the remaining problems in the US. Jobs and economic growth will come when the private sector is convinced that the federal government in Washington is its ally in the fight and not its enemy.
Mitt Romney is right about this, just as David Cameron is right. There comes a time when economies must correct their problems in the private sector and that time is now for Britain and the US.
Keynesian economics cannot be a free lunch forever.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Is the White House Using Leaked Intelligence for Political Gain

It is extremely rare to see a battle between the White House and Congress about secrecy and classified materials. But, that is just what is going on now in Washington.
David Sanger, Chief Washington Correspondent for the New York Times, has published a book, “Confront and Conceal”, that has Congress almost red with rage, and it is not just Republicans who are angry, but Democrats as well.
What Sanger attempts to document in his book is that President Obama has a “doctrine” of sorts which consists of using Information Technology (cyber warfare, as it is often referred to in the news these days) and drone attacks as the flagship of his Middle East foreign policy.
Both the cyber warfare and drone attack policies were, according to Sanger, activated during the Bush administration and passed on to Obama by Bush several days before Obama took office.
Sanger has spent 18 months working on the detail provided in his book, and while he was careful to protect his sources on CNN this week, it seems clear that he has received information from White House “Situation Room” level sources.
This is what the congressional fire storm is all about. As background, it must be said that Congress has always been very active in managing its relationship with US intelligence groups. The Senate and House Intelligence Committees are very active and often meet with CIA and military intelligence officials. Normally, the White House and Congress are in lock step on Intelligence to protect it and keep leaks from occurring, as well as to protect those on the ground from being discovered and put in danger.
But, Senator John McCain, Ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee has accused the White House of revealing secret information to Sanger as a political tool meant to enhance President Obama’s image as being aggressive in foreign affairs and especially in the Middle East.
Appearing after Mr. Sanger on CNN, he blasted the release of the “most secret, highly classified information that would compromise our ability to pursue the goals that our national security requirements dictate.”
As an example, he pointed to “the doctor that helped us in the Bin Laden case. He’s now been sentenced to thirty-three years in prison, probably a death sentence, because he helped Americans. That information was leaked by this administration.”
The purpose of those leaks, said Senator McCain, was clearly political and wants a special counsel to investigate: “The fact is the portrayal of the President in these stories is obviously nothing short of heroic. I don’t think there’s any doubt, according to Mr. Sanger, that dozens of administration officials were involved in this…If they hadn’t talked to him, then he wouldn’t have been able to corroborate it. They obviously talked to him, he states that, that’s wrong.”
Senator McCain was objecting to the politics, not necessarily the policy: “I agree with the cyber warfare,” he said, “but why should we reveal it to the enemy?”
These accusations are almost unheard of in the United States. Intelligence is neutral. Covert operations personnel brief Congress in closed door sessions. The White House does not comment on intelligence when it involves ongoing activities.
In this case, there is one example in Sanger’s book that particularly infuriated the Senate Armed Services Committee.
He includes in his book information about what is called “Olympic Games” technology. This is apparently the code name for cyber attacks on Iran’s uranium enrichment activities. Sanger also confirms in his book that Israel is actively working with the US on the project to interrupt Iran’s enrichment program, i.e., its nuclear bomb capability.
However, in speaking to CNN of the major disclosures in his book Sanger insisted “it wasn’t anything that anybody said to anyone. It was the error in 2010 in the summer that allowed the worm that later became known as Stuxnet to escape from the Natanz plant and propagate out across the internet. The United States and the Israelis had not planned on that happening. That was a programming mistake. It made the worm evident to the whole wide world.”
The other revelation concerns intelligence-directed drone attacks inside Pakistan and elsewhere in the Middle East. US-Pakistan relations are already stretched to the breaking point, and publicly dragging activities that Pakistan considers a violation of its territory are not helpful. While Americans are as unhappy with Pakistan as Pakistanis are with America, the two countries need to work together in order to make the new US “light footprint” policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan successful.
Is President Obama looking the other way while his aides use intelligence leaks to improve his chances at being re-elected?
Senator McCain wants that question answered.
And if the answer is “yes,” we will be in uncharted political territory in the United States.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Texas Best for Business! Perry Best for VP?

For the eighth consecutive year, CEOs named Texas the best place to do business, according to the latest Chief Executive magazine annual survey of 650 business leaders from all over the country on topics relating to tax and regulation, quality of workforce, and living environment.
Texas excels not only in the petroleum sector, but also manufacturing, technology and alternative energy. In fact, Texas is now the leading state in wind energy production, according to the Energy Information Administration.
Texas, like many of the top states in this year's CEO survey, is a right-to-work state. Chief Executive magazine says that “labor force flexibility is highly sought after when a business seeks a location.” Economists have found that right-to-work areas “grow faster than other states, have higher employment and attract more inward migration,” says Chief Executive.
There’s been a real boom in job creation in Texas: From June 2009 through July 2011, the number of jobs in Texas grew by 328,000 - almost half of all the jobs added in the entire US.
And jobs attract people outside of Texas who have migrated from all over, moving approximately $17.5 billion net adjusted gross income into the state. Of the 808,000 people who have moved to Texas from 2000 to 2010, about 225,000 came from California, bringing with them a net adjusted gross income of about $4.5 billion, according to the Tax Foundation’s new State to State Migration Data Tool. More than 100,000 people from Louisiana have moved to their neighboring state, followed by residents from Illinois, New York and Michigan.

My Fort Worth cousin is now waving the Lone Star and doing cartwheels!

So, dear readers, my question is : Why isn't Rick Perry, who happens to have been governor of Texas during the past eight years, at the top of Mitt Romney's Vice President list???
We all remember Rick Perry. He arrived late in the GOP debate era and quickly fell on hard times because he forgot details for answers. This prompted the media, as well as the other GOP presidential candidates, to jump all over Perry, calling him unprepared and untried.
In fact, Rick Perry pretty much became the media's whipping boy for conservative GOP politicians : rich, handsome, with Southern accents and dumb.
Well, it wasn't and is not so. Rick Perry has a record to equal Mitt Romney's. So, why oh why aren't they the ticket. If one business leader will be good for the American economy, it makes sense that two would be even better. America can ill afford to refuse the help of leaders who actually have a winning record on job creation and business development.

And, about that "dumb" handle applied so dramatically by the media to Rick Perry -- I'd say that forgetting a few details now and then is a whole lot better than believing you know all the answers, even after they've been proven to be completely wrong...are you listening, Barak Obama?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

With Friends Like Bill Clinton, Obama Could Be Out of a Job in November

In an informal and far-ranging interview with Maria Bartoromo of CNBC, President Bill Clinton gave a host of answers to financial and economic questions and it was all down hill for the only Democrat to be elected US President after Clinton - Barak Obama.
Bill started off by saying that the United States is already in recession and that the best cure would be to extend all tax breaks into 2013 at least. He included the Bush tax cuts and said that it doesn’t matter right now if the cuts help the rich. What matters is to get the American economy on its feet and avoid further contraction. He included employment tax breaks in the package, as well. President Obama, take note and get the Democratic troops organized. In this line of thought, Clinton also said that picking on business or bankers with a broad brush is not the way to do it. Obama should say who the bad guys are and why and follow up with facts.
Clinton added, as if the White House wasn’t already in a tailspin, that if the tax cuts expire and the spending cuts kick in, there would be a fiscal cliff that could put America in an even worse downturn.
"What I think we need to do is find some way to avoid the fiscal cliff, to avoid doing anything that would contract the economy now, and then deal with what's necessary in the long-term debt-reduction plans as soon as they can, which presumably would be after the election," Clinton told CNBC.
The former President added that lawmakers need to compromise with President Barack Obama, and all sides need to agree to keep tax cuts and spending structures in play now and make sure growth returns -- and then tackle deficits.
"They will probably have to put everything off until early next year. That's probably the best thing to do right now. But the Republicans don't want to do that unless he agrees to extend the tax cuts permanently, including for upper income people, and I don't think the president should do that." Clinton added.
Turning to taxes, Clinton says top earners should pay more because current US tax levels “aren't that high,” saying they just feel high because of the economic downturn.
"They're still pretty low, the government spending levels. But I think they look high because there's a recession," Clinton says.
"So the taxes look lower than they really would be if we had two and half or 3 percent growth and spending is higher than it would be if we had two and a half or 3 percent growth, because there are so many people getting food stamps, so many people getting unemployment, so many people on Medicaid."
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has the economy will officially fall into recession if the White House and Congress don't act now.
All the while, Mr. Clinton kept saying that he supports President Obama and his policies and programs. But, this was a case when words spoke louder than actions.
Bill Clinton is a very smart politician and he knows that his words carry more weight than perhaps any other political figure in the US. Why would he say that we need tax cut extensions and cooperation with Congress and that the US is already in a recession. These are all items Obama is fighting daily to avoid saying - or to blame President Bush for - or to say that Romney would make worse.
I know it’s not possible, well not possible for anyone but Bill Clinton -- but I have to wonder if he doesn’t see a White House future for his wife, Hillary, sooner than 2016. And, is he preparing to steal the convention and nomination from Barak Obama?
If I were the President, I’d be very careful. You really don’t need enemies when you’ve got a friend like Bill Clinton.