Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Nut Cutting Time

Chuck Schumer, senior Senator from New York, enjoys describing himself as one of Israel's strongest advocates in Washington. He is also lampooned as someone who never met a camera on which he was reluctant to appear. He's also portrayed as the ultimate Obama loyalist, along with his buddies Pelosi, Reid, Durban and Hoyer, although he defends his independence with his opposition to Obama's fast track trade agreements. This is ridiculous.

Schumer has defended the President and slammed Republicans on nearly every major policy initiative during his tenure. He had no issue whatever with using a budgetary technicality called Reconciliation, so Obamacare could pass without a single Republican vote. He has fully endorsed the retreats from Iraq and Afghanistan, and, therefore, bears some responsibility for the growth of ISIS. He has consistently voted for expansion of the exploding Federal deficit, consistently voted against approving the Keystone pipeline and has voted against completion of a border fence between Mexico and the U.S. By implication, he supports the concept of "sanctuary cities", open borders and a path to legalization for illegal immigrants.

But what rises above all is his declaration, over and over, that he is Israel's most vocal supporter in the Senate. We'll soon see.

There is no chance whatever of denying Obama a victory on this Kerry treaty with Iran without opposition from Schumer. He represents 25% of all Jewish voters in the U.S., nearly all of whom are liberal Democrats. Even if there is a successful "no" vote, the bill will be vetoed by Obama. Does Schumer have the courage of his convictions to lead a bipartisan effort to override?

Forgive my skepticism. I say no. He will vote against the treaty's passage on the first vote and WILL NOT vote to override Obama's veto. That gives him the sleazy cover that's become his trademark. He can say he initially supported Israel's interests (thus defending himself against AIPAC and his Jewish contributors), but could not betray the President on an override, thus assuring himself of the primary leadership position among Democrats in the next session. He could become majority leader if Republicans cannot hold the Senate.

It is difficult to imagine that Schumer can maintain any credibility if the votes occur as I have predicted. Unfortunately, it has become today's political reality that adherence to liberal orthodoxy trumps many other interests, particularly in the case of Jewish members of Congress and the Senate. They are so fearful of having to defend themselves against the anti-Semitic charge of having "divided loyalty" that they will bend over backwards to avoid any appearance of such a challenge.

Senators Boxer and Feinstein have announced their support. I don't see a declarative statement on the website of statesman Al Franken. Rep. Jan Schakowky who represents one of the most upscale Jewish districts on Chicago's North Shore, has declared her support.

Schumer is the effective senior leader of the Jewish congressional delegation and many will look to him for the political cover necessar to oppose this treaty. While his support in the past is undeniable, this is - as we say in Texas - nut cutting time. He's either in for the struggle or he's out and sacrifices his remaining integrity in the hope of leading the Senate in a Clinton administration.

Where do you think he lands? Taking courageous "stands" is not something generally associated with his reputation as a legislator.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Nuclear Syria........Almost

As we continue to discuss and examine the Kerry-Obama Iran agreement, it is important to inject some historical context into the examination, instead of resorting to the illogical defenses presented by the agreement's architects. "It's this agreement or war" "A bad agreement is better than no agreement at all" "This agreement makes America safer, makes Israel safer" "This agreement guarantees that Iran will not make a nuclear weapon". Oh, please. Each more ridiculous than the last.

Let's turn the clock back, shall we? And just a few short years ago. In February 2007, a former general in Iran's Revolutionary Guard made a frightening allegation. He suggested that Bashar Assad was in the process of developing a nuclear capability, funded by Iran, with technology provided by North Korea. Neither US nor Israeli intelligence were aware of such an undertaking, according to reports. There had been anecdotal reports of construction materials being delivered to Syria, but it wasn't until this defection that things became more clear.

According to the general, Iran was anxious to help Assad obtain nuclear weapons technology and had paid the North Koreans $1 - 2 billion to construct the project. Satellite images confirmed that the site under construction was to contain a gas graphite reactor, a North Korean design signature, which could create enough plutonium to produce a weapon annually.

In August 2007 Israeli Defense Force commandos infiltrated the Syrian site and took photos and soil samples. Just before this incursion, a North Korean ship bound for Syria was intercepted and nuclear fuel rods found aboard. On September 7, 2007, seven Israeli F-15's were dispatched to the north. About 30 miles from the target, they fired 22 missiles at three targets located within this construction complex. The reactor that was being built secretly was destroyed. Iran did not comment on the raid. Israel never claimed responsibility. Syria claimed the site was an unused military facility. They also claimed there was no nuclear cooperation among Syria, Iran or North Korea.

Today we can make some reasonable assumptions about this incident. There was a reactor under construction in the Syrian desert. The IAEA confirmed it. The reactor was destroyed by an Israeli raid. North Korea was providing intellectual and material support. The presence of the reactor was revealed by a senior Iranian military official/defector.

This occurred eight short years ago and is illustrative of a few things. Iran is investing billions to keep Assad in power today. The Russians are deeply invested in the same. Much of Iran's nuclear infrastructure has been provided by the Russians. They would desperately like to see the full compliment of embargoes come off the Iranians because that also helps the Syrians. Iran has never revealed the true extent of its nuclear facilities or research, and it will not have to do so under the terms of the new Kerry agreement. Kerry-Obama intend to take their agreement to the UN for a vote before it receives full deliberation by Congress. That way, Russia and China can vote to remove sanctions regardless of the outcome in Congress (which is ultimately irrelevant anyway).

Maybe that's the flexibility Obama was promising Putin. Even the Germans have already announced a visit to Tehran by the foreign minister and business interests. So, though it is shameful to admit, this agreement cannot be stopped. Not without significant defections by Democrats which is unlikely. Iran will pay no price for lying to the international community for years, will not even pay a price for attempting to bring Syria into the nuclear club of nations.

But the past is a harbinger of the future, and with its own nuclear capabilities fully functioning and bearing an international seal of approval, outsourced adventurism, like that destroyed by the Israelis in 2007, will no longer be necessary.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Iranian Whipping Fest

The Iran nuclear agreement has been concluded, and to no one's surprise, the Presidenr has praised it as ground-breaking, life-affirming and presidential-saving. Anyone following this man to any degree had to know that reaching an agreement was as essential as passing nationalized health care.

He has used his natural sway with democrats marvelously and has used the preferential treatment he receives at the hands of the press with mastery. Republicans have been cowed into petrification when confronting him about anything. Whether it's a concern that they'll be blamed for a limited government shut down if he's challenged on economic conflicts or a worry that they have no standing to insist that an Iran nuclear deal is a "treaty" and not an "executive agreement", they have been cowed into inaction and are paralyzed by the notion of directly confronting the President. Was there ever an occasion or a subject that caused democrats to pause- even momentarily - to confront President Bush?

There has been unilateral capitulation to the Iranians on this agreement. No explanation or demand to explain the military ramifications of their nuclear program. No requirement to explain the secret installations only revealed to the West by intelligence sources that did not appear to be consistent with a civilian energy program. No agreement to inspections of any suspected nuclear facility without 24 days' notice and an unclear method of enforcement if a dispute arises after this notice. A release of the embargo on conventional weapons and ballistic missiles after several years. What possible need is there for a ballistic missile program if all Iran wants is a peaceful program to develop civilian power?

As an enthusiastic constitutionalist and supporter of Israel, a few caveats are in order. I've never opposed having conversations with Iran. Their demeanor has been so belligerent and their actions so provocative, it has been difficult to conceive that any discussions would yield a commitment from the mullahs to modify the rhetoric that has come to define the regime. But they would never have willingly come to a table at which the Great Satan was present had they not been forced. Economic sanctions have had a real impact on the health of their economy, particularly when it comes to oil exports.

Discussions with Iran, however, would also require a certain suspension of disbelief for the American participants: Iran has provided the IED's that have killed and maimed American sons and daughters in Iraq; Iran has killed American servicemen in Lebanon in 1983; and killed countless civilians through proxies in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and now Yemen.

Fortunately, the mullahs found the perfect negotiating partners in Obama and Kerry. Desperate to secure a rapprochement for legacy purposes and to patch up the foreign policy disasters wrought by the "Arab Spring" and the embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood, Obama and Kerry are ideological brothers, bonded by a left wing distrust of the "military industrial complex", as we called it during the Vietnam era. They loathe American assertions of power and both have solidified their liberal bona fides with strident anti-war protest and actions.

But two critical factors make this particular foreign policy initiative so heinous.

First, like so many policy pronouncements from the Obama administration, this was predicated on simple misstatements of fact (we used to call them "lies" back in the day). That Iran would be forced to disclose the true nature of their past nuclear activity, that they would be forced to roll back their enrichment activities, that conventional weapon and ballistic missile sanctions would remain, that "anytime, anywhere" inspections would be required - you know the drill. Nothing seems to have survived the tenacious negotiating skills of the Obama team.

Second, the idiot Republicans in control of both houses have given away their constitutional authority to approve this agreement. It's not for the President to decide whether an arrangement among countries is an "agreement" or a "treaty". That's the Senate's call. But the Senate Republicans are so terrified of the media, so petrified about opposing the President and being labeled racists, that they refuse to confront the dangers associated with the substance of this agreement and have effectively relinquished any mechanism to stop it. The President will veto any attempt to block his agreement and there will not be enough democratic opposition to override.

It is an embarrassment from start to finish - the agreement itself and the weakness of our legislative bodies to analyze its contents in such a way that it could be rejected if determined to not be in the best interests of the country and its allies.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

"Unserious Critics": Roger Cohen and Senate Republicans

Two articles appearing today require addressing the looming deal with Iran: one by Roger Cohen in the Times and the other by one of my ideological heroes Andy McCarthy at National Review. Mr. Cohen, like many writers at the Times of course, are openly supportive of the broad Obama agenda, and reaching an agreement with Iran is consistent with their collective vision. Mr. McCarthy comments on a letter Sen. Ben Sasse has written to the President which conflicts with the bizarre bill he co-sponsored with Sen. Bob Corker regarding how Congress will "review" the agreement once it's concluded.

I'm quite certain I have written an earlier post on a column written by Cohen. He seems hell bent on trying to find the most obscure ways of rationalizing an agreement with Iran, but today's column is bending into territory that twists fact and reality. He claims that an earlier, preliminary agreement between the U.S. and Iran on nuclear matters has effectively limited nuclear development and been honored by the Iranians. This is patently untrue. One need only follow the link Mr. Cohen provides from an earlier "news" report by the Times to see how faithless his argument is. The article is from November 2013, and it reports that the accord is scheduled to last 6 months and it requires Iran to prove, according to John Kerry, that its nuclear program really is for "peaceful" purposes. He said the accord would insure that Iran would not be able to create a nuclear weapon and that it would "make Israel safer".

Regardless of where we stand on the political spectrum, I would hope we would all agree: Iran will obtain nuclear weapons and whenever that happens, Israel will not be safe.

So, fundamentally, Cohen's contention that this interim accord of 2013 enjoyed some measure of success is inherently false. It accomplished nothing, except bringing Iran to the table. And that's not a bad thing. It's what's happening at the table - right now - that is a bad thing.

The article goes on to say that the Iranians have agreed to inspections at Natanz and Fordo on a "daily" basis to inspect film to insure no cheating occurs. We now know Ayatollah Khameini has prohibited this. Cohen seems to believe that the Ayatollah will buckle on this demand and that Obama cannot conclude an agreement without it. Who will end up blinking in the final hour? I suspect - again - regardless of where we stand, we know the answer. Obama and Kerry have banked so much capital on this legacy agreement, have given away so much to even reach this point, it is difficult to imagine an announcement will contain any surprises.

Which leads us to McCarthy. He expresses curiosity about Sen. Sasse's sudden concern that the looming agreement requires the U.S. to prove Iran's noncompliance rather than the other way around. This could be the defining example of irony since Senators Sasse and Corker have abrogated their constitutional authority in return for getting Democrats to agree on any Congressional oversight of this agreement. As usual, this was an unnecessary and repulsive capitulation by Republicans. They control the House. They control the Senate.

This agreement should have been subjected to the "advice and consent" powers of the Senate and the President should have been compelled to find a 2/3 majority for approval. As it stands this Sasse-Corker bill is a showpiece. Regardless of Congress' vote, the President will get his agreement because he can simply veto the passage of Sasse-Corker and his agreement passes into law. That's why he agreed to it. Whether Roger Cohen or any of us see "unambiguous acquiescence to full site access". There is reasonable skepticism that Kerry will walk if he is unable to negotiate this.

Cohen calls us "unserious critics". I call him naive, dangerous and someone who refuses to acknowledge that "Death to Israel" is more than some rhetorical chant following Friday prayers.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Last Grateful Dead Show

When I started to fool around with this blog, I said I would reflect occasionally on cultural happenings. That hasn't occurred, except as areas of politics and culture have overlapped. It is impossible, however, to not mark the final Grateful Dead concert without some reflection. It is weird, I guess, that like Ann Coulter, I'm kind of a freak because I'm a tie dyed Dead fan with die hard conservative politics.

I do not know - or more accurately cannot remember - how many Dead shows I have seen. It was surely more than all the other concerts I saw in total, and I saw many concerts. I saw my first concert at Princeton University without really knowing much about the band. According to the Dead's own website the concert would have taken place in April, 1971. But that doesn't make chronological sense to me. I had gotten into Workingman's Dead and American Beauty which came out in 1970, on the heels of the seminal Crosby, Stills and Nash album that was released in 1969. So, I think I would have been more familiar with their catalogue than I remember being (and I was not using anything mind altering) that night in the gym at Princeton. I remember being unbelievably bored during Pigpen's songs, couldn't figure out what they were doing during their improvisational jams, heard "Morning Dew" for the first time and found it transcendent. According to the Dead's website that is the only concert to have taken place at Princeton (which I also think is not accurate), so who am I to argue?

I accidentally attended the final show of the now-famous Europe '72 tour at the Lyceum in London. I doubt I had seen a show between Princeton and this one because I was still not into the band in a dedicated way. A friend and I also saw The Beach Boys without Brian Wilson at Royal Festival Hall. Tickets to The Lyceum show were readily available and I remember two things I had not experienced before at any American venue: there were bars serving beer and the floor of the theater had no seats. It was a wide open area where people danced, milled around and would wander to the front of the stage and back. There were seats upstairs, as I recall. Since it was the last night of the Euopean tour, the New Riders (who opened) gave away these circular cardboard spinners with their distinctive logo, and "One More Saturday Night" ended the show and tour with balloons and confetti, and I was hooked.

I saw the band all over the East Coast over the next few years. Capitol Theater in Passaic, the Beacon, Glens Falls, Philly, Hartford, New Haven, Madison Square Garden, Uniondale. One of the best shows I ever saw was in Englishtown in 1977. Bobby was recovering from a broken leg (I think), and they had taken a big break before this show. There were 100,000 people at this show (I tried to avoid these "festival" environments at all costs, but this was very close to where I was living), and it was astounding as the band ripped into "Promised Land" and Bobby messed up the lyrics to the first song. I listen to that Dick's Picks today and still believe I had seen the band on one of their best days. Jerry's leads were crisp, original, virtuous and he didn't seem to want to let any song end without ripping off some memorable fill that would stand the test of time.

I saw my one and only New Year's Eve show in Oakland in 1979. They played the final "Sunshine Daydream" that night, and while they played 3 sets as was their continuing custom of New Year's Eve, I knew what I had grown to love was over. Keith and Donna had left the band, and I was unimpressed with the Brent Myland addition. Keith's primarily acoustic piano fill was way more to my liking, and while I often cringed at Donna Jean's harmonies, Brent's electronic keyboards overwhelmed me and his vocals lacked any sense of subtlety.

I saw the band again in my new home of Austin, TX on my birthday in 1983. Honestly, it was hard to watch; I found the sets truncated and passionless, like they couldn't wait to get out of there. I found my way to a Madison Square Garden show in September 1987 when I found myself in New York on business. I walked from my hotel to the Garden and went to the show by myself. I was a complete
fish out of water and so was the band. Bobby played an awful slide on "Little Red Rooster" that I
couldn't wait to end. They did play "High Time" and "Crazy Fingers", two great songs which I had
not heard live in years. But those pleasures were unfortunate exceptions.

My last show was also another fortuitous  accident. I was at Spanish Bay outside Carmel at an event for Showtime Networks. Two friends of mine who worked there, Scott Kurnit and Tony Cox, told me they were driving to Shoreline Amphitheater to drop a check off to the band because (in typical Dead fashion) they were doing a pay per view telecast that night. I begged them to go, so off we went. I cannot determine from the Dead show archive exactly which show this was. I went backstage, we dropped the check off to the band's attorney, and Jerry was sitting at a round metal table, laughing and eating. I did not want to disturb him, but I knew with certainty this was a singular moment. I went over, introduced myself and departed quietly. He was courteous and returned the greeting. Later, I met Bobby and had my photo taken with him, Scott and Tony.

During the show, I was able to wander around backstage, but the first row at Shoreline was
unoccupied - perhaps it was needed for the TV cameras and would have obstructed some very expensive seats. Jerry was obviously doing well; I remember him sharing a joke with someone backstage and he seemed totally at ease. I wandered into the front row by myself (I was clearly more interested in the music than Scott or Tony) and found a seat directly in front of Jerry. It was a beautiful early evening, the seats were full and people on blankets peppered the hillside. Shoreline seemed weird to me - it felt like an industrially orchestrated amphitheater in a Silicon Valley office park. Whatever. That night - I swear - as I sat alone in that front row - Garcia was looking at me as he played and I just forgot about those years and those shows where they had lost me for a while.

I watched a terrible YouTube video of the first night in Chicago last night. It was "Franklin's Tower" and Trey Anastasio was having so much fun playing that song and it just sounded so good to me. I had seen a video of Trey playing with Phil in 2006, and the video starts with Trey in the middle of
"St. Stephen's" - he is looking at the crowd, never needing to glance at his fret board, and just ripping off these riffs that sound only like Trey. No one - absolutely no one - was better suited to help take
this band out for its final encore than this guy whose tireless devotion to playing requires him to be
doing something even when Phish is not. Love that band or hate it, it does not exist without the Grateful Dead and now, it is hard to imagine, that Trey does not pull something out of the extensive Dead catalogue he learned for the tour. Like Jerry, he eschews the trappings of fame and fashion, and he plays with Phish, his own band, Phil Lesh, Carlos Santana - his playing is impossible to fit into some tight genre defined by some Sirius/XM channel. It is impossible to not compare him with Jerry who, for example, made bluegrass cool.

Bluegrass has an authenticity that Jerry loved, that influenced the Dead's music, that continues to thrive. There was nothing that came close to the improvisational nature of the Grateful Dead. Phish and many others continue to keep that tradition alive and music has been forever changed. I loved being a part of it even at the margins.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Independence Day Reflection

When I started writing this blog for my own entertainment and as a way to continue to exercise my right to free expression (and because I really wanted to continue exploring a voice for my writing), I very purposefully used "flyover" in the title. For me, it's partially descriptive of where I live. For my liberal friends in New York, California and Illinois, it's a pejorative, descriptive of rednecks and people with confederate stickers on their pickup truck windows.

Texas is my home and I have lived here as long as I've lived anywhere. My four boys were born here and they proudly consider themselves "natives" which is an interesting concept I haven't observed anywhere besides Alaska. In Alaska, you're either from there or the "lower 48". Here, many people, though intensely patriotic, consider themselves Texans first and Americans second. It's funny - we Jews often have our patriotism called into question for similar reasons. I live in Austin, which is fundamentally as liberal as any place I've ever lived: Lloyd Doggett, who exemplifies the need for term limits, represents most of the area with a voting record dispossessed of any independent streak. If Pelosi told him we needed to remove the body of Chris Kyle from the Texas State Cemetary because it offended the families killed by his sniping accuracy, he would hold a press conference tomorrow lamenting the colonial oppression Chris Kyle brought to bear on the citizens of Fallujah who suffered from insufficient employment options.

But unlike any other state in the Union (oh, boy - can I say Union?), the flag of Texas flies on many flagpoles without the Stars and Stripes in evidence. Even in Austin. It's a symbol of our singular status. It's a constant reminder that things are just a little bit different here. In many ways, particularly sociologically, we're basically saying that we don't really give a crap about dealing with challenging issues in some diluted way that suits a national consensus, we'll figure out what works for the majority of Texans, and the country be damned. I understand why that would offend a lot of people, especially those in Marin or Fairfield Counties. But we believe that people in Marin and Fairfield are convinced that they know much better than we what's best for us, and we know with equal conviction that people in those counties are elitist snobs who would be terrified to find themselves in Gun Barrel City because the nearest Four Seasons is all the way in Houston.

Ok, we did just pass open carry legislation. You are going to be able to walk down Congress Avenue in Austin with a pistol on full display. I'm willing to concede that part of that was intended to show the Marin and Fairfield people that the can stick their restrictive gun control where the sun don't shine (cause it obviously doesn't reduce violent crime perpetrated with firearms), but it was also intended to scare them and keep them the hell away from us.

This place is the friendliest, most pleasant place imaginable where most people (except those with California or Connecticut tags) will yield to you in traffic, where people make eye contact and say hello, where "please" and "thank you" are still commonly employed, where people hold doors open for one another, and when people ask you about your kids they really want to know how your kids are.

Oh, Jesus, my Marin and Fairfield friends will say; there you go again rhapsodizing about an America that "was". That was lilly white, that had no black president, that loved fossil fuels, that didn't provide universal health care, that had different bathrooms for men and women, yadda, yadda yadda. That America is dead and gone. Hallelujah!

I can't speak for the vast territory incorporated into the flyover, but in Texas, there are lively vestiges of that "was" America still thriving and cultivating a culture that embraces individuality, that still tells kids it's okay to play outside until the sun starts to go down and where driving on the shoulder isn't done because driving on the shoulder isn't done. You can still eat an occasional french fry here, a 64 ounce Big Gulp is not recommended, but isn't illegal, and we love a nasty US - Mexico soccer game
because it's big brother vs little brother (you can determine which is which).

Do we want more border security? Does a chupacabra shit in the desert? We must have more border security. But despite the prejudicial generalizations made about us, we have a provincial melting pot that pervades all society here. We all argue - Anglo, Latino, whatever - about where to find the best ethnic foods, regardless of derivation. We all love - and are willing to sample - the rich availability of music here. The Texas I love treasures its traditions and embraces its cultural heritage. It's not the America that "was"; it's really the America that will be if the politicians don't fuck it up. Lower taxes, smaller government, reasonable business regulation, cultural diversity. Arguably, the most successful and attractive state in the Union.

Happy 4th, people! Back to argumentative, divisive politics tomorrow!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

NYT Scoop: Bernie Sanders was '60's Radical

The Grey Lady continues to make news itself with the astounding scoop, revealed today, that Bernie Sanders, Socialist Senator from Vermont, was an avowed "radical" during the 1960's. This remarkable and totally unexpected revelation bears the byline of Sarah Lyall, graduate of the Philips Exeter Academy and Yale University, where she was undoubtedly exposed to an education free from political indoctrination and taught to be objective in her reporting of the "news".

It is remarkable that major media outlets have positioned the hair-challenged Sanders as the "anti-Hillary". I guess we must infer they mean that perhaps Sanders has a different relationship with the truth because ideologically there's nothing "anti" about him. Since the two share a syncophantic devotion to single term Senator Obama, who bears the mantle of Saul Alinsky and the Weather Underground generally, intrepid reporter Lyall now confirms to us that Sanders was a "political organizer" and "labor agitator". My fellow Americans, I think we now can admit to ourselves that these vocations are essential qualifications when judging the suitability of potential Oval Office occupiers.

Remarkably, he also shares Obama's keen scientific background. While we can all finally admit that the President accurately frames the subject of global warming as a paramount National Security Threat when addressing graduates of our service academies, Sanders claims that cancer "could be caused by psychological factors such as unresolved hostility towards one's mother". Who wouldn't trust the promulgation of EPA regulations to a man with such sound scientific reasoning?

Salon.com reports to us that "The Bernie Sanders Smear Campaign Has Begun".  One must wonder who might be behind this delusional headline featured on Salon. Is it the liberal media, personified by the leading light of the movement, The New York Times? It would appear not. Is it Fox News or right wing talk radio? Can't say that's likely - while they're hardly Hillary fans, do they care ultimately about the eventual Democratic nominee? No, the only specific smear mentioned occurred on MSNBC and was attributed to Claire McCaskill. The same Senator McCaskill that has a 100% voting record with the AFL-CIO, Planned Parenthood, AFSCME (public sector union bankrupting states and municipalities), UAW (93%), NARAL. She has every right to take whatever positions she chooses; my point is that this is the politician Salon has identified as leading the Sanders Smear? Ridiculous.

We must come to the conclusion that the Democratic establishment, regardless of their chronological age, is controlled by adherents to the ideology of 1960's radicalism. It is undeniably the case for the Obamas, Clintons, Kerry, the Congressional Black Caucus and, holy cow, Bernie Sanders. It is consistently anti-military, favors entitlement expansion, winks at illegal immigration, desires tax expansion and endorses income redistribution.

Bernie Sanders is no longer the weird Socialist outlier who caucuses with the Democrats. He now represents the essential positions of the party which, with the assistance of a sympathetic media, stifles any expression of moderation.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Two Juicy Irresistable Stories

Oh, man, my friends, things are ratcheting up hot and heavy. Obama and Kerry have given themselves a week to just squeeze the bejeezus out of the Mullahs for their home run agreement, Donald Trump can't keep himself out of trouble and could give a shit and Hillary Clinton is psychologically incapable of keeping herself out of trouble, period. And everybody's favorite gay crew member of the Starship Enterprise said one of the all time most bigoted things ever today, but, never mind, #lovewins!! Yeah!,

Amongst all this crazy goodness, though, my two juicy stories of the day have to be illustrations of hypocrisy run wild and public figures that will literally lie about anything, no matter how ludicrous our obvious.

Our first winner of the day must be Lanny Davis (a lawyer!), who can only be topped by Sidney Blumenthal, David Brock and David Axelrod, as one of the greatest liars in American history (oh, wait - what about that other Clinton genius, Sandy Berger, who smuggled Clintonian dirt out of the National Archives inadvertently?). And why or why are nearly all these putzes Jewish (we'll get to that some other time)? He actually said today that Hillary Rodham Clinton "hasn't changed a single position in her entire career". I'm sorry, what? I'm not going to waste anyone's time (least of all, mine, since I'm writing), but, holy shit, if any fleck of common sense remained extant on this planet (and I'm already having my doubts) this statement would vaporize it instantaneously. How does a human being with a fiber of ethical standards allow a phrase like that to emanate from one's lips, let alone be formulated by some quasi-functional brain tissue?

My second winner (and how could you have guessed?) goes to Moe, Larry and Curly, alternatively known as Barack, Uncle Joe and John Heinz Kerry. They have determined that they are going to place an embassy in Havana where the government in residence tortures its citizens, denies them free speech, outsources its support to equally repressive regimes in Nicaragua, Venezuela and Bolivia ("Viva la Coca!") , generally conducting itself with the same sort of civilized aplomb with our other great new ally, Iran. Now, mind you, The Stooges apparently have a major issue with torture, dismisses the legitimacy of opinion that runs counter to their own and bends over backwards to invent constitutional protections that don't exist for people who violate our laws. Hell, they even threw a guy in jail for making a video that killed our ambassador in Libya.

Now, they're going to get their embassy in Havana. And they'll probably put one in Tehran, too. But they refuse to put one in Jerusalem, the capital city of Israel, which the Israelis have been requesting they do for years. But, somehow, our self-described "first Jewish President" won't honor the wishes of the country that holds democratic elections, embraces religious and sexual diversity, doesn't threaten its neighbors and isn't exporting revolutionary dogma to other countries. Is it perfect? Hardly. Are we? Moving away from it at light speed.

Is it conceivable that the Clinton and Obama crowds, aided and abetted by serial liars like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid (oh, one of the greatest ever - remember the story of "Tommy", the illegal alien who called and spoke with him at his office? I am so sure that happened.) are so thoroughly convinced that they are essentially untouchable that they can get away with saying anything? When acting together, they actually told the grieving families of the four heroes killed in Libya that they would spare no effort to find the evil videographer responsible for the death of their loved ones. They knew those words were vile lies when they said them. They knew what had really happened there. And they had no qualms about the mendacity of their words or saying them in the presence of those flag draped coffins.

It was always about them. Saving their skins. Cultivating their legacies. That's what Havana, Tehran and Jerusalem are about, too. Doing the right thing is somewhere lost in space on the Starship Enterprise.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Tom Friedman Strikes Again!

American Middle East genius and Charlie Rose's favorite guest, Tom Friedman, has once again astounded the board of anonymous voters of the Pulizer Prize, and issued another scintillating analysis of the Iran nuclear negotiations being conducted by people likely to help him secure a nifty piece of property on Sconset Beach in Nantucket.

Unlike prior insightful critiques within which Mr. Friedman endorses without reservation the historic legitimization of the Persian regime which sent improvised explosive devices to Iraq to kill and maim members of the American military, continues to rearm and send its its highest military advisers to Lebanon to assist Hizballah and expends millions of rials (or whatever the hell their currency is called) to help Assad drop barrel bombs on civilians, he has now concluded that perhaps the American shock troops from the State Department have been out negotiated by the Iranians. I can only compare this to the alarmingly naive admission by David Harsanyi of The Federeralist today that perhaps he endorsed the notion of support of gay unions a bit prematurely because he didn't know that it would used as an assault weapon against people of faith who mistakenly believed that the archaic Constituition somehow provided them with some protection of religious expression.

As I have mentioned in this space before, Tom Friedman has shown himself on various occasions to be a pseudo-intellectual whose bona fides are stamped with the approval of the Rosenthal's, Charlie Rose and any other mainstream nitwit willing to provide him with a platform. Somehow From Beirut to Jerusalem has secured him a permanent position as the elitist expert on Middle Eastern affairs. This, despite the fact that he has joined the catcalls from the Obama administration denigrating the standing of Bibi Netanyahu, that he has joined the Valerie Jarratt-inspired abridgment of his ability to speak freely to the American Congress and people, and he has ineptly defended the Obama outreach to "moderate" Muslims and defended the "democratic" election of the Brotherhood in Egypt. This guy has been so wrong so consistently, I'm surprised he was passed over to become an official in the Carter Administration, has failed to secure a position in the Clinton Foundation or become IT chief of the State Department archives.

The significant admission of Friedman's column, of course, is that he has taken the first step of creating space between his reformed world view and that of John Kerry. He is beginning to acknowledge that this perverse Iranian agreement will not be approved by Congress and will require a presidential veto to become effective. As much as Tom loves Obamacare, hiking taxes on fossil fuel consumption, and unending investment in "infrastructure", he cannot afford to be perceived as endorsing a lunatic agreement that sanctions an Iranian atomic program, does not curtail ballistic missile development and restricts access to suspected military sites. He can praise normalization of relations with Cuba until the cows come home, but when he undermines his essential reason for being - the undisputed, progressive analyst of Middle Eastern geopolitics - and he comes down on the wrong side of the Iranian issue - well, that's it for 'ol Tommy. Credibility shot. No more Pulitzers. Vanity Fair invites out the window.

This is a good sign, and Tom realizes some tweaking of his public statements are necessary before July 7. Otherwise, his life's work of projecting himself as "I'm the only legitimate American pundit who REALLY understands the ebb and flow of the Middle Eastern street" will be punctured like the lightweight balloon he has always been.