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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Maureen Dowd, "Fall of the House of Bush": Jeb?



Sibling rivalry between George Jr. and Jeb? I don't give a dead rat (from Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," 1884, probably the basis for "I don't give a rat's ass"). It's time for Jeb to find a new hobby.

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Fall of the House of Bush," Maureen Dowd elucidates the arcane workings of the House of Bush and the crushing disappointment of the aging patriarch with Jeb's sagging political fortunes. Dowd's best line:

"His brother’s muscle-bound presidency led to Barack Obama and the diffident Obama led to a new brand of furious, Tea Party-infused Republicans."

Can America return to its senses and elect "Marco in the Middle"? More to the point, will anything be left by the time Obama finishes his second term, after having saddled the US with $20 trillion of debt, decimated America's health care system, hobbled overseas allies, and planted the seeds of a second holocaust?

Stay tuned. Or better yet, change the channel.

Glenn Kessler, "Is Hillary Clinton a ‘liar’ on Benghazi?": Who Checks the Checker?



In a Washington Post "Fact Checker" column entitled "Is Hillary Clinton a ‘liar’ on Benghazi?," Glenn Kessler assigns Marco Rubio two Pinocchios for claiming that Hillary was "exposed as a liar" after she "spent over a week telling the families of those victims and the American people that [the Benghazi massacre] was because of a video." Kessler justifies these Pinocchios by asserting:

"Rubio is certainly within his rights to point out Clinton’s contradictory statements — and the remarks of the family members give us pause — but he does not have enough evidence to label Clinton a liar."

Yup, we should all take the word of Hillary "I remember landing under sniper fire" Clinton over the statements coming from the family members.

For more concerning Kessler's abominable handling of this matter, see Mark Hemingway's article entitled "Did WaPo's Fact Checker Inadvertently Expose Clinton Disseminating Classified Info on Benghazi?" in The Weekly Standard.

Shame on you, Kessler! Any credibility that you might have once wielded has now gone flying out the window of Mastro Geppetto's workshop.

Robert Pear and Abby Goodnough, "Many Need to Shop Around on HealthCare.gov as Prices Jump, U.S. Says": Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!



“In an Obama administration, we’ll lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family per year.


. . . .


We won’t do all this twenty years from now, or ten years from now. We’ll do it by the end of my first term as President of the United States.”


- Barack Obama, June 2008

Perhaps you recall a January 18, 2015 New York Times op-ed entitled "Hating Good Government" in which Paul Krugman declared:

"Meanwhile, the news on health reform keeps coming in, and it keeps being more favorable than even the supporters expected."

Well, Krugman might want to read a lead New York Times article entitled "Many Need to Shop Around on HealthCare.gov as Prices Jump, U.S. Says" by Robert Pear and Abby Goodnough, which today informs us:

"In Tennessee, the state insurance commissioner approved a 36 percent rate increase for the largest health insurer in the state’s individual marketplace. In Iowa, the commissioner approved rate increases averaging 29 percent for the state’s dominant insurer.

Health insurance consumers logging into HealthCare.gov on Sunday for the first day of the Affordable Care Act’s third open enrollment season may be in for sticker shock, unless they are willing to shop around. Federal officials acknowledged on Friday that many people would need to pick new plans to avoid substantial increases in premiums.

. . . .

Rates will rise next year by an average of 4 percent in California, one of the few states that actively negotiate prices, state officials said. In New York, state officials said rates would rise by an average of 7 percent. In Florida, consumers will see increases averaging 9.5 percent, the state said.

But in Hawaii, the insurance commissioner this month approved rate increases averaging 27 percent for the Hawaii Medical Service Association and 34 percent for Kaiser Permanente health plans."

But there is no need for concern: The price of health care insurance in the US is certain to drop precipitously in 2017 and beyond . . . not.

Friday, October 30, 2015

David Brooks, "The Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio Moment": Marco Could Wipe the Floor With Hillary



In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio Moment," David Brooks informs us that Marco Rubio is the likely Republican presidential candidate:

"Ryan is the new House speaker and right now Rubio is the most likely presidential nominee. The shape of the presidential campaign is coming into focus. It’s still wise to expect (pray) that the celebrity candidates will fade as the shopping phase ends and the buying phase begins.

. . . .

While other candidates are repeating the formulas of the 1980s and 1990s, Rubio is a child of this century. He understands that it’s no longer enough to cut taxes and say bad things about government to produce widespread prosperity. In a series of major policy speeches over the past two years (he’s one of the few candidates who actually gives them), Rubio has emphasized that new structural problems threaten the American dream: technology displacing workers, globalization suppressing wages and the decline of marriage widening inequality."

Or stated otherwise, a young Marco could wipe the floor with an aging Hillary, and this obviously has Gail Collins and her ilk in a panic. And yes, you should expect more articles about Rubio's traffic tickets and fishing boat from the Times.

Roger Cohen, "Ripples of the Iran Deal": Palestinian Stabbings Are "Understandable"



Apparently in response to Iran's arrest of another Iranian-American, Siamak Namazi, a businessman who has actively supported improved ties between the US and Iran, and the conviction earlier this month of Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian for espionage, Roger Cohen is celebrating Obama's "transformative" nuclear deal with Khamemei. In a New York Times op-ed entitled "Ripples of the Iran Deal," Cohen begins by observing:

"There was never any chance the Iran nuclear deal would be hermetic. One of its merits is to condemn the United States and Iran to a relationship, however hostile, over the next decade and a half at least. Now, within months, it has led to Iran’s presence at peace negotiations on Syria. That’s a good thing.

It’s a good thing because no end to the Syrian civil war is possible without the involvement of all the actors. Iran is one, directly and through its surrogate Hezbollah."

Got it: Iran orders Hezbollah fighters into Syria from Lebanon and is then invited by the Obama administration to participate in peace talks, and this is a "good thing." Why does this sound more like more appeasement coming from the White House?

Cohen continues:

"The fact is neither Khamenei, a hard-liner, nor the reformists led by President Hassan Rouhani can ignore the other."

Rouhani is a "reformer"? Iran, under Rouhani's leadership, executes more persons per capita than any other country in the world, and this rate is rising.

Next Cohen would have us know:

"But Iran has long been a useful distraction from Israel’s core problem, Palestine. Iran is far away from Jerusalem and Iranians seldom think about Israel."

Fascinating.  Iran's commander of it Quds Force, Major General Qasem Soleimani, recently visited Quneitra, one mile away from the Israel's border with Syria. Hey, Roger, given Iran's perpetual threats to exterminate Israel, what do you think he was doing there?

And then Cohen calls Palestinian stabbings of Israelis "understandable":

"Oppressed people will do such things. The oppression does not make random Palestinian stabbings of Israelis defensible. They are vicious crimes against innocent people. But it makes them understandable. Violence is the other face of the so-called status quo that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes to be in Israel’s interest. Violence is inextricable from the Israeli occupation of the West Bank that is almost a half-century old. Stateless non-citizens, living behind a high-tech wall among colonial settler garrisons, will not all acquiesce to their fate."

"Understandable"? The wave of stabbings has nothing to do with Israeli settlements. Rather, it has to do with a baseless rumor that Israel plans to destroy the al Aqsa Mosque, which gave rise to Palestinian Authority President Abbas's declaration that Jews have no right to defile the Temple Mount with their "filthy feet". Of course, no mention of this by Cohen.

But more to the point, if oppressed persons from America's inner cities were to start stabbing middle-class whites, would Cohen also label such attacks as "understandable"? I don't think so.

And just to set the record straight, that "high-tech wall" to which Cohen refers is 90 percent fence. But why should the facts get in the way of Cohen?

Sickening.



Thursday, October 29, 2015

Gail Collins, "Oh, Those Debating Republicans": Taking Aim at Marco Rubio



Gail Collins doesn't give a damn if Hillary lied to the parents of the Benghazi victims, as part of the Obama administration's efforts to pretend that al-Qaeda was "on the run" prior to the 2012 presidential election. And in this regard, I should point out that Hillary is amazing. Have another look at the videos in which she claimed that she came under sniper fire in Bosnia and in which she blamed the video for the Benghazi tragedy. I used to work in "investigations," and I can't find the "tell" in either video, which makes her more than a little frightening.

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Oh, Those Debating Republicans," Collins examines yesterday's Republican presidential debate and fixes Marco Rubio in her crosshairs:

"Republicans who have been terrified by Trump and Carson, and in despair over Jeb Bush, keep pointing hopefully to Marco Rubio. During the debate, Rubio demonstrated great verbal talent when it came to explaining why he seems so bad at things like, say, managing his personal finances. (His parents were humble working folk who did not leave him a fortune.) Also, his stupendous absentee record in the Senate is not all that much worse than some other people who have run for president."

Rubio's poor management of his personal finances? Gail must be referring to that pathetic New York Times story concerning Rubio's purchase of a fishing boat and his repayment of his student loans, which even Jon Stewart ridiculed.

Rubio's "stupendous" absentee record in the Senate? Hey, Gail, how about comparing it with Obama's 129 "present" votes in the Illinois state senate?

If the Republicans decide not to nominate the Donald, i.e. avoid shooting themselves in the foot, and choose Rubio instead, look for more of the same from Collins. Rubio can beat Hillary, and Democratic sycophants such as Collins are already running scared.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Thomas Friedman, "Telling Mideast Negotiators, ‘Have a Nice Life’": Have a Nice Life, Too, Tom



In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Telling Mideast Negotiators, ‘Have a Nice Life’," would-be Middle East expert Thomas Friedman concludes:

"But Israel is a really powerful country. It’s not a disarmed Costa Rica. No one expects it to give up everything. But fewer and fewer can understand why it puts so much energy into explaining why it can’t do anything, why the Palestinians are irredeemably awful and why nothing Israel could do would affect their behavior. I truly worry that Israel is slowly committing suicide, with all the best arguments."

Earlier in this same op-ed, Friedman suggests that the US remind Palestinian Authority President Abbas that he rejected Israeli Prime Minister Olmert's 2008 offer of an independent Palestinian state along the 1967 lines with agreed upon land swaps and Palestinian control of east Jerusalem. Question for Tom Terrific: If Abbas were to be made this same offer today by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, would Abbas now say yes? Answer: Not a snowball's chance in hell. Why? Because 60 percent of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank currently favor "reclaiming all of historic Palestine, from the river to the sea."

If Abbas were to accept such a peace deal with Netanyahu, Abbas would be committing suicide.

As I often tell my children, timing is everything in life. Perhaps the time will eventually come for a formal peace agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis, but that time is not now.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

David Brooks, "A Sensible Version of Donald Trump": What Number Will Trump Give Hillary?



Donald Trump? Sensible? They don't belong in the same sentence.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "A Sensible Version of Donald Trump," David Brooks plays the "What if?" game:

"But imagine if we had a sensible Trump in the race. Suppose there was some former general or business leader with impeccable outsider status but also a steady temperament, deep knowledge and good sense."

Brooks proceeds to describe a non-politician with ideas that could bridge the widening gap between conservatives and progressives and "create environments of opportunity in middle-, working- and lower-class neighborhoods."

And what if the moon was made of cheese?

Would any rational, middle-of-the-road Democrat dare challenge the Hillary juggernaut, which is expected to grease her reentry into the White House at a cost of $2.5 billion? You see, when you've got money behind you, "things" like the return of furniture to the White House cease to matter, and lies told to the families of those who died in Benghazi are swept under the carpet by an accommodating media.

Trump? Narcissism Run Wild. A one-man circus. Trump declared on Monday:

"It has not been easy for me, it has not been easy for me. And you know I started off in Brooklyn, my father gave me a small loan of a million dollars."

A "small" loan? Taking into account inflation, that loan made in 1968 is worth almost $7 million today.

Meanwhile, I'm waiting for Trump to "rate" Hillary as he did Heidi Klum. Go for it, Donald, make my day! Maybe you will climb higher in the polls! (And maybe not, but we'll all be entertained . . .)


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Jackson Diehl, "Building barriers to peace in Israel": Misleading



In a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Building barriers to peace in Israel," Jackson Diehl concludes with respect to "the latest wave of Palestinian violence" (my emphasis in red):

"Israel has contributed to the trouble by preventing the rise of Palestinian leaders in Jerusalem, even though they would likely echo the moderate views of city residents. Now, in response to the violence, the Netanyahu government is constructing barriers dividing Arab from Jewish neighborhoods, which have the effect of punishing those Palestinians who just a few months ago were saying they’d be content to become Israeli citizens. Incitement, indeed."

Yet, as reported in Israel, the barriers and roadblocks are in the process of being removed. An October 19, 2015 Times of Israel article entitled "PM halts placement of barriers between Jewish, Arab areas of Jerusalem" by Judah Ari Gross and Adiv Sterman informs us:

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday ordered a halt to the placement of any more portable concrete slabs between the predominantly Jewish area of Armon Hanatziv and the adjacent southeastern Arab neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, after several MKs criticized the construction of a temporary wall as a de facto division of the unified city.

Netanyahu’s decision came after authorities already erected parts of a planned 300-meter long wall between the neighborhoods, in a bid to stem a series of terrorist and Molotov cocktail attacks carried out in the area over the past weeks. Six slabs of concrete were placed in the neighborhood Sunday. The move followed the placing of concrete blocks in roads leading out of many Arab East Jerusalem neighborhoods."

And in an October 21, 2015 ynetnews article entitled "Roadblocks removed in East Jerusalem" by Roi Yanovsky we learn:

"Wednesday afternoon barriers were removed from the neighborhoods of Wadi Joz and Sheikh Jarrah. These checkpoints were erected last week in the wake of the security cabinet's decision allowing police to impose closures on the exits of neighborhoods according to operational needs.

'In light of the quiet that has returned the roadblocks have been removed,' Jerusalem police said. 'We call on local leadership to demonstrate responsibility and leadership. Everywhere leadership is shown and quiet is returned – barriers will be removed.'

Police checkpoints are still deployed in neighborhoods such as Jabel Mukaber, Sur Baher and Isawiya, which, according to security assessments, have not yet calmed down and where there remains an operational necessity for them.

Acting Chief of Police Commander Benzi Sau said in a press briefing that he does not 'use the term closure. Our mission is to secure the country's citizens. We want to create security circles that eventually will stop those who pose a threat to the citizens in the city center.'"

Although there are those who have criticized the erection of roadblocks and checkpoints in East Jerusalem as "collective punishment," these barriers are currently being removed as quiet is restored, and they are not being "constructed" as Jackson Diehl writes.

I have asked The Washington Post to correct Diehl's opinion piece.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Maureen Dowd, "The Empire Strikes Back": Does Truth Still Matter?



Maureen Dowd is no fan of Hillary Clinton. In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Empire Strikes Back," Dowd upbraids the Republican members of the House Select Committee on Benghazi  for their inept questioning of America's former secretary of state; however, she also pinpoints Hillary's responsibility for the Libyan debacle. Dowd writes:

"Since she was, as her aide Jake Sullivan put it, 'the public face of the U.S. effort in Libya,' one of the Furies, along with Samantha Power and Susan Rice, who had pushed for a military intervention on humanitarian grounds, Hillary needed to stay on top of it.

She had to be tenacious in figuring out when Libya had deteriorated into such a caldron of jihadis that our ambassador should either be pulled out or backed up. In June 2012, the British closed their consulate in Benghazi after their ambassador’s convoy was hit by a grenade. A memo she received that August described the security situation in Libya as 'a mess.'

When you are the Valkyrie who engineers the intervention, you can’t then say it is beneath you to pay attention to the ludicrously negligent security for your handpicked choice for ambassador in a lawless country full of assassinations and jihadist training camps."

Dowd further declares:

"Trey Gowdy and his blithering band of tea-partiers went on a fishing expedition, but they forgot to bring their rods — or any fresh facts."

Not so fast, Maureen! As Stephen Hayes writes in a Weekly Standard article entitled "Still Waiting for the Truth":

"Charles Woods has been waiting a long time for the truth. He met his son’s body at Joint Base Andrews, three days after the attacks, at a solemn ceremony in just outside Washington, D.C. He first met Clinton at that brief memorial service. He remembers it well, in part, he says, because he took notes immediately after he spoke with her.

. . . .

He recorded Clinton’s exact words. 'We are going to have the filmmaker arrested who was responsible for the death of your son,' he read. Then he looked up. 'I remember those words: ‘who was responsible for the death of your son.’ She was blaming him and blaming the movie.'

Woods was skeptical at the time that she was telling the truth. His doubts were validated with each new revelation of the administration’s post-attack dissembling. But he was shocked by what he learned in the hearing Thursday.

At 11:12 p.m. on September 11, 2012, the night of the attacks, Hillary Clinton wrote to her daughter, Chelsea, and noted that the compound in Benghazi had been attacked by 'an al Quaeda-like group.' She did not mention a video, as she had in her public statement, released by the State Department an hour earlier.

The following day, September 12, 2012, Clinton spoke with Egyptian prime minister Hesham Kandil. Their discussion was captured by a State Department note-taker, whose job is to record conversations among high-level diplomats by producing a near-verbatim summary.

'We know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film,' Clinton explained to Kandil, according to the State Department memo. 'It was a planned attack – not a protest.'"

Yes, Hillary lied to Charles Woods. She also lied to Patricia Smith. And Susan Rice, another of Dowd's so-called Furies, lied to the entire nation, with the knowledge and approval of President Obama, for which she was rewarded with the post of United States National Security Advisor.

Which brings me to the question of whether moral integrity still matters in today's world. Can a US presidential candidate flagrantly lie without repercussions to the parents of terror victims, in order to attain the highest office in the land? Regrettably the answer must wait until November 8, 2016, unless the FBI tosses a monkey wrench into Hillary's political machine before said date.

Jimmy Carter, "A Five-Nation Plan to End the Syrian Crisis": Senile Dementia



In a self-congratulatory guest New York Times op-ed entitled "A Five-Nation Plan to End the Syrian Crisis," Jimmy Carter would have us know:

"Before the revolution began in March 2011, Syria set a good example of harmonious relations among its many different ethnic and religious groups, including Arabs, Kurds, Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians who were Christians, Jews, Sunnis, Alawites and Shiites. The Assad family had ruled the country since 1970, and was very proud of this relative harmony among these diverse groups."

Excuse me, but why is there no reference here to the February 1982 Hama Massacre in which somewhere between 10,000 and 40,000 Sunnis were slaughtered by Hafez al-Assad?

Syria's Kurds? They have experienced decades of oppression.

Jews in Syria? All 50 of them?

Carter continues (my emphasis in red):

"For the past three years, the Carter Center has been working with Syrians across political divides, armed opposition group leaders and diplomats from the United Nations and Europe to find a political path for ending the conflict. This effort has been based on data-driven research about the Syrian catastrophe that the center has conducted, which reveals the location of different factions and clearly shows that neither side in Syria can prevail militarily."

"Neither side"? Sorry, Jimmy, but there are at least a dozen sides battling it out in Syria.

Carter's conclusion:

"The involvement of Russia and Iran is essential. Mr. Assad’s only concession in four years of war was giving up chemical weapons, and he did so only under pressure from Russia and Iran. Similarly, he will not end the war by accepting concessions imposed by the West, but is likely to do so if urged by his allies.

Mr. Assad’s governing authority could then be ended in an orderly process, an acceptable government established in Syria, and a concerted effort could then be made to stamp out the threat of the Islamic State.

The needed concessions are not from the combatants in Syria, but from the proud nations that claim to want peace but refuse to cooperate with one another."

Iran, now sending troops to Syria and hoping to establish a new front against Israel in the Golan Heights, is going to force Assad to abdicate? Not a chance.

Go back to sleep, Jimmy.

Steven Levitsky and Glen Weyl, "We are lifelong Zionists. Here’s why we’ve chosen to boycott Israel.": Bullshit!



"He's going to show you the bricks. He'll show you they got straight sides. He'll show you how they got the right shape. He'll show them to you in a very special way, so that they appear to have everything a brick should have. But there's one thing he's not gonna show you. When you look at the bricks from the right angle, they're as thin as this playing card. His whole case is an illusion, a magic trick."

- Vincent Gambini, "My Cousin Vinny," 1992

In a "remarkable" Washington Post guest opinion piece entitled "We are lifelong Zionists. Here’s why we’ve chosen to boycott Israel.," Harvard Professor Steven Levitsky and University of Chicago Assistant Professor Glen Weyl explain why they are "refusing to travel to Israel, boycotting products produced there and calling on our universities to divest and our elected representatives to withdraw aid to Israel, [u]ntil Israel seriously engages with a peace process that either establishes a sovereign Palestinian state or grants full democratic citizenship to Palestinians living in a single state." Levitsky and Weyl begin by observing:

"Undemocratic measures undertaken in pursuit of Israel’s survival, such as the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and the denial of basic rights to Palestinians living there, were understood to be temporary."

Odd. Why don't Levitsky and Weyl explain why the West Bank and Gaza were occupied in the first place? No mention of who was responsible for the Six Day War in 1967. Also no mention of the evacuation of all Israeli troops and civilians from Gaza in 2005 by Ariel Sharon and the subsequent firing of thousands of missiles and mortar rounds at Israeli towns and cities from Gaza. Sure, Levitsky and Weyl make reference to Israel's Iron Dome anti-rocket system, which is less than 100 percent effective against rockets and cannot stop mortar rounds, but more to the point, I wonder how these two "progressive Jews" would feel if they were forced to live with constant warning sirens and explosions in Cambridge and Hyde Park.

Needless to say, Levitsky and Weyl make certain not to mention that in 2008, when Israeli Prime Minister Olmert offered Palestinian Authority President Abbas an independent state along the 1967 lines with agreed upon land swaps and Palestinian control of east Jerusalem, Abbas refused. Levitsky and Weyl also ignore the fact that several years earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Barak similarly offered to withdraw from 97 percent of the West Bank and tear down 63 Israeli settlements. In exchange for the settlements that would remain part of Israel, Barak said he would increase the size of Gaza by a third. Barak also agreed to Palestinian control of much of East Jerusalem, which would become Palestine's capital, and Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Arafat, however, also refused.

In addition, these two "progressive Jews" fail to note that in November 2009, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu declared a 10-month settlement freeze "to restart peace talks" at the request of President Obama, but Palestinian Authority President Abbas delayed entering negotiations until the last moment and then walked away from the discussions.

And no mention by Levitsky and Weyl of a June 2014 Washington Institute for Near East Policy poll which determined (my emphasis in red):

"Regarding the longer-term, fundamental issue of a two-state solution, Palestinian public opinion has clearly taken a maximalist turn. Other recent polls, even after the collapse of the latest peace talks, showed a majority or plurality still favoring the goal of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, alongside Israel (though the numbers were gradually declining). But now, a clear majority (60% overall, including 55% in the West Bank and 68% in Gaza) say that the five-year goal 'should be to work toward reclaiming all of historic Palestine, from the river to the sea.'"

Or in other words, Israelis are willing to accept a demilitarized Palestinian state. On the other hand, a clear majority of Palestinians refuses to accept Israel's right to exist. My belief is that it is difficult to negotiate a peace deal with a counterparty which refuses to accept your right to exist, but surely these two astute professors know better.

Levitsky and Weyl write:

"But we must face reality: The occupation has become permanent. Nearly half a century after the Six-Day War, Israel is settling into the apartheid-like regime against which many of its former leaders warned. The settler population in the West Bank has grown 30-fold, from about 12,000 in 1980 to 389,000 today."

Levitsky and Weyl make certain not to inform Washington Post readers that as acknowledged by Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, Israeli settlements have been built on only some 1.1% of the West Bank. In other words, land swaps can be part of any peace agreement, but there's still that fly in the ointment: Palestinians must accept Israel's right to exist.

Levitsky and Weyl go on to say:

"Israel’s security situation has changed dramatically since the 1967 and 1973 wars. Peace with Egypt and Jordan, the weakening of Iraq and Syria, and Israel’s now-overwhelming military superiority — including its (undeclared) nuclear deterrent — have ended any existential threat posed by its Arab neighbors."

Sadly, there is no mention by Levitsky and Weyl of the more than 100,000 missiles being aimed at Israel from Lebanon by Hezbollah, or the recent arrival of Russian and Iranian troops and advanced armaments in Syria. Iran's commander of it Quds Force, Major General Qasem Soleimani, recently visited Quneitra, one mile away from the Israel's border with Syria. Hey, boys, given Iran's perpetual threats to exterminate Israel, what do you think, in your erudite opinion, he was doing there? My view is that Israel is currently facing a greater existential threat than it faced in 1967; however, I am not a Harvard professor. Rather, I am a mere IDF reserve officer with three children in active or reserve combat units.

But never mind. I hope Levitsky and Weyl will indeed boycott products produced in Israel, and they should begin by tossing out their desktop and laptop computers, which most likely include Israeli-invented components. Next, they should trash their cellphones, owing to their likely use of Israeli applications and software. And I hope they will also foreswear any lifesaving Israeli medical devices and medicines. 

Go for it, fellas! Show us how it's done!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

New York Times Editorial, "Hillary Clinton and the Benghazi Gang": Who Cares If Hillary Lied to the Victims' Families?



In an editorial entitled "Hillary Clinton and the Benghazi Gang," The New York Times claims that yesterday's questioning of Hillary Clinton by the House Select Committee on Benghazi "yielded no new information about the attacks." The editorial would have us know:

"The pointless grilling of Mrs. Clinton, who fielded a barrage of questions that have long been answered and settled, served only to embarrass the Republican lawmakers who have spent millions of dollars on a political crusade. In recent days, some prominent Republicans have even admitted as much.

If there was any notion that the Select Committee on Benghazi might be on to something, it was quickly dispelled. In a flailing performance, the committee’s chairman, Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, made it evident that he and his colleagues have squandered more than $4.6 million and countless hours poring over State Department records and Mrs. Clinton’s email. They produced no damning evidence, elicited no confessions and didn’t succeed in getting an angry reaction from Mrs. Clinton."

Not surprisingly, in an editorial entitled "The GOP’s unfortunate Benghazi hearing," The Washington Post took the same line and went even a step further - all but endorsing Hillary for president:

"THE HOUSE Select Committee on Benghazi further discredited itself on Thursday as its Republican members attempted to fuel largely insubstantial suspicions about Hillary Clinton’s role in the 2012 Benghazi attacks. Grilling Ms. Clinton all day, they elicited little new information and offered little hope that their inquiry would find anything significant that seven previous investigations didn’t.

. . . .

As she has on the campaign trail, Ms. Clinton hinted Thursday that she would use America’s international toolbox with ambition — 'I believe, lead with diplomacy, support with development and, as a last resort, defense' — and probably more confidently than President Obama has. If the hearing was useful at all, it was in filling out her larger vision for U.S. foreign policy."

"No new information"? "Little new information"? Odd. As reported by Brendan Bordelon in a National Review article entitled "Benghazi Committee Bombshell: Clinton Knew ‘Attack Had Nothing to Do with the Film’":

"In the course of his questioning of Clinton on her conduct surrounding the 2012 Benghazi attack, Ohio Republican congressman Jim Jordan revealed several new, previously overlooked e-mails indicating the Obama administration, the State Department, and Clinton herself all knew the assault was driven by al-Qaeda-linked terrorists — even while they all told the American people and the families of victims that a riot sparked by an anti-Islam YouTube video was responsible.

. . . .

E-mails and phone transcripts unveiled by Jordan show that Clinton herself knew the attacks were driven by terrorists, even while she continued to tell the American people it was a spontaneous, video-driven assault. Approximately one hour after she signed off on a State Department release blaming the video on the night of the attack, Clinton e-mailed her family. 'Two officers were killed today in Benghazi by an al-Qaeda-like group,' she wrote.

The night of the attack, Clinton also called the prime minister of Libya, explaining that Ansar al-Sharia had claimed responsibility. And in a call with Egyptian prime minister Hisham Kandil, Clinton deliberately rejected the video idea. 'We know the attack had nothing to do with the film,' she says. 'It was a planned attack, not a protest . . . Based on the information we saw today, we believe that the group that claimed responsibility for this was affiliated with al-Qaeda.'"

Also worth listening to The Weekly Standard's podcast with Stephen F. Hayes entitled "The Committee Had the Facts, Hillary Has the Press."

Bottom line: Yesterday, it was proven by the House Select Committee on Benghazi that Hillary brazenly lied to the American people and the victims' families concerning those responsible for the attacks, but this has been deemed irrelevant by both the Times and WaPo. Let's see what the American people has to say about this issue in November 2016. My belief is that Hillary is no longer electable, unless, of course, we have entered a new era in which doublespeak is all the rage.

Gail Collins, "Hillary and Benghazi": An American Tragedy



In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Hillary and Benghazi," Gail Collins writes of the proceedings of the House Select Committee on Benghazi and Hillary's imminent testimony before that body:

"The first step on the road to national sanity is to acknowledge that our leaders all want to keep the people safe. There is absolutely no reason to worry on that point."

Sorry, Gail, but I don't believe that. Not when President Obama can run off to play golf just minutes after expressing his grief over the beheading of American journalist James Foley. Not when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton can promise Patricia Smith, mother of slain Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith, a full accounting of the September 11, 2012 attack, and then just ignore Ms. Smith. You see, politics on both sides of the aisle is awash in narcissism, and most politicians don't give a damn about anyone except themselves.

Gail Collins continues her op-ed by observing:

"How do you know if politicians are transcending their parties when they’re investigating these painful and sensitive matters? Well, do they seem interested in important but unsexy issues like the State Department security chain of command?"

"Chain of command"? What are you intimating, Gail? That Hillary was too high up at the State Department to bear personal responsibility for the disaster? Well, I don't give a flying f*ck (pardon my French) about chains of command. A disaster of this magnitude occurs, and the head of the State Department should take personal responsibility . . . and not run for president. But Hillary, being Hillary, comes first.

What exactly did Hillary know prior to the disaster? Perhaps we will never know, owing to Hillary's erasure of her emails. (Let's see what the FBI determines regarding her use of a private server and the erasure of her emails, notwithstanding Obama's attempt to meddle with the investigation.) Collins says of Hillary's attempt to wipe clean her server:

"I believe I speak for many when I say that if email had been around during the Nixon administration, we would have seen erasures the size of Mount Whitney."

Nixon would have behaved worse than Hillary? I find that less than reassuring.

Which brings me to Biden's decision not to run against Hillary for the Democratic nomination. We still need to hear from the FBI, but as of now, Hillary appears to have the nomination in her pantsuit pocket. Now we must wait and see if Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination, thus heralding a hurricane of narcissism which might never wind down.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Thomas Friedman, "Are You Sure You Want the Job?": How's Your Conscience? How's Your Golf Game?



If you currently go to the homepage of The New York Times, you will see a picture of Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin warmly shaking hands in a luxurious room in Moscow. What do Assad, a monster, and Putin, a thug, have in common, apart from the war they are jointly waging against rebels in Syria? The answer is simple: As I observed yesterday, they were both empowered by Obama:

Recall Obama's March 2012 open mike promise to Putin, delivered via then Russian President Medvedev:


Obama: "This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility."

Medvedev: "I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir."

And let's not forget Hillary's infamous "reset" button  delivered in 2009 to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Bashar al-Assad? Remember how Obama tried to spin his "red line" involving Syria's use of chemical weapons:

"I didn’t set a red line. The world set a red line."

The world? Russia, China, Iran and Turkmenistan? Moreover, we mustn't forget how US Secretary of State John Kerry labeled Assad his "dear friend," and how his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, defended Assad in 2011:

"Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer."

Assad a "reformer"? May the Lord have mercy on us!


In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Are You Sure You Want the Job?," Thomas Friedman begins:

"Having watched all the debates and seen all these people running for president, I can’t suppress the thought: Why would anyone want this job now? Do you people realize what’s going on out there? Obama’s hair hasn’t gone early gray for nothing."

Yeah, right. More likely, his hair has gone gray owing to his "Thank you, sir, may I have another?" school of foreign policy. That, or the more than 1,100 hours he has spent golfing as president. I will never forget the round he played just minutes after expressing his grief over the beheading of American journalist James Foley. He sure as heck took Foley's horrific death  personally . . .

Maybe, just maybe, when he leaves office in January 2017, he can dye his hair and become a spokesperson for Grecian Formula.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

David Brooks, "Enter the Age of the Outsiders": The First Invertebrate to Occupy the Oval Office



In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Enter the Age of the Outsiders," David Brooks writes of the chaos enveloping the world as Obama nears the end of his second term as president:

"The United States is no longer willing to occupy the commanding heights and oversee global order. In region after region, those who are weak in strength but strong in conviction are able to have their way. Vladimir Putin in Crimea, Ukraine and the Middle East. Bashar al-Assad crosses red lines in Syria. The Islamic State spreads in Syria and Iraq. Iranian proxy armies roam the region.

Republicans blame Obama for hesitant and halting policies, but it’s not clear the foreign policy and defense apparatus believes anymore in its own abilities to establish order, or that the American public has any confidence in U.S. effectiveness as a global actor."

Sorry, David, but don't try to shift the blame away from Obama. Perhaps the US foreign policy "apparatus," led by Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, never believed in American abilities, but US defense forces, with which I am intimately familiar, have always been ready and able.

Vladimir Putin? Recall Obama's March 2012 open mike promise to Putin, delivered via then Russian President Medvedev:

Obama: "This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility."

Medvedev: "I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir."

And let's not forget Hillary's infamous "reset" button  delivered in 2009 to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Bashar al-Assad? Remember how Obama tried to spin his "red line" involving Syria's use of chemical weapons:

"I didn’t set a red line. The world set a red line."

The world? Russia, China, Iran and Turkmenistan? Moreover, we mustn't forget how US Secretary of State John Kerry labeled Assad his "dear friend," and how his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, defended Assad in 2011:

"Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer."

Assad a "reformer"? May the Lord have mercy on us!

The Islamic State? Again, it was Obama who called ISIS a "JV team" and then asked White House spokesman Josh Earnest to spin this remark, earning the president Four Pinocchios from WaPo's Glenn Kessler.

Iran? Obama placed us on notice that he wanted to see Iran emerge as a "successful regional power":

"They have a path to break through that isolation and they should seize it. Because if they do, there's incredible talent and resources and sophistication inside of — inside of Iran, and it would be a very successful regional power that was also abiding by international norms and international rules, and that would be good for everybody. That would be good for the United States, that would be good for the region, and most of all, it would be good for the Iranian people."

In fact, Obama was seeking a trade-off: If Iran agreed to his nuclear deal, thereby cementing his presidential "legacy," he would not stand in the way of Khamenei's Middle East ambitions. Hence, the recent "secret" arrival of 3,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards troops in Syria and Iran's coordinated attack upon rebel-held Aleppo with Russian air support. Hence, tacit acquiescence from the Oval Office when Iran test-launched on October 11 a medium-range ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1929. Sure, US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power declared, "We will continue to press the Security Council for an appropriate response to Iran's disregard for its international obligations," but does anyone believe that the UN will do anything about it.

January 20, 2017 cannot come soon enough.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Paul Krugman, "Something Not Rotten in Denmark": How About "Fetid"?



Do you recall how Bernie Sanders extolled the virtues of Denmark during the Democratic presidential debate? Well, in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Something Not Rotten in Denmark," Paul Krugman says of this Scandinavian state (my emphasis in red):

"Denmark maintains a welfare state — a set of government programs designed to provide economic security — that is beyond the wildest dreams of American liberals. Denmark provides universal health care; college education is free, and students receive a stipend; day care is heavily subsidized.

. . . .

Describe these policies to any American conservative, and he would predict ruin. Surely those generous benefits must destroy the incentive to work, while those high taxes drive job creators into hiding or exile.

Strange to say, however, Denmark doesn’t look like a set from 'Mad Max.'"

Fascinating! But now consider a 2012 Gatestone Institute article entitled "Converting Denmark into a Muslim Country" by Soeren Kern, which describes suburbs of Danish cities which are effectively being ruled by Muslim gangs, an attack on a Danish courthouse by Muslims wearing masks and bullet-proof vests, and an attempt by a Muslim street gang to kidnap a wounded rival gang member from a hospital.

Also have a look at a February 19, 2015 New York Times article entitled "After Attacks, Denmark Hesitates to Blame Islam" by Andrew Higgins, which tells us:

"Arrested for stabbing a 19-year-old passenger on a commuter train in November 2013, Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein blamed the effects of hashish for his brutal, random and nearly fatal attack, telling a court last December that he had been gripped by wild fear and thought his victim wanted to hurt him.

Last weekend, just two weeks after his release from prison for the knife attack, Mr. Hussein went on another violent rampage, killing two strangers and wounding five police officers. But this time he was gripped not by drugs, but by a fanatical strand of Islam whose mission, according to a message he posted on Facebook shortly before the attacks, 'is to destroy you.'

. . . .

That so many young Muslims feel angry at and alienated from a country that offers their families some of the world’s most generous welfare benefits has left many Danes flummoxed and angry."

Not akin to a set from "Mad Max"? Sorry, Paul, I beg to differ.

Nathan Thrall, "Mismanaging the Conflict in Jerusalem": New Episode in the Times's War Against Israel



Are you familiar with "The International Crisis Group"? Probably not. However, if you go to their website, you will find their explanation of the recent violence at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem:

"Clashes broke out between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters at Al-Aqsa Mosque starting 10 Sept after govt, fearing violent escalation at site during visits by religious Jews during Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashana), revived limitations on Muslim access 9 Sept."

Mention of the fact that the Al-Aqsa Mosque is located on the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site? Not a chance. After all, as Palestinian Authority President Abbas declared on September 16, 2015:

"We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood, blood spilled for Allah, Allah willing. Every martyr will reach paradise, and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah. The Al-Aqsa Mosque is ours, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is ours, and [the Jews] have no right to defile it with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem."

The International Crisis Group also fails to mention that Palestinians had brought pipe bombs to the Al-Aqsa Mosque to throw at Jewish worshipers.

Which brings us to another risible guest New York Times op-ed entitled "Mismanaging the Conflict in Jerusalem" by Nathan Thrall, "a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group," which concludes:

"Last month, a survey of Palestinians found support for an armed intifada at 57 percent (and at 71 percent among 18- to 22-year-old men). Support was highest in Hebron and Jerusalem. Two-thirds of those surveyed wanted Mr. Abbas to resign.

Mr. Kerry is scheduled to have meetings with Mr. Abbas and with Mr. Netanyahu in an effort to achieve their shared goal of restoring calm and returning to the status quo. Violence is politically threatening to both leaders, especially to Mr. Abbas, and both will continue to work to suppress any escalation.

Yet if they succeed only in ending the unrest, they will have merely restored the stasis that gave rise to it. This is what Israelis call 'managing the conflict.' There is certainly no guarantee that if the two leaders fail to stop the flow of Palestinian and Israeli blood, things will eventually get better.

But what does seem guaranteed is that most Palestinians will continue to believe that if the occupation is cost-free, there will be little incentive to end it. Mr. Abbas and Mr. Netanyahu have taught them that."

No mention by "senior analyst" Nathan that a June 2014 poll conducted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy determined that sixty percent of Palestinians "reject permanently accepting Israel’s existence and instead suggest their leaders 'work toward reclaiming all of historic Palestine, from the river to the sea.'" Or stated otherwise, the only territorial compromise that these sixty percent of Palestinians are willing to accept is the extermination of Israel.

Also, no mention by "senior analyst" Nathan of Jeffrey Goldberg's October 16, 2015 Atlantic article entitled "The Paranoid, Supremacist Roots of the Stabbing Intifada," which states:

"The current 'stabbing Intifada' now taking place in Israel—a quasi-uprising in which young Palestinians have been trying, and occasionally succeeding, to kill Jews with knives—is prompted in good part by the same set of manipulated emotions that sparked the anti-Jewish riots of the 1920s: a deeply felt desire on the part of Palestinians to 'protect' the Temple Mount from Jews.

. . . .

The violence of the past two weeks, encouraged by purveyors of rumors who now have both Israeli and Palestinian blood on their hands, is rooted not in Israeli settlement policy, but in a worldview that dismisses the national and religious rights of Jews. There will not be peace between Israelis and Palestinians so long as parties on both sides of the conflict continue to deny the national and religious rights of the other."

Let's be honest, "senior analyst" Nathan's op-ed is very much in keeping with US Secretary of State Kerry's absurd attempt to link the current wave of stabbing with Israeli settlement activity. It is also very much in keeping with the war against Israel being waged by The New York Times, which recently sought to question whether the ancient Jewish temples stood on the Temple Mount.

Disgusting.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Maureen Dowd, "Will Hillary Clinton Be Pilloried by the Benghazi Committee?": Joe, It's Not Too Late



In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Will Hillary Clinton Be Pilloried by the Benghazi Committee?," Maureen Dowd concludes:

"It’s not that Hillary has gotten so much more trustable. It’s just that the Republicans are so much less credible."

However, before reaching this determination, Dowd also observes:

"It remains hard to believe that Ambassador Christopher Stevens and other personnel could have been under attack at different facilities in Benghazi, Libya, over a span of seven and a half hours without any nearby military bases ready and able to provide air cover.

. . . .

Hillary’s decision to circumvent the State Department email system showed bad and paranoid judgment, and left her official emails as secretary vulnerable to hacking. And all her tap dancing that other secretaries did it and that none of the emails were marked classified at the time she sent or received them doesn’t get her off the hook."

Dowd is correct: The conduct of the Benghazi Committee reflects partisan interests, but heck, was the decision of Democrats, including Hillary, to line up behind President Obama and back his bogus nuclear deal with Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei any more honorable?

What do these same Democrats have to say about Iran's October 11 testing of a medium-range ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, which, according to Samantha Power, constituted "a clear violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1929"? Answer: Nothing.

Or stated otherwise, it's a rotten world, powered by narcissism and personal interest.

My question, however, is different: Doesn't the United States deserve better than Hillary?

Please, Joe, it's not too late.

Washington Post Editorial, "Palestinian and Israeli leaders fan the flames of violence": Aim for Their Toes?



Who would believe? I'm 61 years old and still a reserve officer in the Israeli army. My politics? I would welcome an independent, prosperous and democratic Palestinian state. Sharing of Jerusalem, as proposed by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, is also an option for me, provided Palestinian leaders also recognize Israel's right to live in peace - something that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and friends just can't bring themselves to say.

Guns? Over the years, I've "known a few." I've had to eat with them, sleep with them, and bring them home with me when I was given weekend leave from the IDF. But obtain a pistol license? Owing to past employment, I could easily have obtained one, but there were children at home, and I didn't want the worry. However, given the spate of stabbings throughout Israel, I am now reconsidering that choice.

In an editorial entitled "Palestinian and Israeli leaders fan the flames of violence," The Washington Post describes the Palestinians perpetrating the stabbings and attempts to crash into Israelis waiting at bus stops:

"What’s worrying is that the attackers have no organization or guides; they are 'lone wolves' acting on their own rage, inspiration from social media or the examples of those who preceded them."

No guides? Oh really? As Abbas declared on September 16, 2015:

"We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood, blood spilled for Allah, Allah willing. Every martyr will reach paradise, and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah. The Al-Aqsa Mosque is ours, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is ours, and [the Jews] have no right to defile it with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem."

The WaPo editorial goes on to say:

"Particularly counterproductive have been the fatal shootings of a dozen of the attackers by Israeli police or bystanders."

Got it: When somebody springs at you with a knife, you first determine their age, you next assess the likelihood that the attacker might strike one of your vital organs, and then - only then - do you shoot . . . but make certain to aim for their toes, so as not to further inflame tensions. Even more important, in the spirit of moral equivalence, let's all assign equal responsibility to Israel for the violence.

I'm willing to bet that the author of this balderdash never in her/his life faced an armed attacker in a life and death situation. Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt, please correct me if I'm wrong.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Paul Krugman, "Democrats, Republicans and Wall Street Tycoons": What About the Clinton Foundation?



In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Democrats, Republicans and Wall Street Tycoons," Paul Krugman would have us know:

"[I]s Mrs. Clinton’s promise to take a tough line on the financial industry credible? Or would she, once in the White House, return to the finance-friendly, deregulatory policies of the 1990s?

Well, if Wall Street’s attitude and its political giving are any indication, financiers themselves believe that any Democrat, Mrs. Clinton very much included, would be serious about policing their industry’s excesses. And that’s why they’re doing all they can to elect a Republican."

Even a mention of the dealings of the Clinton Foundation in Krugo's op-ed? Of course not. Moreover, who cares if the banks have been some of the Clinton Foundation's biggest donors?

Consider also a July 21, 2015 CNBC article entitled "Clinton rakes in Wall Street cash amid tough talk" by Jacob Pramuk, which informs us:

"During her nascent presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton has called for expanded regulation of the financial system, slammed wealth disparity and pushed for tougher punishment on individual rule breakers.

All of that rhetoric has mattered little to Wall Street. Already among the biggest donors to Clinton's political career, employees of some megabanks have funneled big money into her bid for the 2016 nomination.

Employees of five financial firms—Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Merrill Lynch—gave about $290,000 to Clinton's campaign committee through June 30, according to a MapLight analysis of Federal Election Commission data. While it makes up less than 1 percent of the roughly $47 million raised by Clinton's committee this cycle, it follows a precedent set in her 2008 presidential campaign, when the firms' employees were among her biggest donors."

Never mind, Paul. You just keep the unconscionable twaddle coming.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Roger Cohen, "Obama's What Next?": Blaming Israel for Using Excessive Force to Prevent Stabbings



Labeling Obama the "king of the slippery-slope school of foreign policy," Roger Cohen concludes in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Obama's What Next?":

"I believe Obama has sold America short. The foreign-policy pendulum that swings between expansiveness and retrenchment has swung too far. His shift from indispensable power to indispensable partner has backfired when partner after partner — the Afghan Army, the Iraqi Army — has proved ineffective. The United States is not even at the Minsk table on the Ukraine crisis. Germany is.

'Just do it' might have served Obama better at times than 'What next?' Between paralysis and 350,000 troops on the ground there are options. Not every intervention is a slippery slope. The question, post-Syria, is whether the next president can make American power credible enough to stop this crisis or another in the Middle East, the Baltics, or the South China Sea, from spiraling out of control."

No mention by Cohen of the recent Iranian precision-guided ballistic missile test in violation of Security Council resolution 1929 that Obama "referred" to the UN, or that 3,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops are now in Syria, or that Cuban soldiers have been flown by Russia into Syria to assist Assad.

Or stated otherwise, "Just do it," which morphed into "Don't do stupid sh*t," has now morphed into "Don't do squat" - other than have US State Department John Kirby blame Israel for using "excessive force" to prevent Palestinians from stabbing Israeli children and senior citizens.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Frank Bruni, "Hillary Clinton’s Democratic Debate Magic": Ignore Those "Damn" Emails



In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Hillary Clinton’s Democratic Debate Magic," Frank Bruni writes of Tuesday's Democratic debate:

"But she was seldom rattled, though the discussion of her use of a home-brewed server for her emails as secretary of state did prompt a visible stiffening of her posture, a conspicuous strain in her smile. Will she ever, ever find language that takes full ownership of her mistake and that puts real flesh on her continued claim that she’s being as transparent as possible?

It was possibly her worst moment.

It was perhaps Sanders’s best. Surprisingly, he called for an end to talk about the emails, saying there were more important issues to focus on."

Indeed, Sanders delighted Hillary & Co. with his declaration, "I think the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails." However, as observed in an October 11 New York Post editorial entitled "Fresh evidence keeps sinking Hillary Clinton’s email defense":

"The FBI’s probe has now expanded to include another private server she used, a backup service with Connecticut-based Datto Inc.

And now the Associated Press has confirmed that her main server was the target of repeated cyberattacks from China, South Korea and Germany. And those came after she left office, when her team belatedly agreed to use some threat-monitoring software.

In other news, a FOIA request from the watchdog group Citizens United has uncovered the fact that Hill’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, was forwarding classified info to the Clinton Foundation — so staff there could support Bill Clinton’s work in Africa.

Add to this new details about Hillary’s emails with longtime aide Sidney Blumenthal — emails that somehow didn’t make it into the data she finally handed over once word broke that she’d failed to share her work product with the government.

Her extensive communications with him include the naming of a CIA source (obviously classified) as he pushed for action in Libya — action that would benefit his clients."

Sorry, Bernie, but I think we must await a determination from the FBI before dismissing Hillary's failure to safeguard American government communications, because the United States is indeed not Denmark. Hillary's 2016 Republican opponent will not be so kind.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Roger Cohen, "Obama’s Doctrine of Restraint": "Rudderless Reality"?



In a New York Times op-ed entitled "Obama’s Doctrine of Restraint," Roger ("Iran is not totalitarian") Cohen concludes:

"Obama does not lack courage. Nor is he unprepared to take risks. It required courage to conclude the Iran nuclear deal — a signal achievement arrived at in the face of a vitriolic cacophony from Israel and the Republican-controlled Congress. It took courage to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough with Cuba. The successful operation to kill Osama bin Laden was fraught with risk. His foreign policy has delivered in significant areas. America has wound down its wars. The home pivot has yielded a revived economy (at least for some) and given all Americans access to health insurance.

Yet the cost of the Doctrine of Restraint has been very high. How high we do not yet know, but the world is more dangerous than in recent memory. Obama’s skepticism about American power, his readiness to disengage from Europe and his catastrophic tiptoeing on Syria have left the Middle East in generational conflict and fracture, Europe unstable and Putin strutting the stage. Where this rudderless reality is likely to lead I will examine in my next column."

Obama does not lack courage as evidenced by the Iran nuclear deal? Query: What does the first invertebrate to occupy the Oval Office have to say about Iran's violation over the weekend of UN Security Council Resolution 1929, which provides "Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology"?

And how is that Obama caved on every Iranian demand in order to reach the said nuclear deal?

And what does Obama have to say about Iran's expanding presence in Syria? Iranian Revolutionary Guard Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani was killed last week in Syria. This comes after Iranian Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Allahdadin was killed in January on Syria's border with Israel by an Israeli airstrike.

Obviously, Putin is not the only one aware of Obama's spinelessness.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Washington Post Editorial, "Iran’s ludicrous conviction of Jason Rezaian": You Think Obama Gives a Damn?



In an editorial entitled "Iran’s ludicrous conviction of Jason Rezaian," The Washington Post writes:

"This travesty ought to shame the Iranian government into releasing the journalist — if only to forestall questions from would-be international investors in Iran, who have to wonder whether their personnel will be vulnerable to similarly arbitrary arrests and secret trials.

. . . .

That he has been unjustly imprisoned for longer than the American hostages were held in Tehran in 1979-81 makes a mockery of Mr. Zarif’s claims that Iran wishes to improve its relations with the outside world. It reveals Iran as a country where the most basic norms of justice are still grotesquely flouted and where taking prisoners to use as pawns is still regarded as an acceptable form of diplomacy.

Iran has done extraordinary injury to Mr. Rezaian over the past 14 months. But the longer it holds him, the more damage it does to its international standing."

"Forestall questions from would-be international investors in Iran"? Sorry, boys and girls, but these money-crazed investors don't give a damn.

"It reveals Iran as a country where the most basic norms of justice are still grotesquely flouted"? Apparently WaPo's editorial board is unaware that Iran hangs homosexuals, stones to death women accused of adultery, brutally persecute Baha'is, Christians, Kurds and Sunnis, and executes poets for "waging war on God." The "most basic norms of justice" have been and will continue to be "grotesquely flouted" in Iran, and nobody - not the Europeans, not Russia, not the Obama administration, and not Iran itself - cares about Iran's "international standing."

Most remarkable, however, it that there is no mention by WaPo's editorial board of Iran's violation over the weekend of UN Security Council Resolution 1929, which provides "Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology." But once again, Obama and friends prefer to pretend that it didn't happen. The nuclear deal with Iran is a sham, but Obama's legacy must be protected at all costs.

Paul Krugman, "The Crazies and the Con Man": Paul Ryan Is a "Con Man"?



In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Crazies and the Con Man," Paul Krugman again takes aim at Paul Ryan, who is being considered as a possible replacement for John Boehner as speaker of the House:

"What makes Mr. Ryan so special? The answer, basically, is that he’s the best con man they’ve got. His success in hoodwinking the news media and self-proclaimed centrists in general is the basis of his stature within his party. Unfortunately, at least from his point of view, it would be hard to sustain the con game from the speaker’s chair.

To understand Mr. Ryan’s role in our political-media ecosystem, you need to know two things. First, the modern Republican Party is a post-policy enterprise, which doesn’t do real solutions to real problems. Second, pundits and the news media really, really don’t want to face up to that awkward reality."

"Real solutions to real problems"? Consider the following suggestion from Krugman in his October 6, 2011 New York Times op-ed entitled "Confronting the Malefactors":

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

. . . .

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

And then there was Krugman's 2013 proposal that the federal government should mint a $1 trillion platinum coin to eliminate Republican meddling with Obama's spending spree:

"Here’s how it would work: The Treasury would mint a platinum coin with a face value of $1 trillion (or many coins with smaller values; it doesn’t really matter). This coin would immediately be deposited at the Federal Reserve, which would credit the sum to the government’s account. And the government could then write checks against that account, continuing normal operations without issuing new debt.

. . . .

[I]t’s the president’s duty to do whatever it takes, no matter how offbeat or silly it may sound, to defuse this hostage situation. Mint that coin!"

Krugman, "The Conscience of a Liberal," is calling Ryan a "con man"? Spare me!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

New York Times Editorial, "Why Is Money Still Flowing to ISIS? ": Answer ... Qatar



In another dumb-ass editorial entitled "Why Is Money Still Flowing to ISIS?," The New York Times writes:

"The Treasury Department is leading an international effort to disrupt trade routes, cut access to the international financial system, and impose sanctions on Islamic State leaders and anyone who assists them. Last week, the State Department offered a reward of up to $5 million for information that leads to a significant disruption of sales of oil or antiquities benefiting the group.

. . . .

Despite American efforts to cut off the group’s oil revenues, the most recent estimate is that ISIS earns about $40 million a month selling oil from fields in Syria and Iraq, with refined products going to local buyers, while crude oil is sold to middlemen and smugglers with customers in Iraq and Syria, including the Syrian regime, and beyond.

The Islamic State is also looting banks; demanding ransom from kidnap victims; engaging in human trafficking; selling off plundered antiquities; and leaning on private donors, mainly in Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia."

The editorial concludes:

"If the group’s brutal rampage is to be halted, more effective efforts to undermine its finances are essential. Military force can be only one element of a multipronged strategy."

Well, I'm here to pick up my $5 million reward.

After the Islamic State beheaded 21 Egyptian Copts in Libya earlier this year, Cairo sent its air force to bomb ISIS bases in Libya, and Qatar expressed its dismay over the attack. A brouhaha between Qatar and Egypt resulted, and Aljazeera reported in an article entitled "Qatar recalls ambassador to Egypt over ISIL row":

"Qatar has recalled its ambassador to Egypt 'for consultation' after a row over Cairo's air strikes on targets of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Libya, Qatari state media said.

A foreign ministry official said Doha was recalling its envoy over a statement made by Egypt's delegate to the Arab League Tariq Adel, according to Qatar News Agency.

Adel accused Qatar of supporting terrorism, according to Egyptian media, after Doha's representative expressed reservations over a clause in a communique welcoming Cairo's air strikes on ISIL targets."

As well known to Egypt, Qatar funds ISIS and al-Qaeda, but that didn't stop Obama from selling to the Qataris $11 billion worth of Apache helicopters and Patriot and Javelin air-defense systems a year ago.

And as reported in a February 2015 Daily Beast article entitled "An American Ally’s Grand Mosque of Hate" by Jamie Dettmer:

"In recent weeks, the Qataris have come under increasing pressure from the Obama administration and other Western governments to curb the emirate’s ties with radical Islamist movements—U.S. officials say Qatar has now replaced its neighbor Saudi Arabia as the source of the largest private donations to the Islamic State and al Qaeda affiliates.

When the spotlight is on—when jihad moneymen in Qatar and their funding networks are exposed and attract high levels of Western protest—Qatari authorities take some limited actions.

But there seems to be no persuading Qatar to stop running with the hare and hunting with the hounds—and that remains the case with providing platforms for ideological fellow-travelers of ISIS and al Qaeda or their supporters. And when Western attention is focused elsewhere, the Grand Mosque rings to sermons promoting the same intolerant strain of Islam endorsed by ISIS and used to justify the group’s barbarity."

Indeed, Qatar is playing both sides of the fence. Qatari banks and Qatari donors are being strong-armed into aiding ISIS? Rubbish!

If you wish to cut off Qatari support of the Islamic State, you need only prevent Qatari financial institutions from accessing the American banking system. But the Obama administration would never do this. It would cost the United States billions of dollars in arms sales, which could migrate to France or . . . Russia.

Moreover, let's be fair: Iranian-backed Shia militias in Iraq are no less brutal than ISIS. But heck, Obama just forged a nuclear deal with Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei, and the Times wouldn't want to criticize Tehran.

Bottom line: The incoherence of Obama's foreign policy in the Middle East extends far beyond Syria.

New York Times Editorial, "An Incoherent Syria War Strategy": A "Hallucinatory" President?



Whoa! What's happening at the Times?

In an editorial entitled "An Incoherent Syria War Strategy," The New York Times says of the Obama administration's new Syria policy (my emphasis in red):

"The Pentagon will stop putting rebel fighters through training in neighboring countries, a program that was designed to ensure that fighters were properly vetted before they could get their hands on American weapons and ammunition. The new plan will simply funnel weapons through rebel leaders who are already in the fight and appear to be making some headway.

. . . .

The initial plan was dubious. The new one is hallucinatory, and it is being rolled out as the war enters a more perilous phase now that Russia has significantly stepped up its military support of Mr. Assad’s forces."

Yes, after spending $500 million to put "moderate" Syrian rebels in the field and managing to muster a force of five, "Change" had to come. But isn't the Times being unduly harsh on the president? Consider what the "A-Team" accomplished with only four members (Howling Mad Murdock, B. A. Baracus, John "Hannibal" Smith and Templeton Peck). Perhaps the CIA should consider sending Mr. T to fight ISIS . . .

The Times editorial concludes:

"Getting out of the quagmire in Syria may appear harder than it has ever been. But the only viable solution remains a diplomatic breakthrough that leads to a transfer of power in Damascus and paves the way for a unified campaign against the Islamic State.

That will require the ironing out of stark differences between the United States and Mr. Assad’s chief backers, Russia and Iran. Until then, the three countries are unlikely to accomplish much beyond moving the front lines back and forth, adding to Syria’s bloodletting and despair."

Yup, Putin and Khamenei, both "great guys," are going to force Assad, John Kerry's "dear friend," to step down in order to "pave the way for a unified campaign against the Islamic State." A "hallucinatory" president, or a "hallucinatory" editorial?

Apparently it never occurred to the genius who wrote this gem of an opinion piece that Putin does not intend to wage war against the Islamic State, beyond propping up Assad in what is left of his state within a former state. You see, Putin has no interest in antagonizing Sunni Saudi Arabia and Egypt, both of which could prove lucrative arms customers, particularly when the price of Russian oil has fallen so low and is jeopardizing the Russian economy. Saudi Arabia continues to contemplate major arms deals with Russia, intended by the Saudis to gain leverage over Russian involvement in Syria, and with funding from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Egypt is already buying weaponry from Moscow.

Also consider that some 12 percent of Russia's population is Muslim, and most of them are Sunnis. Putin has no intention of reigniting a Chechen revolt.

Putin is playing both sides of the fence? What a surprise!

Are you listening, Langley?