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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thomas Friedman, "The Other Arab Awakening": Evolution, Devolution or Barbarism?

Writing from Dubai, Thomas Friedman regales us with more rubbish.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Other Arab Awakening" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/01/opinion/sunday/friedman-the-other-arab-awakening.html?ref=thomaslfriedman&_r=0), Friedman would distinguish between "the radical revolutions you’ve read about in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Libya" and "the radical evolutions that you’ve not read about, playing out in Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf monarchies." Seeking to enlighten us concerning the "radical evolutions" in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, where - surprise, surprise, surprise - he is currently visiting, Friedman concludes:

"I heard many of these stories during group conversations with young Saudis and Emeratis, who I found to be as impressive, connected and high-aspiring to reform their countries as any of their revolutionary cohorts in Egypt. But they want evolution not revolution. They’ve seen the footage from Cairo and Damascus. You can feel their energy — from the grass-roots movement to let women drive to the young Saudi who whispers that he’s so fed up with the puritanical Islam that dominates his country he’s become an atheist, and he is not alone. Saudi atheists? Who knew?

. . . .

Again, this is not about democracy. It’s about leaders feeling the need to earn their legitimacy. But when one leader does it, others feel the pressure to copy. And that leads to more transparency and more accountability. And that, and more Twitter, leads to who knows what."

That "leads to who knows what"? If you want the answer, consider the following excerpt from an April 2013 International Business Times article entitled "Execution Central: Saudi Arabia's Bloody Chop-Chop Square"  (http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/453240/20130403/saudi-arabia-chop-square-beheading.htm) by Umberto Bacchi, describing capital punishment in the Desert Kingdom:

"In accordance with a strict interpretation of Islamic law, Saudi's courts implement a series of corporal punishments, of which flogging is the softest.

Right hand amputation applies in cases of theft, whereas cross amputation - right hand and left foot - is prescribed for highway robbery.

'I use a special sharp knife, not a sword. When I cut off a hand I cut it from the joint. If it is a leg the authorities specify where it is to be taken off, so I follow that,' Saudi Arabia's leading executioner Muhammad Saad al-Beshi once told Arab News in a rare interview.

Eye-gouging and tooth extraction are known to have been imposed on offenders sentenced in accordance with the concept of Qisas, or retribution.

. . . .

Beheadings are imposed mainly for murder or drug offences, but cases of apostasy (renunciation of one's faith), sorcery and witchcraft can also end up in Chop Chop square. Indeed a man named Muri' al-'Asiri was executed last year in the southern town of Najran, as punishment for being a sorcerer.

Lashing is carried out as the main or additional punishment for a wide range of offences, and can be imposed on men, women and juveniles. In 2011 a 13-year-old school girl convicted of assaulting a teacher was sentenced to 90 lashes, carried out in front of her classmates."

Evolution or devolution? How about barbarism at its most vile?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Gail Collins, "The Almost Year-End Quiz": The Question Not Asked by Collins

Gail Collins, founder of the Bonbon School of Journalism, today provides a deliciously cute list of questions for her readership in her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Almost Year-End Quiz" (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/11/30/opinion/30collins-quiz.html). (In case you were asking, no, I could not bring myself to read through this "opinion piece.")

The question which goes unasked by Gail:

Which of the following columnists was the most abject apologist for the Obama administration over the past year?:

A) Thomas Friedman.


B) Gail Collins.


C) Paul Krugman.


D) Charles Blow.


E) Nicholas Kristof.

Yup, it's a weighty query, whose answer depends upon whether you place greater emphasis on Obama's domestic or foreign policy fish stories.

If you like, you can delay your answer until December 31. By then, perhaps it will be more apparent whether Obamacare or the president's deal with Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei is the greater catastrophe.

Shirin Ebadi and Payam Akhavan, "In Iran, Human Rights Cannot Be Sacrificed for a Nuclear Deal": A Must Read

In a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "In Iran, human rights cannot be sacrificed for a nuclear deal" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/in-iran-human-rights-and-nuclear-security-go-hand-in-hand/2013/11/29/e131a7dc-578b-11e3-8304-caf30787c0a9_story.html?hpid=z3), Shirin Ebadi and Payam Akhavan write:

"Even as Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sat with his Western counterparts last weekend in Geneva, shaking hands and celebrating the interim six-month nuclear deal, the lifeless body of a young man hung from a crane in a bleak public square in Tehran, spreading fear among Iranians, who suffer the world’s highest per capita rate of executions.

. . . .

If anything, the alarming rate of executions seems to have increased in recent weeks. A handful of political prisoners have been released as a symbolic gesture, but many still languish in inhumane conditions. The torture of dissidents and the censorship of the media both continue as before. The persecution of religious minorities such as Bahais and Christians and of ethnic groups such as Ahwazi Arabs, Balochis and Kurds likewise continues unabated. The hard-line leadership is letting Iranians know that a strategic retreat in nuclear negotiations to end sanctions does not translate into reform at home."

How can this be?  We've been told by Obama and his friends in the media that Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, is a "reformer."

President Obama, who sat in silence during the Green Revolution, doesn't give a damn about what happens behind the walls of Evin Prison.

Sadly, Obama is now only concerned with his "legacy." Given that Obamacare is a disaster, a "deal" with Khamenei is all that is left.

Washington Post Editorial, "Final Iran Deal Needs to Balance Out the Concessions": Obama Again Lies to the Nation

The Washington Post has finally gotten around to acknowledging that Obama's recent agreement with Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei is shot full of wholes. A Washington Post editorial entitled "Final Iran deal needs to balance out the concessions" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/final-iran-deal-needs-to-balance-out-the-concessions/2013/11/28/72741e92-5772-11e3-835d-e7173847c7cc_story.html?hpid=z3) begins by observing (my emphasis in red):

"THE FACT sheet distributed by the Obama administration about the nuclear agreement with Iran is notable for its omissions. The 2,000-word document, like President Obama’s televised statement Saturday night about the deal, stresses Iran’s pledge to cap its enrichment of uranium, delay the completion of a plutonium-producing reactor and accept additional inspections — measures that will guard against an attempt to produce a bomb while negotiations continue.

What the White House didn’t report is that the text of the accord makes several major concessions to Tehran on the terms of a planned second-stage agreement. Though White House officials and Secretary of State John F. Kerry repeatedly said that Iran’s assertion of a 'right to enrich' uranium would not be recognized in an interim deal, the text says the 'comprehensive solution' will 'involve a mutually defined enrichment program with mutually agreed parameters.' In other words, the United States and its partners have already agreed that Iranian enrichment activity will continue indefinitely. In contrast, a long-standing U.S. demand that an underground enrichment facility be closed is not mentioned."

 The president has again lied to us? What a surprise . . . not.

Paul Krugman, "Obamacare’s Secret Success": Americans Are Worried Sick

Desperate to reveal some hidden benefit of Obamacare, Paul Krugman, in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Obamacare’s Secret Success" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/29/opinion/krugman-obamacares-secret-success.html?hp&rref=opinion&_r=0), tells us of a slowdown in health care costs. Krugman writes:

"In fact, the slowdown in health costs has been dramatic.

O.K., the obligatory caveats. First of all, we don’t know how long the good news will last. Health costs in the United States slowed dramatically in the 1990s (although not this dramatically), probably thanks to the rise of health maintenance organizations, but cost growth picked up again after 2000. Second, we don’t know for sure how much of the good news is because of the Affordable Care Act.

Still, the facts are striking. Since 2010, when the act was passed, real health spending per capita — that is, total spending adjusted for overall inflation and population growth — has risen less than a third as rapidly as its long-term average. Real spending per Medicare recipient hasn’t risen at all; real spending per Medicaid beneficiary has actually fallen slightly."

Yeah, right. The enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, long before its implementation which continues to be delayed in significant part by presidential fiat, is primarily responsible for the slowdown in health care costs.

Needless to say, Krugman does not mention a recent Washington Post-Miller Center poll, which determined, according to a Washington Post article entitled "Among American workers, poll finds unprecedented anxiety about jobs, economy" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/among-american-workers-poll-finds-unprecedented-anxiety-about-jobs-economy/2013/11/25/fb6a5ac8-5145-11e3-a7f0-b790929232e1_story.html):


"More than six in 10 workers in a recent Washington Post-Miller Center poll worry that they will lose their jobs to the economy, surpassing concerns in more than a dozen surveys dating to the 1970s. Nearly one in three, 32 percent, say they worry “a lot” about losing their jobs, also a record high, according to the joint survey, which explores Americans’ changing definition of success and their confidence in the country’s future. The Miller Center is a nonpartisan affiliate of the University of Virginia specializing in public policy, presidential scholarship and political history.

. . . .

Americans’ economic perceptions often divide along political lines; supporters of the incumbent president are usually more optimistic about the job market and the health of the economy. But that’s not the case with this new anxiety. Once you control for economic and demographic factors, there is no partisan divide. There’s no racial divide, either, and no gender gap. It also doesn’t matter where you live."

Krugman refuses to acknowledge that when people fear for their jobs, they cut expenses, including medical expenses.

It's that simple, but not for a Nobel Prize winning economist who is desperate to provide Obama's comatose presidency with life support.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

David Ignatius, "Iran — the Next Stage": Israeli Advocates Are "Bombastic"

One week ago, addressing his Basij militia, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared:

"It came from the mouth of the rabid dog of the region -- Israel -- that Iran is a threat to the world! No, the fake regime Israel and its allies are the threat."

Khamenei went on to say:

"We want to have friendly relations with all nations, even the United States. We are not hostile to the American nation. They are like other nations in the world."

"Death to America,"his Basij militiamen responded.

Today, in his latest Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Iran — the next stage" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/david-ignatius-where-iran-nuclear-talks-go-next/2013/11/27/304f0afc-57a6-11e3-835d-e7173847c7cc_story.html?hpid=z2), David Ignatius, Obama's foreign policy cheerleader tells us that Israeli advocates are "bombastic." Ignatius concludes this flighty opinion piece, which is interesting primarily because it provides a window into what Obama is really thinking, by stating:

"As Washington pushes ahead to engagement with Tehran, U.S. officials understand they must reassure their Sunni Arab allies that they haven’t tilted toward Shiite, Persian Iran. The U.S. message, not well communicated so far, is that it seeks an equilibrium in the Sunni-Shiite schism. Regaining this balance means aggressive outreach, especially to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. As part of this effort, President Obama spoke Wednesday with Saudi King Abdullah, and more such contacts are planned.

A wild card in these negotiations is Israel. Obama has asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take a breather from his clamorous criticism and send to Washington a team that can explore with U.S. officials a sound end-state strategy. Perhaps the United States and Israel need a back channel, outside the bombastic pressure campaign by Israeli advocates.

Getting to 'yes' with Iran was difficult enough last weekend, but the truly hard part of these negotiations is just beginning."

Obama has decided to create a new "equilibrium" involving America's traditional Sunni allies in the Middle East - Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and the UAE - and Shiite Iran? I am certain that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is just tickled pink, but heck, with the flameout of Obamacare, America's president must seek some new means of establishing a legacy.

Israeli advocates are "bombastic"? And here I thought it was Khamenei who has been regularly threatening Israel - a "rabid dog," a "fake regime," a "cancerous tumor" that needs to be excised - with annihilation. Ignatius's choice of the word "bombastic" is also peculiar, given that it is the Islamic Republic of Iran that has been desperately seeking to build its first atomic bomb.

But are Israeli advocates indeed bombastic? Consider the guest op-ed of Yaakov Amidror, the former head of Israel's National Security Council, which appeared in yesterday's New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/28/opinion/the-iran-agreement-does-not-address-the-nuclear-threat.html?_r=0) and which states regarding the P5+1 agreement with Iran:

"Iran will not only get to keep its existing 18,000 centrifuges; it will also be allowed to continue developing the next generation of centrifuges, provided it does not install them in uranium-enrichment facilities. Which is to say: Its uranium-enrichment capability is no weaker.

Under the deal Iran is supposed to convert its nearly 200 kilograms of uranium enriched to 20 percent purity — a short step away from bomb-grade material — into material that cannot be used for a weapon. In practice, this concession is almost completely meaningless.

The agreement does not require Iran to reduce its stockpile of uranium enriched to 3.5 percent, not even by one gram. Transforming unprocessed uranium into 3.5 percent-enriched uranium accounts for more than two-thirds of the time needed to transform unprocessed uranium into weapons-grade material. And given the thousands of centrifuges Iran has, the regime can enrich its stock of low-level uranium to weapons-grade quality in a matter of months. Iran already has enough of this material to make four bombs."

Bombast or common sense? You decide.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Maureen Dowd, "Pigskin Pride and Prejudice": How Do RGIII and the Redskins Stack Up Against Obama's Offensive Team

I am, and always will be, a Chicago Bears fan, but regretably I don't see Da Bears making it into the playoffs this season. As I get older, I begin to wonder whether I will again be blessed in this lifetime with another magical championship season as occurred in 1985. Meanwhile, my orange Bears shirt has grown old and is full of holes, and my wife has asked me to toss it into the garbage. No way!

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Pigskin Pride and Prejudice" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/27/opinion/dowd-pigskin-pride-and-prejudice.html?_r=0), Maureen Dowd focuses on the flagging fortunes of the Washington Redskins, mired in a losing season. Dowd writes of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III:

"He went from being cheered as a magical quarterback and magnetic leader to being belittled as a college-level player and blame-shifter. The Washington Post’s Sally Jenkins upbraided RGIII, once hailed as “Cool Hand Luke,” for acting like “an unteachable know-it-all.” Wide receiver Santana Moss suggested that RGIII, and other teammates, have to not blame others, “have to, at some point, stand up and say ‘me’ or ‘I.’ ”"

Care to play a game? Replace "RGIII" in the preceding paragraph with "Barack Obama." Does it ring true?

Of course, Obama doesn't blame others for his administration's failures. In the Obama administration, no one, including Kathleen Sebelius, is to blame. Rather, Obama has taken to excusing himself by explaining, "I didn't know."

Well, RGIII and the Redskins, if they continue to play by this name, could still recover next season.

Obama and his offensive (pun intended) team - Kerry, Hagel, Sebelius, Power, Carey and Jarrett, just to name a few - are finished.

[Meanwhile, Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei is busy making a fool out of President Obama. Notwithstanding the "agreement" to the contrary that Obama negotiated with Khamenei in Oman, Iran has today announced that it will continue with its construction of the Arak nuclear reactor, which, when operational, will produce enough plutonium for two atomic bombs each year (see: http://www.jpost.com/Iranian-Threat/News/Iran-Construction-will-continue-at-Arak-nuclear-site-333166). Pursuant to the deal, components for the facility can also continue to be built off-site. Only Obama and his team of naifs could possibly have expected otherwise.]

Monday, November 25, 2013

Obama, Iran and the Evolution Of US Paper Tiger Diplomacy

Obama cheerleader David Ignatius has written another obsequious Washington Post opinion piece entitled "To reach Iran deal, secret diplomacy that worked" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/david-ignatius-secret-diplomacy-that-worked/2013/11/25/5e2acdce-55f0-11e3-ba82-16ed03681809_story.html?hpid=z3), in which he praises "fearless leader" for his secret negotiations with Khamenei in Oman, which ultimately led to the agreement in Geneva. Ignatius writes:

"Obama began by authorizing carefully concealed meetings back in March, through Oman, the most opaque and discreet nation in the Persian Gulf. The president sent as his personal emissaries two low-key, quintessentially gray men, Bill Burns and Jake Sullivan, the deputy secretary of state and vice presidential adviser, respectively.

. . . .

It was a classic magic trick: While the eye was distracted by the show of the P5+1 talks, the real work was done elsewhere — and presented to the foreign ministers of Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany in Geneva two weeks ago almost as a fait accompli."

Indeed, Obama's deal with Khamenei in Oman, which failed to proscribe completion of Iran's heavy water reactor in Arak intended to produce sufficient plutonium for two atomic bombs each year (no mention of this by a prevaricating Ignatius), was indeed presented to America's P5+1 partners as a "fait accompli." Ignatius would have us know that France and Israel were "miffed" by this backroom deal, but were it not for French and Israeli objections, Obama would have handed Iran an atomic bomb on a silver platter.

In his opinion piece, Ignatius goes on to say:

"Iran and Syria illustrate the immense leverage the United States still has when it uses its diplomatic tools wisely and stealthily.

. . . .

Could the Iranians pocket the modest $7 billion they will receive in sanctions relief and then press ahead in six months toward bomb-making capability? That’s certainly possible. But they would make such a breakout with more chance of a U.S. military strike than before."

This, of course, is pure horse manure on the part of Ignatius. Syria illustrates America's "immense leverage"? In fact, it was Putin who enabled Obama to climb down from his tree and gracelessly abandon the "red line" he had set involving use by the Assad regime of chemical weapons against civilians.

"But they would make such a breakout with more chance of a U.S. military strike than before"? Oh really? In a blatant barb directed against Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Obama stated yesterday in San Francisco:

"We cannot rule out peaceful solutions to the world’s problems. We cannot commit ourselves to an endless cycle of conflict. And tough talk and bluster may be the easy thing to do politically, but it’s not the right thing for our security."

And so, Obama may have disastrously escalated American involvement in Afghanistan, but he is now signalling - to Assad, Khamenei and the rest of the world - that he is desperate to avoid any threat of conflict.

Obama doesn't care if Iran continues to threaten Israel with annihilation, to arm Hezbollah with tens of thousands of missiles, to send Hezbollah troops together with Republican Guard advisers to Syria to prop up the murderous Assad regime, and to commit barbarous acts of terror around the globe. He also doesn't care if Iran hangs homosexuals, stones to death women, murders Baha'is, oppresses Kurds, tyrannizes Sunnis and Christians, shuts down newspapers, and locks up opposition politicians in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison. After all, this know-it-all community organizer needed to reach an agreement, no matter what the price, which could be deemed part of his legacy.

But how are we to coax Iran back into the civilized world if not by means of diplomacy? This was the theme of Obama's cheerleader at The New York Times, Thomas Friedman, in his most recent op-ed entitled "Oh, Brother! Big Brother Is Back" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/24/opinion/sunday/friedman-oh-brother-big-brother-is-back.html), in which he likened Obama's deal with Khamenei to a "bet on evolutionary change." Of course, there was no mention by Friedman of the murder and torture by Iran of homosexuals, women, Baha'is, Kurds, Sunnis and Christians.

Evolution? In fact, it is the US under Obama which is evolving into a paper tiger.

Similarly, in his most recent New York Times op-ed entitled "Israel's Iran Dilemma" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/26/opinion/cohen-israels-iran-dilemma.html?_r=0),  Roger ("Iran is not totalitarian") Cohen tells us that "Obama and Kerry are ready to entertain Iran’s rehabilitation." Cohen is also careful not to mention the murder and torture by Iran of homosexuals, women, Baha'is, Kurds, Sunnis and Christians."

Iran's rehabilitation"? In fact, it's more like giving a "get out of jail free" card to an international serial killer.

It is now being reported that the agreement with Iran bears the personal imprimatur of Obama, a man with no negotiating experience or knowledge of the Middle East (see: http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Iran-nuclear-deal-bears-Obamas-personal-stamp-333035). Yes, I know, Valerie Jarrett advised him on this issue.

May God have mercy on all of us.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

New York Times Editorial, "Getting to Yes With Iran": Senator Chuck Schumer Is Not a Serious Man?

In yet another shameless adulatory editorial entitled "Getting to Yes With Iran" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/25/opinion/getting-to-yes-with-iran.html?hp&rref=opinion/international&_r=0), The New York Times showers praise on Barack Obama for his 2013 adaptation of Neville Chamberlain's 1938 "peace for our time." This delusion editorial begins by telling us:

"President Obama and President Hassan Rouhani of Iran deserve credit for resisting fierce domestic opposition and a 30-year history of animosity between the two countries to get to this point."

Rouhani deserves credit? In fact, there is only one person who decides anything in Iran: Supreme Leader Khamenei. Moreover, Obama was cooking up this deal with Khamenei during secret negotiations held in Oman during 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.

In short, Supreme Leader Khamenei wanted this deal.

The Times editorial continues:

"Even though the temporary agreement does not achieve permanent and total dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear program, no one can seriously argue that it doesn’t make the world safer."

No one can seriously argue that this temporary agreement doesn’t make the world safer? Oh, really? Yesterday, David Sanger of The New York Times observed(http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/24/world/middleeast/progress-if-modest-in-holding-back-irans-nuclear-program.html?_r=0) (my emphasis in red):

"The deal does not roll back the vast majority of the advances Iran has made in the past five years, which have drastically shortened what nuclear experts call its 'dash time' to a bomb — the minimum time it would take to build a weapon if Iran’s supreme leader or military decided to pursue that path.

Lengthening that period, so that the United States and its allies would have time to react, is the ultimate goal of President Obama’s negotiating team. It is also a major source of friction between the White House and two allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, which have made no secret of their belief that they are being sold down the river.

. . . .

Iran’s agreement to convert or dilute the fuel stocks that are closest to weapons grade, Mr. Obama said, means that the deal would 'cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb.' But it would cut them off only temporarily, long enough to pursue negotiations without fear that Iran would use the time to inch closer to a weapons capability.

But the rollback he won for this first stage, according to American intelligence estimates, would slow Iran’s dash time by only a month to a few months."

Or stated otherwise, Iran gave up virtually nothing in exchange for sanctions relief. That month or two of "dash time" that Obama obtained sure as heck makes the world a safer place . . . not.

The editorial goes on to say:

"As with any deal between adversaries, caution is warranted. Iran kept the nuclear program secret for nearly two decades before it was uncovered in 2002 and has resisted full disclosure of its activities. But the interim deal has protections that should make cheating harder, including unprecedented daily inspections of enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordo by United Nations experts."

Yup, those "unprecedented daily inspections" at Natanz and Fordo are really going to prevent Iran from continuing to build its first bomb. If you ask any serious person in the intelligence community, he/she will acknowledge the overwhelming likelihood that Iran has additional nuclear development facilities that are unknown to the US. Khamenei is not stupid.

Moreover, one need only consider whether the even more stringent agreement that President Clinton negotiated with North Korea in 2004 prevented the North Koreans from building nuclear weapons.

As noted by the editorial, the agreement fails to resolve the key issue of whether Iran has the right to enrich uranium:

"The two sides effectively put aside the question of whether Iran has a 'right' to enrich, but that will be central to any final deal."

Not surprisingly, as observed in a Washington Post article entitled "After Iran nuclear deal, tough challenges ahead" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/after-iran-nuclear-deal-tough-challenges-ahead/2013/11/24/9853518e-552c-11e3-835d-e7173847c7cc_story.html?hpid=z1) by Joby Warrick, the issue of Iran's right to enrich uranium is already in dispute following the announcement of the agreement:

"In Tehran, officials welcomed the deal as the beginning of a new era for the Islamic republic, with President Hassan Rouhani asserting that language in the agreement affirmed Iran’s right to enrich uranium, which he and other top Iranian officials had demanded as an element of any agreement.

'Let anyone make his own reading, but this right is clearly stated in the text of the agreement that Iran can continue its enrichment, and I announce to our people that our enrichment activities will continue as before,' Rouhani said in a statement broadcast live on television in Iran on Sunday morning.

Kerry and other U.S. officials who had sought to find language that would satisfy Iran without implying legal recognition of a right to enrich uranium disputed that interpretation.

'There is no inherent right to enrich,' Kerry said on ABC’s 'This Week,' in an apparent reference to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which is silent on whether a country’s right to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful purposes also allows for the enrichment of uranium. 'Everywhere in this particular agreement it states that they could only do that by mutual agreement, and nothing is agreed on until everything is agreed on.'"

Or stated otherwise, what we have here is an agreement to agree, which is worthless and unenforceable.

The editorial states:

"Iran would still be deprived of $30 billion in oil revenue over the next six months. American officials say that if Iran cheats on the interim terms or fails to reach a final agreement, the eased sanctions will be reversed and new and tougher ones imposed."

When Iran cheats - which it will - the eased sanctions will be reversed? Yeah, right. Try coaxing the genie back into the bottle. I'm certain that Obama's "allies," China and Russia, will be pleased to assist the US president . . . not.

But back now to the editorial's claim that "no one can seriously argue that [the agreement] doesn’t make the world safer." None other than Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer (http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/schumer-senate-likely-to-push-additional-iran-sanctions-in-december) has assailed this mirage:

"I am disappointed by the terms of the agreement between Iran and the P5+1 nations because it does not seem proportional.

. . . .

Iran simply freezes its nuclear capabilities while we reduce the sanctions. This disproportionality of this agreement makes it more likely that Democrats and Republicans will join together and pass additional sanctions when we return in December.
 
. . . .

It was strong sanctions, not the goodness of the hearts of the Iranian leaders, that brought Iran to the table, and any reduction relieves the psychological pressure of future sanctions and gives them hope that they will be able to gain nuclear weapon capability while further sanctions are reduced. A fairer agreement would have coupled a reduction in sanctions with a proportionate reduction in Iranian nuclear capability."

Yes, the agreement with Iran is to American foreign affairs what the Affordable Care Act is to American health care - a catastrophe in the making.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thomas Friedman, "Oh, Brother! Big Brother Is Back": Obama Throws Israel Under the Bus

Yesterday, Obama threw Israel under the bus.

Obama's agreement with Khamenei provides significant sanctions relief to Iran, but does not roll back Iran's nuclear weapons development program. As acknowledged by David Sanger of The New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/24/world/middleeast/progress-if-modest-in-holding-back-irans-nuclear-program.html?_r=0) (my emphasis in red):

"The deal does not roll back the vast majority of the advances Iran has made in the past five years, which have drastically shortened what nuclear experts call its 'dash time' to a bomb — the minimum time it would take to build a weapon if Iran’s supreme leader or military decided to pursue that path.

Lengthening that period, so that the United States and its allies would have time to react, is the ultimate goal of President Obama’s negotiating team. It is also a major source of friction between the White House and two allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, which have made no secret of their belief that they are being sold down the river.

. . . .

Iran’s agreement to convert or dilute the fuel stocks that are closest to weapons grade, Mr. Obama said, means that the deal would 'cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb.' But it would cut them off only temporarily, long enough to pursue negotiations without fear that Iran would use the time to inch closer to a weapons capability.

But the rollback he won for this first stage, according to American intelligence estimates, would slow Iran’s dash time by only a month to a few months."

Or stated otherwise, Iran gave up virtually nothing in exchange for sanctions relief.

How did this deal come about? In this regard, the cat is finally out of the bag. As reported by The Times of Israel (http://www.timesofisrael.com/white-house-held-secret-talks-with-iran-for-past-year/), secret negotiations were conducted between the US and Iran leading up to the Geneva agreement:

"The United States and Iran secretly engaged in a series of high-level, face-to-face talks over the past year, in a high-stakes diplomatic gamble by the Obama administration that paved the way for the historic deal sealed early Sunday in Geneva aimed at slowing Tehran’s nuclear program, The Associated Press has learned.

The discussions were kept hidden even from America’s closest friends, including its negotiating partners and Israel, until two months ago, and that may explain how the nuclear accord appeared to come together so quickly after years of stalemate and fierce hostility between Iran and the West.

. . . .

The talks were held in the Middle Eastern nation of Oman and elsewhere with only a tight circle of people in the know, the AP learned. Since March, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Jake Sullivan, Vice President Joe Biden’s top foreign policy adviser, have met at least five times with Iranian officials.

The last four clandestine meetings, held since Iran’s reform-minded President Hassan Rouhani was inaugurated in August, produced much of the agreement later formally hammered out in negotiations in Geneva among the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany and Iran, said three senior administration officials. All spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss by name the highly sensitive diplomatic effort."

Obama's description of the agreement? His announcement of the agreement yesterday (http://www.washingtonpost.com/posttv/national/obama-calls-iran-nuclear-deal-an-important-first-step/2013/11/23/28db1df2-54bc-11e3-a7f0-b790929232e1_video.html?hpid=z1) avoided any mention of these secret negotiations. Obama began his speech by saying:

"Today, the US together with our close allies and partners, took an important first step toward a comprehensive solution that addresses our concerns with the Islamic Republic of Iran's nuclear program."

Obama lied. In fact, the agreement resulted from his secret negotiations with Khamenei, which began before the so-called "moderate" president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, took office on August 3, 2013.

It is remarkable how Obama can claim that this "important first step" was taken "together with our close allies and partners." China and Russian are America's allies and partners, while Israel is not? This introductory sentence truly reflects Obama's mindset.

Today, in a New York Times op-ed entitled "Oh, Brother! Big Brother Is Back" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/24/opinion/sunday/friedman-oh-brother-big-brother-is-back.html), the head of Obama's foreign policy cheerleader squad, Thomas Friedman, is back with more baloney. Telling us of America's goals in pursuing a deal purportedly constraining Iran's nuclear weapons development program, Friedman writes:

"So, if Iran’s nuclear capabilities are curbed, we can live with that bet on evolutionary change — especially since it would likely facilitate an end to the U.S.-Iran cold war, which has hampered our cooperating on regional issues. Our allies, by contrast, do not trust Iran at all and therefore don’t believe in evolutionary change there. They want Iran stripped of all nuclear technology until there is regime change.

We can’t close that gap. We can only manage it by being very clear about our goals: to unleash politics inside Iran as much as possible, while leashing its nuclear program as tightly as possible, while continuing to protect our Arab and Israeli allies."

Hmm, Obama is seeking "to unleash politics inside Iran"? I suppose that's why he sat silently on the sidelines during Iran's Green Revolution in 2009.

Obama is seeking "evolutionary change" in Iran? Yeah, right, change in a country that hangs homosexuals, stones to death women, murders Baha'is, oppresses Kurds, tyrannizes Sunnis and Christians, shuts down newspapers, and imprisons opposition politicians and throws away the keys.

Perhaps 70 years ago, Roosevelt should have also sought to bring about "evolutionary change" in Nazi Germany.

What is it with Obama and "change"? Regrettably, this befuddled community organizer has only wrought chaos.

David Ignatius, "Backstage brawl over a deal": An Agreement to Agree Is Unenforceable

Obama foreign affairs henchman David Ignatius is obviously developing a case of cold feet.

Having recently promoted a deal with Supreme Leader Khamenei that purportedly constrains Iran's nuclear weapons development program (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/11/david-ignatius-will-history-repeat-in.html), this Obama cheerleader now brings to our attention several caveats. In "Backstage brawl over a deal" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/david-ignatius-backstage-brawl-over-a-nuclear-deal-with-iran/2013/11/21/82fa68da-52f3-11e3-9e2c-e1d01116fd98_story.html?hpid=z3), Ignatius writes:

"If there’s a fog of war, there can also be a fog of peace — in which even the negotiators aren’t sure of the consequences of what they’ve done. Some of that murkiness surrounds the bargaining in Geneva to limit Iran’s nuclear program. There’s sharp disagreement among observers about the potential risks and benefits of this seeming breakthrough between Iran and the West after 34 years of hostility.

. . . .

Another danger looming in the fog of peace is that the agreement being negotiated with Iran is meant to be an interim, first-step pact. Yet diplomatic history is full of interim agreements that never get into second gear. Indeed, they often set the stage for a bloody new round of confrontation as each side jockeys for leverage in the final negotiation. I hope the United States and Iranian negotiators have a clear road map already set for the endgame; otherwise they may quickly lose their way."

Yup, Constitutional lawyer Obama is negotiating with Khamenei an agreement to agree. Unfortunately, it never occurred to the president that in law it is a well-settled principle that a so-called agreement to agree is void and unenforceable for reasons of uncertainty.

As Haaretz journalist Ari Shavit recently declared (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/11/ari-shavit-how-bush-let-iran-go-nuclear.html):

"If such an agreement were signed, it would represent an Iranian victory — and an American defeat. The Iranians would be able to maintain their nuclear program and continue to enrich uranium, while the Americans and their allies would loosen the economic siege on Iran and allow Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the economic oxygen needed to sustain his autocratic regime.

Yes, Iran’s race to the bomb would be slowed down — but an accord would guarantee that it would eventually cross the finish line. The Geneva mind-set resembles a Munich mind-set: It would create the illusion of peace-in-our-time while paving the way to a nuclear-Iran-in-our-time."

Unlike American Secretary of State John Kerry, Shavit is no naif.

Ignatius's conclusion:

"Don’t get me wrong: An agreement with Iran is potentially Obama’s greatest success. But it’s worth thinking unconventionally about potential risks, even as we savor the prospect of a diplomatic triumph."

Ah yes, the risks of signing a deal with Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei, who hangs homosexuals, stones to death women, murders Baha'is, oppresses Kurds, tyrannizes Sunnis and Christians, shuts down newspapers, and imprisons opposition politicians.

In fact, such a deal with Khamenei is to American overseas credibility what the Affordable Care Act is to American health care. Both are disasters in the making, whose ultimate consequences have yet to be seen.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Charles Krauthammer, "‘Sucker’s Deal’": Selling Israel Down the River

In a brilliant Washington Post opinion piece entitled "‘Sucker’s deal’" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-krauthammer-suckers-deal/2013/11/21/9d03e966-52dc-11e3-a7f0-b790929232e1_story.html?hpid=z3), Charles Krauthammer picks apart the agreement which President Obama had hoped to sign with Supreme Leader Khamenei, purportedly intended to restrain Iran's nuclear weapons development drive. Krauthammer writes:

"It leaves Iran’s nuclear infrastructure intact. Iran keeps every one of its 19,000 centrifuges — yes, 19,000 — including 3,000 second-generation machines that produce enriched uranium at five times the rate of the older ones.

Not a single centrifuge is dismantled. Not a single facility that manufactures centrifuges is touched. In Syria, the first thing the weapons inspectors did was to destroy the machines that make the chemical weapons. Then they went after the stockpiles. It has to be that way. Otherwise, the whole operation is an exercise in futility. Take away just the chemical agents, and the weapons-making facilities can replace them at will.

Yet that’s exactly what we’re doing with Iran. It would deactivate its 20 percent enriched uranium, which besides being chemically reversible, is quickly replaceable because Iran retains its 3.5 percent enriched uranium, which can be enriched to 20 percent in less than a month.

Result: Sanctions relief that leaves Iran’s nuclear infrastructure untouched, including — and this is where the French gagged — the plutonium facility at Arak, a defiant alternate path to a nuclear weapon."

I suppose this is what you should expect when community organizer Obama and the EU's imbecilic Catherine Ashton, who has a bachelor’s degree in sociology, negotiate with the wily mullahs.

The only problem for Obama is that Khamenei is now backing away from the deal. Obama had originally agreed, during secret one-on-one negotiations with Tehran, to allow Iran to continue to build the Arak IR-40 Heavy Water Reactor, designed to produce sufficient plutonium for two atomic bombs each year. It is no wonder that even France could not brook this obscenity, which it labelled a "sucker's deal."

Khamenei, previously promised this piece of candy, is now being told that he can't have it anymore, and this is proving a deal-breaker.

Which is worse: the rollout of Obamacare or the American president's backhanded negotiation of this despicable arrangement with Iran?

You call it.

[On Wednesday, Supreme Leader Khamenei labelled Israel “the rabid dog of the region.” When asked about Khamenei’s comment during his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, John Kerry called it "inflammatory," but also declared, "I don’t want to exacerbate it now sitting here, but our good friends in Israel know full well that we defend their concerns." John Kerry no longer has "good friends" in Israel, and as evident from Ari Shavit's recent guest op-ed in The New York Times (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/11/ari-shavit-how-bush-let-iran-go-nuclear.html), a full political spectrum in Israel, from left to right, no longer believes that Obama "has Israel's back." ]

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ari Shavit, "How Bush Let Iran Go Nuclear": A Must Read for Thomas Friedman

Perhaps you recall that in his Sunday New York Times op-ed entitled "Something for Barack and Bibi to Talk About" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/17/opinion/sunday/friedman-something-for-barack-and-bibi-to-talk-about.html?_r=0), would-be Middle East expert Thomas Friedman wrote:

"I can think of no better time for a good book about Israel — the real Israel, not the fantasy, do-no-wrong Israel peddled by its most besotted supporters or the do-no-right colonial monster portrayed by its most savage critics. Ari Shavit, the popular Haaretz columnist, has come out with just such a book this week, entitled 'My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel.'

Shavit is one of a handful of experts whom I’ve relied upon to understand Israel ever since I reported there in the 1980s. What do all my Israeli analytical sources have in common? They all share a way of thinking about Israel — which is expressed with deep insight, compassion and originality in Shavit’s must-read book — that to understand Israel today requires keeping several truths in tension in your head at the same time."

Hmm. Friedman, who was enlisted by Obama to market the president's bogus agreement with Khamenei to curtail Iran's nuclear weapons development program (see his anti-Semitic diatribes: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/11/thomas-friedman-lets-make-deal-anti.html and http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/11/thomas-friedman-what-about-us-is-thomas.html), relies upon Shavit for his understanding of Israel.

Well, today, in a guest New York Times op-ed entitled "How Bush Let Iran Go Nuclear" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/21/opinion/how-bush-let-iran-go-nuclear.html?hpw&rref=opinion&_r=0), Haaretz columnist Shavit reveals several unpleasant truths. Explaining that Bush, not Obama, was primarily responsible for the current crisis involving Iran, Shavit writes:

"AMERICAN and Iranian negotiators yesterday began a second round of talks in Geneva, seeking a deal on Iran’s nuclear program.

If such an agreement were signed, it would represent an Iranian victory — and an American defeat. The Iranians would be able to maintain their nuclear program and continue to enrich uranium, while the Americans and their allies would loosen the economic siege on Iran and allow Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the economic oxygen needed to sustain his autocratic regime.

Yes, Iran’s race to the bomb would be slowed down — but an accord would guarantee that it would eventually cross the finish line. The Geneva mind-set resembles a Munich mind-set: It would create the illusion of peace-in-our-time while paving the way to a nuclear-Iran-in-our-time."

Shavit's conclusion:

"The Geneva agreement being negotiated is an illusion. The so-called moderate president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, is an illusion, too. So is the hope that Iran’s supreme leader can be appeased. Because America missed the opportunity for assertive diplomacy, all the options now left on the table are dire ones.

Rather than pursuing a dangerous interim agreement, the West must insist that all the centrifuges in Iran stop spinning while a final agreement is negotiated. President Obama was right to demand a settlement freeze in the West Bank in 2009. Now he must demand a total centrifuge freeze in Iran."

Shavit, Friedman's Middle East mentor, is correct. Friedman is wrong.

Today, in a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "U.S. optimistic about a nuclear deal with Iran" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2013/11/20/u-s-optimistic-about-a-nuclear-deal-with-iran/?hpid=z3), David Ignatius, Obama's second-string (after Friedman) foreign affairs cheerleader columnist, writes of Obama's pact with Khamenei:

"The agreement, if it can be pinned down, would be a significant diplomatic achievement for President Obama. From his first year in office, he made engaging Iran a priority; he signaled in secret letters to Tehran his interest in better relations and also assembled an international coalition for sanctions that would push Iran to limit its nuclear program.

. . . .

Details of the package remain tightly held, but one U.S. official said it would probably include a formula that has been stated often publicly by Obama, that the U.S. 'respects Iran’s right to access a civilian nuclear program.' The specific nature of that civilian program, and the level of uranium enrichment that could be conducted in the future, would be negotiated over the next six months as part of a final, comprehensive deal."

"A significant diplomatic achievement for President Obama"? yeah, right.

The level of future uranium enrichment by Iran "would be negotiated over the next six months as part of a final, comprehensive deal"? Good luck.

As stated by Shavit, this is a "Munich mind-set," and it was clear all along that this was Obama's plan.

God help us.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Maureen Dowd, "Twisted Sister, and Brothers": Did You Prefer "Dynasty" or "M*A*S*H"?

Describing the North American antics of the Cheney, Ford and Bush families in her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Twisted Sister, and Brothers" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/20/opinion/dowd-twisted-sister-and-brothers.html?hpw&rref=opinion&_r=0), Maureen ultimately focuses her wrath on Dick and Liz Cheney. Dowd writes:

"The Cheney feud is the most stomach-turning, with Liz Cheney grubbing for a Senate seat as a carpetbagger against an incumbent Republican. What on earth makes her qualified to be a senator? And why didn’t she simply run in her real home state of Virginia?"

Dowd's conclusion:

"The Cheneys have caused enough damage to this country. They should exit, stage right."

I agree, and they should take with them the Clintons. (Yes, I know: Hillary and Bill are not siblings and perhaps do not belong in this opinion piece, yet, on the other hand, it is not clear what they are.) It was not enough that Bill autographed Monica's dress. Now Hillary, without an achievement under the belt of her pants suit as secretary of state, believes she should be president.

The problem, however, is not Hillary. A recent NBC News poll found that 66 percent of Democrats in the survey said they would back her in the 2016 presidential primaries (see: http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/01/23/top-quotes-from-hillary-clintons-benghazi-hearings). For what reason? Because she is a woman? There are many more women, both Democrats and Republicans, who are better qualified to lead the US than Hillary. I know that she is leaving politics, but what a pity Olympia Snowe's name never arises in this regard.

Are Americans, who revolted from England, now so enamored with dynasties? I suppose it's no surprise that American soap opera "Dynasty" ran for nine seasons and 220 episodes (I was fortunate to miss them all).

I did, on the other hand, occasionally watch the television comedy show "M*A*S*H," premised upon the 1970 hit movie by the same name. You will recall that "Suicide Is Painless" was the theme song for both the movie and the later television series.

Did you prefer "Dynasty" or "M*A*S*H"? What difference at this point does it make? Well, America's fascination with enfeebling political dynasties could prove suicidal, but hardly painless.


Thomas Friedman, "Let’s Make a Deal": An Anti-Semitic Friedman Promotes the Sellout

In his most despicable, anti-Semitic op-ed to date entitled "Let’s Make a Deal" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/20/opinion/friedman-lets-make-a-deal.html?_r=0), Thomas Friedman, Obama's foreign affairs henchman at The New York Times, promotes the bogus anti-Semitic tenets of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" while calling for a deal with Iran. In a desperate effort to condone Obama's forthcoming sellout of Israel in Geneva, Friedman urges that the US sign an agreement with Tehran later this week, which purportedly limits the Islamic Republic's ability to develop nuclear weapons. Friedman writes:

"Never have I seen Israel and America’s core Arab allies working more in concert to stymie a major foreign policy initiative of a sitting U.S. president, and never have I seen more lawmakers — Democrats and Republicans — more willing to take Israel’s side against their own president’s. I’m certain this comes less from any careful consideration of the facts and more from a growing tendency by many American lawmakers to do whatever the Israel lobby asks them to do in order to garner Jewish votes and campaign donations."

Yup, those dastardly Jews are up to their old tricks again! They might just comprise some 2% of the American population, and they vote overwhelmingly Democratic, but everyone knows that their shady money forces Congress to support Israel. Yeah, right.

Friedman continues:

"In the long run, the deal Kerry is trying to forge with Iran is good for us and our allies for four reasons: 1) In return for very limited sanctions relief, the deal is expected to freeze all of Iran’s nuclear bomb-making technologies, roll back some of them and put in place an unprecedented, intrusive inspection regime, while maintaining all the key oil sanctions so Iran will still be hurting aplenty. This way Iran can’t “build a bomb and talk” at the same time (the way Israel builds more settlements while it negotiates with Palestinians). Iran freezes and rolls back part of its program now, while we negotiate a full deal to lift sanctions in return for Iran agreeing to restrictions that make it impossible for it to break out with a nuclear weapon. 2) While, Netanyahu believes more sanctions will get Iran to surrender every piece of its nuclear technology, Iran experts say that is highly unlikely. 3) Iran has already mastered the technology to make a bomb (and polls show that this is very popular with Iranians). There is no way to completely eliminate every piece of Iran’s nuclear technology unless you wipe every brain clean there. 4) The only lasting security lies in an internal transformation in Iran, which can only come with more openness. Kerry’s deal would roll back Iran’s nuclear program, while also strengthening more moderate tendencies in Iran. Maybe that will go nowhere, or maybe it will lead to more internal changes. It’s worth a carefully constructed test."

A response:

  • First of all, John Kerry did not forge this deal. I dare not say more.

  • "[T]he deal is expected to freeze all of Iran’s nuclear bomb-making technologies"? Actually, the deal that Obama initially sought to ram down Israel's throat did not address continued construction of Iran's Arak IR-40 Heavy Water Reactor, designed to produce sufficient plutonium for two atomic bombs each year. It is no wonder that even France could not brook this obscenity, which it labelled a "fool's bargain." Is Iran now willing to forgo continued construction of the Arak facility? Let's wait and see.

  • "While, Netanyahu believes more sanctions will get Iran to surrender every piece of its nuclear technology, Iran experts say that is highly unlikely"? "Iran experts"? For every "Iran expert" that Friedman can find willing to say that additional sanctions will not influence Iran, I can provide an "Iran expert" who says the opposite.

  • "Iran has already mastered the technology to make a bomb"? Yes, this is true owing to Obama's indifference to Iran's technological progress during his first term in office. However, there is a difference between mastering the technology and possessing the plutonium, which Obama was prepared to allow Tehran to produce.

  • "The only lasting security lies in an internal transformation in Iran"? Yes, and when Iranians rose in revolt against the mullahs in 2009, Obama stood on the sidelines as they were gunned down and imprisoned.

How does the Obama pact with Khamenei differ from the Munich Agreement signed by Chamberlain, Daladier, Hitler and Mussolini on September 29, 1938? Simple: Israel, unlike Czechoslovakia, will not allow itself to be annihilated.

Wait and see.

Monday, November 18, 2013

New York Times Editorial, "A New G.O.P. Excuse for Doing Nothing": Obama's "Long March," I Kid You Not

The Red Army fears not the trials of the Long March
And thinks not of a thousand mountains and rivers.


— From "The Long March," a Poem by Mao Zedong, September 1935


Pitiful.

This is the word that best describes the most recent New York Times editorial entitled "A New G.O.P. Excuse for Doing Nothing" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/19/opinion/a-new-gop-excuse-for-doing-nothing.html?hp&rref=opinion&_r=0), which, acknowledging the disastrous rollout of the Affordable Care Act, tells of Obama's "long march":

"But just as these blunders are not the end of the health reform, they will also, in the end, not stop the long march to immigration reform, more jobs or desperately needed improvements to education, transportation and other fundamental functions."

Who writes this "stuff"? Perhaps the editorial board should have another look at Gail Collins's last Times op-ed entitled  "Who’s Sorry Now?" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/16/opinion/collins-whos-sorry-now.html?_r=0), in which she writes:

"The chaos surrounding the rollout of health care reform is a terrible blow to people who’ve been standing behind the president through thin and thin. They had already come to grips with the fact that the guy who once taught constitutional law wasn’t going to protect their privacy from government snoops. That their old peace candidate really loved the idea of shooting people down with drones. That he was probably never going to be able to deliver on serious immigration reform, or gun control or even expanded preschool.

But there was still affordable health care, a goal that had been eluding presidents since Teddy Roosevelt, which had required so many breathtaking leaps of political faith to pass and protect. One achievement so big it was pretty much enough.

And then the website didn’t work and longstanding promises were broken and the whole thing was turning into a joke on the Country Music Association Awards."

Even a stalwart Obama supporter such as Collins admits that the failures and scandals of the Obama administration extend far beyond Obamacare.

But this editorial only gets better. Informing us that Republicans "are in favor only of shutdowns and sequesters and repeals," it concludes:

"Democrats may be stumbling right now, but at least they are trying."

Well, I don't care much for Democrats, Republicans or any politicians for that matter, but "at least they are trying"? Perhaps, Democrats should abandon "Hope" ("Abandon hope all ye who enter here," Dante's Divine Comedy) and "Change" it to "At Least We're Trying" as their 2014 midterm elections slogan. Let's see how far that takes them on Obama's Long March.

The Times of Israel, "Geneva Talks a Facade, US-Iran Worked Secretly on Deal for Past Year": True or False?

As reported by The Times of Israel in an article entitled ‘Geneva talks a facade, US-Iran worked secretly on deal for past year’ (http://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-and-us-held-secret-talks-for-over-a-year/) by Stuart Winer, senior Israeli officials are saying that Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett has been leading secret negotiations with the Khamenei regime concerning Iran's nuclear weapons development program. The article states:

"According to [Israeli television] Channel 10, the secret channel marginalized [American Secretary of State] Kerry, and was overseen by the president. The idea had been for Kerry merely to fly to Geneva, as he did last Friday, to sign a deal in which he had been a bit player."

The article further tells us that "White House spokesman Bernadette Meehan was quoted by [the Israeli newspaper] Haaretz as saying that the report was 'absolutely, 100 percent false.'"

Okay, true or false, Jarrett, aka the "Night Stalker," has been leading such talks notwithstanding the White House denial?

Bear in mind that in October 2012, The New York Times reported learning from Obama administration officials of the intention to engage in one-on-one negotiations over Iran's nuclear program (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/world/iran-said-ready-to-talk-to-us-about-nuclear-program.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0), although Jarrett's name was not mentioned at the time.

A mere suggestion: Yesterday, in a blog entry entitled "Iranian MP: Obama's Threat of Military Action Is Only Intended to Placate Israel" (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/11/iranian-mp-obamas-threat-of-military.html), I observed that Iranian Member of Parliament Ali Motahari, brother-in-law of Ali Larijani, Iran's Chairman of Parliament, recently declared, regarding a US military option (http://www.yjc.ir/en/news/2559/obama-different-from-former-us-presidents-senior-lawmaker):

"After all he has to say something to please Israel, which is not important. The US is stuck between Israel and Iran. He talks to please both sides. It must not be taken seriously."

A different type of president who is seeking only to placate Israel? Kind words from an Iranian MP, linked by marriage to Larijani.

Again, just a mere suggestion. Think about it.

David Ignatius, "Will History Repeat in Iran Nuclear Negotiations?": Raw Propaganda

As we near another round of negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran over Iran's nuclear weapons development program, David Ignatius, Obama's foreign affairs henchman at The Washington Post, is again advancing the president's fervent desire to reach any kind of deal with Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei, while slinging mud at the president's nemesis and bugaboo, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. In an opinion piece entitled "Will history repeat in Iran nuclear negotiations?" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2013/11/17/will-history-repeat-in-iran-nuclear-negotiations/?hpid=z2), Ignatius writes:

"The issue has great symbolic importance to Israel, just as it does to Iran. Netanyahu fundamentally wants Iran to abandon any possibility of developing a nuclear weapon, which means dismantling its enrichment capability rather than codifying a supposed right to it.

U.S. negotiators believe that history shows the capitulation approach doesn’t work with Iran. Back in 2003, when President Hassan Rouhani was his country’s nuclear negotiator, Iran offered concessions to the West to limit its program. At that time, Iran had about 164 centrifuges. The United States and Israel refused that deal and decided to squeeze harder. Today, Iran has 19,000 centrifuges.

Now, U.S. officials fear a similar process will repeat itself, as Netanyahu’s push for the best possible deal sabotages the good deal that could freeze the Iranian program."

"The issue has great symbolic importance to Israel"? Who is Ignatius seeking to delude? Iran has repeatedly called for the annihilation of Israel.

As Iran's chief negotiator, Rouhani "offered concessions to the West"? This is pure hokum. In a pre-election interview, Rouhani, all smiles, bragged how he had lulled the West into complacency while radically expanding Iran's nuclear weapons development program (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjbrqPK-BBg).

"Netanyahu’s push for the best possible deal sabotages the good deal that could freeze the Iranian program"? More nonsense. Two weeks ago, Obama and Kerry were seeking to sign off on an agreement with Iran that did not address continued construction of Iran's Arak IR-40 Heavy Water Reactor, designed to produce sufficient plutonium for two atomic bombs each year. It is no wonder that even France could not brook this obscenity, which it labelled a "fool's bargain."

Sorry, David, this is not an opinion piece. Rather, this is raw propaganda.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Paul Krugman, "A Permanent Slump?": America Sells Its Economic Future for a Bowl of Wonton Soup

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "A Permanent Slump?" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/18/opinion/krugman-a-permanent-slump.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0), Paul Krugman observes that a growing number of economists believe that "depression-like conditions are on track to persist, not for another year or two, but for decades," and that such opinions have "moved into the mainstream." Krugman provides his own support for this dismal outlook:

"Look at household debt relative to income. That ratio was roughly stable from 1960 to 1985, but rose rapidly and inexorably from 1985 to 2007, when crisis struck. Yet even with households going ever deeper into debt, the economy’s performance over the period as a whole was mediocre at best, and demand showed no sign of running ahead of supply. Looking forward, we obviously can’t go back to the days of ever-rising debt. Yet that means weaker consumer demand — and without that demand, how are we supposed to return to full employment?"

Regrettably, I share this grim view.

As recently reported by the US Commerce Department (see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/us-trade-deficit-widens-8-percent-in-september-to-418-billion-highest-in-4-months/2013/11/14/01e7f65c-4d32-11e3-bf60-c1ca136ae14a_story.html), imports increased to their highest level in 10 months in September while exports dropped, notwithstanding an 11.5 percent decline in petroleum imports. Significantly, the deficit with China reached an all-time high of $30.5 billion.

Does the US economy, specifically growth in employment, benefit from consumer demand fueled by easy money? Obviously not.

For there to be more American jobs, the trade imbalance with China needs to rectified.

Iranian MP: Obama's Threat of Military Action Is Only Intended to Placate Israel

How does Tehran regard Obama's threat of military action if Iran continues to pursue its nuclear weapons development program? An interesting insight is provided by Iranian Member of Parliament Ali Motahari, brother-in-law of Ali Larijani, Iran's Chairman of Parliament, who recently declared (http://www.yjc.ir/en/news/2559/obama-different-from-former-us-presidents-senior-lawmaker):

"Since we have gone down the nuclear energy path well enough and as we are influential in the Middle East where the US needs us, and since Obama is a bit different from previous US presidents, it is a good opportunity for the nuclear negotiations to be carried out, so that some of the unfair sanctions that are imposed on us are lifted. All in all it is a good job. Whether it hits or not it will be to our advantage."

Specifically, regarding the US military option, Motahari added:

"After all he has to say something to please Israel, which is not important. The US is stuck between Israel and Iran. He talks to please both sides. It must not be taken seriously."

A different type of president who is seeking only to placate Israel? And notwithstanding this impression of Obama, i.e. someone not to be taken seriously, the US still expects to sign a meaningful deal with Tehran?

Good luck.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Frank Bruni, "More Fun With Bill & Hill": The Teflon Lady Makes Certain That Nothing Sticks

My feeling is that history will not be kind to Obama, given his absence of accomplishments and the possibility that the fiasco, otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act, could drag the American economy into a hole from which it will never emerge. But can Hillary sufficiently distance herself from Obamacare going into 2016, now that even Obama's most ardent liberal admirers, e.g., Ruth Marcus and Gail Collins, have begun to savage his incompetence?

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "More Fun With Bill & Hill" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/17/opinion/sunday/bruni-more-fun-with-bill-hill.html?_r=0), Frank Bruni observes how Hillary has sidelined herself over the course of the Obamacare rollout, while husband Bill has not hesitated to stomp upon a poor prostrate Barack in true tag team fashion. Bruni begins:

"BEFORE President Obama administered his fix to the Affordable Care Act last week and even before it was clear that he was leaning that way, Bill Clinton piped up, opining that Obama should honor his claim that Americans with insurance they liked could keep it. This advice wasn’t exactly solicited. And inasmuch as it gave detractors of Obama and Obamacare a fresh cudgel, it wasn’t terribly helpful, either.

. . . .

It’s less dicey for him [Bill] than for her [Hillary] to second-guess Obama, which could wind up being a prerequisite to succeeding him. His presidency at this particular moment looks more and more like one of those unlucky Florida homes perched unsuspectingly over a sinkhole. Soon only the top of the chimney will be visible."

Yup, after sleeping soundly through the Benghazi attack, Secretary of State Hillary was happy to allow Susan Rice to make the Sunday news/interview rounds, advancing the theory that Benghazi was sparked by an inane movie. The Obamacare disaster? Citizen Hillary is even better positioned to sit this thing out on the sidelines.

But whereas history will most likely not be kind to an inept Obama, will the American electorate in 2016 be kinder to a Teflon lady, who has made a public career of making certain that nothing sticks?

Ah, the melodrama of it all . . . not.

Thomas Friedman, "Something for Barack and Bibi to Talk About": A Total Absence of Objectivity

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Something for Barack and Bibi to Talk About" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/17/opinion/sunday/friedman-something-for-barack-and-bibi-to-talk-about.html?_r=0), would-be Middle East expert Thomas Friedman provides the basis for his understanding of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Friedman writes:

"I can think of no better time for a good book about Israel — the real Israel, not the fantasy, do-no-wrong Israel peddled by its most besotted supporters or the do-no-right colonial monster portrayed by its most savage critics. Ari Shavit, the popular Haaretz columnist, has come out with just such a book this week, entitled 'My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel.'

Shavit is one of a handful of experts whom I’ve relied upon to understand Israel ever since I reported there in the 1980s. What do all my Israeli analytical sources have in common? They all share a way of thinking about Israel — which is expressed with deep insight, compassion and originality in Shavit’s must-read book — that to understand Israel today requires keeping several truths in tension in your head at the same time.

. . . .

In a brutally honest chapter entitled 'Lydda, 1948,' Shavit reconstructs the story of how the population of this Palestinian Arab town, in the center of what was to become Israel, was expelled on July 13th in the 1948 war.

'By noon, a mass evacuation is under way,' writes Shavit. 'By evening, tens of thousands of Palestinian Arabs leave Lydda in a long column, marching south past the Ben Shemen youth village and disappearing into the East. Zionism obliterates the city of Lydda. Lydda is our black box. In it lies the dark secret of Zionism. ... If Zionism was to be, Lydda could not be.'"

Of course, Friedman doesn't bother to mention how, during the 1948 war, the Jews were expelled from the Old City of Jerusalem and all but one of its synagogues were destroyed.

More to the point, Friedman doesn't bother telling his readers about the battle of Lydda in 1948 and ignores a shockingly different account of what happened there, written by Alex Safian (http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=2&x_outlet=122&x_article=2572). Contradicting Shavit's account, Safian observes that pursuant to the initial surrender agreement, the inhabitants of Lydda were told by the Israeli army that they could remain in their town; however, when a Jordanian patrol entered the city, they again attacked the Israeli troops. Safian writes:

"Despite the surrender agreement, and the promise to turn over arms, the Israelis, now numbering only 500 men, had to once again take the town in another desperate battle.

Fighting house-to-house to root out snipers, and this time giving no quarter, within an hour much of the town was once again under control, and an estimated 200 Arabs were dead.

But the Dahmash Mosque, was still fighting, held by an estimated 70 fighters, and with an unknown number of others inside. Rather than launch a costly frontal assault, Lt. Col. Kelman decided to breach the mosque's walls with an anti-tank weapon, known as a PIAT, and then have a platoon rush the building.

After the PIAT was fired, the men that stormed the building found that the defenders were dead, killed by the effects of the armor piercing projectile in the confined space of the mosque. (Kurzman, p. 515-516)

The second battle to take Lydda was over, but now facing the Israelis was the difficult question of what to do with the inhabitants. The town leaders, knowing that they had broken their word to surrender and disarm, and knowing in particular that the five Israeli soldiers outside the mosque had been massacred and their bodies mutilated, feared that the Israelis would now return the favor.

It's hardly surprising that the Israelis were in no mood to give the residents another chance to break their promise to live in peace. But, of course, the Israelis also didn't execute or 'massacre' them. Instead, the residents were ordered to evacuate the city and move towards the Jordanian lines and Ramallah."

. . . .

[I]f you know the facts – that the town surrendered, went back on its word, massacred and mutilated Israeli soldiers, and then despite all this the residents were allowed to leave unharmed – the picture looks very different.

You want to learn more about Israel and the Middle East? Start by ignoring Friedman.

New York Times Editorial, "Not the Time to Squeeze Iran": More Distortion and Hate-Mongering From the Times

Read the latest New York Times editorial entitled "Not the Time to Squeeze Iran" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/16/opinion/not-the-time-to-squeeze-iran.html?hpw&rref=opinion). Now read it again. What's missing? Answer: There is not even a single mention of the fact that the agreement which John Kerry tried to sign in Geneva last week, purportedly constraining Iran's nuclear weapons development program, did not address continued construction of Iran's Arak IR-40 Heavy Water Reactor, designed to produce sufficient plutonium for two atomic bombs each year. It is no wonder France could not brook this obscenity.

Today, even Obama's henchman, David Ignatius, acknowledges in a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "The stakes of an Iranian deal" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/david-ignatius-the-stakes-of-an-iranian-deal/2013/11/15/4fad18fa-4d54-11e3-be6b-d3d28122e6d4_story.html?hpid=z3):

"Let’s give Netanyahu and Fabius credit for playing the 'bad diplomat' role to gain maximum leverage. They’ve created a dynamic in which Tehran will have to give more than it’s getting (especially in stopping progress on its heavy-water reactor at Arak, as Fabius rightly insisted). If Tehran can’t make these concessions, the world will see that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani can’t or won’t deliver the deal that would lift sanctions and give Iran a voice in regional security issues, such as Syria."

This Times editorial, intended to bolster the president at a time when he is being flayed by Congress for this sham deal, blithely ignores the Arak reactor and concludes:

"Iran has already taken steps in that direction. On Thursday, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that since Mr. Rouhani took office in June, the country had virtually halted its previously rapid expansion of its uranium enrichment capacity.

President Obama deserves more time to work out a negotiated settlement with Iran and the other major powers. If the deals falls through, or if inspections by the United Nations unearth cheating, Congress can always impose more sanctions then. But if talks fail now, Mr. Netanyahu and the hard-line interest groups will own the failure, and the rest of us will pay the price."

By all means let's place our faith in Hassan Rouhani. This is the same Rouhani who in a pre-election interview bragged how he had lulled the West into complacency while radically expanding Iran's nuclear weapons development program.

This is the same Rouhani who executed 82 people after being elected as president in June (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-23/spate-of-iran-executions-after-rouhani-election-alarms-un.html).

This is the same Rouhani who appointed mass murderer Mostafa Pourmohammadi as his minister of justice (see: http://iranian.com/posts/view/post/19076).

Since June, Iran has "virtually halted its previously rapid expansion of its uranium enrichment capacity"? Of course, it never occurs to the Times that this is because the sanctions program has virtually bankrupted Iran and has prevented them from further funding of its nuclear weapons development program. Unfreeze Iranian funds held in foreign banks? Let's see what happens next. Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the Islamic Republic is continuing to enrich uranium to 20 percent purity, just short of the concentration needed for a nuclear weapon. (see: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/10/31/332255/iran-continues-20-enrichment/).

"[I]f talks fail now, Mr. Netanyahu and the hard-line interest groups will own the failure, and the rest of us will pay the price"? By all means, let's blame Obama's bugaboo and nemesis, Bejamin Netanyahu, for the failure to sign an agreement in Geneva. This is very much in keeping with Thomas Friedman's recent "America First" op-ed  (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/11/thomas-friedman-what-about-us-is-thomas.html), which smacked of anti-Semitism. But in fact, if Iran succeeds in building its first atomic weapon, it is Israel that will undoubtedly "pay the price," and it is less than remarkable that almost two-thirds of Israelis "oppose the nuclear agreement being discussed with Iran" (see: http://news.yahoo.com/majority-israelis-oppose-iran-nuclear-deal-093208801.html).

The New York Times? It is no more than a shameless mouthpiece for a failed Obama administration.

David Ignatius, "The Stakes of an Iranian Deal": Ignorant, Ignoble . . . Ignore

There are two op-ed writers upon whom Obama relies in formulating his foreign policy: would-be Middle East experts Thomas Friedman and David Ignatius, whose columns provide stalwart support for the president's imbecilic machinations, while at the same time providing insights into his muddled thinking. Facing Congressional opposition to his attempt to sign a rotten deal, labelled by France "a fool's game," purportedly intended to constrain Iran's nuclear weapons development program, Obama's pet columnists are seeking to counter the furor surrounding John Kerry's folly.

On Wednesday, in a New York Times op-ed entitled "What About US?" (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/11/thomas-friedman-what-about-us-is-thomas.html) which smacked of anti-Semitism, Thomas Friedman wrote:

"It goes without saying that the only near-term deal with Iran worth partially lifting sanctions for would be a deal that freezes all the key components of Iran’s nuclear weapons development program, and the only deal worth lifting all sanctions for is one that verifiably restricts Iran’s ability to breakout and build a nuclear bomb.

. . . .

America’s interests today lie in an airtight interim nuclear deal with Iran that also opens the way for addressing a whole set of other issues between Washington and Tehran."

"A deal that freezes all the key components of Iran’s nuclear weapons development program"? But Kerry was willing to sign off on a deal that did not address continued construction of Iran's Arak IR-40 Heavy Water Reactor, designed to produce sufficient plutonium for two atomic bombs each year. Even France could not brook this obscenity.

"An airtight interim nuclear deal with Iran"? Obama and Kerry just signed off on a Russian sponsored deal with mass murderer Bashar al-Assad (Kerry's "dear friend") for the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles, but were recently informed by American intelligence services that Assad is hiding no small part of this stockpile (see: http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2013/11/05/first-on-cnn-us-intelligence-suggests-syria-may-hide-some-chemical-weapons/).

Today, in a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "The stakes of an Iranian deal" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/david-ignatius-the-stakes-of-an-iranian-deal/2013/11/15/4fad18fa-4d54-11e3-be6b-d3d28122e6d4_story.html?hpid=z3), David Ignatius also seeks to aid his friend in the White House. Of course, Obama hates Netanyahu, whom he labelled a "pain in the ass" (see: http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/New-book-quotes-Obama-using-unflattering-metaphor-to-describe-Netanyahu-330794), and Ignatius is quick to take aim at the president's nemesis:

"Given the seeming benefits of the deal, it’s curious that Netanyahu has set himself so adamantly against it. Netanyahu’s rejectionist stance directly challenges the authority of President Obama, who has invested the credibility of his administration in gaining this diplomatic resolution. It’s as if West Germany had denounced John F. Kennedy while he was negotiating a deal to resolve the Cuban missile crisis in 1962."

But let's consider this purported parallel. "The seeming benefits of the deal"? Ignatius himself acknowledges that the deal failed to deal with continued construction of Iran's Arak IR-40 Heavy Water Reactor (French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius "rightly insisted" on "stopping progress on [Iran's] heavy-water reactor at Arak").

"It’s as if West Germany had denounced John F. Kennedy while he was negotiating a deal to resolve the Cuban missile crisis in 1962"? As Ignatius surely must be aware, the Russian missiles brought into Cuba were intended to threaten America's eastern seaboard, not West Germany. Regarding Tehran's nuclear weapons development program, there is no mistaking who will be the first "recipient" of an Iranian atomic bomb, i.e. Israel.

"[I]t’s curious that Netanyahu has set himself so adamantly against it"? In fact, it's not curious at all. Given whom the Iranians are threatening with annihilation, almost two-thirds of Israelis "oppose the nuclear agreement being discussed with Iran" (see: http://news.yahoo.com/majority-israelis-oppose-iran-nuclear-deal-093208801.html).

Ignatius concludes:

"Strategically, this de-facto Israeli alliance with the Saudis is an extraordinary opportunity for Israel. And for Fabius, there’s a chance to position the French as the West’s prime weapons supplier to the Saudis, gaining France hundreds of billions of dollars in the post-American era in the Gulf. For opportunistic reasons, no wonder Israel and France want to detonate the U.S.-Iranian rapprochement. But will this really aid their security?

The Obama administration would counter (correctly, I think) that embracing the Saudi strategy of an ever-deepening Sunni-Shiite divide is unwise. The schism will fuel permanent sectarian war in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The Saudis now are blocking formation of any government in Lebanon, for example, to obstruct Iran’s ally, Hezbollah. In Syria, the Saudis seem ready to fight the Sunni-Shiite battle down to the last Syrian.

Better to seek a turn in relations with Iran through diplomacy that can limit its nuclear program, Obama reasons. He’s right."

Sorry, David, but this is pure hokum. Without preventing future construction of Iran's Arak IR-40 Heavy Water Reactor, this truly was a "fool's game," as the French aptly described it. It has absolutely nothing to do with future French arms sales to the region. (Save this for a future spy novel.)

Netanyahu's concern? Are you really so callous as to ignore Israel's existential concerns? Should Israel shrug off repeated warnings from Iran that they intend to wipe the "Zionist state" off the map?

Obama is not "right." In fact, it is becoming all too clear that this community organizer is a bungling naif, who was never qualified to occupy the Oval Office.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Gail Collins, "Who’s Sorry Now?": When Obama Loses Collins, It's "Game Over"

Less than a year into his second term, Obama is already finished. Yesterday, he lost uber-liberal Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus, who concluded in an opinion piece entitled "Obama’s political malpractice" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ruth-marcus-political-malpractice-of-the-highest-order/2013/11/14/e6b95abe-4d69-11e3-be6b-d3d28122e6d4_story.html):

"Belatedly, with congressional Republicans pouncing and Democrats threatening to bolt, Obama on Thursday proffered a supposed (it depends on the kindness of insurers and state insurance commissioners) and temporary (one-year) fix. By then, the exchanges should be functional, but will premiums climb higher as healthier people stick with existing plans?

Listening to the president Thursday was painful. He acknowledged the need 'to win back some credibility.' He 'fumbled the rollout' of health care. He is 'letting . . . down' congressional Democrats who took the risk of supporting Obamacare. Although he’s sometimes been 'slapped around a little bit unjustly,' the president said, 'This one’s deserved, all right? It’s on us.'

Can he recover? I’m sorry to say: I’m not at all confident."

Well, bad has become worse. Today, he also lost Gail Collins. In a New York Times op-ed entitled "Who’s Sorry Now?" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/16/opinion/collins-whos-sorry-now.html?_r=0), Collins writes in inimitable bonbon style:

"The chaos surrounding the rollout of health care reform is a terrible blow to people who’ve been standing behind the president through thin and thin. They had already come to grips with the fact that the guy who once taught constitutional law wasn’t going to protect their privacy from government snoops. That their old peace candidate really loved the idea of shooting people down with drones. That he was probably never going to be able to deliver on serious immigration reform, or gun control or even expanded preschool.

But there was still affordable health care, a goal that had been eluding presidents since Teddy Roosevelt, which had required so many breathtaking leaps of political faith to pass and protect. One achievement so big it was pretty much enough.

And then the website didn’t work and longstanding promises were broken and the whole thing was turning into a joke on the Country Music Association Awards."

Fast forward to Collins's conclusion:

"At his press conference, the president noted — kind of bragged, really — that the Obama campaign had been spot-on when it came to information technology. Then he complained that the way the federal government purchases I.T. 'is cumbersome, complicated and outdated.'

Since he already knew 'that the federal government has not been good at this stuff in the past,' Obama continued, his crack advisers should have prepared to go around that problem 'two years ago' when planning for the rollout began.

Yes!

'... But that doesn’t help us now. We’ve got to move forward.'

Sigh."

Obama's "crack advisers"? Does this include Kerry, Hagel, Sebelius? The president is better off with a team of crack addicts.

Of course, Obama still has die-hard loyalists, lending support, at his request, to his imbecilic foreign policy: Thomas Friedman (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/11/thomas-friedman-what-about-us-is-thomas.html), David Ignatius (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/11/david-ignatius-stakes-of-iranian-deal.html), and the editorial board of The New York Times (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/16/opinion/not-the-time-to-squeeze-iran.html?hpw&rref=opinion). But when Obama loses Collins, it's truly "game over."