Tag Archives: Iran

Corporate sponsorship of Schwarzenegger’s glitzy events draws scrutiny

Note:
I’m a pretty big fan of the governator, so I take what the critics say about him rather lightly. It’s good to involve corporate America in events – as long as there’s not favoratism and corruption, or rather, cronyism lining the pockets of fatcats unjustly. The way to prevent this is to monitor all activities. Remember, if we were angels, we wouldn’t need government and if the governors were angels, we wouldn’t need checks and balances.
Insofar as GE is concerned, the press has got them under a microscope due to their sundry dealings with Iran. So, just keep that in mind.
Article:
The California governor says it saves taxpayers money to have private entities pay for ceremonies, conferences and travel. Watchdogs fear the government-corporate relationship is getting too cozy.
By Michael Rothfeld, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 18, 2008
SACRAMENTO — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who runs one of the largest state governments in the country, approached the leader of another giant organization recently to ask for some financial aid.

In a telephone call from his Capitol office, Schwarzenegger secured agreement from General Electric’s chairman and chief executive, Jeffrey Immelt, that the Fortune 500 company would co-host and help pay for the Border Governors Conference this August at Universal Studios in Hollywood, which the corporation owns.

The event could cost more than $3 million between GE and other private sponsors, according to participants in the planning of the conference, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the arrangements.

That would make it an expensive example of a technique Schwarzenegger has embraced to bring the glitzy style he appreciates to ceremonial state functions: getting corporations and wealthy supporters to pay for them. The governor’s aides say the practice saves taxpayers money.

Government watchdog groups argue that it may compromise the administration’s independence from corporate interests. Schwarzenegger’s phone call with Immelt was arranged by a GE executive, formerly an advisor to the governor, who oversees the company’s lobbyists in Sacramento.

“It’s a governmental conference, with governmental officials,” said Robert Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles. “If GE is paying for it, the question is what does GE expect for their contribution? And they are certainly going to expect good will.”

A spokesman for General Electric said the size and nature of the company’s contribution have not been finalized, and administration officials said there is no budget yet.

Schwarzenegger’s office has accepted millions of dollars in private gifts for things such as state dinners, international travel and ornaments on state Christmas trees.

The cross-border conference, held each year in one of the 10 participating U.S. and Mexican states, is an important event for Schwarzenegger because it is the first to be hosted in California in eight years, and the only one while he is governor.

“We are going to take this important annual event to a whole new level,” Schwarzenegger said last month in a statement announcing the partnership.

The three-day conference will feature a “Green Tech Expo,” along with festivities at the Universal theme park’s “Streets of the World” and “Spartacus Square,” and at the nearby Hilton hotel.

The thread connecting Schwarzenegger and the company is an interest in environmentally friendly technology. GE has a 3-year-old program, “Ecomagination,” which includes producing such things as clean locomotive engines, wind turbines, energy-efficient appliances and solar panels. Ecomagination accounted for $14 billion of GE’s $173 billion in revenue last year, a spokesman said.

GE has spent $475,000 lobbying California government since the beginning of 2007 on such matters as corporate taxes, the film industry and the recall of unsafe products. Paul Miner, the former Schwarzenegger aide who brokered the conference deal, is now the GE government relations manager who coordinates the lobbying team.

Aaron McLear, Schwarzenegger’s spokesman, said the governor never unduly favors his supporters in official decisions. McLear said the conference would boost business in Los Angeles without costing the public money.

“The governor absolutely believes in saving the taxpayers money any chance he can,” McLear said. “So if he can partner with a private entity to host an event like this, that saves taxpayer dollars.”

GE spokesman Peter O’Toole said Immelt agreed to sponsor the conference, which will require closing parts of Universal Studios to tourists, partly because both Schwarzenegger and Immelt are “fairly progressive.”

“We’re doing it because he asked and we have a good relationship,” O’Toole said. “Our thinking is similar between the CEO and the governor. . . . It’s not a quid pro quo, but we thought it was something important to do. It’s an important market for us.”

Schwarzenegger’s office has received a wide range of corporate gifts. For the governor’s Christmas tree lighting event one year, S. Martinelli and Co. gave $297 in sparkling apple cider. A New York ornament maker, whose glittery creations are collected by the governor and First Lady Maria Shriver, donated a few to decorate trees in Schwarzenegger’s office.

Microsoft and Google each committed to donate hundreds of hours of consulting time for a state website soon to be unveiled that will allow Californians to compare public schools. The Jordan Vineyard & Winery held a retreat for 20 of the governor’s staff members. General Motors donated the use of vehicles and drivers for two of the governor’s trips to Asia.

Schwarzenegger’s inaugural ceremonies last year were funded by $2.9 million in donations from the pharmaceutical industry, energy companies, home builders and others. Companies pay for the governor’s Sacramento hotel suite, costing $107,000 this year.

The bulk of private support received by Schwarzenegger’s office has come from the California Protocol Foundation, a nonprofit group affiliated with the California Chamber of Commerce that does not disclose the names of its donors or the details of specific expenditures.

The foundation paid $306,000 in 2006 for a Sacramento dinner for then-Mexican President Vicente Fox, state records show. It has funded annual receptions after Schwarzenegger’s State of the State addresses. The group has spent millions on jet planes, hotels and meals for the governor and his staff on trips described as “trade missions.”

“If the taxpayers were paying for some of these glitzy things, I think there would be objections,” said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. But the flow of private money to elected officials’ causes is “something that should be watched.”

“We recognize that there could never be a solid wall of separation between government and private interests, but sometimes when the relationship gets a little too cozy, it makes us nervous,” Coupal said.

Since 1980, when it was first convened in Chihuahua, Mexico, the Border Governors Conference has alternated between U.S. and Mexican states. The purpose is to keep open lines of communication.

Former Gov. Gray Davis hosted the event in 2000 in Sacramento. Meetings were held at public buildings, including the Capitol and a city library, where government absorbed the costs. The Golden State Host Committee, a privately funded nonprofit also affiliated with the California Chamber of Commerce, spent $196,000 to hold two dinners during the conference.

In planning last year’s conference in Sonora, Mexico, a small industrial and agricultural state, Gov. Eduardo Bours Castelo recruited corporations to pay for it, said Luis Borbon, an aide. “It was going to be very, very expensive for the government,” Borbon said.

michael.rothfeld@latimes.com

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OBAMA: WRONG ON IRAN

 

By DICK MORRIS & EILEEN MCGANN

Published on FOXNews.com on May 16, 2008.

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President Bush is absolutely right to criticize sharply direct negotiations with Iranian President Ahmadinejad. Barack Obama’s embrace of the idea of direct negotiations is both naïve and dangerous and should be a big issue in the campaign.

The reason not to negotiate with Ahmadinejad is not simply to stand on ceremony or some kind of policy of non-recognition. It is based on the fundamental need to topple his regime by increasing the sense the Iranian people have — that he has isolated Iran from the rest of the world, to its severe and ongoing detriment.

The Iranian regime is almost entirely dependent on oil and gas revenues to pay for the vast program of social subsidies with which the government buys domestic support. Gasoline costs 35 cents a gallon in Teheran. Bread and all other staples are subsidized from public funds. But 85 percent of all government revenues come from oil and gas exports. There lies the regime’s vulnerability.

Iran is sitting atop the second largest oil reserves in the world. Only Saudi Arabia has more. But it can’t get at them. It lacks the foreign investment and technology necessary to increase, or even to sustain, its petroleum output. Under the Shah, Iran pumped upwards of six million barrels of oil a day. Now, Iran generates fewer than four million daily barrels. With domestic consumption of energy increasing at 10 percent a year — due in part to the massive subsidies which hold the price down — Iran is expected to see its oil exports cut in half by 2011 and entirely eliminated by 2014. If Iran cannot export oil, it cannot pay for social peace and the regime could be in dire trouble.

Without subsidies, the Iranian people, half of whom are under 30 and only 40 percent of whom are ethnically Farsi, will become restive and resentful. Already, many complain that Ahmadinejad’s policies have led to global isolation of Iran and stymied economic growth and social upward mobility. While opinion surveys in Iran indicate that the people support the nuclear aspirations of the regime, they are not willing to pay a price of international isolation.

If a President Obama were to meet with President Ahmadinejad, it would send a signal to the Iranian people that they are not isolated but that the rest of the world has come to respect them and to have to deal with them. The leading argument for toppling the current regime will have been fatally undermined.

But if the West sustains a policy of economic sanctions, curbs on foreign investment, and diplomatic isolation, the Iranian regime’s days are numbered.

Official United Nations sanctions are having some effect on Iran but the real power lies in cutting off investment by foreign companies, particularly in the banking and energy sectors. American companies are already prohibited from doing business there, although General Electric may be seeking ways around this prohibition through foreign subsidiaries.

Frank Gaffney, formerly of Reagan’s Pentagon, has pioneered the use of private economic disinvestment in companies that do business with Iran, Syria, North Korea, or Sudan. On his Web site, he has identified almost 500 companies that do business with these terror sponsoring nations. They include such international powerhouses as Sieman’s, Shell, Repsol, BNP Paribus, and Hyundai. He has crafted a terror free mutual fund which can earn good returns while avoiding investment in any of these companies.

Missouri Treasurer Sarah Steelman — now running for governor — pioneered disinvesting pension funds in these companies. Now California, Florida, and Louisiana have followed suit.

We need to let these policies work and global isolation of Iran is the way to do it. Negotiating with Ahmadinejad would simply boost his domestic stature and enhance his political stability, the exact opposite of what we should — and must — be doing.

Analysis: Obama reacts fast to Bush on diplomacy

WASHINGTON (AP) — In President Bush’s hint that Barack Obama wants to appease terrorists, Democrats heard troubling echoes of 2004, when Republicans portrayed John Kerry as irresolute and weak on national security…

 

 

Robin Williams’ New Comedy

 
 Good old Robin Williams:)

Subject: Fw: The Plan
 
 
 
 
 
GOTTA LOVE HIM…A MUST READ…PLEASE DO YOURSELF A FAVOR…READ THIS!
The Plan!
?

Robin Williams, wearing a shirt that says ‘I love New York ‘ in Arabic.

You gotta love Robin Williams……Even if he’s nuts! Leave it to Robin Williams to come up with the perfect plan. Wha t we need now is for our UN Ambassador to stand up and repeat this message.

Robin W illiams’ plan…(Hard to argue with this logic!)

‘I see a lot of people yelling for peace but I have not heard of a plan for peace. So, here’s one plan.’

1) ‘The US will apologize to the world for our ‘interference’ in their affairs, past & present. You know, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Tojo, Noriega, Milosevic, Hussein, and the rest of those ‘good ‘ole’ boys’, we will never ‘interfere’ again.

2) We will withdraw our troops from all over the world, starting with Germany , South Korea , the Middle East , and the Philippines . They don’t want us there. We would station our troops at our borders. N o one allowed sneaking through holes in the fence.

3) All illegal aliens have 90 days to get their affairs together and leave.  We’ll give them a free trip home. After 90 days the remainder will be gathered up and deported immediately, regardless of whom or where they are. They’re illegal!!! France will welcome them.

4) All future visitors will be thoroughly checked and limited to 90 days unless given a special permit!!!! No one from a terrorist nation will be allowed in.
If you don’t like it in your country change it yourself and don’t try to hide here. Asylum would never be available to anyone. We don’t need any more cab drivers or 7-1 1 cashiers.

5) No foreign ‘students’ over age 21. The older ones are the bombers.
If they don ‘t attend classes,or they get a ‘D’  it’s back home baby.

6) The US will make a strong effort to become self-sufficient energy wise. This will include developing nonpolluting sources of energy but will require a temporary drilling of oil in the Alaskan wilderness. The caribou will have to cope for a while

7) Offer Saudi Arabia and other oil producing countries $10 a barrel for their oil. If they don’t like it, we go someplace else. They can go somewhere else to sell their production. (About a week of their wells filling up their storage sites would be enough.)

8) If there is a famine or other natural catastrophe in the world, we will not ‘interfere.’ They can pray to Allah or whomever, for se eds, rain, cement or whatever they need. ! Besides most of what we give them is stolen or given t o the army. The peop le who need it most get very little, if anything.

9) Ship the UN Headquarters to an isolated island someplace. We don’t need the spies and fair weather friends here. Besides, the building would make a good homeless shelter or lockup for illegal aliens.

10) All Americans must go to charm and beauty school. That way, no one can call us ‘Ugly Americans’ any longer. The Language we speak is ENGLISH..learn it…or LEAVE…Now, isn’t that a winner of a plan?

‘The Statue of Liberty is no longer saying ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses.’ She’s got a baseball bat and she’s yelling, ‘you want a piece of me?’ ‘

If you agree with the above forward it to friends…If not, and I would be amazed, DELETE it!!

 

 

War With Iran Might Be Closer Than You Think

Market forces are predicting a war in Iran, I suspect. Speculators would obviously bid up the price of oil if they think a major conflict will come soon. Philip Giraldi at the American Conservative:

There is considerable speculation and buzz in Washington today suggesting that the National Security Council has agreed in principle to proceed with plans to attack an Iranian al-Qods-run camp that is believed to be training Iraqi militants.  The camp that will be targeted is one of several located near Tehran.  Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was the only senior official urging delay in taking any offensive action.  The decision to go ahead with plans to attack Iran is the direct result of concerns being expressed over the deteriorating situation in Lebanon, where Iranian ally Hezbollah appears to have gained the upper hand against government forces and might be able to dominate the fractious political situation. The White House contacted the Iranian government directly yesterday through a channel provided by the leadership of the Kurdish region in Iraq, which has traditionally had close ties to Tehran.  The US demanded that Iran admit that it has been interfering in Iraq and also commit itself to taking steps to end the support of various militant groups.  There was also a warning about interfering in Lebanon.  The Iranian government reportedly responded quickly, restating its position that it would not discuss the matter until the US ceases its own meddling employing Iranian dissident groups.  The perceived Iranian intransigence coupled with the Lebanese situation convinced the White House that some sort of unambiguous signal has to be sent to the Iranian leadership, presumably in the form of cruise missiles.  It is to be presumed that the attack will be as “pinpoint” and limited as possible, intended to target only al-Qods and avoid civilian casualties.  The decision to proceed with plans for an attack is not final.  The President will still have to give the order to launch after all preparations are made.

Is It Jaw-Jaw or War-War?

Is war with Iran inevitable, even imminent? Or is peace at hand?

From the public diplomacy of the administration, either conclusion may be reached.
Consider.

“West Offers Iran ‘Refreshed’ Deal,” ran the headline in the May 3 Washington Times. The story described an offer to Iran, agreed to by all five members of the Security Council — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — of a sweetened grand bargain, if Tehran will suspend its enrichment of uranium.

Blessing the offering in London was Condi Rice.

Details will not be made public, but the offer is said to include Western aid to Iran for a civilian nuclear program, a light water reactor and a five-year stock of enriched uranium held for Iran by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

America’s contribution would be support for Iran’s admission to the World Trade Organization, a conference to discuss regional security in the Gulf, a U.S. offer to sell Iran spare parts for its U.S.-built civilian aircraft and a beginning of the lifting of three decades of U.S. sanctions.

News of this offer, plus the relaxed mood in Washington, which is utterly unlike the tense atmosphere prior to March 2003, suggests that war with Iran is far from the mind of this city.

But to take the warnings and threats of the civilian and military leaders of this administration at face value would lead one to conclude the opposite — that war with Iran is indeed inevitable, and probably soon. Consider.
 
Last month, Gen. David Petraeus was asked by Joe Lieberman, “Is it fair to say that the Iranian-backed special groups in Iraq are responsible for the murder of hundreds of American soldiers and thousands of Iraqi soldiers and civilians?”

“It certainly is. … That is correct,” answered the general.

The next day, Petraeus testified, “Unchecked, the ‘special groups’ pose the greatest long-term threat to the viability of a democratic Iraq.”

Petraeus has since been promoted to command of all U.S. forces in the region.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, known as an opponent of war on Iran, followed Petraeus, accusing Tehran of being “hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons.” Last week, Gates was out front again. “What the Iranians are doing is killing American servicemen and -women inside Iraq.”
 
Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, is now also pounding the war drum. Iran’s “irresponsible influence,” its support of terror and its pursuit of atomic weapons, he said last week, is creating a “perfect nightmare” for the region. The Pentagon, said the chairman, is planning for “potential military … action” because of Iran’s “increasingly lethal and malign influence.”
 
“It would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capacity,” Mullen declared. A second U.S. carrier just entered the Persian Gulf.
 
CBS reports that a target list of U.S. military planners includes the headquarters of the Quds Force and plants where Iran produces enhanced IEDs and the rockets used against the Green Zone. The network also reports that the State Department has begun drafting an ultimatum.
 
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmal Khalilzad has chimed in: “Iran and Syria must stop the flow of weapons and foreign fighters into Iraq, and their malign interference in Iraq.”
 
Iraqi Maj. Gen. Qasim Atta says 700 rockets and mortars have been fired at Coalition forces and the Green Zone, and most of the “Katyusha and Grad rockets and smart roadside bombs” were Iranian-made. The U.S. military is preparing a dossier on Iran’s role in the Iraq war.
 
In the Landon Lecture at Kansas State, CIA Director Michael Hayden declared, “It … is the policy of the Iranian government, approved to the highest level … to facilitate the killing of Americans in Iraq.” That day, State designated Iran the “most significant” and “most active” state sponsor of terror on earth.
 
From the White House to State to the Pentagon to CIA, the Bush administration is now singing from the same song sheet: Iran’s Quds Force, with the knowledge of President Ahmadinejad, is arming and directing “special groups” to kill U.S. soldiers and prevent a U.S. victory.
 
Is the White House rattling sabers to prod Iran into talks?
 
Perhaps. But the administration has also painted itself, and us, into a corner with the war talk. And there are only three ways out.
 
The first is that Iran halts the attacks, ends its intervention and negotiates on the six-nation offer. The second is that Iran rejects the deal, refuses to stop the attacks and U.S. air strikes begin.
 
The third is that Bush is bluffing and goes home railing against an axis-of-evil nation killing American soldiers, having done nothing.
 
With Israel, the Israeli lobby, the neocons and Dick Cheney insisting on air strikes, and even Hillary Clinton talking about Iran being “obliterated,” the last course would seem the least probable.
 
We are likely headed either for negotiations with Iran or war, after Bush returns from the 60th anniversary celebration of Israel’s birth.
 
“To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war,” said Winston Churchill in 1954, whose career often contradicted his wise counsel.


Mr. Buchanan is a nationally syndicated columnist and author of “The Death of the West,” “The Great Betrayal,” “A Republic, Not an Empire” and “Where the Right Went Wrong.”

Dancing With Obama

Just words… just speeches?

 

By INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Friday, April 18, 2008 4:20 PM PT

Middle East: After saying he couldn’t criticize Carter’s pilgrimage to Hamas, Obama does just that, saying he’d negotiate only with those who renounce terrorism and recognize Israel. So why has Hamas endorsed him?


Read More: Election 2008 | Global War On Terror

 

Speaking to Jewish leaders in Pennsylvania last Wednesday, Obama said he had an “unshakable commitment” to protect Israel from its “bitter enemies.”

With Carter’s trip obviously on his mind, he said, “We must not negotiate with a terrorist group intent on Israel’s destruction.”

That seems to us a blanket condemnation of Carter’s current trip. And indeed, Obama noted, “I have a fundamental difference with President Carter and disagree with his decision to meet with Hamas.”

Yet while campaigning in Indianapolis recently, he said: “I’m not going to comment on former President Carter. He’s a private citizen. It’s not my place to discuss who he shouldn’t meet with.”

So which is it? Is Carter a former president who shouldn’t meet with a terrorist group bent on Israel’s destruction, or a private citizen who should be allowed to?

Obama, the man who once said words have consequences, seems to be parsing them in almost Clintonian fashion depending on the audience.

And isn’t Iran also bent on Israel’s destruction? Well, said Obama, “Hamas is not a state. Hamas is a terrorist organization.”

Oh. Apparently terrorists are bad, but state sponsors of terror are not so bad. You can’t talk to one, but you can talk with the other.

Iran is the founder, financier and arms supplier for the terrorist group Hezbollah.

Hezbollah also is dedicated to Israel’s destruction and recently fought a bitter war with Israel, raining Iranian-made missiles on Israeli cities and towns.

Would he meet with Hezbollah? No, you don’t talk to terrorists. But he says he’d meet with Iran, Hezbollah’s state sponsor.

If you’re confused, so are we.

Obama told the group the greatest threat to Israel comes from Iran. Yet Obama has objected to the designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization, which it is. The Quds force has been arming insurgents and militias in Iraq, and Iranian bombs have been used to kill Americans and other coalition troops.

He reiterated his pledge, saying: “My approach to Iran will be based on aggressive personal diplomacy.” What does that mean? Should we expect to see Barack Obama and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad singing “Kumbaya” together on Dr. Phil?

“What it means,” Obama says, “is that we come to the table (with Iran) with a very clear set of objectives and a very clear set of demands — that Iran ceases from pursuing nuclear weapons, that it stops funding Hezbollah and Hamas, that it ends its noxious statements about Israel and the threats directed toward Israel.”

And what if Iran doesn’t respond to our “demands”?

Would President Obama seek yet another round of toothless U.N. sanctions? Or would he jet off to some Middle Eastern Munich? It doesn’t matter how softly you talk if the other side notices you have no stick.

Hamas may have noticed, for in an interview with World Net Daily and WABC-New York radio’s John Batchelor, Ahmed Yousef, Hamas’ top political adviser in the Gaza Strip, gave Barack Obama a swooning endorsement.

“We like Mr. Obama, and we hope that he will win the election,” Yousef said. “I do believe (Obama) is like John Kennedy, a great man with great principle. And he has a vision to change America, to (put) it in a position to lead the world community, but not with humiliation and arrogance.”

Obama’s vision is to cut and run in Iraq and seek peace in our time by appeasing Iran, a state sponsor of terror, and terrorist organizations such as Hamas. Yousef may think Obama is another JFK, but what he wants is not a return to Camelot.

Obama may disagree with Carter on meeting Hamas, at least for now, but his foreign policy is no different from the man whose naive diplomacy gave us the world’s first Islamofascist state and Israel’s greatest threat, Iran, in the first place. Hamas knows it.