Economy Education Middle East



A variety of must reads below:


Yesterday’s New York Times Magazine ran a very smart feature article by Joe Nocera about those gee-whiz risk management theorems we heard so much about during the early days of the financial meltdown. Here’s how it opens:

THERE AREN’T MANY widely told anecdotes about the current financial crisis, at least not yet, but there’s one that made the rounds in 2007, back when the big investment banks were first starting to write down billions of dollars in mortgage-backed derivatives and other so-called toxic securities. This was well before Bear Stearns collapsed, before Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were taken over by the federal government, before Lehman fell and Merrill Lynch was sold and A.I.G. saved, before the $700 billion bailout bill was rushed into law. Before, that is, it became obvious that the risks taken by the largest banks and investment firms in the United States — and, indeed, in much of the Western world — were so excessive and foolhardy that they threatened to bring down the financial system itself. On the contrary: this was back when the major investment firms were still assuring investors that all was well, these little speed bumps notwithstanding — assurances based, in part, on their fantastically complex mathematical models for measuring the risk in their various portfolios.

There are many such models, but by far the most widely used is called VaR — Value at Risk. Built around statistical ideas and probability theories that have been around for centuries, VaR was developed and popularized in the early 1990s by a handful of scientists and mathematicians — “quants,” they’re called in the business — who went to work for JPMorgan

Read the rest: [The art’s particularly good too.]



Sunday’s LA Times and New York Times both featured opinion pieces that rationalize the staggeringly disproportionate bombings of Gaza by advancing the theory that Israel really isn’t fighting the Palestinians or even Hamas, that the real target is Iran.

First here’s a clip from the LA Times Op Ed by Yossi Klein Halevi and Michael B. Oren:

The images from the fighting in Gaza are harrowing but ultimately deceptive. They portray a mighty invading army, one equipped with F-16 jets that have bombed a civilian population defended by a few thousand fighters armed with primitive rockets. But widen the lens and the true nature of this conflict emerges. Hamas, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, is a proxy for the real enemy Israel is confronting: Iran. And Israel’s current operation against Hamas represents a unique chance to deal a strategic blow to Iranian expansionism.

(I’m sure it’s comforting for the loved ones of the dead to know that those killed are merely proxies, and “deceptive” ones, at that.)

Then over at the NY Times, Bill Kristol doesn’t bother with civilian deaths—“deceptive” or otherwise—as he babbles with breathtaking lack of anything resembling human concern about how Israel will succeed in Gaza:

An Israeli success in Gaza would be a victory in the war on terror — and in the broader struggle for the future of the Middle East. Hamas is only one manifestation of the rise, over the past few decades, of a terror-friendly and almost death-cult-like form of Islamic extremism. The combination of such terror movements with a terror-sponsoring and nuclear-weapons-seeking Iranian state (aided by its sidekick Syria) has produced a new kind of threat to Israel.

But not just to Israel. To everyone in the Middle East — very much including Muslims — who aren’t interested in living under the sway of extremist regimes. And to any nation, like the United States, that is a target of Islamic terror.

It always makes the collateral damage so much less…you know….damage-y if one can simply monsterize the enemy as other with terms like “almost death-cult-like” and “terror-friendly.”

PS: By comparison, the editorial from today’s Haaretz takes a much saner tone and urges the Israeli government to listen to French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s recommendation of a “lull” in the fighting. The Haaretz editors point out that more days of attack “…and hundreds more dead on the Palestinian side will not enhance Israeli deterrence; it will only undermine the political and moral basis of the operation.”



This last is not really a must read. Instead, the LA Times article by Charles Koppelman falls more into the category of a much welcomed and pleasant read, coming as it does on the same day that we read that our lousy fiscal climate may drive the California Universities to accept fewer than usual deserving in-state students because the UCs need the bucks provided by the higher ticket out-of-state tuition that non-California students are required to pay.

Koppelman’s article profiles the Colburn Conservatory of Music, a world class music performance school located across from Disney Hall in downtown Los Angeles, which takes students based simply on talent and merit and charges…..nada, nothing, zip, zero for tuition. The late businessman Richard Colburn made the tuition-free school possible, with ongoing support from the Colburn Foundation.

Anyway, it’s a nice piece. Read the rest here.


  • These OpEds are exactly right, not “justifications” — but of course Celeste and reg are exactly the kinds of leftists that Hamas and their Iranian (allegedly also Syrian and other radical extremist) patrons can count on to justify their own behavior and condemn Israel, without context. Maybe they’d feel differently if the gangbangers they champion actually started shelling Hancock Park or the westside and blowing up schcols, churches, police stations and malls with heroic suicide bombers (they’d be less likely to reach as far as Topanga, so maybe this still wouldn’t register).

    That’s as far as I’ll bother to go here, having made my points on an earlier thread, and made it clear I’m far from a blind Israeli sympathizer. And I don’t dispute that this timing has something to do with the upcoming Israeli elections but, unlike the self-righteous leftist yammerings of the likes of Rosa Brooks (who found the Clintons way too right-wing for her tastes and used her LATimes column for endless hit pieces on Hillary) I don’t think this action is being undertaken primarily to appease the voting public; it’s something that many feel is long overdue. (There’s an 80% approval rating for this action.)

    This does NOT mean that the NYT or any other commenter is “heartless” — take that one to Hamas, which regards the Palestinians as expendible, and has made no attempt to keep children out of harm’s way, in fact, uses them for just this sort of PR fallout as well as for suicide bombers.

    Let’s keep in mind too that as recently as November, the Egyptian government, acting as mediator, strongly urged Hamas to join in a coalition government with Farah, because then, Israel could have no justification for attacking them and NOT negotiating with them in good faith. But Hamas refused to give up its goal of destroying Israel, and gambled on turning public opinion against Israel and more moderate Arab governments by provoking an all-out war.

  • Also in today’s LATimes, a propos the possibility of reducing spaces to in-state residents at UC to make room for more lucrative out-of-state students, Anna Gorman reports that the State Supreme Court has agreed to take up the issue of whether illegal immigrants should continue to receive in-state tuition while citizens from other states are charged the much higher fee since, it’s being argued, illegals are actually foreign nationals. This is allegedly illegal under federal law. A number of other states are looking on “with interest” as 8 or so have similar laws favoring illegals over out-of-state US citizens. In this financial crisis, it’s just another aspect of the same big picture.

    (My personal take on it is, that illegals are NOT guaranteed an expensive education at our expense, and since even legal residents often must opt for community college for financial reasons, there’s no “right” to a UC or UC State education for them. But maybe they can continue to receive in-state tuition at some uncrowded community colleges where they’re not taking space away from legal residents. Community colleges offer a very respectable education. MAYBE there can be some program where students who do extremely well at CC and are enrolled in programs deemed to be in demand (like nursing) are eligible for scholarships/ in-state to 4-year universities, for their remaining 2 years.)

  • WBC with her head up her ass again warbles;

    “Maybe they’d feel differently if the gangbangers they champion actually started shelling Hancock Park or the westside and blowing up schcols, churches, police stations and malls with heroic suicide bombers (they’d be less likely to reach as far as Topanga, so maybe this still wouldn’t register).”

    WBC, wouldn’t this kind of delusional statement be referred to as kneejerk reactionary, xenophobic, and obviously paranoid?
    Maybe you should spend more time locked in your panic room.

  • The NY Times Magazine article is very good. I recommend Taleb’s book “Black Swan,” although he is the worst writer I have ever encountered. However, you can still get the ideas from the book.

    The fundamental problem with the risk models was their statistical assumption of independent events. In other words, they treated the risk of, let’s say, a default on Fred’s mortgage as being independent of a default by Sarah. In general, that approach works pretty well, except for the inevitable systemic shifts.

    It is important to recognize that this weakness in Wall Street’s securitization of mortgages was not the cause of the mortgage meltdown, but rather served as an amplifier of the consequences.

    One of the biggest causes of the problem was the change in mortgage banking. In the past, the issuer of the loan was the servicer of the loan. This mean the issuer had an incentive to balance risk and reward.

    With the push on banks to loan to high risk buyers (Community Reinvestment Act), and the willingness of the government-backed but profit driven Frannies, banks and others were able to lend mortgage money, and then sell that debt to others (securitizing it). This created a “moral hazard” – now it was in the mortgage originator’s interest to make risky loans, because they didn’t suffer the risk.

    Once financial institutions figured out the money to be made doing this, sub-prime mortgages accelerated dramatically. They realized they could use the same approach with non-low-income borrowers, and make more money. This led to a predictable bubble, with speculators (usually individuals buying beyond their means or buying a second house to “flip”).

    The amazing thing was how few saw the collapse of this house of cards coming. Most of Wall Street was caught totally by surprise, even though Taleb and a few others had been warning about it for a while.

    All in all, an interesting case of herd psychology, greed, government intervention and incompetence… Quite the mess.

  • Anyone who cites the Community Reinvestment Act as a culprit in this context doesn’t have a clue what they’re talking about. A very small percentage of insitutions involved in the mortgage meltdown were covered by CRA and loans that were under CRA performed better than average.

    This is a racist “blame liberals” meme that rightwing morons have concocted from whole cloth . Take that shit elsewhere.

  • Anyone who denies the impact of the CRA (and it’s enhancements in the ’90s) has no clue about the genesis of this crisis. In the Clinton years, the CRA became a quota system, under which mortgage lenders were required to make a certain number of loans in high risk areas.

    The resulting increased risk forced vendors into issuing derivatives where the risks could be tranched and thus balanced. The Clinton-era deregulation of CDS’s greatly increased the ability of the financial institution to do this – until that change, CDS’s were regulated as gambling. This should give one a bit of a clue, since CDS’s are what exploded the worlds financial markets once housing prices made their natural retrenchment.

    However, ultimately, the biggest enabler was Frannie policies (government encouraged and protected) and their enablement by the Fed.

    The CRA is far from the only cause. But it is a cause and to deny it is to deny reality.

  • False. Really not much more to be said. You’re blowing nonsenes out of your ass you heard on crackpot talk radio shows.

  • False on CRA. Wildly overblown on placing Fannie Mae as the “enabler” because Fannie got on the bandwagon once it was quite far down the road. The stuff about deregulation is fairly accurate.

    You’re pretty much an ideologue blowing smoke when you discuss this. But that’s true whenever your lips move, so what’s new.

  • reg, you don’t know what you’re talking about regarding the impact of CRA and government blackmail on banks, Fannie Mae, etc. And, your telling people who mention it to “shut-up” is the best that you can do, but it’s not a legitimate argument.

    The CRA not only ruined banks, but it ruined families who were encouraged to buy houses that they couldn’t afford. The Democrats are to blame for that mess.

  • You guys are idiots. Really. Just spouting totally baseless bullshit. Show me some evidence, some facts that support this wingnuttery – Sean Hannity, Limbaugh or the like mouthing off on meth or whatever it is that keeps them going doesn’t count.

  • On the other subject of this thread, I just want to say for the record that I detest Hama and if I could push a button and kill all of their leaders and core militants, I wouldn’t hesitate. It would be a service to everyone in the region. That said, I don’t see how this operation makes any sense strategically, nor do I see how the Israelis can escape their part in the culpability for the current mess based on their own behavior over decades. I also believe that the Palestinian leadership has been bankrupt politically and strategically almost from Day One. But the reality is that, partly by Israel’s own hand, Hamas has become the elected representives of Gaza if not the entire Palestinian entity. Don’t have a way down from this precipice. Apparently neither does anyone else. This operation isn’t the answer to the problem. Maybe there isn’t one. If I did have a solution I’d be on my way to Stockholm to pick up the Nobel Prize. Better yet, the book deal !!!

    And if I were Palestinian I would NOT, as Ehud Barak the Israeli Prime Minister state unequivocally he would (!), “join a fighting organization.” I would counsel and work for – probably futilely – a massive nonviolent reisistance among Palestinans and any Israeli friends they could muster to be conducted relentlessly on both sides of the occupation borders. This wouldn’t immediately solve the problem, but years of persistent nonviolent reisistance would undermine, ultimately, the very notion of an exclusive Zionist state ( which I don’t support on an ideological level any more than I support Hamas. The de facto right of Israelis to peace and security in the context of a regional settlement – which is their only hope to live normal lives – I do support.)

    It’s worthwhile to keep in perspective the fact that a sudden bout of sanity and moderation on the part of the Palestinian political leadership would be a disaster for the hardline Zionists. Maybe most Israelis want to climb down from the cliff at this point, because the outlook for simply suppressing the Palestinians is so unlikely – but history matters, and I’m not even talking about 1948. The 30 years of occupation and the continuing blockade of Gaza by the Israeli military have had an effect. It’s almost a cliche that the Palestinians are their own worst enemies at this point, but the ideology and practice of the Israelis has been roughly (I’ll avoid the term “equally” so as not to bring down the “moral equivalence” police) as detrimental to achieving a peaceful and equitable resolution over the years. And the Israelis have also been their own worst enemies in their fairly consistent humiliation of the Palestinians, most obviously with the settlements policy enabled at the highest levels of government.

    It’s not simply a story of the evil Palestinians walking away from a friendly, outstretched hand so that they could commit murder and mayhem. Not even close.

  • reg, you are asking for documentation regarding CRA and government regulatory blackmail of banks that is easily researched, that has been presented to you by me before, and that is excellent. Asking for it repeatedly is not an argument. Lending institutions cannot take the large write-offs of mortgage defaults that CRA created without forcing a near collapse.

    You and other liberals refuse to admit that your policies created the financial crisis.

    – – –

    Celeste: …our lousy fiscal climate may drive the California Universities to accept fewer than usual deserving in-state students because the UCs need the bucks provided by the higher ticket out-of-state tuition that non-California students are required to pay.

    Why does California allow illegal immigrants to pay the same thing as in-state students and less than legal students from other states? Do you think that might be an issue for the budget? California should give legal in-state students and legal out-of-state students preference over illegals rather than the way it is now.

  • You need to reference something other than the smoke blowing out of your ass..

    Nuthin. Nuthin. Nuthin.

    Sane folks shut up when they’re looking as stupid and empty as you are.

  • Tonight’s anti-Israeli, pro-Palestinian march in front of the Israeli Consulate on Wilshire Blvd. (which is shutting down that busy blvd. during rush-hour all the way from Fairfax to San Vicente, even as we speak, and looks pretty raucous) is being organized by AnswerLA, as is the similar protest this weekend in Westwood at the Federal Bldg. (They will be leading a march on the Pentagon on March 6th, to protest the 6th anni of the “invasion of Iraq.”)

    Their website also claims to have organized the No on 8 rally in SilverLake in November (and participated actively in all the others), which helps explain the curious comments I’ve seen on a number of blogs linking these 2 issues, as in, “how can a mayor that supports civil rights for gays have come out in favor of the Zionist, fascist Israel?” Still it seems a somewhat surprising conflation of issues since Jews are among the most liberal demographic, probably the most actively “anti-homophobic” hetero group and voted more than 3/4 against 8.

    These protests are likely to continue to disrupt traffic and require lots of police presence for some time to come. There’s no doubt this is a PR nightmare for Israel, but as I’ve opined, I think it’s irrefutable that Hamas provoked Israel into this war on purpose (instead of allying with Fatah as Egypt urged, to cut the ground out from under any rightwing Jews who may also have been opposed to the peace process), and in fact drove Fatah out of Gaza. (I actually agree that Israel has committed its share of errors over the years, and that Sharon’s election set the process back significantly — I was in the West Bank in ’94 right after the PLO gained control of the region and there was palpable optimism on BOTH sides, from the vast majority of Palestinians as well, who hoped their lives would normalize, that their businesses would attract tourists to the Holy Land, etc. — I have only the warmest memories of many of these people, some of whom were extremely articulate and showed typical Arabic warmth to visitors.)

    But Hamas leaders are using their own women and children as human cannon fodder, e.g. the leader-cum- “professor” killed last week along with his 4 wives and some dozen kids. Local Israeli Consul confirms that when the IDF called him to warn his house would be targeted to urge them to leave, he instead ordered the whole family to the roof to await their inevitable fate — his eldest son died as a suicide bomber/ “martyr” and he clearly chose for all of them to follow suit.

    When you’re dealing with people like this, you’re not dealing with a rational opposition. The photos are, as Hamas hoped, bad for the Israeli side, and while I don’t think rational people should fall for their tactic of making themselves seem the victim, Israel needs to understand that all many Muslims around the world are seeing/ hearing are the anti-Israeli pictures/spins, and this situation is backfiring against them and the U. S. Their best bet it to re-engage some moderate Arabs like Egypt or Jordan along with Fatah, and hope that someone on Hamas’ side will finally sit down to talk rationally.

  • reg: Sane folks shut up….

    Sane folks…a topic totally unfamiliar to reg.

    reg, it’s not too hard to go back and read references that I previously gave you, if you really wanted to learn or admit the truth.

  • A propos my final sentiment in 21, French Pres Sarkozy tried in vain to get Assad (jr.) of Syria to get Hamas to sit down and talk while they stopped firing from their end and he’d do the same with Israel, but Assad unfortunately refused. As a liberal European Jew representing a country typically more sympathetic to the Palestinians, I hope Sarkozy doesn’t give up his attempts to mediate or at least find some mediators.

  • Uh WBC, although your expertise on the causes of the Israeli invasion and massacre of the Palestinians is appreciated, I would think that expressing sentiments and misleading facts about certain “player’s” (France’s Sarkozy), in this drama might lead one to consider you biased or off base.

    ” As a liberal European Jew representing a country typically more sympathetic to the Palestinians”

    It is true that Sarkozy’s maternal grandfather was from a Jewish background (although the family converted to Catholicism generations ago), but Sarkozy was Baptised and raised in a strict Roman Catholic household.
    His father’s family were wealthy aristocratic Hungarian Protestants and Catholics who emigrated to France after the Red Army “liberated” Hungary from the Nazi’s.
    And Sarkozy is anything but a “Liberal” politically, he comes from a wealthy, conservative, anti Socialist, background (his brother is head of “Global Group Operations” for the very capitalist “Carlyle Group”).
    Sarkozy was the president of the UNP, the very conservative French political party and ran for the French Presidency as UNP candidate against the Socialist Party’s candidate Segalene Royal.
    Hardly Liberal or Jewish.

    WBC, a little advice, blanket statements and generalizations based on incorrect popular thought can taint your whole argument and the opinions you express.

  • reg, what’s pathetic is that your arguments consist of nothing more than telling people to shut-up along with more colorful words. The information is there. It has been provided to you previously. There’s no reason to continue asking for it except to claim that it doesn’t exist, which you know is a lie. High finance just goes over your head.

  • Not to address anything the infamous Don Quackers says, but a conservative in France is relatively liberal here; a liberal there is more likely called a socialist here. AS for the rest of it, getting corrections on the fine points of European heritage, I’m not going to take advice from someone known in blogs all over town as an “Eastside cholo apologist.” Take that or leave it. (Sarkozy’s paternal lineage is usually defined as Jewish, which is how he’s considered by Europeans regardless of whether or not he converted — I can say from my own European lineage that it’s the case that even if someone converts, but has a Jewish/ Catholic etc. ancestor going back even 200 years, that they’re still always known via their ancestral lineage. Still to what you know, however limited that is.)

  • Not to address anything the infamous Don Quackers says, but a conservative in France is relatively liberal here; a liberal there is more likely called a socialist here. AS for the rest of it, getting corrections on the fine points of European heritage, I’m not going to take advice from someone known in blogs all over town as an “Eastside cholo apologist.” Take that or leave it. (Sarkozy’s maternal lineage is usually defined as Jewish, which is how he’s considered by Europeans regardless of whether or not they converted — I can say from my own European lineage that it’s the case that even if someone converts, but has a Jewish/ Catholic etc. ancestor going back even 200 years, that they’re still always known via their ancestral lineage, as “those Catholics who converted to Protestant.” Stick to what you know, however limited that is.)

  • OOPS — When I tried to post got a “blog host exceeded space” message: PLS. DELETE 29 NOT 30, as that one has some errors corrected in the 2nd post.

  • More:

    In particular note this: “…it is hard to blame CRA for the mortgage meltdown when CRA doesn’t even apply to most of the loans that are behind it. As the University of Michigan’s Michael Barr points out, half of sub-prime loans came from those mortgage companies beyond the reach of CRA. A further 25 to 30 percent came from bank subsidiaries and affiliates, which come under CRA to varying degrees but not as fully as banks themselves. (With affiliates, banks can choose whether to count the loans.) Perhaps one in four sub-prime loans were made by the institutions fully governed by CRA.

    “Most important, the lenders subject to CRA have engaged in less, not more, of the most dangerous lending. Janet Yellen, president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve, offers the killer statistic: Independent mortgage companies, which are not covered by CRA, made high-priced loans at more than twice the rate of the banks and thrifts. “

  • LOL! “The Deal!?” What a joke…and, it’s source was a government political appointee trying to save his rear-end and saying what he better say. Plus, the article totally ignores the regulatory pressure on banks to conform to CRA standards if they wanted their mergers, etc.

    Next, the left-wing “The American Progress”- from last April?! What a white-wash of the liberal mess. Even Bill Clinton admitted that the CRA was the problem.

    You’re quite selective in your sources and unwilling to even admit that you’ve seen counter-arguments. Liberals write whatever they think backs up their positions and conveniently leave out all of the facts.

    Bloomberg: How the Democrats Created the Financial Crisis

    The CRA, ACORN, Democrats, and Obama…what a team for financial disaster.

    This site only allows one link at a time, so go to the next post for foresight on the problem.

  • My follow-up comment was wiped out by a glitch in posting it, and I’m not going to re-write it. So, here’s a link, and you can read it yourself, the whole thing…if it’s not too technical. It provides foresight of the CRA problem that we have today.

    The Trillion-Dollar Bank Shakedown That Bodes Ill for CitiesWinter, 2000

    The Clinton administration has turned the Community Reinvestment Act, a once-obscure and lightly enforced banking regulation law, into one of the most powerful mandates shaping American cities—and, as Senate Banking Committee chairman Phil Gramm memorably put it, a vast extortion scheme against the nation’s banks. Under its provisions, U.S. banks have committed nearly $1 trillion for inner-city and low-income mortgages and real estate development projects, most of it funneled through a nationwide network of left-wing community groups, intent, in some cases, on teaching their low-income clients that the financial system is their enemy and, implicitly, that government, rather than their own striving, is the key to their well-being.

    Looking into the future gives further cause for concern: “The bulk of these loans,” notes a Federal Reserve economist, “have been made during a period in which we have not experienced an economic downturn.” The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America’s own success stories make you wonder how much CRA-related carnage will result when the economy cools.

    Conclusion: You’re an idiot, reg.

  • WBC on Nazi racial eugenics and political science,

    “I’m not going to take advice from someone known in blogs all over town as an “Eastside cholo apologist.” Take that or leave it. (Sarkozy’s maternal lineage is usually defined as Jewish, which is how he’s considered by Europeans regardless of whether or not they converted — I can say from my own European lineage that it’s the case that even if someone converts, but has a Jewish/ Catholic etc. ancestor going back even 200 years, that they’re still always known via their ancestral lineage, as “those Catholics who converted to Protestant”

    Say Whaaat?

    So WBC, a Liberal here is a Conservative there, and a Liberal there (France), is a Socialist here, and a Conservative there is, is a what here? So even if Sarkozy is a member of the right wing in France he’s really a Liberal? Oh.

    And so even if Sarkozy and his family have been baptized Roman Catholics forever, and even if his paternal family were Protestant and Catholic Hungarians going back as far as anyone knows, and even if his Mother’s family were French, Greek, Spanish, Catholics, the fact that Sarkozy’s maternal Great Grandfather was a Jew who converted to Catholicism, then makes Sarkozy a Jew?
    Oh now it all makes sense, Huh?

    Calling Dr. Mengele! Calling Dr. Mengele!

  • No Woody. You’re the idiot because I’ve offered clear evidence that the loans fared better than the subprimes that caused the meltdown. Your 9 year old bit of bullcrap doesn’t cut it.

    You are the stupidest, most innane piece of crap gracing these comment threads.

  • Sarkozy is proud of his Jewish heritage and much was made of it when he became Pres, as breaking a barrier — too bad you think it’s something to hide. Why don’t you go back to what you can comment on, Don Quackers — like offering to give us your abuelita’s recipe for menudo, as you do often enough on many a blog. We need to hear more about your upbringing with the cholos, too, and don’t forget the mayates and the rest.

  • In fact, Sarkozy’s maternal grandfather was a Sephardic Jew living in a Jewish community in Greece (their family had fled the Spanish Inquisition) but when he moved to France, his bride’s family insisted on his converting to Catholicism — this didn’t prevent them, Sarkozy’s grandparents, from being regarded as Jewish during WWII and they had to go into hiding; 57 of their family members died at the hands of the Nazis either in Greece or in France. This is very much part of his history and forms his identification with his Jewish heritage; that and the fact that his father was an immigrant who was granted citizenship only by joining the French Foreign Legion (he’d escaped from the Russians as they advanced into Hungary) makes him very much a double outsider and hence a novelty in cliquish, ancestry-defined upper-class France — almost as radical a change as Obama was here to the Blue Book set. (Not that you’d know what that means.) This, grafted onto the French historical identification with the Arabic peoples of N. Africa from Algeria to Morocco to Lebanon, definitely gives him a unique sympathy and rapport with moderate Arabic leaders. Which he is using to good effect, hopefully with the desired result of a ceasefire allowing time to negotiate a first step at least towards a deal… Now go away, Don Quackers, go haunt someone who cares.

  • reg, you read what you want, play with statistics which omit key data, ignore a more thorough analysis of the entire mortgage problem related to CRA and government coercion of banks, and refuse to admit that those things impacted the mortgage crisis. People saw it coming for years and warned about it–including Bush and McCain. The Democrats with Barney Frank in the lead blocked reform.

    You’re a complete psycho.

  • With vitriol, racism and xenophobia dripping from her lips WBC stands by her absurd statements:
    “France’s President Sarkozy is a Liberal European Jew”

    WBC then instructs us “Eastside Cholo’s” (of Mexican American Heritage),”Mayate’s” (derogatory term for African Americans), and the rest of the great unwashed, on her continued quest for Nazi eugenics and racial theories, insisting still that even though three generations of Sarkozy’s family are non Jewish Europeans from wealthy aristocratic French and Hungarian descendents the fact that one wealthy aristocratic Grandfather who had no affinity or loyalty to his Jewish roots and who (despite WBC’s claims of forced conversion), voluntarily and non-chalantly converted to Catholicism when marrying Sarkozys Grandmother, who was from another wealthy aristocratic Parisian family.
    No one is saying that Sarkozy is or should be in denial about his Grandfather’s Jewish Heritage or his wealthy aristocratic Conservative family history, but it is a big stretch from this to WBC’s absurd claim of Sarkozy being “A Liberal European Jew”.

    Do these statements by Sarkozy, while meeting with the Catholic Pope sound like something from a Jewish Liberal?

    The British Independent News, Sept 13,2008

    “The President – although not a regularly practising Catholic and twice divorced – generated heated debate in December when he suggested that religious, especially Catholic values, should be part of political life. Since 1905, France has maintained a strict separation of church and state.”

    Maybe WBC, like the Nazi racial and ethnic purist’s of Hitlers time, conduct an investigation to determine whether Sarkozy has been circumsized in a bris milah.

    WBC = Dr Mengele cloned!

  • Celeste, I hope you realize that your encouraging this imbecilic gangbanger-apologist annoyance DQ to become a regular commenter has earned you some, er, doubt as to your judgment and veracity in general, incl. when it comes to causes near and dear to your heart, like Fr. Doyle’s Homeboy Industries? The tactics of this creature are to try to slime with his ignorance and verbose eastside xenophobia anyone who sees through him — happens pretty much everywhere he lands.

  • WBC, is this it? Is this all you have to say for yourself? You a xenophobic, pedantic, who when she has no argument or comeback after making ridiculous vitriolic statements, and is called out, reverts to whining and yelling she sprained her ankle.
    WBC, stick to the topic and quit pissing backwards.

    “Sarkozy is a Liberal Jew”, ain’t that what you said?

  • Don Quackers, besides being the general bane of the blogs everything I and the blogosphere ever learned about mayates, gavachos, your abuelito’s menudo, shades of meztizos, proud ancestral claims to Spanish heritage of the Conquistadors from 500 years ago or to Indian-enslaving fincas of Old California (why you call yourself a “Don?”) and the rest, we learned from you, although I recall the “Ask A Mexican” blog touched on this stuff with a bit less idiocy — transferring your xenophobia to Europe of which you know nothing, is beyond stupid.

    Maybe you can ask a citizen of France or Scotland or Germany to explain to you the intricacies of Mexican society and its hierarchies — that would certainly make your sense than your presuming to do the reverse. Pick up a Jewish paper now and then, too, and meanwhile, as our illustriously eloquent co-commenter reg says, STFU.

  • WBC, your continuing racism and xenophobia exceeds even your diminishing mental prowess.

    And thanks for the tip, next time I happen to run into a European I’ll be sure and ask them about the Mexican culture, of course, what this has to do with your Nazi eugenics philosophy on history,religion, politics, and genetics is a subject more suited for Dr. Freud.

    “Sarkozy is a Liberal European Jew” my, my, my, such vitriol and confusion.

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