Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Dr. Strangedeal: Or How Obama Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Iran's Bomb.






There are very few experts, or even people with common sense who in hearing about the deal the U.S. agreed to, didn't all agree that the U.S. gave up a lot and got little in return.
 
And the rationale being used by both Obama, Kerry and others is so irrational  its easy to conclude from that alone, that there are reasons why Iran is celebrating and no one on the U.S. side is.
 
Probably the most crucial and bizarre aspect of the deal is inspections. If it can't be absolutely verified that Iran is complying then the entire deal is worthless, though many have pointed out that its ten year delay for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon is also worthless regardless of inspections now.
 
Supporters of the deal including Obama tout that IAEA inspectors will have 24/7 access to any site they want any time anywhere. So they claim. What Obama doesn't say is that 24/7 access applies unless Iran objects. A little caveat Obama doesn't mention. 
 
Far from the "anytime anywhere" ability to inspect suspicious sites that the U.S. and most in congress say is crucial to the deal, a cumbersome process has been devised that can give Iran up to 24 days of stalling before it has to comply with an inspection by claiming there is no legitimate interest in inspecting the site. If they refuse access they have 14 days to review an IAEA request submitted in writing as to why they want access, then if they refuse try to  convince the IAEA inspectors that the activities at the suspected site are legitimate. If they can't convince the IAEA there is another 10  day period where the UN Security Council reviews the dispute. If 5 members vote that Iran must give access then Iran must allow the inspections (after 24 days) or face new sanctions.
 
Ollie Heinomen a former IAEA top nuclear safeguards inspector says the agreement  is inadequate. In Foreign Policy magazine, Heinomen says he is "disturbed" that  the deal provides for multiple weeks of negotiation between Iran and IAEA inspectors  to gain access to" sensitive" or" undeclared" sites. It allows Iran to declare "off limits" any site it decides is military or national security related and has no nuclear connection.
 
The deal  only gives unfettered inspectors access to "key" nuclear sites some already declared.  But doesn't say who decides what else might be "key".  If Iran decides a particular site is not "key"  they can refuse inspections and the 24 day delaying process goes into effect.
 
Heinonen says that from an investigative point of view there is nothing good in the agreement. Quoting from Foreign Policy magazine he says, " before Iran grants you access it can take measures to change the environment in the place you are looking and destroy evidence".
 
And Iran has done just that in the past and were caught.  When Heinonen was an inspector in 2003 he said Iran tried to cover up convert nuclear activity at the Kalaye Electric company plant, covert activity they had secretly been engaged in since the 1990's. When IAEA demanded access, Iran delayed and refurbished the entire facility before allowing inspectors in.
 
That doesn't sound like "any time any where" to any body. Which is why in his victory lap Obama didn't mention military sites which the IAEA always said were critical and the Iranian military kept stating publicly would never happen. 
 
Aaron David Miller, a middle east expert has already said on CNN that Iran has gone one better on Obama. And the more the deal is looked at the more bizarre it becomes.
 
The Iranians insisted and recieved as part of the deal, a provision that will also allow Iran  in 8 years to have ICBMs capable of reaching the United States.  Which as Obama and everyone knows is essential to a healthy economy.

 The deal will also end the arms embargo on Iran in five years. It was only a week ago that outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Dempsy told congress that under no circumstances should Iran be allowed to build or buy ICBMs and under no circumstances should the arms embargo be lifted. Oops.
 
As for the sanctions, according to the deal they are to be "phased in". But what does "phased in" actually mean? Who's idea of "phasing in" will prevail? No one is saying specifically other than the IAEA has to certify that Iran is complying with the agreement. But what if Iran believes they are complying in a matter of weeks? What if they say, " see that back hoe over there? We are converting and complying", and claims it wants the sanctions lifted before the conversions are completed? What then? And given that when the framework of the deal was announced in April Iran saw it differently than the U.S. It could throw the whole deal into chaos.

 The deal could become a shambles in a matter of weeks of being implemented assuming it gets through congress and there is no override of Obama's veto  (which at the moment is no sure thing) since "phased in"  based on compliance can mean anything depending on one's point of view. If Congress insists on clarification of that issue alone it could scuttle the deal. 
 
Basically the deal that Obama is touting is an Iran nuclear deal  that went from preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon to compromising  by delaying it for ten years.

 Everyone looking at the deal says the winner is Iran who will get hundreds of billions in revenue from sanctions relief and the end to an arms embargo, both of which guarantees that Iran will  send weapons  and money to Hezbollah and Hamas while at the same time giving them ample opportunity to cheat or the very least set up a program that will allow them to hit the ground running and  launch into enrichment for a bomb as soon as the ten years are up at which time they will already have the hundreds of billions in sanctions relief in their pockets. 
 
Other notable points: U.S. allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia have condemned the deal and traditional U.S, adversaries, Iran, Putin and China have praised it. At the announcement Kerry looked worn, the Iranians jubilant.
 
And when you hear anyone, journalist or politician or government official or Obama himself,  defend the deal by  asking "what was the alternative?"  it's practically an admission that the deal was negotiated on the defensive and from a position of weakness.  Because the alternative to strangling Iran's economy with sanctions which is what was done for the last ten years, was to continue to strangle  Iran's economy with sanctions if they didn't agree to a tougher more effective deal.  The sanctions is what the Iranians wanted to end. The U.S. didn't need an alternative. Iran did.  Yet that simple truth was ignored or not understood by Obama and Kerry and reveals the unnecessary  position of weakness and compromise  from which Obama and Kerry negotiated. We didn't need "an alternative." Iran did. And as everyone remembers, throughout the entire length of the negotiations, it was,  in every case, Obama and Kerry who were afraid Iran would walk away from the negotiations. With the U.S. holding all the cards and some smart and tough negotiators  it should have been the opposite. 
 
The deal in its own way is  nuclear Obamacare. It is almost impossible to look at any Obama initiative and policy, without comparing it to Obamacare, Obama's first and biggest policy failure and how it came about, which was  an egregious sell out and compromise of both principle and policy by caving in to the health insurance industry by dropping health care reforms's  most important provision the public option, ( as stipulated by Nancy Pelosi herself)  which in the end has failed to help 96% of the people healthcare reform was supposed to help. 
 
The analogy is valid. Except the consequences of the nuclear deal are greater.
Many feel this deal is an unncessary capitulation to Iran in much the same way Obama capitulated unnecessarily to the health insurance companies on Obamacare and weakens the U.S. and its allies, and in the end will help no one but the Iranians.
 
Kerry  in defending the deal said, " sanctioning Iran until it capitulates is not acheivable 0utside a world of fantasy". With that kind of inherent defeatism and weakness in both Kerry and Obama, which was apparent from the beginning, they seem to ignore the fact that it was the sanctions that brought Iran to the table in the first place,  and it was Iran that was looking for an alternative. The only real fantasy world is the one that Kerry and Obama negotiated from.  Which is why Iran is celebrating.  
 
Adam Schiff, a Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee when asked if there would really be unfettered inspections of any site in Iran said, " it depends on the interpretation of the deal". Interpretation? Do people get to interpet what a 65mph speed limit is if they get a ticket? Who is living in a fantasy world?  Schiff also said he wants to talk to people to discuss what's "between the lines of the deal".   Not what's in the deal but what's between the lines.  What's between the lines is empty space.
 
Last but not least, along with the Iranian celebration,  Putin and China both think the deal is just great. And as a result, Russia announced immediate plans for arms sales to Iran in the form of the S-300 air defense system.

The U.S. countered when Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, buttressing  Obama's argument of how much safer the world is going to be as a result of the Iran deal, announced today that the U.S. is increasing it's military cooperation  with Israel including selling Israel new F-22 fighters. 
 
Can anyone say, " Gentlemen you can't fight in here, this is the War Room"?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Confederate flag has to come down but no one calling for it now is a hero.





After the tragedy in Charleston and pictures of the psychopath who committed the mass murder surfaced showing him posing with a confederate flag, there was and still is a chorus of calls from politicians both conservative and liberal and civil rights activists for the confederate flag to come down from official state government sites and monuments. The legislature in South Carolina has already voted to remove the flag as expected. 
 
The flag needs to be removed from all official state and local government property.  But no one calling for it now  or demonstrating for its removal in the wake of the mass murders in Charleston is a hero or should be looked upon as courageously standing up for civil rights. It isn't a moment to be proud of but a time to ask what took so long? 

Everything that is offensive about the Confederate flag and what it stood for was offensive before the murders. It was offensive a year ago, 5 years ago, 25 years ago, 50 years ago and 150 years ago. 

Many in the south say the flag doesn't represent racism it represents heritage. The south has an awful lot of things to be proud of. But that flag and the heritage that inspired it isn't one of them. 

It doesn't just represent racism. It represents atrocities sanctioned by Southern state governments committed against a large segment of the American population. And the Confederate battle flag represented the fight to have the right to continue to commit those atrocities and that the  federal government had no right to stop them. 
 
That it took 9 African Americans getting murdered in a Charleston church by a psychopath who posed with the Confederate flag for people, black as well as white, to finally say that flag has no place in a government office or building or to be flying at state houses or be part of a state flag, and to call for its removal 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation and 50 years after the Civil Rights Act doesn't make any one a moral hero. Or courageous. 
 
Though the flag has few supporters now, some who do support it's display say it's not about slavery but States rights. What they don't say is that the states rights they are talking about was the right of those states to commit those atrocities as part of their way of life. That is the principle they were fighting for.  Yet those flags continued to fly at southern state houses or were integrated into the flags of the states that were once part of the confederacy. And does anyone really believe the presence of the Confederate flag at statehouses and as part of official business didn't fuel and justify racism in the old South? 
 
So no one calling for the removal of those flags now including Obama  is demonstrating any act of courage even though Obama claimed himself "fearless" the week of the eulogies . If anything it's an admission the flag should've come down a long time ago from state capitols and schools and universities in the south as something that was part of official business. 
 
About 25 years ago on a Saturday afternoon I settled down in front of my TV to watch a college football game. Ole Miss was playing at home. 
 
Before the game, a black male cheerleader came running out of the tunnel onto the field carrying and waving  a Confederate flag about the size of 10 bed sheets leading the Ole Miss football team running behind him as the crowd roared. I thought it was one of the most bizarre things I had seen in a long time. I thought to myself, " what's wrong with that guy? How could he do that"?  After a minute I didn't give  it another thought since whatever that black cheerleader wanted to do was his own business, nor was it my place to criticize him or something the university and its supporters sanctioned. And the announcers said nothing about it either even if I did think it was ridiculous. 
 
Why  black lawmakers, like that black cheerleader, went to work at southern state legislatures every day where those flags were flying and never objected, only they know.  Why there wasn't some public debate sooner about whether it was appropriate to still be flying the Confederate flag connected to any official  government or public function can only be because no one seemed to care. Or at least care enough. Until it took 9 murders to make them care. 
 
There are some who try to defend the flag by bringing up the courage of the southern boys who fought under that flag. No one ever questioned their courage or bravery in battle so it's not about that and never was. It's a fact that,  like it or not, in reading contemporaneous accounts of civil war battles, especially Gettysburg, those southern boys showed unparalleled courage and bravery in battle , equal to any ever displayed by American  soldiers anywhere even if the cause they fought for was morally reprehensible . 

Its always mentioned that hardly any of those soldiers owned slaves and that the rank and file soldier wasn't fighting for slavery. And that was true though slavery is what the politicians and rich plantation owners were having them fight for. So many of them fought bravely but duped into believing they were fighting for some other cause. 
 
At Gettysburg during Pickets Charge General Lewis Armistead put his hat on the tip of his sword and egged his soldiers on shouting, " for your mothers, for your wives,your sisters and your sweethearts".  Well, not exactly. Those boys may have believed that but it was for the rich plantation owners whose wealth depended on slavery and all the atrocities that went with it that they were fighting for.  One thing is certain however. Any one man on either side of that battle had more courage than all the politicians and activists calling for the flag to come down now in the wake of the Charleston murders. 
 
Bree Newsome who some were incredulously calling a hero for climbing a flag pole and taking down the confederate flag at the state capitol in South Carolina is no hero. Which naturally didn't stop CNN and their usual pandering from trying to treat her like one. 
 
If Bree Newsome had taken that flag down a week before the Charleston murders, or 6 months before, or a year ago or 5 years ago and sparked the debate, caused the debate, forced the debate instead of trying to cash in on the debate, she might have been courageous.  Doing it after every politician in the country including southern conservative Republicans,  the Republican governor of South Carolina, the conservative Republican senator from South Carolina, governors of Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama, and every major retailer in the country from Amazon to Walmart who announced they are removing items with the flag from their shelves and inventories, when even the head of NASCAR said they are going to remove the confederate flag from NASCAR related events and asked fans not to bring it or display it, removing the flag took no courage. Everyone knew it was coming down anyway. 
 
It wasn't even a political statement, those having already been made.  It didn't rise much beyond the level of a prank under the guise of a political statement about civil rights since Newsome knew political,  public and news media opinion was on her side. Not exactly Freedom Summer. 
 
The people who do deserve some credit are the retailers and NASCAR. At least they put their money where their mouth is and are doing it even though they risk angering a large segment of their customer base. In other words they are putting principle ahead of profits and self interest,  something no politician from the president to state and local politicians were ever willing to do until the tragedy in Charleston.
 
It's true that one can argue better late than never. But people calling for the flag to come down now who think they are heroes or deserve some credit hopefully will not dislocate their elbows patting themselves on the back.
 
There is an old disparaging comment about those who in the field of battle find their courage in a bottle. For many politicians and those in the news media who are now, after all this time, standing up and calling for the removal of the Confederate flag from all official government property, they could all be looked on as those having found their courage at Walmart.  

 There are enough reasons for the Confederate flag to have been officially removed from government buildings  a long time ago. So no one, black or white, calling for it now should consider themselves heroes or feel any pride. But they could all learn some lessons. 

According to the AP, the confederate flag was first hoisted at the South Carolina state Capitol in 1961 as -- get this -- a defiant protest and symbol of resistance against the growing civil right movement.  Instead of feeling a sense of pride in its removal, society might do better to ask why it took 9 murders in 2015 to bring it down. 


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Obama's new overtime proposal more smoke and mirrors.And he knows it.





Obama newest economic initiative, something he is now publicly touting as an example of his new found economic populism,  is like so many other Obama initiatives, nothing more than snake oil, smoke and mirrors designed to sound good but which will accomplish nothing.


It's a proposal by which millions of Americans who currently work overtime without getting paid for it, would now be paid.

This newest bit of  sleight of hand consists of raising the base salary for which workers are entitled to overtime from a current ridiculously low $23,000 a year to $50,000 a year.  Sounds good right? Sounds like something long overdue, right? Sounds like trying to strike a blow for fairness and income equality right?

Not exactly. It's more fakery and snake oil,  a proposal that sounds good for what ails you but on closer examination is like flavored water - empty and meaningless. It should be labeled "for entertainment purposes only" because that's what it is.

And it's meaningless because of one very important fact -- there is nothing in Obama's proposal or law that would prevent an employer from cutting the base salary of an employee who would qualify for the overtime under the new law to offset the new overtime increases, resulting in a net gain for the worker of zero. Nothing. And cutting base salaries to compensate for increased overtime pay is the first thing employers will do if the law passed. Then the employees that Obama is claiming to help will have two choices -- take the pay cut or quit.

It's a proposal that does nothing for workers who work overtime without getting paid for it. But it does give Obama something to talk about. And talk he is. He announced his proposal with the statement " I believe in middle class economics". Which is why not a single Wall Street or bank executive whose greed caused the economic crisis that threw millions of people out of work and out of their homes was ever prosecuted for fraud even though they admitted to it and were allowed to  cut a deal by paying big  fines instead of going to prison. While tax payer dollars bailed them out. If that isn't believing in middle class economics I don't know what is. 

Obama's new proposal is hollow and gives the pretense of  doing something to benefit workers while at the same time giving a wink to employers and will have no affect on doing what it pretends to do -- put more money in the pockets of workers who put in overtime but don't get paid for it. 

Obama said in announcing his new proposal, "  The current rules leave millions of Americans working long hours which take them away from their families without giving them the overtime pay they deserve".   That's all true.  And under Obama's stirring new proposal it still will. Which means if there was ever an offer of help that deserved the reply, " thanks for nothing" this is it.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Tiger's Not Back! Tiger's Not Back!





Tiger Woods shot the worst round of his life in the US Open, missed the cut and finished tied for 151 out of 156 players. Finally even sports writers  and those specifically covering golf  who had been making excuses for Woods for 7 years despite the fact that he was only a shell of his former self are finally admitting he's not what he was and probably wont ever be.

But for the last seven years, despite the fact that Woods game had deteriorated beyond recognition and he wasn't even competitive, you wouldn't have known it from the sports news media until now. But they are still afraid to say why.

Over the last seven years, showing the kind of double standards that define contemporary journalism as bad, incompetent and dishonest no matter what the story, despite his disastrous play, if Woods ate a bowl of soup without dribbling down his chin the writers covering golf and sports in general would be proclaiming, " Tigers back, Tigers' back". Jim Nance of CBS was one of the biggest cheerleaders. Woods could play three holes decently without tripping over his club and Nance was proclaiming Woods was showing his old form and he was good as ever. Not exactly.

The hypocrisy and dishonesty of the news media covering Woods hung in the air every time he played and was evident even as one of Woods' tee shots would veer off into the spectator area. Any criticism of Woods would mean his agent would shut them out, no interviews, no nothing. And maybe even counter attack which they did when a broadcaster at the Golf Channel accused Woods of trying to cheat and break the rules while playing a hole in a tournament a year ago.

So none of them wanted to touch the obvious -- what it was that brought about Woods' demise. 

When the story first broke in 2007 that Woods had been cheating on his new wife and new baby, and not just cheating but cheating with women most people wouldn't bring home to meet their goldfish, I said privately that Woods was finished. Not so much finished in terms of advertisers and endorsements or even public opinion, though in the immediate aftermath advertisers understandably left him, but that he was finished as an athlete, as a force in the world of professional golf and that he'd never be the same again, never be able to perform at the level he had been. His demise was predictable.

 Golf is not a team sport. You are out there by yourself. If anything is off by a millimeter, if timing or eye - hand coordination is off by a fraction it can be the difference between shooting 70 and shooting 80 and at the pro level of competition that means disaster. So how does he go out there and play at the same level knowing his carefully crafted image is now in tatters? 

To make matters worse some of the women were making public text messages Woods had sent them,  some incredibly insulting to his wife and others revealing that Woods had some sexual proclivities that most people wouldn't want broadcast to the world. This isn't to judge Woods or what anyone enjoys sexually which is no ones business but their own. But Woods did go out of his way to concoct a facade of a squeaky clean image, someone with an almost Boy Scout- like moral character which  made it even more embarrassing. And hypocritical.

So even back in 2007 I wondered how Woods would be able to play golf at the level  he had been accustomed to in front of thousands of spectators and tens of millions watching around the world, while knowing he was the center of attention and knowing that the whole world knew not only that he had been cheating on his wife and child,  but  knowing what Woods liked these women to do to him  sexually. ( no, there is no reason to repeat it here -- this is about lousy journalism not Woods sex life).

How do you compartmentalize that? How do you shut it out? The answer is Woods couldn't.

But you wouldn't know any of this was even an issue or part of the mix by how Woods was covered by the news media. No one said a word. It was all hush hush. It wasn't  an 800 lb gorilla in the room but an entire zoo. And the sports and golf journalists covering Woods just pretended it didn't exist.

And for the same reasons that political and domestic journalists always play the same game whether it's George W Bush in the White House or  Obama -- to preserve their access  and fear of criticism from any sizeable audience where they might feel professionally threatened.

Any golf or sports writer touching on the real reason behind Woods demise knew they would be denied access to Woods in the future. They were also big fans of Woods (as most everyone was) who in his prime was one of the greatest golf pros ever and so there was fear of potential backlash from Woods' fans if he wasn't treated with kid gloves. 

So for the last seven years while watching Woods game deteriorate into something almost farcical considering what he once was, and all of it happening after the whole mess was made public, they all  pretended they had no idea why Woods wasn't what he used to be. And talked about every possible reason. Except the real one.

It's been a case in point of how corrupt and dishonest journalists can be when covering a story and how they will slant or corrupt the truth based on their own bias and self interest and like so many in journalism, bury the truth rather than run the risk of the truth burying them, a risk any real journalist would take as part of their job.

No one covering Woods wanted to talk about those events and how public knowledge of those events  could have affected Woods' play.  Instead they reported that Woods blamed it on his swing.  Golf analysts gave us countless slow motion video clips of the old Woods and new trying to analyze the differences in the swing .  But the only swinging that caused Woods' game to deteriorate was the swinging he did with what some might call bimbos that became public knowledge.

Woods paid, not millions but tens of millions, maybe more to keep these women quiet,  to get them to stop revealing the text messages or details of their encounters with Woods and to keep them out of the tabloids  or making  TV appearances. He bought their silence with tens of millions. The sports news media was happy to do it for free. As long as they could get an interview.

 As part of the settlements the women were required to stay silent. They couldn't even mention the name Tiger Woods in public or anything about a settlement or for how much. Otherwise they'd forfeit everything Woods agreed to pay them to keep them quiet.

And since 2008 every broadcaster and journalist covering Woods has been happy to go along,  avoiding mentioning it like the plague. Even this year at the Open they never reported that someone had hired a plane to carry a banner over the golf course calling Woods a cheater.

Now having had the worst tournament round of his career in the Open, he missed the cut again, finishing tied for 151 out of 156 players. Even amateurs beat him.

But this time we're no longer hearing the farcical  "Tiger's back ! Tiger's back!" if he manages to even play par for a few holes. His two day total of 156 was the worst of his career. But the denial in the news media continues exemplified by a sports reporter named Joe Thomson writing for both ESPN and The Score web sites  who wrote of Woods missing the cut, " nobody seems to have answers for Tiger's flagging game".

 It still says a lot about journalism,  how they play favorites, how dishonest they are when it comes to pure reporting and how much they are willing to hide or  ignore when they want to no matter how relevant.

 They still wont say why Woods isn't what he used to be.  Instead, like journalists of all kinds they run with the herd, each mimicking the other, none with the courage to step away from the herd and tell the truth. Which makes the real plague the dishonest way journalists cover stories now and how that plague affects and infects  everything they do. No matter what story they are covering. So while Tiger's ex-wife learned she couldn't trust him, the country's Tiger problem is we can't trust the news media. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

With TPP now stalled but scheduled for a new vote Democrats should remember how Obama was caught lying about NAFTA.




News outlets are calling it a " humiliating defeat for Obama". On Friday a bipartisan vote which included 144 Democrats voted down 126-302 a key part of the TPP for retraining displaced workers that was part of the  TPP package that would give Obama fast track authority on trade deals. The TAA portion of the bill was voted down in a resounding defeat despite Obama's personal visit to the Capitol to lobby Democrats to support the bill.

Boehner  is scheduling a new vote on Tuesday,and while  there is no reason to think any Democrats will change their vote,for any Democrats on the fence and feeling shaky in the face of a new round of Obama arm twisting, or even succumbing to potential bribes,  it might help for them to recall how regarding another trade deal,  NAFTA,  Obama was caught in one of the most cynical,  dishonest, callous and self serving lies ever told by a candidate for any office much less the presidency. It was a lie so egregious it was proof that Obama could never  be trusted about anything and revealed a degree of dishonesty and duplicity that would have ended not just the candidacy of any other presidential candidate  but most likely their entire political career.  Had Obama not been carrying the symbolism of electing the First Black President which had become cause celebre to many in the Democratic party and news media,   it would have.

 It happened during the Ohio presidential primaries in 2008 where polls showed Obama trailing Hillary Clinton by a landslide margin.  At the time, even before the economic crisis, Ohio had been dealing with massive unemployment especially in manufacturing jobs and had at the time, 286,000 unemployed. In his effort to gets votes, Obama blamed their unemployment on NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement Bill Clinton had signed with Mexico and Canada and then tried to tie Hillary Clinton to the trade deal. 

Politifact quickly labeled Obama's assertions that NAFTA was the sole cause of Ohio's high unemployment untrue.  But that turned out to be the least of Obama's falsehoods.

Obama in his speeches in Ohio looked the unemployed in the eye and told them emphatically that not only was NAFTA to blame for their unemployment but that if  he was elected president he would get rid of it.

What was exposed days later,  was that at the same time he was telling the people of Ohio that NAFTA was the cause of their problems and he would end it, he sent Austan Goolsbee, one of his economic advisors to the Canadian embassy in Chicago to tell them to ignore what Obama was saying publicly about getting rid of NAFTA, he had no intention of getting rid of it and what he was saying publicly in Ohio was just politics.

Someone at the Canadian embassy not taken with Obama's duplicity, leaked the substance of the meeting to the AP who reported it. Obama immediately denied it and lied about it for 7 straight days.  

First he denied there was even anyone by the name of Austan Goolsbee working for his campaign. When it was pointed out that Goolsbee was listed as one of his economic advisors Obama's reaction was almost " Oh that Austan Goolsbee". He  then conceded Goolsbee worked for his campaign but said he never sent him to the Canadian embassy in Chicago. When the log books were checked and it was reported that Goolsbee did indeed go to the Canadian embassy on the date reported, Obama said, well  okay, maybe he did, but he went on his own for his own reasons and not as part of his campaign,

When the log book entry confirmed that Goolsbee was indeed sent there on behalf of the Obama campaign Obama's response was, well okay,okay maybe he did go there on behalf of his campaign but he never told Goolsbee to tell the Canadians that what he was saying about getting rid of NAFTA was just politics and that he had no intention of getting rid of it. That,Obama said,was untrue.

This final lie was apparently too much for someone inside the Canadian embassy who was present at the meeting and they leaked the actual physical written minutes of the meeting to the AP who published them. The minutes showed Goolsbee told the embassy that he was sent there by Obama  to reassure them that despite what Obama  was saying publicly in his speeches he had no intention of getting rid of NAFTA, it was just politics.

While the news media made a story of it momentarily it was dropped soon after the primary and Obama was never held accountable for his serial lying about the incident not to mention the substance of his duplicity. Obama's supporters for the most part turned a blind eye to the release of the minutes and all the proof of how cyncially Obama lied and played politics with people's lives, since none of them wanted to deal with Obama's dishonesty and lack of integrity and cynical politics because of the cause celebre at the time of electing the First Black President. And few in  the news media wanted to be responsible for  sending that train off its tracks. So no one held Obama's feet to the fire as evidence of both a lack of character, untrustworthiness and duplicitous policy. It was easier to bash Clinton instead. 

The Clinton campaign responded but it was mild, even tepid, because behind the scenes they were were being  pressured by the DNC  not to attack Obama too hard. 

In the end, Clinton beat Obama in the Ohio primary by landslide numbers, the candidates moved on and the news media, unlike raking Anthony Weiner over the coals for weeks and parking satellite trucks in front of his home  for a consensual online sex chat, dropped and ignored the whole episode. 

It was revived momentarily during the 2010 Olympics in Canada as a result of a Canadian version of the Freedom of Information Act filed by Canadian journalists for access to the emails between the embassy in Chicago and Ottawa at the time. The emails  were made public and showed that some inside the government applauded the release of the minutes exposing Obama's duplicity while others were more interested in damage control should Obama get elected. But all the emails confirmed one thing: the validity and truthfulness  of what had happened which both Obama and Goolsbee had tried to deny.

By that time the U.S. news media was more interested in the Olympics than Obama's lies concerning NAFTA in 2008 and nothing more was made of it.

What's relevant now is that TPP is about giving Obama fast track authority to make deals that congress can't modify. And with a Republican majority in the House and senate its likely that Republicans are not going to be concerned about the same issues as Democrats, like  jobs. In fact one of the Republican proposals was to cut Medicare by $700 million and use the money to help or retrain those who will lose their jobs as a result of the TPP, something Obama had no problem doing. Which is in effect an admission that the trade bill Obama is pushing would cost jobs. The provision didn't fly because too many Republicans up for re-election didn't want to be tied to Medicare cuts.

The vote on Friday was a clear rebuke to Obama from Democrats whom he tried to woo in a closed door meeting by questioning their integrity. Which is like Bernie Madoff complaining about excessive bank fees for bounced checks. But while the bill is now stalled it's not yet killed entirely and Boehner will bring it up for a vote again on Thursday with Obama colluding with Mitchell and Boehner to get it passed. 

So it's still useful for Democrats to remember what happened in Ohio in 2008 and what it said about Obama since the real issue for Democrats is about whether Obama can be trusted to negotiate deals that Democrats can't modify in a Republican controlled congress.  Based on his history,  not as far as you can throw an unemployment check.  

And based on the House vote on Friday most Democrats seem to have gotten the memo.  Including the one from the Canadian embassy in 2008. 

For those interested, the entire memo of the meeting in 2008 that Obama at first said never took place can be read here.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Dennis Hastert: another "do as we say not as we do" Republican.







News of  Dennis Hasterts indictment for violating banking regulations and lying to the  FBI over large cash withdrawals he was making for hush money to cover up his having sexually molested at least one underage male while a teacher and wrestling coach in Illinois has left a lot of Republicans " shocked". Why they are shocked is hard to say.
 
Hastert was the Speaker of the House for 7 years. He became Speaker in 1998 replacing Bob Livingston. Bob Livingston had been Speaker for only 24 hours before having to resign, having  just replaced Newt Gingrich the one time conservative Republican Speaker who had been found guilty of ethics violations and who resigned in the wake of Republicans being swept out of the House ( as an aside Gingrich is now a regular contributor on CNN proving that being unethical is  no stumbling block for employment at CNN which makes their coverage of everything from Ferguson to politics understandable).
 
Livingston had to resign just 24 hours after being elected Speaker because it was at the height of Republican attacks and news media lunancy over Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, and it was revealed that Livingston was too having an affair while continuing to criticize Clinton over Lewinsky but had no problem accepting the Speakership anyway. Then he was caught, his affair made public and was forced to resign.

Gingrich  too, it was subsequently revealed,  had been cheating on his wife with his own "female subordinate" as Republicans liked to refer to Lewinsky, at the same time he also was criticizing Clinton. Gingrich in fact said at the time that he "would not let a day go by when I will not remind the country of what Clinton did". While doing the same thing. 
 
House judiciary committee chairman, the late Henry Hyde who presided over Clinton's impeachment  was also exposed as having been cheating on his wife at the same time and was not only cheating on his wife but he was cheating on the woman he was cheating with by lying to her about being married.
 
After Hastert became Speaker he was strongly criticized in 2005 for not taking stronger, harsher and faster action against Mark Foley a House Republican who had been sending sexually explicit instant messages to underage male House pages. Obviously the hypocrisy of that would've been too much for Hastert. 
 
All these Republicans by the way, including Hastert had voted for The Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 designed to prevent gays from getting married. 
 
Then there was Tom DeLay, former Republican whip in the House who was recently released from prison after being convicted of money laundering and sent to prison.  And Duke Cunningham, another conservative Republican congressman was sent to prison for accepting bribes on defense contracts.  And let's not forget former Republican senator Larry "wide stance" Craig  who was arrested for soliciting sex through a stall in the mens room at an airport.
 
Most recently the Republicans had conservative senator from Louisiana David Vitter, who was re-elected by the conservative Republican majority in Louisiana who was caught cheating on his wife with prostitutes provided to him by the Washington D.C. Madam. 
 
Now we have  Dennis Hastert, former Speaker of the House, lobbyist, member of the board at Wheaton College, a Christian school, now under federal indictment for lying to the FBI while making $3.5 million in hush money payments to a man who as a minor,  Hastert sexually molested repeatedly as a school teacher and wrestling coach back in the 60's and 70's. There is news that there is another man and possibly a third with a similar story.
 
Hastert has pled not guilty to the charges against him , resigned from his law firm,  resigned as a lobbyist, resigned his position at Wheaten College,there is  pressure to remove Hastert's portrait from the halls of the Capitol and Hastert has asked the Illinois state legislature to put on hold a $500,000 statue of him they planned to erect in his honor, though given the reasons for the hush money maybe "erect" isnt the best choice of words.
 
Hastert has turned out to be another in a long list of  "do as we say not as we do" Republicans who over the decades, dating back to the Nixon White House,  and HR Haldeman who have two sets of values , one for them and one for everyone else having  constantly moralized about everything setting themselves up as the arbiter of "values" and "morality" only to be exposed as hypocrites and the first to violate those same "values". Which doesn't stop them from continuing to try to impose their "values" and "principles" on everyone else. Principles like keeping government out of the private lives of American citizens, opposing "undue government influence in people's lives" to quote a conservative member of congress, except of course, when it comes to government forcing women seeking an abortion to have vaginal ultrasounds. Or to have government pass laws to prevent gays from marrying. 
 
Had they all been more honest back in 1996, instead of persecuting gays and lesbians , what they would have passed was The Defense of Cheating on Your Wife and We Define Morality Any Way We Want Act.  It would have passed by a wide margin.
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

CNN polling, not Clinton, hit new lows.






CNN's headline was "Clinton favor ability rating hits 14 year low". Another was "New CNN poll says 57% believe Clinton not honest and trustworthy". 

Only a month ago a CNN poll showed 59% believed she was honest and trustworthy and 63% said they'd be "proud" to have Clinton as president. They don't say how it could change so dramatically without a single news event to explain it. They muse. They try and tie it to Obama's falling approval ratings. But the answer is simpler. The poll is completely bogus. 

What really happened in the last month to cause Clinton's approval rating to plummet?  The answer is nothing. Because based on CNN's history of grossly inaccurate and incompetent polling the probability is it didn't plummet at all and that it's CNN's polling that has hit new lows in incompetence not Clinton's favorability. 

Remember this is the news organization who, after Bin Laden was killed thought it was newsworthy and intelligent and informative and valuable to do a poll asking "Do you think Bin Laden is in hell"?  The result which CNN displayed without any embarrassment was that 75% said yes. Which also says something about who CNN appeals to, who they poll, who is willing to respond and who is watching.

CNN never said  if they had  a hell correspondent to verify the poll numbers but you don't need one to know that as a news organization CNN went to hell a long time ago . 

So this isn't about Clinton as much as it's about CNN and their  history at least over the last 15 years of  gross incompetence and even stupidity in their polling while their anchors and guests and analysts discuss these polls with a straight face as if they have any validity. 
CNN did a poll two days ago regarding the NSA in the wake of the Patriot Act expiring that also hit new lows in idiocy and incompetence. Their pollsters asked "Do you want NSA surveillence to continue"? The result was 63% said yes .
CNN's crack journalists concluded that meant a majority of Americans wanted to continue the bulk phone record collection exposed by Edward Snowden. 

Did CNN ask if people wanted the NSA to continue to collect all their phone records ? No. Did CNN ask if people wanted the NSA to secretly collect all their emails? No. Did CNN ask if they wanted the NSA to track all their internet activity without a warrant? No.  CNN asked if they wanted surveillance to continue as if even Edward Snowden ever advocated the end of all surveillance. That is how stupid the CNN poll is and how stupidly they framed the question. 

Then based on this, CNN concludes that Rand Paul is in big political trouble for his stand against NSA surveillance and the bulk collection of the phone records as Chris Cuomo tried to point out in an interview with a Kentucky  congressman who is a Paul supporter. Which means even  Chris Cuomo ignored CNN polling that showed Paul in a statistical dead heat with Clinton. 

Cuomo also ignored another conclusion - that if Paul is in trouble then so are the 400+ members of congress who voted overwhelmingly for the USA Freedom Act and to end the bulk phone records collection of American citizens that was at the heart of the NSA controversy exposed by Edward Snowden and that a federal judge has already ruled illegal.


That CNN's pollsters and editors didnt know enough, either out of lack of simple competence or for more nefarious reasons, to make a distinction between surveillance in general and the NSA's illegal phone records collection of U.S. citizens is just another reason to dismiss any CNN poll as lunacy and a bunch of kids playing in a sand box or having a food fight.

During the Iraq war  CNN conducted two polls which taken together would lead to the conclusion that the American people didn't value the lives of American soldiers, if you can believe that. Either that or the American people didn't know the Iraq war was being fought with live ammunition.  One poll asked if respondents supported American soldiers fighting in Iraq. Over 60% said they did . A second poll asked if they felt Iraq was worth American soldiers dying for. Over 60% said they didn't.No one at CNN said anything about the obvious moral discrepancy or that if more than  60%  supported Americans fighting in Iraq  but thought it wasn't worth  dying for what that would say about the value Americans placed on the the lives of American soldiers.  Maybe because to bring it up would have more to do with the value of a CNN poll.

The latest CNN polls are supposed to be bad news for Clinton. But they also show that only 12% of Republican voters want Rand Paul to be the Republican nominee and only 14% want Marco Rubio.   But  in CNN's poll of Clinton vs. Republican challengers head to head, Rubio gets  46% of the vote while Clinton gets 49%.  Rand Paul who yesterday was in deep political trouble over CNN's NSA poll has 47% against Clinton's 48%. So are we to believe that only 12% of Republican voters want the candidate with the best chance of beating Clinton to be the nominee? 



 A month ago a  CNN poll showed Clinton with a 17-23 pt lead over her nearest Republican  challenger.  So what happened? Are the head to head match ups an entirely new and separate  poll from the poll dealing exclusively with Clinton? If so where are Rubio's voters coming from? Or Rand Paul's?  Democrats? Independents? Aliens? Gnomes? Did CNN ask? Do they care? They don't notice anything that's an itsy bitsy witsy out of whack?  

The numbers don't add up. And neither does the one month free fall in Clinton's honesty or approval rating when there has not been a single news event to explain it. Nor the change in 63% saying they'd be "proud" to have Clinton as president only a few weeks ago to a sneering 57%  saying she is not honest or trustworthy. 

Nevertheless blind CNN anchors ignoring how preposterous the polls are taken together, instead of questioning their validity  then proceed, along with their guests, to discuss what they "mean". 

What they mean is what they have meant for years - CNN polling is the most incompetent inept unprofessional,  laughable and easily dismissed polling in the business.  They have more in common with Kafka than the Koch Brothers. And everyone from the Clinton campaign to anyone keeping an eye on politics should dismiss them. 

Polling is generally not much more than a thumbnail version of market research. The difference is that when Proctor and Gamble does market research they really want to know what people think. When CNN or many news organizations do a poll, they dont want to know what people really think, they want something to talk about. And they frame their questions and methods accordingly.  So while CNN pollsters might be good enough for CNN , they'll never be good enough for Proctor and Gamble.