Obama Blunders, A Nominee Withdraws As The Truth Spills Out, And The Lap Dog Media Give The Story Biased, Minimal Coverage. Maybe We Need Freedom From The Press
It was reported at length in PenPo No. 66 (“This Guy Is An Ethical Disgrace….”), and now, before the shouting really got started, it’s over. Most of the country never had a chance to hear anything about it. Hushing it up was stupid, for the inevitable result is a concise, devastating critique of the entire Freeman embarrassment. The item at the link is about as effective as was Sherman’s march to the sea.
How You Understand This Case Depends On Your Attitudes Toward Multiculturalism, Western Civilization and Islam
After what appear to be legal proceedings utterly devoid of jurisprudential ethics, a young man in Afghanistan has been convicted of circulating a document promoting women’s rights and questioning some verses in the Koran. The story is summarized in a British newspaper. Read it before you continue.
If you hate(d) George W. Bush, feel the Iraq war was wrong, and are uncomfortable with the methods used in the USA’s efforts to combat groups like Al Qaeda, ask yourself whether you agree with any of these conclusions:
1. We should not be in Afghanistan. Leave those people to themselves.
2. Trying to impose democracy and decent legal practice on that part of the world is a waste of effort.
3. When we leave, things will go right back where they were.
No, it is not too great a leap to move from dismay over the deliberate injustice of Islam to statements of what long-term US policy should be. Who says A, must say B. Your opinion of this case has consequences; they follow directly on your evaluation of the trial and sentencing of the defendant.
Note that your negative reaction to the injustice in Afghanistan is necessarily judgmental, and, if you are prone to a multiculturalist, realist interpretation of events, be aware that you abandoned your philosophy as soon as you found the Afghan court wanting. In fact, when you adopted multiculturalist views, you attempted the impossible: you tried to banish your express, pre-existing ethics in favor of a tolerance for the most insane tyranny imaginable. It didn’t work, did it?
That’s the contradiction faced by multiculturalist and realist critics of US foreign policy: they instinctively reject the validity of the value systems that require the mullahs in Afghanistan to condemn this young man, yet their overall acceptance of evil remains unperturbed.
The result is usually a mocking rejection of the Bush policy of intervention. “We interfere where we have no business, and the con artists find a way to steal from us, while things go on as always.” “The taxpayer bleeds, the soldiers we send there bleed, and the crimes go on as usual. It’s all for oil, anyway.”
Such sloganeering is an expression of discomfort and impatience, but it is inarticulate because it recognizes neither causes nor the resulting problem.
A rational appraisal of the situation places the blame where it belongs, without creating contradictions or fantasies. The injustice in Afghanistan is at base the result of faith in scripture, and it is exacerbated by Islam’s unevolved status. That again is due to the defense mechanisms the Koran has constructed: the hoary hoax asserts its inerrancy and inviolate permanence. The problem, then, is how to deal with faith-based tyranny.
All right, so can’t the USA do something about this bogus trial and those murderers posing as judges? Perhaps, but before you consider the practicalities, this bears repeating: be sure you understand that the present (temporary?) refusal to take a hard line in favor of justice is due to the malignant influence of multiculturalist and post-colonial thinking. The mindset that prevented Union Carbide from compelling the Indians to maintain the Bhopal plant correctly is also the attitude that makes the USA step “softly, softly” in Afghanistan. It hinders the application of Enlightenment values in an unenlightened land.
“We have to respect their culture.” No, we don’t. Better that we respect the insight that gave us the concept of human rights; if we deny that ethical mandate, we show total disrespect for the human beings who suffer in slavery. What matters more, sterile policies crafted by nihilists, or the misery of humankind?
But is this our fight? Yes, of course it is. Eventually we must recognize that if the USA is willing to send its military into harm’s way, a commitment and an acceptance of risk exist. In for a penny, in for a pound (which is why we must pick our fights carefully). The USA and Britain should tell Afghanistan to reform its jurisprudential system; the filth will be removed and the mechanism redesigned and rebuilt. Or else. We did not shed our blood to enable the present outrages.
Yes, it is authoritarian, and yes, it involves serious risks. Never mind; the mullahs must go. If they do not, greater and more persistent risks will arise, for we shall have allied ourselves with the most evil branch of the hoax religion that is Islam. That hypocrisy would be seen throughout the Islamic world as weakness, and would invite aggression.
A simple calculus of benefit shows that multiculturalist broad-mindedness is inimical to decency. Now the parties involved must realize that this silly multiculturalism is not something they actually believe in — that, in other words, when they recognized the rank injustice of this Afghani’s prosecution and condemnation, they had already rejected the multiculturalist delusion. All that remains is to follow where necessity leads.
“It can’t be done.” The historical record shows how correct that is.
Ah, yes. We rue the day that the former Empire of Japan was destroyed, and US attempts to build a working democracy in its place began. We were too naive to realize that noble effort could never succeed in an Asian environment so alien to Western concepts. Today the dictatorship of a distant relative of Tojo’s rules over a captive Korea, blockades Taiwan (with the most powerful nuclear-armed navy in the western Pacific) and threatens war with the USA. The Japanese people, virtual slaves laboring in the Shogun’s weapons shops, are just above starvation. And as for Germany, well, the disaster there speaks for the folly that was “de-Nazification.” As German troops continue to occupy the former Yugoslavia and most of Poland, and Jews rot in German prison camps, the French cower before the Wehrmacht just across the Rhein. Experts say that new tank built in Essen, the Ocelot, is invincible, and that the Messerschmitt “Galland” fighter has no peer in the air. Union with Austria seems inevitable. It’s true: you can’t impose change on a nation.
A Rational View Of The Off-The-Rails Obama Administration
It’s not called Reason Magazine for nothing. An extended quote from a recent piece:
“The stock market is sort of like a tracking poll in politics. It bobs up and down day to day, and if you spend all your time worrying about that, then you’re probably going to get the long-term strategy wrong,” Obama recently explained.
You know, Mr. President, not everything is like politics.
The market is a forward-looking entity, indeed, but it is driven by the decentralized actions of millions of investors every second. It’s the opposite of politics. And this setup surely offends the sensibilities of the statist planners occupying Washington. Unlike politicians, markets don’t lie. And this market has been in freefall for a year.
So, what to do? Obama, who promised not to raise taxes during a recession, now plans to raise nearly $1 trillion in new taxes directly from the investor class. He plans to raise capital gains taxes (a disincentive to investment), corporate taxes (for you, the consumer, ultimately to pay) and on the “rich” (which the nonpartisan Tax Foundation estimates will affect 1.3 million small-business owners).
This recession already has passed the 15-month threshold, the historical average for downturns. Most presidents helped ease us out of those tough spots by easing the burden on Americans. Obama has engaged in the opposite. That’s his gamble.
And most polls show the president’s approval rating at about 60 percent, which is similar to other modern presidents’ ratings at this point in their presidencies. But now that Obama has used his political capital to further ideology rather than economic growth, one thing is clear: He owns this mess.
The Nature Of The Disaster Includes Some Extraordinarily Nasty Legislation
Currently a quote from a mathematician and economist is making the rounds of the internet, but no original source for it has been quoted. Is it genuine? A little investigation by this intrepid newsletter suggests that it is, and that the piece from which it comes includes a number of very interesting passages that have not been widely quoted. So here is the quote in full context, along with a great deal of other information you might want to peruse. And below you find the popular quote along with some important introductory remarks that have not appeared in weblogs.
The main cause of the financial crisis is instability in the financial sector including the firms, institutions and markets which comprise it. To understand this instability, we have to begin with the legitimate primary purposes of the financial markets. One is to provide capital, as equity and debt, to the goods and services economy to allow it to thrive and grow. A second is to provide a stable repository for our collective savings. And a third is to responsibly provide appropriate credit to individuals. These legitimate functions have been hijacked by speculative behavior that was unchecked by regulatory structures. The consequences of this threaten to disrupt the productive efforts of millions of ordinary people who go to work every day to make stuff and provide services to one another.
In the decades leading to this crisis, the shift in our economic thinking from the long-term view on Main Street to short-term speculation and gratification on Wall Street have not only brought us to the brink of economic collapse, but have also compromised a sufficient flow of capital to important long-term initiatives — economic sustainability, renewal of infrastructure, abatement of climate change, and development of alternative energy sources — all important to a vibrant and sustainable economy.
In the longer term, we need to redesign and reregulate the financial system so that it performs its necessary functions without leading to periodic crises of global scale.
Two basic assumptions must guide any thinking as we undertake these tasks. First, economies, financial institutions and markets cannot function without a context of rules and laws, which regulate them.
The only relevant question is do the regulations work or not, where work means that stable markets allow an orderly flow of capital to and from the goods and services economy and the people who comprise it.
Many of us who work in finance are even more horrified by what we see than the lay public appears to be. Some of us spoke publically (sic) for years about the dangers posed. Others published papers or books to spread the word. Curiously, however, our country’s laws would not even permit average families to voluntarily invest in those hedge funds that profited from this crisis by, for example, shorting subprime mortgages.
Accordingly, we don’t believe that citizenship in the United States should now hurriedly be converted into forced participation in an unaccountable secretive national hedge fund which buys lousy assets at inflated prices from banks mismanaged for personal profit by multi-millionaires, and makes non-consensual capital calls on uninformed, captive, financially unsophisticated families.
Oddly, that’s not hyperbole. That’s a description of what has taken place. It’s the reality that’s objectively outrageous.
We think that just like (sic) high net worth individuals are represented by ‘family offices’, those average families deserve now to be represented at the table by financially and scientifically sophisticated individuals with the character necessary to question cronyism and the scientific background to debunk financial mischief dressed in Greek letters and accessorized with stochastic differential equations.
Sometimes, it takes a good physicist to keep another honest. Or an economist. Or trader.
The New Stratification Of US Society Is A Terrible Mistake
Given the size and durability of the current economic mess, it’s only appropriate to ask who is responsible. The answer depends entirely on your ideological position. If you fancy yourself even-handed, fair and objective, then you point to a number of individuals in all political camps, and accuse them of error or ignorance. If you are a “wingnut,” the Democrats did it. If you are a racist, it was the black legislators who forced the government to loan money to black underachievers. If you are a “moonbat,” you blame Bush for spending too much money on his illegal war and you laugh hysterically at suggestions that Obama is either a nutcase or a socialist. And so it goes.
The fact is, the nation will be debating who did what and why for many years. This newsletter’s contribution to the discussion will take the form of commentaries touching on ideology, politics, and personalities — all are involved. For today, the Penguin Post provides a discussion of a person who participated in the unfolding disaster and serves as an example of how not to run a government. Her story is a tragedy for all but her.
Meet Jamie Gorelick, who prefers not to pronounce her name as “gore lick,” but “guh-RELL-ick.” Can’t blame her.
Jamie hit Harvard like the Huns hitting their neighbors, graduating summa cum laude and impressing the daylights out of everybody. She stormed Harvard Law next, and emerged covered with glory and promise. From there it was a simple step to a Washington DC law firm, where she became a litigator — a role in legal practice roughly akin to the job description of a mean-tempered Pit Bull Terrier. Jamie went from scholarship to the rough-and-tumble of intimidating other lawyers, getting the best possible deal for her employer’s clients in complex cases, and in general taking no crap from anybody.
She was really good at her job. So brilliant and quick on her mental feet was she, that she was suggested to the Clinton administration as a “comer,” and became an assistant to the US Secretary of Energy. What does that have to do with litigation? Well, nothing — and everything. As this newsletter has said, to a man whose total toolkit is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Jamie must have scared the daylights out of some folks.
Her return to private practice — more litigating — was not a sign of failure. The Democrats were simply putting her back in the box for now, holding her for future use. And so it was that from 1993 to 1994, she was the General Counsel for the Department of Justice. Well done, Jamie!
Yes, that did predict greater things. The litigator rose to the Number Two job in the Justice Department, Deputy Attorney General of the United States of America.
Then came the reward: in 1997, Jamie was able to leave the Justice Department and take a comfortable position with the Federal National Mortgage Association. She was its Vice Chairman.
Was she still a civil servant? On paper, no. Was her new employer a federal agency? Well, no, but yes, sort of. Or maybe yes, but no, not really. Kind of.
In any event, Jamie was no longer restricted as to how much money she could make. Even the top people in the government have to watch where the money comes from — if some Arab drops a couple million in the president’s lap, everyone who knows about it gets pretty shook up. But Jamie was able to make some serious money with Fannie Mae, as we shall see. And she could do it right out in the open! (For background information, see these links: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.)
Jamie is so darn smart that she was invited to participate in the so-called 9/11 Commission, which tried to figure out why the FBI did not have information from the CIA that the hijackers who killed about three thousand people were in the USA.
More on that in a minute.
Then in 2003 she went back to private practice, where she continues today — though one has to wonder why she did not retire to the south of France. True, she was mentioned as a possible Obama Attorney General, but there seems to have been something in her background that made that, well, awkward.
That’s the course of her career. What did she accomplish, and what do her meteoric rise and eventual departure from government mean? Ah, those are the hot questions. Again, the answers depend on your politics.
Perhaps the best summary of the case against Jamie Gorelick is this devastating, link-laden post, which was linked to in The Penguin Post Number 52.
The story begins with her work in the Department of Justice. When she was Number Two there, in 1995, she wrote a memo that built a stronger “wall” between intelligence (CIA-type outfits) and law enforcement (folks like the FBI). The two are not to talk to each other, Jamie said. And that ruling stuck.
Some say that because of that, the CIA was unable to tell the FBI that the Muslim fanatics who pulled off the 9/11 catastrophe had entered the USA and were probably up to no good. The case is found in this article. There’s more information in this post, as well.
When this came out — and a copy of the memo (with minimal information censored) is available — Jamie was charged with a conflict of interest. Her fellow commissioners defended her place on the investigative body, and she was not tossed off.
Heh! How would you like to say to a seasoned litigator, “You don’t belong here with the rest of us, your background is stained, and you have a serious conflict of interest; there’s the door”? It would be sort of like poking your finger in the eye of a rabid Rottweiler, now wouldn’t it?
So Jamie stayed. And the harm done by her memo remains a topic for debate. In her defense, she claimed that she did not invent or design the wall of separation that left the CIA dumb and the FBI ignorant; it was there all along, she insisted. And so it was. The Democrats fashioned FISA in 1978 (some information here), in reaction to perceived Vietnam-era intelligence infractions. In 1995, Clinton added some teeth to FISA, allowing “black bag” operations (see this article, too).
Well, FISA did have a “wall.” When Jamie found it some fifteen plus years later, she examined the barrier with her litigator’s sharp eye, and declared the wall a joke. She found a chain-link fence and left a thick steel-reinforced cement wall topped with razor wire. Leaders in the justice and intelligence communities, she said explicitly, must do more than just adhere to the law: they must take extra steps to make sure there cannot be any slight appearance of communication between enforcement and intelligence. A 110% effort was the bare minimum, as far as Jamie was concerned.
Look at it from the CIA’s viewpoint. Suppose you are considering breaking a regulation that is almost 20 years old, has no real teeth, and might be set aside if the higher-ups knew what you know. You could well risk a reprimand, defend yourself vigorously, and come out OK. But…what if that regulation is a lot more recent, and is backed up with explicit language that says, in effect, “We have to be more than just in compliance, we have to go overboard in observing this rule”?
Did Jamie’s litigator’s instincts so cripple law enforcement that 9/11 was made possible? Probably. Maybe not. If she had not changed a flimsy fence into an impenetrable wall, would the FBI have been able to prevent 9/11? Possibly. Nobody knows. All that can be said with certainty is that Jamie’s legalistic, impractical, unimaginative zeal did not help matters.
And what about her stay at Fannie Mae? Her quote is a classic:
We believe we are managed safely. We are very pleased that Moody’s gave us an A-minus in the area of bank financial strength — without a reference to the government in any way. Fannie Mae is among the handful of top-quality institutions.
Months later the house of cards collapsed. Fannie Mae was accused by regulators of improper accounting. How much improper accounting? Just a little, too little for it to be spotted by a brilliant, overachieving lawyer who was a cracker-jack litigator…just, well, er, nine billion dollars in unrecorded losses.
As hinted above, Jamie made a pretty good living at Fannie Mae. In her six years there, keeping a litigator’s eye on the financial transactions and procedures (which, if we assume she was not corrupt, seem to have baffled her completely) Jamie took home an average of four and a third million dollars a year. Right: her total take was over twenty-six million dollars of the lenders’ money.
That’s a hell of a lot better than you can do at Justice.
And it’s way too much to pay somebody who can’t smell a dead rat when nine billion of them are decomposing all over the office. If Jamie was neither incompetent nor corrupt, then how can anyone explain her composure?
All right, that’s enough savaging some poor helpless female. (“Poor”?? “Helpless”?? Ah, let it go.) The important aspect of Jamie’s story is what can be learned from it.
Lesson Number One: Academic achievement, while interesting, is not an absolute measure of intellect or worth. In fact it’s not nearly as important as most people believe. There are things to be said for an uninformed curiosity, a critical attitude toward policy, a maverick approach to the prevailing ethos, and a reluctance to follow the herd. Bureaucracies need people who are “difficult,” lest the drones take over and lead the office over the cliff.
Lesson Number Two: There are too many lawyers in government. At some point we are going to have to stop thinking of these people as qualified by their educations to handle any and all problems that government might have to deal with.
Lesson Number Three: When it comes to telling the CIA and FBI what to do, that task should go to someone who has experience in intelligence and, if possible, law enforcement, and if he has a law degree (not necessarily from a prestige school and not necessarily accompanied by admission to any state bar), so much the better. Turning such things over to a pure lawyer is likely to cause trouble.
Lesson Number Four: The groupthink, the herd mentality, and especially an astronomical level of compensation, can weaken the instincts and perceptiveness of the brightest overachiever. See the First Lesson.
Lesson Number Five: There are too many lawyers in government. Sometimes lawyers are just lawyers, and their ethics and judgment may be stunted compared to, say, Joe the Plumber’s common sense.
Jamie Gorelick was by no stretch of the imagination qualified to do anything more than litigate when she stepped into the Justice Department and Fannie Mae. She was presumed to have what it takes. And take she did. Just how much she cost the nation will forever be disputed, but it is clear that she was a mistake, if not a disaster.
Now consider what it all means.
Jamie Gorelick stands revealed as an uninspired plodder whose best efforts at working within the system involved nothing more than finding some feature of it that could be accepted uncritically, extended to an absurd degree, and then cast in bronze. She was the quintessential amateur in a position of undeserved authority. Her ignorance and lack of insight — her failure to appreciate the consequences of unimaginative adherence to bureaucratic stasis — made her blind to flaws and incapable of suggesting genuine improvements. Her contributions were breathtakingly stupid. If she had been an automobile mechanic, her idea of car repair would have been to tighten every screw, nut and bolt in the vehicle, while ignoring the blown head gasket.
In historical context, Gorelick’s disastrous mediocrity reminds of the British peers who mismanaged the War Office at the time of the American Revolution. The assumption of their brilliance was a catastrophic blunder made by the hidebound class system, and it cost the United Kingdom its greatest treasure. Had those degenerate lords (who came to be called “The Hellfire Club”) not been spectacularly incompetent, the United States of America would not be a republic, and there would be no border with Canada. Those who think that government is a sandbox for the privileged simply do not appreciate the harm that can be done if those in power are superbly educated, highly respected fools.
If you can survey the contemporary scene and conclude that the wreckage is somehow the result of an incomprehensible cycle inherent in “capitalism,” you simply do not understand how things actually work. Your error is common: note that as we cope with our distressing circumstances, our scholars indulge themselves in the folly of creating complex new models that will explain what has happened to our financial system. Our wise men have distanced themselves from reality, and they hide behind obtuse mathematics and impenetrable jargon. In fact the causes of the failure are obvious. No matter how sophisticated the structure, no matter how modern it is, it cannot cope well with the rank incompetence of greedy, fatuous managers. When fundamental problems remain unrecognized and simple common sense is discarded (one does not make loans to people who cannot pay them back), the question, “What happened to bring it all down?” is just the whining of simpletons.
If we can not keep people like Jamie Gorelick from ascending to positions of power within our system, we shall deserve the suffering our over-privileged class of lords and ladies will bring down on us. We see around us the results of our recidivistic resort to a discredited stratification of society, where merit is not accurately appraised or rewarded. We have made an atavistic blunder, and our new elite has failed us. Better we put our faith and trust in plumbers, shopkeepers and automobile mechanics.
In its previous issue, Number 66, The Penguin Post reprinted an item on Ward Churchill, University of Colorado professor and faux Native American. Here’s the latest news on this nutcase.
This is one way media censorship works. A lot of people had reasons to hush this one up.
This lady has amazing intestinal fortitude — she’s telling the IRS, her employer, the truth. For which she is known as “the taxpayer’s heroine.” Hat tip to J. H.
“Palestinian” propaganda scored a huge victory with the faked story of the murder of a little boy by Israeli soldiers. Now the exposure of the hoax is getting some attention. Not much, but some is better than none.
From The Archive
Today’s visit to the Terrapin Gazette finds the editor ruminating about one of the interesting characters who has tried to get the boffins in Foggy Bottom to go on a leash and on the paper. The following is from TG Number 24, dated the first of March, 2005.
How To Deal With It? Threaten Those Who Can Stop It?
One of our favorite daydreams has long been a face-to-face meeting between bigwigs, one from the USA and one from the suspect nation (Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, or any others who are currently suspected of being naughty).
The US envoy leans forward in his chair and says, “Now listen, because I’m only going to say this once. If we get hit again, as we were in September of 2001, we are going to hit YOU. Yes, you, even though we know damn well that you had nothing to do with it. Stop interrupting! You just sit there and listen, Buster, and then when I’m though you can do all the howling you like. I’m telling you that if we get hit again, you are going to lose (fill in the blank: a refinery complex, a “holy” city, a port, whatever). Right, the whole thing will be melted down. There won’t be anything or anyone left. Yes, we’ll use whatever weapons will do the job, but the idea will be to erase (the target). And all the people there. Just your tough luck, and if you get nasty about what we have done, we’ll do it to (secondary target). If you tell the world what I just said, we’ll deny it as your paranoid babble, and you won’t be believed by anybody we care about. Good bye.”
Would it work? Almost certainly not. Should the USA try it anyway? No. We don’t like it because it is basically a goofy extension of the goofy policies favored by Henry Kissinger, a man we do not like or trust. Old Heinrich Strangelove used to say, “Zese peeple haf to realize zat iff zey vahnt to behafe zis vay, zere vill be a price to pay!”
In other words, diplomacy is a matter of letting the other side know that the cost of messing with you is too high. Simple-minded, but perhaps valid, eh?
Then Henry The K ran smack dab into the Viet Cong, folks who were willing to pay any price at all. And now we have the jihadists, who are eager to pay the ultimate price. Or at least many of them are; the leaders seem to be just as chicken as anybody else.
Hank’s silly notions never were correct, and it’s clear he was utterly incapable of understanding or dealing with the Arab mentality. But his self-delusions did have a certain simplistic bully-boy testosterone-soaked hoodlum/mobster/thug aspect, the sort of comic book justice that keeps movie audiences buying tickets. We are glad the over