Friday, November 11, 2011

All fall down!

George Papandreou has resigned as Greek PM, after he and his family (three generations) have bled Greece dry with their socialist programs and entitlements, and now Greece is in dire economic straits. By proposing a referendum on the austerity measures required by the EU and IMF to bail Greece out from its debt burden, and then reversing himself under pressure, when it became clear that they would not pay up if Greece did not carry out the austerity program, Papandreou had no choice but to resign. He negotiated a power sharing agreement between his Pasok socialist party and the center right party to form a unity coalition, and then left office. It took four days to finalize the coalition, but the new PM is now Lucas Papademos, a Harvard Professor who was previously Head of the Greek National Bank. In his acceptance speech he emphasized to Greeks that the country is in a dire financial situation and must take this bad medicine if it wants to get healthy in the future.

While sex scandals could not bring down PM Berlusconi of Italy, financial scandals have done so. He has met with the Italian President and submitted his resignation, although he has not defined at what date it will take effect. Italy is a much larger economy than Greece (6x) and is the third largest economy in the EU, but is in even more dire economic straits than Greece. Its debt is comparably bigger, and if it were to fail or default on its debts then it is likely that the euro itself would fail. In order to prevent this Berlusconi must go! While he remains in office the interest on Italian loans has increased to a record 8%, that is unacheivable with Italy's slow rate of growth. With his departure, it is hoped that the loan rate will decrease and Italy will also start on an austerty package.

Apart from the fall of Presidents Gaddafi of Libya, Mubarak of Egypt and Ben ali of Tunisia, the latest Arab President in dire straits is Pres. Assad of Syria. His forces are supposed to have killed ca. 100 people around Homs in contravention of the agreement that he signed with the Arab League recently to stop the violence, and now several Arab states have offered him asylum if he leaves office. The US has also come out in favor of his leaving, saying that he no longer can function as President. Deserters from the Syrian Army have formed the Syrian Free Defence Army and are fighting back. His days are numbered and if he doesn't want to share the fate of Gaddafi, hiding in a hole and being beaten and shot, he must leave soon.

Another President has been disgraced and forced form office and that is former Pres. Katsav of Israel. His fall illustrates the extreme differences between Israel and the Arab States. In Israel, Katsav was removed from office as a result of a legal procedure after 4 women accused him of sexual misconduct during his career in Government. He was tried, found guilty, appealed and now has had his appeal rejected and next month he must start his 7 year sentence. He was removed without violence, and although it was a moral shock to find that the President was a sex abuser, it shows that noone in ISrael is above the law. In Israel there was no uprising, he was simply replaced by a democratic constitutional procedure. What a contrast to the Arab world!

Another person who is leaving office is Dennis Ross, special adviser to Pres. Obama on the Middle East. I am glad, since I have never trusted Ross after he revealed in his autobiography that as an adviser to Pres. Clinton, they knew that Pres. Arafat of the PA was spending money (cash) that they gave him as aid to the Palestinians on supporting terrorism, but did nothing about it, as long as he promised that he would negotiate with Israel, which he never did honestly. Ross allowed the US to be made a fool of by a dishonest dictator, while pressuring Israel to make concessions to him. Such an official does not deserve to be honored.

Finally, a third woman has come forward and described in intimate detail how Republican hopeful Herman Cain made sexual advances to her. He of course denies this, and his opponents did not raise this issue in the latest Republican debate, maybe because they also have such events in their past. But, with that hanging over him his campaign to become the Republiucan nominee for President surely cannot succeed. Even long-time coach Joe Paterno of U Penn has been forced to resign as a result of a sex scancdal in which his assistant was abusing boys at the college. All fall down!


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