Obama’s leap to socialism

Dick Morris

Obama’s leap to socialism
By Dick Morris
Posted: 04/21/09 05:21 PM [ET]
President Obama showed his hand this week when The New York Times wrote that he is considering converting the stock the government owns in our country’s banks from preferred stock, which it now holds, to common stock.

This seemingly insignificant change is momentous. It means that the federal government will control all of the major banks and financial institutions in the nation. It means socialism.

The Times dutifully dressed up the Obama plan as a way to avoid asking Congress for more money for failing banks. But the implications of the proposal are obvious to anyone who cares to look.

When the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) intervention was first outlined by the Bush administration, it did not call for any transfer of stock, of any sort, to the government. The Democrats demanded, as a price for their support, that the taxpayers “get something back” for the money they were lending to the banks. House Republicans, wise to what was going on, rejected the administration’s proposal and sought, instead, to provide insurance to banks, rather than outright cash. Their plan would, of course, not involve any transfer of stock. But Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) undercut his own party’s conservatives and went along with the Democratic plan, ensuring its passage.

But to avoid the issue of a potential for government control of the banks, everybody agreed that the stock the feds would take back in return for their money would be preferred stock, not common stock. “Preferred” means that these stockholders get the first crack at dividends, but only common stockholders can actually vote on company management or policy. Now, by changing this fundamental element of the TARP plan, Obama will give Washington a voting majority among the common stockholders of these banks and other financial institutions. The almost 500 companies receiving TARP money will be, in effect, run by Washington.

And whoever controls the banks controls the credit and, therefore, the economy. That’s called socialism.

Obama is dressing up the idea of the switch to common stock by noting that the conversion would provide the banks with capital they could use without a further taxpayer appropriation. While this is true, it flies in the face of the fact that an increasing number of big banks and brokerage houses are clamoring to give back the TARP money. Goldman-Sachs, for example, wants to buy back its freedom, as do many banks. Even AIG is selling off assets to dig its way out from under federal control. The reason, of course, is that company executives do not like the restrictions on executive pay and compensation that come with TARP money. It is for this reason that Chrysler Motors refused TARP funds.

With bank profits up and financial institutions trying to give back their money, there is no need for the conversion of the government stock from preferred to common — except to advance the political socialist agenda of this administration.

Meanwhile, to keep its leverage over the economy intact, the Obama administration is refusing to let banks and other companies give back the TARP money until they pass a financial “stress test.” Nominally, the government justifies this procedure by saying that it does not want companies to become fully private prematurely and then need more help later on. But don’t believe it. They want to keep the TARP money in the banks so they can have a reason and rationale to control them.

The Times story did not influence the dialogue of the day. People were much more concerned with the death of 21 horses at a polo match. Much as we will miss these noble animals, we will miss our economic freedom more.

Morris, a former adviser to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and President Bill Clinton, is the author of Outrage. To get all of Dick Morris’s and Eileen McGann’s columns for free by e-mail or to order a signed copy of their best-selling book, Fleeced, go to dickmorris.com.

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Israeli intel warns Netanyahu on Obama policy: ‘We have become an obstacle’

Israeli intel warns Netanyahu on Obama policy: ‘We have become an obstacle’

TEL AVIV — A classified assessment relayed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Obama and his senior advisers would incrementally diminish U.S. strategic cooperation with Israel developed over the last 20 years.

“Obama wants to make friends with our worst enemies and until now the worst enemies of the United States,” an Israeli source familiar with the intelligence assessment said.
“Under this policy, we are more than irrelevant. We have become an obstacle.”

[On April 21, Obama said he would meet Netanyahu in Washington as part of revived U.S.-led peace efforts in the Middle East, Middle East Newsline reported. The president said the summit would take place over the next few weeks.] ShareThis

Israeli sources said the administration would reject Israel intelligence on such threats as Iran and Syria while advancing the Obama agenda to reconcile with the two states, both listed as state sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. State Dept.
On April 20, Israeli military intelligence commander Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin warned the Cabinet that Obama was prepared to allow Iran to retain its capability to assemble nuclear weapons and support Hamas and Hizbullah.

“Obama wants to advance the peace process in the direction of realistic discussions with extremist elements,” Yadlin said.

The Israeli intelligence assessment envisioned that Obama would maintain his reconciliation policy with Iran and Syria through at least 2010. The sources said the assessment determined that Obama was convinced that such a policy would enable a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Obama will want to show Iran, Syria and radical Muslims that the United States could pressure Israel on a strategic level,” the source said. “The pressure has already begun and will intensify throughout the next year or two.”

The military intelligence chief said Obama was also courting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Yadlin said both Damascus and Teheran have not significantly reduced their support for insurgency groups throughout the region.

“President Bashar Assad hopes to turn over a new leaf with U.S. President Barack Obama,” Yadlin said. “However, while Western powers are being hosted at the palace in Damascus, Syria is continuing to be used as the back yard of the axis of evil. Assad is letting Hizbullah and Iranian forces freely conduct their affairs in Syria and use its territory for Hizbullah deployment.”

Yadlin said Obama’s policies have generated dismay among Arab allies of the United States. He said Arab countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia were concerned that U.S. reconciliation efforts would merely encourage Teheran and its proxies to intensify destabilization efforts. In April 2009, Egypt reported a Hizbullah network that operated in Cairo and the Sinai Peninsula.

“The Arab world is starting to understand that Iranian proxies are a threat to the region,” Yadlin said. “The Hizbullah activity in Egypt is not an isolated incident. Iran has infrastructures across the world seeking to perpetrate terror attacks against Israel.”

At the same time, the Obama administration was expected to restrict U.S. arms exports to Israel in an effort to deny systems that could be used in any attack against Iran or Syria. The intelligence sources said this policy was implemented during the last year of the Bush administration and would intensify under Obama.

Crazy Times — Crazier Times to Follow A time when nonsense is passed off as wisdom.

April 23, 2009, 0:00 a.m.

Crazy Times — Crazier Times to Follow
A time when nonsense is passed off as wisdom.

By Victor Davis Hanson

We are in a weird age.

Do the smart thing, we were told, and invest in a 401(k) retirement account. Buy into the American dream and own your own home. But lately it seems that those who put their money in low-earning passbook savings accounts or rented rather than buying may have been better off.

Indeed, almost all the old familiar benchmarks of modern American life seem to be going by the wayside.

The blue-chip corporations that were long the brand names of world manufacturing and finance — American International Group, Bank of America, Bear Stearns, Chrysler, Citigroup, General Motors, and Lehman Brothers — are either gone or teetering on insolvency.

The old-guard newspaper industry is fading — the Tribune Company is in bankruptcy court, Hearst at one point threatened to shut down the San Francisco Chronicle, the Rocky Mountain News is already gone. The stock price of the New York Times is worth about the same as its Sunday paper.

Washington is more confusing. Bill Clinton balanced his last budgets but raised taxes. George Bush increased deficits but cut taxes. But now taxes, spending, and deficits soar all at once. We are lectured that prior reckless federal spending and borrowing got us into this mess — but now are told that even more federal spending and borrowing will get us out of it.

We’ve seen housing sales slump when home prices were high but interest rates low. Or when prices were low but interest high. Or when prices and interest were alike high. But we never have seen a bad housing market in which both home prices and mortgage interest rates were low.

Nonsense is passed off as wisdom. Those who caused the financial meltdown walked away with millions in bonuses while taxpayers covered the debts they ran up. The big-spending government claims it may cut our annual $1.7 trillion deficit in half by 2012 — but only after piling up trillions more in national debt.

In our Orwellian world, borrowing to spend what we don’t have has been renamed “stimulus.” Those who pay no federal income taxes — almost half of Americans — can somehow be promised an income tax “cut.” In the new borrowing of trillions of dollars here and trillions there, billions of dollars now sounds like pocket change.

When Americans turn to their political parties for answers, they are even more confused. Populist Democrats such as Sen. Chris Dodd and Pres. Barack Obama took more AIG campaign cash than did pro-business Republicans.

And the list of big-tax liberals who cheated or avoided taxes they want to raise on others is astounding — Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who oversees the Internal Revenue Service; failed Obama Cabinet nominee Tom Daschle; and Rep. Charles Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Yet conservative Republicans during the Bush administration ran up the debt and increased federal spending far more than did liberals under Bill Clinton. A Republican president has not balanced a budget since Dwight Eisenhower did it over a half-century ago.

Abroad, we thought piracy ended with the age of sail — only to learn that the world’s 21st-century navies either will not or cannot sink a few brigands in speedboats. Meanwhile, a U.N. conference against racism showcased Iranian president — and Holocaust-denier — Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spouting anti-Semitic hatred.

The old “bad” unilateral war in Iraq is now quiet; the once “good” multilateral effort in Afghanistan is not. We are warned that we must be careful not to explicitly associate the radical Islam that fueled the September 11 attacks with terrorism; yet, we are advised that we should worry about returning American veterans as potential terrorists.

When our president references the 19th and 20th centuries, he apologizes for American sins but stays silent about the United States’s defeat of the Nazis, fascists, Japanese militarists, and Soviet Communists. The world hears contrition about Americans dropping the bomb to end World War II but never remorse from those responsible for Darfur, Grozny, or Tibet.

There have been a few crazy years like 2009 in American history — 1860, 1929, 1941, and 1968. And given what followed all of them, it might be wise to prepare for even crazier times for us ahead.

— Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal. © 2009 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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