Sunday, January 3, 2010

Obama also fails at Middle East peacemaking


It has taken President Obama just 10 months to achieve something each of his immediate predecessors delivered in their final year in office: failure in the Middle East peace process. Riding a wave of optimism in January, the President on his second day in office named retired Senator George Mitchell as his Middle East special envoy, tasked with kick-starting the dormant negotiations over a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Despite his best intentions, Mitchell's — and Obama's — efforts have managed only to undermine peace advocates on all sides and have pushed hopes for a final agreement into the distant future. The President now faces tough choices over how to proceed.(See pictures of Israeli soldiers sweeping into Gaza.)[...]


  1. What HASN'T Obama failed at?

    The Obama administration’s $75 billion program to protect homeowners from foreclosure has been widely pronounced a disappointment, and some economists and real estate experts now contend it has done more harm than good.

    Since President Obama announced the program in February, it has lowered mortgage payments on a trial basis for hundreds of thousands of people but has largely failed to provide permanent relief. Critics increasingly argue that the program, Making Home Affordable, has raised false hopes among people who simply cannot afford their homes.

    As a result, desperate homeowners have sent payments to banks in often-futile efforts to keep their homes, which some see as wasting dollars they could have saved in preparation for moving to cheaper rental residences. Some borrowers have seen their credit tarnished while falsely assuming that loan modifications involved no negative reports to credit agencies.

    Some experts argue the program has impeded economic recovery by delaying a wrenching yet cleansing process through which borrowers give up unaffordable homes and banks fully reckon with their disastrous bets on real estate, enabling money to flow more freely through the financial system.

    “The choice we appear to be making is trying to modify our way out of this, which has the effect of lengthening the crisis,” said Kevin Katari, managing member of Watershed Asset Management, a San Francisco-based hedge fund. “We have simply slowed the foreclosure pipeline, with people staying in houses they are ultimately not going to be able to afford anyway.”

    Mr. Katari contends that banks have been using temporary loan modifications under the Obama plan as justification to avoid an honest accounting of the mortgage losses still on their books. Only after banks are forced to acknowledge losses and the real estate market absorbs a now pent-up surge of foreclosed properties will housing prices drop to levels at which enough Americans can afford to buy, he argues.

  2. Sometimes when a house in crumbling you have a choice. You can turn it into a money pit which consumes your resources and never quite gets restored to the shape you wanted it in.
    Or you can let it collapse, cart away the rubble and build anew on the site.
    Obama opted for the former and couldn't even manage to stabilize the wreck that much.
    This is a presidency based on image instead of results. Yes, the Obama administration has been a huge failure, from the record number of rejected Secretary candidates to the inability to turn the economy around to the quiet sympathy for international terrorism by expending more effort on ensuring an AlQaeda thug in the US gets a fair trial than on focusing on terrorists attacking America.
    But who cares? Obama is a success, the greatest president ever, and you know why? Because he says so and he can't be wrong. He's Obama.


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