The Devil made me do it

Devil in bible

Quote of the Day 03/19/13

“Say what you like about those Mayan guys, but they only schedule an apocalypse once every 5,126 years. Only Washington would try to pull it off every six weeks.” – columnist Mark Steyn

Who is Susan Rice? By Alan Caruba

Having taken the fall for President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the wake of the Benghazi scandal, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice is poised to make her way up the career ladder as the “top contender” for the position of national security adviser to the President.

The proposed appointment as Secretary of State, a reward for going on television and spreading the administration’s outright lies about the Benghazi attack, was swiftly derailed by the backlash to her appearances. If appointed as national security adviser, she will not have to be approved by the U.S. Senate, thus avoiding its oversight and consent.

The obvious question is “What does Susan Rice know about national security?” though she did serve on President Clinton’s National Security Council. As the Assistant Secretary of State on the Africa desk when the Rwanda genocide occurred in 1994, both Clinton and she were missing in action. He later would say it was one of the biggest mistakes of his time in office.

Her area of expertise for many years has been Africa and, in that capacity, even The New York Times noted that in 1998 she celebrated a “new generation” of African leaders, many of whom turned out to be despots after having been rebel commanders.

One example The Times cited was Meles Zenawi, the late prime minister of Ethiopia who she eulogized in September as “brilliant” and “a son of Ethiopia and a father to its rebirth.” The Times noted that “Mr. Meles dismantled the rule of law, silenced political opponents and forged a single-party state.” Others whom Ambassador Rice found little to criticize were Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea, Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Yoweri K. Museveni of Uganda, all still in power.

Richard Grenell, who served as the spokesman for four U.S. ambassadors to the UN, wrote a scathing commentary which was published by Fox News in November 2012. Referring to the Benghazi attack and its aftermath, Grenell wrote “To veteran foreign policy observers, Rice’s performance that Sunday was one of many blunders over the last four years.”

“The case against Susan Rice has been building for years with little fanfare,” wrote Grenell. “Not surprising, the mainstream media reporters based at the UN have either ignored her mistakes or strategically covered them up.”

“”Rice’s diplomatic failures and silence in the face of outrageous UN antics have given the United States pathetic representation among the 193 members of the world body,” wrote Grenell. “UN members, not surprisingly, prefer a weak opponent. Rice is therefore popular with her colleagues. It may explain why she ignored Syria’s growing problems for months.” Grenell noted that “Rice didn’t even show up for the first two emergency Security Council meetings on the unfolding Arab Spring revolution last year” and “when she actually does show up, she is a miserable failure.”

Even more surprising, given her status as a diplomat, Ambassador Rice is widely described in the most unpleasant terms as abrasive and difficult to work with. Her mentors have been former Secretaries of State, Madeline Albright and Hillary Clinton, and if getting along with one’s boss is the key to success—and it is—her pending appointment to the National Security Council is proof of that. Even so, the White House has rolled out word of it to test the waters and see if she draws too much fire.

When she was being considered for Secretary of State—from which she withdrew—Benjamin H. Friedman, a research fellow in defense and homeland security at the libertarian Cato Institute, had some unkind thoughts about her, noting that “she has supported just about every proposed U.S. military intervention over the two decades. The president should nominate someone that occasionally opposes a war.” In retrospect, that would appear to be a fair judgment. Obama ran in 2008 opposing the war in Iraq, but also increased troop levels in Afghanistan in an effort to score a few points before setting in motion the U.S. withdrawal from there. Both wars have proved to be deeply unpopular.

The Rwanda experience no doubt increased Ambassador Rice’s preference for intervention, but the “lead from behind” intervention in Libya has not turned out well.

Indeed, little in the way of foreign policy in the Middle East has turned out well for either former President George W. Bush or his successor, Barack Obama. Moreover, Africa has become a new battleground for al Qaeda and a place where Western interests and workers are now attacked, kidnapped, and killed with increasing frequency.

Ambassador Rice’s rise through three administrations will likely culminate with her National Security Council appointment. It is doubtful that the new Secretary of State, John Kerry, or the new Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, will turn out to be in any hurry to intervene anywhere for any reason. No doubt Ambassador Rice will put her finger in the wind and go in whatever direction it blows.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

First, They Came For The Cypriots…

Rule Of Law: Markets tumbled after Cyprus and the EU said they might tax private bank accounts to pay for a bailout. Arbitrary property grabs are a new low and a bad precedent in this crisis. Worse still, it can happen here.

As bad as tumbling markets around the world are, they seem to be the only signal strong enough to catch the attention of Europe’s otherwise unaccountable bureaucrats who have long since learned to ignore street riots.

As stocks fell from Tokyo to New York, Europe’s leaders are scrambling to say they had nothing to do with the cause — the shutdown of all Cyprus banks and ATMs for at least three days and the expropriation of a large chunk of each now-captive account, as a “tax” to pay for Cyprus’ $13 billion EU bailout, Europe’s fifth.

Cyprus Prime Minister Nicos Anastasiades bitterly asserted he had been “blackmailed” by the EU and the International Monetary Fund to go along with the idea on Saturday, or there’d be no bailout. Cyprus’ central bank chief Panicos Demetriades said the same thing.

Aside from the fact that no fiscally responsible country should need a bailout and the roots of Cyprus’ financial crisis is based on long-term big-spending government and low-information voters, the bank shutdown nevertheless sets an ugly precedent rooted in the growing arrogance of EU power.

Until now, tax hikes and haircuts for bond-holders have been how Europe’s bailouts have been handled. (And, among the countries that never want to be in that position again, such as Estonia and Latvia, spending cuts.) At least markets could recognize such solutions and price in the risk accordingly.

But confiscating savings in banks and denying people access to their property without warning is something entirely different — and will do great damage to citizens’ willingness to save, invest and build wealth.

Oh sure, the rationale was that most of the depositors were shady foreigners, particularly from Russia, laundering money. But the photos of Cypriots banging on bank doors and protesting, much as the people of Argentina did when the same thing happened to them in 2002, tells a different story of human suffering.

The expropriation of the tiny country’s savings may have seemed like an easy test case for the EU because the population is small and some of the depositors are rich and unsympathetic, but the blowback will hit savings and investment — and future economic growth — all over Europe.

Worse still, it could catch on here.

Already Congressional Democrats are plotting the expropriation of Americans’ private 401(k) and IRA retirement savings accounts in favor of “a guaranteed income.” If bank accounts can be casually expropriated in Cyprus to pay for big-spending governments and bailouts, there is no reason a nice slice of the $19 trillion in retirement accounts can’t get the same treatment.

If it happens, it will signal the end of individual freedom and the return of feudalism.

Frederick Hayek had a phrase for this: “The Road To Serfdom.” Let’s hope there will be more than just markets to make this state theft of private property stop.

Source: Investor’s Business Daily

Late Update: The Cyrus Banking Crises By the Bear

The financial media is screaming that this was an ill-conceived idea. However, there are no good options as Cypriot banks are effectively insolvent.

Cypriot banks are seven times the nation’s GDP. The government does not have the resources to bail out its banks. Restructuring equity and credit holders will not fix the country’s problems either.

Cypriot banks have long been known as the home of Russian oligarch hot money. It was this hot money that helped the country’s banks rapidly expand, but it also encouraged reckless behavior. The fear from those outside Cyprus was that a simple bailout would not change this reckless behavior. Thus, the proposed tax was intended to drive some of this questionable money away from their banking system. Unfortunately, the confiscation of depositors’ money sets a terrible precedent and is the reason world markets are struggling this morning.


Cyprus Offers Fresh Scare for Investors

Read more at Wall Street Journal

Mohamed El-Erian: What You Should Know About the Cyprus Controversy

Read more at CNBC

SideBear: Could this happen here?

I doubt it because it would mean the collapse of the dollar and the world banking system which would lead to total chaos throughout the world.

What happened in Cyprus was caused by excessive ‘hot money’ that was invested poorly by Cyprus’ bankers (Greece Bonds). And here we have a pile of Fanny and Freddie Mac, $4 trillion dollars of questionable mortgages that caused our financial crises.

Anybody with an ounce of brains and some common sense knows that the USA has been on a spending binge financed by borrowed money and Federal Reserve printing presses.

But here is what I have feared for a long time.

There is one ‘Pot of Gold’ that remains untapped with about $4 trillion dollars in it and that is your retirement accounts. There has been numerous hearings over the past few years in Washington by the politicians on how they can access this money because they have no intentions of curtailing spending.

No matter what plan they come up with I guarantee you that the people will take a haircut, just like those in Cyprus today. Washington has already confiscated your Social Security money and I believe they are only one step away from confiscating your retirement account.

SideBear: This just proves that you don’t need a gun to rob a bank.