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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Kerry Falls From His Bicycle: Did the World Get a Lucky Break?

John Kerry fell from his bicycle in Paris and is headed back to the US. Will he be able to return to Geneva in time to cement the nuclear deal with Khamenei by June 30, providing the lunatic Islamic Republic of Iran with an arsenal of atomic weapons mounted on ICBMs within the coming decade, or did the world just get a lucky break?

Meanwhile, France is insisting on the right to inspect Iranian military bases for troublesome indications of forbidden atomic bomb making. In response, Ali Akbar Velayati, a top adviser to Khamenei, stated on Saturday, "France does not play any determining role on the international scene other than the harsh statements it makes through some individuals who do not feel responsible."

Not to worry, Ali Akbar: Obama will stop at nothing - even Israel's existence - to take this genocidal deal across the finish line.


Will Damascus Soon Fall to ISIS?

Will Damascus soon fall to ISIS or to the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front? It seems that the Russians and Hezbollah think that this is the case. As reported by The Jerusalem Post in an article entitled "Report: Russia turning its back on Syrian regime, not honoring prior agreements":

"'The Kremlin has begun to turn away from the regime,' the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported on Sunday, quoting an opposition official.

According to the report, for three months Moscow has been reducing its diplomatic staff in Damascus to essential personnel exclusively and the most recent move saw 100 Russians, along with their families, board a plane at the Latakia airport. Lebanese figures belonging to Hezbollah, as well as Iranian officials, were also said to be aboard the flight. According to the report, none of the personnel, main-stays of the government's War-Room throughout the civil war, have been replaced."

More evidence of the imminent fall of Damascus? Again, as reported by The Jerusalem Post in an article entitled "Assad hanging on, suspicion surrounds report he told Alawites to flee capital," which was published at the beginning of May:

"A report in the Saudi newspaper Okaz on Sunday quoted Lebanese Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas denying an article in the same paper a day earlier quoting unnamed sources claiming that Syrian intelligence told the elite Alawite families to leave the capital within 48 hours for its coastal stronghold of Latakia."

In addition, DEBKAFile is informing us in an article entitled "Iran weighs turning Hizballah’s anti-Israel missiles against ISIS to save Damascus and Baghdad" that "Iran is eyeing the re-allocation of the roughly 1,000 long-range rockets in Hizballah’s store" if the fate of Damascus hangs in the balance, i.e. turning the missiles against ISIS instead of Israel.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Nicholas Kristof, "Our Water-Guzzling Food Factory": What I Won't Kill, I Won't Eat

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Our Water-Guzzling Food Factory," Nicholas Kristof informs us:

"Like most Americans, I eat meat, but it’s worth thinking hard about the inefficiency in that hamburger patty — and the small lake that has dried up to make it possible."

Well, apparently unlike Kristof, I don't eat hamburgers, and although I wouldn't want to impose my dining habits on anyone else, they boil down to: What I'm not capable of killing, I won't eat, and I'm not capable of killing cows, particularly having worked at a dairy. (Just to set the record straight, although I've been a soldier for much of my life - regular army and reserves - and have witnessed firsthand the savagery that human beings can perpetrate upon one another, cannibalism is not an option for me.)

But what about agriculture and water? Kristof concludes:

"Maybe our industrial agriculture system is beginning to change, for we’re seeing some signs of a food revolution in America, with greater emphasis on organic food and animal rights. Just a week ago, Walmart called on suppliers to stop keeping calves in veal crates and hogs in gestation crates.

Something good could come from the California drought if it could push this revolution a bit further, by forcing a reallocation of water to the most efficient uses. But remember that the central challenge can’t be solved by a good rain because the larger problem is an irrational industrial food system."

What doesn't Kristof mention? First, the benefits of Israeli desalination know how. As reported in a Times article entitled "Aided by the Sea, Israel Overcomes an Old Foe: Drought" by :

"As California and other western areas of the United States grapple with an extreme drought, a revolution has taken place here. A major national effort to desalinate Mediterranean seawater and to recycle wastewater has provided the country with enough water for all its needs, even during severe droughts. More than 50 percent of the water for Israeli households, agriculture and industry is now artificially produced."

But why would Kristof, who is forever on the lookout for purported Israeli human rights violations, want to say anything positive about Israel?

Kristof also doesn't mention that genetically modified crops with deeper roots can require less irrigation and better survive drought conditions. Heaven forbid that Kristof mention this possibility to his progressive readers, who might tar and feather the man for this heresy; however, if the number of humans on this planet doesn't stabilize soon, there may be no other option.

[I continue to wait for answers from Andrew Rosenthal, Margaret Sullivan and Dean Baquet whether Nicholas Kristof was paid by the Clinton Foundation to serve as a panel moderator.]

Maureen Dowd, "Hooray for Hillarywood?": Does Hillary Have a Sex Life?

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Hooray for Hillarywood?," Maureen Dowd tells us of her interviews of Hollywood "players," who support Hillary, but acknowledge "it's a forced march." Although many of the persons she interviewed preferred to remain anonymous owing to "the famed Clinton vindictive streak," Dowd did manage a quote from Bill Maher:

"'Who could have less to do with Bill Clinton’s sex life than Hillary?'"

But of greater significance, what about Hillary Clinton's sex life? Does she have a partner? Okay, she colors her hair, but with whom does she share a bed . . . if anyone? But then, I suppose we're not supposed to ask. Not about this. Not about anything.

Nicholas Kristof last week acknowledged in a New York Times op-ed entitled "Polluted Political Games":

"I’ve admired the Clintons’ foundation for years for its fine work on AIDS and global poverty, and I’ve moderated many panels at the annual Clinton Global Initiative."

Well, I sent messages to Andrew Rosenthal, Margaret Sullivan and Dean Baquet of the Times, inquiring whether Kristof was paid for moderating these "many panels," but thus far I have received no answer.

Hillary's personal email server while secretary of state? Why should anyone care, even if it was hacked by Moscow?

The stench emanating from the Clinton Foundation, and Hillary's refusal to answer questions regarding Uranium One? What you don't know can't hurt Hillary.

Does anyone in Lalaland have the courage to stand in the way of this tsunami, originating from a lust for money and power? Not a chance. Things like that happen only in the movies.

Gail Collins, "Gov. Walker and the Cool Thing": Walker's Anti-Abortion Agenda, Collins's Tunnel Vision

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Gov. Walker and the Cool Thing," Gail Collins derides Gov. Scott Walker's anti-abortion agenda. Collins writes:

"We’ve been wondering when a presidential candidate would say something incredibly insensitive about women and reproduction.

. . . .

Last week, Walker was on a radio talk show, praising a law he signed requiring women who want an abortion to undergo an ultrasound. Which they’re supposed to watch, while the physician points out the features of the fetus.
An ultrasound, he said, was 'just a cool thing.'"

Collins's conclusion:

"[W]e have here a potential president who justifies a law on how doctors treat their abortion patients by citing what we know from watching TV and movies.

Seventeen months to go. Lord knows what’s next."

Let me make myself clear: I believe abortion is a woman's right, and there can be no forcing women to view an ultrasound monitor before undergoing the procedure.

On the other hand, at least Walker is responding to questions from the press, even if we don't like the answers, unlike someone else we all know.

"Lord knows what's next"? Let me tell you, Gail, what's next.

Yesterday, in a New York Times article entitled "An Award for Bill Clinton Came With $500,000 for His Foundation" by Deborah Sontag, we learned that the Clinton Foundation received $500,000 from the Happy Hearts Fund, which rebuilds schools after natural disasters, in exchange for Bill's appearance at a fund-raiser marking the 10th anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami:

"The former president of the United States agreed to accept a lifetime achievement award at the June 2014 event after Ms. Nemcova offered a $500,000 contribution to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. The donation, made late last year after the foundation sent the charity an invoice, amounted to almost a quarter of the evening’s net proceeds — enough to build 10 preschools in Indonesia.

. . . .

'The Clinton Foundation had rejected the Happy Hearts Fund invitation more than once, until there was a thinly veiled solicitation and then the offer of an honorarium,' said the former executive director, Sue Veres Royal, who held that position at the time of the gala and was dismissed a few weeks later amid conflicts over the gala and other issues."

Excuse me as I lose my breakfast.

Open Letter to Dean Baquet, Editor of The New York Times: Nicholas Kristof and the Clinton Foundation

Dear Mr. Baquet,

In his New York Times op-ed entitled "Polluted Political Games," Nicholas Kristof wrote on Thursday:

"I’ve admired the Clintons’ foundation for years for its fine work on AIDS and global poverty, and I’ve moderated many panels at the annual Clinton Global Initiative."

Can you please inform me if Mr. Kristof was paid to moderate these panels, and if so, how much? I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with being paid to moderate panels, but if Mr. Kristof, a Times columnist, was paid by the Clinton Foundation, can we please know how much?

I have previously asked Andrew Rosenthal and Margaret Sullivan to answer this question, but I have not received any responses to my emails to them.

Thank you in advance for your kind assistance.

Best regards,
Jeffrey


Marco Rubio, "Obama’s strategy for the Middle East has backfired": Setting Himself Apart From the Pack

In a Washington Post guest opinion piece entitled "Obama’s strategy for the Middle East has backfired," Marco Rubio lays out a game plan for the Middle East and calls for "a reassertion of U.S. leadership in the region."

I don't agree with everything that Mr. Rubio writes: Iraq no longer exists as a country, and I think it would be a mistake to "remove restrictions on their ability [of US forces] to embed with the Iraqi units." Iraqi security forces and allied Shiite militias under the direction of Iran have perpetrated atrocities against Sunnis, and the association of US ground forces with the Iraqi military would needlessly antagonize America's longstanding Sunni allies in the area. In addition, American advisers to Iraqi units would run the risk of capture and beheading by ISIS, and this is not worth the risk.

The bottom line, however, is that Rubio makes a great deal of sense and sets himself apart from the pack of Republican presidential contenders, many of whom would have trouble finding Iraq on a map.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Paul Krugman, "The Insecure American": Is Elizabeth Warren Also Experiencing Anxiety?

Observing in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Insecure American" that "A majority of Americans over 65 get more than half their income from Social Security, and more than a quarter are almost completely reliant on those monthly checks," Paul Krugman concludes:

"But while things could be worse, they could also be better. There is no such thing as perfect security, but American families could easily have much more security than they have. All it would take is for politicians and pundits to stop talking blithely about the need to cut 'entitlements' and starting looking at the way their less-fortunate fellow citizens actually live."

Politicians and pundits should stop talking "blithely"? Hey, Paul, you wouldn't happen to be talking about Hillary and Bill Clinton? Hillary's net worth in 2012 was estimated at between $5 million and $25 million, and Bill's net worth is estimated at some $55 million.

And although Krugman rails against conservatives ("I am not, or not only, talking about right-wing contempt for the poor, although the dominance of compassionless conservatism is a sight to behold") and middle-of-the-roaders ("What’s really striking is the disconnect between centrist conventional wisdom and the reality of life — and death — for much of the nation"), he makes no mention of Elizabeth Warren, who also is not suffering economic distress. According to CNNMoney:

"Warren, the Harvard bankruptcy law professor elected to the Senate in 2012, is worth between $3.7 million and $10 million.

That's not including the three-story Victorian home in Cambridge, Mass., that she owns with her husband and fellow Harvard law professor, Bruce Mann. It's now assessed at $1.9 million, according to city property records."

Less than a year ago, Warren, a would-be descendant of Native Americans, declared, "The game is rigged, and the Republicans rigged it." I agree: both  the stock exchanges and currency markets have been or are currently being manipulated. And in order to protest against this wrong, my recommendation is that Warren donate her Cambridge home to the poor and run against Hillary and the big banks in the Democratic primaries. But you know as well as I do, it's not going to happen.

[I continue to wait for answers from Andrew Rosenthal and Margaret Sullivan whether New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof was paid by the Clinton Foundation to serve as a panel moderator.]

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Carol Giacomo, "An Unsettling Report on Iran and North Korea": Wearing Her Naivete on Her Sleeve

In a New York Times "Taking Note" opinion piece entitled "An Unsettling Report on Iran and North Korea," Carol Giacomo, a member of the Times's editorial board, examines a recent report that "North Korean nuclear and missile experts visited a military site near Tehran in April." Giacomo begins by questioning the veracity of the information:

"There are reasons to doubt the report. The Iranian embassy in Paris has already repudiated it. It was based on information from the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which has spent years working to undermine the Iranian republic. Although the group’s disclosure in 2002 about Iran’s uranium enrichment plant at Natanz was accurate, its track record overall has been spotty."

Of course, if the Iranian embassy in Paris denied the report, it must be wrong . . . not. For example, as reported by the Institute for Science and International Security, the Fordow fuel enrichment plant was "publicly revealed by U.S. President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in September 2009, shortly after these nations presented evidence of the facility to the International Atomic Energy Agency."

Giacomo's conclusion:

"Such cooperation would belie Tehran’s insistence that it is not pursuing a nuclear weapon and would necessarily blow up any nuclear agreement. But even if a nuclear deal is reached, the major powers will need to watch vigilantly to make sure that Iran doesn’t switch from developing the technology that could enable it to produce a bomb to buying one from North Korea."

Giacomo is concerned that Iran could "switch from developing the technology that could enable it to produce a bomb to buying one from North Korea"? For Pete's sake, none other than President Obama acknowledged in April 2015 that Iran's "breakout times are only about two to three months by our intelligence estimates." Or stated otherwise, Iran doesn't need to buy an atomic bomb from North Korea. On the other hand, Iran could certainly continue developing its first nuclear weapon and ballistic missile delivery capabilities in North Korea without fear of Western surveillance or interference.

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

Nicholas Kristof, "Polluted Political Games": Was Kristof Paid by the Clinton Foundation?

Acknowledging his involvement with the Clinton Foundation in a New York Times op-ed entitled "Polluted Political Games," Nicholas Kristof writes:

"I’ve admired the Clintons’ foundation for years for its fine work on AIDS and global poverty, and I’ve moderated many panels at the annual Clinton Global Initiative. Yet with each revelation of failed disclosures or the appearance of a conflict of interest from speaking fees of $500,000 for the former president, I have wondered: What were they thinking?"

Okay, Nick, you've admired the "fine work" of the Clinton Foundation, but now tell us if you were paid to "moderate" these many panels, and if so, how much were you paid? I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with moderating panels, but if you, a Times columnist, were paid by the Clinton Foundation, can we please know how much?

Kristof is quick to inform us that Republican presidential candidates have also benefited from "our entire disgraceful money-based political system." Specifically with regard to Marco Rubio, Kristof writes that "Senator Marco Rubio of Florida has received financial assistance from a billionaire, Norman Braman, and has channeled public money to Braman’s causes." Kristof provides a link to a New York Times article entitled "Billionaire Lifts Marco Rubio, Politically and Personally" by Michael Barbaro and Steve Eder, which informs us:

"A detailed review of their relationship shows that Mr. Braman, 82, has left few corners of Mr. Rubio’s world untouched. He hired Mr. Rubio, then a Senate candidate, as a lawyer; employed his wife to advise the Braman family’s philanthropic foundation; helped cover the cost of Mr. Rubio’s salary as an instructor at a Miami college; and gave Mr. Rubio access to his private plane.

The money has flowed both ways. Mr. Rubio has steered taxpayer funds to Mr. Braman’s favored causes, successfully pushing for an $80 million state grant to finance a genomics center at a private university and securing $5 million for cancer research at a Miami institute for which Mr. Braman is a major donor.

. . . .

The reliance on Mr. Braman is likely to put a spotlight on the finances of Mr. Rubio, who ranks among the least-wealthy candidates in the emerging Republican field. Mr. Rubio left the Florida House of Representatives in 2008 with a net worth of $8,351, multiple mortgages and $115,000 in student debt. In his latest financial disclosure form, for 2013, he reported at least $450,000 in liabilities, including two mortgages and a line of credit."

Oh my goodness, Mr. Braman once dared employ both Rubio and his wife! Worse still, Rubio helped secure funds for the cancer research of a Miami institute favored by Mr. Braman. Of course, we all know that government funding must never be used for cancer research . . . not.

Rubio  is considered one of the poorest Republican presidential candidates? Maybe Mr. Braman has not been helping him enough.

But now consider the millions of dollars received by the Clinton Foundation from Saudi Arabia, which whips gang rape victims and beheads persons accused of engaging in witchcraft. Also consider the millions of dollars in donations to the Clinton Foundation from banks which were recently convicted of rigging the value of world currencies.

And although Hillary claimed that she and Bill left the White House "dead broke" and whined that "we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages for houses, for Chelsea’s education, you know, it was not easy,” Hillary's net worth in 2012 was estimated at between $5 million and $25 million, and Bill's net worth is estimated at some $55 million. Poor, Hillary! Poor, poor Hillary!

Compare  Rubio with the Hillary? I don't think so. Meanwhile, let's see if Kristof or the Times is willing to answer my question above.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Thomas Friedman, "Contain and Amplify": While Allowing Iran to Build Atomic Bombs?

And I thought the Times editorial entitled "Iran’s Secret Trial of a Journalist" was naive . . .

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Contain and Amplify," Thomas Friedman writes of the mounting muddle in the Muslim Middle East. Claiming that he has "never seen it this bad," Friedman tells us:

"For now, I see only two ways coherent self-government can re-emerge in Libya, Iraq, Yemen and Syria: If an outside power totally occupies them, snuffs out their sectarian wars, suppresses the extremists and spends the next 50 years trying to get Iraqis, Syrians, Yemenis and Libyans to share power as equal citizens. Even that might not work. Anyway, it’s not going to happen. The other is just wait for the fires to burn themselves out. The Lebanese civil war ended after 14 years by reconciliation-through-exhaustion. All sides accepted the principle of “no victor/no vanquished,” and everyone got a piece of the pie."

Unbeknownst to would-be Middle East expert Friedman, the fighting in Lebanon never ended, and it is only a matter of time until the Sunni/Shiite conflict in Syria spills across the border into Lebanon. Hezbollah chieftain Hassan Nasrallah is obviously concerned by this inevitability, which he now admits poses an "existential threat" to his terrorist organization.

Friedman's solution:

"U.S. policy now should be 'containment, plus amplification.' Let’s help those who manifest the will to contain ISIS, like Jordan, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and the Kurds in Iraq, and amplify any constructive things that groups in Yemen, Iraq, Libya, or Syria are ready to do with their power, but we must not substitute our power for theirs. This has to be their fight for their future. If the fight against ISIS is not worth it to them, it surely can’t be for us."

Or in other words, let's not do anything.

Unfortunately, however, Obama is doing something: In furtherance of his pursuit of a presidential legacy, he is determined to grant Iran the right to build a nuclear arsenal within a decade, which, as we have heard from the Saudis, is destined to trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

Should the US watch from the sidelines as the mullahs mount their new toys on ICBMs capable of reaching America's shores? Should the US stand idly by as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan and the UAE build their own bombs?

Yes, ISIS is a problem, but it is a Sunni response to Obama's unwillingness to stand in the way of aggressive Iranian efforts to achieve suzerainty over the region -  by way of Assad in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Islamic Jihad in Gaza, and the Houthis in Yemen.

Obama stuck his foot deep in the muck, and it won't be easy extricating it. More to the point, mindless declarations by Friedman that it is "their fight" are of no value whatsoever, given the threat of a future nuclear war which will likely span continents.

New York Times Editorial, "Iran’s Secret Trial of a Journalist": Khamenei Should Intervene?

In an editorial entitled "Iran’s Secret Trial of a Journalist," The New York Times protests the secret trial of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian. The Times would have us know:

"It is not entirely surprising that judicial authorities in Iran are prosecuting the well-respected American-born journalist out of sight. Putting him on trial publicly would expose the case for the sham that it is.

. . . .

The best hope for a resolution might be the personal intervention of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Surely he recognizes that the case against Mr. Rezaian and his wife has been a travesty from the start. He should step in to end the unjust prosecution and release Mr. Rezaian so that he can get back to work reporting on a pivotal moment for a complex country."

A "complex" country? A country which hangs homosexuals, stones to death women accused of adultery, brutally persecutes Baha'is, Christians, Kurds and Sunnis, and executes poets for "waging war on God" is "complex"?

Was Hitler's Germany also "complex"?

And call upon Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei, who routinely calls for the annihilation of Israel, to intervene in the Rezaian case? A trial of this kind would not be undertaken in Iran without Khamenei's approval.

Who in blazes wrote this editorial, which brings new meaning to the word "naivete."

Monday, May 25, 2015

Paul Krugman, "The Big Meh": And the Currency Rigging Banks Which Donated to the Clinton Foundation?

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Big Meh," Paul Krugman writes about the effect of new technologies on the economy. Paul would have us know:

"So what do I think is going on with technology? The answer is that I don’t know — but neither does anyone else. Maybe my friends at Google are right, and Big Data will soon transform everything. Maybe 3-D printing will bring the information revolution into the material world. Or maybe we’re on track for another big meh.

What I’m pretty sure about, however, is that we ought to scale back the hype."

I don't agree with Paul. The three hi-tech companies with which I work (two as an outside consultant, one as chairman of the board) all have the potential to change our world: revolutionary new drug candidates, a chip capable of restoring vision to persons blinded by age-related macular degeneration following a 30-minute minimally invasive procedure, and a new generation of super-strong fibers for ultra-thin life-saving surgical sutures. I work hard and late every night, and if I didn't believe in these companies, I wouldn't waste the time. No need for hype. Let's wait and see the results.

However, something else is troubling me today: On Friday, in an editorial entitled "Banks as Felons, or Criminality Lite," The New York Times informed us:

"As of this week, Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland are felons, having pleaded guilty on Wednesday to criminal charges of conspiring to rig the value of the world’s currencies. According to the Justice Department, the lengthy and lucrative conspiracy enabled the banks to pad their profits without regard to fairness, the law or the public good.

. . . .

In all, the banks will pay fines totaling about $9 billion, assessed by the Justice Department as well as state, federal and foreign regulators. That seems like a sweet deal for a scam that lasted for at least five years, from the end of 2007 to the beginning of 2013, during which the banks’ revenue from foreign exchange was some $85 billion."

However, what the Times didn't tell us was the connection of some of these banks (not Royal Bank of Scotland) to the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative ("CGI"). The Clinton Foundation lists Barclays Capital and the Citi Foundation as donors in the $1,000,001 to $5,000,000 range. It also lists JPMorgan Chase as a donor in the $100,001 to $250,000 range.

In addition, with regard to Barclays, a March 3, 2015 CNN article entitled "Base wary of Clinton Foundation's ties to troubled banks" by Alexandra Jaffe states:

"British banking giant Barclays emerged as a 'strategic partner' with CGI for its 2010 annual meeting, and gave the same level of support every year after that.

. . . .

In August of 2010, the Justice Department announced Barclays would pay nearly $300 million in fines for breaking sanctions against Iran, Cuba, Sudan and others.

. . . .

According to a Justice Department statement issued in June 2012, Barclays "admitted and accepted responsibility for its misconduct" at the center of a scheme to manipulate global interest rates, which in turn affected prices for consumer lending.

The bank agreed to pay $450 million in total to the Justice Department, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the UK's Financial Services Authority to resolve the violations.

. . . .

In July 2014, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations accused both Barclays and Deutsche Bank of helping hedge funds avoid paying more than $6 billion in taxes."

Isn't it a bit peculiar how Paul ("The Conscience of a Liberal") Krugman has nothing to say about the aforesaid abomination? Or is it really not so terrible in our brave new world? What do you think?

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Is Obama an Anti-Semite?

We all know that Obama sat silently in his pew while his spiritual mentor, the Reverend Wright, ranted against Jews and Israel over the course of some 20 years. We also know that The Los Angeles Times refuses to release the video of Obama speaking at a 2003 going-away party honoring Rashid Khalidi, at which virulent anti-Semitism was expressed by other speakers. But is Obama himself an anti-Semite?

Wearing a white kippah at the Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C. on May 22, 2015, and identifying himself as an "honorary member of the tribe," Obama declared:

"And it is precisely because I care so deeply about the state of Israel -- it’s precisely because, yes, I have high expectations for Israel the same way I have high expectations for the United States of America -- that I feel a responsibility to speak out honestly about what I think will lead to long-term security and to the preservation of a true democracy in the Jewish homeland."

Or stated otherwise, Obama holds Israel to a different standard. Now where have we heard these words before? In an article entitled "Nicholas Kristof, Israel, and Double Standards" (http://www.jsantisemitism.org/essays/GrossmanJSA210(4).pdf) for The Journal for the Study of Antisemitism, I wrote that Kristof routinely rails against purported Israeli injustices, while ignoring the improprieties of other democracies (my emphasis in red):

"Ignorance, however, has never prevented Kristof from foisting twaddle upon the Times’s readership, particularly with respect to Israel. In an August 2011 op-ed, “Seeking Balance on the Mideast” (http://www.nytimes
.com/2011/08/04/opinion/seeking-balance-on-the-mideast.html?_r=1&hp), Kristof lambasted Israel at a time when Assad’s tanks were massacring the inhabitants of the Syrian city of Hama. Kristof sought to excuse himself by observing:

'Whenever I write about Israel, I get accused of double standards because I don’t spill as much ink denouncing worse abuses by, say, Syria. I plead guilty. I demand more of Israel partly because my tax dollars supply arms and aid to Israel. I hold democratic allies like Israel to a higher standard—just as I do the U.S.'

True, Syria has not been a recipient of U.S. aid. But whereas Egypt has received billions of dollars of American aid, Kristof doesn’t write about the persecution and murder of its Coptic Christian minority . . . And while Pakistan, a democracy of sorts, has also benefited from billions of dollars of U.S. aid while abetting the Taliban in Afghanistan, Kristof has been seeking a reduction of tariffs on Pakistani garment exports to the United States, purportedly in order to fight extremism.

. . . .

According to the 'working definition of antisemitism' of the European Forum on Antisemitism: 'Examples of the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel taking into account the overall context could include: . . . Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.'"

However, it is not only the European Forum on Antisemitism which cautions against applying a double standard to Israel. The US State Department also has determined that the application of such a double standard to Israel amounts to anti-Semitism:

"What is Anti-Semitism Relative to Israel?

EXAMPLES of the ways in which anti-Semitism manifests itself with regard to the state of Israel, taking into account the overall context could include:

. . . .

DOUBLE STANDARD FOR ISRAEL:
• Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation"

Obama went on to say in his speech before the Adas Israel Congregation:

"And that same sense of shared values also compel me to speak out -- compel all of us to speak out -- against the scourge of anti-Semitism wherever it exists.

. . . .

And in recent years, we’ve seen a deeply disturbing rise in anti-Semitism in parts of the world where it would have seemed unthinkable just a few years or decades ago."

Well, concerning that "scourge of anti-Semitism wherever it exists," I would observe that Obama did not speak out against the Reverend Wright in Chicago. Moreover, we are not being allowed to hear what Obama said at Rashid Khalidi's going-away party. In addition, we are witnessing today "unthinkable" incidents of anti-Semitism at American colleges and universities. What does President Obama have to say about this ugly phenomenon? In fact, nothing.

And then there is that "very small" matter of Obama agreeing to allow a viciously anti-Semitic Iran, which is committed to Israel's destruction, to build an arsenal of atomic weapons within a decade.

Obama stated to the Adas Israel Congregation that America has Israel's "back." I have no doubt that the American people, the American Congress, and the American military all have Israel's back. On the other hand, I have serious doubts concerning Obama, who last summer attempted to impose the mediation of the anti-Semitic regimes of Turkey and Qatar upon Israel with regard to Israel's conflict with Hamas.

Not only does Obama not "have Israel's back," I sometimes wonder if he is a closet anti-Semite. Care to make public the tape of the Khalidi going-away party, Mr. President?

New York Times Editorial, "Banks as Felons, or Criminality Lite": No Mention of the Clinton Foundation

In an editorial entitled "Banks as Felons, or Criminality Lite," The New York Times informs us:

"As of this week, Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland are felons, having pleaded guilty on Wednesday to criminal charges of conspiring to rig the value of the world’s currencies. According to the Justice Department, the lengthy and lucrative conspiracy enabled the banks to pad their profits without regard to fairness, the law or the public good.

. . . .

In all, the banks will pay fines totaling about $9 billion, assessed by the Justice Department as well as state, federal and foreign regulators. That seems like a sweet deal for a scam that lasted for at least five years, from the end of 2007 to the beginning of 2013, during which the banks’ revenue from foreign exchange was some $85 billion."

Got it: These banks will pay fines of $9 billion on foreign exchange revenue of $85 billion. Sweet!

However, what the Times doesn't tell us is the connection of some of these banks (not Royal Bank of Scotland) to the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative ("CGI"). The Clinton Foundation lists Barclays Capital and the Citi Foundation as donors in the $1,000,001 to $5,000,000 range. It also lists JPMorgan Chase as a donor in the $100,001 to $250,000 range.

In addition, with regard to Barclays, a March 3, 2015 CNN article entitled "Base wary of Clinton Foundation's ties to troubled banks" by Alexandra Jaffe states:

"British banking giant Barclays emerged as a 'strategic partner' with CGI for its 2010 annual meeting, and gave the same level of support every year after that.

. . . .

In August of 2010, the Justice Department announced Barclays would pay nearly $300 million in fines for breaking sanctions against Iran, Cuba, Sudan and others.

. . . .

According to a Justice Department statement issued in June 2012, Barclays "admitted and accepted responsibility for its misconduct" at the center of a scheme to manipulate global interest rates, which in turn affected prices for consumer lending.

The bank agreed to pay $450 million in total to the Justice Department, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the UK's Financial Services Authority to resolve the violations.

. . . .

In July 2014, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations accused both Barclays and Deutsche Bank of helping hedge funds avoid paying more than $6 billion in taxes."

Can't wait for Hillary to field questions concerning her foundation's ties to the banking industry from a journalist who didn't donate to the foundation. Yes, I know, I shouldn't hold my breath.

Hezbollah Faces Disaster in Syria

As we were informed earlier this month by ynetnews in an article entitled "Report: Hezbollah leader being treated for heart attack" by Roi Kais, there were rumors throughout the Muslim Middle East that Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah suffered a heart attack or stroke. However, even if he did not suffer a heart attack, it is more than likely that Nasrallah was indeed admitted to the hospital with chest pains, owing to the stress he has been enduring.

Over the course of the past few days, Hezbollah has been trumpeting its "victory" over al-Nusra forces in the Qalamoun hills situated on the border between Lebanon and Syria (Hezbollah has not mentioned that it received combat intelligence during the battle from American drones). Nasrallah claimed that only 13 Hezbollah fighters were killed in the battle (the number is closer to 250). However, Hebollah's true casualties are a closely guarded secret: Many of its fighters are being buried in Syria, and their families are being told that they were involved in fatal automobile accidents. My "best guess" is that at least 1,500 Hezbollah fighters have died in Syria, and twice that number have been wounded. This represents an extraordinarily large percentage of Hezbollah's military wing and also places a significant financial burden upon the organization, which is obligated to support the families of its "martyrs."

Just how bad is the current situation for Hezbollah? As reported in an April 28, 2015 New York Times article entitled "An Eroding Syrian Army Points to Strain" by Anne Barnard, Hwaida Saad and Eric Schmitt:

"Hezbollah is not in a position to bail out Mr. Assad the way it did in 2013, when it sent hundreds of fighters to crush the insurgent hub of Qusayr, near the Lebanese border.

Hezbollah now has more fighters and advisers in Syria than ever, about 5,000, American intelligence officials said. But, said the Syrian with security connections, they “only interfere in areas that are in their own interests.”

The official sympathetic to Hezbollah said it has 'maybe thousands' of fighters along the Lebanese border [e.g., the Qalamoun Hills], hundreds in the south, bordering Israel, and only dozens around divided Aleppo, Syria’s largest city."

However, a better indication of the difficulties facing Hezbollah is to be found in the very recent pronouncements of Nasrallah, who earlier this week declared that Hezbollah is fighting an "existential battle" in Syria. Moreover, as reported by The Jerusalem Post in an article entitled "Nasrallah: Downfall of Assad would mean fall of Hezbollah":

"Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime must be preserved, as its collapse would mean the end of Hezbollah and the 'axis of resistance,' the Lebanese movement’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has said, according to a Lebanese paper close to the Islamic group.

He went on to assert that Assad would not be overthrown, but that it would not be possible for his forces to recover control over all of Syria.

Nasrallah was speaking on Thursday night during a meeting with Free Patriotic Movement party head Michel Aoun, a Christian leader and former Lebanese army chief allied with Hezbollah, Al-Akhbar reported on Tuesday."

Can Assad and Nasrallah survive? In fact, much depends upon whether Obama frees up some $50 billion of frozen Iranian bank accounts as a signing bonus to Khamenei for reaching a nuclear agreement with the P5+1 by the June 30 deadline. No small part of these funds will be used to support Iran's proxies in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, i.e. Assad, Hezbollah and the Houthi rebels.

Obama, laboring to establish a presidential legacy by way of detente with Iran, is willfully ignoring Khamenei's duress to obtain these funds to finance Shiite dominion over the Middle East.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Gail Collins, "Rush to Judgment": Hands Off Hillary!

In her latest and greatest New York Times op-ed entitled "Rush to Judgment," Gail Collins, at a loss for filler without Romney and Seamus, focuses her prodigious wit upon Republican presidential hopefuls Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, Scott Walker, Lindsey Graham, Rick Perry, Chris Christie, and Donald Trump. Sorry, but there's nothing worth quoting.

Notably absent from Collins choice of victims is Marco Rubio, who recently became Washington Post headline news after he spent $3,000 to replace his old refrigerator. How can someone, sending four children to private school and having trouble making ends meet, hope to become president of the United States if he struggles with his household budget? Remarkable how this sizzling hot piece of information from WaPo places the alleged multi-million dollar sale of influence peddling by a certain couple in perspective!

But why isn't Rubio on Collins's laundry list? Maybe because Democrats are terrified by the prospect of Hillary having to face Rubio in November 2016, and it's best not to remind anyone of his name. Out of sight, out of mind.

Does Collins even consider addressing Clinton's use of a private email server, which placed the lives of American diplomatic personnel in jeopardy? Not a chance. Hands off Hillary!

But not all of America's "progressive" pundits are granting Hillary a free pass. To her credit, Ruth Marcus writes today in a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Hillary Clinton’s unseemly speechifying":

"Again with the speeches. The gross excessiveness of it all, vacuuming up six-figure checks well past the point of rational need or political seemliness. The ceaseless drip of information that ought to have already been released, now being presented with a self-serving back pat over transparency."

Still, Marcus says that she is "a fan of Hillary Clinton." Tell me, Ruth, what would it take for you not to be a "fan"? Hypothetically, if she were to be found guilty of a dozen chainsaw murders throughout the Middle Atlantic states? Take your time and write me an answer. The readers of this blog would be delighted to know.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Charles Krauthammer, "You want hypotheticals? Here’s one.": Obama's Iraqi Balderdash

In an editorial entitled "The Escalation of Unauthorized Wars," The New York Times appears worried by the advances of the Islamic State in Iraq and the renewed escalation of American involvement in that country's war, or wars, depending upon on how one sees it. The Times would have us know:

"'As commander in chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into another war in Iraq,' President Obama said at the time [August 7, 2014]. Those words were suspect then. They seem preposterous now.

Over the past nine months, the United States and a small network of allies have carried out more than 4,050 strikes in Iraq and Syria in an attempt to weaken the Islamic State, a stunningly resilient terrorist group that poses an enormous menace to the region and the West. As of April 9, the war had cost American taxpayers more than $2.1 billion, or roughly $8.6 million per day, according to the latest data released by the Pentagon.

. . . .

As the war intensifies, it is more urgent than ever for Congress to approve a new Authorization for Use of Military Force that would provide adequate oversight and clearly articulate the long-term strategy for the fight against the Islamic State. The new mandate should replace the ones the administration is currently relying on and set clear limits that would preclude future administrations from using military force around the globe, anytime, anywhere, without consulting Congress."

Actually, Obama has said a lot of things about Iraq. As noted by Charles Krauthammer in a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "You want hypotheticals? Here’s one.":

"Bush bequeathed to Obama a success. By whose measure? By Obama’s. As he told the troops at Fort Bragg on Dec. 14, 2011, 'We are leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people.' This was, said the president, a 'moment of success.'"

And today, Krauthammer would ask Hillary:

"Mme. Secretary: When you arrived at State, al-Qaeda in Iraq had been crushed and expelled from Anbar. The Iraqi government had from Basra to Sadr City fought and defeated the radical, Iranian-proxy Shiite militias. Yet today these militias are back, once again dominating Baghdad. On your watch, we gave up our position as the dominant influence over a 'sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq' — forfeiting that position gratuitously to Iran. Was that not a mistake? And where were you when it was made?"

Answers from Hillary, preoccupied with her silent presidential campaign, or Obama, preoccupied with appeasing Iran, whose forces are all that stand between ISIS and Baghdad? Forget it!

David Brooks, "Building Spiritual Capital": Did You Bury Enough Squirrels as a Child?

Yes, I buried enough squirrels as a child, but have I grown up to be spiritual? Probably not, much to the intense displeasure of my wife. You see, I've been a bit busy attempting to stay alive in the corporeal sense of the word and, to my eternal shame, financially afloat.

Dwelling on spirituality in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Building Spiritual Capitalhttp://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/22/opinion/david-brooks-building-spiritual-capital.html?ref=opinion&_r=0," David Brooks refers us to a book, "The Spiritual Child," by Columbia Professor Lisa Miller. Brooks would have us know:

"Still, it does seem true that most children are born with a natural sense of the spiritual. If they find a dead squirrel on the playground, they understand there is something sacred there, and they will most likely give it a respectful burial. They have a natural sense of the oneness of creation, and a sense of a transcendent, nonmaterial realm. Miller cites twin studies that suggest that the strength of a child’s spiritual awareness is about 29 percent because of broad genetic heritability, 24 percent because of family environment and 47 percent because of a person’s unique individual environment.

. . . .

Public schools often give short shrift to spirituality for fear that they would be accused of proselytizing religion. But it should be possible to teach the range of spiritual disciplines, in order to familiarize students with the options, without endorsing any one.

In an era in which so many people slip off the rails during adolescence, we don’t have the luxury of ignoring a resource that, if cultivated, could see them through. Ignoring spiritual development in the public square is like ignoring intellectual, physical or social development. It is to amputate people in a fundamental way, leading to more depression, drug abuse, alienation and misery."

Got it. But I wonder if those thousands of Westerners who have volunteered to fight for ISIS are saturated with or lacking in "spirituality." (Please forgive my cynicism, which is about one percent because of "broad genetic heritability," one percent because of "family environment," and 98 percent because of my "unique individual environment.")

Michael Gerson, "In just five weeks, Hillary has had a lifetime quota of scandals": Who Cares If She Endangered Americans Abroad?

Do you know what the federal government designation "SBU" means? We'll get to that in a moment.

Several days ago, I had a short discussion about Hillary with a friend living in the US. The friend quickly agreed that what Hillary had done - erasure of emails and acceptance of foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation while she was Secretary of State - was immoral, but not illegal. And yes, when the time comes, that friend will vote for Hillary.

In a Washington Post opinion entitled "In just five weeks, Hillary has had a lifetime quota of scandals," Michael Gerson concludes:

"But if Clinton succeeds [continue her campaign for the presidency notwithstanding the scandals in which she is entangled], it would expand the boundaries of the permissible. It would again define deviancy down. Americans would have rewarded, or at least ignored, defiant secrecy and the destruction of documents. Future presidential candidates and campaign advisers would take note. Americans would have rewarded a skate along the ethical boundaries of money and influence. Future donors would see a green light, no matter what candidate Clinton says about campaign finance reform.

A democracy becomes the image of the virtues it rewards. Clinton is tough, disciplined and knowledgeable. Who needs honesty, trustworthiness and transparency?"

Actually, it would not only "expand the boundaries of the permissible," but rather it would enshrine immorality as a virtue in American political life.

In a New York Times article entitled "A Closer Look at Hillary Clinton’s Emails on Benghazi" by Michael S. Schmidt, we are informed:

"Mrs. Clinton’s emails show that she had a special type of government information known as 'sensitive but unclassified,' or 'SBU,' in her account. That information included the whereabouts and travel plans of American officials in Libya as security there deteriorated during the uprising against the leadership of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2011. Nearly a year and a half before the attacks in Benghazi, Mr. Stevens, then an American envoy to the rebels, considered leaving Benghazi citing deteriorating security, according to an email to Mrs. Clinton marked 'SBU.'"

Or stated otherwise, "the whereabouts and travel plans of American officials in Libya" were available to any foreign entity that succeeded in penetrating Hillary's server. Do you think that foreign governments and terrorist organizations did not penetrate her server? If you don't think so, there's a bridge that I would like to sell you in Brooklyn.

Immoral, but not illegal. After all, of what significance are the lives of a few government officials when compared with Hillary's presidential ambitions? Apparently, none whatsoever.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Gail Collins, "Tubman Versus Jackson": Why Not Pictures of Hillary and Bill?

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Tubman Versus Jackson," Gail Collins discusses the replacement of Andrew Jackson's image on the US $20 bill with that of Harriet Tubman. Collins writes:

"The message here is that what goes on our money has an impact. 'It’s a reflection of the values in this country,' said Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. As part of the current debate about putting a woman on one of the bills, she’s introduced legislation that would require the secretary of the Treasury to convene 'a panel of citizens' to discuss the whole portrait issue.

. . . .

'Getting our hands on the money is equally important,' said Senator Shaheen mildly. But, really, we can go for both."

My suggestion? Create a new $20 bill with images of Hillary and Bill Clinton, which alternate, depending upon how the Bill is held (Monica Lewinsky can offer advice). Hard to counterfeit? Absolutely! It will also serve to illustrate how women and men, motivated by power and working in tandem, can go for the money.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Washington Post, "Does Rubio have a spending problem?": Rubio's Refrigerator on WaPo's Homepage

In an article entitled "Does Rubio have a spending problem?" by Sean Sullivan, which appears online on the homepage of The Washington Post, we are informed:

"In new disclosure forms filed by Rubio last week, he revealed that he sold $68,241 worth of retirement funds last September. Experts say such a move tends to reflect an extraordinary need for immediate cash, since it comes with a sizable tax penalty.

. . . .

In an interview on 'Fox News Sunday,' Rubio said that he needed 'access to cash' for personal expenses and in anticipation of running for president. He said he has at least two other active retirement accounts.

'My refrigerator broke down,' Rubio said. 'That was $3,000. I had to replace the air-conditioning unit in our home. My kids all go to school, and they are getting closer to college, and school’s getting more expensive.'"

So, Rubio needed to repair and replace his expensive refrigerator. Sound familiar? I recently had to replace my GE refrigerator which gave up the ghost.

Rubio is having trouble paying for his four children's private schooling? What a surprise . . . not! For many years our three children's upbringing constantly threw us into debt (yes, we always wanted the best for them).

Solution? Maybe Rubio's wife needs to be giving speeches on behalf of the Clinton Foundation. That would rectify their finances in the blink of an eye.

Henry Siegman, "Give Up on Netanyahu, Go to the United Nations": Expect Fairness from the UN? Yeah, Right!

"The notion that the war against terror cannot be won by military measures alone but must also provide Palestinians with prospects for a political solution is hardly revolutionary. It is a view that Sharon’s own security advisers have advocated. Sharon has been accused of many things by his critics, but stupidity is not one of them. Why, then, hasn’t Sharon reached this conclusion on his own?
 
The inescapable answer to this question is that the war that Sharon is waging is not aimed at the defeat of Palestinian terrorism but at the defeat of the Palestinian people and their aspirations for national self-determination."

- Henry Seigman, "Sharon’s Phony War," The New York Review of Books, December 18, 2003

"I think this is something that is going to happen. We have to look at it realistically: in the end there will be a Palestinian state. I see things firstly from our own perspective. I don't think we should be ruling over another people and running its life. I don't think we have the strength for that. It is too heavy a burden on our people, and it gives rise to serious moral problems and serious economic problems."

- Ariel Sharon, Haaretz interview, April 2003


You wish to publish a guest New York Times op-ed? If you're Jewish and prepared to vilify Israel, your chances will improve immeasurably. And so it should come as no surprise that in a New York Times opinion piece entitled "Give Up on Netanyahu, Go to the United Nations," 85-year-old Henry Siegman would have us know:

"The victory of Israel’s far right has thus provided an unexpected, if narrow, opening for Mr. Obama, allowing him to call for a reassessment of America’s peace policy.

Such a reassessment must begin by abandoning the old assumption that Palestinians can achieve statehood only by negotiating with Mr. Netanyahu. Because of Mr. Netanyahu’s statements and behavior during the elections (not to mention the continued construction in the settlements), that belief has been irreparably discredited. It is now certain that a two-state agreement will never emerge from any bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations."

Yup, it's all Netanyahu's fault. Of course, there's no mention of the fact by Seigman that Palestinian Authority President Abbas refused Israeli Prime Minister Olmert's 2008 peace offer, providing the Palestinians with an independent state along the 1967 lines together with agreed upon land swaps and Palestinian control of east Jerusalem. And one year later, after Netanyahu declared a 10-month settlement freeze "to restart peace talks" at the request of Obama, Abbas delayed entering negotiations until the last moment and then walked away from the discussions.

Nevertheless, according to Siegman, something must be done to end Netanyahu's "continued subjugation of the Palestinians." After all, those poor Palestinians, who fire missiles at Israeli towns and cities and call for the death of all Jews (not just Israelis), are denied their basic voting rights. But wait, isn't it Fatah that has refused to allow elections in the West Bank, and Hamas that does not permit elections in Gaza?

The subjugation of the Palestinian majority in Jordan? The subjugation of Yarmouk, the Palestinian suburb of Damascus? Why should Siegman care?

The subjugation of women, e.g., honor killings, by Palestinians? No mention by Siegman.

The subjugation of homosexuals by Palestinians? Also no mention by Siegman.

How, nevertheless, to end Israeli subjugation of Palestinians? Simple. Siegman would have the UN dictate terms to Israel and the Palestinians:

"Such an agreement can only be achieved if the United Nations Security Council, with strong support from the United States, presents the parties with clear terms for resumed peace talks that will produce an agreement within a specified timeframe."

Ah yes, the United Nations, which time and time again has demonstrated its impartiality involving Israel. As Anne Bayefsky recently wrote in a Fox News opinion piece entitled "UN says Israel, not Iran, North Korea or Syria worst violator of human rights":

"What country deserves more condemnation for violating human rights than any other nation on earth? According to the U.N.’s top human rights body, that would be Israel.

Last week, Israel was the U.N.’s number one women’s rights violator. This week it is the U.N.’s all-round human rights villain.

The U.N. Human Rights Council wrapped up its latest session in Geneva on Friday, March 27 by adopting four resolutions condemning Israel. That’s four times more than any of the other 192 UN member states.

There were four resolutions on Israel. And one on North Korea -- a country that is home to government policies of torture, starvation, enslavement, rape, disappearances, and murder – to name just some of its crimes against humanity.

Four resolutions on Israel. And one on Syria. Where the death toll of four years of war is 100,000 civilians, ten million people are displaced, and barrel bombs containing chemical agents like chlorine gas are back in action.

Four resolutions on Israel. And one on Iran. Where there is no rule of law, no free elections, no freedom of speech, corruption is endemic, protestors are jailed and tortured, religious minorities are persecuted, and pedophilia is state-run. At last count, in 2012 Iranian courts ordered more than 30,000 girls ages 14 and under to be 'married.'"

Thank you, Anne.

Israel should submit to a UN imposed peace involving the Palestinians, or stated otherwise, agree to stick its head in a noose? Thanks, but no thanks, Henry.

David Ignatius, "A tragic replay in Ramadi": Actually, Iraq Is No Longer a Country

Following the fall of Ramadi in Iraq's Anbar Province to Islamic State fighters notwithstanding US Brigadier General Thomas D. Weidley's declaration that "The coalition strategy, I believe, is clear and our campaign is on track," David Ignatius concludes his latest Washington Post opinion piece entitled "A tragic replay in Ramadi" by observing:

"The United States shouldn’t abandon its strategy: This is still Iraq’s war, not America’s. But President Obama must reassure Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that the United States has his back — and at the same time give him a reality check. If Abadi and his Shiite allies don’t do more to empower Sunnis, his country will splinter. Ramadi is a precursor — of either a turnaround by Abadi’s forces or an Iraqi defeat."

Question for Ignatius: What is an "Iraqi defeat"? The reality is that Iraq, created by the British after the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, has always been a fiction, whose borders failed to take into account the competing interests of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. Today, Iraq - like Syria - no longer exists. It has become a giant battlefield between Islamic State Sunni fighters and Iranian-backed Shiite militias, with the Kurds maintaining order in the northeast.

The Kurds? No mention in Ignatius's opinion piece of them, notwithstanding their friendly relations with the United States over the course of many decades and their past oppression by Saddam Hussein.

The some 30 million Kurds, living in Turkey and Iran and what used to be Iraq and Syria, deserve their own country; however, Obama, who does not wish to annoy Turkey or Iran, remains committed to a "united, federal and democratic Iraq."

Good luck to America's president in this quixotic pursuit of injustice.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

David Brooks, "Learning From Mistakes": Would You Strangle Hitler in His Crib?

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Learning From Mistakes," David Brooks also addresses whether George W. Bush's 2003 invasion of Iraq was a mistake. After inquiring whether we would strangle Hitler in his crib if we could go back in time, Brooks goes on to observe:

"History is an infinitely complex web of causations. To erase mistakes from the past is to obliterate your world now. You can’t go back and know then what you know now. You can’t step in the same river twice.

So it’s really hard to give simple sound-bite answers about past mistakes. The question, would you go back and undo your errors is unanswerable. It’s only useful to ask, what wisdom have you learned from your misjudgments that will help you going forward?"

Brooks proceeds to acknowledge that the Iraq invasion was a "clear misjudgment" which he supported at the time, but then asks what can be learned from this mistake. Brooks's "first lesson" is that "we should look at intelligence products with a more skeptical eye." More important, in my opinion is Brooks's "second lesson" concerning the question, "How much can we really change other nations?" In this regard, Brooks writes:

"After the 1990s, many of us were leaning in the interventionist direction. We’d seen the fall of the apartheid regime, which made South Africa better. We’d seen the fall of communist regimes, which made the Eastern bloc nations better. Many of us thought that, by taking down Saddam Hussein, we could end another evil empire, and gradually open up human development in Iraq and the Arab world."

I agree: By opposing apartheid, the US made South Africa "better." In addition, various Eastern bloc countries were ready for democracy and free market economies after the US helped shatter Soviet dominion over its Eastern European vassal states. On the other hand, US intervention in Iraq demonstrated that the Middle East's Sunnis and Shiites are not prepared to live together in harmonious democratic societies free of violence - not now and not for many moons to come.

But has Obama learned this lesson? He is willing to grant Iran the right to build a nuclear arsenal after ten years, based upon the supposition that this savage neighbor of Iraq can be coaxed into 21st century tolerance within that decade. But is this a good bet based on the lessons learned from Iraq? What's your opinion?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Associated Press, "State Dept. plans release of Clinton emails by next January": Emails or Portions of Emails?

Today, an Associated Press article appearing in The Washington Post entitled "State Dept. plans release of Clinton emails by next January" begins:

" May 19 at 1:36 AM

WASHINGTON — The State Department has proposed releasing portions of 55,000 pages of e-mails from former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton by next January.

The department made the proposal in a federal court filing Monday night, in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by Vice News."


Note the difference between the headline, which refers to the release of emails (possibly even all of Clinton's emails), and what immediately follows in the text, which refers to the release of "portions" of emails.

Yes, there is a difference.

[See also the same headline and the same first two paragraphs in an Associated Press article being published by ABC News, home of George Stephanopoulos.]

Paul Krugman, "Errors and Lies": Saddam's Genocidal War Against the Kurds Was Also a Crime

Last Monday, Megyn Kelly asked Jeb Bush whether he would have invaded Iraq in 2003 "knowing what we know now." Jeb Bush responded in the affirmative, setting off a media firestorm and subsequent claims by Jeb that he misunderstood the question. In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Errors and Lies," Paul Krugman also seizes upon this controversy and concludes:

"But truth matters, and not just because those who refuse to learn from history are doomed in some general sense to repeat it. The campaign of lies that took us into Iraq was recent enough that it’s still important to hold the guilty individuals accountable. Never mind Jeb Bush’s verbal stumbles. Think, instead, about his foreign-policy team, led by people who were directly involved in concocting a false case for war.

So let’s get the Iraq story right. Yes, from a national point of view the invasion was a mistake. But (with apologies to Talleyrand) it was worse than a mistake, it was a crime."

Again, to set the record straight: I opposed the 2003 Iraq War, inasmuch as I anticipated that it would destroy the Sunni/Shiite equilibrium in the Middle East, i.e. without Saddam in Iraq, the mullahs in Iran would run amuck. Also, even then, I was more concerned with Iran's nascent nuclear weapons development program than I was with Saddam's alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.

On the other hand, there is something missing from Krugman's opinion piece. As reported almost a decade ago by ABC News in an article entitled "List of Saddam's Crimes Is Long":

"Saddam Hussein was hanged for ordering the deaths of 148 Shiite men and boys in the village of Dujail after an assassination attempt there in 1982. But by the standards of his brutal rule, the Dujail killings were a relatively minor crime.

The exact number of deaths attributable to Saddam Hussein may never be known, but estimates range as high as half a million. There is evidence of more than 250 mass graves dating to his rule."

The ABC News article proceeds to list the genocidal crimes committed by Saddam against Iraq's Kurds and Shiites, including the use of chemical weapons against Kurdish civilians during the 1988 Al-Anfal Campaign.

Or stated otherwise, Saddam was a monster, who deserved to die. However, as proven by subsequent events, e.g., the rise of ISIL, and the inability of Sunni and Shiite Muslims to live together in peace, Saddam's execution did nothing to end the never ending cycle of savagery in a monstrous Muslim Middle East.

Yes, George W. Bush's 2003 invasion of Iraq was a grotesque mistake. However, if Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds could have thereafter lived together in a model of democracy and tolerance - something that I did not believe was possible and still do not believe is possible - maybe, just maybe, the war might today be viewed differently.

CNN and The New York Times: The End of Ethical Journalism

In a lead May 17, 2015 CNN article entitled "Israeli settlers reportedly chop down 800 Palestinian olive trees" by Don Melvin, we are told:

"The official Palestianian news agency is reporting that Israeli settlers have chopped down and seized about 800 Palestinian-owned olive trees near the town of Shuyukh, east of Hebron.

The report, by WAFA, the Palestine News & Information Agency, cited 'a local source,' whom it did not identify. Israel has yet to comment on the report.

The source, described by WAFA as 'a local activist,' told the agency that residents of the Israeli settlements of Bani Kadim and Asfar broke into an olive orchard near the town and chopped down the trees, which belonged to people who lived in the area."

However, as observed by The Elder of Zion:

"OK, how can we tell that this is garbage? By looking at the wording in Wafa. It says 'Israeli settlers Sunday chopped down and seized about 800 olive trees belonging to Palestinians near the town of Shuyukh, east of Hebron, according to a local source.'

What does 'chopped down and seized' mean? 400 chopped down and 400 seized? Or did they chop down 800 olive trees and then put them onto a convoy of trucks to cart them away?

It takes a long time to chop down a mature olive tree. New saplings, which are often planted by Palestinians in order to steal public land, are relatively easy to uproot, but this says 'chopped down and seized.'

No photos. No videos. No named sources. No corroboration. WAFA reports a story that matches none of the normal standards of journalism- and CNN parrots it under the guise of only reporting what anti-Israel Arab media is saying."

CNN knows no shame.

And then there was a May 16, 2015 New York Times article yesterday entitled "In Vatican, Abbas Is Praised as ‘Angel of Peace’" by Elisabetta Povoledo, which begins:

"Pope Francis praised Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, as an 'angel of peace' during a meeting at the Vatican on Saturday. The Vatican also expressed hope that Israel and the Palestinians would resume talks 'to find a just and lasting solution to the conflict' that has roiled the Middle East for decades."

However, as reported by The Weekly Standard in an article entitled "Media Gets Pope’s Abbas Comments Wrong" by Tom Gross:

"If anyone needs further evidence of why the news agencies often can’t be trusted to report accurately on Israel and the Palestinians, and why major news outlets such as the New York Times and the BBC should stop repeating agency copy without verifying it, here is an important example from this weekend.

According to Italian and Spanish news outlets and according to the Vatican’s own website, Pope Francis told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that he could be an angel of peace. 'May you be an angel of peace,' he urged Abbas, effectively saying that if Abbas would take the decision to accept one of the peace offers that various Israeli prime ministers have made to him, or at least make a serious counter-offer, he could be an angel of peace. The pope did not say that Abbas – infamous for ordering the Munich Olympic massacre, among many other atrocities – was 'an angel of peace'

And yet the BBC and New York Times were among dozens of prominent news outlets that claimed he did."

Yes, there is a difference between asking Abbas to be an angel of peace and declaring Abbas to be an angel of peace, and yes, we live in a world gone rotten.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Maureen Dowd, "He Is Heavy. He’s My Brother.": Jeb's Giant Goof

On Monday, Megyn Kelly asked Jeb Bush whether he would have invaded Iraq in 2003 "knowing what we know now." Jeb Bush responded in the affirmative, setting off a media firestorm and subsequent claims by Jeb that he misunderstood the question. In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "He Is Heavy. He’s My Brother.," Maureen Dowd seizes upon this controversy and goes for Jeb's jugular. Dowd writes:

"Jeb had barely finished insisting that he was his own man before he voluntarily shackled himself to W., putting several members of his brother’s war-torture-and-Katrina tarnished brain trust on his advisory list and telling a group of financiers in New York that W. was his top adviser on the Middle East!!

. . . .

And consider this: Jeb hasn’t even been asked any questions yet about W.’s dark contributions on waterboarding, the deficit and the near-total collapse of the American economy."

To set the record straight: I opposed the 2003 Iraq War, inasmuch as I anticipated that it would destroy the Sunni/Shiite equilibrium in the Middle East, i.e. without Saddam in Iraq, the mullahs in Iran would run amuck. Moreover, I will shed no tears if Jeb abandons the race for the Republican presidential nomination: Two Bushes in the White House was one too many. But blame George W. for "the deficit and the near-total collapse of the American economy"? I don't think so.

Dowd needs to be reminded that the repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999 by the Clinton administration set the stage for the Great Recession.

Moreover, as regards Obama's effect on the US deficit, Glenn Kessler wrote in a December 2014 Washington Post "Fact Checker essay entitled "Does Obama have the ‘worst’ record of any president on the national debt?":

"One alternative method looks at the dollar amount of the debt increase divided by the dollar amount of GDP at the end of each term. Obama’s numbers for the debt and GDP are only through Sept. 30, 2014, and thus should be considered a temporary figure, as an improving economy might boost the GDP and thus improve his ratio. At current trends, however, it is likely that Obama’s performance would be the worst among recent presidents, according to this calculation. (He would still trail Roosevelt and Wilson among presidents in the last hundred years.)

One alternative method looks at the dollar amount of the debt increase divided by the dollar amount of GDP at the end of each term.  Obama’s numbers for the debt and GDP are only through Sept. 30, 2014, and thus should be considered a temporary figure, as an improving economy might boost the GDP and thus improve his ratio. At current trends, however, it is likely that Obama’s performance would be the worst among recent presidents, according to this calculation. (He would still trail Roosevelt and Wilson among presidents in the last hundred years.)
Debt increase*    End-of-term GDP*    Percentage
Reagan             $1,873                    $8,850                     21%
GHW Bush        1,484                    $9,410                     16%
Clinton               1,268                  $12,680                     12%
GW Bush           4,899                  $14,580                     34%
Obama                7,198                   $16,160                     44%
(*in billions)"
Indeed, according to my calculations, Obama's present debt increase to current GDP amounts to some 43%.

Or stated otherwise, George W. Bush is not the only one to blame for the enormity of the deficit, which will ultimately lead to economic disaster - unless you believe in the tooth fairy or Paul Krugman.

New York Times Editorial, "President Obama and the Gulf Arabs": Who Wrote This Twaddle?

What I would give to know who wrote today's New York Times editorial entitled "President Obama and the Gulf Arabs"! The editorial begins:

"Saudi Arabia is so angry at the emerging nuclear agreement between Iran and the major powers that it is threatening to develop its own nuclear capability — one more indication of the deep differences between the United States and the Persian Gulf Arab states over the deal, which the major powers and Iran aim to complete by June 30. President Obama had hoped to bridge that gap with a show of American-Arab unity at this week’s summit meeting at Camp David. The summit meeting fell well short of his ambitions, an unfortunate outcome for both sides.

. . . .

The most overt evidence of the unsettled ties between the United States and its longstanding Arab allies was a decision by King Salman of Saudi Arabia to stay home, after the White House announced he would be at the meeting. Bahrain’s king, Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, also a no-show, chose to attend a horse show in Britain."

A pity Obama is not inviting Israeli Prime Minster Netanyahu to Camp David to bridge their differences. Netanyahu would come, but Obama has no intention of inviting his bête noire, who might educate the president concerning the realities of the Middle East.

The Times editorial continues:

"It is hard to see how threatening and snubbing a president who is offering crucial assistance to the Saudi-led war in Yemen and who still has two years left in office advances Arab interests. Even so, Mr. Obama could have done a better job of calming Arab insecurities long before he invited the gulf leaders to Camp David.

The Sunni Arabs have two main worries. One is that the nuclear agreement with Iran would leave Iran with a limited capability to produce nuclear fuel for energy and medical purposes, instead of ending it outright. They also worry that Iran’s re-entry into the international community after decades of isolation would mean that Washington’s loyalties would henceforth be divided and that America could no longer be counted on to defend them."

It is "hard to see" why Sunni Gulf State leaders are snubbing the president? For the love of heaven, Obama is giving Iran the right to manufacture a nuclear arsenal after 10 years, if Khamenei doesn't cheat before the expiration of the agreement - which he will. Then, too, Obama is giving Iran a signing bonus of $50 billion of freed bank deposits, which will quickly find its way into the hands of the Houthis in Yemen, Assad in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in Gaza. Yes, I know: the editorial claims that the funds will be used for "accumulated domestic needs." Indeed, this might be a cogent argument were it not for the fact that Iran is a country that hangs homosexuals, stones to death women accused of adultery, and persecutes Baha'is, Kurds, Christians and Sunni Muslims, as its leaders await the return of the Mahdi. Attribute rational conduct to Khamenei and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard? I don't think so.

Remarkably, the editorial does not address Obama's nonsensical claim that if Iran cheats, sanctions will "snap back" into place. On Wednesday, Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin gave the lie to this outlandish attempt to sell the deal with Khamenei by declaring:

"'There can be no automaticity, none whatsoever' in reimposing UN sanctions if Iran violates the terms of an agreement to curb its nuclear program, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told Bloomberg News on Wednesday. He didn’t elaborate."

The editorial concludes:

"A verifiable nuclear deal that limits Iran’s abilities has the best chance of keeping Iran from a nuclear weapon. The solution definitely does not lie in threats by Saudi Arabia and other Arab states to build up their own nuclear capabilities, which could set off a new arms race and inflame the region even more."

A "verifiable nuclear deal" of the kind that was also negotiated by Wendy Sherman with North Korea in the past? Good luck!

Moreover, as previously observed, the deal is not intended to prevent Iran from building an atomic bomb. Rather, it is intended to delay by ten years the fabrication of such a weapon. "The solution definitely does not lie in threats by Saudi Arabia and other Arab states to build up their own nuclear capabilities"? True. The solution lies in a credible effort by the US to stand up to Tehran and deny them any possibility of acquiring nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, this is not occurring, and the Arabs, who better understand Iran than Obama, know this.

[Regarding Obama's credibility involving his "unique" interpretation of events in the Middle East, see also "Obama Claims Chlorine 'Historically Has Not Been Listed as a Chemical Weapon': Liar!."]

Friday, May 15, 2015

Obama Claims Chlorine "Historically Has Not Been Listed as a Chemical Weapon": Liar!

Attempting to explain why the US has not responded to the use of chlorine by the Assad regime against Syrian civilians, President Obama declared yesterday at Camp David:

"[W]e have seen reports about the use of chlorine in bombs that had the effect of chemical weapons. Chlorine itself historically has not been listed as a chemical weapon, but when it is used in this fashion, can be considered a prohibited use of that particular chemical. And so we’re working with the international community to investigate that and, in fact, if we have the kinds of confirmation that we need, we will, once again, work with the international community and the organization charged with monitoring compliance by the Syrian government, and we will reach out to patrons of Assad, like Russia, to put a stop to it."

Chlorine "historically has not been listed as a chemical weapon"? Oh really? On April 22, 1915, the Germans released 168 tons of chlorine gas against French troops at Ypres, killing and wounding some 5,000 soldiers and punching a massive hole in the French line. Two days later, the Germans attacked Canadian troops northeast of Ypres with chlorine gas, killing and wounding another 6,000 soldiers.

Chlorine gas becomes hydrochloric acid in the lungs and can certainly be fatal.

Nice try, Mr. President.