THE OTHER SHOE DROPS: Updates To Previous Posts
Sarkozy was furious with Barack Obama for his adolescent warbling about a world without nuclear weapons at a meeting Mr. Obama chaired of the United Nations Security Council last Thursday. …
What infuriated President Sarkozy was that at the time … Mr. Obama knew the mullahs in Iran had a secret nuclear weapons development site, and he didn't call them on it. …
The extent of President Obama's naivete - or duplicity - was on display Friday at the G20 summit when the president, flanked by Mr. Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, revealed to the American public that Iran had a second nuclear weapons site on a military base near the holy city of Qom.
News reports indicated Mr. Obama had been briefed on the site before his inauguration. But he's been conducting his foreign policy as if the mullahs could be trusted. …
[A]fter sternly lecturing Iran on its international obligations Friday, President Obama didn't call for sanctions. He called for more negotiations. …
No wonder Nicolas Sarkozy holds him in contempt.
Wes Pruden, editor emeritus of The Washington Times poses the rhetorical question, “[w]ho can blame the Iranians for thinking they have Mr. Obama's number?”:
The buzz about Barack Obama at international conferences is no longer about how strong and artful he is in the presidential role, but how naive and artless reality has revealed him to be. …
Clark Judge, a recent delegate to the annual Global Security Review conference in Geneva, sponsored by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, was surprised by the emerging "wide skepticism" of the president. "The impression emerged for me," he says, "that Mr. Obama's riveting rhetoric is in danger of turning from a plus to a minus." One former foreign minister scorns the president's "pointless rhetoric, no matter how elegantly expressed."
Reality is an unforgiving teacher, and inevitably grades on a steep curve. Mr. Obama imagined last year that he was auditioning to replace Martin Sheen on the television serial "West Wing." He's learning better now.
Unfortunately for us and the rest of the world, he is not learning fast enough, worries Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen:
Sooner or later it is going to occur to Barack Obama that he is the president of the United States. As of yet, though, he does not act that way, appearing promiscuously on television and granting interviews like the presidential candidate he no longer is. The election has been held, but the campaign goes on and on. The candidate has yet to become commander in chief.
Take last week's Group of 20 meeting in Pittsburgh. There, the candidate-in-full commandeered the television networks and the leaders of Britain and France to give the Iranians a dramatic warning. Yet another of their secret nuclear facilities had been revealed and Obama, as anyone could see, was determined to do something about it - just don't ask what.
The entire episode had a faux Cuban missile crisis quality to it. …
Obama's the president. Time he understood that.
Editorial Note: In case you have any doubts about Sarkozy’s antipathy towards Obama, see how far he is standing from him during his comments about Iran’s nuclear ambitions:
† Extradite Polanski To Poland: Elites and intelligentsia on two continents rushed to Roman Polanski’s defense after his arrest, but these worthies are not necessarily on the same page as the hoi-polloi when it comes to letting him off the hook for drugging and sodomizing a girl whom he knew was only 13-years old, no matter how long ago the crime was committed.
The New York Times reports on the growing divide amongst French politicians about the country’s official position on Polanski, his crime, and his arrest:
After two days of widespread expressions of support for jailed filmmaker Roman Polanski, from European political leaders as well as leading cultural figures there and in the United States, the mood was shifting among French politicians Tuesday about whether the government should have rushed to rally around the Oscar-winning director.
Marc Laffineur, the vice-president of the French assembly and a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling center-right party, the UMP, took issue with the French culture and foreign minister’s remarks supporting Mr. Polanski, saying “the charge of raping a child 13 years old is not something trivial, whoever the suspect is.”
Within the Green party, Daniel Cohn-Bendit - a French deputy in the European parliament whose popularity is rising - also criticized Sarkozy administration officials for leaping too quickly to Mr. Polanski’s side despite the serious nature of his crime. On the extreme right, the father and daughter politicians Jean-Marie and Marine Le Pen also attacked the ministers, saying they were supporting “a criminal pedophile in the name of the rights of the political-artistic class.” …
The mood was even more hostile in blogs and e-mails to newspapers and news magazines. Of the 30,000 participants in an online poll by the French daily Le Figaro, more than 70 percent said Mr. Polanski, 76, should face justice. And in the magazine Le Point, more than 400 letter writers were almost universal in their disdain for Mr. Polanski.
That contempt was not only directed at Mr. Polanski, but at the French class of celebrities - nicknamed Les People - who are part of Mr. Polanski’s rarified Parisian world. Letter writers to Le Point scorned Les People as the “crypto-intelligentsia of our country” who deliver “eloquent phrases that defy common sense.”
In Switzerland – where Polanski was arrested – the negative reaction has less to do with Polanski as with the nation’s cherished traditions of independence and neutrality, reports The Associated Press:
"Swiss neutrality is not about taking sides," said Julien Grollier, a Geneva resident. "They're doing a favor for the United States that they wouldn't do for another country." …
The Swiss criticism largely stems from an inherent fear of losing sovereignty and a tradition of restrained governance and policing that places a supreme value on individual rights. …
Jean Ziegler, a former Socialist politician and author who advises the United Nations on human rights issues, called the arrest a "political action." …
But one young woman in Geneva - who is only three years older than Polanski’s victim was – has a different perspective: “It's right that he was arrested. He did something bad so he has to go to jail.”
Syndicated columnist, atttorney and rape survivor Susan Estrich has an answer for those who think that the charges against Polanski should be dropped because his victim has forgiven him and wants to move on:
Rape is a crime against the state, as well as a civil wrong against the individual. The victim is free not to pursue damages. That is her decision. Where victims refuse to cooperate, it is often difficult or impossible to secure a conviction, but cooperation is not a legal requirement. The state presses charges, not the victim. Polanski pleaded guilty to a crime against the state. It was "People v. Polanski." The People -- in this case represented by the district attorney of Los Angeles -- are not putting the whole thing behind them. Rightly so. …
For the past 30 years, Roman Polanski has been not just a convicted rapist but a fugitive from justice. …
There is no statute of limitations on fugitives.
† Why Shouldn’t Illegals Get Government Healthcare?: In an interview with The Washington Times, Puerto Rico Gov. Luis G. Fortuno makes the case that the island’s four million residents - all of whom are American citizens by birth, BTW - should be covered by whatever healthcare proposal Congress enacts:
As a territory … residents don't pay federal income taxes on income earned there - but do pay other taxes, such as Social Security and Medicare. …
Key lawmakers have said it's too expensive to extend coverage to the island, but the governor says it's a matter of fairness - particularly given the way the territory gives back in other areas, such as the second-highest participation in the U.S. armed forces.
"Anyone that feels that, why should Puerto Rico be included, they should ask every soldier, every man and woman in uniform, that has fought in every war since 1917, that question," he said.
An amendment to the Baucus plan proposed by Dems on the Senate Finance Committee to give residents of all U.S. territories access to health insurance exchanges was withdrawn until the Congressional Budget Office can calculate the tab.
† Nationalized Healthcare Always Leads To Rationing: What do Canadians do when they need a diagnostic test or a consultation with a specialist? They go to a “fixer” to game the system in their favor, reports The Washington Times:
A British Columbia medical broker, [Richard Baker] takes patients who find themselves on long waiting lists for procedures such as MRIs and surgeries, and connects them with specialists who can handle their cases immediately.
Most of the time, his clients wind up in the United States - and business is booming.
"That's what Americans need to know about the Canadian system," Mr. Baker said. "It's not that we have poor-quality health care - the quality is perfectly good. It's that we have poor access to health care."
Mr. Baker, founder of Timely Medical Alternatives, is among the featured speakers at a conference Monday in Vancouver, British Columbia, aimed at exposing weaknesses in the Canadian single-payer system. The event, billed as a one-day fact-finding trip, is sponsored by the Independence Institute, a Colorado-based free-market think tank that has opposed the Obama administration's push for a public option in U.S. health care. …
Private health care clinics have begun cropping up despite a Canadian law that makes it a criminal offense for a private provider to charge patients for medically necessary procedures. Doctors avoid breaking the law by going through a third party, such as Mr. Baker's company, to collect their fees.
"The other way they get around the law is they say, 'This patient has been on a waiting list for three years for hernia or bunion surgery, so it must not be medically necessary,'" Mr. Baker said.
† Obama Doctrine Taking Shape: In a commentary published by The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon) Stephen McInerney, director of advocacy for the Project on Middle East Democracy, notes that the phrase “a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect” has become “a recurring theme” in President Barack Hussein Obama’s speeches to Muslim audiences, but there’s something missing:
[M]any critics noted the conspicuous absence of any explicit mention of the word “democracy” in administration speeches and statements during its first few months. …
[W]hile the Cairo speech contained specific, actionable agenda items on economic development, health, and education, the section on democracy was notably lacking in such specifics. By contrast, Obama’s July 2009 speech in Ghana more strongly emphasized the need to support democracy in Africa, and included many more specifics on addressing issues such as repression, government corruption, legislative and judicial checks on executive power, and the ability of oppositions to organize politically.
Arab publics remember too well the soaring democracy rhetoric of the administration of President George W. Bush, which they saw as unaccompanied by effective policies or actions.
In this respect, Arab reformers fear Obama will be Bush III: All talk, no action.
† Just How “American” Is American Apparel?: After a workplace audit by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) in July that found discrepancies between the identity documents workers presented at hiring and federal social security or immigration records that could not be resolved, American Apparel will be firing about 1,800 employees - more than a quarter of its workforce - reports The New York Times:
Peter Schey, a lawyer for American Apparel, said that ICE had cited deficiencies in its record keeping, but the authorities had not accused the company of knowingly hiring unauthorized workers.
While ICE has made no arrests so far at the factory, the agency has not ruled out further action against workers proven to be illegal immigrants.
† Updates To Previous Posts (third item, The Right To Bear Arms Belongs To Us All: Part II): A new AZ law allowing people with concealed weapons permits to carry their guns into bars takes effect today - but only if they refrain from alcohol. Bar and restaurant owners can keep guns out of their establishments by posting a sign barring them, reports The Associated Press. “There's no official tally on how many of the 5,800 establishments that sell alcohol have posted signs, but the state says it has provided at least 1,300 laminated placards so far.”
† Updates To Previous Posts (second item, Madoff’s Victims: Gullible Or Greedy?): Agreeing with the prosecution’s recommendations on how to compensate victims of Pnzi schemer Bernie Madoff, Manhattan federal district court Judge Denny Chin issued a one-page order concluding "[t]he number of identifiable victims is so large as to make restitution impracticable" reports The American Lawyer:
Instead, investors' recoveries in the criminal case will be determined by forfeiture principles.
Practically speaking, for Madoff's victims this decision means they won't have to go through the painful process of proving the extent of their investment and loss to the government.
However, unlike most forfeiture cases, victims will not be compensated on a pro rata basis, and the government wants to work out a plan with Irving Picard, the trustee for Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities to distribute the proceeds from seized assets. But this approach doesn’t sit well with a group of victims who claim that Picard is subtracting the amount invested with Madoff from the amount withdrawn from an account to calculate a victim’s loss, instead of the amount shown on the most recent statement.
Meanwhile, Picard and his chief counsel David Sheehan told “60 Minutes” that Andrew, brother Peter and niece Shana will be sued for $198 million under the Securities Investor Protection Act, because they all held executive positions with the firm and should have known about the multibillion-dollar, worldwide 20-year-long Ponzi scheme, reports Reuters:
Sheehan told "60 Minutes" he estimated about $36 billion went into the whole scheme. "About $18 (billion) of it went out before the collapse. And $18 (billion) of it is just missing. And that $18 billion is what we're trying to get back." …
The trustee and his lawyers have filed 13 suits already in an effort to recover about $15 billion, including one against Madoff's wife Ruth and several claims against so-called Madoff feeder funds.
Only $1.5 billion has been recovered so far and the estimates for the actual money that was lost in the fraud have varied from $13 billion to $64.8 billion.
† Updates To Previous Posts (Living In These Mad, Mad, Madoff Times): For the last three months, consultants McKinsey & Company have been studying how and why Condé Nast editors, publishers and executives spend money in an effort to come up with a plan to cut 25 percent from their budgets across the board. “But cost-cutting at Condé Nast is not quite like cost-cutting at other publishers,” observes The New York Times (which is also under financial pressure to reduce costs):
For example, on Oct. 13, the men’s magazine GQ will host a party in Washington to promote its list of powerful capital players, to appear in its November issue. The party is upscale: it will be held at the 701 Restaurant, known for its caviar and live piano music.
That is not the only expense involved. Several editorial employees will travel from New York for the evening. And they received an e-mail message recently reminding them to limit their expenses for the night — to $1,000 a person.
That culture of spending at Condé Nast explains some of the fascination with the place, which incites a mix of envy and scorn among employees at other magazines. Condé Nast’s top editors and publishers have drivers on call, staff members can be reimbursed for $15 a day for lunches they order in, and even freelance writers stay at hotels like the W when they are on assignment.
Those perks would be unremarkable at any investment bank or law firm, at least before the recession. But magazine companies other than Condé Nast have become grim places to work in recent years.
The Times doesn’t expect celebrity editors like Anna Wintour of Vogue or Graydon Carter of Vanity Fair to stop being chauffeured around in town-cars, so the brunt of the cuts will fall on photographers, writers and stylists, whose contracts will be renegotiated.
† Updates To Previous Posts (last item, Dan-o Lawsuit Bizzaro): The appellate division of the New York Supreme Court has dismissing in its entirety the $70-million suit by disgraced former anchor Dan Rather against CBS, finding that Judge Ira Gammerman erred in his decisions on the case, reports the Los Angeles Times:
[The] ruling was a major blow to Rather, who has personally financed the suit for the last two years, casting it as an effort to rein in the influence of corporations on news organizations.
The longtime anchor claims that CBS broke his contract and committed fraud by sidelining him in the wake of a controversial story he reported in 2004 about then-President George W. Bush's Vietnam-era service in the Texas Air National Guard. … He said he was pushed out of the anchor chair and essentially warehoused, actions that damaged his reputation and made it hard for him to find work after leaving CBS.
Taking these claims one by one, the appellate court ruled that CBS did not break Rather’s contract because it continued to pay him his $6 million a year salary until June; the terms of his contract did not require CBS to use him in an on-air capacity; that “it would be speculative to conclude that any action taken by CBS would have alone substantially affected his market value at that time”; and that Rather did not cite “a single opportunity with specified terms that was actually available to him and which he declined to accept because of CBS' actions.”
Rather’s attorneys plan to appeal the decision. It looks like this lawsuit is going to go on and on and on and on, just like the one former D.C. judge Roy Pearson pursued over his allegedly lost pants.