German Chancellor Angela Merkel appears to be caving in:
While Berlin remains firm in its rejection of Spain's calls for Europe's rescue funds to lend directly to its banks, the officials said that if Madrid put in a formal aid request, funds could flow without it submitting to the kind of strict reform program agreed for Greece, Portugal and Ireland.
here are a few problems with this.
First of all, Merkel is going to have to somehow convince German taxpayers to go along with it.
Second, the amount of money requested is staggering, larger than any previous bailout. At current birthrates, Germany's newer generation of taxpayers is going to be far less than its current one, and Spain is even further behind in reproducing its present population. If a debt of 110% of Gross Domestic Product can't be paid off now by 100 Spaniards, it's highly unlikely that 30 Spaniards are going to be able to do it. Nor is it likely that 42 Germans are going to be able to continue to support the same level of largesse for the entire eurozone that 100 Germans do today,paying off long term debts that are essentially valueless at his point anyway, since they're based on a real estate and construction bubble that makes what happened in America look benign by comparison.
And third, Chancellor Merkle is going to be pinned down on the sofa and subjected to what I call the gang bang rationale.."hey, you did it for him, you can do it for me, so just lay back and enjoy it."
The Greeks, the Portuguese and the Irish have already been subjected to severe austerity packages for past bailouts, and those programs, if you can call it that, are still ongoing. After seeing Spain get even more money for doing absolutely nothing but threatening to leave the euro, they're going to want their austerity programs waived too..or else. And other countries in similar territory, like Italy, are going to want to pull the same thing.
Merkle and Germany would be far better off telling Spain (and Greece, for that matter) to get bent. Either that, or simply writing off their debts and taking the pain now while it's still manageable rather than spreading the infection throughout the eurozone.
FP: With Obama in charge of America (see next), is this the West that is going to stop Iran’s nuclear program and the Turks from dictating to NATO? Any wonder why Putin is testing new ICBM’s? See also Barry Rubin: Syria is the Spanish Civil War of our Time and Robert Satloff: Why a Syrian Civil War Would Be a Disaster For U.S. National Security
Collapse. And America is not far off:
Matt Taibbi: JOBS Act Fallout: More Fraud, Fewer IPOs
One story I did want to pass on while I was gone is a very interesting Wall Street Journal piece entitled, "Meet the JOBS Act's Jobs-Free Companies." A few months ago, I wrote a few articles about the JOBS Act, which a number of friends of mine from congress and from the regulatory community insisted would pave the way for a return to the IPO fraud boom of the late nineties, if not for a return to the penny-stock fraud age.
Well, eight weeks after the passage of the law, we're finding some unexpected results. Among the more controversial provisions of the JOBS Act, remember, was a sort of blanket regulatory exemption for so-called "Emerging Growth Companies," which were loosely defined as public companies with less than $1 billion in annual revenues. Among other things, the new law allows such companies to avoid independent accounting requirements for the first five years of their existence.
According to the WSJ, what's happening now is that the JOBS Act is being used to facilitate what are known as "reverse mergers." Because it's traditionally been difficult for new companies to meet the regulatory requirements for going public, what's often happened is that young companies look for dormant or dead corporations that are already registered. They then merge with those "empty shell" companies, use their corporate structures, and thusly avoid the IPO process altogether. This process is called a "reverse merger."
Oftentimes those empty shell companies – also called "blank check" firms or "special purpose acquisition companies" – are dead for a reason. Otherwise honest new companies that merge with those firms often find themselves in bed with unexpected, and unexpectedly shady, partners. In other cases, the problem goes the other way: the government has had issues in recent years, for instance, with Chinese startups that use American empty shell firms to establish businesses here.
So why does this matter? Well, the JOBS Act was ostensibly designed to make it easier to launch actual IPOs, and theoretically should have made the darker, more problem-ridden reverse merger process less appealing. But what we're finding now is that companies are using the JOBS Act to designate those "blank check" firms as "emerging growth companies."
These little reverse-merger enterprises are exactly the sorts of companies where small investors should want to have as much transparency as possible, so they know whom they're jumping in bed with. Instead, we're going to use this new tool to allow already-troubled companies to hide their warts in behind-closed-doors sessions with the SEC. So that's awesome.
FP: Looks like about the only growth area with creativity and innovation in today’s America is financial fraud.
John Hinderaker: “He Could Be President Now If He Wanted To Be”
I am not a particular fan of Peggy Noonan, for a lot of reasons. But every now and then she makes a point in a way so simple and insightful that its truth is overpowering. That was the case in her Wall Street Journal column today, on Wisconsin and its aftermath. Much of what she said was true but familiar. But then we have this:
President Obama’s problem now isn’t what Wisconsin did, it’s how he looks each day—careening around, always in flight, a superfluous figure. No one even looks to him for leadership now. He doesn’t go to Wisconsin, where the fight is. He goes to Sarah Jessica Parker’s place, where the money is.
There is, now, a house-of-cards feel about this administration. …
Any president will, in a presidential election year, be political. But there is a startling sense with Mr. Obama that that’s all he is now, that he and his people are all politics, all the time, undeviatingly, on every issue. He isn’t even trying to lead, he’s just trying to win.
Most ominously, there are the national-security leaks that are becoming a national scandal—the “avalanche of leaks,” according to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, that are somehow and for some reason coming out of the administration. A terrorist “kill list,” reports of U.S. spies infiltrating Al Qaeda in Yemen, stories about Osama bin Laden’s DNA and how America got it, and U.S. involvement in the Stuxnet computer virus, used against Iranian nuclear facilities. These leaks, say the California Democrat, put “American lives in jeopardy,” put “our nation’s security in jeopardy.”
This isn’t the usual—this is something different. A special counsel may be appointed.
And where is the president in all this? On his way to Anna Wintour’s house. He’s busy. He’s running for president.
But why? He could be president now if he wanted to be.
Those last lines are brilliant. They pretty much say it all.
FP: But it’s no surprise: this is who Obama is, there is nothing there there. He’s an empty suit, no substance, he’s all about his narcisstic self. David Goldman and others got his number even before he became president and it’s only the shielding by the mainstream media, the gullibility of the American public and US decline that got him elected. (see also The Food Stamp President and the following:
Barack Obama was all smiles in his carefully scripted message of congratulation to Queen Elizabeth II on her Diamond Jubilee. But at the same time as he recorded his message, his administration was actively undermining Great Britain at the annual meeting of the Organisation of American States (OAS), held in Bolivia. The OAS General Assembly, which includes the United States, has just re-adopted the 2010 “Declaration on the Question of the Malvinas Islands,” which backed Argentina’s call for negotiations between London and Buenos Aires over the Falkland Islands.
The inhabitants of the Falklands are more than 95 percent British and have no desire to be ruled by Argentina, a point that both the OAS and the Obama presidency are happy to ignore. This is a clear-cut case of self-determination, and the Obama administration's continuing support or a negotiated settlement (made abundantly clear by a senior State Department spokeman last week) is a slap in the face for both the Falkland Islanders as well as the British people. In his message to the Queen today, Barack Obama paid lip service to the Special Relationship, but his actions over the Falklands demonstrate that in practice he has nothing but disdain for America's closest friend and ally.
Can’t Obama do nothing right? Apparently.
Under what conditions is it possible to sustain a totally medieval world view in the 21st century? This ex-Kuwaiti Shiite cleric has found them. From him, you’ll learn that the devil turns Sunnis (and only Sunnis) into passive homosexuals by inserting his finger in their anus at birth. Watch and wonder. (And ponder: he doesn’t inhabit some dusty seminary in Iraq or Iran. He’s now London-based.) Old-time Shiism. Shiite Cleric Yasser Habib in Anti-Sunni Rhetoric | MEMRI TV
FP: I don’t mind Arabs sticking to 7th century (and Turks returning to it, see next)—that’s how Israel managed to defeat them over and over again and survive for 6+ decades.
Raymond Ibrahim: Greatest Church Soon To Be Mega Mosque?
Ostensibly dealing with a building, a recent report demonstrates how Turkey's populace—once deemed the most secular and liberal in the Muslim world—is reverting to its Islamic heritage, complete with animosity for the infidel West and dreams of Islam's glory days of jihad and conquest. According to Reuters:
Thousands of devout Muslims prayed outside Turkey's historic Hagia Sophia museum on Saturday [May 23] to protest a 1934 law that bars religious services at the former church and mosque. Worshippers shouted, "Break the chains, let Hagia Sophia Mosque open," and "God is great" [the notorious "Allahu Akbar"] before kneeling in prayer as tourists looked on. Turkey's secular laws prevent Muslims and Christians from formal worship within the 6th-century monument, the world's greatest cathedral for almost a millennium before invading Ottomans converted it into a mosque in the 15th century.
Sultan Mehmet was the scourge of European Christendom, whose Islamic hordes seized and ravished Constantinople, forcibly turning it Islamic. Openly idolizing him, as many Turks do, is tantamount to their saying "We are proud of our ancestors who killed and stole the lands of Christians." And yet, despite such militant overtones, Turhan, whose position is echoed by many Turks, still manages to blame the West: "Keeping Hagia Sophia Mosque closed is an insult to our mostly Muslim population of 75 million. It symbolizes our ill-treatment by the West."
If merely keeping a historically Christian/Western building—that was stolen by Islamic jihad—as a neutral museum is seen as "ill-treatment by the West," on what basis can Muslims and non-Muslims ever "dialogue"?
FP: Let the Turks sink back into medieval times too. It’s the collapse of Western civilization that concerns me.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Recipe for War: Unilateral Withdrawal from West Bank
Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak believes that Israel should consider a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank if negotiations with the Palestinian Authority fail to bear fruit.
Under the current circumstances, such a move would lead to the creation of another radical Palestinian Islamic entity, this time in those parts of the West Bank that would be handed over to Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad.
Any land that is handed over to the Palestinian Authority would end up in the hands of Hamas.
Even though Hamas does not have a strong military presence in the West Bank, the movement seems to enjoy much popularity among Palestinians.
The so-called Arab Spring, which has seen the rise of Islamists to power in a number of Arab countries, has emboldened Hamas and other radical Palestinian groups, such as Islamic Jihad.
Even if the Islamists do not take over the West Bank in the aftermath of a unilateral Israeli pullout, it is almost certain that the Palestinian Authority would not be able to prevent local gangs and clans from seizing power.
The case of Jenin, a city in the West Bank, is a good example of the weakness of the Palestinian Authority security forces, especially with regard to imposing law and order: Palestinian Authority officials have admitted that Jenin has been controlled over the past two years by Fatah militiamen and thugs who worked closely with many top Palestinian security officers, imposing a reign of terror and intimidation on the city's residents.
A unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank could mean that Palestinian cities like Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, Bethlehem and Hebron would fall either into the hands of Hamas or armed Fatah gangs.
Abbas and Fayyad would not be able to do much to prevent a return to scenes of anarchy and lawlessness that were once prevalent on the Palestinian street.
The chaos and violence inside the Palestinian cities would also spill over into Israel, forcing it to launch another "Defensive Shield" type of operation, like the one in 2002, to clear the area of armed gangs.
FP: So the problem is not Hamas, but the Palestinian public. They’re ready: let’s give them a state. I would not be surprised if Netanyahu is not that far from Barak’s thinking. Given the latter’s weakened position in the coalition I don’t think he would have made that statement without Nethanyahu’s permission. Perhaps that was their trial balloon.
I came across a passage from a Shelby Steele essay in 2010 (excerpts of which I posted below) which may accurately explain the Guardians’ continuing sympathy for even the most violent, antisemitic Islamists: Hamas members who represent the antithesis of even the broadest understanding of liberal values.
Since 2011, the broadsheet which aspires to be the world’s leading liberal voice has published the Islamist terror groups’ head of international relations Osama Hamdan, Hamas ‘advisor‘ Azzam Tamimi, Musa Abumarzuq - deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, and today Hamas’ political leader and Gaza’s Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh.
“[T]he merest echo of the shameful Western past is enough to chill support for Israel in the West.
The West …lacks the self-assurance to see the Palestinians accurately. Here again it is safer in the white West to see the Palestinians as they advertise themselves—as an “occupied” people denied sovereignty and simple human dignity by a white Western colonizer. The West is simply too vulnerable to the racist stigma to object to this “neo-colonial” characterization.
Our problem in the West is understandable. [We] don’t want to lose more moral authority than we already have. So…choose not to see certain things that are right in front of us. For example, we ignore that the Palestinians…are driven to militancy and war not by legitimate complaints against Israel or the West but by an internalized sense of inferiority. If the Palestinians got everything they want—a sovereign nation and even—they would wake the next morning still hounded by a sense of inferiority.
And the quickest cover for inferiority is hatred. The problem is not me; it is them. And in my victimization I enjoy a moral and human grandiosity—no matter how smart and modern my enemy is, I have the innocence that defines victims. I may be poor but my hands are clean. Even my backwardness and poverty only reflect a moral superiority.”
The truth of Steele’s words is reflected by Ismail Haniyeh’s essay. The leader of a movement whose founding charter continually calls for the eradication of the Jewish state strikes the appropriate ‘liberal cords’ and plays the Guardian crowd like a fiddle.
FP: It’s not just Hamas and the Guardian. I’ve been arguing for years that while the Arabs’ got the West’s number down pat, the West is completely clueless about Arabs and Islam. Not sustainable.