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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "How ISIS Drives Muslims From Islam": Yet More Drivel About Shariah Law From Tom Terrific

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "How ISIS Drives Muslims From Islam," Thomas Friedman writes:

"THE Islamic State has visibly attracted young Muslims from all over the world to its violent movement to build a caliphate in Iraq and Syria. But here’s what’s less visible — the online backlash against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, by young Muslims declaring their opposition to rule by Islamic law, or Shariah, and even proudly avowing their atheism."

Fascinating! A backlash against ISIS and Shariah law. The fly in Friedman's ointment? That's simple. As reported by the Pew Research Center in April 2013, the "% of Muslims who favor making sharia the official law in their country" is as follows:

Indonesia: 72
Malaysia: 86
Afghanistan: 99
Pakistan: 84
Bangladesh: 82
Iraq: 91
Morocco: 83
Egypt: 74
Jordan: 71
Tunisia: 56
Palestinian Territories: 89

Of course, according to the Pew Research Center, there are also Muslim countries with lower percentages, e.g., Kazakhstan with 10 percent. However, the percentage in Indonesia, the country with the largest population of Muslims in the world, is not going to decline overnight.

Friedman's examples of opposition to Shariah Law are meant to warm our hearts? Remember how Friedman gushed over the Arab Spring from Tahrir Square . . .

Spare me. I no longer have the patience.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "The Gift That Keeps Giving": More Hot Air on Terrorism From Tom Terrific

In a New York Times op-ed entitled "The Gift That Keeps Giving," Thomas Friedman writes:

"I have sympathy for President Obama having to deal with this mess of a world, where the key threats come from crumbling states that can be managed only by rebuilding them at a huge cost, with uncertain outcomes and dodgy partners. Americans don’t want that job. Yet these disorderly states create openings for low-probability, high-impact terrorism, where the one-in-a-million lucky shot can really hurt us. No president wants to be on duty when that happens either. Yet many more Americans were killed in their cars by deer last year than by terrorists. I don’t think Obama has done that badly navigating all these contradictions. He has done a terrible job explaining what he is doing and connecting his restraint with any larger policy goals at home or abroad."

Chaos in Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan only "create openings for low-probability, high-impact terrorism, where the one-in-a-million lucky shot can really hurt us"? Fascinating.

But now consider what Thomas S. Warrick, deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism policy at the Department of Homeland Security, told the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-Proliferation, and Trade, yesterday:

"While this hearing focuses on the terrorist threat from Syria and Iraq, core al-Qa’ida, al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and their affiliates and adherents in other parts of the world are a major concern for DHS. Despite senior leadership deaths, these groups maintain the intent and, in some cases, the capability to conduct attacks against U.S. citizens and our facilities. AQAP and other terrorist groups have shown they can adjust their tactics, techniques and procedures to target the West in a number of ways.

. . . .

At present, DHS is unaware of any specific, credible threat to the U.S. Homeland from ISIL. However, violent extremists who support terrorist groups based in Syria have demonstrated the intent and capability to target American citizens overseas. ISIL constitutes an active and serious threat within the region and could attempt attacks on U.S. targets overseas with little-to-no warning.

. . . .

We are concerned about the threat of foreign fighters from the United States or elsewhere who might go to Syria, become even more radicalized, and then return to their home countries, including the United States, where they might try to conduct attacks either on their own or in concert with others."

Note that Warrick does not refer to "low-probability, high-impact terrorism, where the one-in-a-million lucky shot can really hurt us."

So whom do you believe, Friedman or Warrick? I know whom I would trust.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sabrien Amrov and Alaa Tartir, "Subcontracting Repression in the West Bank and Gaza": Thanksgiving Israel-Bashing From The New York Times

In yet another Israel-bashing New York Times op-ed entitled "Subcontracting Repression in the West Bank and Gaza," Sabrien Amrov and Alaa Tartir write:

"Palestinians under Israeli occupation need a police force to maintain internal law and order, but one that is accountable to the people themselves, not to Israel or the donor community."

Their conclusion:

"There can be no security for Israel if Palestinians do not have their basic rights."

The Palestinian police must be "accountable to the people themselves, not to Israel or the donor community"? Palestinians must "have their basic rights"? Fascinating. And just what do the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza want?

As reported by the Pew Research Center in April 2013:

  • 89 percent of Muslims in the Palestinian territories "favor making sharia the official law in their country."
  • Among Muslims in the Palestinian territories who say sharia should be the law of the land, 84 percent "favor stoning as a punishment for adultery."
  • Among Muslims in the Palestinian territories who say sharia should be the law of the land, 66 percent "favor the death penalty for converts."
  • 40 percent of Muslims in the Palestinian territories "say suicide bombing in defense of Islam is often/sometimes justified."
  • 89 percent of Muslims in the Palestinian territories say that homosexual behavior is "morally wrong."
  • 44 percent of Muslims in the Palestinian territories say that "honor killings" are "never justified" when a "female committed the offense."
  • 87 percent of Muslims in the Palestinian territories "completely or mostly agree that a wife must always obey her husband."
  • 33 percent of Muslims in the Palestinian territories "say a wife should be able to divorce her husband."
  • 89 percent of Muslims in the Palestinian territories say that "Islam alone" leads to heaven.
  • 82 percent of Muslims in the Palestinian territories say that "converting others is a religious duty."

"There can be no security for Israel if Palestinians do not have their basic rights"? Given the findings of the Pew Research Center, perhaps Amrov and Tartir should have delineated just what those basic rights are. They obviously don't apply to women or homosexuals, and a majority of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza believe that suicide bombing is often/sometimes justified, even if it deprives others of their "basic rights."

But heck, this isn't what New York Times readers want to know while gobbling their turkey and stuffing.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

David Ignatius, "At an impasse with Iran": Perpetuating the Myth of Rouhani's Moderation

David Ignatius has been duped into believing Iran's good cop/bad cop routine. In a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "At an impasse with Iran," Ignatius declares:

"A glimpse of this internal Iranian debate came in the statements following the announcement of the extension. President Hassan Rouhani gave a televised speech Monday night that seemed designed, at once, to reassure an Iranian public that wants a deal and to lobby the hard-line faction that doesn’t.

'I am certain that we will reach the final accord, if not today, then tomorrow,' said an optimistic-sounding Rouhani. He claimed that 'Iran’s logic is one of negotiations and dialogue' and that negotiators 'have had some agreements behind the scenes, but putting those on paper, we are still not there yet.'"

Ah yes, the "good" Rouhani, who needs to lobby Iranian hard-liners.

However, as reported by Adam Kredo in a Washington Free Beacon article entitled "Iran: ‘Americans Have Very Clearly Surrendered’":

"Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday in a television interview that the country’s 'centrifuges will not stop,' according to a translation of his remarks.

'Today we have a victory much greater than what happened in the negotiation,' Rouhani said. 'This victory is that our circumstances are not like previous years. Today we are at a point that nobody in the world [in which no one says] sanctions must be increased in order that Iran accept P5+1 demands.'

'No one says to reach agreement we must increase pressure on Iran,' Rouhani said. 'But they say to reach an agreement more time and more discussion is needed. This is a great victory for what the Iranian nation started since last June 15.'

. . . .

'Centrifuges have been running and I promise the Iranian nation that centrifuges will never stop,' he said."

So, over the course of this additional seven-month extension of the "negotiations" between Iran and the P5+1, Iran's centrifuges will continue to spin, and Iran will grow that much closer to obtaining sufficient enriched uranium for an atomic bomb. In addition, Iran will continue to recover $700 million a month in frozen assets during the extension. Yup, a pretty darned good deal for Iran.

Needless to say, there is no mention by Ignatius how "good cop" Rouhani has overseen a spike of executions in Iran. As reported in an October 14, 2014 Washington Times article entitled "Iran executions surge amid U.S. nuclear talks" by Guy Taylor:

"Iran’s abuse of human rights, including the hangings of hundreds of dubiously convicted citizens — in several cases minors — has soared over the past year, even as the Obama administration has yielded to Tehran’s demand for an extension in precarious international talks over the Islamic republic’s disputed nuclear program.

. . . .

During the 14 months since Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took office, Iranian authorities have carried out at least 936 executions, according to data compiled by the Connecticut-based Iran Human Rights Documentation Center.

. . . .

An advance copy provided to The Washington Times notes the executions of at least 22 women since Mr. Rouhani took office and highlights more than a dozen cases of people younger than 18 accused of crimes and hanged. One case involved Iraj Nassiri, whom the report says was 'less than 15' when Iranian authorities accused him of 'premeditated murder.'"

Ignatius would also have us believe that there exists another Iranian "good cop," Mohammad Javad Zarif:

"When I was in Tehran a year ago, it was obvious that the nuclear issue had become a fundamental political and economic crossroads for Iran. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister and chief negotiator, told me that a final agreement 'can change the course of our relations with the West.'

. . . .

A year later, despite progress on many of the technical details that would frame an agreement, this split in Tehran still exists — hampering Zarif’s ability to offer concessions the West wants in return for lifting sanctions."

Ignatius fails to mention how, during the negotiations, the "moderate" Zarif screamed at US Secretary of State John Kerry. Again, as reported by Adam Kredo in a Washington Free Beacon article entitled "Reports: Top Iranian Negotiator ‘Frequently Shouts’ at Kerry, Western Officials":

"Iran’s foreign minister and lead negotiator in nuclear talks is known to frequently scream and shout at Western diplomats, including Secretary of State John Kerry, a practice that has caused alarm among bodyguards stationed outside the negotiating room, according to a member of the Iranian diplomatic team who spoke to the Farsi-language press.

. . . .

On one occasion, Zarif’s shouts were so loud that a member of the Iranian delegation entered the negotiation room to check on the players, according to the report, which was independently translated for the Free Beacon.

Upon entering, the Iranian official was informed by European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, a chief western negotiator, that Zarif was just shouting and she had gotten used to it, according to an independent translation of the report."

Needless to say, Kerry and Ashton didn't have the good sense to walk out of the room.

The negotiations over Iran's nuclear weapons development program are obviously going nowhere, notwithstanding the fact that Obama had hoped to make an agreement with Khamenei the crowing achievement of his second term. With this hope all but shattered, will Obama now attempt to kick this can down the road until the end of his second term? He obviously hopes to do this, and the Iranians know it.

New York Times Editorial, "A Problem Beyond Mr. Hagel": Et Tu, Brute?

As reported by Jim Miklaszewski of NBC News in an article entitled "'Greatest Privilege of My Life': Chuck Hagel Resigns as Defense Secretary," the Obama administration has already begun to snipe at outgoing US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. As reported by the article, an anonymous "senior official" declared that Hagel "wasn’t up to the job." Well, as pointed out on numerous occasions in this blog, Hagel certainly wasn't one of the brighter lights in the Obama administration (I'm being kind), but this should have been apparent to anyone witnessing his confirmation hearings. On the other hand, Hagel faithfully carried out Obama's policy of implementing military budget cuts at a time when the US was facing heightened challenges from ISIS in the Middle East.

However, proven wrong in his assessment of the threat posed by ISIS (a "JV squad"), Obama, a narcissist, could not possibly acknowledge his mistake, and a scapegoat for this failure, i.e. Hagel, needed to be found.

Today, in an editorial entitled "A Problem Beyond Mr. Hagel," The New York Times actually suggests that Hagel is not responsible for the failure of US military policy over the past two years. Remarkably, the Times appears to lay the blame on Obama:

"[Hagel] was not the core of the Obama administration’s military problem. That lies with the president and a national security policy that has too often been incoherent and shifting at a time of mounting international challenges, especially in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

. . . .

Mr. Hagel was not well served by the fact that national security policy is tightly controlled by the White House, with Mr. Obama relying on a small group of aides, including Susan Rice, the national security adviser, for counsel. That process has often resulted in delayed and contradictory signals about Mr. Obama’s foreign policy agenda and the military strategies needed to carry it out.

. . . .

A more aggressive defense secretary who has Mr. Obama’s full confidence and ear may be able to better deal with chaos and war on these fronts. But, ultimately, it is Mr. Obama who will have to set the course with a more coherent strategy."

Ouch. Et tu, Brute?

Obama, the Procrastinator-in-Chief, "will have to set the course with a more coherent strategy"? When? Between rounds of golf?

Or will this new strategy be prepared by Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes and Valerie Jarrett? Not likely. "Senior officials" in the Obama administration are too busy undercutting those perceived as the president's enemies and former faithful servants, who, it is feared, could write additional uncomplimentary memoirs.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

New York Times Editorial, "Horror in Israel": Material for a New Opera by John Adams?

Writing of yesterday's murder of four men praying in a West Jerusalem synagogue (three held dual American/Israeli citizenship, while the fourth held dual British/Israeli citizenship) and of an Israeli policeman who came to defend them, The New York Times declares in an editorial entitled "Horror in Israel":

"There is no comprehending the murder of four men, including three rabbis, at a synagogue complex in a neighborhood of West Jerusalem on Tuesday."

Indeed, there is no comprehending this horror.

Yet The New York Times wrote in a September 19th editorial entitled "The Met Opera Stands Firm" and subtitled "‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ Must Go On":

"Protesting groups are demanding that the production be scrapped, contending the opera is anti-Semitic in depicting the 1985 murder of Leon Klinghoffer by Palestinian terrorists who seized a Mediterranean cruise ship and threw Mr. Klinghoffer and his wheelchair overboard after shooting him.

Music critics and opera lovers have found the opera, by John Adams, moving and nuanced in imagining a tragedy that gives voice to all sides, from the ruthless and aggrieved terrorists to Mr. Klinghoffer, an innocent Jewish-American who makes some of the opera’s most powerful points in denouncing violence as a political tool.

The Met should not have yielded to its critics, including Mr. Klinghoffer’s daughters, earlier this year when Mr. Gelb canceled live broadcasts of the opera in movie theaters around the world because of what he saw as 'rising anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe.'"

How can The New York Times describe "The Death of Klinghoffer" as "moving and nuanced in imagining a tragedy that gives voice to all sides," yet denounce yesterday's murder of Jews engaged in prayer as incomprehensible?

Perhaps Adams should write a new opera about this abomination, again giving voice to all sides.

A double standard? You bet. Shame on the editorial board of the Times!

Monday, November 17, 2014

David Brooks, "Obama in Winter": "Gruberism" in Action

It's no secret that The New York Times has gone to extreme efforts to avoid mention of MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, whose recently revealed declarations concerning the stupidity of American voters and a lack of transparency involving the passage of Obamacare have aroused indignation throughout the United States. Well, in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Obama in Winter," David Brooks writes of "Gruberism" as it relates to the Obama administration. Referring to Obama's threat to veto the Keystone XL pipeline and to take unilateral action on immigration, Brooks concludes:

"I’m not sure why the Obama administration has been behaving so strangely since the midterms. Maybe various people in the White House are angry in defeat and want to show that they can be as obstructionist as anyone. Maybe, in moments of stress, they are only really sensitive to criticism from the left flank. Maybe it’s Gruberism: the belief that everybody else is slightly dumber and less well-motivated than oneself and, therefore, politics is more about manipulation than conversation.

Whatever it is, it’s been a long journey from the Iowa caucuses in early 2008 to the pre-emptive obstruction of today. I wonder if, post-presidency, Mr. Obama will look back and regret that he got sucked into the very emotional maelstrom he set out to destroy."

Obama will look back and regret something in 2017 and the years thereafter? Sorry, David, not a chance. Owing to a narcissistic belief in his moral and intellectual superiority, Obama is not capable of regret. Everyone else is wrong. Everyone else is to blame. He was betrayed by those stupid American voters, who twice elected him to the highest office in the land. And given that Obama was betrayed, we can only expect total war with Congress and scorched earth during his final two years in office.

Obama has been "behaving so strangely since the midterms"? Not at all. It's all part and parcel of the Götterdämmerung of this tragedy's final act.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Paul Krugman, "When Government Succeeds": A Triumph of Imagination Over Intelligence

"Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence."

- H.L. Mencken

Paul Krugman must sure as heck love the Obama administration.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "When Government Succeeds," Paul Krugman crows over the successes of the Obama administration, among them Obamacare:

"Then there’s health reform. As usual, much of the national dialogue over the Affordable Care Act is being dominated by fake scandals drummed up by the enemies of reform. But if you look at the actual results so far, they’re remarkably good. The number of Americans without health insurance has dropped sharply, with around 10 million of the previously uninsured now covered; the program’s costs remain below expectations, with average premium rises for next year well below historical rates of increase; and a new Gallup survey finds that the newly insured are very satisfied with their coverage. By any normal standards, this is a dramatic example of policy success, verging on policy triumph."

Obamacare is "a  dramatic example of policy success, verging on policy triumph"? Maybe, if you decide to ignore a couple of things:

  • Let's ignore the farcical launch of

  • Let's also ignore, "If you like your health care plan or health care provider, you can keep them."

  • Let's also ignore the law's 42 changes, including delayed implementation of the employer mandate.

  • But most important, let's ignore MIT Professor Gruber's take on Obamacare:

"This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that. In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed… Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass… Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not."

Obamacare is a "triumph"? Krugman is obviously head over heels in love.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

New York Times Editorial, "A Final Dash on an Iran Deal": Liars!

In an editorial entitled "A Final Dash on an Iran Deal," The New York Times tells its readers:

"For nearly a year, Iran has adhered to an interim agreement that froze and rolled back its nuclear program. This experience offers some hope that, subject to a rigorous verification regime, Iran will be able to fulfill a more permanent agreement."

Iran has adhered to the interim agreement? Oh really? Lee Smith's recent Weekly Standard article entitled "Caving to Iran" tells us that Obama received absolutely nothing in exchange for easing the sanctions regime against Iran one year ago. Mr. Smith writes:

"[T]he interim deal acknowledged Iran’s right to enrich uranium. It ignored Iran’s ballistic missile program (the most obvious delivery mechanism for a bomb), despite a U.N. Security Council resolution (1929) as well as several pieces of congressional legislation requiring Iran to cease such activities. It allowed Iran to continue building its heavy-water plutonium facility at Arak. The deal sought to limit Iran to research and development work on advanced centrifuges, but Tehran exploited that allowance and reportedly built up to 5,000 advanced centrifuges in the last year.

The issue is not just that Iran has repeatedly cheated, but that the administration keeps helping. When it became clear Iran was selling more than the million barrels of oil per month that sanctions relief permitted, White House spokesmen counseled patience: Maybe next month, they said, Iran would sell less and get under the cap. And when it didn’t, all the administration could do was shrug.

It’s the same now with inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency. The Iranians won’t let the U.N. agency in to count and catalog the entirety of their program. It’s a concern but not a deal-breaker, says the State Department. After all, any agreement will include a mechanism to monitor whether Iran is keeping up its side of the bargain. But if the IAEA can’t get in to find out exactly what Iran has now, post-deal inspections to see if Iran is keeping its word are all but irrelevant."

With Obamacare destined for destruction when the US Supreme Court decides King v. Burwell in 2015 (the editorial board of the Times refuses to comment upon Jonathan Gruber's declaration concerning the stupidity of the American voter), the only thing the president will be able to show in the way of a legacy is an agreement with Iran. The alternative - heaven help the president - is to attempt to reinstate the sanctions regime, which has become a leaking sieve under his watch.

Is Obama capable of confronting Khamenei? Not a chance.

Thomas Friedman, "Who Are We?": ISIS Is a "Violent Mutation" of Islam?

Writing from Dubai, Thomas Friedman in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Who Are We?" would have us believe that ISIS represents something unlike mainstream Islam. Friedman writes:

"[T]he Islamic State, or ISIS, is homegrown; its aim is not to strike at enemies far away, but to spread and impose its vision of an Islamic society right here and right now; it’s attracting Muslim youths from all over, including the West; its ideology is a violent mutation of the puritanical, nonpluralistic, Wahhabi Islam, the dominant trend in Saudi Arabia."

ISIS is a "violent mutation" of a more moderate Wahabi Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia? Oh really? As reported by Janine di Giovanni in a October 14, 2014 Newsweek article entitled "When It Comes to Beheadings, ISIS Has Nothing Over Saudi Arabia," notwithstanding the outrage generated by the execution of Westerners by ISIS, beheadings are also commonplace in Saudi Arabia:

"[D]ecapitations are routine in Saudi Arabia, America’s closest Arab ally, for crimes including political dissent—and the international press hardly seems to notice. In fact, since January, 59 people have had their heads lopped off in the kingdom, where 'punishment by the sword' has been practiced for centuries."

Ms di Giovanni goes on to describe what it's like to be beheaded in Saudi Arabia:

"You will be dressed in something that leaves the soft skin of your neck exposed. Your hands are bound together behind your back. It’s better for all concerned to stay still, as is clear from a video of the execution of Rizana Nafeek, a 24-year-old Sri Lankan maid who was accused of murdering her employee’s 4-month-old son. She swayed from side to side, making her execution sloppier than most. (Nafeek pleaded not guilty, saying the baby choked on his milk bottle. She was beheaded anyway, in January 2013.)

. . . .

But even in death, you are not liberated. Your murder is meant to be a sign to the people in the crowd that Saudi Arabia does not tolerate dissent. A loudspeaker announces your crime. Your body may be taken away to be buried immediately. But if you were accused of banditry or drug smuggling, like seven Yemenis who were beheaded last year, your corpse will also be crucified."

The enormous difference between "moderate" Wahabi Islam and ISIS? Perhaps Tom would care to elaborate.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Charles Krauthammer, "The Gruber Confession": The Arrogance of Academic Liberalism

Go to the homepage of The New York Times and do a search for "Jonathan Gruber": You won't find his name. Now, go to the opinion pages of the Times and do the same search: Once again, his name does not appear [David Brooks is writing about George Eliot ("The Agency Moment"), and Paul Krugman is telling us about a carbon emissions agreement between the US and China ("China, Coal, Climate")].

Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, however, believes that Gruber deserves mention. In an opinion piece entitled "The Gruber Confession," Krauthammer derides "the arrogance of an academic liberalism, so perfectly embodied in the Gruber Confession, that rules in the name of a citizenry it mocks, disdains and deliberately, contemptuously deceives." Krauthammer writes of the decision of the US Supreme Court to grant certiorari in the case of King v. Burwell:

"Last week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case claiming that the administration is violating its own health-care law, which clearly specifies that subsidies can be given only to insurance purchased on 'exchanges established by the state.' Just 13 states have set up such exchanges. Yet the administration is giving tax credits to plans bought on the federal exchange — serving 37 states — despite what the law says.

If the plaintiffs prevail, the subsidy system collapses and, with it, Obamacare itself. Which is why the administration is frantically arguing that 'exchanges established by the state' is merely sloppy drafting, a kind of legislative typo. And that the intent all along was to subsidize all plans on all exchanges.

Re-enter Professor Gruber. On a separate video in a different speech, he explains what Obamacare intended: 'If you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits.' The legislative idea was to coerce states into setting up their own exchanges by otherwise denying their citizens subsidies."

A "legislative typo"? Krauthammer is obviously referring to Paul Krugman's inane opinion piece on Monday, "Death by Typo," which took the position that the Affordable Care Act intended to provide tax credits to plans bought on federal exchanges. Needless to say, the Krugman op-ed managed to avoid any mention of Gruber. Another example of "the arrogance of an academic liberalism"?

Compare, however, Krugman's attempt to ignore Gruber with Nancy Pelosi's effort to disavow any knowledge of the man or his involvement in enacting Obamacare.

It may take a few months, but Obamacare is destined to be walloped in 2015 by the Supreme Court and is headed for oblivion.

Linda Greenhouse, "Law in the Raw": Slaw Through a Straw

And in the aftermath of Paul Krugman's inane opinion piece on Monday, we are blessed with yet another "objective" analysis from the op-ed page of The New York Times concerning the Affordable Care Act. In a Times opinion piece entitled "Law in the Raw," Linda Greenhouse writes of the US Supreme Court decision to grant certiorari in the case of King v. Burwell:

"These two provisions, part of a 900-page statute that was cobbled together without going through the usual House-Senate conference committee in which it might have been cleaned up, are the source of the confusion. The answer to the problem, as the Fourth Circuit panel found unanimously in the King case, is obvious. It’s a basic principle of administrative law that when a federal statute is ambiguous, courts defer to the agency’s interpretation — here, the I.R.S. regulation that makes the tax credits available without regard to whether the exchange is state or federal."

Okay, but is the Affordable Care Act "ambiguous"? John Steele Gordon's article in Commentary entitled "Paul Krugman at It Again" provides powerful evidence that the statute says exactly what it intended to say:

"[Krugman] writes, 'you can ask the people who drafted the law what they intended, and it wasn’t what the plaintiffs claim.'

OK, let’s do that and ask Jonathan Gruber, one of the main architects of ObamaCare. In 2012, long before this controversy arose, he was asked at a public forum about subsidies being limited to the exchanges set up by the states. He says that limiting the subsidies to state exchanges was entirely on purpose, in order to coerce the states into setting up the exchanges. 'I think what’s important to remember politically about this,' he says, 'is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits.'"

Jonathan Gruber? Why is there not a single mention of Gruber in Greenhouse's op-ed? Just this past week we learned of MIT Professor Gruber's take on Obamacare:

"This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that. In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed… Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass… Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not."

Obamacare was purposefully written in a "tortured way"? The "stupidity of the American voter" was "really really critical for the thing to pass"? "Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage"?

Apparently, Greenhouse thinks none of the above has anything to do with a discussion of the Affordable Care Act's "ambiguity."

Yeah, right.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "Freud and the Middle East": Islands of Decency?

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Freud and the Middle East," Thomas Friedman concludes:

"In sum, there are so many conflicting dreams and nightmares playing out among our Middle East allies in the war on ISIS that Freud would not have been able to keep them straight. If you listen closely, of those dreams, ours — 'pluralistic democracy' — is not high on the list. We need to protect the islands of decency out here — Jordan, Kurdistan, Lebanon, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Oman — from ISIS, in hopes that their best examples might one day spread. But I am skeptical that our fractious allies, with all their different dreams, can agree on new power-sharing arrangements for Iraq or Syria, even if ISIS is defeated."

"Islands of decency"? An interesting premise. Let's examine the first of the countries listed by Friedman - Jordan.

Created by the British in 1931 for the benefit of the Hashemite King Abdullah, Jordan comprised some 77 percent of the original Palestinian Mandate. Today, some 70 percent of Jordan's population consists of Palestinians, although the country's rulers provide a smaller figure. As stated in a 2012 Gatestone Institute article entitled "Anti-Palestinian Discrimination in Jordan" by Khaled Abu Toameh:

"In a daring and unprecedented move, Jordanian politicians, academics, political activists and media figures have sent a letter to King Abdullah [II] urging him to end discrimination against Jordanians of Palestinian origin.

. . . .

The letter that was sent to him notes that the Jordanian authorities have been revoking the [Jordanian] citizenship of many Palestinians.

The letter reveals that Jordanians of Palestinian origin suffer from discrimination in many walks of life, including when they are held in prison. Discrimination is also employed against Palestinians when they seek to enroll in Jordanian universities, where priority is given to Jordanians with no Palestinian roots.

The letter also expressed concern over King Abdullah's ongoing effort to limit the number of Palestinians in parliament, adding that such a move would be in violation of the constitution."

The rights of women in Jordan? As reported in a 2013 Daily News article entitled "'Honor killing' victim stabbed to death by her brother in Jordan: cops" by Lee Moran:

"A woman was brutally stabbed to death by her own brother for daring to leave her house alone, police in Jordan said.

Her throat was slit, and she was knifed more than 20 times in the horrific 'honor killing' reportedly carried out "to cleanse the family honor."

Cops say the victim, 20, was murdered at her Duleil home on Sunday before being dumped on waste ground some 500 yards away.

The alleged 25-year-old killer, who has not been named, reportedly flew into a rage because his sister spent 'too little time at home.'"

In Jordan, the law effectively exonerates those who perpetrate honor killings.

Jordan, according to Friedman, is an "island of decency"? Yeah, right.

Dana Milbank, "Why Obamacare risks falling into a ‘death spiral’": Obama's Disappearing Legacy

Following Paul Krugman's inane (I'm being kind) assault upon the American judicial system, Dana Milbank today also addresses the decision of the US Supreme Court to grant certiorari in the case of King v. Burwell, whose determination could effectively spell the end of Obamacare. In a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Why Obamacare risks falling into a ‘death spiral’," Milbank writes:

"When the Supreme Court on Friday announced that it would take up another challenge to the Affordable Care Act in March, it delivered the threat of two mortal blows to the signature achievement of the Obama presidency.

First, it raised the possibility that the justices, who narrowly spared the law in 2012, will in June come out with a new ruling that would dismantle the law on different grounds. But even if the justices make no such ruling, the very act of taking up the challenge to the law will itself undermine the law. The justices announced their decision just a week before the open-enrollment period for 2015 begins — and the looming possibility that the high court will strike down the law will probably deter those who are considering signing up for its coverage."

Or stated otherwise, Obamacare will soon be toast.

But now we get to the frightening part. If Obama understands what lies in store for his signature legislation in 2015, what other mischief might he attempt in order to leave behind anything resembling a legacy? I think the answer is clear. With the approach of the November 24 deadline to reach an agreement with Khamenei over Iran's nuclear weapons development program, the Obama administration is working overtime to demonstrate that the president's overtures to this tyrannical regime during the past six years have borne fruit.

As Jackson Diehl noted yesterday in a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Obama’s bet on Iran":

"In essence, the United States faces a choice in the Middle East of trying to defend its interests and restore stability with or against Iran. A policy of marginalizing Tehran — in keeping with that of the past three decades — would mean seeking the defeat of Assad’s army, pressuring Iraq’s government to curb Iran’s proxy Shiite militias and stepping up sanctions until Iran agrees to dismantle — not just temporarily limit — its nuclear infrastructure.

Obama’s bet is that the course of 'direct diplomacy' is more likely to produce an acceptable outcome. His assumption is that there is a formula for an Iranian nuclear program and governments in Syria and Iraq that both Khamenei and U.S. allies can live with. Most likely he is wrong. But the audacity of his policy reflects a president bidding for vindication — and a legacy."

Wager on Iran holding up its side of the bargain involving any agreement purportedly limiting its nuclear weapons development program? I don't think so. Khamenei again called for the annihilation of Israel this past weekend.

Time for America's narcissistic president to get real . . . if that is possible.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Paul Krugman, "Death by Typo": Krugman Versus the United States Judicial System

What happens when an economist engages in legal reasoning? Answer: Nothing good.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Death by Typo," Paul Krugman decides to weigh in regarding the decision of the US Supreme Court to grant certiorari in the case of King v. Burwell. King v. Burwell, whose determination could bar health care subsidies to Americans acquiring insurance via federal government exchanges, might have a serious impact upon the future of Obamacare. Krugman writes:

"[I]t now appears possible that the Supreme Court may be willing to deprive millions of Americans of health care on the basis of an equally obvious typo.

. . . .

Once upon a time, this lawsuit would have been literally laughed out of court. Instead, however, it has actually been upheld in some lower courts, on straight party-line votes — and the willingness of the Supremes to hear it is a bad omen.

So let’s be clear about what’s happening here. Judges who support this cruel absurdity aren’t stupid; they know what they’re doing. What they are, instead, is corrupt, willing to pervert the law to serve political masters. And what we’ll find out in the months ahead is how deep the corruption goes."

Unfortunately for Paul, this is not all about a "typo." Rather, this is about a statute categorically and systematically saying what it perhaps did not intend to say. See the excellent Washington Post article entitled "What the district court got wrong (and right) in Halbig v. Sebelius" by Jonathan H. Adler. See also John Steele Gordon's article in Commentary entitled "Paul Krugman at It Again," which provides powerful evidence that the statute says exactly what it intended to say.

To what extent is the US judiciary entitled to correct shoddy Congressional drafting? Let's wait to see the US Supreme Court decision. However, there is nothing extraordinary about courts determining the limits of statutory interpretation.

If there was a mistake written into the law, why can't Congress amend the statute? In this instance, the answer is simple: Obama can no longer find a majority in either house of Congress for this unpopular legislation.

Is this a matter of the willingness of the US judiciary "to pervert the law to serve political masters"? Sorry, Paul, I disagree. The United States is not a banana republic.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "Makers and Breakers": The Internet Is Good and Bad . . . Yawn

It is now being reported that Iran violated its interim agreement with the P5+1 by accelerating production of enriched uranium over the past two months. But why should this come as a surprise? The Iranians know that Obama is desperate to do a deal with Khamenei come hell or high water, and at this point they can pretty much do whatever they want. Does Thomas Friedman discuss this or any of Obama's other foreign policy disasters leading up to the Democratic midterm disaster in his latest New York Times op-ed? Not a chance. Instead, Friedman informs us in an opinion piece entitled "Makers and Breakers" about the benefits and risks of the Internet:

"This is a great time to be a maker, an innovator, a starter-upper. Thanks to the Internet, you can raise capital, sell goods or services and discover collaborators and customers globally more easily than ever. This is a great time to make things. But it is also a great time to break things, thanks to the Internet. If you want to break something or someone, or break into somewhere that is encrypted, and collaborate with other bad guys, you can recruit and operate today with less money, greater ease and greater reach than ever before. This is a great time to be a breaker. That’s why the balance of power between makers and breakers will shape our world every bit as much as the one between America, Russia and China."

The Internet is both good and bad? Fascinating. Place anything in cloud storage? Not me.

The breakers? They're not all bad guys. Inevitably, when Israel fights its next war, you'll see what I mean.

C'est tout.

Obama's Secret Correspondence With Khamenei: American Dogs to Stage "Poop Down" at White House

Americans yawned when it was revealed on Thursday that President Obama sent a secret letter last month to Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei, seeking Iranian assistance against ISIS in exchange for more lenient terms involving a possible nuclear deal with the P5+1. Well, not everyone is yawning. In fact, there are those who are barking.

America's dogs are enraged by the revelation that canine owners in Iran could soon be facing fines and up to 74 lashes. As reported yesterday in a Times of Israel article entitled "Iran dog lovers face lashes, fines," a draft Iranian bill contemplates draconian action against those keeping dogs:

"Iran’s morality police, who deploy in public places, have previously stopped dog walkers and either cautioned them or confiscated the animals.

But if the new bill is passed by parliament then those guilty of dog-related offences could face lashes or fines ranging from 10 million rials to 100 million rials ($370 to $3,700 at official rates).

Patting dogs or coming into contact with their saliva is seen as 'najis' — direct contact and behaviour that leaves the body unclean — in the Islamic republic.

'Anyone who walks or plays with animals such as dogs or monkeys in public places will damage Islamic culture, as well as the hygiene and peace of others, especially women and children,' the draft law states."

Well, it has become known to JG Caesarea that America's dogs don't intend to take any of this lying down. Intent upon staging a public display of their dismay over attempts by Obama to appease Khamenei notwithstanding Iran's horrific crackdown against fellow canines, American dogs of all breeds are planning a massive "poop down" in front of the White House later this month. Stay tuned for further details concerning this protest as they become known.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Jen Psaki: The Obama Administration Disagrees With General Dempsey

General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated on Thursday:

"I actually do think that Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties."

However, given the second-term Obama administration's declaration of war against Israel, US State Department Spokeperson Jen Psaki was quick to take issue with Dempsey. On Friday, Psaki told reporters:

"It remains the broad view of the entire administration that [the Israelis] could have done more, and they should have taken more feasible precautions to prevent civilian casualties."

Of course, this is the conclusion of former community organizer Barack Obama, whose knowledge of military affairs is incontrovertible, that phone calls, leaflets and "roof knocking" were plainly insufficient to warn civilians of intended strikes against Hamas terrorists hiding among them.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Paul Krugman, "Triumph of the Wrong": Those Dumb Voters!

Why did the Republicans win the midterm elections? Paul Krugman says he knows the answer. In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Triumph of the Wrong," Krugman explains:

"Part of the answer is that leading Republicans managed to mask their true positions.

. . . .

But the biggest secret of the Republican triumph surely lies in the discovery that obstructionism bordering on sabotage is a winning political strategy.

. . . .

Most voters don’t know much about policy details, nor do they understand the legislative process. So all they saw was that the man in the White House wasn’t delivering prosperity — and they punished his party."

Yup, you just can't trust those stupid voters! They might have been smart enough to elect Obama twice, but they've since dumbed down. On Tuesday, they ignored Republican mendacity, while admiring Republican efforts to stand in the way of legislative initiatives. They only care about their own economic well being.

Voters are obviously not intelligent enough to value the merits of Obamacare. (It seems there were those who wanted to keep their own doctors.)

And apparently there are those who believe - unlike Hillary Clinton - that corporations actually do create jobs.

And apparently there are those who are bothered by Obama's ineffective handling of the Ebola and ISIS threats.

And apparently there are those who are troubled by the IRS, Benghazi, VA, and Fast and Furious scandals.

And apparently there are those who can't understand why the Obama administration wants to turn reporters into criminals.

And apparently there are those who worry over America's $18 trillion debt that will never be repaid.

And apparently there are those who are bothered by Obama's courtship of a tyrannical Iran and obstreperous Putin.

And apparently there are those who do not understand how the president can denounce the beheading of an American citizen and then emerge on a golf course 20 minutes later.

Fortunately, we still have Krugman to tell us what is right and wrong! Thank you, Paul! Where would we ever be without you!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Dana Milbank, "Obama seems numb to this latest ‘shellacking’ of Democrats": Saying "No" to a Narcissist

In a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Obama seems numb to this latest ‘shellacking’ of Democrats," Dana Milbank notes President Obama's indifference to the loss of the Senate by Democrats. Milbank writes:

"[W]hen Obama fielded questions for an hour Wednesday afternoon, he spoke as if Tuesday had been but a minor irritation. He announced no changes in staff or policy, acknowledged no fault or error and expressed no contrition or regret."

A narcissist acknowledge blame? No way! Narcissists never take responsibility for anything that goes wrong. They invariably shift the responsibility to someone else.

The midterm elections? Obama is incapable of accepting the rebuke and adapting his policies, and regrettably, it is the United States which stands to suffer over the next two years.

Will Obama still attempt to reach agreement with Iran concerning its nuclear weapons development program without seeking Congressional approval? Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "Flying Blind in Iraq and Syria": Do You Remember How Tom "Flew Blind" in Egypt?

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Flying Blind in Iraq and Syria," Thomas Friedman writes:

"Indeed, ISIS is telling us what it wants us to know through Twitter and Facebook, and keeping from us anything it doesn’t want us to know. So be wary of what anyone tells you about this war — good, bad or indifferent. Without independent reporting on the ground, we’re in for some surprises. If you don’t go, you don’t know."

Does "independent reporting" on the ground ensure accuracy? Consider for example the rubbish spouted by Thomas Friedman, Roger Cohen and Nicholas Kristof from Tahrir Square in Cairo during the Arab Spring. There were too many interviews with intellectuals and not enough with the Muslim Brotherhood toughs going head to head with the Egyptian army. From Tahrir Square, Friedman reported to us in a video:

"This is the most remarkable thing I have ever seen. This is the single most authentic expression of Arab aspiration, hope, frustration, culture, identity, that I ever seen anytime, anywhere. Somebody broke open a fire hydrant here, and the real Egypt in all this energy, passion and hope is just gushing out.

. . . .

All I can tell you is what you see behind me here is the new realism. Whatever policy we make in the Middle East better be based on what's going on back here, which is an authentic expression of hopes and aspirations of Egyptians, and I would say even Arabs, to own their countries."

The "new realism"? The US should have based its policy on the events which transpired in Tahrir Square? Yeah, right. Tahrir Square brought Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood to power, but when Egyptians grew tired of the Muslim Brotherhood's totalitarianism, General Sisi seized power by way of a coup.

The Arab Spring? Toast.

Go back to sleep, Tom, before you hurt yourself.

Ben Rhodes: A Deal With Iran Is Healthcare for Obama

In a lead New York Times article entitled "U.N. Says Iran Is Silent on Efforts for a Bomb" by David E. Sanger, we are told:

"At a moment when American negotiators say they see some signs of movement on the part of Iran toward a broad nuclear deal with the United States, the head of the United Nations nuclear inspection organization declared Friday that Iran had stopped answering the agency’s questions about suspected past efforts to design the components of a bomb."

This comes at a time when we are learning from The Washington Free Beacon in an article entitled "The Coming Détente with Iran" by Matthew Continetti that Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communication, declared in January:

"Bottom line is this is the best opportunity we’ve had to resolve the Iranian issue diplomatically, certainly since President Obama came to office, and probably since the beginning of the Iraq war. So no small opportunity, this is a big deal. This is probably the biggest thing President Obama will do in his second term on foreign policy. This is healthcare for us, just to put it in context."

This comes at a time when Iran's is executing its citizens at a record rate. As reported by in an October 30, 2014 International Business Times article by Alessandria Masi entitled "Iran Execution Rate: Number Of Iran Executions Higher Under President Hassan Rouhani Than Ahmadinejad":

"Iranian President Hassan Rouhani promised to fix the country’s tarnished human rights record when he took office last August, but Iran has since seen an alarming rise in executions. The latest death by hanging made headlines around the world when Reyhaneh Jabbari was executed for murdering former intelligence officer Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, who had tried to rape her.

Jabbari's former lawyer accused Iran of torturing her, keeping her in solitary confinement and unfairly sentencing her to death. Mohammad Mostafaei made his accusations at a United Nations panel Thursday, just a day before Iran has to defend its human rights record at the U.N.’s annual Universal Periodic Review (UPR). When the 26-year-old woman was executed Saturday, she became the 586th person to die at the hands of the Iranian government this year.

There have been 70 more executions so far in 2014 than in the same time frame last year. During Rouhani’s first year in office, 773 people were executed, compared to 530 people during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s last year in office, according to data from the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center."

This comes at a time when Jeffrey Goldberg has revealed in a recent Atlantic article entitled "The Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations Is Officially Here":

"The other day I was talking to a senior Obama administration official about the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most. 'The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit,' this official said, referring to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, by his nickname.

. . . .

[Another senior Obama] official said the Obama administration no longer believes that Netanyahu would launch a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in order to keep the regime in Tehran from building an atomic arsenal. 'It’s too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.'"

[Has anyone asked John Kerry or Ben Rhodes if they know the identity of the senior official in the Obama administration who labeled Netanyahu a "chickenshit"?]

The Obama administration is proud that it prevented Israel from destroying Iran's nuclear weapons development facilities, while at the same time launching a demeaning attack against Israel's prime minister? Of course, Obama is now in his second and final term of office, and today there are "no holds barred" when it comes to undermining Israel. Anyone without blinders should have seen this coming.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

David Brooks, "Our Machine Masters": Getting His Underpants in a Knot Over A.I.

There are so many scary things to worry about in this world, e.g., Ebola, ISIS and the abnegation of leadership in Washington. So what worries David Brooks? Artificial intelligence, of course. In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Our Machine Masters," Brooks suggests two competing future A.I. scenarios:

"In the humanistic one, machines liberate us from mental drudgery so we can focus on higher and happier things. In this future, differences in innate I.Q. are less important. Everybody has Google on their phones so having a great memory or the ability to calculate with big numbers doesn’t help as much."


"In the cold, utilitarian future, on the other hand, people become less idiosyncratic. If the choice architecture behind many decisions is based on big data from vast crowds, everybody follows the prompts and chooses to be like each other. The machine prompts us to consume what is popular, the things that are easy and mentally undemanding."

The reality, as noted by Brooks, is that A.I. has already been with us for quite some time: computerized chess software, the selection of music compatible to individual taste, and automatic pilot devices intended to guide airplanes through the sky.

Can A.I. ultimately guide human beings through their lives? I suppose that would depend upon whether someone is capable of turning off her/his own automatic pilot system and switching to manual control during times of crisis or otherwise.

Like it or not, we have all been programmed by a set of childhood experiences, many of them destructive.

Another example of A.I. currently affecting our lives? High-frequency trading. Imagine, however, competing trading systems, all "motivated" by greed, which can set in motion panic, upon which they can feed. When economies fail as a consequence, will another machine be asked to clean up the mess, or will human beings be forced to intervene and create new rules governing the use of such systems?

I still see a place for human leadership, or guidance, if you will. Unless the president decides that he is too busy playing golf and traveling to California to be told by Gwyneth Paltrow that "You’re so handsome that I can’t speak properly."

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "ISIS and Vietnam": When Did Vietnam Ever Call for Lone Wolf Attacks in the US?

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "ISIS and Vietnam," Thomas Friedman asks:

"Is jihadism to Sunni nationalism what communism was to Vietnamese nationalism: a fearsome ideological movement that triggers emotional reactions in the West — deliberately reinforced with videotaped beheadings — but that masks a deeper underlying nationalist movement that is to some degree legitimate and popular in its context?"

Compare the Sunni nationalism that motivates ISIS with Vietnamese nationalism? I don't think so.

As reported earlier this month by NBC News in an article entitled "Feds Warn of ISIS-Inspired Threat Against Police, Reporters in US":

"According to a Joint Intelligence bulletin from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security sent to U.S. law enforcement officials, an ISIS spokesman recorded an audio message that urged lone offenders in Western countries to attack 'soldiers, patrons, and troops … their police, security and intelligence members.' Attackers did not need to 'ask for anyone’s advice' prior to striking, said the message, because such actions are legitimate."

Question for Tom: Did North Vietnam ever call for such attacks within the United States?

Friedman goes on to observe:

"The challenge the U.S. faces in Iraq is trying to defeat ISIS in tacit alliance with Syria and Iran, whose local Shiite allies are doing a lot of the fighting in Iraq and Syria."

Indeed, the behavior of Assad, Khamenei and Nasrallah is no less abominable than that of ISIS. These men are also not friends of the US, notwithstanding the fact that US Secretary of State John Kerry once referred to Assad as "my dear friend." Moreover, Obama's persistent efforts to reach out to Khamenei are frightening. However, this has no bearing on the serious threat posed by ISIS to the US, unless of course you choose to ignore the message of the ISIS spokesman in the audio message.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Paul Krugman, "Ideology and Investment": Building an Unsustainable Debt for the Future?

"The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents - #43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back -- $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That's irresponsible. It's unpatriotic."

- Barack Obama, July 3, 2008

Do you remember Obama telling us that taking the national debt up to $9 trillion was "irresponsible" and "unpatriotic"? Well, today it is $17.9 trillion and rising by the second.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Ideology and Investment," Paul Krugman rehashes all of his arguments for renewed federal spending. Krugman writes:

"America used to be a country that built for the future.

. . . .

Our inability to invest doesn’t reflect something wrong with 'Washington'; it reflects the destructive ideology that has taken over the Republican Party.

. . . .

We need public investment; at a time of very low interest rates, we could easily afford it. But build we won’t."

Darned Republicans! (That noise you just heard? Sorry, that was me, yawning.)

Krugman takes pains not to tell us what the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office had to say about federal debt in July 2014:

"The gap between federal spending and revenues would widen after 2015 under the assumptions of the extended baseline, CBO projects. By 2039, the deficit would equal 6½ percent of GDP, larger than in any year between 1947 and 2008, and federal debt held by the public would reach 106 percent of GDP, more than in any year except 1946—even without factoring in the economic effects of growing debt.

. . . .

Beyond the next 25 years, the pressures caused by rising budget deficits and debt would become even greater unless laws governing taxes and spending were changed. With deficits as big as the ones that CBO projects, federal debt would be growing faster than GDP, a path that would ultimately be unsustainable."

Or in short, America is indeed building for the the future: An unsustainable debt, which, in another 25 years, will sink the ship. Currently, "the federal government can borrow incredibly cheaply"? Absolutely. But you're not supposed to borrow what you can never pay back.

Fortunately for Krugman, in another 25 years he will probably be too old to remember writing this rubbish.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "The Last Train": More of the Same Rubbish

More of the same rubbish from would-be Middle East expert Thomas Friedman. In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Last Train," Friedman writes:

"Also, the longer this status quo goes on, the more the juggernaut of Israel’s settlement expansion in the West Bank goes on, fostering more Israeli delegitimization on the world stage. Right after the Gaza war, in which the United States basically defended Israel, Israel announced the seizure of nearly 1,000 more acres of West Bank land for settlements near Bethlehem. 'No worries,' Israeli officials said, explaining that this is land that Israel would keep in any two-state deal."

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. That's a "juggernaut"?

"[N]early 1,000 more acres of West Bank land" will be used by Israel for housing, which, pursuant to any two-state deal, will remain with Israel? This would probably sound a lot less impressive if Friedman were to admit that 1,000 acres amount to 1.5 square miles.

At least Friedman has the decency to acknowledge in his op-ed:

"Diplomatically, President Obama on March 17 personally, face-to-face, offered compromise ideas on key sticking points in the Kerry framework to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and asked him point blank if he would accept them. Obama is still waiting for an answer."

Obama will almost certainly be waiting until the end of his second term in office.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

David Brooks, "The Working Nation": Nothing Simpler Than Solving Unemployment?

I bet you never knew how easy it is to solve unemployment.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Working Nation," David Brooks tells us how bad unemployment in the United States has become:

"The labor force participation rate is at its lowest in decades. Millions are in part-time or low-wage jobs that don’t come close to fulfilling their capacities. Millions more are in dysfunctional or unhealthy workplaces, but they don’t feel they can leave because they don’t think there are other jobs out there that pay the same amount."

Brooks also trots out the "same old, same old" solutions. He tells us that the government should:

  • "borrow money at current interest rates to build infrastructure;"
  • "reduce its generosity to people who are not working but increase its support for people who are;"
  • increase "wage subsidies,"
  • issue "relocation subsidies;"
  • undertake "tax reform;"
  • bring "the world’s most gifted and driven people to move to our shores;"
  • "double-down" on education.

And all that's needed:

"It just takes a relentless focus on job creation, bold political leadership and a country willing to be shaken out of its fear."

The flies in the ointment? First, a president who was never capable of "bold political leadership" and can't wait for Hillary to replace him.

And then there's also that small matter of a $17.9 trillion national debt, which just doesn't stop growing. You see, it's hard to "double-down" on anything when you've out of chips.

Canadian Gunman: Shh! Don't Let Anyone Know He Was a Muslim!

The current lead story on the homepage of The New York Times:

Gunman Panics Ottawa, Killing Soldier in Spree at Capital


Shots fired inside the Parliament building, before the assailant was killed, stoked fears across Canada, a nation already on alert for terrorism

What faith did the killer profess? You know as well as I do, but let's ignore the fact. After all, Islam is a religion of love and peace. Yeah, right.

Meanwhile, over at The Washington Post in an editorial entitled "Military success has bred popular support for the Islamic State," we are being told:

"The Obama administration has recognized the danger of the Islamic State’s appeal and has pushed for political steps to combat it, such as public statements by clerical authorities. Ultimately, however, the group’s pull will likely be governed by the maxim once formulated by Osama bin Laden: 'When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse.' Islamic extremism won’t be defeated by military might alone. But to many in the Islamic world, the Islamic State now looks strong. The only way to reverse its influence is through its military defeat, sooner rather than later."

The WaPo editorial, however, ignores how the Assad regime is stepping up assaults on areas in Syria controlled by so-called "moderate" rebels, while the US and its allies are launching air strikes on ISIS. Of course, Assad is allied with Iran.

The WaPo editorial also ignores the deal Obama is attempting to strike with Khamenei regarding Iran's nuclear weapons development program without Congressional approval.

Question: If the Sunni Islamic State is "degraded" (Obama's choice of words), what about a radical Iran, whose strength is growing by leaps and bounds across the Arabian Peninsula?

ISIS is not the only threat facing the West.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Obama Seeks to Lift Sanctions on Iran Without Congressional Approval: You Didn't See This Coming?

As reported by David Sanger in a New York Times article entitled "Obama Sees an Iran Deal That Could Avoid Congress";

"No one knows if the Obama administration will manage in the next five weeks to strike what many in the White House consider the most important foreign policy deal of his presidency: an accord with Iran that would forestall its ability to make a nuclear weapon. But the White House has made one significant decision: If agreement is reached, President Obama will do everything in his power to avoid letting Congress vote on it."

Surprise, surprise, surprise! Did anyone not see this coming?

Yet, notwithstanding the "red line" he fixed regarding use of chemical weapons against civilians by Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad, Obama chose to avoid having to take action against Assad by turning to Congress for approval.

Yes, I think I am going to be ill.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Frank Bruni, "The Virus of Cynicism": Or the Cancer of Hopelessness?

Should Americans be more afraid of the Ebola virus or the incompetence of the Obama administration?

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Virus of Cynicism," Frank Bruni observes:

"Ebola is his presidency in a petri dish. It’s an example already of his tendency to talk too loosely at the outset of things, so that his words come back to haunt him. There was the doctor you could keep under his health plan until, well, you couldn’t. There was the red line for Syria that he didn’t have to draw and later erased."

But is current unhappiness in the US only about cynicism, incompetence and a lack of confidence?

I remember how, when I was 15 and wandering the streets of Chinatown in San Francisco, I watched on a storefront television as Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. Where has America traveled since then?

US national debt is fast approaching $18 trillion, but where are the achievements that can be attributed to this spending? In fact, hope and pride have flown the coop, and have been replaced by greed and narcissism.

Shh! Don't tell the Chinese! Who knows what will happen if they demand back their $1.3 trillion from the American government . . .

Thursday, October 16, 2014

David Brooks, "The Case for Low Ideals": In Praise of "Low Idealism"

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Case for Low Ideals," David Brooks tells us that he is not about to make the case for "high idealism," as exemplified by Obama's 2008 election campaign, "based in the idea of a heroic savior (remember those 'Hope' posters)." Rather, Brooks is "here to make the case for low idealism." David writes:

"The low idealist is more romantic about the past than about the future. Though governing is hard, there are some miracles of human creation that have been handed down to us. These include, first and foremost, the American Constitution, but also the institutions that function pretty well, like the Congressional Budget Office and the Federal Reserve. Her first job is to work with existing materials, magnify what’s best and incrementally reform what is worst."

Ah yes, the American Constitution and lest we forget, the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights (as opposed to today's Bill of Clinton). Who would believe that the United States is well on its way to abandoning the principle that "all men are created equal," and in its stead, new "royal" families are fast emerging, e.g., the House of Bush and the House of Clinton. Yes, the United States has gone full circle.

"Magnify what’s best and incrementally reform what is worst"? A noble aspiration, and certainly preferable to messianism. But abandon the high ideals that were responsible for the Constitution? Never. Without high ideals, as opposed to the messianism and personality worship fostered by the likes of Anita Dunn and David Axelrod, life would not be worth living.

Glorify "low ideals"? Sorry, but I'm not in the market. Liberty to dream of and live by high ideals or death!

New York Times Editorial, "A British Message to Israel ":

In an editorial entitled "A British Message to Israel," The New York Times declares:

"Israel and the United States have dismissed Monday’s vote in the House of Commons in Britain that endorsed diplomatic recognition of a Palestinian state as a symbolic gesture that won’t change British policy.

. . . .

Israel and its allies should not ignore the message. The vote is one more sign of the frustration many people in Europe feel about the failure to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement despite years of promises."

The Times doesn't bother to consider that it is difficult to reach a peace agreement with Hamas, whose charter calls for the murder of all Jews and rejects negotiation with Israel. It is also difficult to reach a peace agreement with Fatah, whose chairman, Abbas, demands that Palestine be free of "Israelis", but refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Israel should listen to Europe's message? This is the same Europe that did nothing some 70 years ago when Hitler murdered some six million Jews, i.e. two-thirds of Europe's Jewish population.

More specifically, Israel should not ignore Monday's vote in the House of Commons? Oh really? Consider, how following an investigation by Britain's Crown Prosecution Service of an August speech by MP George Galloway, declaring his district, Bradford, an "Israel Free Zone," the CPS last night concluded:

"Given the context and setting in which the speech was made, including its overall content and the audience discussion which followed, we have determined that the speech did not indicate a desire to encourage others to hate a racial group.

“There is also insufficient evidence to show, in all the circumstances of this case, that it was likely that people would have been motivated to hate people of Israeli origin as a result."

Galloway's use of "Israel Free Zone" had no connection to the Nazi term "Judenfrei"? Fascinating.

What about anti-Semitism in the UK? In July 2014, it was at record levels. In August, a London branch of the Sainsbury supermarket chain removed all kosher food from its shelves for fear that the store would be attacked.

Consider also how in August of this year, as reported by Reuters in an article entitled "UK says to suspend some Israel arms exports if Gaza truce fails":

"Britain said on Tuesday it would suspend 12 licences to export military items to Israel, including tank, aircraft and radar parts, if hostilities with Hamas in Gaza resumed, citing concerns the exports may be used to breach international laws.

Britain said last week it was reviewing all arms export licences to Israel after fierce fighting which has resulted in heavy civilian casualties in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza.

That review concluded on Tuesday that 12 licences would be temporarily suspended pending further investigation if the current truce breaks down and heavy fighting resumes."

Of course, the UK didn't care that Hamas was responsible for repeatedly violating the ceasefires. Thousands of rockets fired at Israeli population centers? Also of no consequence.

The reality is that anti-Semitism has never lost its hold over Europe, and for Israel to do Europe's bidding is no less than a call for Jewish suicide.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "A Pump War?": Not Really

In a New York Times op-ed entitled "A Pump War?," Thomas Friedman writes:

"Is it just my imagination or is there a global oil war underway pitting the United States and Saudi Arabia on one side against Russia and Iran on the other?

. . . .

Think about this: four oil producers — Libya, Iraq, Nigeria and Syria — are in turmoil today, and Iran is hobbled by sanctions. Ten years ago, such news would have sent oil prices soaring. But today, the opposite is happening. Global crude oil prices have been falling for weeks, now resting around $88 — after a long stretch at $105 to $110 a barrel."

So, oil prices are down by some 18 percent. Great, but Iranian oil exports are also growing significantly this year.

As reported in a June 12, 2014 Bloomberg article entitled "Growing Iran Oil Exports Challenge U.S. Nuclear Sanctions" by Indira A.R. Lakshmanan and Anthony DiPaola:

"Iran’s oil exports have risen this year, according to Bloomberg calculations, a trend that threatens to violate U.S. sanctions on the Islamic Republic’s main source of revenue.

Shipments of Iranian crude oil and condensate have increased about 28 percent on average this year, according to an analysis of customs data from importing nations and figures from the International Energy Agency in Paris. If crude sales are up by the end of July, that would break an international accord to hold Iran’s oil exports at the same level in the first half of this year that they were at in the previous six months."

See also what Clifford Krauss writes in an August 12, 2014 New York Times article entitled "With Natural Gas Byproduct, Iran Sidesteps Sanctions":

"Iran is finding a way around Western sanctions to export increasing amounts of an ultralight oil to China and other Asian markets, expanding the value of its trade by potentially billions of dollars a year.

The exports come during a slight thaw in Iran’s relations with the West as negotiations over its nuclear program continue, and energy experts say it is counting on the United States and Europe to tolerate an increasing export stream.

According to Iranian customs data, the country in recent months has exported 525,000 barrels a day of the ultralight oil, known as condensates, over two times more than it did a year ago. In the last three months, the sales have generated as much as $1.5 billion in extra trade — a rate of about $6 billion a year — based on Iranian trade figures and market prices, analysts said."

Iran is being "hobbled by sanctions" on its oil exports? No, not after Obama, in search of a deal to slow Iran's nuclear weapons development program, sought to appease Khamenei by easing trade sanctions pursuant to the November 2013 Geneva interim agreement.

Meanwhile, as reported today in a Times of Israel article entitled "Israel fumes at ‘post-sanctions’ Iran conference in London" by Raphael Ahren:

"An international conference to promote business ties between Europe and Iran is set to begin Wednesday in London, arousing the ire of local pro-Israel groups and senior government officials in Jerusalem.

The '1st Europe-Iran forum' seeks to prepare the ground for 'post-sanctions investment and trade,' according to its official website. Speakers at the conference, which has been endorsed by the office of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, include former foreign ministers from the United Kingdom and France, one British MP, and a senior official currently serving in the British Foreign Office."

A "global oil war" is underway against Iran? Apparently, the UK and France also don't know anything about it.

Monday, October 13, 2014

David Brooks, "The Sorting Election": I Don't Understand

Have a look today at the homepage of the The New York Times. The siege of Kobani by ISIS? This news item has been supplanted by panic over the Ebola virus, which has once again caught the Obama administration with its pants down.

Send Secretary of State John Kerry to Africa to discuss the spread of Ebola? Not a chance. Instead, Kerry was at a donors' conference for Gaza on Sunday to pledge more than $400 million in US aid for its reconstruction. Who cares if Gaza's infrastructure has been destroyed three times in the past six years? Who cares if the Hamas charter still calls for the murder of all Jews and rejects negotiation with Israel? Let's throw more American money at Hamas. No need for Hamas to change.

Which is not to say that Kerry is unaware of Kobani. On Monday, Kerry declared that Kobani is just "one community."

Obama in the midst of all these crises? Raising funds at the home of Gwyneth Paltrow and being told how handsome he is. Music to this narcissist's ears.

Which brings me to David Brooks's latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Sorting Election." All about Kobani or Ebola? No way! Instead, Brooks concludes:

"People in San Francisco and Houston are achieving success while pursuing different economic models. It probably doesn’t make much sense to govern them intrusively from Washington as if they were engaged in the same project."


Maybe it's old age creeping up on me, but I don't pretend to understand.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "I.S. = Invasive Species ": What About Halabja and Hama?

Would-be Middle East expert Thomas Friedman has a penchant for word games. Do you remember his less than memorable New York Times opinion piece entitled "ISIS and SISI"? Perhaps not. In any event, Friedman is back with another humdinger of a title for his latest Times op-ed, "I.S. = Invasive Species," in which Tom claims that "ISIS operates just like an 'invasive species' in the world of plants and animals." Friedman writes:

"Today, ISIS — the foreigners and locals together — is putting pressure on all of Iraq’s and Syria’s native species with the avowed goal of reducing the diversity of these once polycultural societies and turning them into bleak, dark, jihadist, Sunni fundamentalist monocultures."

Ah yes, the good old days in Iraq and Syria, when tolerance permeated their respective ecosystems!

But heck, didn't Saddam Hussein murder 50,000 Kurds during the genocidal al-Anfal Campaign from 1986 to 1989? Surely you remember how some 5,000 Kurds died in the 1988 poison gas on the Kurdish city of Halabja in 1988.

Moreover, tens of thousands of Kurdish and Shiite civilians died when Saddam Hussein brutally suppressed the 1991 uprisings in northern and southern Iraq.

Syria? In 1982, Hafez al-Assad, father of Bashar al-Assad, put down a rebellion of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood in Hama, killing somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 innocent people.

The violence of ISIS is foreign to the "polycultural societies" of Iraq and Syria? Cut the bullshit, Tom! Violence is endemic to the Muslim Middle East.

Washington Post Editorial, "U.S. is complicit as it blames Turkey for the catastrophe in Kobane": Remember Kobani!

As the Islamic State brings up reinforcements and the fate of the Kurdish city of Kobani hangs in the balance, where are President Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry?

Two days ago, Obama attended a Democratic fundraiser in Hollywood. As reported in a TMZ article entitled "Gwyneth Paltrow Celebrity Event Sullies Presidency":

"The idiocy of Hollywood was in full bloom Thursday night when Gwyneth Paltrow turned an already-embarrassing Hollywood fundraiser into 'The Dating Game.'

Paltrow -- who hosted the event at her Brentwood home -- gushed as she introduced President Obama, 'You're so handsome that I can't speak properly.'

She then showed utter ignorance about, and contempt for, the Constitution and separation of powers -- the basic tenets of our government -- by saying, 'It would be wonderful if we were able to give this man all of the power that he needs to pass the things that he needs to pass.'"

And Kerry? He is jetting off tonight to an equally embarrassing fundraiser for Gaza in Cairo.

Is anyone paying attention to the antics of Obama and Kerry? Apparently, The Washington Post is awakening from its slumber. In a blistering editorial entitled "U.S. is complicit as it blames Turkey for the catastrophe in Kobane," WaPo hammers the Obama administration for effectively aiding Syria's monstrous Assad regime while worsening "conditions for his victims in towns held by moderate rebels who, in theory, enjoy U.S. backing." Lambasting Obama's "strategy" (Does he have one?) as "incoherent as well as morally questionable," the editorial says of an emerging catastrophe in Kobani:

"But the White House seems as uninterested as ever in truly helping the moderates. Easier just to blame the Turks."

Remember the Alamo? Perhaps on November 4, American voters will remember Kobani.