Monday, September 29, 2008

L'Shana Tova Tikatevu

What a year this has been.

Here's wishing all a much better 5769, full of peace, prosperity, good health and many blessings.

Shana Tova!

Friday, September 26, 2008

A hard-charging populist

So neither candidate has distinguished himself so far in his response to the economic crisis. McCain has on more than one occasion jumped the gun and made a few bad calls. He's been obliged to do way too much walking back. Obama, as usual, tries to say and do nothing. It's safe and, sadly, effective. He's rocketing up in the polls.

But now he's trying to take credit for offering solutions to the problem ahead of time. And it's bogus. How far he'll be allowed to go with these claims, I have no idea. The media, after a brief attempt at achieving more balance, now seems to be deeper in the tank for Obama than ever.

In a speech in Florida on Wednesday, Obama took this swipe at McCain:

Now, in the last few days, my opponent has decided to start talking tough about CEO pay. He's suddenly a hard-charging populist. And that's all well and good. But I sure wish he was talking the same way over a year ago, when I introduced a bill that would've helped stop some of the multimillion-dollar bonus packages that CEOs grab on their way out the door. Because he opposed that idea.

Really? If McCain is sounding like a populist, it's hardly the first time and not at all sudden. But let's look at that bill. Obama's referring to S.1181 - the Shareholder Vote on Executive Compensation Act, which he did, in fact, introduce in 2007. It never got out of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee (on which John McCain does not sit). The Congressional Research Service summarized the provisions of that act as follows:

Amends the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to require a proxy, consent, or authorization for a shareholder meeting occurring on or after January 1, 2009, to permit a separate shareholder vote to approve executive compensation.

States that such shareholder vote shall not be binding on the board of directors, nor construed: (1) as overruling a board decision; (2) to create or imply additional fiduciary duty by such board; and (3) to restrict or limit shareholder ability to make proposals for inclusion in proxy materials related to executive compensation.

Requires proxy solicitation material for a shareholder meeting occurring on or after January 1, 2009, concerning disposition of substantially all of an issuer's assets, to disclose compensation agreements or understandings with the principal executive officers of either the issuer or acquiring issuer regarding any type of (golden parachute) compensation which: (1) relates to such disposition; and (2) has not been subject to a shareholder vote.

Provides that proxy solicitation material containing such executive compensation disclosures shall require a separate shareholder vote to approve such agreements or understandings.

States that such shareholder vote shall not be binding on the board of directors, nor construed: (1) as overruling a board decision; (2) to create or imply additional fiduciary duty by such board; and (3) to constrain shareholder ability to make proposals for inclusion in proxy materials related to executive compensation.

So his bill would have required a non-binding shareholder vote on golden parachute compensation agreements where a company was going belly up (but not in other cases and only after 1/1/09). (A number of companies have already adopted such measures voluntarily, BTW.) Gee, yeah, that would have gone a long way toward stopping those multi-million dollar bonus packages. Not.

BTW, there's no evidence whatsoever that McCain "opposed the idea." He didn't sponsor the bill, true. Neither did 91 other senators. Politifact (which glosses over the huge gap between what the legislation would actually do and what Obama now claims it would have done) called the Obama campaign to pin that one down. They obviously weren't satisfied with the answer.

Neither was that the end of his disingenuous attacks and distortion of McCain's record in that speech alone. Unfortunately, the full text appears to have vanished from the web (for the moment at least), but there's enough of it here to catch the drift.

I expect more of the same in the debate tonight.

Shabbat Shalom.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Leaving the left

It's been a long time since I linked Caroline Glick, and for some pretty good reasons, but I'm breaking the ban today, for some equally good reasons. In this column, she sums up, in excruciatingly accurate detail, the incredible imbicility of the dis-invitation of Sarah Palin to yesterday's anti-Iran rally in New York, the mindset of Jewish Democrats and the Democratic Party in general. And in so doing, she also sums up something else: the reasons why, after a lifetime of hanging out in those circles, I have ultimately left the left.

American Jews have good reason to be ashamed and angry today. As Iran moves into the final stages of its nuclear weapons development program - nuclear weapons which it will use to destroy the State of Israel, endanger Jews around the world and cow the United States of America - Democratic American Jewish leaders decided that putting Sen. Barack Obama in the White House is more important than protecting the lives of the Jewish people in Israel and around the world.

On Monday, the New York Sun published the speech that Republican vice presidential nominee and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin would have delivered at that day's rally outside UN headquarters in New York against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and against Iran's plan to destroy Israel. She would have delivered it, if she hadn't been disinvited.

[ ... ]

The lives of 6 million Jews in Israel are today tied to the fortunes of those [Iranian] women, to the fortunes of American forces in Iraq, to the willingness of Americans across the political and ideological spectrum to recognize that there is more that unifies them than divides them and to act on that knowledge to defeat the forces of genocide, oppression, hatred and destruction that are led today by the Iranian regime and personified in the brutal personality of Ahmadinejad. But Jewish Democrats chose to ignore this basic truth in order to silence Palin.

They should be ashamed. The Democratic Party should be ashamed. And Jewish American voters should consider carefully whether opposing a woman who opposes the abortion of fetuses is really more important than standing up for the right of already born Jews to continue to live and for the Jewish state to continue to exist. Because this week it came to that.

Please read every word. That's only the beginning and the end. There's so much more in between.

And if you haven't yet read the text of Palin's intended speech, please do that too.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Brief thoughts

Are we glad this week is over or what? I really don't even want to talk about it. So, briefly.

Stanley Fischer, Governor of the Bank of Israel, says Israel's banks are "doing well." I imagine they are, but does this look like a happy camper to you?

The DJIA ended the week just a few dozen points below where it started. Of course that was only due to heroic measures. Will they work? Who knows?

As for Sarah Palin's disinvitation to Monday's anti-Ahmadinejad rally in New York, please read Soccer Dad. The priorities of the liberal Jewish organizations in this country are just totally screwed up. We should throw them all under the bus. Except that, well, they've got too many people brainwashed and befuddled and, somehow, we need to keep trying to reach out to those people and help them. (Ok, yes, I do know how condescending that sounds. I'm in a mood.)

Meanwhile, I think McCain probably made a mistake jumping on the Franklin Raines thing. It's just flimsy at this point and it gives his detractors a solid peg to hang their accusations of bad campaign tactics on. Just saying. There's so much more important stuff out there.

Like this (followed up with this), for instance. This campaign in getting more bizarre every day.

Hey. It's that time.

Shabbat Shalom.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Speaking of things changing in a New York minute, how about this? The Intrade Predictions for the Presidential race now favor John McCain over Barack Obama by three points. The Real Clear Politics Electoral map today shows Obama leading by one (1) electoral vote with 105 still up for grabs. Suddenly, even that massive Democratic victory in the upcoming Congressional elections is looking dubious. Whodathunk?

Of course, this can all change tomorrow. How much of it is due to the Sarah Palin phenomenon and how much to Obama fatigue, it's hard to say. The former may well burn itself out (but maybe not) and the latter could reverse course. The media, of course, will play a part, but it's unclear what that will be, as well. The partisanship and blatant lack of objectivity by the major networks appear to be wearing thin. Will they pull back or will they just completely lose the people's trust? And if they lose it, where will people go?

There's that saying about counting your chickens. Those of us supporting the Republican ticket shouldn't get to cocky.

Still, two essays I read this week pretty well bookmarked this issues that I believe define this race. The first, by Fouad Ajami at the WSJ, addresses the differences between the candidates on foreign policy and American's role in the world. The second, by Newt Gingrich and Peter Ferrara at The Weekly Standard, addresses the economy. Both excellent must-reads.

But all that serious stuff aside, in the end this election just may turn out to come down to one word. Lipstick. Imagine that.

Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven years gone


Do we still remember?

I sure hope so. I know I do.

Charles Johnson has invited his readers to share their memories of that day over at Little Green Footballs. If you're registered there, you can chime in. If not, there are over 500 personal stories to read, each one unique, many of them quite inspiring.

Friday, September 5, 2008

What's up?

TS Hanna is headed this way. Tomorrow promises to be wet and windy. The wet, we really desperately need. Hopefully, it will come in gradually. Torrential downpours on this parched ground could be a real disaster.

Not nearly the disaster, of course, that Gustav could have been. There's a blessing we say after the aversion of disaster, praising God who (paraphrased) bestows favors on the undeserving, and has shown every kindness. Roger that.

Disasters loom in many places and in many forms, though. I see good old President Shimon Peres made the headlines again today, announcing his opposition to the use of military force against Iran. He's convinced the world will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. He wants to sit down to tea with them and chat about it. And, while he's at it, he wants to chat with Bashar Assad about giving back the Golan. Because this negotiating thing has worked so well for him (and for Israel) in the past.

McCain's speech. It wasn't bad. It could have been worse. It went too long for the substance it contained. Oh, look. I didn't like it. Sue me. McCain gives lousy speeches. He can, OTOH, be very good extemporaneously. In those respects, he's the polar opposite of Obama. He did a great job at Saddleback. I think he'll do well in the debates, and the less scripted, the better.

Sarah's speech ... awesome. There are, as I've said elsewhere, a lot of things I don't agree with her views on, but I'll have to process that over the next few weeks. For some reason, the thought of her as VP doesn't scare me one bit.

Finally, I want to give a shout out to Meryl, a huge mazal tov on her move and her homeownership and may she enjoy her new condo in most excellent health.

Shabbat Shalom.