Archive for February, 2015

Robert Agostinelli – Response to ” Another Obama Collision With the Constitution” by Michael Mukasey and David B. Rifkin Jr.

Robert Agostinelli – Response to ” Another Obama Collision With the Constitution” by Michael Mukasey and David B. Rifkin Jr.

Roberts response

The acrobatic evil back flips and triple Jacks that President Obama is willing to go through to undermine our finely balanced system of government is on display every day.  His disregard for the legislature is well documented through appoint of Czars, abuse of the use of executive orders  to unilaterally avoid executing the laws or worse to reinterpret them in accordance with his warped world view. His use of midnight budgetary reconciliation rules to ram through his grand scheme of socialist control of our economy; Obama Care and on and on.

Likewise his abuse and  intimidation of the judiciary branch starting with the high court  contravenes all regard for the balance so implicit in our three branch system.

We need not even include  his daily assaults on state rights, which again strike against the very nature of this Republic.

Now in yet another stunning move

he is asking for an unprecedented invocation of Congress to limit his primary constitutional power of wagging war.

All while simultaneously attempting to impose on Congress sharing of that executive branch power.

This power implicit in the very  title of Commander- in- chief was never meant to be shared  for the logical fear of failure and defeat if decision making was left to a committee.

Now we have  a President demanding c the very conditions for that failure on terms designed to transfer  accountability for it from  his office to them.

Thankfully  we have knowledgeable  guardians of our national interest like Mr. Mukasey and Mr. Rivkin to wake both ourselves and Congress to the evil slight of hand at work in the  latest AUMF.

This sly move is political for sure but worse it is a dagger pointed at the heart of that fine balance of power so struck by our Founders. Here is a man who having recklessly abandoned victor in Iraq which specifically led to the emergence of the virulent disease, ISIS, now setting the stage for future failure and establishment of a  precedent to blame congress.

All while using that same precedent to muddle future Presidents Constitutional power. One has to pause to take in the breath of multiple damage he is attempting to inflict now and in the future.

He is so daring Congress to reject his request in order that he can then in turn deny his ability to act in accordance with his constitutional  power and therefore  accelerate the blame of failure on to them in the face of his already existing accountability.

His own smug mantra of  Leading  from Behind does not fully capture his full intent. Forget national security and national interests. Here is a man who is not even willing to accord the enemy with it’s obvious definition of islamist terror nor affirm their actions as that of an enemy but rather as “random acts” of a group of criminals.

It is terrifying that this seat is occupied by someone so strident as to not offend our enemies yet  so sophisticated and laser focused in his doing so to our own national being.

Robert F. Agostinelli

Pam Beach , Florida

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Robert Agostinelli – Response to” Netanyahu’s Capitol Hill Debacle” by William A. Galston, Wall Street Journal , February 18, 2015

Robert Agostinelli – Response to” Netanyahu’s Capitol Hill Debacle” by William A. Galston, Wall Street Journal , February 18, 2015 

Netanyahu’s Capitol Hill Debacle

The Israeli leader and House speaker are risking a rupture in U.S.-Israel relations – By William A. Galston

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ’s speech to Congress on March 3 will be both a nakedly partisan event and a momentous policy clash.

Speaking on “Fox News Sunday” this weekend, House Speaker John Boehner was frank about his motives for leaving the White House in the dark about the invitation. “I wanted to make sure that there was no interference,” he said, citing White House “animosity” toward the Israeli leader: “I frankly didn’t want that getting in the way, quashing what I thought was a real opportunity.” Asked whether he had turned what has been a rare bipartisan issue into a political dispute, Mr. Boehner replied, “We had every right to do what we did”—a debatable response to a different question.

If inviting the prime minister of a major American ally to address a joint session of Congress two weeks before his country’s general election without notifying the president and congressional Democratic leaders isn’t rank partisanship, I don’t know what is. Mr. Netanyahu, who is hardly inexperienced in the ways of Washington, had to know how this would be received. The inescapable inference is that he did not care, and it isn’t hard to see why.

Begin with the obvious. While accepting Mr. Boehner’s invitation in principle, the prime minister could have told the House speaker that he was unable to leave Israel until after the election. There is no part of Mr. Netanyahu’s message to Congress that would be less relevant or influential for U.S. audiences if it were delivered on April 3 rather than March 3. There is only one audience for whom the timing might make a difference—the Israeli electorate.

But this is about much more than electoral politics. For Prime Minister Netanyahu, it is an existential question, as he made clear in a statement last week that Israel has “a profound disagreement with the United States administration and the rest of the P5+1 over the offer that has been made to Iran. This offer would enable Iran to threaten Israel’s survival.”

Mr. Netanyahu is determined to prevent this offer, or anything like it, from becoming U.S. policy. To that end, he is prepared to mobilize a Republican-led Congress against the president, to force longtime Democratic supporters of Israel to choose between him and President Obama—and, if necessary, to turn U.S.-Israel relations into the partisan issue it has rarely been.

And why not? The prime minister views himself as this generation’s Winston Churchill, with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei cast as Adolf Hitler. To bring the U.S. into the looming conflict, Churchill worked with Franklin Roosevelt to overcome a reluctant Congress. Now Mr. Netanyahu must work with Congress to overcome a reluctant president. And like Churchill, Mr. Netanyahu believes that words are his best weapons—words delivered by one man standing alone on a rostrum representing an embattled ally, invoking common interests, shared principles and the bonds of friendship.

The prime minister is confident that he can do this without weakening, let alone rupturing, the relationship between Israel and the U.S. His statement last week featured a long list of past security disagreements between the two countries despite which, he insists, the relationship grew stronger over time.

But this time could be different. In a recent interview with Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic magazine, Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. and one of Mr. Netanyahu’s closest advisers, detailed Israel’s concerns:

“Israel’s policy is not merely to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon today; it is also to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon in the future. And Israel is very concerned that a deal will be forged that will not dismantle Iran’s nuclear-weapons capability. . . . That is an outcome that is unacceptable to Israel.” Specifically, Israel lacks confidence that international inspections would prevent the diversion of materials produced by the many thousands of centrifuges that reportedly would remain under the terms of the emerging agreement. And once the sanctions are lifted, the Iranian nuclear program could accelerate.

Mr. Netanyahu must know that even with much tougher sanctions, the chances of overcoming these concerns through diplomacy are low. The most the Iranians will offer falls far short of the least that Israel will accept. The real choices reduce to two: an Iran with some negotiated level of nuclear infrastructure supervised with a rigorous inspection regime, or war.

The prime minister must also know that although Israel’s military could inflict significant damage on Iran’s nuclear program, his country could at best delay Iran’s march to the bomb.

So when Mr. Netanyahu addresses Congress, a question will be lurking in the shadows: If negotiations leave Israel facing what it regards as an existential threat, should the U.S. accept the deal? And if we do not, is there an alternative that would be more effective, at a price that the war-weary American people would accept?

Roberts Response to” Netanyahu’s Capitol Hill Debacle” by William A. Galston, Wall Street Journal , February 18, 2015

The position posited by Mr. Galston is less a complaint than it is an indictment of the reckless attitude that the Executive Branch of the United States has taken toward their own nation’s interests and that of one of their longest standing allies, Israel.

The invitation and acceptance to speak before the joint session of Congress by Prime Minister Netanyahu is neither an insult to President Obama nor an election ploy. Rather it is a long overdue attempt to have the elected representatives of the Nation hear first hand the case to defend those very same interests against our joint dedicated enemy, Iran.

The tradition of foreign leaders speaking before Congress is well established it is a natural dialogue with ample precedent and can only be viewed as “partisan” in the attempt to frustrate such an act as is the case with the Obama Administration.

The focus should not be on these faux upsets but rather on the level of Administration’s misdirection, subterfuge and wholesale undermining of Israel through premeditated leaks, false promises and embrace of our enemy in again disregard for our joint interests.

The flat reality is that there is no deal between the P5+1 and Iran that can reassure the United States, our allies nor Israel that Iran will not get the bomb. There is no set of sanctions and rigorous and as intrusive as they be inspections that can ultimately assure anyone that no bombs will exist. This of course is wholly apart from the growing long range missile arsenal held by Iran.

Prior UN dictates and US policy have been clear not to negotiate around the bottom line of no nuclear capacity with this regime. This extended so called set of negotiations have proved two and only two things; Iran is set in its intent of gaining a nuclear alternative to buttress it’s wild eyed maniacal dream of an extended Caliphate and their oft proclaimed dedicated intent of wiping “little Satan” from the face of the earth and second that President Obama is equally maniacal in his intent at achieving a grand bargain with the Mullahs whatever the cost.

Beyond the reality of this existential threat to Israel made more real by the conscious undermining by the Administration is the certainty that this debacle will indeed lead to two other outcomes; a rapid grab by other gulf states to acquire nuclear weapons and the real risk of a war that the fear mongers so worry will come about by being strong in the face of an enemy today.

These issues must be heard by the American people unvarnished by the lies of the Obama administration. Far from the accusation of partisanship the real concern of this President that both sides of the isle may pause with real concern over why we have abandoned our ally and put their and our security at risk.

A magnanimous leader would have no fear from this speech unless this were the reality.

Far from the public disrespect, the wholly ignorant interludes at attempting peace between Israel and their dedicated enemy Hamas and phony links between the adversarial attitudes elsewhere in the Gulf and the Palestinian question comes this issue. The Unites States is a lifelong supporter of Zion as the spiritual tree of the founding of the Republic. This plea is urgent and very real and speaks to the ultimate reality that Israel is the front line in the war on terror and linked to our security. Let the American people absorb these truths and measure for themselves what Mr. Obama’s real intent is and where his real interests lie.

This is his concern that defines his reaction and why this speech is defining moment in a relationship whose rupture is his sole responsibility.

Robert F. Agostinelli A Founding Member of the Friends of Israel Initiative

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Robert Agostinelli – Reponse to Response to “John C. Whitehead” WSJ, February 9, 2015

John C. Whitehead – A giant of postwar finance and public service in New York.

You wait for one – and two come along at once. CA

America has a noble tradition of the businessman who makes his fortune and then devotes his time and energy to public service, whether in government or philanthropy. Few men have exemplified that tradition better than John C. Whitehead, the eminent New Yorker who died Saturday at age 92.

Raised in Montclair, N.J., Whitehead served in the Navy in World War II and commanded a landing craft at Omaha Beach during the Normandy invasion. He joined Goldman Sachs after the war and helped to build it from a small commercial-paper shop into a financial powerhouse. He was co-chairman for eight years and was known for stressing ethics in business—a reputation enhanced by his white hair and regal bearing.

He retired in 1984 after 37 years, becoming deputy secretary of State under George Shultz. He was an active philanthropist, and in a sign of his public stature was asked to chair the Manhattan Development Corp. to rebuild downtown Manhattan after 9/11. He was the founding chairman of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.

When most business leaders were cowering under government attack, Whitehead took to our pages in April 2005 to rebuke then New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer for publicly and falsely accusing former AIG CEO Maurice “Hank” Greenberg of committing a crime.

According to Whitehead’s account in a follow-up piece, Mr. Spitzer responded by saying in a phone call that “Mr. Whitehead, it’s now a war between us and you’ve fired the first shot. I will be coming after you. You will pay the price. This is only the beginning and you will pay dearly for what you have done.” Mr. Spitzer denied saying that, but everyone knew John Whitehead was telling the truth. He represented the best of Wall Street and of America’s post-World War II generation.

Roberts response

Response to “John C. Whitehead” WSJ, February 9, 2015

Those of us who were honored to work for this gentleman have been forever favorably marked.

If there was ever a true definition of the “Right Stuff” it was JCW. He was resolute in his belief that the firm’s core values were what differentiated Goldman from its competitors. His lifelong belief of the value of hard work, holding the moral high ground and that the client comes first were all hallmarks that turned a commercial paper house into the juggernaut it became.

Other firms certainly had values but none made it the epicenter of its existence. Nothing mattered but the team win. Yes, there were stars but as such you were to subordinate ego for the “long term greedy”, “trees don’t grow to the sky” ethos which created real wealth and human embetterment. This is the man who devised a firm where client services was a designated squad of relationship bankers dedicated not to product but to client need; again novel for its time. Products; M&A, Capital Markets, Private Placements, underwriting these were inputs into the real core asset of client relationships. Again a JCW invention.

And when he rose to the top he did what a real gentleman always does, he served his nation as the WWII warrior he was and his fellow man.

The decency and character of John Whitehead is something all young professional should strive to emulate. 30 years on it is an uphill task for the best of us.

R.I.P.

Robert F. Agostinelli
Palm Beach, Florida

Goldman Sachs 87′

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Robert Agostinelli – response to An Empire of Taxation by, Daniel Henninger

An Empire of Taxation by Daniel Henninger

Just when I had all but given up on finding anything else – I stumbled across this. Activity is out there – it just seems really hard to find at the moment. CA
The president’s annual budget reminds the Beltway tribes of what they do—tax the country, distribute revenues to their allies, and euphemize it as a budget. With his 2015 budget,  Barack Obama  at last makes clear his presidency’s reason for being: to establish an empire of taxation.

Commenting on Mr. Obama’s nearly $4 trillion budget, Jared Bernstein, a former policy adviser to Vice President  Joe Biden , told the  New York Times  : “It’s a visionary document and basically says, ‘You’re with me or you’re not,’ and we can have big philosophical arguments about the role of government.”

He is right. For the Obama presidency that is what it has always been about: You’re with me or you’re not. The government role reflected in this budget looks less like a 21st-century American institution than a system last seen in 17th-century Europe, in which a leader defines national wealth by handing out dispensations, emoluments and punishments.

The administration’s infliction of punishment deserves special note, most recently what the Obama Justice Department did this week to Standard & Poor’s, the bond-rating agency.

S&P had been very public in saying the Justice Department’s investigation of the company was political payback for its 2011 downgrade of the U.S.’s credit rating. This week S&P agreed to pay the government a mind-boggling settlement of $1.5 billion, while pointedly withdrawing its charge of political retribution. What we have here is the creation of a political crime, heretofore unrecognized in the U.S., known as lèse-majesté, or insulting the majesty of the sovereign.

House and Senate Republicans will submit their own budgets in coming weeks. News analysis of the Obama budget admits that its spending and tax priorities are a “utopian vision” (the New York Times). But it argues that congressional Republicans may eventually buy into a version of Mr. Obama’s own private utopia because he’s offering them spending they can’t refuse on infrastructure and defense. The White House also calculates the Republicans are desperate to escape blame for Washington’s “gridlock.”

Maybe it’s time for the Republicans to tell the Obama Democrats that if they want to own the issue of promising to bring the American people federal government goodness, they can have it. The Republicans should claim as their own what’s left, which is to say the entire private sector.

In six years, the Obama Democrats have abandoned any belief in the idea that the private sector is the primary cause of American prosperity. Instead, they seem to see the private sector as a kind of tax sump-pump, a dumb machine whose only purpose is tax flow.

At the small end of the private economy, starting this year, employers with at least 50 full-time workers who fail to offer health care must pay an Orwellian-sounding ObamaCare tax called the Employer Shared Responsibility Payment. At the other, larger end, the Obama budget offers corporations with overseas profits a convoluted tax deal, whose payments will be dedicated, he says, to underwriting public infrastructure projects.

“Infrastructure” is supposedly the carrot with which Mr. Obama will attract Republican rabbits into his spending garden. But refusing to bite on Mr. Obama’s carrots would be a good way for Republicans to re-establish credibility with American voters.

The most lasting contribution of the conservative insurgency out in the country may be that it blew the whistle on Washington’s bipartisan crony capitalism. Republicans should use infrastructure to join the whistleblowers.

Building infrastructure could indeed be a real public good, if the political process beneath it weren’t so bad. Economists for the International Monetary Fund first blew the whistle on the downside of infrastructure spending in an important 1998 paper, “Roads to Nowhere: How Corruption in Public Investment Hurts Growth.” Last spring the Public Administration Review similarly published a study, “The Impact of Public Officials’ Corruption on the Size and Allocation of U.S. State Spending,” notably spending on highways and construction.

Barack Obama chants “spending on infrastructure” as if it were the holy of holies. It’s not, and most voters don’t need IMF economists to tell them “infrastructure” is code for the campaign contributions that flow back to the politicians only after they spend someone’s taxes on cement, bicycle paths and bullet trains.

That is the empire of taxation. It is an isolated system, based in Washington, which allocates what it exacts from the private sector. Sometimes it calls the allocations “spending choices.” Other times they are purported to be benign decisions about who gets tax credits and who doesn’t get tax credits.

Isolated systems can suffocate. The fourth-quarter growth number for 2014 came in below expectations, at 2.6%. That was of a piece with the historically weak economic growth of the Obama presidency, which is the main cause of stagnant middle-class incomes.

The most disturbing number inside the fourth quarter’s details was that business investment grew only 1.9%. Business investment is the heart and soul of the private sector that the Obama years have left behind. Republicans, the only alternative out there, need to rediscover it and reclaim it.

Roberts Response

Response to “An Empire of Taxation”, By Daniel Henninger, WSJ February 5, 2015

The Obama hatred for everything that America has stood for as the land of opportunity, individual freedom and the rule of law has never been more broadly stingingly  clear then in his so called “budget” proposal.

Wholly apart from assaults on every pillar of our national good, or system of checks and balances comes this treatises which defines the government as the end all and be all of our existence.

And if you don’t follow suit with its socialist scheme then he will use the machinery of government to bring you to your knees. Enemy lists and political payback are the echo of tyranny in banana republics not of the “shining city on the hill”.

Democrats were repudiated in the mid-terms as the nation slowly woke from the slumber and ignorant narcotic of this radical. Republicans must not fall prey to the illusion of bipartisan cooperation by contributing to this assault on the American dream.

Government is intruding on our lives in every conceivable fashion. Taxation, redistribution and cronyism are the illicit acts of a band of renegade pretenders attempting to redefine decency and goodness to destroy our private enterprise system under the banner falsehoods of social justice, investment and shared responsibility all Marxists code words for confiscation and centralized control.

This legislature indeed must insist on the traditional American way and if “gridlock” follows then so be it as intended by The Founders to defend this Republic from the usurper this Fraud truly is.

Robert F. Agostinelli Palm Beach, Florida

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