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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Roger Cohen, "My Jewish State": Still Playing Footloose With the Truth

Let's begin 2014 by asking which New York Times columnist is more ignorant concerning matters involving the Middle East, Thomas Friedman or Roger Cohen? Today, in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "My Jewish State" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/01/opinion/cohen-my-jewish-state.html?ref=opinion), Roger Cohen certainly places his brainlessness on full display. Cohen writes:

"I am not going to gripe about brilliant Twitter. I have nothing new to say about Miley Cyrus. But I am going to make one prediction for 2014. It is that, for all John Kerry’s efforts, this will be another year in which peace is not reached in the Middle East. (And if I am wrong, I vow Sisyphean penance in eternity.)

Plenty of bad things have happened between Israelis and Palestinians of late. There has been a steady uptick in violence."

No peace in the Middle East in 2014? That's a no-brainer given the violence, oppression and chaos plaguing Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Iran and the rest of the region. However, Cohen would have us only focus on the Israeli/Palestinian dispute, which indeed has evidenced an "uptick in violence" in recent weeks, but such violence does not remotely compare with the barbarity being witnessed elsewhere in the region.

Always ready to fault Israel for the lack of progress regarding peace talks with the Palestinians, Cohen goes on to say:

"It’s also true that Palestinians leaders, with zero democratic accountability, and through facile incitement, are not preparing their people for territorial compromise at or close to the 1967 lines. Then again, nothing in Israel’s actions facilitates that."

Of course, as well known to Cohen, Israeli prime ministers Barak and Olmert offered Arafat and Abbas an independent state along the 1967 lines with agreed upon land swaps, and Olmert even offered Palestinian control of east Jerusalem. Arafat and Abbas refused.

Yes, Roger (Iran is "not totalitarian") Cohen is given to playing footloose with the truth, and my prediction for 2014 is that he will continue to rain manure down upon us.

Let's see what rubbish Friedman can disseminate in the coming weeks to make this a horse race.

US Furious With Karzai for Releasing Taliban Terrorists, As Palestinian Murderers Are Released at the Request of Kerry

The US military is furious with Afghan President Karzai's planned release of Taliban terrorists. As reported in a New York Times article entitled "Afghans’ Planned Prisoner Releases Anger U.S." (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/01/world/asia/afghans-planned-prisoner-releases-anger-us.html?hp&_r=0) by Matthew Rosenberg:

"Just months after American officials ceded control over all detention operations in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai’s government has quietly planned dozens of prisoner releases that American and Afghan officials said on Tuesday would include committed insurgents who had attacked Americans.

. . . .

'These are guys that are tied directly to killing and trying to kill our forces and Afghan forces,' an American military official said. 'This is an issue of deep concern. It is serious.'"

Meanwhile, however, Israel on Monday released Palestinians guilty of murder pursuant to the demand of US Secretary of State John Kerry (see: http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-published-list-of-palestinian-inmates-to-be-release/).

What's that you said, John? What me worry?

New York Times Editorial, "The Facts About Benghazi": The Gray Lady Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

Lady Gertrude, "Hamlet," Act III, Scene II

Has The New York Times "screwed up" (as Shakespeare might have worded it) again? In an editorial entitled "The Facts About Benghazi" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/31/opinion/the-facts-about-benghazi.html?ref=opinion&_r=0), The Times declares:

"An exhaustive investigation by The Times goes a long way toward resolving any nagging doubts about what precipitated the attack on the United States mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

. . . .

The report by David Kirkpatrick, The Times’s Cairo bureau chief, and his team turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or another international terrorist group had any role in the assault, as Republicans have insisted without proof for more than a year. The report concluded that the attack was led by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s air power and other support during the uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and that it was fueled, in large part, by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.

In a rational world, that would settle the dispute over Benghazi, which has further poisoned the poisonous political discourse in Washington and kept Republicans and Democrats from working cooperatively on myriad challenges, including how best to help Libyans stabilize their country and build a democracy. But Republicans long ago abandoned common sense and good judgment in pursuit of conspiracy-mongering and an obsessive effort to discredit President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who may run for president in 2016."

Similarly, Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal goes on record as saying in "Taking Note" (http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/30/republicans-react-to-benghazi-news/?ref=opinion):

"For anyone wondering why it’s so important to Republicans that Al Qaeda orchestrated the attack — or how the Obama administration described the attack in its immediate aftermath — the answer is simple. The Republicans hope to tarnish Democratic candidates by making it seem as though Mr. Obama doesn’t take Al Qaeda seriously. They also want to throw mud at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who they fear will run for president in 2016.

Which brings us to one particularly hilarious theme in the response to the Times investigation. According to Mr. Rogers, the article was intended to “clear the deck” for Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said today that The Times was 'already laying the groundwork' for a Clinton campaign. Other Republicans referred to Mrs. Clinton as our 'candidate of choice.'

Since I will have more to say about which candidate we will endorse in 2016 than any other editor at the Times, let me be clear: We have not chosen Mrs. Clinton. We have not chosen anyone. I can also state definitively that there was no editorial/newsroom conspiracy of any kind, because I knew nothing about the Benghazi article until I read it in the paper on Sunday."

In a rational world, a determination of The Times settles a dispute? Criticism of Kirkpatrick's article is all a Republican conspiracy? There is no evidence of al-Qaeda involvement in the September 11 attack on the Benghazi mission? The Times has not yet chosen to endorse Hillary Clinton in 2016?

Fascinating.

But then there is also David French explaining to us in a piece entitled "The Good, the Bad, and the Pathetic of the New York Times’ Benghazi Report" in the National Review Online (http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/367224/good-bad-and-pathetic-new-york-times-benghazi-report-david-french#!):

"It’s pathetic that we keep circling back to a YouTube video to explain Benghazi. Did the YouTube video motivate previous attacks in Benghazi, including a previous attack on our own compound? Did a YouTube video motivate Libyan militias to shows of force under the black al-Qaeda flag? Did a YouTube video enable the militias to so carefully scout American positions that they were able to land multiple direct hits on the American CIA annex? At best (and this is being charitable to the reporting), the available evidence indicates the video may have influenced the attack’s timing, but not its motivations nor the capabilities of the attackers.

How long must we chase our own tails? Jihadists attack us, and yet we think if only a Florida preacher didn’t burn a Koran, or if only Danish cartoonists put down their pens, if only cranky felons didn’t make cheap YouTube videos, or if only our soldiers didn’t commit one of the innumerable warned-against slights while deployed downrange, then the haters won’t hate, jihad will truly become an 'inner struggle,' and peace will reign."

And then there is Thomas Joscelyn's piece in The Weekly Standard entitled "The New York Times Whitewashes Benghazi" (http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/new-york-times-whitewashes-benghazi_772382.html), where we learn:

"Left out of the Times’s account are the many leads tying the attackers to al Qaeda’s international network.

For instance, there is no mention of Muhammad Jamal al Kashef, an Egyptian, in Kirkpatrick’s retelling. This is odd, for many reasons.

On October 29, 2012 three other New York Times journalists reported that Jamal’s network, in addition to a known al Qaeda branch (al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), was directly involved in the assault. The Times reported (emphasis added): 'Three Congressional investigations and a State Department inquiry are now examining the attack, which American officials said included participants from Ansar al-Shariah, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Muhammad Jamal network, a militant group in Egypt.'

. . . .

Since the New York Times and other press outlets first reported on the Jamal network’s involvement, both the U.S. State Department and the United Nations have designated Jamal and his subordinates as terrorists. Both the U.S. and UN designations tie Jamal’s network directly to al Qaeda.

The State Department, for instance, notes that Jamal 'has developed connections with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), AQ senior leadership, and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leadership.' Jamal not only received funds from AQAP, but has also 'used the AQAP network to smuggle fighters into training camps.'"

So, was Kirkpatrick's New York Times article truly "exhaustive"? Did it resolve "any nagging doubts about what precipitated the attack on the United States mission in Benghazi"?

The Gray Lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Monday, December 30, 2013

"The Wolf of Wall Street": Has Anything Changed?

Yesterday, I went to see Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street," and I suppose that I was not really prepared for what awaited me. I thought that Leonardo DiCaprio gave a marvelous performance, and the film had much of the flavor of Scorsese's 1990 masterpiece, "Good Fellahs." Also, I didn't fall asleep once during the three hours that I sat in the theater, perhaps also owing to the five cups of coffee I had before watching the film. But now, after reading several reviews of this flick, I find myself asking, "Why?"

I've done a lot of different things over the course of my lifetime, and no small part of it has revolved around the securities industry: as an investor, market maker and criminal investigator. Yes, I suppose I know more than I care to know, and as I near my 60th birthday, I wonder if anything has gotten better over the years in this field. Sure, it's computerized and faster, and much more information is available online to those wishing to make the effort to learn about the companies whose shares they buy, but is it any cleaner?

"The Wolf of Wall Street" depicts the evolution of a small boiler room operation, pushing penny stocks listed on the pink sheets during the 1990s, into an epicenter of debauchery. No, it's no longer done in this ostentatious fashion, but small investors continue to get eaten alive, and today it's with the connivance of the federal government.

I am not going to trouble you again with another denunciation of the federal government's cancellation of the Uptick Rule, which was intended to prevent share price manipulation (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/search/label/Uptick%20Rule), and which has allowed hedge funds to prey upon the public. Instead, allow me to just say that all of the abuses of the 1920s remain alive and well, and I have yet to witness a response from the SEC, FINRA or the exchanges themselves concerning trading irregularities that I have reported.

So, I watched "The Wolf of Wall Street" and its voyeuristic depiction of the abuse of sex and drugs in the 1990s by persons in the financial industry, and I ask myself who in Washington has the courage to denounce the depravity of today's financial markets, which, perpetrated by means of computer algorithms without the sex and drugs, flies under the radar.

In fact, the campaign contributions continue, and nobody gives a damn.

Paul Krugman, "Fiscal Fever Breaks": Four Legs Good, Two Legs Better!

Remember how Paul Krugman once wrote concerning Occupy Wall Street (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/07/opinion/krugman-confronting-the-malefactors.html):

"Occupy Wall Street is starting to look like an important event that might even eventually be seen as a turning point.

. . . .

It’s clear what kinds of things the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators want, and it’s really the job of policy intellectuals and politicians to fill in the details."

And then there was Krugman's trillion dollar coin proposal, which even Jon Stewart labeled a "stupid f#cking idea" (see: http://www.salon.com/2013/01/15/jon_stewart_responds_to_krugman_platinum_coin_is_still_a_stupid_fcking_idea/).

Well today, in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Fiscal Fever Breaks" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/30/opinion/krugman-fiscal-fever-breaks.html?ref=opinion&_r=0), Krugman would have us know that the US has been "suffering from fiscal fever: the insistence by virtually the entire political and media establishment that budget deficits were our most important and urgent economic problem, even though the federal government could borrow at incredibly low interest rates." Krugman concludes by informing us:

"But while policy remains terrible, we’re finally starting to talk about real issues like inequality, not a fake fiscal crisis. And that has to be a move in the right direction."

Got it: The $17.3 trillion of debt owed by the US federal government can now be ignored, because the US can borrow at low interest rates. Who cares if this debt will never be paid back?

And who cares that the US owes much of this money to China, which just happens to lead the world in capital punishment. Capital punishment? Oh yes, that's the thing the New York Times editorial board just by chance is also denouncing today (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/30/opinion/the-slow-demise-of-capital-punishment.html?ref=opinion). Who cares if the US is in hock to a nation where anything remotely approaching "equality" does not exist.

Fiscal fever has broken? Yeah, right. Let's see what happens when the true cost of Obamacare becomes known. Ultimately, in the name of equality, someone is going to have to pay for this fiasco.

We're finally talking again about "inequality"? Does this mean that Krugman is again ready to endorse the tenets, including anti-Semitism, of Occupy Wall Street?

Which brings to mind George Orwell's "Animal Farm," where we learned that even in would-be utopian societies, "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Washington Post, "Afghanistan gains will be lost quickly after drawdown, U.S. intelligence estimate warns": Another Obama Overseas Disaster

Those who regularly read this blog know that I have consistently opposed US ground involvement in Afghanistan, which is a costly exercise in futility. If you decide to fight, you need to know when and where. Well, the inanity of Obama's Afghanistan surge is now highlighted by a Washington Post article entitled "Afghanistan gains will be lost quickly after drawdown, U.S. intelligence estimate warns" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/afghanistan-gains-will-be-lost-quickly-after-drawdown-us-intelligence-estimate-warns/2013/12/28/ac609f90-6f32-11e3-aecc-85cb037b7236_story.html?hpid=z1) by Ernesto Londoño, Karen DeYoung and Greg Miller, which informs us:

"A new American intelligence assessment on the Afghan war predicts that the gains the United States and its allies have made during the past three years are likely to have been significantly eroded by 2017, even if Washington leaves behind a few thousand troops and continues bankrolling the impoverished nation, according to officials familiar with the report.

. . . .

Some have interpreted the intelligence assessment as an implicit indictment of the 2009 troop surge, which President Obama authorized under heavy pressure from the U.S. military in a bid to strengthen Afghan institutions and weaken the insurgency. The senior administration official said the surge enabled the development of a credible and increasingly proficient Afghan army and made it unlikely that al-Qaeda could reestablish a foothold in the country where the Sept. 11 attacks were plotted."

How many soldiers were lost owing to this mistake? How many billions of dollars were wasted?

Thank you, President Obama, for the gift that keeps giving.

Friday, December 27, 2013

New York Times Editorial, "This Week, Mass Surveillance Wins": Don't Blame Obama

Today, in response to the decision of a federal district court upholding the constitutionality of the NSA's colossal collection of telephone data from the American public, The New York Times begins by observing in an editorial entitled "This Week, Mass Surveillance Wins" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/28/opinion/this-week-mass-surveillance-wins.html?_r=0):

"Has the National Security Agency’s mass collection of Americans’ phone records actually helped to prevent terrorist attacks?

No, according to the 300-page report issued this month by a panel of legal and intelligence experts appointed by President Obama.

Yet in a ruling issued on Friday, Judge William Pauley III of the Federal District Court in Manhattan came to the opposite conclusion. 'The effectiveness of bulk telephony metadata collection cannot be seriously disputed,' Judge Pauley wrote in a deeply troubling decision dismissing a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union that challenged the constitutionality of the N.S.A.’s bulk data collection program."

The conclusion of the editorial board of The Times:

"The presidential panel made many good recommendations to reform both the surveillance law and the intelligence court that rules on government surveillance requests. Congress and Mr. Obama should adopt as many of these as possible. Court rulings will not suffice to rein in an agency that continues to take advantage of the law’s vague and malleable standards."

Hold your horses! The federal district court opinion can and should be appealed to a federal circuit court, and if need be, the circuit court's decision can be appealed to the US Supreme Court. Yes, this process could take years.

In addition, Congress can enact legislation limiting the power of the NSA. This might also have to wait until after the 2014 midterm elections.

Meanwhile, however, President Obama, a would-be Constitutional lawyer, can immediately adopt his panel's recommendations, rein in his agency and also fire James Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, who, as acknowledged by The Times, "falsely told the Senate Intelligence Committee in March that the N.S.A. was not collecting any type of data at all on hundreds of millions of Americans." But Obama isn't doing anything of the sort. You see, the federal government knows best.

Does the editorial board of The Times place the blame on the president, where it squarely belongs? No, Obama's cheerleaders at The Times can't bring themselves to do this.

Mohamad Chatah, Former Lebanese Ambassador to the US, Assassinated in Beirut by Hezbollah

Mohamad Chatah, who was the Lebanese Ambassador to the US from 1997 to 2000 and who also served as Lebanon's finance minister and as an adviser to Prime Minister Saad Hariri, was assassinated today in Beirut by Hezbollah. No such action by Hezbollah is perpetrated without the express permission of Iran.

Meanwhile, the UK is mediating secret talks between Hezbollah and Washington, following the "success" of secret talks between Washington and Iran held in Oman.

Thanks, Obama.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Paul Krugman, "The Fear Economy": You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet!

Citing the country music classic "Take This Job and Shove It" in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Fear Economy" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/27/opinion/krugman-the-fear-economy.html?ref=opinion&_r=0), Paul Krugman observes that owing to a weak job market, many employees are not able to leave positions that they despise. Krugman writes:

"The economic recovery has, as I said, been weak and inadequate, but all the burden of that weakness is being borne by workers. Corporate profits plunged during the financial crisis, but quickly bounced back, and they continued to soar. Indeed, at this point, after-tax profits are more than 60 percent higher than they were in 2007, before the recession began. We don’t know how much of this profit surge can be explained by the fear factor — the ability to squeeze workers who know that they have no place to go. But it must be at least part of the explanation. In fact, it’s possible (although by no means certain) that corporate interests are actually doing better in a somewhat depressed economy than they would if we had full employment."

Well, there is another rock and roll classic by Bachman Turner Overdrive titled "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet," which perhaps more aptly describes today's employer/employee relationship in the US. Although there is debate on the ultimate effect of the Affordable Care Act on the job market, there is certainly evidence at many companies that full-time jobs are being eliminated and premium health care benefits are being reduced owing to the law's requirements (see: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/359861/100-unintended-consequences-obamacare-andrew-johnson).

Back in September 2009, President Obama declared with regard to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-to-a-Joint-Session-of-Congress-on-Health-Care/):

"This exchange will take effect in four years, which will give us time to do it right."

Regrettably, this has proven anything but the case.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Huge Corruption Scandal Hits Turkey: Obama's Friend Erdogan Blames US for "Dirty Plot"

Do you remember how President Obama used to brag about his special relationship with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan? In a 2012 Time interview with a sycophantic Fareed Zakaria (http://swampland.time.com/2012/01/19/inside-obamas-world-the-president-talks-to-time-about-the-changing-nature-of-american-power/?iid=sl-main-lede), Obama declared:

"I think that if you ask them, Angela Merkel or Prime Minister Singh or President Lee or Prime Minister Erdogan or David Cameron would say, We have a lot of trust and confidence in the President. We believe what he says. We believe that he’ll follow through on his commitments. We think he’s paying attention to our concerns and our interests. And that’s part of the reason we’ve been able to forge these close working relationships and gotten a whole bunch of stuff done."

Well, given NSA spying on Angela Merkel, I doubt that she still has "a lot of trust and confidence in the president." Erdogan? The Turkish prime minister is now enmeshed in an enormous scandal, which will ultimately force him out of power, but meanwhile he is busy blaming the US for his sorrows. The question remains whether this imbroglio, involving the laundering of payments for Iranian oil and construction bribes (see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25514579), could also engender another Turkish financial crisis.

As reported by Yahoo! News on Saturday (http://news.yahoo.com/two-turkish-ministers-39-sons-39-charged-graft-100614961.html):

"Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed a huge graft probe in which the sons of two ministers were charged Saturday was an international conspiracy.

The case that erupted on Tuesday and targeted 89 people, including some of Erdogan's closest allies, has triggered a crescendo of reactions from Turkey's strongman.

Rattled by the worst scandal of his 11-year rule and with crucial polls three months away, Erdogan has already purged the police command for cooperating with the investigation and on Saturday took it out on foreign ambassadors.

He described the probe into widespread bribery by members of his moderately Islamist regime as 'smear campaign' with international ramifications.

'Some ambassadors are engaged in provocative actions... Do your job,' Erdogan said in televised remarks in the Black Sea city of Samsun. 'We don't have to keep you in our country.'

Erdogan's remarks were considered a veiled threat to US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone, after he was reported to have commented on the unfolding bribery scandal."

Notwithstanding Erdogan's attempts to blame the US, the scandal is beginning to spiral out of control. As reported yesterday by The New York Times in an article entitled "Graft Scandal Is Approaching Turkey Premier" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/26/world/europe/turkish-cabinet-members-resign.html?hpw&rref=world&_r=0&pagewanted=all) by Tim Arango:

"A corruption investigation that has encircled the Turkish government moved an ominous step closer to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, as three top ministers whose sons have been implicated abruptly resigned — and one of them, on his way out the door, said Mr. Erdogan should step down as well.

. . . .

The public has been riveted by a flow of sordid details of the investigations leaked to the news media — with photographs of piles of cash in the bedroom of a minister’s son and reports that the chief executive of a state-owned bank had $4.5 million in cash packed in shoeboxes.

Another major worry for Mr. Erdogan now is that anger with his administration will spread to the streets, as it did in the summer with the violent suppression of demonstrators trying to protect a beloved Istanbul park from development. On Wednesday night sporadic protests erupted in some neighborhoods of Istanbul and other cities, with people calling on the government to resign and shouting: “Everywhere bribery! Everywhere corruption!”

On Wednesday morning, Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan and Interior Minister Muammer Guler, whose sons are among 24 people arrested in the corruption investigation, stepped down. A few hours later the environment and urban planning minister, Erdogan Bayraktar, closest among the three to Mr. Erdogan, said in a live television interview that he had resigned under pressure. He also said Mr. Erdogan was personally involved in unspecified property deals that are a focus of the investigation."

Could rioting again erupt in Turkey? How long will it take for Erdogan to resign? Will the scandal impact upon Turkey's financial system?

Stay tuned.

[On Thursday, Muammer Akkas, the Turkish prosecutor responsible for the investigation of this matter, was taken off the case by the Erdogan regime.]

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

As Obamacare Misfires, Iran Draws Closer to an A-Bomb.

President Obama is growing very adept at stalling tactics.

Last Thursday, we learned from a New York Times article entitled "Another Rule in Health Law Is Scaled Back" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/20/us/politics/white-house-exempts-some-from-health-law-penalties.html?hp&_r=0) by Robert Pear that implementation of the Affordable Care Act would continue to be delayed by Obama:

"Millions of people facing the cancellation of health insurance policies will be allowed to buy catastrophic coverage and will be exempt from penalties if they go without insurance next year, the White House said Thursday night.

. . . .

It was another effort by President Obama to cushion the impact of the health care law and minimize political damage to himself and Democrats in Congress who adopted the law in 2010 over solid Republican opposition.

. . . .

The move Thursday followed delays in many other parts of the health care law.

On July 2, the White House abruptly announced a one-year delay, until 2015, in a provision that requires larger employers to offer coverage to their workers or pay penalties.

On Nov. 27, it deferred a major element of the law that would allow small businesses to buy insurance online for their employees through the federal exchange.

Earlier, in April, the administration said that the federal exchange would not offer employees of a small business the opportunity to choose from multiple health plans in 2014.

And in October 2011, the administration scrapped a long-term care insurance program created by the new law, saying it was too costly and would not work."

Now, as also reported in a New York Times article entitled "Sign-Up Period Extended Again for Health Plan" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/25/us/politics/white-house-again-stretches-health-care-sign-up-deadline.html?hp) by Robert Pear, Obama is further delaying implementation of his disastrous Affordable Care Act:

"The Obama administration said Tuesday that it would provide more time for people to complete their applications for health insurance if they could show that they missed the deadline because of problems with the federal health care website.

. . . .

The original deadline for coverage starting Jan. 1 was Dec. 15. On Nov. 22, the deadline was extended to Dec. 23. On Monday, the White House provided a 24-hour grace period, to 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday.

Then on Tuesday, in a bid to ensure coverage for all who want it, the administration provided details of the 'special enrollment period' for some people — but not all — who miss the deadline."

From whom did Obama learn these delaying tactics? The answer is simple: Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei. Most recently, as reported by EUbusiness (http://www.eubusiness.com/news-eu/iran-nuclear-talks.smh):

"Iran's foreign minister and the EU's top diplomat agreed during telephone call Sunday to postpone until after Christmas talks on implementing a landmark nuclear agreement, the country's chief negotiator said.

'During this telephone conversation, it was agreed to continue the negotiations, but with the Christmas holidays in sight it was decided to interrupt and resume (the talks) a week after the holidays,' said Abbas Araqchi.

The Iranian nuclear negotiator said the agreement was reached during a call that lasted '45 minutes' between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.'"

Iran, which persecutes Christians (see: http://www.worldmag.com/2013/10/iran_s_crackdown_on_christians_not_letting_up), truly cares about Christmas? Get real!

In short, Obama is doing to America what Khamenei is doing to him, i.e. stalling for time, and as Obamacare continues to misfire, Khamenei draws closer to an A-bomb.

Monday, December 23, 2013

David Brooks, "The Legitimacy Problem": Americans Are Not Suckers

What happened to David Brooks? Since returning from book writing leave from the op-ed page of The New York Times, he has become tedious and verbose. This was particularly evident in his op-ed entitled "The Tragic Situation" (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/12/david-brooks-tragic-situation-israel-is.html), in which he wrote concerning Israel, "The failure to deal with ambiguity is one of the great disorders of the age." Today, in a Times op-ed entitled "The Legitimacy Problem" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/24/opinion/brooks-the-legitimacy-problem.html?_r=0), Brooks is back with more babble:

"Governing in an age of distrust is different than governing in an age of trust. Government now lacks the legitimacy to impose costs on losers, so politicians face unprecedented pressure to create situations in which everybody looks like winners.

. . . .

The erosion of the mandate won’t kill Obamacare over all. It’ll just make it much more expensive for the government. But the larger lesson is that to sustain a program in this culture, you probably have to rely on policy mechanisms that maximize consumer-style choice, not mandates."

Compare the unintelligibility of David Brooks with the clarity of Charles Krauthammer in his Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Story of the year" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-krauthammer-story-of-the-year/2013/12/19/1d862c98-68f9-11e3-ae56-22de072140a2_story.html?wprss=rss_charles-krauthammer):

"In fact, Obamacare is a full-scale federal takeover. The keep-your-plan-if-you-like-your-plan ruse was a way of saying to the millions of Americans who had insurance and liked what they had: Don’t worry. You’ll be left unmolested. For you, everything goes on as before.

That was a fraud from the very beginning. The law was designed to throw people off their private plans and into government-run exchanges where they would be made to overpay — forced to purchase government-mandated services they don’t need — as a way to subsidize others. (That’s how you get to the ostensible free lunch.)"

Or stated even more succinctly, Obamacare amounted to a con job upon consumers, which placed the president at the top of the list of "The biggest Pinocchios of 2013" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2013/12/16/the-biggest-pinocchios-of-2013/) (Obama garnered three of ten) and "won" the president "Lie of the Year" (http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2013/dec/12/lie-year-if-you-like-your-health-care-plan-keep-it/).

W.C. Fields once stated, "Never give a sucker an even break." Well, Obama and friends are belatedly arriving at the realization that Americans are not suckers and cannot be treated as such.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Paul Krugman, "Bits and Barbarism": Head of Gold, Legs of Clay

"Your majesty had a vision of a statue, very large and extremely bright; it stood in front of you and its appearance was terrifying. The head of the statue was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its trunk and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, and its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. As you watched, a stone separated itself without any human hand, struck the statue on its feet made of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken into pieces which became like the chaff on a threshing-floor in summer; the wind blew them away without leaving a trace. But the stone which had struck the statue grew into a huge mountain that filled the whole earth."

- Daniel 2:31-35 

Surely you remember how Daniel interpreted for Nebuchadnezzar II, the king of Babylon, his troubling dream. Nebuchadnezzar II? Reigning from 634 – 562 BC, he created the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and destroyed the First Temple in Jerusalem. Daniel is said to have prophesied the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus, King of Persia, in 539 BC.

Today, is there another nation whose foundation has been undermined by its leadership? Let's get back to that in a moment. But meanwhile consider the value ascribed to gold by women and men some 2,600 years.

Of course, if you are a Nobel prize winner in economics, you are permitted to be ignorant of history, and in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Bits and Barbarism" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/23/opinion/krugman-bits-and-barbarism.html?_r=0), Paul Krugman writes of gold and bitcoin:

"Talk to gold bugs and they’ll tell you that paper money comes from governments, which can’t be trusted not to debase their currencies. The odd thing, however, is that for all the talk of currency debasement, such debasement is getting very hard to find. It’s not just that after years of dire warnings about runaway inflation, inflation in advanced countries is clearly too low, not too high. Even if you take a global perspective, episodes of really high inflation have become rare. Still, hyperinflation hype springs eternal.

Bitcoin seems to derive its appeal from more or less the same sources, plus the added sense that it’s high-tech and algorithmic, so it must be the wave of the future.

But don’t let the fancy trappings fool you: What’s really happening is a determined march to the days when money meant stuff you could jingle in your purse. In tropics and tundra alike, we are for some reason digging our way back to the 17th century."

Mind you, I'm not saying that the human obsession with gold is rational, but as can be gleaned from the Old Testament (see also Genesis 2:12), this "bug" dates back to a time long before the 17th century, and habits are hard to break.

Imagine if the Federal Reserve Bank dumped its hundreds of thousands of gold bars into the ocean. Heck, America's health care system was trashed renovated almost overnight by Obama. Why not change the underpinnings of America's currency and watch what happens?

Yes, in what's left of his second term, let's see if the president, with the able advice of his beloved New York Times columnists, is able to construct a new edifice with legs of clay.

Daniel, where are you when we need you?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Frank Bruni, "Waiting for Wonder Woman": What About Meryl Streep?

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Waiting for Wonder Woman" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/22/opinion/sunday/bruni-waiting-for-wonder-woman.html?hpw&rref=opinion&pagewanted=all), Frank Bruni complains about a dearth of "take-charge female characters" in Hollywood movies. Bruni writes:

"With 'The Hunger Games,' has a corner irrevocably been turned? The franchise is a veritable juggernaut whose star, Lawrence, 23, refuses to play to girlie stereotype, cracking jokes during promotional interviews about her uneven breasts, uncontrollable bladder and episodes of gastrointestinal distress. Like Katniss, she could be transformative — both princess and tomboy, glamorous and earthy, gorgeous and wickedly talented. And she leads with her wit, not her body.  
. . . .

But she’s in an industry where the overwhelming majority of decision makers and directors are men; where the reliance on pre-existing source material — comic books, video games — means that a gender disparity simply perpetuates itself; and where the robust ticket sales for 'Aliens,' 'Lara Croft: Tomb Raider' and even 'Zero Dark Thirty' don’t seem to spawn all the take-charge female characters that they should. Studio executives treat such hits as if they’re one-offs."

Quite frankly, I am embarrassed. I never read "The Hunger Games" or saw the movie. Given that I watch movies to escape reality, perhaps I am not particularly interested in future dystopias. As far as I am concerned, an Obama administration, which has brought us skyrocketing national debt, a dysfunctional health care revolution, unrestricted NSA surveillance, and the destruction of American overseas credibility, has already brought us to the edge of dystopia.

"Blockbusters" slated for the summer of 2014? In a Times article entitled "Studios Unfazed by Colossal Wrecks" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/21/business/studios-unfazed-by-colossal-wrecks.html?ref=business&_r=0&pagewanted=all), James B. Stewart tells us to expect:

  • "The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  • "Godzilla"
  • "X-Men: Days of Future Past"
  • "Transformers: Age of Extinction"
  • "Guardians of the Galaxy"

Sorry, but you would have to drag me screaming into a movie theater to see any of the above, no matter who will be "starring," female of male.

On the other hand, I rate Meryl Streep's performances in "The Hours" and "The Devil Wears Prada" as timeless national treasures, and I can marvel at them again and again.

Excuse me, Frank, but how do you write about the role of women in Hollywood without mentioning Meryl Streep? And where do the names of Nicole Kidman and Renée Zellweger, who provided us with remarkably believeable "take-charge female characters" in "Cold Mountain," appear in your op-ed?

I also recently had another look at "Leaving Las Vegas" and was overwhelmed by the acting of Elisabeth Shue.

Also no mention by Frank of another of my favorite films featuring "take-charge female characters," "Fried Green Tomatoes."

Market more movies based upon comic book heroes and heroines? The genre has been milked dry.

Science: Cancer Immunotherapy Is 2013's "Breakthough of the Year"

Rather than dwell only on the negative as we approach yearend 2013 (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/12/new-york-times-editorial-mr-obamas.html), note the selection of cancer immunotherapy by the journal Science (Dec. 20) as this year's Breakthrough of the Year. As observed by Science (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/342/6165/1432.full):

"Immunotherapy marks an entirely different way of treating cancer—by targeting the immune system, not the tumor itself. Oncologists, a grounded-in-reality bunch, say a corner has been turned and we won't be going back.

With much pressure these days to transform biological insights into lifesaving drugs, there's a lesson to be learned from immunotherapy's successes: They emerged from a careful decoding of basic biology that spanned many years. The early steps were taken by cancer immunologist James Allison, now at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. In the late 1980s, French researchers who weren't thinking about cancer at all identified a new protein receptor on the surface of T cells, called cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4, or CTLA-4. Allison found that CTLA-4 puts the brakes on T cells, preventing them from launching full-out immune attacks. He wondered whether blocking the blocker—the CTLA-4 molecule—would set the immune system free to destroy cancer.

Allison's rationale was untested. He and his colleagues changed the conversation, in the words of one cancer researcher, 'to consider immunosuppression as the focal point, and manipulation of immunosuppression as the target.'

. . . .

For physicians accustomed to losing every patient with advanced disease, the numbers bring a hope they couldn't have fathomed a few years ago. For those with metastatic cancer, the odds remain long. Today's immunotherapies don't help everyone, and researchers are largely clueless as to why more don't benefit. They are racing to identify biomarkers that might offer answers and experimenting with ways to make therapies more potent."

Yes, I'm thrilled.

New York Times Editorial, "Mr. Obama’s Disappointing Response": "Disappointing"? How About "Outrageous"?

In a new editorial entitled "Mr. Obama’s Disappointing Response" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/21/opinion/mr-obamas-disappointing-response.html?hp&rref=opinion&_r=0), The New York Times responds to Obama's decision to ignore the recommendations of his own panel on government surveillance:

"By the time President Obama gave his news conference on Friday, there was really only one course to take on surveillance policy from an ethical, moral, constitutional and even political point of view. And that was to embrace the recommendations of his handpicked panel on government spying — and bills pending in Congress — to end the obvious excesses. He could have started by suspending the constitutionally questionable (and evidently pointless) collection of data on every phone call and email that Americans make.

He did not do any of that."

Hmm, the abnegation of fundamental Constitutional rights of American citizens by a would-be Constitutional lawyer is merely "disappointing"?

How about "outrageous"?

Can you only begin to imagine the response of The Times if Bush had behaved in this fashion? Bush would have been skinned alive by The Times and the rest of America's liberal media.

However, unlike Barbara Walters (see: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2013/12/17/barbara_walters_on_obama_we_thought_he_was_going_to_be_the_next_messiah.html), the editorial board of The New York Times has yet to recognize that Obama is a false messiah.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

David Brooks, "The Tragic Situation": Israel Is Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Tragic Situation" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/20/opinion/brooks-the-tragic-situation.html?ref=opinion&_r=0), David Brooks informs us concerning Israel:

"The failure to deal with ambiguity is one of the great disorders of the age. It’s a flight from reality. By taking legitimate moral concern and abstracting from the actual situation, this malady turns moral care into a form of moral obtuseness, and ultimately, inhumanity. So as critics or pundits, it’s worth keeping in mind what psychologists call the fundamental attribution error: don’t blame character when the problem is the situation."

Or stated without the flatulence, Israel is caught between a rock and a hard place.

More specifically, Brooks explains:

"Many Europeans think about Israel this way, as do the folks at the American Studies Association, or A.S.A., which this week announced an academic boycott of Israel. The A.S.A. has a problem with the way Israel is occupying the West Bank. Who doesn’t? But the A.S.A. refuses to acknowledge the complexity of the horrific choice that Ari Shavit identifies.

The A.S.A. instead wants to take Israel’s mistakes and use them as a pretext to make it a rogue nation. Applying extreme responses to proximate errors, it declares that Israel and its universities are beyond the moral pale. They effectively discriminate against Israeli scholars by virtue of their nationality."

The "folks" at the A.S.A.? I would call them something else that begins with an "f" and ends with a "k" (no, not "firetruck"). You see, these "folks" don't give a damn about discrimination against homosexuals in Russia, or slave labor in China, or genital mutilation of women in Egypt, or discrimination against Baha'is in Iran, or the use of chemical weapons against civilians in Syria. They don't care about scholastic freedom (see: http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/156317/the-american-studies-association-guide-to-world-peace). Rather, they are purportedly overwrought by Israel's "colonization" of - as stated by Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat - some 1.1% of the West Bank over the past 46 years (see: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/erekat-olmert-offered-palestinians-territorial-equivalent-of-west-bank-1.393484).

Of course, they are prepared to overlook the fact that almost all Palestinian colleges and universities in the West Bank and Gaza came into existence after Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza following the Six Day War. They are also delighted to ignore the thousands of rockets fired from Gaza at Israeli towns and cities after Israel unilaterally evacuated Gaza in 2005, which have disrupted studies throughout the south of Israel.

Ongoing occupation of the West Bank? A majority of Israelis would evacuate the West Bank in an instant if only there could be assurances that rockets and missiles would not rain down upon the western half of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Netanya and Ben Gurion the next day. But there are no such assurances. In the past, there have only been bombings, one of which killed and wounded almost 100 innocent people at Hebrew University in Jeusalem in 2002 (see: http://fresnozionism.org/2006/12/the-hebrew-university-bombing-a-case-study-in-islamic-terrorism/).

Yes, Israel is caught between a rock and a hard place, and to the chagrin of the A.S.A., Israel has opted for survival.

[In an opinion piece entitled "The Real Problem With the American Studies Association's Boycott of Israel" (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/12/17/the-american-studies-association-is-really-boycotting-israel-s-existence.html), even Israel-basher Peter Beinart goes on record as opposing the action of the A.S.A. Needless to say, Beinart makes a point of adding that Palestinians suffer from discrimination in Israel. I would only observe in this regard that I just received a letter rejecting my candidacy as a director of Israeli government corporations owing to the fact that I purportedly lack 15 years of management experience. The letter goes on to say that women must have eight years of management experience, but the managerial experience requirement does not apply to Israeli Arabs - or what is known as affirmative action or reverse discrimination. That darned Israeli sexist and racist government!]

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Defense Attorney for Accused Murderer of Drummer Lee Rigby: His Client Has Shown "Absolute Honesty and Moral Conviction."

Do you remember the death of Drummer Lee Rigby outside the Woolwich Barracks in London on May 22? The killers ran him down with a car, attacked him with knives, and attempted to decapitate him with a cleaver, while shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is great). CNN today describes closing arguments in the trial on Wednesday (http://edition.cnn.com/2013/12/18/world/europe/uk-soldier-killing-trial/index.html?hpt=hp_t4):

"Defense lawyers on Wednesday finished their closing arguments.

Lawyer David Gottlieb referred to his client Adebolajo by his Islamic name, Mujahid Abu Hamza, describing him as intelligent, totally sincere in his beliefs and as someone who has shown 'absolute honesty and moral conviction.'"

"Absolute honesty and moral conviction"?  I think I'm going to be sick.

Gail Collins, "Candy Crush and Mr. Christie": Is Internet Gambling Worse Than the Stock Market?

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Candy Crush and Mr. Christie" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/19/opinion/collins-candy-crush-and-mr-christie.html?_r=0), Gail Collins, founder of the Bonbon School of op-ed writing, acknowledges an addiction to "Candy Crush Saga." (Why am I not surprised?) Collins then segues to a denunciation of Chris Christie's legalization of Internet gambling in New Jersey. Collins writes:

"The whole idea of Internet gambling is enough to make you question the potential of Chris Christie for national office. There is no possible way the country could be improved by giving people a greatly expanded freedom to gamble for money in their pajamas. Some day in the near future, you may look back nostalgically on the time when your grandfather did not have a slot machine connection in his bedroom."

Christie's position regarding Internet gambling "is enough to make you question the potential of Chris Christie for national office"? Or is it the fact that Christie is a Republican enough to make Collins question his potential for national office?

In any event, I am not familiar with "Candy Crush Saga" and fortunately have no interest in gambling, Internet or otherwise, which is indeed a destructive addiction.

On the other hand, we have witnessed the legalization of hedge fund manipulation of the stock market, in large part owing to the 2007 cancellation of the Uptick Rule (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/08/maureen-dowd-summers-of-our-discontent.html).

You are going to lose money by engaging in Internet gambling in your pajamas? With time, this is almost a statistical certainty.

Are you also going to lose money by "investing" in the stock market while wearing pajamas? Perhaps the odds are not quite as bad as Internet gambling, but share prices are being manipulated by hedge funds at the expense of small investors, and persons "investing" in the stock market can easily be crushed by such hedge fund activity.

In the case of Internet gambling, the money lost by gamblers bolsters tax revenues. In the case of the stock market, the money lost by small investors lines the pockets of hedge funds.

Which is worse? You decide.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Thomas Friedman, "Secretary Kerry’s Derring-Do": More Twaddle From Tom Terrific

Read the conclusion of Thomas Friedman's latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Secretary Kerry’s Derring-Do" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/18/opinion/friedman-secretary-kerrys-derring-do.html):

"No question — for America, Israel and the Palestinians, no deal is still better than a bad deal that blows up the morning after. What Kerry is trying to put together are decent, hardheaded deals, in which opportunities can legitimately outweigh the risks for all sides. His chance of succeeding on the Iran or Israel-Palestine fronts is very low, but I greatly respect his daring to fail."

And so, Friedman sings paeans to a man who called the murderer Bashar al-Assad his "dear friend." Friedman praises a man who cut a deal with Putin, which allowed Assad to continue killing Syrians with impunity.

Kerry's deal with Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei? This "agreement to agree":

  • allows Iran to continue to enrich uranium;
  • permits Tehran to continue to build its Arak nuclear reactor, which is capable of producing enough plutonium for two atomic bombs each year;
  • does virtually nothing to reduce the "breakout" time for construction of Iran's first atomic bomb;
  • does not bring home American captives from Iranian prisons;
  • does nothing to prevent Iranian human rights atrocities (e.g., hanging of homosexuals and stoning to death of women accused of adultery).

Perhaps it should also be added that Kerry's deal with Khamenei destroyed America's long-term alliance with Saudi Arabia. As Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz al Saud, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Britain, declared yesterday (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/18/opinion/saudi-arabia-will-go-it-alone.html?_r=0):

"We expected to be standing shoulder to shoulder with our friends and partners who have previously talked so much about the importance of moral values in foreign policy. But this year, for all their talk of 'red lines,' when it counted, our partners have seemed all too ready to concede our safety and risk our region’s stability."

President Obama of course shares with Kerry the "credit" for all of the above.

Israel? Friedman writes:

"But I fear for Israel. If Israel doesn’t stop the settlement madness, denying the Palestinians a West Bank state, it will fit the caricature of its worst enemies."

Apparently unbeknownst to Friedman, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has acknowledged that Israeli settlements have been built on only some 1.1% of the West Bank (see: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/erekat-olmert-offered-palestinians-territorial-equivalent-of-west-bank-1.393484). This is the extent of Israeli "settlement madness" after 46 years?

Yes, Friedman is a moron, who unfortunately has the president's ear.

Maureen Dowd, "Spying Run Amok": Live Free or Diet

Are you a regular reader of this blog? Well, you will be amused to know that this blog is also sometimes read by a handful of the world's intelligence agencies, and that there is one such agency that reads it before all the others. Ah, he's paranoid, some of you might say. In fact, I don't give a damn if it is read by these agencies, perhaps owing to my age (see the last paragraphs of: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/12/david-brooks-thought-leader-thoughts-of.html).

In her latest New York Times op-ed  entitled "Spying Run Amok" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/18/opinion/dowd-spying-run-amok.html?_r=0), Maureen Dowd begins by describing the demise of a certain "Homeland" character, whose unpredictability and ambiguous motives she compares with those of Edward Snowden.

"Homeland"? The creator of "Homeland" is now reading a screenplay that I wrote last month, and I await his determination with quite a bit of excitement, although I am also prepared for disappointment, inasmuch as such is the way of the world in Hollywood. I am fortunate that my primary involvement at this stage of my life is biotech, which also increasingly involves code breaking of the Maker, if you will.

But I digress, or perhaps I don't.

Dowd writes today:

"Though the Justice Department tried to justify the mammoth hoovering by insisting on the need for speed, [Judge Richard J. Leon] pointed out that the N.S.A. couldn’t cite a single instance in which its haystack of data had produced the needle to puncture an imminent attack."

Of course, Judge Leon is correct, as best illustrated by the Boston Marathon bombing, which could have been prevented if the government had known how to sort through that "haystack of data."

You see, the haystack is important, but without the tools to sort through it, it is just a mountain of manure.

Don't get me wrong: I agree with Dowd. I am aghast by the unregulated collection of data by the NSA, which violates all freedoms which Americans should hold dear. I italicize should, because these are freedoms which should be held dear, but aren't. Moreover, I find it shocking that an American president, who claims to be a Constitutional lawyer, allowed the NSA to run amok.

Yeah, right, he didn't know.

But the bottom line is this: In this age of narcissism in which we live, in which the president himself is a prime purveyor of this new opiate of the masses, do Americans care more about the NSA or the NFL? Which is more important to them: their Diet Coke or their adherence to the principle of "Live free or die"?

You decide.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Shocking Revelations About Jon Stewart on Egyptian Television!

So you thought you knew everything there was to know about Jon Stewart's political leanings? Well, it turns out that there are those in Egypt who know more about Jon's subversive Middle East agenda than Jon himself. MEMRI kindly brings to us a translation of an Al-Tahrir TV talk show episode, in which a guest explains:

  • Jon Stewart is a Jewish-American author, journalist, producer and media personality.
  • Jon Stewart's ideology is based on Brzezinski's ideas.
  • He is implementing Brzezinski's theory on the American people and media.
  • Egypt belongs to them, that it is his homeland.
Of course we all know who "them" is.

David Brooks, "The Thought Leader": Thoughts of an Anti-Thought Leader

Winter only begins on December 21, yet here it is, December 17, and it's cold as a witch's . . . oops. Let's just say it is cold. I have already filled my quota this week for offending people, and I certainly wouldn't want to offend any witches. Consider what happened to Dorothy.

Anyway, I am wandering off-topic. Last night I was invited to attend a political rally. Mind you, I was asked to attend, not speak. The organizers had the good sense not to allow me to speak. You see, I had proposed speaking on the topics of global warming and nose spray addiction, but given the freezing temperature outside, the organizers wisely decided to keep me far away from the dais. However, in all fairness, they did suggest that I bring a friend. "A friend?" I asked. "Can I bring my dog?" They laughed, but little did they know that I was serious.

In fact, last week my wife and I had a "friendly" discussion concerning my refusal to shake certain people's hands. I explained to her that I have reached an age at which I am entitled not to shake the hands of people whom I don't like. She shot back that I was apt to offend people, and quite honestly she was right - I must always make certain not to overshoot my weekly quota.

Which brings us to the topic of today's blog entry: David Brooks's most recent New York Times op-ed entitled "The Thought Leader" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/17/opinion/brooks-the-thought-leader.html?_r=0). What's a "Thought Leader"? David kindly explains:

"The Thought Leader is sort of a highflying, good-doing yacht-to-yacht concept peddler. Each year, he gets to speak at the Clinton Global Initiative, where successful people gather to express compassion for those not invited. Month after month, he gets to be a discussion facilitator at think tank dinners where guests talk about what it’s like to live in poverty while the wait staff glides through the room thinking bitter thoughts."

Well, I don't think I've ever been on a yacht, and Hillary - if we're talking about witches - hasn't invited me to the Clinton Global Initiative. (I also offered to speak to this forum on the topics of global warming and nose spray addiction, and I am still waiting to hear back from Chelsea.) But of more interest to me was Brooks's description of an aging Thought Leader:

"By his late 50s, the Thought Leader is a lion of his industry, but he is bruised by snarky comments from new versions of his formerly jerkish self. Of course, this is when he utters his cries for civility and good manners, which are really just pleas for mercy to spare his tender spots."

Fortunately, given that I am an Anti-Thought Leader, I am rarely "bruised by snarky comments from new versions of [my] formerly jerkish self." Rather, I am ignored.

Which brings me to a far more interesting Washington Post article entitled "In denial that you’ve reached middle age? A survey identifies some telltale signs." (http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/in-denial-that-youve-reached-middle-age-a-survey-identifies-some-telltale-signs/2013/12/13/0868a3a2-5dd4-11e3-be07-006c776266ed_story.html?hpid=z3) by Margaret Shapiro, which confirmed for me that I am getting on in years. The first nine signs cited by Shapiro:

●Losing touch with everyday technology such as tablets and TVs
●Finding you have no idea what “young people” are talking about
●Feeling stiff
●Needing an afternoon nap
●Groaning when you bend down
●Not remembering the name of any modern bands
●Talking a lot about your joints/ailments
●Hating noisy pubs
●Getting more hairy — ears, eyebrows, nose, face, etc.

Needing an afternoon nap? Not me (I could use a nighttime nap). Not remembering the name of any modern bands? Again, not me (you can't forget what you never knew). But the rest? This Anti-Thought Leader plainly has one foot in the grave.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

David Ignatius, "Iran committed to making a deal": And Also Committed to Making an Atomic Bomb

In his latest Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Iran committed to making a deal" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/david-ignatius-iran-committed-to-making-a-deal/2013/12/15/0261a632-65c4-11e3-a0b9-249bbb34602c_story.html?hpid=z2),  David Ignatius, an Obama confidante and cheerleader, provides a platform for Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif's protestations that Iran does not intend to build an atomic bomb. Ignatius writes:

"On enrichment, for example, Zarif insisted that Iran could continue its domestic program with some limits and greater transparency. 'We do not see any reason now that we have put so much time and effort in it, and brought [the West] to the point of abandoning the illusion of zero enrichment in Iran, why should we accept anything less.'

As for Iran’s heavy-water reactor at Arak that would produce plutonium that could be reprocessed as nuclear fuel, Zarif explained: 'We cannot roll back the clock 20 years and ask Iran to simply get rid of a project that has been the subject of a great deal of human and materiel investment. However, there are various ways of making sure that this reactor will remain exclusively peaceful.'

Asked about a U.S. demand to close the enrichment facility at Fordow, built into a mountainside, Zarif said: 'If you sit in Iran, and you see people having concerns about Fordow, the only conclusion you can draw is that they want to attack you.'"

Yup, Iran has indeed put much time and effort in enrichment, and is now only months away from building its first nuclear weapon.

The heavy-water reactor at Arak? As Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, one of the architects of Obama's "agreement to agree" with Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei, recently stated (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/12/wendy-sherman-on-pbs-newshour-irans.html):

"[W]e're not quite sure what you need a 40-megawatt heavy water reactor, which is what Arak is, for any civilian peaceful purpose."

Fordow, which was built into a mountainside? The flip side of the coin is that Iran is desperate to disguise and protect bomb building activities there.

Ignatius concludes his opinion piece by observing:

"'We’re living at a crossroad,' the Iranian foreign minister said. But he rejected former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s argument that Iran must become 'a nation rather than a cause.' He argued that, like America, Iran wanted to press both its values and its interests. America isn’t alone in seeing itself as an 'extraordinary nation,' Zarif said: 'We do, too.'"

Zarif is correct: Iran is indeed an "extraordinary" nation. It is the world's per capita leader in capital punishment. Then, too, its hanging of homosexuals from cranes in the middle of Tehran, its stoning to death of women accused of adultery, and its torture and murder of Baha'is, Kurds, Sunnis, Christians and political dissenters, also mark Iran as "remarkable."

But why should Obama and WaPo cheerleader Ignatius concern themselves with the hellish conduct of this ignominious regime? After all, it was an agreement, albeit an agreement to agree, that was desired.

Bill Keller, "Russia vs. Europe": The World Needs Mandelas, but Instead Gets Putins . . . and Obamas

Bill Keller's latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Russia vs. Europe" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/16/opinion/keller-russia-vs-europe.html) begins:

"The world needs Nelson Mandelas. Instead, it gets Vladimir Putins. As the South African hero was being sung to his grave last week, the Russian president was bullying neighboring Ukraine into a new customs union that is starting to look a bit like Soviet Union Lite, and consolidating his control of state-run media by creating a new Kremlin news agency under a nationalistic and homophobic hard-liner."

However, the rise of an autocratic, "new Cold War" oriented Vladimir Putin would not have been possible without the cringing flaccid foreign policy of Barack Obama. In a New York Times article entitled "Saudi Prince Criticizes Obama Administration, Citing Indecision in Mideast" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/16/world/middleeast/saudi-prince-accuses-obama-of-indecision-on-middle-east.html?hpw&rref=us&_r=0) by Steven Erlanger, we are told what Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former intelligence chief of Saudi Arabia had to say about Obama on Sunday:

"'We’ve seen several red lines put forward by the president, which went along and became pinkish as time grew, and eventually ended up completely white,' said Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former intelligence chief of Saudi Arabia. 'When that kind of assurance comes from a leader of a country like the United States, we expect him to stand by it.' He added, 'There is an issue of confidence.'

Mr. Obama has his problems, the prince said, but when a country has strong allies, 'you should be able to give them the assurance that what you say is going to be what you do.' The prince no longer has any official position but has lately been providing the public expression of internal Saudi views with clear approval from the Saudi government."

Or stated more simply, the Saudis regard Obama as a coward.

But of course, none of this should come as a surprise. Obama's obeisant attitude toward Putin was broadcast to the world as the result of the open microphone incident involving Russia's Medvedev.

Well, Putin sure as heck got the promise of "flexibility" and has been acting on it.

Remarkably - or perhaps as might be expected - Keller's op-ed of today's date never mentions Obama when describing the ascendancy of Vladimir Putin on the world stage.



Saturday, December 14, 2013

Thomas Friedman, "Dear President of China": Rots of Ruck

In a New York Times op-ed entitled "Dear President of China" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/15/opinion/sunday/friedman-dear-president-of-china.html?hp&rref=opinion), Thomas Friedman pompously writes a "memo" to China’s President Xi Jinping, which he begins by declaring that he is a "A Friend of Your Country." Observing that the American and Chinese "economies and fates are totally intertwined today," Friedman protests a Chinese crackdown on the foreign press. Friedman's conclusion:

"President Xi, for your sake and the sake of stability in China, please don’t make the mistake of blaming the messengers. The Great Chinese Firewall you need to construct can’t be against the truth. It has to be against corruption."

No mention by Friedman that China leads the world in executions.

No mention by Friedman of Chinese slave labor.

No mention of the recent creation by China of a new air defense zone, which nearly provoked fighting with Japan and the US.

And of course no mention by Friedman of China's support for Iran's nuclear weapons development program. As reported earlier this month by Michael Rubin of Commentary (http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2013/12/09/china-spikes-the-ball-in-iran/), Chinese State Councilor (and former foreign minister) Yang Jiechi stated with regard to the recent Geneva "agreement" with the P5+1:

"Iran defended its rights in the [Vienna nuclear] negotiations and defeated the Western side. This result was achieved by Iran’s new government and through wisdom and prudence used in the talks. We respect Iran’s right to nuclear energy and uranium enrichment… Iran has started moving on the path of progress and development with your [Ruhani's] appointment [victory in presidential elections]. And China considers Iran as a close friend and a good and strategic partner."

An absence of freedom of the press in China? Sorry, Tom, that's the least of it.

Maureen Dowd, "Bigger Than Bambi": Dumber Than Dumbo

This past week we learned that Robert Levinson, who was kidnapped in Iran in 2007, was working for the CIA. What efforts has Obama made to free Levinson? Did his name even once arise during secret negotiations in Oman between the Obama Administration and Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei regarding Iran's nuclear weapons development program? My heart goes out to the Levinson Family.

Meanwhile, in her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Bigger Than Bambi" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/15/opinion/sunday/dowd-bigger-than-bambi.html?_r=0), Maureen Dowd informs us that she is "intrigued with the literary donnybrook over niceness raging on the Internet."

Ah yes, a "literary donnybrook." I am also intrigued by this vicious pillow fight. Hey, stop laughing at me.

Needless to say, the Queen of Snark comes down on the side of snark:

"Not to review books negatively is in essence to subsume book reviewing into advertising, public relations and promotion. Succumbing to uplift, edification and happy talk is basically saying that there’s something more important than telling the truth: not making enemies, not hurting people’s feelings.

All quarrels are not petty. Sometimes quarrels are about big things, and it’s an actual privilege to take a side in them."

Of course, Dowd is absolutely right: Taking a side in a quarrel is indeed a privilege (yes, I'm trying my best to be nice), and there are even those who are willing to pay for it, as was once illustrated by Monty Python in its "Argument Clinic" sketch.

David Ignatius, "U.S. allies are restless": The Decline and Fall of the American Empire

Things happen fast today. Whereas decline of a civilization in the past could take decades or even centuries, e.g. Rome, today we are learning how quickly a world leader can send his country into an economic and foreign policy tailspin.

In a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "U.S. allies are restless" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/david-ignatius-is-america-losing-to-the-axis-of-weevils/2013/12/13/e9557f08-637d-11e3-a373-0f9f2d1c2b61_story.html?hpid=z3), David Ignatius, a confidante of Obama, provides us with evidence of the president's abysmal foreign policy handiwork. Acknowledging his support for Obama's overture "to explore a possible deal that reverses Iran’s nuclear program" and citing Walter Russell Mead's article in The American Interest entitled “The End of History Ends” (http://www.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2013/12/02/2013-the-end-of-history-ends-2/), Ignatius declares:

"Military historians note that retreat, even to a more defensible position, is among the most difficult and dangerous of maneuvers. That line is echoed by Mead, who cautions about the risks as Obama tries to reposition the United States into an 'offshore balancer' rather than a power that fights expeditionary wars. The problem, he contends, lies in the assumption that 'a reasonably benign post-American balance of power is latent in the structure of international life and will emerge if we will just get out of the way.'

Returning to Gorbachev, the paradox is that, although he was right in trying to change an outmoded, overburdened system, he didn’t foresee the consequences. He thought he could pull on a few stray threads without unraveling the sweater. The analogy is unfair, in that Soviet power was malign whereas U.S. hegemony has generally been positive. But a common theme is that repositioning a superpower is a tricky business."

Yes, the United States under Obama is in a dizzying retreat, and "repositioning" a superpower is indeed a "tricky business." As Walter Russell Mead writes in the article cited above:

"Call the challengers the Central Powers; they hate and fear one another as much as they loathe the current geopolitical order, but they are joined at the hip by the belief that the order favored by the United States and its chief allies is more than an inconvenience. The big three challengers – Russia, China and Iran — all hate, fear and resent the current state of Eurasia. The balance of power it enshrines thwarts their ambitions; the norms and values it promotes pose deadly threats to their current regimes. Until recently there wasn’t much they could do but resent the world order; now, increasingly, they think they have found a way to challenge and ultimately to change the way global politics work.

. . . .

Iran should be giddy with joy; pro-administration commentary from the White House and its media allies has focused on the nuclear technicalities to paint the deal as a success, but there is no disguising the immense diplomatic gains that Tehran made. Washington hasn’t just loosened sanctions as part of a temporary negotiation; it is opening the door to a broader relationship with Iran at a time when Iran and its Shia proxies are making unprecedented gains across the Middle East. Just as President Obama essentially allowed President Assad of Syria to trade a promise to get rid of his chemical weapons for what amounts to a de facto end to US efforts to push his blood stained regime out of power, so Iran believes it can trade a promise to end its nuclear program for American acquiescence to its domination of the Fertile Crescent and, potentially, the Gulf. This would be an epochal shift in the global balance of power and the consequences — in strained alliances and diminished US influence and prestige — are already being felt."

Bottom line: Obama has taken American overseas credibility and stature to a nadir, and I doubt that his successor in the Oval Office will be able to undo the damage wrecked by this supremely confident, foreign policy naif.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

David Brooks, "Strengthen the Presidency": Non Sequitur

David Brooks has been writing some "peculiar" op-eds since returning from "book leave."

First, there was his horror of an opinion piece entitled "The Irony of Despair" (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/12/david-brooks-irony-of-despair-living-in.html), in which he quoted "our friend Nietzsche" while advocating against suicide . Today, in a New York Times op-ed entitled "Strengthen the Presidency" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/13/opinion/brooks-strengthen-the-presidency.html?ref=opinion&_r=0), Brooks goes one step further and would have us believe that notwithstanding the Obamacare disaster, the executive branch of American government deserves more power. Brooks begins:

"We’re in a period of reform stagnation. It’s possible that years will go by without the passage of a major piece of legislation. Meanwhile, Washington nearly strangles on a gnat, like this week’s teeny budget compromise."

In response to this stagnation, Brooks contends:

"This is a good moment to advocate greater executive branch power because we’ve just seen a monumental example of executive branch incompetence: the botched Obamacare rollout. It’s important to advocate greater executive branch power in a chastened mood. It’s not that the executive branch is trustworthy; it’s just that we’re better off when the presidency is strong than we are when the rentier groups are strong, or when Congress, which is now completely captured by the rentier groups, is strong."

Brooks concludes by acknowledging that America requires a "a president who can both rally a majority, and execute a policy process," i.e. not Obama, but how in the name of heaven, given the disasters wrought upon the United States by the Obama administration, can Brooks call for more executive branch absolutism?

As observed today by Charles Krauthammer in a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Obama the oblivious" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-krauthammer-obama-the-oblivious/2013/12/12/67acc91c-6363-11e3-a373-0f9f2d1c2b61_story.html):

"Barack Obama is not just late to discover the most elementary workings of government. With alarming regularity, he professes obliviousness to the workings of his own government. He claims, for example, to have known nothing about the IRS targeting scandal, the AP phone records scandal, the NSA tapping of Angela Merkel. And had not a clue that the centerpiece of his signature legislative achievement — the online Obamacare exchange, three years in the making — would fail catastrophically upon launch. Or that Obamacare would cause millions of Americans to lose their private health plans.

. . . .

The paradox of this presidency is that this most passive bystander president is at the same time the most ideologically ambitious in decades. The sweep and scope of his health-care legislation alone are unprecedented. He’s spent billions of tax money attempting to create, by fiat and ex nihilo, a new green economy. His (failed) cap-and-trade bill would have given him regulatory control of the energy economy. He wants universal preschool and has just announced his unwavering commitment to slaying the dragon of economic inequality, which, like the poor, has always been with us."

Yes, Obama has demonstrated the extreme pitfalls of executive fiat.

Give more power to the presidency even to someone other than Obama? Consider whether Hillary, who has no accomplishments whatsoever to her name other than frequent flyer miles, would run things any better or differently than Barack. I don't think so.

There is the the old saying, "If it's not broken, don't fix it." Well, Washington is broken, but sometimes when you try to fix something, you only compound the problem.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

New York Times, "U.S. Cites Rise in Health Plan Signups as Sebelius Testifies": Sugarcoating a Disaster

In a lead New York Times article entitled "U.S. Cites Rise in Health Plan Signups as Sebelius Testifies" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/12/us/politics/health-care-law.html?hpw&rref=politics), Robert Pear begins by observing:

"The number of people selecting health insurance plans in the federal and state marketplaces increased last month at a brisk pace, bringing the overall figure to nearly 365,000, the Obama administration said on Wednesday. The November number was more than double the one for October, but still well below the administration’s goal."

Okay, how much "well below the administration's goal"? Fifteen paragraphs later, we are informed:

"The numbers are running behind enrollment targets developed by the administration for its own use. Federal officials were projecting that 1.2 million people would have enrolled by now through the federal and state exchanges, according to a memo prepared by the Health and Human Services Department in early September."

Several queries:

  • Do "selected" and "enrolled" mean the same thing?
  • Does "selected" mean that something has actually been finalized and paid for?
  • Have insurance companies been accurately informed that 365,000 of their policies have been "selected," or does the 365,000 figure include persons who think they have "selected" a policy, but the insurance companies are unaware of such choice owing to the system's back-end problems?
Bottom line: Nowhere near seven million people will have "enrolled" (not merely "selected" health insurance plans) in Obamacare by the end of the Obama administration's initial enrollment period ending on March 31, 2014.

What then? Yup, a disaster in the making.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Maureen Dowd, "Ain’t Nothin’ Like a Dame": Imagine

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today


- John Lennon, "Imagine," 1971

Now, if I could only imagine a politician who actually gives a damn about people other than himself/herself. And if I could only imagine an electorate that could vote for someone because he/she is a decent caring human being, and not because of his/her religion, skin color or genital organs.

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Ain’t Nothin’ Like a Dame" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/11/opinion/dowd-aint-nothin-like-a-dame.html?_r=0), Maureen Dowd fantasizes about John Boehner dining with Senators Richard Burr and Saxby Chambliss and Congressman Tom Latham at Trattoria Alberto. (When I fantasize, it is not in this direction.) Analogizing this foursome to Sinatra's Rat Pack (Frank, Dean, Peter and Sammy would turn over in their graves), Dowd observes the Republicans' need to win over women in future elections. Dowd's concludes by having Boehner remark:

“And altar boy Paul Ryan and these 18-karat idiots trying to curb birth control? Birth control makes the world go round, baby. We don’t want to be leading a party that’s against sex. That’s a sure way to go home alone. Sex is popular. We can get away with saying no to a lot of things. No means no. But saying no to sex leads to bombsville.

“The way we run things, we should have been tossed out long ago, since most of the country thinks we’re living in the past. And it’s not a cool, crazy, swingin’ past. It’s a square, uptight, Mother Superior past.

“Speaking of Mother Superior, we’ve got to get the broads back in line before Hillary runs. That’s real woman trouble there.

“Any questions? Good. Let’s do it my way.”

Hillary? Is she a woman or just another self-serving politician? Remarkable how is she is avoiding taking any position on the Affordable Care Act or Obama's recent agreement with Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei as she is professionally preened for 2016.

Republicans? Democrats? In fact, there is very little difference. Narcissists to a man/woman.

As the Bee Gees sang in "Staying Alive," 1977:

Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk,
I'm a woman's man, no time to talk.
Music loud and women warm.
I've been kicked around since I was born.
And now it's all right, it's O.K.
And you may look the other way.
We can try to understand
The New York Times' effect on man.
Whether you're a brother
Or whether you're a mother,
You're stayin' alive, stayin' alive.

The New York Times' effect on man or woman? Little if any, these days. The Grey Lady, which long ago forgot the meaning of journalistic ethics and serves at the beck and call of the president, has one foot in the grave. Meanwhile, I, too, am just stayin' alive . . .

New York Times Editorial, "A Breakthrough Agreement at Risk": Might Obama's Whimsical Deal With Khamenei Unwind?

Those who have access to the "real," as opposed to the televised, Obama know that the president is currently in a foul mood. The disastrous rollout of the Affordable Care Act, accompanied by a dizzying decline in his approval rating, fractured his ego. Now, both houses of Congress, with support from both sides of the aisle, are opposing his unenforceable "agreement to agree"  (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/12/thomas-friedman-bibi-and-barack-sequel.html) with Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei.

And what inevitably happens when the president is under attack? The editorial board attack dogs of The New York Times come to his rescue.

In a myopic editorial entitled "A Breakthrough Agreement at Risk" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/10/opinion/a-breakthrough-agreement-at-risk.html?hp&rref=opinion), The New York Times would have us believe that Obama's deal is with a "moderate" Hassan Rouhani. The editorial begins:

"President Obama and President Hassan Rouhani of Iran both spent time last weekend trying to sell the Iran nuclear deal to skeptics among their constituents. In Mr. Obama’s case, that meant addressing pro-Israel supporters at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, a Washington think tank. Mr. Rouhani’s speech to a university audience in Tehran was televised nationally. While either side could undermine the November interim agreement, and with it the best chance in 30 years for a genuine thaw in Iranian-American relations, the more serious threat seems to be on the American side."

Well for starters, this "agreement" is not with Rouhani, but rather with Khamenei. Obama was cooking up this deal with Khamenei during secret negotiations held in Oman over the past year (see (http://www.timesofisrael.com/white-house-held-secret-talks-with-iran-for-past-year/) long before Rouhani took office in August 2013.

Is Rouhani a "moderate," as The New York Times would have us believe? Iran, the world's per capita leader in capital punishment, has executed more than 370 persons since Rouhani took office as president (see: http://www.iranhrdc.org/english/publications/1000000225-ihrdc-chart-of-executions-by-the-islamic-republic-of-iran-2013.html#.UqbCYkDxvcv).

The editorial continues:

"In the agreement, Iran committed to freezing or rolling back parts of its nuclear program and allowing daily inspections for six months in exchange for modest sanctions relief. In the meantime, negotiators for both sides will work toward a more lasting agreement. While not perfect, the six-month hiatus is unquestionably a good deal and would put the first meaningful curbs on Iran’s program in a decade."

"Iran committed to freezing or rolling back parts of its nuclear program"? Oh, really? Pursuant to the Obama's agreement to agree with Khamenei, Iran can:

The New York Times has the audacity to accuse the House and Senate of "mischief," inasmuch as they "are preparing legislation that would impose new sanctions." However, it was Rouhani who boasted prior to the Iranian presidential elections how he lulled the West into complacency while radically expanding Iran's nuclear weapons development program.

The editorial concludes:

"The outcome of these efforts is unclear. What is clear is that they are not only unproductive but unnecessary because Congress could, at any point in the future, order tougher sanctions if any deal falls apart. Equally clear is that they will almost certainly enrage the Iranians."

God forbid that a paper tiger US should "enrage" a regime that continues to hang homosexuals from cranes in the middle of Tehran, stones to death women accused of adultery, and tortures and rapes Baha'is, Kurds, Sunnis, Christians and political dissenters in Evin Prison.

A cocksure Obama thinks his persuasive powers can tame these monsters, but the president is soon to be taught yet another painful foreign policy lesson by the mullahs, who are masters at manipulation and anything but naive.