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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Thomas Friedman, "Win, Lose, but No Compromise": Shiites and Sunnis?



In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Win, Lose, but No Compromise," would-be Middle East expert Thomas Friedman begins by asking, "Are we all just Shiites and Sunnis now?" Wow, I thought to myself after reading this query, a Times columnist is finally willing to consider Turkey's armored invasion of Syria and the battles it is has been waging there with the Kurds, America's most potent ally on the ground in its war against ISIS. I was also certain that Tom would bestow upon us his benighted wisdom concerning Iran's recent placement of a Russian-made S-300 air defense battery to protect its Fordo nuclear facility. (If Iran has no intention of violating its unsigned nuclear agreement with Obama, why should there be any need to install such a sophisticated missile system at this nuclear complex built into a mountain?) But in fact "Shiites and Sunnis" was only a lead-in to Friedman's take on the state of American politics:

"More and more of our politics resembles the core sectarian conflict in the Middle East between these two branches of Islam, and that is not good. Because whether you’re talking about Shiites and Sunnis — or Iranians and Saudis, Israelis and Palestinians, Turks and Kurds — a simple binary rule dominates their politics: 'I am strong, why should I compromise? I am weak, how can I compromise?'"

Given the unwillingness of Democrats and Republicans to compromise, Friedman goes on to ask:

"How will we improve Obamacare? How will we invest in infrastructure? How will we recreate the compromise on immigration that a few brave Republican and Democratic legislators tried in 2013? How will we get corporate tax reform, a carbon tax and some fiscal policy that we so desperately need to propel the economy and control the deficit?"

Improve Obamacare? Needless to say, no mention by Tom of Aetna's decision to eliminate a vast majority of its Obamacare business. In fact, more and more commentators are telling us that Obamacare has entered into a "death spiral."

How will we invest in infrastructure? Good question. By the time Obama leaves office, US debt will have reached some $20 trillion, and, as we were recently told by the Congressional Budget Office:

"In fiscal year 2016, the federal budget deficit will increase in relation to economic output for the first time since 2009, CBO estimates. If current laws generally remained unchanged—an assumption underlying CBO’s baseline projections—deficits would continue to mount over the next 10 years, and debt held by the public would rise from its already high level.

CBO’s estimate of the deficit for 2016 has increased since the agency issued its previous estimates in March, primarily because revenues are now expected to be lower than earlier anticipated. In contrast, the cumulative deficit through 2026 is smaller in CBO’s current baseline projections than the shortfall projected in March, chiefly because the agency now projects lower interest rates and thus lower outlays for interest payments on federal debt. Nevertheless, by 2026, the deficit is projected to be considerably larger relative to gross domestic product (GDP) than its average over the past 50 years."

Or stated otherwise, it's not only Obamacare that's in a death spiral.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Washington Post Continues to Ignore the Escalating Conflict in Turkey



The top story in today's online Washington Post? An article enlightening WaPo's readers concerning Turkey's armored ground incursion into Syria and the battles currently being waged between the Turkish army and Syria's Kurds, with whom, by the way, the US has been working to fight ISIS? An article mentioning Kurdish civilian casualties at the hands of the Turks? Not a chance. Rather, in a lead article entitled "A ramshackle village at the center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," William Booth writes:

"SUSIYA, West Bank — For a quick reality check on the current stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there’s no better place to visit than this little village of miserable huts and sheep pens in the middle of nowhere.

The hamlet in the hills south of Hebron has become an improbable proxy in a cold war waged among Jewish settlers, the Israeli government, Western diplomats, peace activists and the 340 or so Arab herders who once inhabited caves on the site and now live in squalid tents.

. . . .

A final order to bulldoze the hamlet was delayed in mid-August when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office asked the courts to stay a ruling on the dispute for two months — until after the U.S. presidential election — according to lawyers involved in the case on both sides.

The Obama administration this month warned Israel that it finds the proposed eviction 'very troubling.'"

Fascinating. The Washington Post is more concerned with a legal battle involving Susiya than a deadly escalation of the conflict in Syria involving many civilian deaths.

Why am I not surprised?

Friday, August 26, 2016

The University of Chicago Says No to Safe Spaces



Finally, a ray of sunshine from academia. As reported by the The Chicago Maroon:

"Incoming first-years received a letter from the College today making clear that the University of Chicago does not condone safe spaces or trigger warnings.

'Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own,' reads the letter from Dean of Students Jay Ellison."

Bravo, Mr. Ellison. Gutsy. Sets the University of Chicago apart from other American campuses that have surrendered to fanaticism.

I haven't been back to the University of Chicago since receiving my B.A. from that school in 1974. Perhaps it's time to visit. Famous for its "common core" undergraduate requirement, the University of Chicago has again demonstrated that its commitment to education remains undefiled.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Washington Post Refuses to Publish My Opinion Piece: Middle East Meltdown



Today I received the following message from The Washington Post: "Thank you very much for sending us this piece, but the Oped page won't be able to use it." Of course, WaPo wouldn't dream of publishing this opinion piece (below), which calls into question the probity of its overseas reporting. Judge for yourself:

What is happening to The Washington Post's coverage of Middle East news? More to the point, why has America's news media failed to address events affecting the safekeeping of America's global stockpile of nuclear weapons?

In July, following the failed military coup against Turkish president Erdogan, Turkish troops loyal to Erdogan encircled Incirlik Air Base, where 1,500 American Air Force troops are posted. The critical importance of Incirlik? US tactical nuclear weapons are stored there, and US air strikes against ISIS in Syria are launched from this base.
The Erdogan regime temporarily cut off commercial power to Incirlik following the coup attempt, and generators had to be used by the American air force to provide the base with electricity.

It was widely believed that the actions taken by Erdogan against the base related to Turkish demands that the American government extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living in exile in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. Gulen has been deemed a terrorist by the Erdogan regime, and his Hizmet movement has been accused by the Turkish government of standing behind the recent coup attempt; however, the American government has refused to send him back to Turkey.
Furious with President Obama, who had listed Erdogan as one of his five best overseas friends in 2012, the Turkish president met with Vladmir Putin in St. Petersburg on August 8 and declared “the Moscow-Ankara friendship axis will be restored.” Even more worrisome following the St. Petersburg summit, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim suggested this past Saturday that Incirlik could be used by the Russian Air Force for strikes against ISIS.

In response to the crisis, there have been foreign news articles stating that America is secretly removing its B61 tactical gravity nuclear bombs from underground bunkers at Incirlik. It has also been reported that these weapons are being sent to Romania, although the Romanian government is denying these rumors.

On top of all of this, Russia’s air force recently began flying missions against ISIS from Iran’s Hamadan Air Base, and the State Department is considering whether this violates U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231. Meanwhile, Turkey's foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu made a surprise stopover in Iran this past Thursday after Turkish and Iranian foreign ministers met in Ankara last week to seek an end to the fighting in Syria. Turkey has been supporting rebel forces in Syria, whereas Iran has been propping up the Assad regime using Hezbollah fighters and its own Quds force.
If all of this was not worrisome enough, on Friday American and Syrian fighter jets nearly engaged in a dogfight over Kurdish Hassaka in northern Syria. Needless to say, the Erdogan regime is implacably opposed to Kurdish independence in Syria, which could have repercussions involving Turkey’s restive Kurdish minority. On the other hand, the Middle East's 30 million Kurds have been historically friendly to the US.

So why has America’s news media remained silent in the face of these events? Is it because the Olympics and Ryan Lochte took center stage? Is it because the latest revelations involving Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are more interesting than a threat to America’s overseas nuclear arsenal? Is it because the outbreak of the Zika virus in southern Florida is more worrisome? It’s all possible, however, I would have thought that the breakdown of America’s relationship with Turkey, the crisis surrounding America’s nuclear arsenal at Incerlik, and the threat of Russian hegemony over the Middle East would have deserved more than a passing mention by the press.

I would only add that permission for Russian missions against Syrian rebels out of Iranian air bases has now been withdrawn by Khamenei.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

American Jet Fighters Amost in a Dogfight Over Syria: No US News Coverage



American and Syrian (Russian?) fighter jets nearly engaged in a dogfight on Friday. As reported by DEBKAfile in an article entitled "US, Russia trade blows in Syria on Kurds’ backs":

"The near-clash between US and Syrian warplanes over Kurdish Hassaka in northern Syrian Friday Aug. 19 sprung out of the Obama administration’s decision the day before to try and draw the line on the growing Russian-Iranian-Turkish-Syrian collaboration in the conjoined Syrian-Iraqi arenas, DEBKAfile’s military sources report.

It occurred when US jets flew in protective formation over the Kurdish positions, the day after they were attacked by Syrian (some Middle East sources say, Russian) jets.

The US jets came within a mile of the two Syrian Su-24 fighter jets approaching the Kurdish enclave of Hassaka, and warned them off. Without responding the Syrian planes turned tail."

Putin is testing Obama.

Coverage of this incident by America's news media? Not a chance. But why should The New York Times and The Washington Post dwell on such a "minor" flap, given their refusal to write about the secret removal by the US army of nuclear weapons from the Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Obama's Nuclear Crisis With Turkey Goes Unreported in US



How rotten is American journalism? In fact it has reached rock bottom.

Go to the home page of The New York Times and The Washington Post and do a word search using "Turkey." I came up with ... nothing.

Now consider the following August 18, 2016 DEBKAfile news story entitled "Rushed evacuation of US nukes from Incirlik," concerning the secret shipment of nuclear weapons from Turkey's Incirlik air base to US facilities in Romania:

"DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report that Washington decided to remove the nuclear arsenal to safety after talks between American and Turkish talks on release 1,500 US airmen serving at the base from the siege clamped down a month ago broke down. The airmen were running the US air campaign against ISIS in in Syria just 112km away.

The talks ground to a halt over Turkish insistence on assuming control of the nuclear arsenal and America’s rejection of this demand.

The 50-70 B61 tactical gravity nuclear bombs were stored in underground bunkers close to the US bombers’ air strips. Although this was not fully admitted by Washington, the US air and ground crews were held intermittently in lockdown since the President Tayyip Erdogan suppressed a military coup against him a month ago.

The deteriorations of relations between Ankara and Washington contrasted strongly with the Turkish-Russian rapprochement, which Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin sealed in St. Petersburg on Aug.8. Since then, there have been calls for the Russian Air Force to be allowed to displace the US warplanes at Incirlik. This process has now begun."

Yes, that's right, "Holy atomic pile, Batman!"

Back in 2012 Obama declared Erdogan to be one of his five best overseas friends in 2012. Care to reconsider your bullshit selection of buddies, Barry?


Friday, August 19, 2016

Paul Krugman, "Obamacare Hits a Bump": How About Falls Into a Sinkhole?



In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Obamacare Hits a Bump," Paul Krugman begins:

"More than two and a half years have gone by since the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, went fully into effect. Most of the news about health reform since then has been good, defying the dire predictions of right-wing doomsayers. But this week has brought some genuine bad news: The giant insurer Aetna announced that it would be pulling out of many of the 'exchanges,' the special insurance markets the law established."

Whoa, Aetna is the only bad news? As reported by Javier E. David in an August 6, 2016 CNBC article entitled "Obamacare users in New York brace for double-digit 2017 premium hikes":

"Come 2017, thousands of New York's Obamacare users will wake up to double-digit premium hikes, the latest group of consumers affected by Affordable Care Act cost increases as insurers hemorrhage money from healthcare exchanges.

In a statement on Friday announcing 2017 premiums, NY's Department of Financial Services (DFS) said after weighing insurer requests, the state settled on an average hike of 16.6 percent for individual exchange users in the state, while small group users will see a lower average increase of over 8 percent."

This comes on the heels of a July 19, 2016 Los Angeles Times article entitled "California Obamacare rates to rise 13% in 2017, more than three times the increase of last two years" by Melody Petersen and Noam N. Levey.

Problems only in New York and California? I don't think so. As we are told by Sally C. Pipes and Thomas W. Smith in an August 17, 2016 CNBC piece entitled "Aetna's Obamacare pullout means the 'insurance death spiral' has arrived":

"Insurers that haven't pulled out of Obamacare are requesting premium hikes averaging 24 percent next year. And some states have it far worse. Many Georgians could see a hike of 65 percent. The 600,000 Texans enrolled in Blue Cross Blue Shield may face a 59 percent premium increase."

Krugman goes on to say in his opinion piece:

"This doesn’t mean that the reform is about to collapse. But some real problems are cropping up. They’re problems that would be relatively easy to fix in a normal political system, one in which parties can compromise to make government work. But they won’t get resolved if we elect a clueless president (although he’d turn to terrific people, the best people, for advice, believe me. Not.). And they’ll be difficult to resolve even with a knowledgeable, competent president if she faces scorched-earth opposition from a hostile Congress."

Ah yes, a "knowledgeable" and "competent" Hillary, who has suddenly decided that the Clinton Foundation will no longer accept foreign and corporate donations if she is elected president.

Got it: It was okay for the Clinton Foundation to receive foreign and corporate donations while she was secretary of state, and it is okay for the Clinton Foundation to receive donations while she is a candidate for president, but these donations will no longer be accepted after January 20, 2017.

Or stated otherwise, if foreign governments and corporations wish to influence the executive branch of America's government after Hillary's election, they had best make their donations NOW.

Disgusting.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Paul Krugman, "Wisdom, Courage and the Economy": Honesty Is the Best Policy



In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Wisdom, Courage and the Economy," Paul Krugman concludes (my emphasis in red):

"When conservatives promise fantastic growth if we give them another chance at Bushonomics, one main reason is that they don’t want to admit how much they would have to cut popular programs to pay for their tax cuts. When centrists urge us to look away from questions of distribution and fairness and focus on growth instead, all too often they’re basically running away from the real issues that divide us politically.

So it’s actually quite brave to say: 'Here are the things I want to do, and here is how I’ll pay for them. Sorry, some of you will have to pay higher taxes.' Wouldn’t it be great if that kind of policy honesty became the norm?"

Heck, wouldn't it be great if any semblance of honesty became the norm?

This in a Washington Post editorial today entitled "A porous ethical wall between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department" (again, my emphasis in red):

"Should Ms. Clinton win in November, she will bring to the Oval Office a web of connections and potential conflicts of interest, developed over decades in private, public and, in the case of her family’s philanthropic work, quasi-public activities. As secretary, she pledged to keep her official world and her family’s foundation separate, and she failed to keep them separate enough. Such sloppiness would not be acceptable in the White House."

"Sloppiness"? Heck, Hillary's "extreme carelessness" involving her home server, which placed US national security at risk, should have been enough to preclude her candidacy.

Mention of the Clinton Foundation or Hillary's home server in Krugman's op-ed of today's date? Fat chance of that coming from a partisan extremist omniscient progressive who wrote in an 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 trillion dollar platinum coin proposal, which even Jon Stewart labeled a "stupid f#cking idea."

Shakespeare wrote in "All's Well that Ends Well," "No legacy is so rich as honesty." Ah, but that was so long ago.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Maureen Dowd, "The Perfect G.O.P. Nominee": Unleashing Hell on Syria



In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Perfect G.O.P. Nominee," Maureen Dowd would have us know that Republicans need not be upset by the splintering of Donald Trump's candidacy, given that Hillary Clinton embodies all that is dear to them. Dowd writes (my emphasis in red) :

"SPEAKING of crazy …

All these woebegone Republicans whining that they can’t rally behind their flawed candidate is crazy. The G.O.P. angst, the gnashing and wailing and searching for last-minute substitutes and exit strategies, is getting old.

They already have a 1-percenter who will be totally fine in the Oval Office, someone they can trust to help Wall Street, boost the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, cuddle with hedge funds, secure the trade deals beloved by corporate America, seek guidance from Henry Kissinger and hawk it up — unleashing hell on Syria and heaven knows where else.

The Republicans have their candidate: It’s Hillary."

I find this reference to Syria irrelevant. You see, Barack Obama, the first invertebrate ever to inhabit the Oval Office, established a "red line" for Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad back in August 2012:

"We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.

. . . .

We have communicated in no uncertain terms with every player in the region that that’s a red line for us and that there would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons. That would change my calculations significantly."

Well, more than 400,000 dead and almost 12 million refugees later, Obama still refuses to make good on that red line. In fact, just this past week, Assad dropped chlorine gas on Syrian civilians in Aleppo, and Obama did - you guessed it - nothing.

Bottom line, I wouldn't worry too much about Hillary unleashing hell on Syria. Given Obama's inaction, there's not too much left of that country.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Paul Krugman, "Pieces of Silver": How About Pieces of Something Else?



Interviewed by Fox News's Sandra Smith, Charles Krauthammer had this to say concerning the burgeoning scandal involving the Clinton Foundation's ties to the State Department:

"We know that even within that small sample [of emails obtained by Judicial Watch], there were at least two examples of self-dealing between the Clinton Foundation, which is a sort of a machine for siphoning money from rich, foreign, sometimes unsavory sources into an organization whose one purpose is to create a network self-funded for Clinton cronies and hangers-onners, the administration in waiting, and that it was dealing, getting favors, for the people who are contributing to it from the State Department. Now, that is so obviously, it may not be illegal, you may not be able to prove a quid pro quo, but this sort of use of the Foundation and then working with the State Department, whether it was Hillary personally or not, does not matter, to get favors is a form of corruption at the least."

Ouch.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Pieces of Silver," Paul Krugman doesn't dare mention the Clinton Foundation. Rather, he speculates as to why Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell continue to support Trump. Krugman begins:

"By now, it’s obvious to everyone with open eyes that Donald Trump is an ignorant, wildly dishonest, erratic, immature, bullying egomaniac. On the other hand, he’s a terrible person. But despite some high-profile defections, most senior figures in the Republican Party — very much including Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, and Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader — are still supporting him, threats of violence and all. Why?

One answer is that these were never men and women of principle. I know that many in the news media are still determined to portray Mr. Ryan, in particular, as an honest man serious about policy, but his actual policy proposals have always been transparent con jobs.

Another answer is that in an era of intense partisanship, the greatest risk facing many Republican politicians isn’t that of losing in the general election, it’s that of losing to an extremist primary challenger. This makes them afraid to cross Mr. Trump, whose ugliness channels the true feelings of the party’s base."

Krugman proceeds to proffer yet another possible reason for the support of Ryan and McConnell: The Republican Party is all about preserving tax benefits, both income and estate, for the rich. Krugman's conclusion:

"For the fact is that right now, when it matters, they have decided that lower tax rates on the rich are sufficient payment for betraying American ideals and putting the republic as we know it in danger."

Okay, Paul, I agree that Trump could turn the entire planet into a nuclear wasteland, but in terms of catering to the rich, including foreign nationals, is what Hillary did with the Clinton Foundation any better than Republican pandering to the wealthy elite? I don't think so.

Pieces of silver? How about pieces of something else - both of them.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Gail Collins, "You Choose or You Lose": You Lose Either Way



Have a look at Gail Collins's latest New York Times op-ed entitled "You Choose or You Lose," which is bereft of even a modicum of objectivity. Our little Candy Crush Saga devotee informs us:

"Faced with a choice between a guy who could compromise national security and a woman who wants universal early childhood education, the former chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee [Senator Susan Collins] claimed to be at a loss for an answer."

Well, as you all know, I believe that Trump potentially threatens the existence of life on this planet. On the other hand, Collins might have wanted to note Hillary's use of a home server through which classified material passed and which actually compromised national security.

Collins goes on to say:

"Right now we live in a world that’s been messed up by the bad decisions George W. Bush made about invading Iraq."

Heck, all this while, I thought Hillary supported Bush's Iraq mess.

And then there's that new matter involving the Clinton Foundation's ties to the State Department, i.e. influence peddling.

Yup, it's going to require a cast-iron stomach to enter an American voting booth this November.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

New York Times Editorial, "Further Into the Muck With Mr. Trump": Donald AND Hillary Drag America Into the Mud



In an editorial entitled "Further Into the Muck With Mr. Trump," The New York Times declares:

"Three months from the presidential election, and one day after his running mate promised 'specific policy proposals for how we rebuild this country at home and abroad,' Americans find themselves asking whether Donald Trump has called for the assassination of Hillary Clinton.

On Tuesday at a rally in North Carolina, Mr. Trump falsely charged, as he has before, that 'Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the Second Amendment.' Then he added: 'If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.'"

The editorial concludes that "The time has come for Republicans ... to repudiate Mr. Trump once and for all."

Agreed. Trump suffers from a severe personality disorder, cannot control his impulses, and could threaten the planet with destruction. This latest outburst concerning Hillary transcends every imaginable red line.

But what about the stench emanating from Hillary's State Department? Just a few hours ago we learned from a Wall Street Journal article entitled "Newly Released Emails Highlight Clinton Foundation’s Ties to State Department" by Rebecca Ballhaus:

"A conservative watchdog group on Tuesday released 296 pages of emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s personal server, including many exchanges that weren’t handed over to the government as part of the Democratic nominee’s archive.

The new emails, released by the group Judicial Watch, offer fresh examples of how top Clinton Foundation officials sought access to the State Department during Mrs. Clinton’s tenure."

And in a New York Times article entitled "Emails Renew Questions About Clinton Foundation and State Dept. Overlap," Eric Lichtblau writes of these emails just obtained by Judicial Watch:

"The documents raised new questions about whether the charitable foundation worked to reward its donors with access and influence at the State Department, a charge that Mrs. Clinton has faced in the past and has always denied.

In one email exchange, for instance, an executive at the Clinton Foundation in 2009 sought to put a billionaire donor in touch with the United States ambassador to Lebanon because of the donor’s interests there.

In another email, the foundation appeared to push aides to Mrs. Clinton to help find a job for a foundation associate. Her aides indicated that the department was working on the request."

Yes, this is what's called influence peddling, and Hillary is also unfit to serve as president of the United States.

If Hillary is elected, will this latest Clinton scandal blend into the choking miasma of her other transgressions, or, like a ball and chain, might it prevent her from effectively undertaking the job of commander in chief?

Both Donald and Hillary should step aside for the benefit of their fellow citizens, but it's not about their fellow citizens. It never was, it never will be. It's all about them, i.e. their vanity and self-absorption, and they are both more than willing to drag America into the mud as part and parcel of their personal pursuits of glory.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Hillel and Freud, Hillary and Donald



"If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?"

- Hillel

I suppose there's not much chance of either Donald or Hillary taking these words to heart.

Who are Donald and Hillary? Have a look at their recent Freudian slips - Donald saying "titties" instead of "cities," Hillary referring to Donald as her husband, and Hillary declaring to rapturous applause "I’m telling you right now, we’re going to write fairer rules for the middle class and we are going to raise taxes on the middle class!”

Charming.

Freud would have a field day with both of these "people," if you can call them such.



Monday, August 8, 2016

Paul Krugman, "Time to Borrow": Living on Borrowed Time



Just in case you were wondering, I was unable to attend Obama's 55th birthday party owing to a bout of nausea, which came on after I learned that Barry had funded Iranian terror with a planeload of $400 million in Swiss francs, euros and assorted other currencies.

Onward and upward ... not.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Time to Borrow," Paul Krugman says of Hillary:

"The campaign still has three ugly months to go, but the odds — 83 percent odds, according to the New York Times’s model — are that it will end with the election of a sane, sensible president."

Someone who thinks she came under sniper fire in Bosnia is sane and sensible? Someone perpetuating a "marital" relationship with Bill, a serial lech, is sane and sensible? A four-Pinocchio compulsive liar is sane and sensible? Yes, I know, it's all relative ...

But Paul's opinion piece is not about Hillary. Rather, he is again demanding that the US take more debt upon itself:

"[I]nvesting more in infrastructure would clearly make us richer. Meanwhile, the federal government can borrow at incredibly low interest rates: 10-year, inflation-protected bonds yielded just 0.09 percent on Friday.

Put these two facts together — big needs for public investment, and very low interest rates — and it suggests not just that we should be borrowing to invest, but that this investment might well pay for itself even in purely fiscal terms. How so? Spending more now would mean a bigger economy later, which would mean more tax revenue. This additional revenue would probably be larger than any rise in future interest payments."

Fascinating. But now consider what the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office wrote in its July 2016 Long-Term Budget Outlook:

"If current laws governing taxes and spending did not change, the United States would face steadily increasing federal budget deficits and debt over the next 30 years, according to projections by the Congressional Budget Office. Federal debt held by the public, which was equal to 39 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) at the end of fiscal year 2008, has already risen to 75 percent of GDP in the wake of a financial crisis and a recession. In CBO’s projections, that debt rises to 86 percent of GDP in 2026 and to 141 percent in 2046—exceeding the historical peak of 106 percent that occurred just after World War II. The prospect of such large debt poses substantial risks for the nation and presents policymakers with significant challenges.

. . . .

A large and continuously growing federal debt would make a fiscal crisis in the United States more likely. Specifically, investors might become less willing to finance the government’s borrowing unless they were compensated with high interest rates. As a result, interest rates on federal debt would abruptly become higher than the rates of return on other assets, dramatically increasing the cost of future government borrowing. In addition, that increase would reduce the market value of outstanding government bonds. If that happened, investors would lose money. The potential losses for mutual funds, pension funds, insurance companies, banks, and other holders of government debt might be large enough to cause some financial institutions to fail, creating a fiscal crisis.

. . . .

If a fiscal crisis occurred in the United States, policymakers would have only limited—and unattractive—options for responding. The government would need to undertake some combination of three approaches: restructure the debt (that is, seek to modify the contractual terms of existing obligations), use monetary policy to raise inflation above expectations, and adopt large and abrupt spending cuts and tax increases."

Or stated otherwise, notwithstanding Krugman's "what me worry" attitude, the US is living on borrowed time.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Maureen Dowd, "Crazy About the Presidency": Should Obama Be Impeached for Funding Terror?



One week ago, in a New York Times op-ed entitled "Thanks, Obama," Maureen Dowd compared the idealistic Senator Barack Obama of 2008 with the president Barry has ultimately become. As stated on Dowd's columnist page, this opinion piece described how "The Audacity of Hope has downshifted to the Banality of Practicality.

Well not quite, unless you consider the funding of terrorism "banal."

What could prove a colossal scandal has recently arisen concerning a cash payment of $400 million to free four American prisoners held by Iran. Obama is claiming this was not a ransom payment (Hillary is calling it "old news"); however, Iran is claiming otherwise. Moreover, the prisoners were not freed by Iran until the unmarked plane with the cash landed in Tehran. As explained by Claudia Rosett in a PJ Media opinion piece entitled "The Mendacity Behind Obama's Mockery of the Cash-for-Iran Story":

"For a government, such as Iran's regime -- world's leading state sponsor of terrorism -- cash lends itself less to financing national infrastructure (the use to which the administration suggests it has likely been put) than to funding terrorists and pursuing illicit weapons. Whatever Iran's regime might be doing in the way of sewer and road repair, its demonstrated priorities include its continued testing of ballistic missiles, in violation of UN sanctions. The prime use of ballistic missiles is to carry nuclear warheads -- which suggests that Iran's likely intent is, at a moment of its choosing, to scrap Obama's vaunted Iran nuclear deal (on which Iran is already cheating). As far as that entails buying weapons and technology from, say, nuclear-testing North Korea, or procuring illicit inputs on world markets, hard cash is a big help.

Obama's justification for sending the $400 million installment in cash is that the U.S., due to its strict sanctions on Iran, has no banking relationship with the country -- thus the air-freighted pallets of banknotes. Except that doesn't add up. Writing in The Wall Street Journal, former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey asks: 'How come the U.S. did not simply transfer the $400 million we are told actually belonged to Iran to a foreign entity, to be converted into foreign funds for conventional banking transmission to Tehran?'"

Yes, this is the "stuff" that could make for an impeachment hearing, notwithstanding the fact that Obama has only five more months to go in the Oval Office.

Today, in a Times op-ed entitled "Crazy About the Presidency," Dowd, at her best, pokes fun at Trump. I won't spoil it for you, but let's see if Donald continues to answer her phone calls.

No mention, however, by Dowd of Obama's $400 million ransom payment to Khamenei. Let's see if any of the Times's columnists are willing to touch this hot potato.

And then there is still the matter of CIA "consultant" Robert Levinson, who was left to rot in Iran by Obama. But heck, The Washington Post doesn't seem to care about someone who is not one of their own, as evidenced by the fact that Martin Baron and friends are no longer hounding Barry as they did regarding Jason Rezaian. Yup, out of sight out of mind.

Michael J. Morell, "I Ran the C.I.A. Now I’m Endorsing Hillary Clinton.": She Curses Like One of the Boys!



In a despicable August 5, 2016 guest New York Times op-ed entitled "I Ran the C.I.A. Now I’m Endorsing Hillary Clinton.," former acting CIA director Michael J. Morell warmly endorses Hillary Clinton, while trashing Trump. Morell writes of Trump

"Donald J. Trump is not only unqualified for the job, but he may well pose a threat to our national security."

Agreed. Trump is insufficiently stable to serve as president and presents a danger to humanity across the face of the planet. But unreservedly endorse Hillary? Morrell provides the following rationale:

"Mrs. Clinton was an early advocate of the raid that brought Bin Laden to justice, in opposition to some of her most important colleagues on the National Security Council. During the early debates about how we should respond to the Syrian civil war, she was a strong proponent of a more aggressive approach, one that might have prevented the Islamic State from gaining a foothold in Syria.

I never saw her bring politics into the Situation Room. In fact, I saw the opposite. When some wanted to delay the Bin Laden raid by one day because the White House Correspondents Dinner might be disrupted, she said, 'Screw the White House Correspondents Dinner.'"

Wow! Hillary is one tough cookie! She actually cusses like one of the boys!

But heck, if Morell were to come to me and recommend a course of action, i.e. vote for Hillary, citing only the "good" without the "bad," I would fire him on the spot.

Hey, Michael, care to tell us a bit more about Hillary's support of the Second Gulf War?

Or how about the disastrous undeclared 2011 war against Libya's Muammar Gaddafi that she foisted upon Obama. (I am ignoring her conduct during the subsequent Benghazi debacle, which was in many ways was a direct consequence of  the chaos she fomented.)

Or her direct involvement in the unsigned nuclear deal with Iran, whose details, e.g. the add-on agreement allowing Iran to begin building nuclear weapons with a decade and the $400 million cash ransom payment for American hostages, continue to leak out.

Or her willingness to compromise American security by establishing an unsecured basement home server for her emails while secretary of state. According to Patrick Howley in a June 2, 2016 Breitbart exclusive article entitled "Hillary Clinton Posted Names of Hidden Intelligence Officials On Her Email":

"Numerous names cited in Clinton’s emails have been redacted in State Department email releases with the classification code 'B3 CIA PERS/ORG,' a highly specialized classification that means the information, if released, would violate the Central Intelligence Act of 1949."

Endorse Hillary without mentioning any of the above? Shame on you, Michael.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Charles Krauthammer, "Donald Trump and the fitness threshold": What Happens If Trump Quits?



As noted today by Charles Krauthammer in a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Donald Trump and the fitness threshold":

"This is beyond narcissism. I used to think Trump was an 11-year-old, an undeveloped schoolyard bully. I was off by about 10 years. His needs are more primitive, an infantile hunger for approval and praise, a craving that can never be satisfied. He lives in a cocoon of solipsism where the world outside himself has value — indeed exists — only insofar as it sustains and inflates him."

Agreed, which brings me to my query: If three months from today, Trump senses that he is going to be slaughtered in November, might he quit the race, claiming that the election is rigged? Can you imagine what this loss would do to his "cocoon of solipsism"?

And if Trump quits, my understanding is that the RNC will be forced to reconvene their national convention to nominate a new candidate.

Wishful thinking? Perhaps not. Donald is capable of anything, and the RNC - as well as Hillary and friends - had best be ready.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Obama's $400M Ransom Payment to Iran: Was It in Unmarked Bills?



Much controversy has erupted in the aftermath of a Wall Street Journal article entitled "U.S. Sent Cash to Iran as Americans Were Freed " by Jay Solomon and Carol E. Lee, in which we learned:

"The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran, according to U.S. and European officials and congressional staff briefed on the operation afterward.

Wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies were flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane, according to these officials. The U.S. procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland, they said."

I have only one question to ask Obama and his lackeys:


WAS THE PAYMENT IN UNMARKED BILLS THAT COULD BE FUNNELED TO TERROR ORGANIZATIONS WITHOUT A TRACE?


Thank you in advance for your kind reply.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Thomas Friedman, "How Clinton Could Knock Trump Out": How a Pathological Liar Could Lay to Rest the Crown Prince of Narcissists



"Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute."

- Robert Goodloe Harper, 1798

"Thank you, Vladimir, may I have another?"

- President Barack Obama, 2016

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "How Clinton Could Knock Trump Out," Thomas Friedman tells us:

"There are a lot of center-right, business Republicans today feeling orphaned by Trump. They can’t vote for him — but a lot of them still claim they can’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary, either. Clinton should be reaching out to them with a real pro-growth, start-up, deregulation, entrepreneurship agenda and give them a positive reason to vote for her."

A scintillating thought were it not for the fact that Hillary already went on record as saying:

"And don't let anybody, don’t let anybody tell you, that, you know, it's corporations and businesses that create jobs."

Go back to sleep, Tom.

In other news, we have The Washington Post telling us today in an editorial entitled "Stop trusting Putin on Syria":

"Time and again, the secretary has declared that Russia must deliver or suffer consequences, such as a U.S. 'Plan B' for Syria. Each time, Moscow has disregarded the jawboning — and Mr. Kerry has responded not with consequences but with new appeals for cooperation and more U.S. concessions. On Monday, he said, 'We will see in the course of the next hours, few days, whether or not that dynamic' with Russia 'can be changed.' But then, he spoke nearly the same words six months ago."

Meanwhile, in a Wall Street Journal article entitled "U.S. Sent Cash to Iran as Americans Were Freed " by Jay Solomon and Carol E. Lee, we learn:

"The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran, according to U.S. and European officials and congressional staff briefed on the operation afterward.

Wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies were flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane, according to these officials. The U.S. procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland, they said."

According to the article, US officials are claiming this wasn't a ransom payment. Yeah, right.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Ruth Margalit, "How Benjamin Netanyahu Is Crushing Israel’s Free Press": The New York Times's Ongoing War Against Israel



Maybe you missed it ...

In a loathsome July 30, 2016 guest New York Times op-ed entitled "How Benjamin Netanyahu Is Crushing Israel’s Free Press," Ruth Margalit, an Israeli living in the United States, would have us know:

"Efforts to stifle freedom of the press can be seen as part of a broader attack by Mr. Netanyahu and his ministers on Israel’s democratic institutions, including the Supreme Court and nongovernmental organizations. Dissent from the official government line is consistently called into suspicion. In this climate, the news media has become a personal battleground for Mr. Netanyahu. Nahum Barnea, a pre-eminent Israeli columnist, said last year that Mr. Netanyahu’s 'obsession' with the news media showed him to be 'gripped by fear and paranoia.'"

Evidence of this stifling of freedom of the press? Margalit says it can be found in "the outsize influence of Israel Hayom ('Israel Today'), a free daily newspaper owned by the American casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and widely believed to promote the views of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu." Oh my goodness, Israel allows a free newspaper, owned by Adelson and supportive of Netanyahu, to be disseminated! Publication of this popular newspaper should be banned immediately ... not!

I am no fan of Netanyahu, and I don't read Israel Hayom, but I'll be damned if publication and dissemination of Israel Hayom or any other newspaper should be halted. This would be an attack on freedom of the press.

In response to Margalit's op-ed, David Keyes, Netanyahu's spokesman, retorted yesterday:

"Ms. Margalit’s attack obscures the real story: A longstanding media monopoly in Israel with one-sided views seeks to shut out alternative voices by stifling market competition that would give choices to viewers and readers.

The introduction of the newspaper Israel Today broke this enduring monopoly in the print media and gave Israelis the same choice that readers have in other democracies."

But in fact, Keye's letter misses the real point, to which he, owing perhaps to the proximity of an arms deal with the US, cannot refer: How dare darling Ruth complain of the stifling of the Israeli press when back in the US, from where she is writing, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes recently acknowledged that the Obama administration built an "echo chamber" within the media to sell the unsigned nuclear deal with Iran. And Margalit finds fault with Netanyahu?

You might also want to have a look at a Tablet article entitled "Sorry, ‘New York Times,’ But Israel’s Press Is Doing Just Fine" by Liel Leibovitz. Providing hard facts evidencing the left-leaning tendencies of Israel's media, Leibovitz concludes:

"Did you hear the one about the Middle Eastern country that really cracked down on its freedom of the press? Not Turkey, where 42 journalists were arrested last week in the latest assault on the tenets of democracy; I’m talking, of course, about Israel, the subject of yet another grim opinion piece this weekend in The New York Times.

. . . .

It’s sad to see a reporter [Margalit] who should’ve known better abandon any attempt at insight or nuance and turn instead to the Times for the most banal sort of affirmation, and it’s sad to see the Times continue to publish such drivel without attempting any real depth or understanding. Nevermind, and godspeed: Keep your opinion pages, which, like your opinions, are but sound and fury, signifying absolutely nothing."

"Sad to see"? How about sickening?

Monday, August 1, 2016

Paul Krugman, "Worthy of Our Contempt": The "Real Hillary"



Okay, I agree with Paul Krugman in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Worthy of Our Contempt," that rational Republicans, or rational voters of any "denomination," should not be supporting Trump. His election could indeed lead to "irretrievable disaster." On the other hand, Krugman also uses this opportunity to suck up to Hillary:

"[W]hile we won’t know about a Clinton presidency until or unless it happens, I find much to admire in the real Hillary, who is nothing like the caricature."

Ah yes, the "real Hillary." Perhaps Krugman would care to inform us with whom she has been sharing her bed for the past decade? Bill, who repeatedly flew on the Lolita Express? I don't think so.

And while he's at it, perhaps Krugman would care to explain his admiration for the foundation established by Hillary, which has been roping in donations of millions of dollars from some of world's most oppressive regimes, including some that subjugate women.

And maybe Krugman would care to justify how Hillary lied to the parents of the victims of the Benghazi attack, claiming it was all on account of the video.

And then there was that basement home server, evidencing her desire to hide her correspondence at the expense of national security. (The Washington Post yesterday gave her four Pinocchios for telling Chris Wallace that "Director Comey said my answers were truthful, and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people, that there were decisions discussed and made to classify retroactively certain of the emails.")

Or maybe he simply admires how Hillary always backed her "husband" to the hilt, notwithstanding charges of rape.

Sorry, Paul, both candidates stink.