Sunday, March 1, 2015

Netanyahu's speech: hoping to stop a nuclear Obamacare with Iran.

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 promises consistently reneged on, most notably on healthcare with Obama caving in to the health insurance industry and dropping the public option, Democrats would have learned a valuable lesson.  Obviously they haven't and they are about to do what Democrats seem to do best politically -- shoot themselves in the foot especially when it comes to compromising their 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, he wouldn't stand up to Putin in Crimea and won't stand up to Putin now  in 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 Kiss and Can'tThinkProgess.

Some in the news media like CNN are trying to put the best 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 usual cowardice over reporting anything that could jeopardize their "access",  ignores.

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

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 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 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,  as  the last issue on the agenda in the hopes that if agreements could be made on everything else the two sides would be less likely to throw everything out the window over Jerusalem and might be more willing to compromise. 

Obama's  politically self serving statement calculated to get the hoped for Florida Jewish vote  immediately took Jerusalem off the table 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.  And Obama's reckless and politically self serving public statement painted him as biased and not to be trusted by the Palestinians and the Arab world. And they  attacked  him for it. 

Obama's response was to do what he has done his whole political career and throughout his entire presidency -- he immediately reneged on his original statement and backtracked 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". 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 completely ineffective in dealing with Israeli-Palestinian issues and why there is 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 bad.

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  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 and not only was his original statement,even if he believed it (though there is no archeological record or paper trail that Obama has ever actually ever believed in anything) reckless and irresponsible, 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. And for good reason.

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,  won't trust Obama to negotiate anything real given Obama's history and his track record of failure and making a 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 they have been successful at anything. They are entitled to the benefit of the probability of failure and making a bad deal which would  have serious future consequences if left alone.

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.

This is what Democrats boycotting the speech are protesting and instead seem to be supporting what Netanyahu is 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.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Netanyahu: Fiddler On the White House Roof.

Israeli prime minister Netanyahu is scheduled to address members of congress in March on the invitation of House Speaker John Boehner and its turned into the usual partisan type of bickering and oneupmanship with some Democrats trying to defend the indefensible which is Obama's policies or lack of which sorry to say, got them thrown out of congress in two elections. But getting lost in the breach of protocol are the real issues involved which is the nuclear negotiations with Iran and trying to get a deal on eliminating their ability to produce a nuclear warhead, negotiations which, for those keeping score, have already failed once before. 

The deadline for a deal that a lot of people besides Netanyahu think is leading to a bad one, came and went and another of Obama's red lines was skipped over. The deadline was extended to the end of March and that has everything to do with the timing of Bohener's invitation and Netanyahu's acceptance, not the Israeli election. 

Netanyahu's acceptance of the visit ruffled feathers in the White House because Bohener invited Netanyahu without first consulting the White House which he didn't have to do but which has generally been the protocol.  But it should also be seen for what it is -- not just a political poke in the eye to Obama, but a signal as to what a lot of people in and out of congress already feel about Obama's policy towards Iran.

Netanyahu's visit is understandable. Its purpose is to make clear his opposition to a negotiation many in congress also aren't happy with, and its also based on one other factor. Netanyahu doesn't trust Obama or his word and for good reason: throughout his presidency Obama has never lived up to his word on anything and in the Middle East poisoned  the well as an honest broker in terms of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations before he was even elected, a little fact most in the news media ignore because to report it is to criticize everything that's gone predictably wrong about Obama's presidency whether its foreign or domestic policy. Because there is a pattern. 

Obama as always negotiates from a position of weakness. The same weakness that led him to advise the interim government in Kiev when Russia was trying to seize control of Crimea to " do nothing that will provoke Putin", essentially telling Kiev to surrender.  Which they did and which led not only to the illegal strong armed annexation of Crimea but the wider war in eastern Ukraine.

When a bipartisan group of senators wanted to pass a bill that did nothing more than tell  Iran that if there was no deal the sanctions that were lifted would be reimposed and more sanctions would be levied,  Obama opposed it and gave as a reason that such a bill  would cause Iran to walk away from the negotiations.

That is weakness. Why should Obama be afraid Iran will walk away if its in Iran's interest to make a deal and if they are telling the truth that they have no nuclear warhead ambitions?   On the surface it seems simple. The sanctions are there because of Iran's nuclear program which presently has the capacity for producing nuclear warheads. Iran says their desire is only to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. If so they should have no trouble agreeing to the dismantling of their heavy water reactors which have no other  purpose than to produce weapons grade uranium. Heavy water reactors are not needed to refine uranium to produce medical isotopes and other peaceful forms of energy which Iran claims is their only nuclear ambition. 

Why doesn't Obama take the position that it is in Iran's best interests to make a deal if they want to see the sanctions lifted, and make that deal on the West's terms not Iran's and based on Iran's own assertions?  It is  Iran that wants the U.S. sanctions  lifted. It is Iran that was caught lying before about their nuclear program. 

Yet it's been Obama who is afraid that if an additional sanctions bill passed, Iran would walk away when it is Iran who should be afraid the U.S. is prepared to walk away and sanctions reimposed. 

Netanyahu knows this. He also knows as almost all Democratic voters know who have been burned by Obama's reneging on promises before that Obama's word on anything is worthless and cant be trusted. This isn't rhetoric. It's  a well documented and provable fact that only the sycophants on the Tea Party Left web sites and some Democrats ignore. Kiev knows it only too well. So do civilians and the moderate rebels in Syria. So did voters who believed Obama and the Democrats would make good on their promise of a public health care option only to see  it dropped in an Obama concession to health insurance companies and the Obamacare substitute fall on its face. And concessions is exactly what concerns Netanyahu and most members of congress. 

Obama destroyed  his own credibility in the middle east before he was even elected. It was in June 2008, as  a candidate for president that Obama gave a speech in front of 7,000 Jews at AIPAC - the American Israeli Political Action Committee in Washington D.C. that forever destroyed any chance he had  as a force in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

The motive behind Obama's speech was political.  Florida was the most important swing state in the country and Democrats still had memories of hanging chads and a specious and contested 500 vote margin and Supreme Court interference  that gave the presidency to George W. Bush.

Florida figured to be a key state in the 2008 election. And Florida has a significant Jewish population. So Obama gave a speech at AIPAC attended by 7,000 Jews and in that speech made a significant announcement -- that  he supported a unified Jerusalem, one Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel. This is a universally shared view by Jews and supporters of Israel but a shocking statement from a presidential candidate who might one day have to be involved in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
But the statement had the immediate effect Obama intended - a standing ovation from the 7,000 Jews present and ostensibily from Jewish voters in Florida and around the country.

The statement revealed how  truly incompetent, politically motivated, self centered and unqualified  for the presidency Obama was and that his personal political priorities came first regardless of consequences. 

Jerusalem was and still is the most contentious issue regarding negotiations for a Palestinian state in any Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.  Every negotiator since negotiations began decades ago, had gotten both parties to agree to make the final status of Jerusalem the last thing on the agenda. It was always the hope of  U.S. negotiators that if they could get the two sides to agree on everything else, each side would be more likely to come to some change in position regarding Jerusalem rather than see everything else achieved go down the drain. 

Even if you do support a single unified Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel as it is now and reject  Palestinian demands that East Jersualem be their capitol,  if you are a principle in the negotiations and are supposed to be an honest and objective broker, you don't say it. Because its up to the parties to decide whats in their own best interests. Which is not to say Israel would ever agree to partion Jerusalem -- Ehud Barak had offered to partion part of East Jerusalem for the capitol of a Palestinian state in 2000 and Arafat rejected it and launched the Infitada. Its unlikely any Israeli prime minister will ever offer it again and the Palestinians will have to live with their decisions, something Arafat on his death bed said he regretted.

But Obama's public statement as a candidate took Jerusalem right off the table  in return for a five minute politically motivated standing ovation. And the Palestinian reaction was predictable. They went beserk.

Within 24 hours the entire Arab world issued statements condemning Obama for his statement about Jerusalem.

This time it was Obama who reacted predictably. He reneged and backtracked on his statement backing a unified Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel. Within 24 hours of the Palestinian backlash Obama put out a preposterous and  laughable statement that the whole world misunderstood him, that when he said he supported a single unified Jerusalem he meant "a Jerusalem with no barbed wire." No kidding. That's what he said. Despite the fact that there has been no barbed wire in Jerusalem since the Israelis' recaptured it in the  1967 war.

Obama's immediate reversal  naturally infuriated the Israelis who realized then that Obama's word on anything was worthless and he couldn't be trusted. And the Palestinians didn't trust him either.

If Obama accomplished anything with that speech it was to actually unify the Israelis and Palestinians in their mutual contempt for him. A contempt that continues to this day and is the single biggest reason Obama has been the most ineffective U.S. president in history in dealing with Israeli-Palestinians negotiations.

No one trusts him. And Netanyahu certainly doesn't trust him on Iran.  Obama's failure to arm moderate Syrian rebels which led to the rise of Isis and a crisis situation and his handling of Ukraine which led to the annexation of Crimea and all the death and destruction in eastern Ukraine that followed only re-enforces Netanyahu's lack of trust.

This is the context and backdrop of not just Israeli skepticism about any deal with Iran led by Obama, but also by most in the U.S. congress including many Democrats though because of  blind partisanship some Democrats feel the need to defend Obama and talk of boycotting Netanyahu's speech,  something as mindless in their defense of Obama as the far right's mindless attacks.

The tune Netanyahu is playing  is a simple one: Obama can't be trusted. And history proves it repeatedly.

In 1995 after the fall of the Soviet Union,  the U.S. signed a pact with Ukraine where we told Ukraine that if you give up your 2000 nuclear weapons we will guarantee your sovereignty and defense. Obama from the beginning has refused to honor that pact and commitment and has looked for any way out, something that wasn't exactly unnoticed by  Putin. Netanyahu sees that too. And knows no deal that Obama makes with Iran is going to be a good one. Or one that anyone could count on Obama to enforce.

The negotuations as they stand now are not going well for the U.S. Iran has been bragging recently that the sanctions have done nothing to deter their nuclear ambitions  (sound familiar?) They bragged that  they had 200 nuclear reactors before the sanctions and and now they have 20,000.   That sounds like a much bigger poke in Obama's eye than Netanyahu making a speech in front of congress. 

Iran is playing as if they are holding all the cards. And Obama is  playing the same way  and keeps talking about not doing anything that will upset them and cause them to walk away ( just like he told the interim government in Kiev not to do anything that might upset Putin while he was annexing Crimea).

This is why Netanyahu is going to give his speech despite Obama's displeasure, and the superficial pouting of some Democrats who say they won't attend.  And the tune Netanyahu will  be playing will be to convince members of congress, most of whom don't  really need convincing that it is Obama and his negotiations with Iran, who is  really doing the fiddling.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Obama position on Ukraine mostly fetal.

"We have a profound interest in promoting a core principle -- that large countries do not bully small countries". President Obama,January 23. 20015.

Given all the strife, killing and destruction initiated by Russia from their strong armed violent illegal annexation of Crimea to their invasion of eastern Ukraine with Russian tanks, missiles and thousands of Russian troops which has killed thousands and destroyed lives and Ukrainian cities and towns  in Putin's attempt to take over and absorb eastern Ukraine, and considering it's global implications, it is hard to imagine a more trite, trivial,  juvenile , immature and embarrassing  statement of foreign policy over a major crisis from a U. S. president. So much for soaring rhetoric. Which soars about as much as a paper plane. Which is about the same level of military aid Obama has sent to Ukraine. 

On Saturday rebel shells killed 30 more civilians including 2 children and the once modern airport in Donetsk is a shambles. Obama's response was that he"condemned the killing" once again reaching into the politicians handbook of trite, trivial,  meaningless political cliches which no doubt sent Putin into paroxysms of remorse.

To date Obama's offer of help to the Ukrainian government against Russian military aggression has been, in the words of a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, nothing more than"camping equipment". While Putin sends in tanks, troops, and anti-aircraft missiles, one of which shot down a civilian airliner over Ukraine killing 186, Obama counters by sending the Ukrainian military Meals Ready to Eat, no doubt to be used to throw at Russian tanks.

Obama's position on Ukraine as it was with Syria and arming the moderate rebels has been an embarrassment to U.S.  values and foreign policy, but more than that, has been spectacularly ineffective and led to catastrophe and the killing of thousands in Ukraine and tens of thousand more  in Syria as a result of ignoring the advice of his former Secretary of State and three Secretaries of Defense who all quit over his refusal to take what we now know was the best advice.

Since Putin's initial incursion into Crimea and the illegal annexation, Obama's position has been largely fetal. When separatists and rebels, many of them members of the Russian military and intelligence services, took over Crimea, beating, torturing and killing any who opposed them, Obama's specific direction to the interim Ukrainian government in Kiev at the time was to "avoid bloodshed at all costs"  ( something Putin and the rebels were not willing to do) and " do nothing to provoke Putin" who had massed 40,000 Russian troops on the Ukraine border to intimidate Obama. Which worked. This led to the images the world saw of the Ukrainian military surrendering without a fight. It was, in effect, Obama surrendering to Putin. With the ensuing consequences.

Obama's lack of will, moral conviction or resolve to stand up to Putin reached such lows during the annexation of Crimea,  that the usually sycophantic CNN actually did a segment on whether Putin had "bullied" Obama.

And this failure  to stand up to Putin not only led to the annexation of Crimea it has led to all the bloodshed and killing that followed, with Putin knowing there would be no consequences he would care about coming from the United States. That emboldened him further to step up his invasion of Ukraine in the east.

Obama has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of backbone to stand up to Putin and Putin knows it. Whether it was backing off his "Red Line" in Syria over chemical weapons under pressure from  Putin or backing down in Crimea and virtually instructing the interim government in Kiev to surrender,  Putin was willing to test Obama's lack of resolve in the east and in every instance saw Obama back down when and where it counted. 

Obama  continues to say that " sanctions are working" against Russia when everyone other than the average American journalist knows they are not.

The sanctions are having an effect on Russia's economy and hurting the average Russian citizen, but are having no affect on Putin who is not an average Russian citizen and who by the way is worth about $6 billion.  The sanctions are a complete failure in what they were intended to do --  stop Putin from sending Russian troops and military equipment to support the rebels in eastern Ukraine who without it would have been crushed by the Ukrainian military a long time ago. 

Instead  of countering and giving the Ukrainian military what it has repeatedly asked for and needed to stand up to the Russian aggression and support of the rebels, Obama has insisted  on following his own core principle as exposed by Hillary Clinton of " don't do stupid stuff".  Which has led Obama to doing nothing but stupid stuff. And leaves Obama continuing to waffle on what to do in Ukraine even though that has been clear for a long time with members of congress from both parties telling Obama what it is -- arm the Ukrainian military so they have what the means to do what Obama has so far been unable to do --  stand up to Putin and his policy of Russian military aggression in eastern Ukraine.

John Kerry's trip to Kiev and his speech was the language of appeasement and the defensive, underscoring Obama's posture. He said this was not a confrontation between East and West, that they were not looking for a confrontation with Russia that "no one is" and again making the same whiney statements about wanting a diplomatic solution, all the while as Putin sends in more tanks and troops than he has in the past and more people die and Putin gets bolder.  Kerry's announcement of $16 million in aid to the Ukrainian government, a pittance -- about what it costs the tax payers for Obama to fly to a plant in Dubuque and make false claims about the rebound of the econonmy (see the AP report on Obama's false statements and accounting tricks) --was offering the government of Ukraine a pacifier.

Kerry then gave a  speech in Kiev consisting of the words, " all we are asking of Russia ..".

Asking? After all this military aggression from  Putin and violating their own Minsk agreement, sending tanks, troops and other heavy weapons into Ukraine, Obama is asking?  Kerry then went on to ask that Russia withdraw heavy weapons, withdraw troops, stop aiding the rebels and close the border. And what do they  expect Putin's response is going to be? "Gee, why didnt you ask me in the first place"?

Obama is still wary of sending arms to Ukraine, because, according to reports,  he is worried about how Russia would react and whether Putin would escalate.  Obviously Putin has not been worried about how Obama was going to react or if Obama  and the West would escalate

The other argument  is that sending arms to Ukraine would not be enough to defeat Russia, as if that is the issue. Obama has done this before trying to defend his inaction on Syria by saying " what we did was not invade Syria" as if anyone ever suggested that we do when what was recommended was to arm the Syrian rebels, something Obama refused to do then which fueled the rise of Isis. It is a virtual impossiblity that Putin would order a full scale invasion of Ukraine when they have been denying any involvement since it started. And it would be unpopular with Russian citizens. And all Obama is doing  by not sending weapons is signaling to Putin that if he did invade, the U.S. would do nothing.

Months ago when Russia first began the annexation of Crimea and Putin sent in troops under the guise of "protecting Russian speaking people", it was pointed out both here and by Hillary Clinton  that Hitler used the same rationale and tactic for invading the Sudetenland claiming it was to protect the rights of German speaking people. Clinton's comments were mocked by ignorant journalists with headlines blaring, "Clinton compares Putin to Hitler", which she did not, but  pointed out a historical truth and reality that was ignored and has continued to prove accurate.  Had Obama and western Europe taken a stand in Crimea there would not now be a Russian led war going on in eastern Ukraine. And as if learning nothing from history, the U.S.  France, Britain and Germany, did not act and are are now facing a bigger problem which will get worse unless they finally draw a line in the sand and act -- which is nothing more and nothing less than sending lethal military aid to Ukraine to combat the lethal weapons Russia has sent.

If you want to know who the appeasers are, listen to those who say, "there is no military solution in eastern Ukraine". Those are people looking for any excuse possible, any way out of taking the action necessary to end the conflict. Because there certainly is a military solution in Ukraine. Just ask Putin. The solution is to defeat the rebels and separatists militarily as Ukraine was on the verge of doing last summer when Putin sent in more weapons and troops to stop it.  When the rebels who have tried to steal eastern Ukraine for Putin are defeated, that will be the solution and Ukraine can regain control of that part of their country.

The West has got to realize they are not going to outthink Putin and they are not going to outsmart Putin. All they can do is stand up to Putin and make the costs of continuing more than Putin is willing to pay. On his terms not theirs.

But for now ,instead of action we get another core principle from the commander of core principles which is "big countries shouldn't bully small countries". But what Obama leaves out  is what every parent and every kid in every schoolyard in the country already knows : the way to stop a bully is to stand up to him. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Obama's State of the Union: Buy one lie get five free.

One of the things president Obama is actually good at, or let's say succeeds at, is saying things in such a way as to pull the wool over the eyes of people who can't or won't think for themselves. That usually means journalists and people who read so called "progressive" web sites. And that was on display during his State of the Union speech Tuesday night.

One of the more preposterous lies was that as a result of his healthcare reform law "ten million people now have health insurance who didn't have it before". There could be no more blatant,  intentional lie about  his healthcare reform law than this. It's his way of  continuing to try to continue cover up  his selling out the public healthcare option, the only real meaningful healthcare reform which Democrats had the votes to pass, to the health  insurance companies.

Unfortunately almost everything else in Obama's State of the Union speech that he touted as a success the previous year was a lie. But none more blatant than on healthcare reform, or as it is affectionately known,Obamacare or The Unaffordable Care Act. 

First, he lied about 10 million. That number is based on the White House claim that 7 million enrolled last year and 3 million this year adding up to 10 million. That is the kind of accounting that has sent shady accountants and CFO's to prison.

Of the 7 million applications claimed last year that Obama tries to claim as enrollments,  20% never sent in their first months premium which invalidated their applications. That lowers the number to 5.6 million. According to the health insurance companies about 5% were multiple applications, the result of web site glitches or perceived glitches where people thought their application didn't go through and filled out another one. That brings the number down to about 5.4 million. And the IRS has said a substantial number of applications claimed incomes lower than that filed with their tax returns in order to qualify for subsidies for which they werent entitled which invalidated those applications and the subsidies that went with them. That could bring the total  for last year down to 5 million or even less.  Of the 3 million more Obama is claiming this year,  more than 90% are renewals of policies bought last year not new enrollments.

A more honest figure of the number who purchased polices  since Obamacare was implemented is about 6 million not ten.

The bigger lie is when Obama said "ten million people now have health insurance who didn't have it before". Not only is the number of people buying polices not ten million but closer to 6, but according to the Gallup Well Being Index more than 97% of those who purchased policies through the exchanges already had health insurance before Obamacare  even existed and went shopping for a better deal.

Of the 50 million Americans who were uninsured , those who didn't have health insurance before Obamacare, only 2.2% bought polices. The remaining 97.8% rejected the lower tier policies offered through Obamacare, policies even the White House admitted last year to the New York Times were substandard. Most who did buy those lower end silver or bronze policies reported horror stories about the insurance not being accepted at most hospitals and with most doctors , deductibles as high as $6,000 and high co-pays. 

Obama's other sleight of hand on healthcare reform was when he touted 
" the number of people now without health insurance is the lowest since 2008".

Think about that. The lowest number of uninsured since 2008. This is proof of Obamacare's failure and Democrats and the mass media still doesn't get it.


After all the political bloodletting and everything else associated with healthcare reform and  Obamacare, the number of uninsured the year  after Obamacare was finally implemented  is about the same as it was in 2008, the year before he was even elected.  That is the snake oil Obama is trying to sell as success. And this is what Democrats stood up and loudly applauded. And they wonder why they were wiped out in the last election.

There  were other lies as well.  According to an AP fact check, Obama's claims about "turning the page" and his successes with the economy arent exactly true. The AP wrote " "the U.S. may not have ' risen from recesssion'   quite as rousingly as President Obama suggested in his State of the Union speech.". It pointed out that seven years after the recession, household income still hasnt recovered from its pre-financial crisis levels. It also points out that Obama's touting of job growth isnt what it seems since most of the jobs created have been "poor quality" low paying jobs. His claims of higher wages is also deceptive. Hourly wages rose 1.7 percent last year, half the average growth of a healthy economy.

His lies and deceptions regarding Syria and Isis is for another time. As is his failures with Russia in Crimea and his failure to stand up to Putin in Ukraine and help arm the Ukrainian army against Russian tanks and troops illegally fighting with the rebels.

None of this stopped Democrats from standing and applauding.  And sending out emails the next day saying how Obama " nailed it". Unfortunately for them, most of the country including Democratic voters not only didn't applaud, they sat on their hands over the same news last November.And the only thing Obama nailed was the last nail in the Democrats coffin through 2015. Something Democrats need to admit and do something about if they want to win in 2016.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Obama no show at Paris rally was justified: march was about courage and principle.

It was the greatest demonstration of democracy standing up to fascism since the liberation of Paris when the allies marched down the Champs Elysee in 1944.

 It was a demonstration that  3. 7 million French took part in, 1 1/2 million in Paris alone, more Parisians than those who  lined the streets that day in 1944. And an event at which more than 40 world leaders attended  to show their resolve in standing up for free speech and human values and against terrorist attempts to stifle it. That Obama wasn't there in many ways was understandable. The rally and march was about courage. And resolve. And standing up against adversaries and standing up for something. Obama would not have fit in. Unfortunately he also didn't see fit to send any high ranking American official in his place.  Maybe because he didn't get the point. 

That Obama didn't attend and first had the White House issue excuses that wouldn't have held water for a 10 year old trying to explain why he was absent from school the previous day, is one more example of the shallowness and lack of conviction that has defined Obama and his presidency. 

At first the White House threw out all kinds of silly excuses about how hard it is to schedule a presidential trip and its attendant security concerns. But like most lame excuses, they forgot Woody Allen's  insightful line that when you tell the truth all the time you never have to remember anything. What the White House didn't remember was that less than two weeks ago while still on his vacation in Hawaii, Obama decided to make an impromptu Christmas visit to the troops in Afghanistan.  Afghanistan. It wasn't too hard to arrange the security and logistics for a last minute presidential trip to a war zone but it was  too dangerous or complicated  to go to Paris. Even when he had three days notice. 

Democratic Rep Adama Schiff's hollow attempts at trying to makes excuses for Obama's no show or not sending anyone with rank to the unity march just added to the embarrassment for both Obama and the Democrats.

But aside from an American presence being conspicuous by its absence, it was clear that one minute of watching the demontrations in Paris packed more emotion and commitment to human freedom and instilled more inspiration than every word  of Obama's empty rhetoric over the last 6 years. And he probably knew it. So maybe that was the reason too. 

Or maybe  it was because  Obama remembered that in 2012 when Charlie Hebdo was fire bombed by jidhadists for its cartoon depictions related to radical Islam  Obama said at the time that it was the magazine that  had showed "bad judgement" in publishing the cartoons in the first place.  Which was a little like blaming the rape victim for wearing a skirt that was too short. That might have made him feel out of place too. 

Maybe Obama didn't want to expose himself to the fact that it was his own bad judgement in calling Isis the "junior varsity" and his rejection of the advice of his former secretary of state and three secretaries of defense to arm the moderate Syrian rebels 3 years ago which has not only seen the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians, but  saw the rise of Isis and may have even played a part in the killings at Charlie Hebdo since the two terrorists had gone to Syria, were trained in Syria and then returned to France that he wanted to avoid. It would have been hard under the circumstances not to have brought that up. 

And let's not forget  this is the president who, when Iranian citizens took to the streets  in the hundreds of thousands to protest a rigged presidential election and demand  democracy  with many being beaten, shot and even killed, Obama's public repsonse was that he " didn't want to meddle " in Iran's affairs. So you can't blame Obama if he would have felt out of place at the Paris pro democracy rally. And then there was  the "red line" Obama drew threatening retribution against Assad if he used chemical weapons against civilians , then after Assad used them killing more than a thousand including 300 children,  Obama backed down proving his threat was hollow. 

But even without Obama's presence, the public criticism of Obama not deeming it important enough  to have a high ranking American at the rally started almost immediately. Even  David Gergen on CNN  said he was mystified that Obama didn't show or at least send Biden or Kerry.  Jake Tapper said he was "embarrassed as an American" by no American  presence. 

In response,the White House went into damage control the next day as criticism began to pile up from all quarters and finally admitted that they made a mistake. Mostly because they knew they couldn't defend it. But adding to " the dog ate my homework"  absurdity of their admission, was also the way it was reported.

Jim Acosta, the White House correspondent for CNN said, " something truly amazing happened today at the White House". Wolf  Blitzer chimed in, " it was unprecedented". So what was so truly amazing and unprecedented? Reported Acosta, " The White House today admitted it made a mistake". Not exactly a Charlie Hebdo kind of response.

Which could lead the French and others around the world who took a stand that day in Paris  and elsewhere for liberty, freedom, freedom of expression,and courage,and  who expressed their solidarity by holding up signs that read " Je suis Charlie Hebdo",( "I am Charlie Hebdo")  to one day hold up another sign that expresses those same ideals:
"Je suis no Obama."

Friday, January 9, 2015

Why American journalists have nothing to fear from a Charlie Hebdo style attack.

The journalists, cartoonists and editorial staff at Charlie Hebdo were known for defying convention, unwavering principles, having staunch convictions,  courage, and had a commitment to telling a truth they felt that needed to be told  and did it with unflinching resolve and without fear or concern for who they might offend.  Characteristics that are precisely the opposite of 99% of all mainstream American journalists and has been for almost 20 years .  Which is why American journalists have nothing to fear from the kind of attack that hit the offices of Charlie Hebdo. Because they are and always have been  congenitally too afraid to do anything that might provoke it. Or even provoke criticism. 

Mainstream American journalists back down or water down the truth every day so as not to offend somebody or some group on everything  from Washington politics and policy to the events in Ferguson and protests in New York.  And it's most prevalent everyday on cable news. 

In Washington D.C. for example, the coin of the realm for journalists is "access". Access to higher ups or key people in government who might be willing to give an exclusive. Be too tough on an administration and your access dries up. Which is  why trying to get American journalists to report the unvarnished truth  is like pulling teeth from someone who doesn't have any.   Because American journalists are generally toothless except when they feel it's safe to go on the offensive.

They are notable for caving in whether its to the Bush administration over WMD in Iraq and the non-existant connection between Sadaam and 9/11, the Obama administration and serial lying and ineptitude about policy from health care reform to a  foreign policy that resulted  in the resignations of 3 Secretaries  of Defense and a Secretary of State, and media dishonesty over events in Ferguson and any issues concerning race.

In other controversial issues, such as the release of documents last year  by Roman Catholic dicoceses in Los Angeles and Milwaukee as part of two separate court orders that revealed the sexual abuse of literally tens of thousands of children,(8,000 incidents in Milwaukee alone)  the news media virtually ignored it and its contents.   But Wolf Blitzer had no problem getting tough in attacking Anthony Weiner for not admitting to his  consensual online sex chats.  And it was only because the news media didn't think Anthony Weiner could cause them any damage.

Back in 2012, when the offices of Charlie Hebdo was  bombed for publishing cartoons that poked fun at aspects of Islam, Jay Carney,  Obama's spokesman, criticized the newspaper for what he called "bad judgement" in publishing the cartoons in the first place which is a little like blaming the rape victim for having the "bad judgement" to wear a short skirt.  No one in the White House press corps criticized Carney or Obama for their blaming the victim point of view at the time.

News organizations in Europe have been publishing the cartoon images from Charlie Hebdo that prompted the attack. That has important news value. It points out  and heightens the absurdity that cartoons ignited the killers, motivated their mission, the mission of others like them and  why they were willing to kill and for what. CNN on the other hand made an editorial decision not to publish the images and gave an official "explanation"as having something to do with not wanting to offend people.  Which is exactly what has made them useless as journalists for years.

The New York Times also refused to publish the image of the cartoon that motivated the attack. Their stated reason? The cartoon was "intentionally offensive". The terrorist attackers thought so too. Which means that the New York Times editorial board has more in common with the terrorists than they do with their readers. 

When you live in a democracy you have the right and sometimes the duty to say anything you want even its offensive to some.  You can offend anyone and anything including the president, congress or any other thing you choose without fear of someone killing you for doing it.  And that is what the American news media should be standing up for. It's what the French people have been standing up for. Its what American journalists run and hide from.

CNN had no problem showing 15 seconds of video of the terrorists and their attack including the killing of a helpless French policemen and showing it about 2000 times over the last 24 hours, repeating it constantly over and over practically non stop while others spoke or gave opinions or analysis off camera. They showed that footage  like it was on a loop, their own special brand of journalistic peep show that CNN pioneered. Which in its own way glorified the terrorists by showing their attack repeatedly, something Al-Qaeda must have loved,  but unlike the European press, too cowardly to show  the cartoons that motivated their murders,too afraid to show the cartoons behind the terrorists desire to shut down freedom of expression that they didn't like.

CNN's stated reason for not showing the cartoons because they didn't want to offend sensibilities is true.  But the sensibilities they were most concerned about offending were those of the terrorists. And if CNN can't be honest about itself is no wonder they can't and don't report the truth about other things.

The real reason CNN and other American outlets didn't show the cartoons  was and is their own fear which is the single biggest operating principle in mainstream American journalism.
And when American journalists do that and act like cowards as they so often do, then terrorists win in trying to suppress free expression.  

What happened to Charlie Hebdo is a good time to remember what was courageous about them in the first place and cowardly about mainstream American journalism. There is a reason Edward Snowden turned over all his files and information on the NSA to Glenn Greenwald, a journalist for The Guardian, a news organization in the UK, and not any American media organization.

Journalists who are afraid have no business being journalists. Because they are useless. Maybe the outpouring of solidarity in France by French citizens in support of freedom of expression and the courage of those killed at Charlie Hebdo will give some American journalists a backbone. If not, at least they won't  have to worry that standing up for principles will be put them at risk.  Just like always. 

But they should keep in mind that while CNN, the New York Times and other news outlets make editorial decisions based on what they think might be offensive to some, what people really find most offensive is the way they report the news.