Maurizio – Omnologos

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Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama

Why Lehman’s Failure Was The Right Move

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Millions of gallons of ink must have been consumed in the neverending discussions about the “disaster” represented by the US Government’s decision to let Lehman Brothers fail and disappear. Andrew Ross Sorkin on today’s IHT agrees:

With hindsight, many in the financial industry blame a deepening of the global financial crisis on the government’s decision to let Lehman crumble

I disagree with that analysis, for two very simple reasons. When Lehman was allowed to go bankrupt, a signal was sent to all, saying that not everybody will be rescued. This was in direct contrast with the Japanese Government’s decadal efforts to prop up every financial institution under its watch (that’s why those efforts lasted for a decade or even more).

More importantly, the failure of Lehman Brothers showed everybody what the failure of “just a bank” may mean, with innumerable, overwhelmingly negative consequences propping up even in unlikely places. And this was good: because it is in the human nature to seriously question people advising that something bad may be happening in the near future, and to need a direct experience of that “something bad” before properly reacting.

You can spend every last molecule of your breath explaining a child that eating too many sweets can be painful. But there is nothing like going through a “tummy ache” that will convince the child of changing their way.

And you could transfer yourself back to January 1939 and explain all the reasons for the upcoming Nazi continent-wide monstruosity, but I am sure nobody in the UK or France (or the USA) will agree to go to war until forced to by the pain of circumstance.

And so, had Lehman Brothers been rescued alongside the other relatively large institutions, we would still be discussing the pro’s and con’s of rescue packages. And we would have never known that it takes just a bank to fail, to see a run on money-market funds.

Hindsight will fuel further commentaries on now-defunct Lehman Brothers: and hindsight can be useful to make sense of the world, but only works when there is something to look back at…

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2008/Nov/26 at 23:53:26

How Many People For Obama?

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How likely is it going to be, for 1.5million people to gather for President Obama’s inauguration?

Who can say? IMNSHO the crowd will be a bit smaller, but around the same order of magnitude. Check what Clark McPhail, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had to say a few years back to Salon.com:

The counting formula divides the mall into eight panels and measures the square footage of each. For really huge [gatherings], aerial photographs are necessary to determine how much space is occupied […]  A crowd of 500,000, he says, would [fill] all eight panels, stretching from the Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial, or from Third Street to 14th Street […]

It is therefore not too much of a stretch of one’s imagination to think of a million people in the Mall on January 20, 2009.

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2008/Nov/24 at 22:29:57

Obama Should Thank Al Qaeda

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Al Qaeda in the news today with a “response” to the American Presidential Elections. Good for them. And good for President-Elect Barack Obama, who gets mistreated just enough, with a top-notch comparison to Malcolm X.

Why is that good for Obama? Well, imagine what would have happened had Al Qaeda sent unqualified congratulations to him…

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2008/Nov/19 at 23:36:41

A Novel Idea for Obama Against Recalcitrant European Politicians

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Some worries on The Economist about what the Europeans will make of the upcoming new relationship with President Obama, admittedly a very open question as the interests of the United States very seldom perfectly coincide with anybody else’s.

There is one big difference with Obama though. I think especially in Europe, he enjoys such a vast popularity, all he’ll have to do is show up on TV and make direct appeals to European public opinion.

Local politicians, each one of them no doubt already praying to be the First One To Be Photographed With Barack, will simply declare their concordance with whatever the White House will propose regarding Iraq, Iran, Israel, Russia, NATO, and the choice of hypoallergenic dogs.

Written by omnologos

2008/Nov/12 at 22:40:04

Posted in EU, Europe, Politics, USA

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Does Dick Cheney Understand What He Has Helped Unleash?

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From “The Battle for a Country’s Soul” by Jane Mayer, New York Review of Books, Volume 55, Number 13 · August 14, 2008

[After 9/11] President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and a small handful of trusted advisers sought and obtained dubious legal opinions enabling them to circumvent American laws and traditions. […] They turned the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel into a political instrument, which they used to expand their own executive power at the expense of long-standing checks and balances.

From ” Obama inheriting broad covert ops policies“, Associated Press, November 11, 2008

A top aide to Obama said Sunday the new president will use his executive powers to make an immediate impact when he takes office […] “There’s a lot that the president can do using his executive authority without waiting for congressional action, and I think we’ll see the president do that,” said John Podesta, Obama’s transition chief. “I think that he feels like he has a real mandate for change. We need to get off the course that the Bush administration has set.”

Benjamin Franklin’s words outside the Federal Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia, cited by Jane Mayer, are very topical indeed

A lady asked Dr. [Benjamin] Franklin, “Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” “A republic,” replied the Doctor, “if you can keep it.”

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2008/Nov/11 at 23:01:39

About Berlusconi’s “Suntanned Obama” Remark

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I am deeply amazed by and profoundly at unease with the reaction to yesterday’s remark (“joke”) by Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi, who has characterized US President-elect Barack Obama as “youthful, handsome and suntanned”.

Plenty of Italian people (presumably, not among Berlusconi’s core voters) have taken upon themselves to apologize for that phrase, for example commenting to this blog on the New York Times.

Now, Berlusconi is prone to gaffes of all sorts and he’s definitely way too much of a jester but…how can his words be interpreted as “racism” when Berlusconi himself has been trying for years to look more youthful, more handsome and definitely more suntanned than he is in reality?

To me, Berlusconi’s remarks display no racism at all, rather a deep feeling of envy.

ps some people have organized a demo in Rome to protest Berlusconi’s words. Ironically, apart from an uncertain command of the English language, all they have shown is their absolute ignorance of American culture, where blackface is considered a sign of racism indeed.

Blackface against racism???

Blackface against racism???

Written by omnologos

2008/Nov/07 at 22:39:33

Obama’s Challenge: What To Do When Unemployed At 56?

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Poor Barack Obama…he may find himself unemployed at the tender age of 56, in January 2017. What to do? And how to top the job of President of the United States of America?

Two solutions spring to mind. Obama may move into the entertainment business, as a rock or movie star. I am sure people will scramble to buy tickets no matter how good or bad he would be with a guitar or on a cinema screen.

The other possibility is to become Pope. All he’ll have to do is a “Tony Blair” and convert to Roman Catholicism after leaving office. That’ll make him eligible to be elected as successor of Benedict XVI, most likely by popular acclamation like the Popes of old.

If anybody cannot believe in the above: just imagine telling anybody in 1951 that the main actor in “Bedtime for Bonzo” was bound to become one of the most beloved Presidents in history. Ah, and that a 15-year-old in Kenya was going to be the father of the 44th President.

Written by omnologos

2008/Nov/06 at 18:22:28