Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A few tips for a successful Hillary Clinton campaign.

Here are a few things for Hillary Clinton to keep in mind to guarantee a successful presidential campaign:

 1. Clinton needs to distance herself as far from president Obama and Nancy Pelosi as humanly possible.  Getting too close to either of them would require a political HazMat suit. It's best to stay away.  Say thanks but no  thanks to offers of campaign appearances. Though both will give endorsements they will  mean nothing.  And should be accepted  like a birthday kiss on the cheek from an aunt you think is weird and needs a shower and you hope goes home early.

Pelosi it should be remembered, was, in 2008, one of the engineers behind one of the most rigged and underhanded and dishonest Democratic presidential primaries since the politics of Boss Tweed. She along with other DNC officials tried to disenfranchise 1,600,000 Democratic voters in Florida and Michgan, two states where Clinton had beaten Obama by landslide numbers.  Pelosi consistently lied about the role of super delegates to try and give Obama an edge, famously said Obama was ready to be president from day one and eventually sold out congressional Democrats , herself and the American people by capitulating to Obama's sell out of health care by dropping the public option which she at one time said was the "centerpiece" of healthcare reform and which eventually  led to Democrats getting wiped out of the House in 2010.

The Democrats are in serious need of a major house cleaning and the party is currently in shambles, much like the way Republicans were after 8 years of George W. Bush, the result of having to defend a duplicitous, unqualified and failed president who has probably told more outright lies and reneged on or did an about face on more promises than any politician in history.

2.  Ignore so called "progressive" support groups like Daily Kos, MoveOn, and ThinkProgress.  These groups have become Tea Party Left  but without the influence the Tea Party had on Republicans.    These groups support outcomes on domestic issues that are  traditional Democratic goals and worth achieving, especially economically,  but are willing to lie, distort and fabricate in support of an agenda  as much as the right wing Tea Party does, when its not necessary to lie.  And their foreign policy positions are and have been a disaster and usually based on ignorance since they are against anything that might be construed as actually standing up to a dangerous adversary.  It's one thing to have been against the war in Vietnam in 1968 and to have been right. It's another to think its still 1968.

As an example  MoveOn currently portrays Democrats skeptical of the Iran framework deal which is already falling apart, as " Pro War Democrats".  This in spite of the fact that Iran's take on the deal is the opposite of what Obama said it was. Clinton doesn't need to be associated with that kind of stupidity.

These groups take foreign policy positions that have no intelligent basis or facts to support them and seem to be willing to play Russian Roulette with a nuclear Iran.  These are the same  groups who rolled over and played dead for Obama while he sold out and undercut every domestic Democratic goal or promise and like the Tea Party on the right, they frame everything in partisan terms. If Republicans offered free puppies to everyone they'd accuse Republicans of running puppy mills.  They put all the onus of congressional skepticism  on the Iran deal on Republicans while most Democrats are just as skeptical. So Clinton will always run the risk of  being put in an embarrassing position if she is seen to publicly align with them to closely. 

While some of these groups boast multi-million member email lists, most people on the lists aren't influenced. When MoveOn circulated a petition for Obama to renege on his pledge of a military strike against Assad if  he used chemical weapons,  less than 2% signed the petition while 98% didn't.  And while Obama did finally decide to put his integrity to a congressional vote, (his integrity lost), MoveOn tried to claim it was their petition that stopped the missile strike against Assad's military (which in the end would have saved thousands of lives so if MoveOn wants to they can take credit for thousands of additional dead Syrian civilians).

Most importantly these groups cannot influence an election. They fell flat on their faces trying to defeat Rahm  Emanuel in the mayoral race in Chicago after calling him every name in the book including being a sell out of Democratic principles and in the pockets of corporate interests while conveniently ignoring the fact that this underhanded corporate sellout was Obama's choice to be his chief of staff  for four years  and  probably had a lot to do with Obama's selling out health care reform to corporate interests and Wall Street reform to the bankers.  Everything these groups had to say about Emanuel they could've said about Obama four years ago but were too partisan and dishonest to do. So they are not only without influence, they can be accused of hypocrisy.  Clinton should  deal with them using the Crazy Aunt strategy. 

3.  Keep the national news media at arms length and don't overestimate their influence or underestimate their lack of influence.

This doesn't mean shut them out or not be accessible. That is impossible and besides, wouldn't look good.  But it does mean don't be afraid to throw some of their nonsensical and juvenile questions back in their faces or hoist them on their own petard. Most of the American people have little to no respect for them and they have little or no influence on anyone's opinion. They usually have their own agenda which is generally about  trying to impress their friends. Which, based on cable news ratings are about the only people they are impressing.

The days of Walter Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley, John Chancelor and Frank Reynolds are long gone. More recently,  Dianne Sawyer is gone too. CNN and MSNBC's ratings start with a zero and there aren't any Fox News viewers who can win an election for Hillary nor would she need them, though if the Republicans don't field a credible  enough candidate to oppose her (Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio  not among them)  there are enough conservatives who praised her when she was in the senate ( John Mc Cain and Peter King of New York to name two) along with a liberal independent like Sen. Bernie Sanders, to put together a rare coalition.

But how to deal with the news media who are still smarting from the way Bill gave them enough rope to hang themselves and look stupid on Whitewater  will be Hillary's biggest challenge. Treating them with thinly veiled contempt when its deserved is not a bad strategy since most Americans have contempt for them to begin with. Remember, not one of them, not one, has the courage to stand on their own on anything. They run in herds like mindless water buffalo and will only attack in groups and if they feel it's safe. Stand up to them when they're being stupid,  and make any one of them look ignorant and they'll all back down and look for something else to hunt. 

A recent case in point: the so called email "scandal".

Since the email nonsense became an issue the State Department and White House email servers have both been hacked and her server wasn't. So to anyone who wants to make a security issue out of her use of her own email server, it looks like a pretty good decision now since her server was more secure than the State Department's or that of the White House.  She can always joke that given the hacking, if she is elected president she will bring in the same people who maintain her email system to do the same for the White House and State Department.

Case in point #2:  News media opinion. 

In discussing the Clinton announcement Peter Beinart on CNN said that Clinton must run on a continuation of Obama's policies otherwise she will seem " inauthentic". You will have to go pretty far and wide to find a political assessment as blatantly stupid and out of touch with reality as this one.  Of every point Beinart made, the precise opposite is true.

Obama sold out health care reform to the big corporate health insurance companies by dropping the public option, sold out Wall Street reform to the big banks, touted Yemen as one of his big foreign policy successes before it collapsed into chaos, called Isis the "junior varsity", rejected Clinton's advice and the advice of 3 secretaries of defense who all quit over Obama's refusal to take the same advice of arming the moderate Syrian rebels to stop Isis in their tracks before they got bigger,  was rolled by Putin in Crimea and eastern Ukraine and so far is looking foolish on the Iran negotiations since Iran is now saying everything Obama claimed is part of the deal isn't part of the deal which Obama said "was not a surprise",  but yet had no trouble getting  into a war of words with Netanyahu. Add to that the economic recovery is tepid, the ACLU has called Obama's  record  on civil liberties "disgusting" , even sycophants like MoveOn accuse Obama of offering cuts in Social Security to Republicans, and a continuation of all of Obama's inauthentic policies is something  only a lunatic would do.

Clinton distancing herself from that kind of record is not just common sense,it's vital.   The only thing that would be "inauthentic" to use Breinart's word, would be to pretend Obama was a success and some kind of  strong leader that the country wants more of  in the name of partisan politics when everyone, including Democrats,  knows he isn't. In fact, there is more buyers remorse among those who had supported Obama than with any Democratic politician in history. 

The only authentic thing for Clinton to do is what she's already done to an extent when she pointed out in her book the rift between her and Obama on Isis and arming the Syrian rebels and that Obama's credo of "don't do stupid stuff" was, in Clinton's words, not an organizing principle. 

As long as Hillary doesn't take anything the news media says seriously, remembers their bias, dishonesty and ineptitude in 2008, and acknowledges Obama's failures by promising to fix what needs fixing, she will be authentic. Anything else would be inauthentic. So in all cases ignore any and all opinion coming from the news media and their ignoring good vs bad policy wanting instead to focus on personality and rifts.

Republicans are already trying to portray Clinton as a continuation of Obama's failed polices. Rejecting those policies which in every case has  led to failure, and putting real distance between her and Obama is not just easy, it's credible. Clinton can point to disagreements with Obama when she was secretary of state and make clear she will improve on or change policies both foreign and domestic she disagrees with and thinks needs changing.

But Clinton needs to realize what she is dealing with when it comes to the news media.  They are not her friends.  Clinton had not even made her announcement when Brianna Keilar on CNN was already criticizing "the Clinton campaign"  even though there was no campaign yet. Clinton's announcement was still hours away but it wasn't too early to start bashing with CNN running a banner that read "Clinton  campaign grinds to a start" which would be an uncharacteristically clever line for CNN  if it were true. It wasn't.

Which leads back  to the best strategy in dealing with the news media:  Crazy Aunt works  here too.

Limit accessibility to national media  which has no influence anyway, while doubling the number of interviews given to small town and local news outlets in both TV and print. Local news outlets are apt to have more integrity than the national media, and less likely to be trying to impress their friends  by asking stupid questions.

If the  national media complains about the emphasis on local media over national,  accuse them of elitism. Cable news' influence with voters is zero and their reach is small.

According to Nielsen ratings,  on a day last July, Wolf Blitzer's flagship Situation Room on CNN between 5 -6 p.m. had a national audience of 28,000.  That  would be considered a disappointing and lousy crowd at Yankee Stadium much less a national cable news network who, like other news media,  will try and cover her presidential campaign by playing their own game.  But to sparse crowds and empty seats. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Is Iran nuclear framework deal O-Bomb-A-Care?

A pattern has emerged in the nuclear talks with Iran and it's the same pattern we've seen with Obama on every issue, every policy,and every negotiation of his presidency - Obama willing to make unnecessary concessions so he can say he made a deal.

He's been doing it with Iran just as he did with the health insurance companies during the debate on health care when he agreed to drop, not a bomb, but the public option in a major concession to the health insurance industry whose actions and behavior, like Iran's, was the heart of the problem. In making those concessions to the health insurance lobby Obama all but ruined health care reform which has been a well documented failure at everything health care reform was supposed to do despite White House fabrications to the contrary. Which is why more than once Howard Dean, former chair of the DNC called Obamacare "junk". 

Similarly the framework agreement Obama is touting with Iran is also junk, not much more than nuclear O-Bomb-A-Care which is why the Iranians, like the health insurance industry executives before them, were celebrating right after  the announcement. 

The comparisons to health care reform are not far fetched.  As with Iran and the sanctions that are crippling Iran's economy, Obama held all the cards with healthcare reform. Obama had  the biggest congressional majority  of any party in 60 years and could have passed anything he wanted. There was overwhelming support for the promised public option both in the congress and in the  country.  And it was the best policy for everyone. Except  for the private health insurance lobby who leaned heavily on Obama and pressured him to cave in and drop the public option.Which, after months of promoting the public option, he did.

The problem with the Iran framework as announced is that it reeks of the same kinds of unnecessary concessions Obama made on health care reform, Wall Street reform and every other policy he tries to call a success (Yemen anyone?)  that was junk to begin with and doesn't come close to solving the problem its supposed to solve . 

One big difference in the negotiations is that Iran is taking the long view of any deal with regard to its nuclear capability while its well documented that Obama's vision for the future never goes beyond what he wants or needs at the moment and what he can claim now with no regard for the future or it's consequences. 

This is how, during the 2008 Democratic primaries, he repeatedly pledged to use only public money if he was the nominee as part of his promise to reform Washington and keep big money out of politics, then as soon as he was nominated, dumped the pledge and raised $450 million against John McCain's $88 million who did promise to use only public money and stuck to his promise. 

It's also how Obama repeatedly  promised the public option then dumped it, drew a red line over the use of chemical weapons in Syria and dumped it, said he supported a single Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel and dumped that position too as soon as the Palestinians took offense.  And a lot more. So Obama's history has shown over and over again that what he says means nothing and nothing he says can be trusted.And  even Democrats are coming around to that realization on the Iran framework with Democratic senator Chuck Schumer  joining other Democrats along with Republicans by saying any deal with Iran has to be approved by congress.

These are the main points of the framework and why a closer inspection reveals it's not what Obama says it is but more O-Bomb -A- Care than a solution to the problem that Iran poses.  

1. The US had insisted on unfettered inspections any time any place anywhere to insure that Iran, who has been caught lying and cheating before, this time can't.  In the past Iran has said no. And there is no indication that is going to change.  They will accept inspections but not as unfettered as that. For example in the past they reneged on an agreement for inspections by denying access to a military facility the IAEA suspected of nuclear research . Iran said military sites were off limits and not part of the deal, only nuclear sites. So Iran could covertly do the research to develop a bomb at a military facility and claim it's off limits making the inspections worthless.

2. The U.S. wanted to ship Iran's stockpile of already enriched uranium out of the country , to Russia. Iran said no. Obama's compromise? " Iran's current stockpile of enriched uranium will be neutralized".  What does "neutralized"  mean?  Obama doesn't say. Because Obama doesn't know.  In fact Obama has no idea. If he did he would have said so. It's to be "negotiated". But all you have to know for now is Iran is happy. 

3. The heavy water reactor. Iran gets to keep its heavy water reactor. Why? You only need a heavy water reactor to enrich uranium or plutonium to weapons grade. Nothing else. So why do they get to keep it? Forget the claim that its to be  used for other purposes. The Israelis and the Saudis wanted it dismantled.  Instead Obama is telling Iran, if you like your heavy water reactor you can keep your heavy water reactor.

4. Last but not least, the sanctions. The sanctions are why Iran is negotiating in the first place. The sanctions have crippled their economy. Iran wants the sanctions lifted now and claims their nuclear program is peaceful. Yet it's Obama and Kerry who are always walking on egg shells, afraid it's Iran who will walk away from the negotiations  if they get their feathers ruffled. Which tells Iran Obama wants the deal more than they do which hardens their position. 

Iran initially celebrated  the framework because they claimed the deal called for all the sanctions to be lifted immediately as soon as the deal is signed. Kerry now says that's not true , that the framework calls for sanctions to be lifted gradually as Iran proves its living up to their agreements. Iran has already said before that would be unacceptable. Based on this little misunderstanding that seemed to whiz by Obama as he was touting how good the deal is, there really is no deal. And no framework.  Unless Obama caves in on sanctions.  And congress, knowing Obama's history is already making clear they will prevent Obama from doing that. 

When senator Tom Harkin, a staunch supporter of the public option was asked after the health care vote what he thought of Obamacare without the public option  he said,  "Well,  it's better than nothing".

That won't fly with O-Bomb-A-Care. An Iran nuclear deal that is "better than nothing" is not better than nothing. 

So when you see the leaders of Iran including their Supreme Leader at first praising the framework much like health insurance industry executives celebrated after Obama dropped the public option that saw health insurance stocks skyrocket,  you can bet that Iran thinks it's going to get a deal that is nuclear  O-Bomb-A-Care, a deal that gives those at the heart of the problem everything  they want while giving very little  in return, that does nothing to solve the real problems and still leaves those most vulnerable unprotected. And likely to blow up in everyone's face.

ADDENDUM: 4/9/2015.

It didn't take long. A little more than 24 hours after this was initially written Iran announced in a public statement that unless all the sanctions are lifted all at once , immediately upon signing the framework deal, there is no deal. In their words they are insisting on an immediate "full and complete" lifting of all sanctions as soon as the deal is signed.

The Ayatollah statement read: " The White House put out a statement just a few hours after our negotiators finished their talks. This statement which they called a fact sheet was wrong on most of the issues".

Which makes Obama's initial statement look like buffoonery, Netanyahu's harsh criticism of the deal as understood by Iran even more valid and makes Obama and those who tried to support the deal like Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein who wished Netanyahu would " contain himself" until the deal was done look even more incompetent.

ADDENDUM#2: 4/11/2015

As speculated here when this was first published three days ago, Iran's military and political leaders issued statements today to add to their statement on sanctions,  that military facilities will be off limits to any nuclear inspections.  Which makes inspections as a condition worthless. Which means the framework deal that Obama touted and warned congress not to interfere with was non-existent to begin with. And all the face to face talking was nonsense.  Or has completely unraveled. Or was never raveled in the first place, making Obama again look foolish. 

In response and no doubt much to the chagrin of Tea Party Left groups like Daily Kos who on a daily basis has been supporting the nonsense that is the  Iran non-deal and calling Democrats who were skeptical " pro war Democrats", Secretary of Defense Carter put out a statement in response to those from Iran  that the U.S. has bunker busting bombs that can take out Iran's nuclear facilities no matter how deep underground they are and that using those bombs is not off the table. A clear bit of saber rattling by Obama . Which to Daily Kos and other  similar groups like MoveOn   must now make Obama a pro war Democrat also. Though they'll never say it. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Memo to Indiana: This is the religious freedom you don't have. And never did.

Here is a Constitutional news flash for governor Mike Pence, the Indiana state legislature about their new religious freedom law:

First amendment religious freedom gives someone the right to worship any way you wish.  And believe anything they wish. And express that belief any way you wish . In their personal lives. Not their public or business life .  That's the religious freedom everyone has. And that's all the religious freedom people have.  

Though no one is making a case that the Indiana religious freedom law violates the constitution , the first amendment states:" congress shall make no law with respect to the establishment of religion nor the free exercise thereof". 

Federal law always trumps state law so that any law passed by a state legislature that would establish religion it use religion  as a means to favor or discriminate against anyone is unconstitutional. 

Though the constitution guarantees that no law can be passed that prevents the free exercise of religion that isn't the case with the Indiana law. The first amendment still prohibits any law that allows the exercise  of a religious belief that interferes with the rights of anyone else.  What the Indiana law really says us that gays and lesbians have no rights . Which is why Indiana  is refusing to fix the law by guaranteeing equal rights protections to gays  and lesbians.  Which they already have but apparently not in Indiana. 

In medieval Europe the Christian church which was the most powerful,  and their religious beliefs and  dictums were the justifcation for burning people alive at the stake, most of them women. They also used the force of the power of religious law along with their influence over military power to commit what can only be called atrocities against anyone who rejected  those beliefs in favor of their own. 

Puritans in early America hanged women as witches based on religious beliefs . 

All that ended in America with the U.S. Constitution. 

The so called " religious freedom" law in Indiana justifying the right of any business to refuse to serve anyone who's lifestyle or beliefs offends them based on their own  religious beliefs is not just unconstitutional, though it's not being challenged on those grounds, it's a thinly veiled attempt to impose a statement of moral ideas  on those who don't share them, dont believe them, have no scientific basis, and want nothing to do with them. 

Which is how the KKK used  their religious beliefs against African Americans and anyone else who were outside their ideas of racial purity and claimed religion as their justification. 

And how the Catholic church created and fostered anti-semitism from the days of the emperor Constantine into the 20th century because of the refusal of Jews to accept the church and their teachings, many of which tried to impose tyrannical power over the individual as Thomas Jefferson pointed out in  many of his letters which led to his campaign for the  separation of church and state in America . 

Indiana's law states in part that no law can be passed or enforced that would place "an undue burden" on a person's religious beliefs and that any business owner has the right to refuse service to anyone if doing so offends those beliefs. 

 The U.S. constitution says the opposite -- that no law can be passed based on religion that can put any burden undue or otherwise,  on anyone else for any reason in the exercise of their rights. 

Aside from the fact that Indiana, it's legislature and governor are now being mocked  around the country for a clearly discriminatory law, from a strictly  business point of view its already been a disaster . And unless it's significantly changed, all that's going to be left of Indiana's law is the bad taste it leaves in everyone else's mouth about Indiana.  And it could carry that stigma for a long time to come.  Though they could always hire a gay PR agent to try and change it.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Obama's empty threats to Israel.

Following Netanyahu's election, news outlets like CNN are "reporting" that in a conversation with Netanyahu Obama "warned" that in light of Netanyahu's pre-election statement disavowing a Palestinian state, that Obama would have to "reassess" the U.S. relationship with Israel.

This of course carries as much weight as anything else Obama has ever had to say on anything which as history has shown, is nothing.

The reason the word "reporting" is in quotes is that the content of a private conversation between world leaders only gets "reported" when the White House wants it to and uses the news media like a PR arm. Its for public consumption and is designed to make Obama look tough which as the world has seen in the past is the equivalent of Obama putting his face in the hole of a fun photo He-Man cut out at a mid west state fair. 

Obama in reality is reassessing nothing because there is nothing to reassess. Obama's statement is supposed to make Netanyahu nervous but it's as empty as anything else Obama has ever proclaimed and won't be taken seriously now. Netanyahu cares about one thing -- security and nothing is going to change that. And that includes dismissing another calculated "leak" to the press that Obama is "considering" supporting a UN resolution that supports a two state solution based on pre 1967 borders. Which puts Obama's face back into the photo op  cardboard cut out since, given what happened when the Israelis pulled out of Gaza in 2005, is not now going to be a consideration. 

What has to be remembered is that Obama has no credibility in the middle east and hasn't since before his first election. It was Obama himself who poisoned the well and destroyed his credibilty and  any possibility that he would be able to be perceived as an honest broker between the Israelis and Palestinians in any peace negotiations.   And he managed to do that before he was even elected. And he did it to try and get votes. 

It was in June 2008 when candidate Obama,  aware that Florida could be a swing state in the presidential election and mindful of Florida's substantial Jewish population, gave a speech to AIPAC designed to appeal to that vote that in the end destroyed his credibility forever in the mid east.

Following his usual pattern of saying whatever he thinks he needs to say at any time to anyone to  get what he wants he told the 7,000 Jews attending the conference that he supported a single unified undivided Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel.

This gave him what he was looking for -- a standing ovation from the 7,000 American Jews in attendance.

But it also showed that not only was Obama not qualifed to be president,  he was careless, reckless, shallow, and had no grasp of the seriousness of the job he was pursuing. Or what would be expected of him in peace negotiations  if he were elected president. None of that mattered at the time. Getting  votes did. 

For decades the final status of Jerusalem was to be the last issue considered in peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. That's why it was called "final status". The reason was obvious. It was the single most contentious issue in the negotiations, more so  than the right of return which is still a non-starter for the Israelis. 

It was always believed by U.S. negotiators that if a deal could be reached on everything else, the sides would be more willing to find a compromise on Jerusalem rather than see everything else go down the drain over that one issue.

Obama's statement while embraced by Israel and American Jews, blew that idea and his own credibility out of the water for the Palestinians.  At the time it essentially yanked the rug out from under their feet before a single negotiation took place under the auspices of a soon to be elected president Obama. At one time, under the arm twisting of Bill Clinton,  Ehud Barak had offered Arafat half of East Jerusalem as the capitol of a Palestinain state in order to finalize a peace deal, something no Israeli prime minister had done before or since.  Arafat rejected it demanding all of East Jerusalem and launched the Infitada,a series of terrorist attacks that killed hundreds of Israelis. Which is why the Palestinians instead of having their own state have been in the state they're in.  It is not likely any Israeli prime minister will ever offer part of East Jerusalem again but that was still no reason for a presidential candidate to issue a public statement that put an end to Palestinian hopes on Jerusalem or took away a negotiating position.

Within 24 hours of candidate Obama's statement which was treated like the shot heard round the middle east, the Palestinians and other Arab leaders attacked  Obama angrily and relentlessly.

Which led to what has become most typical of Obama and the one thing people can always count on the most. He reneged. 

Within 24 hours of his being attacked by the Palestinians, he did an about face and claimed the world misunderstood him, that they didn't fully comprehend the meaning of his words, that he didn't really mean he supported  a single undivided Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel but that what he really meant  by undivided was that he supported a "Jerusalem with no barbed wire."

The fact that there had been no barbed wire in Jerusalem since 1967 when it was taken by the Israelis in the 1967 war ( whose intent, on behalf of the Palestinians, was to wipe out Israel) Obama's attemp at backtracking was so lame and dishonest, it made " my dog ate my homework" sound believable. There isn't a 3rd grade substitute teacher anywhere who would've taken that explanation seriously from an 8 year old.

The Israeli response to Obama's reneging and his immediate about face  under pressure was also predictable. From that moment on, before he was even elected, Netanyahu would not trust Obama as far as he could throw a nuclear reactor. And the Palestinians didn't trust him either. And with Obama's history of backtracking and concessions on everything from healthcare reform and other domestic policy to his foreign policy failures, from red lines over Assad's use of chemical weapons to the current collapse in Yemen, it  only  re-enforced Netanyahu having no faith in anything that Obama says not the least of which would be his ability to negotiate an effective nuclear deal with Iran.

 In short, as he has proved over and over again, Obama's word on anything is worthless. Whether it's "considering" sending arms to Ukraine, or "reassessing" U.S.-Israeli relations. 

But ironically it could be said that his June 2008 speech and subsequent about face did manage to unite the Israelis and Palestinians on one issue -- their mutual contempt and distrust of him. And its the single biggest reason why Obama has been the most ineffective of any U.S. president in dealing with the middle east peace process, why his relationship with Netanyahu is so strained and why Obama's current PR attempt with his threat to "reassess" the U.S. relationship with Israel  is taken as seriously as  Obama's other  statements (when Obama made his famous "red line" commitment to launch a missile strike against Assad if he used chemical weapons Obama added at the time, " and everyone knows I don't bluff").

According to a "report" in the New York Times, Obama has said he will not "waste his time" managing Israel-US relations and will leave that to Kerry. As if he ever managed them at all. Or had any influence on anyone.  Presumably that  also means Obama will instead continue to waste his and everyone else's time on everything else he has to deal with  whether it's more of his decisive and effective action in stopping  Putin in Ukraine, coming up with new words in dealing with Isis who he once called the "junior varsity", or currently overseeing the evacuation all U.S. personnel from Yemen, the country  he touted not long ago as one of his great anti-terrorism policy successes.

What does give a glimmer of hope is that Obama will no longer waste everyone's time dealing with U.S.- Israeli relations or the peace process as has been the case with everything else  for the previous six years and was the case during in his eleven years of elective office before running for president as a politician  who never had a single legislative accomplishment , even a minor one, in all those eleven years. And it continues to show.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Nancy Pelosi: an insult to everyone's intelligence.

Days before it was given some were calling Netanyahu's speech before congress on Iran and the nuclear talks, historical.  Five minutes after the speech Nancy Pelosi made comments that could accurately be called hysterical..

Pelosi called Netanyahu's speech on Iran which pointed out the obvious flaws in Obama's position and his lack of negotiating skills "an insult to the intelligence of the U.S." Which was itself insulting to the intelligence of everyone involved.

In attempting to act as a political flak  for Obama she ended up insulting the intelligence of everyone in the House chamber and everyone in the United States and around the world including the Saudis and Egyptians and anyone who had the temerity ( and good judgement) to disagree with her and agreed with Netanyahu or at the very least felt his position and concerns deserved to be heard. 

Pelosi  has embarrassed herself before on matters of policy but she embarrassed herself even more by thinking she had some gravitas or authority moral, political or intellectual,  to speak for the entire country and the congress.  What she did was display exactly the kind of partisan political knee jerk arrogance , intellectual dishonesty and stupidity that Netanyahu was there to warn against. 

Democrats and Democratic voters remember that  it was Pelosi who betrayed and sold out her own conscience, Democrats in the House and those who voted for Democrats in 2008 by supporting Obama's sell out and capitulation to the health insurance lobby on health care reform by agreeing to drop the public option which led the Democrats over a cliff in the 2010 elections because of the betrayal by both Obama and Pelosi on the promise of a public health care option, reneging on that promise even though Democrats had the votes to pass it.

Pelosi's embarrassing comments naturally ignored her own failures and Obama's well established lack of negotiating skills, his established lack of backbone and a history of selling out and caving in to an adversary whether it was the health insurance industry, Wall Street, Putin in Crimea and eastern Ukraine or backing down from his own red line with Assad over the use of chemical weapons. None of which has been lost on Netanyahu. 

Add Obama's horrendous judgement in refusing the advice of his former Secretary of State three years ago and 3 former Secretaries of Defense who all quit rather than carry out his policies of refusing to arm the moderate rebels in Syria to fight the fledgling Isis, instead writing them off as "the junior varsity" and you have one foreign policy disaster after another all of which could have been avoided with better and tougher and more principled decisions instead of Obama's bad judgement and decisions that made a bad problem a thousand times worse as both Isis , Syria and what Putin did in Crimea and eastern Ukraine proves. Again, none of which is lost on Netanyahu but which would have far more serious consequences with Iran having a nuclear weapon. In fact it could be reasonably said that after George W. Bush, Obama is the worst foreign policy and domestic policy president the country has had since Richard Nixon.

The White House also criticized Netanyahu's speech by saying Netanyahu didn't offer an alternative plan that in Obama's words, " I could see".   That Obama couldnt see it doesn't mean it wasn't there. If he could've seen it Netanyahu probably wouldn't have been there to make the speech in the first place.

Netanyahu actually did offer an alternative as he pointed out himself in response to Obama's remarks. In fact the "nothing new" comment from Obama and some anonymous White House flunky saying Netanyahu is all talk and no action ( this is what psychologists call projection)  sounded like something they had prepared before the speech was even given.

Netanyahu's alternative was increasing the sanctions on Iran not decreasing them,  until they were willing to give up any possibility of being able to make a nuclear bomb which meant,  in Netanyahu's  words, cutting off all paths to Iran being able to obtain a nuclear weapon. That included reducing their number of centrifuges,eliminating and dismantling their heavy water reactor which is only used to enrich uranium and plutonium to weapons grade  and to increase  the "break out" time for Iran to make a bomb if they decided to renege on the deal in the future. Netanyahu also wanted Iran's state sponsorship of terrorism to be part of the negotiation which it is not. All of that was new. Along with a mechanism to verify Iran's compliance with unfettered inspections to insure that a government who has been caught lying in the past , this time can't.

So it's no wonder Obama didn't see it as anything new. Because Netanyahu's alternative would actually mean getting tough with Iran and drawing a real red line that Iran cannot cross or suffer more and tougher sanctions. That was the alternative plan Netanyahu offered that Obama couldn't see, instead of the dog chasing its tail negotiations going on in Geneva where it's Obama and Kerry who are constantly afraid Iran will walk away if it gets its feathers ruffled when it should be exactly the opposite.

As for Pelosi she is the last person in the world who can criticize anyone about being "condescending". Right now the U.S. has 50 million people who cant afford healthcare coverage but who would have had it under the public option.  Which doesn't stop Pelosi from trying to tell them how affordable the health insurance they cant afford really is. Which  makes Pelosi the most condescending figure since Marie Antoinette. 

The Democratic party has been in a shambles because of the lack of leadership of both Pelosi and Obama, and with a March 24 deadline for the Iran talks approaching Netanyahu clearly wanted to shine a light and might help prevent Obama from selling a bad deal.

While Pelosi's comments were designed to politically protect Obama from criticism,  Netanyahu's speech was designed to protect Israel and the United States and the rest of the world from an Iranian nuclear bomb. That is the real insult by Pelosi to everyone who knows there is no alternative to preventing Iran from having a nuclear weapon.

Pelosi's politically motivated attempts to defend Obama's track record of failures which have already cost tens of thousands of lives in Syria and thousands of lives in Ukraine, and insisting Obama should just be trusted and  given the benefit of the doubt is not just an  insult to everyone's intelligence, it's farcical. And if Democrats have any hopes of winning in the future they need to realize it before the 2016 elections.  For Netanyahu, he can't afford to wait that long.

ADDENDUM: To highlight the true absurdity and weakness of the U.S. position in the Iran negotiations, almost making Netanyahu's point in warning against a bad deal, nothing could be more telling than what John Kerry said about the negotiations on Saturday, March 7. In expressing a united front  with the UK in the negotiations Kerry said, " We know what we are chasing and we are chasing after the same thing."

If Obama or Kerry knew how to negotiate it would be Iran, who wants all the sanctions lifted, who would be doing the chasing. Not the U.S. Which is why the talks will either fail or will result in Obama and Kerry trying to sell a bad and dangerous deal.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Netanyahu's speech: trying to prevent nuclear Obamacare with Iran and a bomb.

A lot has been written about Netanyahu's speech to congress with the emphasis on the superficiality of things like breaches in protocol,  mostly by some Democrats who see the speech as an afront to Obama as opposed to what is really is and what it was intended to be -- an affront to Obama's policy. 

The comparison to Obamacare is not politics nor has it anything to do with Republican attempts to overturn it. First and foremost it was a betrayal of Democrats and their voters and in pulling what amounted to a bait and switch by dropping the public option in an unnecessary capitulation to health insurance companies,  Obamacare became the most egregious sell out of a government policy to a special interest group -- the health insurance lobby -- in American   history. Netanyahu is trying to prevent the same result with a bad deal with Iran. Which it seems some Democrats still don't understand. Instead a few Democrats, roused by the White House decided to make an issue out of which side of the plate the salad fork really belongs. 

 You would have thought after getting wiped out in two elections for the same reasons --supporting or defending Obama's failures and his betrayals  of Democratic ideals and his promises reneged on over critical policies like healthcare with Obama caving in to the health insurance industry, Democrats would have learned a valuable lesson in what happens when you support failure for partisan reasons. Obviously they haven't and seem intent on doing what they do best politically -- shoot themselves in the foot especially in compromising their own principles to support Obama.

The reason for Netanyahu's speech is simply about one thing: Obama from the very beginning has proved he can't be trusted on anything much less a deal with Iran to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon.  And Netanyahu knows what too many Democrats still won't admit -- that if Obama couldn't stand up to the health insurance industry, if he couldn't stand up to Wall Street, if he couldn't stand up to the threat of Isis calling them " the junior varsity" after refusing the advice of his former Secretary of State and three Secretaries of Defense to arm the moderate Syrian rebels to stop the threat and spread of Isis, if he wouldn't stand up to Putin in Crimea and won't stand up to Putin now  in eastern Ukraine, if he backed off his threat against Assad over the use of chemical weapons, why would Netanyahu or anyone else trust him to stand up to the Iranians and come away with anything more than a tepid, cosmetic, ineffective deal in order to claim success just like the ineffective cosmetic cave in on healthcare reform known as Obamacare?

A nuclear Obamacare with the Iranians is not something Netanyahu, nor most in congress are going to buy even if they do at Tea Party Left places like Daily Kos and ThinkProgress.

Hasn't anyone noticed that it's always Obama and Kerry who are afraid Iran will walk away from negotiations if they get their feathers ruffled? What kind of negotiating from a position of strength is that? Why isn't it the Iranians who are afraid the U.S.  will walk away? They're the ones who want all the sanctions lifted that are strangling their economy. 

Some in the news media like CNN are trying to put the best White House  face on Netanyahu's speech on behalf of the White House by trying to peddle the nonsense that it could hurt U.S. Israeli relations  and that the speech could backfire, calling the 34 Democrats who won't attend the speech (out of 535 members of congress) a "major backlash against Netanyahu" . But no one that matters takes that seriously. Nor their contention that it is somehow hurting U.S. -Israeli relations. It isn't. It only magnifies the strained relations between Netanyahu and Obama which goes back to June 2008 and got subsequently worse which the news media either out of their usual incompetence or cowardice over reporting anything that could jeopardize their White House  "access",  ignores.

The distrust of Obama by Netanyahu began when Obama ruined any chance to broker a mid east peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians  after  a speech he made to AIPAC  in June 2008 when he proved he was not only no statesman or even cared about accomplishing anything other than getting elected, but that  he was willing to say anything to anyone at anytime to get what he wanted politically regardless of consequences. Consequences that have affected his entire presidency when it comes to the middle east. And Netanyahu knows that too. 

It was in June 2008 that Obama made a speech in front of AIPAC  whose clear and obvious purpose was to appeal to the Jewish vote anticipating the need for Florida's electoral votes in the upcoming 2008 presidential election and Florida's substantial Jewish population. In that speech Obama sent shockwaves through the middle east when he said that he "supported a unified single Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel". Obviously so does Netanyahu and most Jews and Israelis, except that for decades U.S. negotiators had gotten both sides to agree to put that most contentious issue, the final status of Jerusalem, the last issue on the agenda in the hopes that if agreements could be made on everything else the two sides would be more likely to try and find some compromise  rather than see everything go out the window over Jerusalem. 

Obama's  politically self serving statement calculated to get the hoped for Florida Jewish vote took Jerusalem off the negotiating table and yanked the rug out from under the Palestinians feet  and while he was rewarded  in the moment with a standing ovation by the 7000 Jews at the conference, the reaction of the Palestinians and most Arab countries around the world was predictable. They went berserk.  They called Obama's reckless and politically self serving public statement biased and that he could never be trusted by the Palestinians or the Arab world. 

Obama's response was to do what he has done his whole political career and throughout his entire presidency in the face of the slightest adversity -- he immediately reneged on his original statement of committment and reversed himself  trying to claim everyone misunderstood him (kind of like " I never campaigned for a public option") . Sounding more like the ingratiating Eddie Haskell from the old Leave it to Beaver series than a presidential candidate, he tried to claim that what he meant by supporting a single unified Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel was "a Jerusalem with no barbed wire". That's what he said. Even though everyone knew there hadn't been any barbed wire partitioning  Jerusalem since 1967.

Now it was the Israelis turn to be infuriated and they were. And it proved to both sides that Obama couldn't be trusted and that his word on anything was worthless. It's the single biggest reason why he has been the most ineffective president in history in dealing with Israeli-Palestinian issues and why there has been nothing but deep distrust by Israel and the Palestinians, even more so by the Palestinians as bad as Obama's relationship with Netanyahu is. And it's that justified and fundamental distrust that gets carried over into any negotiating  Obama does with Iran. 

None of this gets pointed out by the mainstream news media either because of stupidity, fear of angering the White House and jeopardizing their "access"  or just  plain incompetence.  In an interview on CNN's State of the Union Dana Bash asked a former Israeli ambassador why the relationship between Netanyahu and Obama was so bad from the very beginning. It was like the speech Obama made in June 2008 and his reversals never took place.

Obama destroyed his crediblity with both the Israelis and Palestinians and not only was his original statement,even if he believed it (though there is no archeological record that Obama has ever actually ever believed in anything) reckless and irresponsible for someone who one day might have to be seen as an objective and honest broker,  it proved to both sides his word couldn't be trusted.  And it  not only  put the entire middle east peace process on hold for his entire presidency but the result is Netanyahu doesn't trust him as far as he can throw a nuclear reactor. 

All that  Obama accomplished with the Israelis and Palestinians  was to unite both sides in their mutual contempt for him. So it should come as no surprise that Netanyahu, on an issue as vital to Israel's security as a nuclear Iran, something vital to U.S. interests as well and the entire world given that Iran is the world's largest source of state sponsored terrorism,  isn't going to trust Obama to negotiate anything real given Obama's history and his track record of weakness and failure and making bad decisions and a bad   problem worse ( see Isis, Syria, Ukraine).

To underscore the disconnect by the White House , John Kerry actually said on Sunday that the Obama administration's diplomatic record "entitles it to the benefit of the doubt" in the negotiations with Iran. He actually said that. As if the previous six years of Obama's presidency and it's failures never happened. 

For those interested in reality, Obama is entitled to the benefit of the probability of failure and making a bad deal rather than no deal just to claim he accomplished something. Like the 32 million he said got health insurance under Obamacare who don't exist. Or the 10 million he claimed got health insurance who didn't have health insurance before . Who also don't exist. This isn't mixing metaphors . It's what Obama's track record shows he is. And what  he's willing to say or do and why he can't be trusted. 

Just as Obamacare concessions to the health insurance industry completely failed to fix the two main problems healthcare reform was supposed to fix -- getting healthcare coverage for the 50 million Americans who don't have it and lowering the obscenely high cost of healthcare for those who do -- there is concern that any deal negotiated by Obama won't solve the real problem -- to prevent Iran from enriching uranium or plutonium to the 20% needed to make a  nuclear weapon. It's not complicated. It's simple. 

Kerry's comments has to make Netanyahu more certain than ever that deciding to give the speech to congress was the right thing to do. Especially given Kerry's most recent comment that one of the major "sticking points" is the percentage  of Uranium that Iran will have the right to enrich. This isn't a "sticking point".  This is the whole point. 

Iran says they only want to enrich uranium for medical and energy purposes. Uranium only needs to be enriched 1.5% for medical isotopes and 5% for fuel. It needs to be enriched 20% to make a nuclear bomb. There should be no "sticking point " as to the percentages. And no need for a heavy water reactor which so far Iran refuses to give up but is only needed to enrich uranium to 20%. 

Pointing this out  is what Democrats boycotting the speech are protesting and instead seem to be supporting what Netanyahu and many in congress  in both parties are trying to prevent --  a bad deal that  Obama calls  a good one and that left to Obama's judgement alone could end up as a nuclear Obamacare. Which is to say hazardous to a lot of people's health. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The debacle in Debaltseve: more death and destruction and the debacle of Obama policy in Ukraine.

The heart of the on going conflict between Russian backed rebels, Ukraine and the U.S. and Europe  is this:  hot air from Obama, Merkle and Hollande against the super heated air from Putin's missiles, tanks and heavy artillery as the above image from Debaltseve showing Russian Grad missiles proves. Guess who's been winning? And a recent poll shows the Russian people give Putin an 86% approval rating. The sanctions are working, huh. 

The fake cease fire negotiated in Minsk which Obama had hoped would let him off the hook without having to do anything meaningful, didn't simply fall apart, it never was in the first place. It was as much a failure as Obama's policies of sanctions to stop Putin. And the failure of his policies in general in microcosm since they are all based on the same approach. 

Separtist rebels using Grad missilies, tanks, heavy artillery and troops sent by Putin never stopped firing on the town of Debaltseve even after the cease fire was supposed to take effect  and eventually rebels took the railway hub driving outgunned Ukrainian troops from the town. Ironically the battle after the cease fire  was the single bloodiest battle in the entire 10 month war.

Five days after the rebel capture of Debaltseve, the rebel offensive has   continued  against the strategic city of Mariupol and the village of  Kurakhovo . And Russian tanks and troops were seen as late as Friday,  continuing to cross the border into Ukraine to bolster the separatists 5 days after Moscow agreed to a cease fire in a conflict they claim they are not party to. 

It's clear Putin knows he has Obama and the West on their heels and back pedaling and is pressing for as much territory as Obama will allow which if history is any example would probably include Brooklyn except Putin would face a lot tougher opposition in Brooklyn than he would face with Obama.

Putin hasnt just been laughing in Obama's face for year  he keeps spitting in it. And Obama's response has been for the most part,  "does anybody have a tissue"? The best the Obama administration seems to be able to do in the face of Putin's military offensive even after a cease fire is Kerry calling it  " a land grab" and "completely unacceptable". Not just "unacceptable" mind you, but to show just how tough Obama is it's "completely unacceptable" which is more diplomatic-speak for 
" does anyone have a tissue"?

 Its become obvious to everyone that Putin's cease fire proposal had one aim -- to allow the rebels to take more Ukrainian territory by force and essentially say, " what are you going to do about it"? The U.S. and European answer  so far  has been "Nothing".

What was put out for domestic consumption is that Obama is "considering" sending defensive weapons to Ukraine. He could have just as easily used the word "fiddling over". 

The result is the  "stupid stuff " Obama continues to do based on  his organizing principle exposed by Hillary Clinton of " don't stupid stuff" . Which is why Netanyahu is concerned about Iran. 

It was Obama who oversaw and practically directed the surrender of Crimea to Russia because was afraid of a confrontation with Putin. Putin knew it and kept taking what he wanted. It was Obama who told the interim government in Kiev at the time  " don't do anything to provoke Putin" after Outin put 40,000 troops on the Russian -Ukraine border. Which led to the morale deflating images of the Ukrainian military surrendering to Russian backed rebels in Crimea . And gave Putin the go ahead to take more. Which he's been doing. 

 Obama's response to Putin's continued use of Russian weapons and troops to grab as much of Ukraine as he can has been " the sanctions are working" . This is the substitute for refusing to live up to the 1995 U.S.- Ukraine pact that guaranteed Ukraine's defense and sovereignty in return for giving up 2000 of their soviet made nuclear weapons. 

So Putin's Russian backed separatist forces, ignoring what everyone knew was a phony cease fire agreement in the first place, has continued to press the offensive to take even more of Ukraine's territory having no fear or concern over Obama's so far empty threat to send arms to Ukraine.

In something so laughable it sounded like a line from Dr. Strangelove, the Russians are also objecting to the presence of UN peace keepers to monitor the cease fire claiming that peace keeping would violate the terms of the cease fire. No response from the U.S. 

The debacle in Debaltseve and Ukraine in general is Obama's policies collapsing under the weight of his own weakness while he continues to look for ways to avoid standing up to Putin.  Which Putin knows and is what is really behind Obama's refusal to send much needed weapons to Ukraine. 

Obama and his advisors  still keep peddling the story that the sanctions are working. They are not working not even against Russian bus drivers, car salesman, office workers and cleaning ladies to whom they are targeted as Putin's 86% job approval rating shows . Obama has been attacking credit cards while the Putin backed rebels attack towns and cities killing thousands.

From the beginning Obama's response to Ukraine's request for weapons was to send them what a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine called " camping equipment". Obama's idea of " don't do stupid stuff". And the consequences are obvious. 

If Obama had any real decision making ability or grasp of effective policy he'd be sending arms to Ukraine right now. First as a message to Putin and the rebels that the party is over. And secondly, even if the cease fire manages to hold, the weapons Obama would send would be a deterrent to Putin  to start the war again by sending in more arms and troops. Facing equal military weapons against his own forces  is the only price Putin is not willing to pay since it would mean heavy Russian casualties and the destruction of military equipment. 

With the weapons they need and without Russian troops Ukraine would clearly defeat the rebels and were actually on the verge of doing so in Donetsk when Putin sent in reenforcents to stop it.

 If Ukraine had those weapons Kiev could demand that all territory taken by rebels after the cease fire be given back.  If not then armed with U.S. weapons Ukraine could go back on the offensive and retake the territory .

Instead  Obama, Hollande and Merkle offer the usual empty talk of appeasement characterized by false cliches like  "there is no military solution only a diplomatic one. "

When another country uses military force to take what doesn't belong to them, the only response is military. It's called national defense. 

 To say otherwise is appeasement. That voice was clearly evident when Merkle talked about the unacceptablity of Russia trying to take territory in eastern Ukraine that  "Ukraine considers  to be theirs" . Considers?  The way Germany considers that Berlin belongs  to Germany? Why is Merkle even suggesting that there is any controversy or real dispute over whose territory has been invaded and  is  being occupied by Russian forces in eastern Ukraine? 

The solution in Ukraine right now  has been and is a military one, which Obama and Merkle and Hollande are trying to avoid. The solution is to stand up to Putin arming the separatists who without Russia's troops and weapons would be militarily defeated. This is what makes Obama's excuse that giving the Ukrainian military weapons wouldnt do any good since  "they couldn't win a war with Russia".  Ukraine is at war with the rebels. There is no full scale war with Russia. And by saying Ukraine would lose a full scale war with Russia  is Obama signaling to Putin if he did launch a full scale war the U.S.  would do nothing? Maybe this is why Gdnerdl Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commader of NATO recently said the U.S. Is not doing enough to stand up to Putin. 

Ukraine does not have to defeat Russia. Putin would not officially invade Ukraine with Russian troops. Ukraine needs to defeat the rebels. So Obama's most recent rationale for not sending weapons is irrationale. 

One other false reason Obama gives for not sending weapons to Ukraine is that those weapons could fall into the hands of the rebels. Which shows there are people in the White House either not living on the planet earth or are so used to lying and getting away with it they will throw out anything they believe the news media will let them get away with which they almost always do.

The rebels don't  need American weapons. They are being supplied with all the tanks, heavy artillery and Grad missiles they want  by Russia. And it is both insulting and a lie to assume the Ukrainian  military would lose against the rebels when they were on the verge of defeating them even without U.S. weapons. 

It's the same argument Obama used against arming the moderate  Syrian rebels which led to the rise of Isis. 

While Obama and the West keep saying there is no military solution in Ukraine there is one person who thinks there is. Vladimir Putin. And until Obama and his so called advisors are ready to admit that and decide whether the U.S.  is going to stand up to it or be cowed by it and force Putin to back down Putin and the rebels will not stop.