Israel’s existence is not in question


In the minds of the Arab world, Israel exists and will exist and they are no threat to Israel.  The problem is Israel is a threat to its neighbors; inspite of that there has been a muted response from Israel’s enemies.  Juan Cole offers a translation of Ayatollah Sistani’s comments on the Israeli aggression and even I am shocked at how mild mannered it is.

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

The beloved Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip have, since noon yesterday, been subjected to a vicious attack and to continual strikes that have resulted so far in hundreds of victims being martyred or wounded.

This assault comes after a suffocating blockade to which this oppressed people has been subjected for several months. It had resulted in the creation of harsh humanitarian conditions as a result of lack of food, medicine, fuel and other necessities of daily life for the citizens.

Mere verbal expressions of condemnation and disapproval of what is being done to our Palestinian brethren in Gaza, and of solidarity with them, mean nothing before the immensity of this horrific tragedy to which they are being subjected.

The Arab and Muslim worlds are called upon, more than at any past time, to take practical steps in order to stop this continual aggression and to break this cruel blockade that has been imposed on that proud people.

We ask God, the Exalted, the All-Powerful to take the hands of all and lead them to that wherein lies goodness and righteousness. Verily, he is the All-Hearing, the Gracious.

Meanwhile, while everyone in corporate American media seems to hedge reporting on the massacre taking place in Gaza, Israeli media seems to have a more realistic handle on the catastrophe raging around their corporate media’s head.

Israel embarked yesterday on yet another unnecessary, ill-fated war. On July 16, 2006, four days after the start of the Second Lebanon War, I wrote: “Every neighborhood has one, a loud-mouthed bully who shouldn’t be provoked into anger… Not that the bully’s not right – someone did harm him. But the reaction, what a reaction!”

Two and a half years later, these words repeat themselves, to our horror, with chilling precision. Within the span of a few hours on a Saturday afternoon,the IDF sowed death and destruction on a scale that the Qassam rockets never approached in all their years, and Operation “Cast Lead” is only in its infancy.

poignantly poised Gordon Levy in Haaretz.  With pretty good moral clarity, Tom Segev writes:

It is admittedly impossible to live with daily missile fire, even if virtually no place in the world today enjoys a situation of zero terror. But Hamas is not a terrorist organization holding Gaza residents hostage: It is a religious nationalist movement, and a majority of Gaza residents believe in its path. One can certainly attack it, and with Knesset elections in the offing, this attack might even produce some kind of cease-fire. But there is another historical truth worth recalling in this context: Since the dawn of the Zionist presence in the Land of Israel, no military operation has ever advanced dialogue with the Palestinians.

 

even though his conclusion is somewhat flawed and undermines what preceeded it.  What’s important is these ideas found their way in mainstream publications in Israel, yet aren’t even remotely mirrored here in the States. I could surmise that’s an indication of the moral strength of certain elements of Israeli media which is greater than their American counterparts. Honestly, I can’t account for the differences in reporting, but the American media is not doing any service to its customers by keeping them in the dark about Israeli trangessions, and our politicians are not working in the best interests of our country when they excuse the faults of a regime hell bent on death and destruction usually ending at our expense.

The Republican Epiphany


It’s a bit too late and dishonest, but it’s now being said that Bush is a socialist.  Progressives and people on the left have been saying the same thing but were excoriated for it, accused of being traitors and in so many words told to leave their country.  However, the signs of Bush’s socialist leaning tendencies have been apparent since 911.  That marked the beginning of big government, although that may not quite be the “big government” Republicans now have in mind.

“We can’t be a party of small government, free markets and low taxes while supporting bailouts and nationalizing industries, which lead to big government, socialism and high taxes at the expense of individual liberty and freedoms,” said Solomon Yue, an Oregon member and co-sponsor of a resolution that criticizes the U.S. government bailouts of the financial and auto industries.

What seems to have particularly drawn the Republicans’ ire is the financial bailouts and that indeed should be enough to upset EVERYONE within the borders of the US.  The Republicans however, are responsible for the mechanism behind the bailouts and how it works.  Although the country has been in a recession for over a year, the Bush Administration made the economy a priority only within the last 6 months and hurried initiatives through Congress, much like they did after 911, scaring all who opposed them with dire political consequences (this was an election year) as well as economical ones for the country.  In that kind of atmosphere all felt obliged to give the Administration what it asked for, but this is how Bush has worked throughout his two terms, turning every issue into a national crisis which could only be solved through the immediate and direct involvment of Government.  At every turn Democrats and Republicans participated in this turns towards “socialism” and very few people, except those on the fringe, complained.

Now, Republicans are claiming Bush is a socialist? Bush is NOT the target of this resolution being mulled within the RNC, rather it is Obama.  In fact the resolution itself won’t be considered until after Obama takes office, but what party officials want to do is tie Obama to Bush’s policies and plaster the “socialist” pejorative to the Democrats to use against them in ’12.  Republicans are quite happy with the big government they voted in during the last eight years and they know much of what they instituted will not be rescinded.  Government rarely if ever gives back power, and Bush has done a very good job of handing Democrats hot button issues that are irreparable in the short term so Republicans can position themselves as a “viable” opposition party….much like the Democrats did in ’06, and regain control of the executive and legislative.  Why anyone would want to be President under these circumstances is beyond me.

So the Bush is a socialist accusation is only window dressing to ensnare the Dems who will be forced to defend what transpired during Bush’s term, because once government gives, they can’t taketh back, while they, Republicans argue what they indeed voted for is no good and irrelevant.  A neat political trick.

The misery continues


at the hands of the Israeli blitzkrieg, but this time on the high seas and in front of people who have a voice and have spoken out against it.  What’s striking is the perception by all too many that a legal action can be met with violent means; the boat clearly known as a relief boat in international waters is justifiably attacked and lives endangered.  This, according to some is an acceptable action, and shows the extent to which the Israeli spin is embraced and given voice.

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bambino1

More from Gaza


palestine_bound_boat Israel has never been interested in peace with its Palestinian neighbors, nor can it even seriously be considered a humane government when it comes to its relations with other countries.  The story of the Dignity, a boat which set sail from Cyprus with relief supplies for Gaza is one more recent example which highlights Israel’s genocidal nature.  Only 66 feet long and packed with supplies the Israelis had denied Gaza’s citizens for the last six months, the boat’s cargo was checked by Cyprian authorities before it set sail for Gaza and no doubt it’s movements were monitored by all concerned since it set sail.  So why have the Israelis attacked the boat and denied it entry to Gaza’s ports?

Israeli crimes on the high seas date back to the 1967 war when its forces attacked the USS Liberty which killed scores of American personnel and parallels can certainly be drawn with this latest attack.  Both attacks occurred at a time when Isarel was fighting a war of aggression and which they wanted no witnesses to their brutality.  Both attacks happened over an extended period of time and drove the vessel from the area it was to another more distant destination, but one interesting feature of this recent attack is the Dignity has a history with Israeli officials of bringing relief aid to Gaza without any problems before.  Why when following “standard operating procedures” to assuage Israeli concerns  would the Israelis deny them entry for a relief mission?  All the talk about concern for civilian lives and minimizing  civilian casualties, in the light of this latest development, can only mean the attacks on Gaza by Israeli forces are meant to terrorize all the inhabitants of Gaza, to frighten and humiliate them  and to make it more internationally acceptable to do so.

Hat tip to DesertPeace for this article.

The stuff of “urban legend” that’s not an urban legend


Sometimes I wonder if people are really this dumb! An employee noted on a receipt the reason why a customer returned a product as being a “dumb nigger”. First of all the employee entered a racially charged and offensive term on a piece of paper and then gave that paper to a customer,which had identifying information of the employee  for all to see.  Is that professional suicide or what!?  Perhaps this was termination by idiocy, the poor clerk no longer wanted a job but couldn’t quit because doing so would mean they couldn’t qualify for  unemployment.  I don’t really know why anyone would be so stupid, but it happened, and the customer has the paper to prove it.

Moving beyond that however, it appears the offended party is handling this better than the general public.  Talk of boycotts are in this observer’s opinion completely unnecessary and inflammatory.  The store has fired the employee and issued an apology, and even the idiotic employee gave the customer what he went there for, albeit more than he wanted, so the Justice Department’s weighing in (just like big government, trolling for an excuse to be intrusive in everyday life) and “community activists” calling for boycotts of the store are more examples of how issues of race are used and exploited sometimes for less than the public good.

I salute the Slater family who seem to be handling themselves well and I salute the store owners who have dealt with the matter at hand judiciously.  Now everyone else should leave them all alone.

Check out the local news’ take on this from Youtube.

The hell hole known as Gaza


Life in Gaza has always been tough for Palestinians.  For some, death  may be a relief from their everyday misery.  Here is a five part series on Youtube, I strongly urge you check out.

Quote of the day


The assault on Gaza does not first and foremost demand moral condemnation – it demands a few historical reminders. Both the justification given for it and the chosen targets are a replay of the same basic assumptions that have proven wrong time after time. Yet Israel still pulls them out of its hat again and again, in one war after another. – Tom Segev

The tightening grasp on media by the Israeli government


Now that the Gazan offensive is in full swing and the killing and murder are at a fever pitch, look for the Israeli government to bring out their apologists who will be able to convince you and me that things are not what they seem and it’s the Palestinians’ fault.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Saturday instructed the Foreign Ministry to take emergency measures to adapt Israel’s international public relations to the ongoing escalation in the Gaza Strip.

Livni instructed ministry officials currently on vacation in Israel to return immediately to their posts abroad, and to immediately mount public relations campaigns in their station countries, focusing on local media and public officials.

The Foreign Ministry is also looking to recruit speakers of foreign languages, in particular Arabic, Italian, Spanish, and German, in order to expand Israel’s public relations campaign with the representatives of foreign media outlets currently in Israel.

If you think there will be relief from Israeli spin on the Internet think again.  Israelis have always been afraid of unfettered access to information and so they’ve managed to wrap that loose end up as well.

The Anti-Defamation League announced Sunday its recent expansion into the world of YouTube, the on-line video-sharing site.

The US-based advocacy group has officially partnered with the digital media powerhouse in an effort to combat hate speech and other forms of abuse.

YouTube’s community guidelines define hate speech as “content that promotes hatred against members of a protected group” – a religious or ethnic minority, for example – without discussing the question of intent.

It is not clear what role, if any, the ADL will have in reshaping YouTube policy in this regard. As of now, the ADL appears merely to be supplementing YouTube’s current abuse-protection measures.

The media blitz of the Israeli machine is now in full swing and every excuse will be made for the aggressive and brutal attacks against Gaza’s population, especially when the ground invasion begins.  Grab as many sources of information as you can, while you still can.  It could very well be that an incident like this will be the catalyst for censoring news and keeping people in the dark.



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The bestiality of the Israeli government


MIDEAST ISRAEL PALESTINIANSpalevictimTit for tat?  (On the left an Israeli building hit by Palestinians “rockets”; on the right a Palestinian building hit by Israeli fire.)  The Israeli government launched an attack during the Christmas season which was designed to insure there would be no peace on earth, or goodwill towards Palestinians.  Using the false pretense that the Palestinian firing of rockets was unprovoked and therefore an Israeli response was necessary, the bombardment of the Gaza strip is no less than genocide against a defenseless civilian population.

What else can  you expect from a government whose leaders had publicly made such statements as Gazans should not be allowed to “live normal lives (Ehud Olmert) or that  punishment should be inflicted “irrespective of the cost to the Palestinians” (Avi Dichter) or that Israel should “decide on a neighborhood in Gaza and level it” (Meir Sheetrit) the intent of this latest act of murder is to inflict the maximum amount of casualties possible.  Some bloggers have even gone on to suggest that the lifting of the embargo by the Israelis was designed to offer them a window to kill the most number of civilians gathered to collect foodstuffs denied them by the Israelis for so long, but whatever the motive, the means were the use of the best military weaponry the state of Israel can finagle from America in their extermination of Palestinians.

Israel decided on a collective punishment policy after the Hamas electoral victory in ’07, and part of that punishment was in the form of the blockade which denied the Gaza Strip even the barest of essentials, electricity and food.  They did so while thumbing their noses at an international community which sought to chronicle Israel’s abuses.  The flagrant and exaggerated expulsion of Richard Falk, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories is just one example among many where the Israelis have ignored the “rule of law” and internationally recognized conventions while continuing to oppress the Palestinian civilian population.

As always, the Israelis blame their victim for Israeli transgressions, saying that recent rocket attacks at the end of the ceasefire are responsible for this latest Israeli slaughter.  And while large numbers of rocket attacks are thrown at the public in order to justify Israeli aggression, lost in the argument is that these Palestinian “rockets” are ineffective, inaccurate (only one Israeli casualty  since Palestinians started firing the rockets after the ceasefire) and essentially home-made munitions. What the Israelis have done however to get around the disproportionate nature of their aggression is to return to collectivism of the Palestinian population, equating all within the borders of Gaza as terrorist and therefore subject to elimination, no questions asked.

This latest Israeli atrocity occurs in plain sight before the world stage and yet Hamas and by extension the Palestinians are responsible.  In the light of such global response the likelihood Israel will stop such unparalleled genocide is nil.  Countless deaths will be exacted before the Israelis stop this latest slaughter and resume their obfuscation of Palestinian statehood and peace in the Middle East.  By accepting their line of reasoning, the US is also a willing and active participant in this bloodshed.  One can now see the reason behind the Bush Administration’s abandonment of international law in its treatment of people captured during the phony WOT; accepting the link between themselves and their ally Israel means the only way to escape international illegality is to propose it doesn’t accept the terms of what’s legal and illegal.  Therefore it’s necessary to call such actions as the Israeli attack on Gaza bestial, inhumane, psychopathic, sociopathic, murderous, because in a nation where laws are no longer adhered to, legal and illegal have no meaning.  That seems to be acceptable to the Israeli government and the rest of the world.

UPDATE I

Not even Israelis seem to take the firing of rockets by Palestinians seriously. Take the tone of this article (Latest Gaza Rockets Injure More Arab Children than Jews) which appears in an Israeli newspaper.  It refers to the rockets used by the Palestinians as ‘locally produced rockets’, meaning internal, meaning made in Gaza, meaning at the very most, crude, (We’ve spoken of the ineffective nature of such munitions.)  yet in the Israeli scheme of looking at things they justify the killing of scores of people; a culture of death brought to us by the party of death.

UPDATE II

Not that there’s anything new about this, but assertions by the Israelis that their attack was in response to alleged ceasefire breakdowns, or violations on the part of Hamas to the expired ceasefire are not true, according to this piece from Haaretz.

Long-term preparation, careful gathering of information, secret discussions, operational deception and the misleading of the public – all these stood behind the Israel Defense Forces “Cast Lead” operation against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, which began Saturday morning.

Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago, even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas…..

The expression in the above link to “misleading of the public” is ironic and a common feature of the Israeli government.



Interesting headline


Bush’s $1 Trillion war on terror: even costlier than expected

I don’t know why that should come as a surprise to anyone who’s followed this Administration’s handling of the WOT.  If anything I think the figure is more than that!!  From the very first days after September 11,2001 the Bush Administration has been playing fast and loose with the facts and figures they used to convince the American people of the need to fight this war.  From the civilain Pentagon’s wish to keep American forces to a bare minimum, even in the face of senior military officers who told them it wouldn’t work, to the administration of Iraq first with the CPA and its adjuncts to the existing Iraqi government, the public was always given a rosier picture than the Administration knew it could deliver in order to gain the support of the American people.

Shortly before the Iraq war began, White House economic adviser Larry Lindsey earned a rebuke from within the Administration when he said the war could cost as much as $200 billion. “It’s not knowable what a war or conflict like that would cost,” Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld said. “You don’t know if it’s going to last two days or two weeks or two months. It certainly isn’t going to last two years.”

That was Rumsfeld then, but the reality is much more different. Now, it’s finally reaching back to bite us in the rear.

A trio of recent reports – none by the Bush Administration – suggests that sometime early in the Obama presidency, spending on the wars started since 9/11 will pass the trillion-dollar mark. Even after adjusting for inflation, that’s four times more than America spent fighting World War I, and more than 10 times the cost of 1991’s Persian Gulf War (90 percent of which was paid for by U.S. allies). The war on terror looks set to surpass the cost the Korean and Vietnam wars combined, to be topped only by World War II‘s price tag of $3.5 trillion.

*snip*

According to the CSBA study, the Administration has fudged the war’s true costs in two ways: Borrowing money to fund the wars is one way of conducting it on the cheap, at least in the short term. But just as pernicious has been the Administration’s novel way of budgeting for them. Previous wars were funded through the annual appropriations process, with emergency spending – which gets far less congressional scrutiny – only used for the initial stages of a conflict. But the Bush Administration relied on such supplemental appropriations to fund the wars until 2008, seven years after invading Afghanistan and five years after storming Iraq.

This boondoggle coupled with the economic bailout means one’s great grandchildren will be paying for the misadventures of George Bush….and that will be his legacy!

More on drugs and the war on terror


Check out this video that claims since the US invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, drug smuggling between the two countries has increased, and we’re not just talking about smuggling viagra.

America declared a war on drugs more than thirty years ago, and from the looks of things it hasn’t succeeded in that effort, while its war on terror seems to provide the necessary ingredients for both to remain thorns in the US’ side, which it appears is just what authorities want.  How else can you explain the expansion of drug dealing in countries with heavy American military presence?

Viagra and the war on terror


The CIA has been accused of introducing drugs into societies before, but this story is an interesting twist to that association.

The Afghan chieftain looked older than his 60-odd years, and his bearded face bore the creases of a man burdened with duties as tribal patriarch and husband to four younger women. His visitor, a CIA officer, saw an opportunity, and reached into his bag for a small gift.

Four blue pills. Viagra.

“Take one of these. You’ll love it,” the officer said. Compliments of Uncle Sam.

The enticement worked. The officer, who described the encounter, returned four days later to an enthusiastic reception. The grinning chief offered up a bonanza of information about Taliban movements and supply routes — followed by a request for more pills.

For some U.S. operatives in Afghanistan, Western drugs such as Viagra were just part of a long list of enticements available for use in special cases. Two veteran officers familiar with such practices said Viagra was offered rarely, and only to older tribal officials for whom the drug would hold special appeal. While such sexual performance drugs are generally unavailable in the remote areas where the agency’s teams operated, they have been sold in some Kabul street markets since at least 2003 and were known by reputation elsewhere.

I wonder whether Ecstasy is included in the “Western” drugs given to Afghans and whether trade between such traditional drugs from the west are bartered for the cash crop of Afghanistan, opium?  In any event we have  another example of CIA involvement in “pharmaceuticals”….something to note before it gets lost in the memory hole of the past.

Take that!


An in your face moment brought to you by the Israeli government.  I wonder what text books taught that young man that Jews killed Jesus and that they should be proud?

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Turnabout is fair play, isn’t it?


Some Jewish leaders are a little concerned the fraud and resulting news about  Bernard Madoff will spur some anti-semitism among the masses.  Inflaming passions based on innuendo is something they are used to doing.

Now this is FUNNY!


I am always amazed at the lengths the Bush administration will go to beat up on the dispossessed!  I’ve blogged about this before, but mention it again here because these Chinese Muslims are caught between the rock and hard place of the US and their own country.

China said Tuesday it wants 17 Muslim Chinese terror suspects returned if the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba is closed by U.S. President-elect Barack Obama.

Although the U.S. military no longer considers the 17 Chinese Uighurs “enemy combatants,” they have remained at Guantanamo because the United States has been unable to find a country willing to take them.

In 2006, the United States allowed five Chinese Muslims released from Guantanamo to go to Albania. The U.S. government has said it cannot return the Uighurs to China because they would face persecution there.

The Obama camp has not made clear what it would do with the Uighurs. But State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the Bush administration understood China’s point of view but needed to “assure ourselves that if people are transferred out of Guantanamo under whatever status that they are not going to be mistreated in any way, shape or form.

We can’t turn them over to China because they won’t  be persecuted as well as they currently are under US control in Guantanamo seems to be the message authorities are sending.  As for finding a country for the Uighurs, many relief groups in the US have stepped forward to claim responsibility for them which the government has refused.   Go figure.

Headed to the Obama inauguration?


Here are some things you should know.

No strollers near the Capitol. No tents on the National Mall. None of that Silly String on the parade route….The tightest rules are reserved for the lucky 240,000 ticket-holders, who get to sit closest to the Jan. 20 swearing-in ceremony on the West Front of the Capitol. There are understandable prohibitions on weapons and pepper spray. But you also can’t carry an umbrella. And don’t think about holding up any “Yes We Did” signs – posters also are not allowed.

It could get tricky as people congregate along the parade route, where many items allowed on the Mall will be off-limits. That list includes bicycles, backpacks, aerosols (which could include Silly String), coolers, thermal containers and chairs.

Signs or placards can be brought to the parade – but only if they’re made of cardboard, poster board or cloth and are not more than 3 feet by 20 feet.

….some people are worried about packed Metro trains now that officials are sounding warnings. Metro has said its bathrooms will be closed for security.

The rules aren’t so strict on the National Mall, where most people will end up because tickets aren’t required. Officials have said everyone will be checked, but they haven’t said what that will entail.

People won’t be able to see much, except what’s on Jumbotrons, but they can bring all sorts of stuff. Besides the obvious no-nos – firearms, explosives, fireworks – the only bans are on alcohol, tents and glass bottles.

“The more you bring, the more difficult it’s going to make your movement,” said Sgt. Robert LaChance, a spokesman for the U.S. Park Police, which patrols the Mall.

Authorities say expect to go through some type of security screening. If you have an item prohibited for a certain area, they will confiscate it. When asked if specific items such as canes, walkers, lighters, matches and diaper bags would be prohibited from the parade route and the Capitol, authorities said they didn’t know yet.

So if what you plan to take or do during the inauguration isn’t clear you’d better ask somebody!

Wanna’ know where are your hard earned tax payers’ money is going for the economic recovery?


Take a number, because you’re not the only one.  The Congress was stupid enough, lame enough, scared enough, bullied enough, inebriated enough, you choose the adjective, not to insist on over sight of its/our money and it’s really too late to ask questions now.

……….the nation’s largest banks say they can’t track exactly how they’re spending the money or they simply refuse to discuss it.

“We’ve lent some of it. We’ve not lent some of it. We’ve not given any accounting of, ‘Here’s how we’re doing it,'” said Thomas Kelly, a spokesman for JPMorgan Chase, which received $25 billion in emergency bailout money. “We have not disclosed that to the public. We’re declining to.”

*snip*

Pressured by the Bush administration to approve the money quickly, Congress attached nearly no strings on the $700 billion bailout in October. And the Treasury Department, which doles out the money, never asked banks how it would be spent.

We have managed to learn this much, despite the banking industry’s arrogance.

* The average paid to each of the banks’ top executives was $2.6 million in salary, bonuses and benefits.

* Lloyd Blankfein, president and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs, took home nearly $54 million in compensation last year. The company’s top five executives received a total of $242 million.

The New York-based company on Dec. 16 reported its first quarterly loss since it went public in 1999. It received $10 billion in taxpayer money Oct. 28.

This year, Goldman will forgo cash and stock bonuses for its seven top-paid executives. They will work for their base salaries of $600,000, the company said.

* Even where banks cut back on pay, some executives were left with seven- or eight-figure compensation that most people can only dream about. Richard D. Fairbank, the chairman of Capital One Financial Corp., took a $1 million hit in compensation after his company had a disappointing year but still got $17 million in stock options. The McLean, Va.-based company received $3.56 billion in bailout money on Nov. 14.

* John A. Thain, chief executive officer of Merrill Lynch, topped all corporate bank bosses, with $83 million in earnings last year. Thain, a former chief operating officer for Goldman Sachs, took the reins of the company in December 2007, avoiding the blame for a year in which Merrill lost $7.8 billion. Since he began work late in the year, he earned $57,692 in salary, a $15 million signing bonus and an additional $68 million in stock options.

For an industry that just a few months ago came to the federal government with their hat in their hands asking for public assistance, their ‘we’re not going to disclose that’ attitude gives meaning to the word chutzpah.  No wonder the New York Mellon Corp. spokesman who said he wouldn’t share spending specifics, added: “I just would prefer if you wouldn’t say that we’re not going to discuss those details.”