Follow by Email

Monday, September 30, 2013

JG Caesarea Challenge: Obama's Syria Policy and the New York City Opera

Goodness gracious! Yes, you guessed it: Time for yet another JG Caesarea Challenge Round! But are you savvy enough to divine the answer to today's question:

What do Obama's Syria policy and the New York City Opera have in common?

Two . . . one. Pencils down! What happened to "three"? Don't you think you're getting a little too presumptuous. Let's not let our sense of entitlement get the best of us.

And now . . . a drum roll please . . . the answer is . . .

Well, actually the answer takes a little explaining.

In case you didn't notice, Obama's Syria policy has emerged as a complete disaster. Now that Obama has bowed to Putin and agreed to the would-be destruction of Assad's chemical weapons stockpiles without any sanctions if Assad balks on the agreement, many Syrian rebels who were still tied to the so-called "moderate" camp have switched their allegiance to al-Qaeda. As reported in a Washington Post article entitled "Largest Syrian rebel groups form Islamic alliance, in possible blow to U.S. influence" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/largest-syrian-rebel-groups-embrace-islamic-alliance-in-possible-blow-to-us-influence/2013/09/25/f669629e-25f8-11e3-9372-92606241ae9c_story.html) by Liz Sly and Karen DeYoung (my emphasis in red):

"American hopes of winning more influence over Syria’s fractious rebel movement faded Wednesday after 11 of the biggest armed factions repudiated the Western-backed opposition coalition and announced the formation of a new alliance dedicated to creating an Islamic state.

The al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, designated a terrorist organization by the United States, is the lead signatory of the new group, which will further complicate fledgling U.S. efforts to provide lethal aid to 'moderate' rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

. . . .

The new alliance stressed that it was not abandoning [Gen. Salim ] Idriss’s council, only the exiled political opposition coalition, which, it said in a statement, 'does not represent us.'

The creation of the bloc nonetheless leaves Idriss’s council directly responsible for just a handful of small units, calling into question the utility of extending aid to 'moderate' rebels, according to Charles Lister of the London-based defense consultancy IHS Jane’s.

If the development holds, he said, 'it will likely prove the most significant turning point in the evolution of Syria’s anti-government insurgency to date.'

'The scope for Western influence over the Syrian opposition has now been diminished considerably,' he added.

. . . .

The development appeared to take the Obama administration by surprise."

Surprise, surprise, surprise! Nice work, President Obama!

Okay, but what what does any of this have to do with the New York City Opera? Simple. In a CNN article entitled "New York City Opera sings the blues over finances, faces possible bankruptcy" (http://edition.cnn.com/2013/09/27/us/opera-possible-bankruptcy/index.html) by Rande Iaboni, we learn that the New York City Opera is facing imminent bankruptcy:

"The New York City Opera needs $7 million in fundraising by Monday or it could be closing its curtains for good.

. . . .

'If we don't raise the ($7 million) by the end of Monday the board is going to begin the process of bankruptcy,' spokesperson Risa Heller told CNN on Friday.

. . . .

The company, dubbed 'The People's Opera' by former NYC Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, was founded on the principle that every New Yorker should be able to afford to go to the opera, Steel said.

Steel explains that in order for the company to break even, it would need to sell every ticket for $600, but instead the starting ticket price is actually $25 to make it more affordable."

Okay, so what does Obama's Syria policy have in common with the New York City Opera? If you answered that they are both bankrupt, you are entitled to partial credit.

However, the correct answer is that in both instances it's over - the fat lady has sung!

And so, better luck next time when the next JG Caesarea Challenge Round again comes your way!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Paul Krugman, "Rebels Without a Clue": Obama Should Be Setting His House in Order

In any household, there are arguments, some of them bitter. I suppose that is why I recently printed out 100 square pieces of paper to have them ready in case of need. On one side: "To my darling wife, with all my heart." On the other side: "I apologize." You see, I believe in effective, real-time communication when problems arise, as they regularly do.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Rebels Without a Clue" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/30/opinion/krugman-rebels-without-a-clue.html?_r=0), Paul Krugman  tells us that "a U.S. government default, which will happen unless Congress raises the debt ceiling soon, might cause financial catastrophe." Krugman explains:

"Financial markets have long treated U.S. bonds as the ultimate safe asset; the assumption that America will always honor its debts is the bedrock on which the world financial system rests. In particular, Treasury bills — short-term U.S. bonds — are what investors demand when they want absolutely solid collateral against loans. Treasury bills are so essential for this role that in times of severe stress they sometimes pay slightly negative interest rates — that is, they’re treated as being better than cash.

Now suppose it became clear that U.S. bonds weren’t safe, that America couldn’t be counted on to honor its debts after all. Suddenly, the whole system would be disrupted."

Well, I agree that a US government default would be a disaster, but unlike Krugman, I also believe that US bonds already aren't safe, and one need go no further than the Congressional Budget Office to learn why. As stated by the non-partisan CBO earlier this month with regard to America's financial future (http://www.cbo.gov/publication/44521):

"Between 2009 and 2012, the federal government recorded the largest budget deficits relative to the size of the economy since 1946, causing federal debt to soar. Federal debt held by the public is now about 73 percent of the economy’s annual output, or gross domestic product (GDP). That percentage is higher than at any point in U.S. history except a brief period around World War II, and it is twice the percentage at the end of 2007. If current laws generally remained in place, federal debt held by the public would decline slightly relative to GDP over the next several years, CBO projects. After that, however, growing deficits would ultimately push debt back above its current high level. CBO projects that federal debt held by the public would reach 100 percent of GDP in 2038, 25 years from now, even without accounting for the harmful effects that growing debt would have on the economy (see the figure below). Moreover, debt would be on an upward path relative to the size of the economy, a trend that could not be sustained indefinitely."

"Debt would be on an upward path relative to the size of the economy, a trend that could not be sustained indefinitely"? It's down the road, but it sounds to me as if US bonds already are not "the ultimate safe asset."

What to do? Listen. Communicate. Compromise. Not just play tough guy with House Republicans while running after Rouhani and then bragging about an "earth shaking" 15-minute phone call, replete with platitudes.

Instead of running after Rouhani, Obama should be setting his House in order.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Maureen Dowd, "Creeping Cloud": Are You Under a Cloud of Suspicion?

Clouds can be both "good" (e.g., "on cloud nine") and bad" (e.g., "under a cloud of suspicion"), but like the weather, of which they form a part, they can be hard to influence.

From what Maureen Dowd tells us in her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Creeping Cloud" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/opinion/sunday/dowd-creeping-cloud.html), the "data cloud," billowing up from the N.S.A.'s Bluffdale facility, appears to be out of control. Dowd writes:

"James Bamford, the chronicler of the untrammeled powers of the 'Puzzle Palace,' as he calls the N.S.A., wrote in Wired that the Utah tower of Babel may be able to store a yottabyte. That is equal to a septillion bytes or about 500 quintillion (500,000,000,000,000,000,000) pages of text.

'It’s basically the N.S.A.’s external hard drive,' Bamford told me, noting that our phone call was no doubt being logged by the Bluffdale computers. 'It holds more private information than anyplace else on earth.'

Bamford believes that the N.S.A. has transmogrified from an agency that 'watched the Soviet Union to make sure it didn’t blow us up with nuclear weapons,' to one 'that keeps collecting and collecting and collecting but doesn’t seem to do us any good.'

'They saw 9/11 and all these other terrorist attacks on CNN. They didn’t have a clue. The more electronic hay they stack on their haystack, the more difficult it is to find the needle.'

Bamford believes that Americans need to get out of their crouch on terrorism and get alarmed that James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, can deceive Congress without even a reprimand from the president."

As I have remarked in the past, mountains of raw data, without a methodology to sort through it, is entirely worthless.

Americans need to get alarmed that James Clapper sought to deceive Congress without a reprimand from the president? Why? Susan Rice sought to deceive all Americans regarding the reason for the attack against the Benghazi consulate, yet she was promoted to United States National Security Advisor by Obama.

But more to the point, Dowd's opinion piece was surely written before publication today of a New York Times article entitled "N.S.A. Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/us/nsa-examines-social-networks-of-us-citizens.html?pagewanted=all) by James Risen and Laura Poitras, which points to worrisome overreaching by the N.S.A:

"Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials.

. . . .

The agency can augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents. They do not indicate any restrictions on the use of such “enrichment” data, and several former senior Obama administration officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and foreigners.

N.S.A. officials declined to say how many Americans have been caught up in the effort, including people involved in no wrongdoing."

And where is constitutional lawyer Barack Obama while this inclement, amorphous cloud grows darker and larger overhead?

If this is anything like the IRS scandal, he is probably reading about it in the newspapers like the rest of us, before heading out to the links.


Thomas Friedman, "Hassan Does Manhattan": Barack Hussein Obama Chats Up Hassan Rouhani

More noxious gas from Thomas Friedman this weekend.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Hassan Does Manhattan" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/opinion/sunday/friedman-hassan-does-manhattan.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0), would-be Middle East expert Friedman speculates about the reasons for the recent visit of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani to the UN. Friedman writes:

"No, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, did not allow Rouhani to run and win and start negotiations by accident."

At least Friedman is aware that Supreme Leader Khamenei calls the shots in Iran, and not Rouhani.

But no mention by Friedman of Rouhani's pre-election interview, during which he bragged how he had lulled the West into complacency while radically expanding Iran's nuclear weapons development program (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjbrqPK-BBg). Are Obama and friends truly daft enough to believe that Rouhani's latest charm campaign is anything other than another attempt to buy time to allow Tehran to build its first atomic bomb?

Observing that Rouhani would not shake Obama’s hand at the UN, but did agree to speak over the phone for 15 minutes with America's president on his way to the airport, Friedman provides another of his breathtaking solutions to the impasse involving Iran's nuclear weapons development program:

"We should offer Iranians a deal that accedes to their desire for civilian nuclear power and thus affirms their scientific prowess — remember that Iran’s 1979 revolution was as much a nationalist rebellion against a regime installed by the West as a religious revolution, so having a nuclear program has broad nationalist appeal there — while insisting on a foolproof inspection regime."

And when the foolproof inspection regime is fooled, and when the inspectors are thrown out of the country, what then? Will Hassan merely smile at Obama and quip, "Gotcha!," or will an atomic bomb soon be winging its way west en route to Tel Aviv?

Moreover, would such an agreement have any more teeth than Obama's agreement with Putin for the destruction of Assad's chemical warfare stockpiles, which provides for no sanctions if Assad fails to comply?

You will recall that Obama told Jeffrey Goldberg  (http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/obama-to-iran-and-israel-as-president-of-the-united-states-i-dont-bluff/253875/):
"I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don't bluff. I also don't, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say."

Well, Obama sure as heck did his best to fool Israel concerning the power of his convictions.


New York Times Editorial, "Now, the Hard Part": Again Showering Obama With Compliments

On August 29th, Obama consulted with editorial and op-ed staffers from The New York Times regarding his meandering Syria policy (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/09/gail-collins-knowing-when-to-worry-did.html). Following this "off-the-record" meeting, Obama opted to seek congressional approval for a "limited" strike against the Assad regime, and the Times promptly showered him with sycophantic praise. In a September 16th editorial entitled "The Syrian Pact" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/16/opinion/the-syrian-pact.html?_r=0) the Times wrote:

"President Obama deserves credit for putting a focus on upholding an international ban on chemical weapons and for setting aside military action at this time in favor of a diplomatic deal. The Syria crisis should demonstrate to Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, that Mr. Obama, who has held out the possibility of military action against Iran’s nuclear program, is serious about a negotiated solution. Mr. Obama’s disclosure that he had indirectly exchanged messages with Mr. Rouhani was encouraging.

. . . .

Now that Russia and the United States have reached a deal, there’s reason to hope this cooperation will help advance an overall peace settlement for Syria."

Obama's wavering, amorphous policy vis-a-vis Assad will bring about a peace settlement for Syria and encourage Iran to reach a peaceful solution regarding its nuclear weapons program? Quite the opposite, yet the fawning nonsense from the Times continues.

Today, in its latest editorial entitled "Now, the Hard Part" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/28/opinion/now-the-hard-part.html?_r=0), the Times remarkably ascribes inordinate importance to Obama's 15-minute phone conversation with Hassan Rouhani, president of Iran. The Times writes:

"President Obama and President Hassan Rouhani of Iran showed leadership this week in committing themselves to resolving the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. On Friday, they capped days of promising gestures with a phone call — the first direct contact between top American and Iranian leaders in more than three decades.

. . . .

It’s hard not to be swept up in the euphoria, especially when an adversary begins to seem not only reasonable but personable. Both leaders have now taken risks that would have been impossible even a few months ago, before Mr. Rouhani was elected to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a hard-liner who spewed anti-American and anti-Israel diatribes. But so far, it’s only words; the Iranians haven’t actually done anything to satisfy concerns about their nuclear program. In fact, Mr. Rouhani has repeatedly affirmed Iran’s plans to continue enriching uranium."

"It’s hard not to be swept up in the euphoria" over a 15-minute phone call on Rouhani's way to the airport, after Rouhani refused to shake Obama's hand at the UN? Please . . .

Remarkably, it should be noted that Rouhani is claiming that Obama initiated the conversation and not the other way around as claimed by a "senior Obama administration official" (see: http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13920706000872).

But more to the point, as noted in my prior blog entry:
  1. In a pre-election interview, a so-called "reasonable" Rouhani bragged how he had lulled the West into complacency while radically expanding Iran's nuclear weapons development program (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjbrqPK-BBg). Are Obama and friends truly daft enough to believe that Rouhani's latest charm campaign is anything other than another attempt to buy time to allow Tehran to build its first nuclear weapon? But following Obama's Syrian "red line" debacle, the entire world knows that America's president seeks to avoid violent confrontation at any price.
  2. Hassan Rouhani is not Iran's boss. Iran's less-than-charming Supreme Leader Khamenei calls the shots. Khamenei is going to dismantle his multi-year investment in building Iran's first atomic bomb? This nuclear weapons development program is to Khamenei what Obamacare is to Obama. What are they smoking in the West Wing and at the US State Department?
  3. Obama's farewell at the end of this phone call, "Khodahafez"? The Persian translation of "Khodahafez" is "May God be your Guardian." Well, there is nothing "Godly" about the Islamic Republic of Iran. A pity that Obama doesn't take the time to educate himself about the horrifying oppression of Iran's Baha'is, Kurds, Sunnis, homosexuals and women. A pity that Obama can't take a tour of Tehran's infamous Evan Prison.

Bottom line: "Speak softly and carry a big stick" has been replaced by Obama's "A Toke and a Smile" diplomacy, a product of his never having to deal with bullies over the course of his exclusive private schooling.

Israel will soon need to act on its own.

The New York Times, "Obama Speaks to President of Iran in First Talk Since 1979": A Toke and a Smile Diplomacy

Oh please, say to me
You'll let me be your man
And please, say to me
You'll let me hold your hand
I'll let me hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand
 
- "I Want to Hold Your Hand," The Beatles, 1963


In a New York Times article entitled "Obama Speaks to President of Iran in First Talk Since 1979" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/28/world/obama-says-he-spoke-to-irans-president-by-phone.html?_r=0) by Peter Baker, we are told that Obama, who tried mightily but failed to shake Hassan Rouhani's hand at the UN, succeeded in calling Iran's president on his way to New York's Kennedy Airport. The article describes this very brief conversation, which made world headlines, as follows:

"A senior Obama administration official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity because of diplomatic sensitivities, said the White House had expressed the president’s interest in meeting Mr. Rouhani to the Iranians this week but was surprised when they suggested the phone call. Mr. Obama placed the call from the Oval Office around 2:30 p.m., joined by aides and a translator.

He opened by congratulating Mr. Rouhani on his election in June and noted the history of mistrust between the two nations, but also what he called the constructive statements Mr. Rouhani had made during his stay in New York, according to the official. The bulk of the call focused on the nuclear dispute, and Mr. Obama repeated that he respected Iran’s right to develop civilian nuclear energy, but insisted on concessions to prevent development of weapons.

Mr. Obama also raised the cases of three Americans in Iran, one missing and two others detained. In a lighter moment, he apologized for New York traffic.

The call ended on a polite note, according to the official and Mr. Rouhani’s Twitter account.

'Have a nice day,' Mr. Rouhani said in English.

'Thank you,' Mr. Obama replied, and then tried a Persian farewell. 'Khodahafez.'"

And so, beginning with his March 2009 Nowruz message to the Iranian people, Obama has finally managed a fifteen-minute conversation with Iran's new president. What an incredible breakthrough . . . not.

It should first be noted that Rouhani is claiming that Obama initiated the conversation and not the other way around as claimed by the "senior Obama administration official" (see: http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13920706000872).

But more to the point:

  1. In a pre-election interview, Rouhani, all smiles, bragged how he had lulled the West into complacency while radically expanding Iran's nuclear weapons development program (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjbrqPK-BBg). Are Obama and friends truly daft enough to believe that Rouhani's latest charm campaign is anything other than another attempt to buy time to allow Tehran to build its first nuclear weapon? But following Obama's Syrian "red line" debacle, the entire world knows that America's president seeks to avoid violent confrontation at any price.
  2. Hassan Rouhani is not Iran's boss. Iran's less-than-charming Supreme Leader Khamenei calls the shots. Khamenei is going to dismantle his multi-year investment in building Iran's first atomic bomb? This nuclear weapons development program is to Khamenei what Obamacare is to Obama. What are they smoking in the West Wing and at the US State Department?
  3. Obama's parting farewell, "Khodahafez"? The Persian translation of "Khodahafez" is "May God be your Guardian." Well, there is nothing "Godly" about the Islamic Republic of Iran. A pity that Obama doesn't take the time to educate himself about the horrifying oppression of Iran's Baha'is, Kurds, Sunnis, homosexuals and women. A pity that Obama can't take a tour of Tehran's infamous Evan Prison.

Bottom line: "Speak softly and carry a big stick" has been replaced by Obama's "A Toke and a Smile" diplomacy, a product of his never having to deal with bullies over the course of his exclusive private schooling.

Do you remember Father Flanagan's famous line, "There's no such thing as a bad boy"? Well there is such a thing as a "bad" leader. The world is rife with them, many of whom congregated at the UN this past week.

"May God be our guardian"? With Obama at the helm, I prefer, "May God help us."

Friday, September 27, 2013

Gail Collins, "Congress Cracks Up": Does America Have a "Debt Problem and a Failure of Leadership"?

Threaten the full faith and credit of the US by refusing to raise the debt ceiling? Yes, I know, US debt is on the path to becoming unsustainable. As stated by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office earlier this month with regard to America's financial future (http://www.cbo.gov/publication/44521):

"Between 2009 and 2012, the federal government recorded the largest budget deficits relative to the size of the economy since 1946, causing federal debt to soar. Federal debt held by the public is now about 73 percent of the economy’s annual output, or gross domestic product (GDP). That percentage is higher than at any point in U.S. history except a brief period around World War II, and it is twice the percentage at the end of 2007. If current laws generally remained in place, federal debt held by the public would decline slightly relative to GDP over the next several years, CBO projects. After that, however, growing deficits would ultimately push debt back above its current high level. CBO projects that federal debt held by the public would reach 100 percent of GDP in 2038, 25 years from now, even without accounting for the harmful effects that growing debt would have on the economy (see the figure below). Moreover, debt would be on an upward path relative to the size of the economy, a trend that could not be sustained indefinitely."

But threaten a crack-up of the none-too-strong economy with such a measure? Who would be foolish enough to engage in such brinkmanship?

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Congress Cracks Up" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/28/opinion/collins-congress-cracks-up.html?_r=0), Gail Collins chastises US House Republicans for engaging in such dangerous games. Collins writes:

"So, what do you think is wrong with these people? Thanks to gerrymandered Congressional districts and the Tea Party, we do seem to have a surprising number of elected officials who actually don’t believe that raising the debt limit so the government can pay its bills is a good plan."

But consider Senator Obama’s Floor Speech on March 20, 2006, before he voted against raising the debt ceiling:

"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that 'the buck stops here.' Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better."

As we were told in January 2011 by Andrew McCarthy in his National Review column "The Corner" (http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/256288/senator-barack-obama-explaining-his-2006-vote-against-raising-debt-limit-andrew-c-mcca), regarding this declaration by Senator Obama:

"At the time, Senator Obama was urging Congress not to tolerate an increase that would bring the debt ceiling to $9 trillion. Under President Obama, the debt ceiling has been raised to $14.3 trillion. Even without counting most unfunded liabilities, the national debt is now calculated to be nearing $14.1 trillion."

Well, we are no longer in 2006, when US national debt was nearing $9 trillion. We are no longer in 2011, when US national debt was some $14 trillion. Rather, we are now late into 2013, and US national debt is just a whisker under $17 trillion.

Does "America have a debt problem and a failure of leadership"? Do "Americans deserve better"? How about some answers, Gail.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Paul Krugman, "Plutocrats Feeling Persecuted": Which Millionaire Isn't Mentioned by Paul?

Pop quiz: Which name goes missing from Paul Krugman's latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Plutocrats Feeling Persecuted" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/27/opinion/krugman-plutocrats-feeling-persecuted.html?_r=0)? Three, two, one . . . pencils down.

Ranting against the plutocracy emerging in the US, Krugman writes:

"The thing is, by and large, the wealthy have gotten their wish. Wall Street was bailed out, while workers and homeowners weren’t. Our so-called recovery has done nothing much for ordinary workers, but incomes at the top have soared, with almost all the gains from 2009 to 2012 going to the top 1 percent, and almost a third going to the top 0.01 percent — that is, people with incomes over $10 million.

. . . .

Well, I have a theory. When you have that much money, what is it you’re trying to buy by making even more? You already have the multiple big houses, the servants, the private jet. What you really want now is adulation; you want the world to bow before your success. And so the thought that people in the media, in Congress, and even in the White House are saying critical things about people like you drives you wild."

Indeed, Paul, there has been no recovery since Obama became president. No collapse, but no recovery. Unemployment in the US has ticked down, but it remains at a disastrously high rate. (If you're over 50, go try to find a job.) Almost 50 million Americans are on food stamps. US stock markets are near all-time highs, but raise interest rates by the tiniest notch, and the air will come flooding out of them.

And small cap companies, which are America's wellspring of economic growth, are being imperilled by government indifference to their well-being. Reinstatement of Glass-Steagall and the Uptick Rule (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/08/maureen-dowd-summers-of-our-discontent.html) since Obama took office? Heck no!

But why only point a finger at plutocrats outside of government? President Obama, who tried to give us Larry Summers as the next head of the Federal Reserve, and almost half the members of Congress (see: http://www.startribune.com/politics/statelocal/219127451.html) are millionaires.

Summers? "When he returned to serve in the Obama administration, he reported a net worth between $17 million and $39 million" (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-02/summers-after-government-saw-wealth-surge-to-17-million.html).

John Koskinen, Obama’s nominee to head the IRS, "has a net worth between $7.1 million and $27.4 million, according to financial disclosure reports released by the Office of Government Ethics" (http://www.politico.com/story/2013/09/obama-irs-nominee-john-koskinen-net-worth-96471.html).

However, is Obama, who adores adulation and has a net worth of between $1.8 million and $6.8 million (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/15/obama-net-worth_n_3281555.html), mentioned in Krugman's opinion piece? Not even once.

Maybe Krugman felt the need to cut Obama some slack. After all, this lame duck president has recently been busy placating Russia's Putin and running after a handshake with Iran's Rouhani at the UN .

Or perhaps, after Obama's recent "off-the-record" consultation with editorial and op-ed staffers from The New York Times (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/09/michael-calderone-new-york-times.html), any such critical reference is taboo.

Any chance of an end to this marriage between wealth and government? Sorry. In another three and a half years, Bill and Hillary Clinton, whose combined net worth is said to exceed $100 million (see: http://www.celebritynetworth.com/dl/bill-and-hillary-clinton-net-worth/), are not apt to change matters.

Indeed, government has become a very rich person's game.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Gail Collins, "Meet Dilly and Dither": Collins Emerges as a Useful Idiot

Characteristically unable to make a decision, Obama consulted on August 29 with editorial and op-ed staffers from The New York Times regarding his meandering Syria policy (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/09/gail-collins-knowing-when-to-worry-did.html). It would appear that as a result of this "off-the-record" meeting, Obama suddenly opted to seek congressional approval for a "limited" strike against the Assad regime. Participating in the meeting was Gail Collins, who knows absolutely nothing about the Middle East.

Apparently relishing her new stature as a presidential foreign policy adviser, Collins has this to say in her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Meet Dilly and Dither" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/26/opinion/collins-meet-dilly-and-dither.html):

"This month, the pope made some sensible remarks about sex, and the president of Iran made some reasonable comments about nuclear weapons. Also, the Russians proved to be extremely helpful during an international crisis. Meanwhile, on the home front, our Congress appears too crazed by internal conflict to keep the lights on.

Our elected officials are loonier than Iran. Than the pope on sex. Less useful than Vladimir Putin."

Well, anxious to avoid eternal damnation at this late stage of the game, I will refrain from comment concerning Pope Francis's recent declarations concerning abortion, gay marriage and contraception, other than to observe that I favor all three.

But "reasonable comments" from Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, about nuclear weapons? Gail is probably unaware that in a pre-election interview, Rouhani, all smiles, bragged how he had lulled the West into complacency while radically expanding Iran's nuclear weapons development program (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjbrqPK-BBg). Of course, there's not a chance that he would try to deceive the West again.

The Russians proved "extremely helpful during an international crisis"? Yes, former KGB man Putin certainly helped Obama climb down from his tree and expunge a "red line" involving Assad's use of chemical weapons, drawn by America's president with washable crayon. And as a result, America's overseas stature, commitment to any semblance of morality (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/09/new-york-times-editorial-president_25.html), and power of deterrence have never been lower.

"Less useful that Vladimir Putin"?

Collins has now emerged as a "useful idiot."

New York Times Editorial, "President Obama at the United Nations": Compare with WaPo Editorial, "Trouble at the Core of U.S. Foreign Policy"

After members of the editorial board of The New York Times had an "off-the-record" discussion with Obama on August 29, 2013 (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/09/michael-calderone-new-york-times.html), they had this to say about the president's speech at the UN on Tuesday (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/25/opinion/president-obama-at-the-united-nations.html?_r=0):

"In his address to the United Nations General Assembly, President Obama gave some coherence to his foreign policy vision, which acknowledges both America’s role in the world and its limited ability to determine events inside other nations. He also set important, if incomplete, priorities for the rest of his term. Mr. Obama is well known for giving good speeches, so the question is whether he can implement a consistent, effective strategy to achieve his goals."

Now compare this first paragraph of the Times editorial with the beginning of a Washington Post editorial entitled "Trouble at the core of U.S. foreign policy" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trouble-at-the-core-of-us-foreign-policy/2013/09/25/b7d2652a-2608-11e3-b75d-5b7f66349852_story.html?hpid=z3):

"IN HIS second inaugural address, President Obama delivered a ringing pledge of U.S. support for American ideals around the world. 'We will support democracy from Asia to Africa, from the Americas to the Middle East,' he promised, 'because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom.'

Just eight months later, the idealism is gone. In what may be the most morally crimped speech by a president in modern times, Mr. Obama explicitly ruled out the promotion of liberty as a core interest of the United States."

Is it remotely possible that the two editorial boards were listening to the same speech?

Given that The New York Times has sold its journalistic soul to the devil - How can they continue to publish editorials without acknowledging, let alone explaining, their editorial board's "off-the-record" meeting with the president? - we shouldn't be surprised.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Maureen Dowd, "No Brief Encounter": Obama's Touchy-Feely Foreign Policy

Obama is a touchy-feely guy. Recall how Obama needed physical contact with Russia's Medvedev, in order to press home his sincerity about future "flexibility" in his relationship with Vladimir Putin.

Well, Putin got the message and subsequently made a jackass of Obama when reaching a would-be arrangement for Syria's Assad, a Russian client, to hand over his chemical weapons, thereby dissolving the American president's flimsy red line, drawn with washable crayon.

Today, in a New York Times op-ed entitled "No Brief Encounter" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/25/opinion/dowd-no-brief-encounter.html?_r=0), Maureen Dowd tells us how Obama had planned to press the flesh with Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani at the UN, flash his winning smile, and make his charms be known. Dowd informs us, however, the Rouhani was not prepared to accept this overture:

"Obama administration officials at the U.N. on Tuesday explained to reporters that there would not be a bilateral between President Obama and President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, or any sort of 'formal meeting.'       
 
'We’re not prepared for heads of state to negotiate or presidents to negotiate on the nuclear issue,' an official said, speaking on background. An 'encounter' would be permissible. Not a long one, but an 'informal, brief encounter.'       
 
'So,' a reporter asked, 'like a handshake?'       
 
'Yes, that type of thing,' the official replied. 'Exactly. On the margins here.'       
 
Except that, after the White House spent a week suggesting that there could be a press-the-flesh moment, Rouhani snubbed Obama. And not on the margins."

Or as Dr. Seuss might have explained it:

Not in a house,
not
 with a mouse,
not in a box,

not with a fox,
and certainly not on the margins."


 
After four and a half years as president, Obama still doesn't "get it."

Or as Maureen Dowd concludes:

"A handshake can’t be forced on someone who is not quite ready to come to grips."

Indeed, Rouhani is truly someone not quite ready to come to grips. You see, Iran is still feverishly working on its first atomic bomb.

Joe Hagan, "Hillary in Midair": A Gassy Balloon Awaiting a Pinprick

Notwithstanding the fact that there are another three and a half years until a bumbling Barack Obama vacates the White House, all eyes are already on Hillary. Might Hillary, every bit as narcissistic and incompetent as Obama - name one accomplishment during her tenure as secretary of state - decide, for the good of the nation, to forgo the race? Not a chance. Meanwhile, America's "progressive" media is already clearing the path.

In a New York Magazine article entitled "Hillary in Midair" (http://nymag.com/news/features/hillary-clinton-2013-9/index3.html), Joe Hagan attempts to paper over the Benghazi affair:

"Hillary might have left the State Department unsullied by controversy if not for the Benghazi episode, in which the ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other consulate staffers were killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate. The NATO intervention in Libya was the most important foreign intervention of her tenure, and a seemingly successful one, but the lack of security in Benghazi and the confusion over how the incident occurred set off a heated Republican attack on Clinton’s handling of the disaster, and she was roasted on the cable-news spit for weeks. In January, she took responsibility for the deaths of the four Americans before Congress—while also questioning her inquisition, snapping at a Republican congressman, 'What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.'"

Benghazi will be the go-to bludgeon for Republicans if and when Clinton tries using her experience at State to run for president. It is a reminder that Clinton, despite the cool, centrist façade she has developed in the past four years, is only a misstep away from being a target of partisan rage once again."

Hillary will be the "target of partisan rage once again"? Sorry, but let's have a look at exactly what was said by Hillary in her interchange with Senator Ron Johnson during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on January 23, 2013 (see: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2013/may/08/context-hillary-clintons-what-difference-does-it-m/):

Johnson: No, again, we were misled that there were supposedly protests and that something sprang out of that -- an assault sprang out of that -- and that was easily ascertained that that was not the fact, and the American people could have known that within days and they didn’t know that.

Clinton: With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator. Now, honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this, but the fact is that people were trying in real time to get to the best information. The IC has a process, I understand, going with the other committees to explain how these talking points came out. But you know, to be clear, it is, from my perspective, less important today looking backwards as to why these militants decided they did it than to find them and bring them to justice, and then maybe we’ll figure out what was going on in the meantime.

Well, for starters Hillary actively participated in the cover-up surrounding the circumstances involving this travesty. One need only listen to what the mother of Sean Smith, one of four Americans killed in the Benghazi attack, has to say about Hillary and friends.

"It is our job to figure out what happened"? Well, if that's the case, Hillary and Barack didn't do their jobs. A month and a half ago, we learned from CNN that there has been no serious effort by the US government to investigate the murders of Sean Smith, Ambassador Stevens and two other Americans (see: http://edition.cnn.com/video/?/video/world/2013/07/31/ctw-benghazi-witness-damon.cnn#/video/world/2013/07/31/ctw-benghazi-witness-damon.cnn). CNN's Arwa Damon spoke freely, in public, at a hotel coffee shop for two hours with Ahmed Abu Khattala, a leader of Ansar al-Sharia, who witnessed, and may have directed, the Benghazi embassy attack. No one from the US government ever contacted him.

Moreover, how do you "figure out what happened" in Benghazi and prevent it from ever happening again if you refuse to ascertain whether the deaths stemmed from a spontaneous protest or a planned attack by an al-Qaeda affiliate? It makes a big difference. In fact, I would say that it makes all the difference in the world if you want to take smart, effective measures to bolster US embassy defense and "to prevent it from ever happening again."

"Partisan rage" against Hillary? As much as it would be nice to have a first female president of the US, left, right and center should rise up against Hillary's unscrupulous, self-serving antics.

William Broad and David Sanger, "Chemical Disarmament Won’t Be Easy": Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

In a New York Times article entitled "Chemical Disarmament Won’t Be Easy" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/24/science/decades-of-disarmament.html?_r=0), William Broad and David Sanger write:

"Four miles from the White House, Army specialists are digging very cautiously into an empty lot where a brick house once stood in one of the district’s toniest neighborhoods, on the edge of the American University campus.

A giant tent covers the site, alarms ready to sound if deadly poisons should leak. After decades of work, decontamination of the old burial ground for World War I chemical munitions is expected to be finished by late next year.

Next year, meanwhile, is also the deadline for Syria to eliminate its entire chemical arsenal, from one end of the country to another, under the American-Russian plan announced 10 days ago.

The disparity between the Syrian rush and the American slog underscores the difficulties facing that plan, even if Syria cooperates."

"Won't be easy"? In fact, elimination of Assad's entire chemical arsenal sometime next year even under optimum conditions (i.e. no civil war), maximum cooperation from both Assad and Putin, and no budgetary limitations is . . . impossible.

Meanwhile, as reported by William Bigelow of Breitbart (http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Journalism/2013/09/22/Crowley-Obama-s-Foreign-Policy-Either-Brilliant-Strategy-or-Sheer-Luck) two days ago:

"With the Middle East in flames and Vladimir Putin of Russia openly mocking Barack Obama, the host of CNN’s State of the Union can only see the President's foreign policy as a success.

Introducing the subjects she would cover, Candy Crowley asked rhetorically, 'And on the eve of the UN General Assembly, a look at the legacy of Barack Obama’s foreign policy: brilliant strategy or sheer luck?'

Later, Crowley asked, 'A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. seemed on the brink of a military strike against Syria. Now in a turn of events, there’s a chance of diplomatic breakthroughs with not only Syria but Iran. Does the president deserve credit or was he in the right place at the right time?'"

"Brilliant strategy or sheer luck"? Yeah, right.

This is the same Candy Crowley who recently asked House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (see: http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-TV/2013/09/15/Candy-Crowley-Who-Cares-if-Putin-Gained-From-Syrian-Deal):

"If it has a chance to get rid of chemical weapons, do we really care if Russian got the diplomatic edge?"

Answer to Crowley, CNN's chief Obama apologist: It has no chance.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Paul Krugman, "Free to Be Hungry": Should Food Stamps Be Used to Purchase Junk Food?

We were recently told in a New York Times op-ed by Maureen Dowd that she attended an event at Georgetown University honoring Warren Buffett, who spent the evening drinking Coca-Cola, a product with almost no nutritional value, manufactured by a company whose shares he owns (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/09/maureen-dowd-americas-billionaire-buy.html). Does Warren Buffett buy Coca-Cola using food stamps? Not a chance. But should recipients of food stamps be allowed to use them to buy Coca-Cola and other junk food?

Surprisingly, I agree with some of what Paul Krugman has to say in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Free to Be Hungry" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/23/opinion/krugman-free-to-be-hungry.html?_r=0). Krugman writes:

"The recent growth of SNAP [the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program] has indeed been unusual, but then so have the times, in the worst possible way. The Great Recession of 2007-9 was the worst slump since the Great Depression, and the recovery that followed has been very weak. Multiple careful economic studies have shown that the economic downturn explains the great bulk of the increase in food stamp use. And while the economic news has been generally bad, one piece of good news is that food stamps have at least mitigated the hardship, keeping millions of Americans out of poverty."

Makes sense? Yes. But Krugman continues:

"Beyond that, however, you might think that ensuring adequate nutrition for children, which is a large part of what SNAP does, actually makes it less, not more likely that those children will be poor and need public assistance when they grow up. And that’s what the evidence shows."

Hold your horses, Paul. Given that food stamps can be used to purchase junk food, they cannot possibly ensure adequate nutrition for children.

Moreover, the link in the US between poverty and obesity is clear (see, for example: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3198075/).

I agree with Krugman that food stamps are a necessary safety-net at times like these, when the US economy remains in the doldrums. However, I also believe that various proposed laws to prevent food stamps from being used for junk food desperately need to be enacted. As reported by Yahoo! News in a September 11, 2013 article entitled "GOP bill would ban using food stamp funds on junk food" by Eric Pfeiffer (http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/gop-bill-would-ban-using-food-stamp-funds-on-junk-food--215158768.html):

"Newly proposed legislation in Congress would ban recipients of food stamps from buying junk food.

The Hill reports that a bill proposed by Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., would require food stamp recipients to purchase only healthy food.

The Healthy Food Choices Act, H.R. 3073 is the latest salvo from Republican members of Congress who have criticized the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps or the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC).

. . . .

Roe’s legislation is specifically in response to a 2012 study, which showed that recipients from the food stamp fund spend approximately $2 billion a year on junk food."

Does such a ban, proposed by a . . . Republican (there, I said the nasty word), make sense? Absolutely, positively.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Kenneth Pollack, "Short of a Deal, Containing Iran Is the Best Option": What Happened to "I Don't Bluff"?

In a guest New York Times op-ed entitled "Short of a Deal, Containing Iran Is the Best Option" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/23/opinion/short-of-a-deal-containing-iran-is-the-best-option.html?pagewanted=all), Kenneth Pollack, "a former Central Intelligence Agency analyst and National Security Council official," declares his opposition to a military confrontation with Iran over its nuclear weapons development program. Pollack writes:

"If it cannot reach a diplomatic deal, America will face a choice between two alternatives: using force to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear arsenal or containing a nuclear Iran until its regime collapses from its own dysfunction.

It is going to be a difficult choice. For that reason, we need to start thinking about it now. We cannot afford to have our diplomatic efforts collapse suddenly and, as in Syria, be forced to lunge forward unprepared.

Sizing up the two alternatives, I favor containment over military operations."

Peculiar. I thought Obama already had a policy. You will recall that Obama told Jeffrey Goldberg  (http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/obama-to-iran-and-israel-as-president-of-the-united-states-i-dont-bluff/253875/):
"I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don't bluff. I also don't, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say."

Let's also not forget that there is this other entity in the Middle East, whose existence has repeatedly been threatened by Iran, and which cannot afford to gamble on Pollack's proposed policy of containment. Believe me, Israel is willing and prepared to act on its own to quash this existential threat.

One can only wonder why The New York Times is publishing Pollack's guest op-ed, so soon after Andrew Rosenthal, members of its editorial board and members of its op-ed staff held a dubious meeting with President Obama (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/09/michael-calderone-new-york-times.html). Are they smoothing the way for Obama to back down again?

It sure looks that way.

New York Times Editorial, "President Rouhani Comes to Town": The Times Also Drinks Rouhani's Kool-Aid

Yes, the editorial board of The New York Times, fresh from a dubious meeting with President Obama (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/09/michael-calderone-new-york-times.html), wears its naivete on it sleeve.

In an editorial entitled "President Rouhani Comes to Town" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/22/opinion/sunday/president-rouhani-comes-to-town.html?_r=0), the Times begins:

"All eyes at this week’s United Nations General Assembly will be on Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani. Since taking office in August, he has sent encouraging signals about his willingness to engage more constructively with the West than his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who insisted on proceeding with Iran’s nuclear program, denied the Holocaust and seemed unconcerned as his country slipped into deeper economic distress. Mr. Rouhani’s assembly address on Tuesday gives him a chance to provide concrete evidence that his talk of change is real."

His speech Gives Rouhani "a chance to provide concrete evidence that his talk of change is real"? Oh really? When in the past did we hear of talk of "change" from someone else, and what became of it?

But back to Rouhani.

In an interview with Ann Curry of NBC News last week, Rouhani refused to deny, but also refused to acknowledge that the Holocaust occurred (see: http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/09/19/20573897-exclusive-iran-president-blames-israel-for-instability-calls-for-peace?lite). This is "change"?

During this interview he also called Israel a nation that "does injustice to the people of the region and has brought instability to the region with its war-mongering policies." This follows on the heels of Rouhani's declaration in August as translated by Reuters (see: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57596710/new-iran-president-hasan-rouhani-calls-israel-an-old-wound/):

"In our region there's been a wound for years on the body of the Muslim world under the shadow of the occupation of the holy land of Palestine and the beloved al-Quds [Jerusalem]."

However, ISNA, Iran's student news agency, provided an alternative translation of Rouhani's observation:

"The Zionist regime has been a wound on the body of the Islamic world for years and the wound should be removed."

Either way, Rouhani's remarks are not encouraging.

More evidence of the stupidity and inaccurancy of the editorial board of the Times? The editorial declares:

"The next few weeks will be critical for capitalizing on a new sense of promise created by a recent flurry of remarkable gestures: Iran’s leadership has sent Rosh Hashana greetings to Jews worldwide via Twitter."

However, as reported by Iran's Fars News Agency (http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13920614000756):

"A senior advisor to the Iranian President rejected western media reports alleging that President Rouhani has tweeted a felicitation message to the world Jews on Rosh Hashanah, the new Jewish year, underlining that the Iranian president has no official twitter account.

'Mr. Rouhani does not have a twitter account,' Presidential Advisor Mohammad Reza Sadeq told FNA on Thursday.

The western media claimed late Wednesday that the Iranian president has tweeted a felicitation message to the worldwide Jewish community to congratulate them on the advent of the new Jewish year."

Should we expect honesty from Rouhani concerning Iran's nuclear intentions? As reported by The New York Times last month (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/23/world/middleeast/iran-said-to-pave-over-site-linked-to-nuclear-talks.html):

"Iran has paved over large swaths of a restricted military base that United Nations nuclear inspectors have sought unsuccessfully to visit for years because they suspect it was once a laboratory for testing weapons triggers, an antiproliferation monitoring group said Thursday in a study of new satellite imagery, suggesting the Iranians had tried to sanitize the site."

In short, look for more of the frightening "same" from Rouhani and more of the frightening "same" from an indecisive "kick the can down the road" Obama, fresh from his chaotic mishandling of Assad's sarin attack against civilians in Syria in August, which killed nearly 1,500 people.

It's not going to be pretty.

With respect to Iran's nuclear weapons development program, Israel had best prepare to act on its own. Sometimes I think Obama is bluffing himself.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Thomas Friedman, "Mother Nature and the Middle Class": More Road Apples from a Would-Be Middle East Expert

Who would ever imagine? Today, we are blessed with more steaming horse apples from would-be Middle East expert Thomas Friedman in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Mother Nature and the Middle Class" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/22/opinion/sunday/mother-nature-and-the-middle-class.html). Friedman writes:

"IF you fell asleep 30 years ago, woke up last week and quickly scanned the headlines in Iran and Egypt you could be excused for saying, 'I didn’t miss a thing.' The military and the Muslim Brotherhood are still slugging it out along the Nile, and Iranian pragmatists and ideologues are still locked in a duel for control of their Islamic Revolution.

. . . .

And that’s why two of the most interesting leaders to watch today are President Rouhani of Iran and Egypt’s new military strongman, Gen. Abdul Fattah el-Sisi. Both men rose up in the old order, but both men were brought into the top leadership by the will of their emergent middle classes and newly empowered citizens, and neither man will be able to maintain order without reforming the systems that produced them — making them more sustainable and inclusive."

Both men were brought into power "by the will of their emergent middle classes and newly empowered citizens"? Sorry, but Rouhani's candidacy needed to be approved by Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei, and for better or for worse, el-Sisi came to power in Egypt as the result of a military coup.

"Neither man will be able to maintain order without reforming the systems that produced them — making them more sustainable and inclusive"? Rouhani is going to make life "more inclusive" for Iran's Kurds, Sunnis, Baha'is and homosexuals? Yeah, right.

General el-Sisi is going to yield power in Egypt in the near future, but not before empowering Egyptian women and Egypt's significant Coptic Christian minority? I wouldn't bet on it.

Thanks, Tom. My guess is that if I were to fall asleep and wake up in another 30 years, you would still be writing this rot.

Maureen Dowd, "America’s Billionaire": Buy What You Know, or, Buy What You Don't Know (After Learning It)?

Unlike Warren Buffett, I don't give stock market advice. Moreover, I long ago reached the conclusion that I will not invest in companies where I do not interact with management. In addition, it's my belief that if a product being created by a company is too easily understood by me, it's ultimately going to be copied in China.

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "America’s Billionaire" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/22/opinion/sunday/dowd-americas-billionaire.html?_r=0), Maureen Dowd describes a discussion between Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan and Warren Buffett, which took place before an audience of 700 Georgetown students and faculty. Dowd writes:

"Speaking to an excited crowd of students and others Thursday night beneath soaring stained-glass windows, the 83-year-old Warren Buffett offered inspiring lessons in patriotism and compassion — traits sorely missing here as Republicans ran headlong toward a global economic cataclysm and gutted the food stamp program.

'I am sorry I’m late,' Nancy Pelosi murmured sardonically, as she arrived at the Buffett event. 'We were busy taking food out of the mouths of babies.'"

Don't get me wrong: I oppose Republican efforts to shut down the US government unless Obamacare is defunded. I also oppose "gutting" the food stamp program. But Pelosi demeaning someone else's morality? It was Pelosi who met with Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad in 2007 and infamously declared, "We came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace." Some six years later, this past August 21st, Assad killed nearly 1,500 people with sarin gas, of whom more than 400 were children.

But back to Buffett. Dowd tells us:

"He doesn’t worry about keeping up with modern technology. He buys what he knows, like Coca-Cola, which he drank all evening."

Well, I'm not about to drink Coca-Cola all evening. Thank you, Coca-Cola won't dissolve your teeth overnight, but I'm not obese - nor do I intend to become so. Diet Cola? I prefer to feed my caffeine addiction with coffee.

But more to the point, is it all about making money? Or does the possibility also exist to make money by investing in endeavors, which, unlike Coca-Cola, can contribute to humanity?

But how to invest in biotech or medical devices without losing your shirt? Not easy. But for me it begins with my desire to be overwhelmed by the science. When I meet with a company's scientists, I want to feel that I am the dumbest person in the room.

Late in the second half of the game, I am blessed to be able to work with two remarkable companies seeking to change the world in which we live.

Compugen, which is revolutionizing the manner in which new drugs and diagnostics are discovered, has spent the past decade building an infrastructure of proprietary scientific understandings, predictive platforms, algorithms, and machine learning systems for the in silico (by computer) prediction and selection of product candidates. Although Compugen is the vision of Martin Gerstel, who in the past guided Alza, a drug delivery company, to success, the ongoing realization of Mr. Gerstel's dream is in the hands of some 50 geniuses who have collectively integrated their diverse fields of knowledge - no small endeavor. I meet and talk regularly with Mr. Gerstel and Compugen's management and scientific team. Although I am overwhelmed by their intellects, I have never encountered arrogance or condescension. Quite the contrary: I have always experienced smiles and angelic patience as their scientists have explained to me their latest achievements.

A month ago, Compugen announced that it had signed a licensing deal with Bayer HealthCare involving two immune checkpoint regulators discovered by Compugen. Immune checkpoint regulators? Cancer immunotherapy? As explained by Compugen in their press release describing the deal (http://cgen.com/press-releases/212-compugen-announces-collaboration-and-license-agreement-with-bayer-for-antibody-based-cancer-immunotherapies):

"The immunotherapy approach aims at combatting cancer by stimulating the body´s own immune cells. The tumor and its environment suppress the ability of cancer patients to develop an effective anti-tumor immune response and in this way protect both tumor growth and survival.

. . . .

Latest cancer immunotherapies have demonstrated impressive clinical benefit, even for end-stage patients with difficult-to-treat tumors such as metastatic melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer. Unlike conventional cancer therapies, which act by directly targeting the cancer cells, resulting often in only transient clinical responses as cancer cells become resistant, clinical responses to cancer immunotherapy tend to be durable, sometimes resulting in dramatic long term survival and absence of resistance or recurrences."

Exciting science? You bet! And last week, Compugen announced experimental results for yet another immune checkpoint protein that it discovered, CGEN-15049 (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/09/compugen-target-for-cancer.html):

CGEN-15049 has demonstrated the ability to regulate an impressive array of different types of immune cells, therefore offering unique potential as a target for monoclonal antibody immunotherapy for many types of cancers and further contributing to the diversity of Compugen's Pipeline Program candidates. More specifically, in vitro studies have shown that CGEN-15049 both inhibits Natural Killer cells, which are important for innate immune responses, and modulates the activity of types of T cells that constitute a crucial component of the adaptive anti-tumor immune response. In this respect, CGEN-15049 inhibits cytotoxic T lymphocytes, which normally act to recognize and kill tumor cells, and promotes inducible regulatory T cells, which play a central role in creating the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment that reduce the ability of the immune system to fight the tumor.

In addition to its functional effect on multiple types of immune cells, CGEN-15049 is also expressed on a wide variety of cancers with high clinical unmet need, such as lung, ovarian, breast, colorectal, gastric, prostate and liver cancers. Notably, its expression can be detected both within the tumor epithelium of the cancers as well as on immune cells infiltrating these cancers. This expression pattern within the tumor microenvironment, combined with its immunomodulatory activity on immune cells involved in tumor progression, suggest a role for CGEN-15049 in suppressing anti-tumor immune response. Therefore, inhibition of CGEN-15049 activity by monoclonal antibody therapy, in certain cancer types, is predicted to result in allowing the activation of an anti-tumor immune response and potentially eliminating the tumor itself.”

Hard to understand? Yes, but worth making the effort. Where might you even begin to learn about immune checkpoint therapy for cancer? "Monoclonal Antibodies (mAbs) for Dummies," of course (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2009/10/monoclonal-antibodies-mabs-for-dummies.html).

Nano Retina, which is the brainchild of renowned medical device inventor Yossi Gross and nanotechnology icon Jim Von Ehr, is seeking to create a miniaturized retinal implant to restore vision to persons blinded by age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa following a 30-minute minimally invasive operation. A video is worth a thousand words? Have a look for yourselves:



Again, I have only known kindness and caring from the founders and small team of scientists responsible for this breakthrough project.

Innovation is premised upon vision, ambition, teamwork and no small amount of sweat and lack of sleep. Temerity, rapacity and insensitivity are unnecessary ingredients.

So, do you buy what you know, or, do you buy what you don't know (after learning it)?

[As noted in prior blog entries, I am a Compugen shareholder, this blog entry is not a recommendation to buy or sell Compugen shares, and in September 2009 I began work as a part-time external consultant to Compugen. The opinions expressed herein are mine and are based on publicly available information. This blog entry has not been authorized, approved or reviewed prior to posting by Compugen.]

Gail Collins, "Knowing When to Worry": Did Gail's Op-ed Violate New York Times "Ethical Journalism" Guidelines?

Shut down the US government unless Obamacare is defunded? The attempt by the US House of Representatives to kill Obamacare is draconian and apt to do more damage than good. Of course, Obamacare is a disaster, and there is a reason why the Obama administration continues to delay its implementation (see: http://www.cnbc.com/id/100959960).

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Knowing When to Worry" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/21/opinion/collins-knowing-when-to-worry.html?_r=0), Gail Collins mocks the effort by the Republican-controlled House to quash the Affordable Health Care Act. Collins drolly writes:

"The bill the House sent to the Senate on Friday doesn’t even make much sense. The 'defund Obamacare' part looks as though it was written by squirrels. If it became law, Obamacare would actually continue to exist. At most, the administration would be crippled in their early efforts to get younger uninsured Americans to sign up for health coverage. (This would presumably give the opposition more time to run those ads that show a young woman being given a pelvic exam by a monster Uncle Sam doll.) And, meanwhile, the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program would be thrown into chaos, as well as payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients."

But are the Republicans as loony as Collins makes them out to be? Have a look at Kathleen Parker's most recent Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Waiting for Obamacare" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/kathleen-parker-waiting-for-obamacare/2013/09/20/1eae4f96-2232-11e3-966c-9c4293c47ebe_story.html?hpid=z2), in which Parker makes the case that Obamacare needs to be delayed (actually, what is being done by the Obama administration) and not defunded. Parker observes in no-nonsense fashion:

"[T]he Affordable Care Act (ACA) is becoming increasingly unpopular. Only 39 percent of Americans currently favor the health-care program, compared with 51 percent in January, according to a recent CNN/ORC International poll.

Some of the reasons:

●Many companies are cutting worker hours to below the threshold (30 hours) at which they're required to comply with Obamacare. (SeaWorld is cutting hours for thousands of workers.)

●Others are cutting workers completely to avoid compliance or to reduce costs associated with the expanded coverage. (The Cleveland Clinic cited Obamacare as one reason for offering early retirement to 3,000 workers and hinting at future layoffs.)

●Many young people, unemployed or earning little, will have trouble paying premiums once open enrollment for health insurance exchanges begins Oct. 1. Even discounts won’t be enough for some, who then will face fines or have to turn to parents who face their own insurance challenges. List-price premiums for a 40-year-old buying a mid-range plan will average close to $330 per month, according to a recent Avalere Health study. For someone who is 60, premiums will run about $615 a month. Forget retirement."

Parker's conclusion:

"If we can delay sending cruise missiles to Syria pending a better solution, perhaps there’s some sense to delaying a health-care overhaul that creates unacceptable collateral damage to citizens and that is not quite ready for public consumption."

As acknowledged even by the Obama administration, as evidenced by its delays in implementing the law, Parker is right.

But let's go back to Collins. Did Collins's op-ed violate the "Ethical Journalism" guidelines (http://nytco.com/pdf/NYT_Ethical_Journalism_0904.pdf) of The New York Times? Item 6 of the handbook of the Times provides:

"[N]o one may do anything that damages The Times’s reputation for strict neutrality in reporting on politics and government."

Michael Calderone, the Senior Media Reporter for The Huffington Post, tells us in an article entitled "New York Times Editors, Columnists Met With Obama During Syria Push" (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/18/new-york-times-obama-syria_n_3949419.html?utm_hp_ref=media), that Obama consulted on August 29 with editorial and op-ed staffers from The New York Times regarding his meandering Syria policy. It would appear that as a result of this "off-the-record" meeting, Obama suddenly decided to seek congressional approval for his proposed "limited" strike against the Assad regime.

The meeting, in which Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal, not a particularly bright light (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/09/is-new-york-times-columnist-maureen.html), participated together with op-ed staffers, including Collins, and members of the editorial board, was not reported by the Times.

A simple question: Is it acceptable for the editorial and op-ed staff of the Times to meet with the president, offer their advice, and then opine - almost always favorably - on the president's actions? Can it be said that this advisory session deprived all of its participants of whatever was left of their impartiality?

What advice concerning Obamacare was given to the president during this shindig by New York Times staffers?

Care to answer, Gail?


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Paul Krugman, "The Crazy Party": The Crazy Newspaper

So that there is no misunderstanding: I don't like Republicans. I don't like Democrats. I don't like politicians. But I especially hate when a newspaper manages a nation's foreign policy.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Crazy Party" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/20/opinion/krugman-the-crazy-party.html?_r=0), Paul Krugman again takes aim at Republicans and explains how the "crazy party" is preparing to shut down the US government. Krugman writes:

"Yet, at the moment, it seems highly likely that the Republican Party will refuse to fund the government, forcing a shutdown at the beginning of next month, unless President Obama dismantles the health reform that is the signature achievement of his presidency. Republican leaders realize that this is a bad idea, but, until recently, their notion of preaching moderation was to urge party radicals not to hold America hostage over the federal budget so they could wait a few weeks and hold it hostage over the debt ceiling instead. Now they’ve given up even on that delaying tactic. The latest news is that John Boehner, the speaker of the House, has abandoned his efforts to craft a face-saving climbdown on the budget, which means that we’re all set for shutdown, possibly followed by debt crisis."

Ah, yes, Obama's "signature legislation," of which Democratic Senator Max Baucus, who assisted in writing the Affordable Care Act, stated, "I just see a huge train wreck coming down." This is the same "signature legislation" whose problematic implementation was again delayed last month by the president (see: http://www.cnbc.com/id/100959960).

Dialogue? I'm all in favor. But consider what the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said a few days ago about America's financial future (http://www.cbo.gov/publication/44521):

"Between 2009 and 2012, the federal government recorded the largest budget deficits relative to the size of the economy since 1946, causing federal debt to soar. Federal debt held by the public is now about 73 percent of the economy’s annual output, or gross domestic product (GDP). That percentage is higher than at any point in U.S. history except a brief period around World War II, and it is twice the percentage at the end of 2007. If current laws generally remained in place, federal debt held by the public would decline slightly relative to GDP over the next several years, CBO projects. After that, however, growing deficits would ultimately push debt back above its current high level. CBO projects that federal debt held by the public would reach 100 percent of GDP in 2038, 25 years from now, even without accounting for the harmful effects that growing debt would have on the economy (see the figure below). Moreover, debt would be on an upward path relative to the size of the economy, a trend that could not be sustained indefinitely."

Yes, the US is headed for a breakdown, and strong medicine, of the kind that a lame duck Obama administration is incapable of dispensing, is urgently needed.

But as I said earlier, I especially hate it when a dysfunctional Obama administration, in a fit of psychosis and despair, allows a newspaper to dictate its foreign policy. I kid you not.

Michael Calderone, the Senior Media Reporter for The Huffington Post, tells us in an article entitled "New York Times Editors, Columnists Met With Obama During Syria Push" (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/18/new-york-times-obama-syria_n_3949419.html?utm_hp_ref=media), that Obama consulted on August 29 with editorial and op-ed staffers from The New York Times regarding his meandering Syria policy. It would appear that as a result of this "off-the-record" meeting, Obama suddenly decided to seek congressional approval for his proposed "limited" strike against the Assad regime.

The meeting, in which Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal, not a particularly bright light (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/09/is-new-york-times-columnist-maureen.html), participated together with op-ed staffers (e.g., Gail Collins, who knows absolutely nothing about the Middle East) and members of the editorial board, was not reported by the Times.

We also learned from Calderone's article that a former Obama adviser is claiming that Obama only reads the Times.

What is most frightening about all of the above? That Obama only reads the Times, a "psycho-phantic" newspaper which has grown infamous for its anti-Semitic and anti-Israel biases (see, for example: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/02/stench-of-anti-semitism-at-new-york.html and http://www.camera.org/images_user/pdf/NYT%20study%20exec%20summary_ind.pdf)?

Or perhaps that Obama saw fit to take advice on Syria from highly politicized Times op-ed writers, such as Gail Collins, who know absolutely nothing about the Middle East?

Or perhaps that Obama was swayed by the editorial board of the Times, whose recent editorials on the subject of Syria (see, for example: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/09/new-york-times-editorial-syrian-pact.html and http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/09/new-york-times-editorial-diplomatic.html) are most kindly characterized as delusional?

Or perhaps that his portrayal by the only newspaper that he reads is more important to the president than making decisions based upon something as straightforward as . . . morality?

And why does Obama only read the Times? Could it be that this narcissistic man cannot bear to confront criticism dished out by other newspapers?

Indeed, we live in deeply disturbing, depressing and demented Times.


Michael Calderone, "New York Times Editors, Columnists Met With Obama During Syria Push": Obama Only Reads the Anti-Semitic Times?

As I write this blog item, I am reaching for my airsickness bag.

Michael Calderone, the Senior Media Reporter for The Huffington Post, tells us in an article entitled "New York Times Editors, Columnists Met With Obama During Syria Push" (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/18/new-york-times-obama-syria_n_3949419.html?utm_hp_ref=media), that Obama recently consulted with editorial and op-ed staffers from The New York Times regarding his meandering Syria policy. As reported by Calderone:

"On Aug. 29, the president again sat down for an off-the-record discussion with Rosenthal [editorial page editor of the Times] and some members of the editorial board, according to sources familiar with the meeting. Times opinion columnists David Brooks, Gail Collins and Ross Douthat also attended, but editors for the paper's news pages did not.

The meeting came amid the White House’s push for military intervention in Syria, one of the topics discussed that day.

. . . .

On the afternoon of Aug. 30, Secretary of State John Kerry made the case that Syria had used chemical weapons, signaling that U.S. retaliation for crossing a 'red line' drawn by Obama could be imminent. But the Times still seemed unconvinced that immediate action was the best course.

In an editorial posted online Aug. 30 and in the next day's paper, Times editors wrote that 'even in the best of circumstances, military action could go wrong in so many ways; the lack of strong domestic and international support will make it even more difficult.'

The Times also noted that Obama's 'approach on Syria now seems wholly at odds with the strong position' he took as a candidate in 2007.

. . . .

On the evening of Aug. 30, Obama reportedly decided to seek congressional approval for a strike during a talk with chief of staff Denis McDonough. He announced his decision publicly the following day.

Rosenthal did not respond to requests for comment about the Aug. 29 meeting and a Times spokeswoman declined to discuss the specifics of that gathering.

. . . .

[T]he Obama White House has long seemed particularly interested in getting its point of view across in the Times, and the president has said he reads all the paper's columnists. In April, a former adviser said the Times is the only paper Obama reads."

Okay, what is most frightening about all of the above? That Obama only reads the Times, a newspaper which has grown increasingly infamous for its anti-Semitic and anti-Israel biases (see, for example: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/02/stench-of-anti-semitism-at-new-york.html and http://www.camera.org/images_user/pdf/NYT%20study%20exec%20summary_ind.pdf)?

Or perhaps that Obama saw fit to consult with politicized Times op-ed writers, such as Gail Collins, who know absolutely nothing about the Middle East?

Or perhaps that Obama was swayed by the editorial board of The New York Times, whose recent editorials on the subject of Syria (see, for example: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/09/new-york-times-editorial-syrian-pact.html and http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/09/new-york-times-editorial-diplomatic.html) are most kindly characterized as delusional?

Or perhaps that it is more important to Obama how he is portrayed by the media than making decisions based upon . . . morality?

Bottom line, as I have stated in the past: The New York Times should now toss aside its ethical journalism handbook and proudly advertise itself as the semi-official mouthpiece of the Obama administration.

David Ignatius, "Obama Is Criticized for Right Result on Syria": A Mass Murderer Gets Off Scot-Free

In a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Obama is criticized for right result on Syria" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/david-ignatius-obama-is-criticized-for-right-result-on-syria/2013/09/18/b2a08acc-1ffb-11e3-b7d1-7153ad47b549_story.html?hpid=z2), David Ignatius would have us believe that although messy, Obama's Syria policy has yielded the "right result." Ignatius declares:

● "Russia has been drawn into a process of collecting and destroying Syria’s chemical arsenal."

● "The United Nations has taken new steps to affirm the international norm against the use of chemical weapons."

● "The United States and Russia have restarted their push for negotiations in Geneva toward a cease-fire and a political transition in Syria."

● "Amid all this diplomacy, Obama has pressed ahead with a covert program of training and assistance for the moderate Syrian rebel forces headed by Gen. Salim Idriss."

Sorry, David, but Russia doesn't need to do a thing, and its sole motivation is to protect a rogue client regime, while undermining US influence and interests. Since the Korean War, the United Nations has repeatedly demonstrated its impotence. There is no cease-fire or political transition on the horizon in Syria. Training in Jordan of a limited number of Idriss's rebel fighters without the supply of advanced weaponry or the imposition of a no-fly zone is not going to tip any "balance" - not in the fighting with Assad's forces and not in terms of leadership of the rebellion against Assad.

Ignatius's conclusion:

"He can propose what the country wants, succeed at it and still get hammered as a failure."

Oh, really. As stated otherwise by none other than US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power on Monday, Assad perpetrated the "largest chemical weapons attack in 25 years," killing nearly 1,500 civilians in a single morning, and has now been given responsibility by Obama for dismantling his regime's chemical weapons stockpile. Punishment? None. Credible sanctions if Assad fails to eliminate this stockpile? None.

Excuse me, but where is the "success"? America's overseas credibility and power of deterrence have been destroyed by Obama.

But more to the point, perhaps it's time for Ignatius to re-examine the settings of his moral compass. Obama has let a mass murderer get off scot-free.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

“Compugen Target for Cancer Immunotherapy Shown to Affect Multiple Immune Cell Types Involved in Tumor Progression”: CGEN's "Reply" to Cramer?

I don’t provide stock market advice, but did you happen to see Jim Cramer’s manic 50-second “take” on Compugen last Friday (see: http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000199050&__source=yahoo%7Cheadline%7Cquote%7Cvideo%7C&par=yahoo)? This stock market maven forgot to mention the total of nine novel immune checkpoint proteins predicted by the Company to date through the use of its unique predictive discovery infrastructure, although he did refer to the recent deal with Bayer involving only two of them.

Cramer also didn’t say that Compugen is currently using its predictive capabilities as part of a second focused discovery program for antibody drug conjugate cancer therapy. In addition, Cramer failed to note that in July, Compugen announced a new Predictive Structural Biology Infrastructure Platform for enhanced discovery of novel drugs.

Mind you, the key word in all of the above is “predictive.”

Unbeknownst to Cramer, Compugen, over the course of the past decade, has created a predictive capability for the development of new drugs and diagnostics that is cutting-edge, world-leading and disruptive.

Of course, I can’t fault Cramer. He is busy with the graphs, trading patterns and day to day movements of hundreds of public companies. Compugen, on the other hand, is merely seeking to change the way that medicines are discovered for unmet medical needs. Ultimately, I believe that Cramer will necessarily become better acquainted with Compugen, which is something of a rara avis and deserving of more than a cursory “technical” stock market review.

Regarding Compugen’s press release yesterday, “Compugen Target for Cancer Immunotherapy Shown to Affect Multiple Immune Cell Types Involved in Tumor Progression” (see: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/compugen-target-cancer-immunotherapy-shown-122200238.html), the Company announced experimental results for a third Compugen-discovered checkpoint, CGEN-15049 (my highlights in red):

CGEN-15049 has demonstrated the ability to regulate an impressive array of different types of immune cells, therefore offering unique potential as a target for monoclonal antibody immunotherapy for many types of cancers and further contributing to the diversity of Compugen's Pipeline Program candidates. More specifically, in vitro studies have shown that CGEN-15049 both inhibits Natural Killer cells, which are important for innate immune responses, and modulates the activity of types of T cells that constitute a crucial component of the adaptive anti-tumor immune response. In this respect, CGEN-15049 inhibits cytotoxic T lymphocytes, which normally act to recognize and kill tumor cells, and promotes inducible regulatory T cells, which play a central role in creating the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment that reduce the ability of the immune system to fight the tumor.

In addition to its functional effect on multiple types of immune cells, CGEN-15049 is also expressed on a wide variety of cancers with high clinical unmet need, such as lung, ovarian, breast, colorectal, gastric, prostate and liver cancers. Notably, its expression can be detected both within the tumor epithelium of the cancers as well as on immune cells infiltrating these cancers. This expression pattern within the tumor microenvironment, combined with its immunomodulatory activity on immune cells involved in tumor progression, suggest a role for CGEN-15049 in suppressing anti-tumor immune response. Therefore, inhibition of CGEN-15049 activity by monoclonal antibody therapy, in certain cancer types, is predicted to result in allowing the activation of an anti-tumor immune response and potentially eliminating the tumor itself.”

Compugen’s CEO, Anat Cohen-Dayag, further explained in the press release:

“A novel immune checkpoint protein offers the potential for development of multiple therapeutic products for both immunology and oncology, depending on its mode of action and function. Also, it is believed that different checkpoints are likely to be expressed on different cancers and within a specific type of cancer, in different patient populations. Therefore, identifying multiple cancer-associated immune checkpoints is of significant interest in allowing for the treatment of larger patient populations.”

Yes, there is reason to be excited by Compugen’s predictive immune checkpoint discoveries, providing a growing arsenal of potential weapons, which can be "mixed and matched" in the war against cancer.

Regarding Compugen, Cramer recommended that investors "wait for more partnerships and perhaps some success in the pipeline." Again, I do not provide stock market advice, but I would certainly regard yesterday's announcement by Compugen as "success in the pipeline." "More partnerships"? Let's see how long it takes Compugen to license out CGEN-15049, given Big Pharma's ravenous appetite for immune checkpoints.

But more to the point, I would suggest that Cramer is missing the bigger picture: The in silico (by computer) prediction and discovery by Compugen of its nine novel immune checkpoint proteins required only months as opposed to decades of worldwide research needed to find the limited number of previously known immune checkpoints (see slides 11 and 15 of Compugen's current corporate presentation available via its website).

You see, Compugen is not about any one candidate in its pipeline. Rather, it is the Company's predictive science, poised to have a far-reaching impact on the future of medicine, which deserves our attention.

[As noted in prior blog entries, I am a Compugen shareholder, this blog entry is not a recommendation to buy or sell Compugen shares, and in September 2009 I began work as a part-time external consultant to Compugen. The opinions expressed herein are mine and are based on publicly available information. This blog entry has not been authorized, approved or reviewed prior to posting by Compugen.]