American Elephants


Congress Calls Obama’s Attention to a Matter of Backbone.. by The Elephant's Child

Eighty-three U.S. senators got together yesterday to demand that President Obama meet with core principles, including unmistakable consequences, in any final nuclear agreement with Iran. Leaders in the bipartisan letter were Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Coons (D-DE) Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH).

The number of senators included serves as a warning to the administration that they have the support to override a veto on tougher Iran sanctions.  Harry Reid (D-NV) who held up a sanctions vote at the request of the White House, did not sign the letter. The letter stated:

For twenty years, Congress has consistently focused attention on the threat of the Iranian program and taken the lead in initiating sanctions.  Congress has repeatedly stated that preventing an Iranian nuclear capability is a key goal of U.S. foreign policy.  Nine separate pieces of sanctions legislation have passed Congress since 1996.  We appreciate your continued commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and your efforts to implement the sanctions, which isolated and pressured the regime into negotiations.

We believe that Congress has a continuing role to play to improve the prospects for success in the talks with Iran.  As these negotiations proceed, we will outline our views about the essential goals of a final agreement with Iran, continue oversight of the interim agreement and the existing sanctions regime, and signal the consequences that will follow if Iran rejects an agreement that brings to an end its nuclear weapons ambitions.

They enumerated these core principles:

  • We believe Iran has no inherent right to enrichment under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
  • We believe any agreement must dismantle Iran’s nuclear weapons program and prevent it from ever having a uranium or plutonium path to a nuclear bomb.
  • We believe Iran has no reason to have an enrichment facility like Fordow, that the regime must give up its heavy water reactor at Arak, and that it must fully explain the questionable activities in which it engaged at Parchin and other facilities.
  • We believe Iran must fully resolve concerns addressed in United Nations Security Council resolutions including any military dimensions of its nuclear program.
  • We believe Iran must submit to a long-term and intrusive inspection and verification regime to achieve the goal described in the Joint Plan of Action “reaffirm[ing] that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek or develop any nuclear weapons.” Finally, we believe Iran must not be allowed during these negotiations to circumvent sanctions. We view this period as one fraught with the danger of companies and countries looking to improve their commercial position in Tehran, especially given recent reports of rising purchases of Iranian oil. Iran cannot be allowed to be open for business. As you have stated, we must come down on those who are undermining sanctions “like a ton of bricks.”

If negotiations failed, or if Iran violated the Joint Plan of Action, Congress will ensure that the legislative authority exists to rapidly and dramatically expand sanctions.

A similar letter was sent to President Obama from the House, led by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer(D-MD) and signed by 395 lawmakers.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who previously opposed unilateral military action against Iran, is losing faith in America’s ability to keep it secure. Israel is one of America’s staunchest allies in the region. Other regional U.S. allies are already making contingency plans. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, worried about the U.S. withdrawal from the region, have forged closer ties than before. Turkey is less willing to work with the U.S. and has even made moves to improve ties with Iran. Israel will go to great lengths to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, with or without Washington’s blessing.



Inequality, Hypocrisy, Pretense, Lies, and Politics of Course. by The Elephant's Child

The Democratic Party has made it clear that they are planning to run on “Income Inequality” in the 2014 midterm election. Liberal Washington Post writer Greg Sargent has suggested that this strategy is part of the reason for Harry Reid’s embarrassing war on the Koch brothers.

When all else fails, you rely on “class warfare.” Otherwise defined as “envy,” one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Liberals’ ideas about income inequality always involve higher taxes on the rich, and more government benefits for the poor. Most of the people who are currently suffering from income inequality would prefer to have a decent job. After six years Obama’s policies still aren’t  creating jobs.

The number of long-term unemployed increased by 203,000 — at the same time that Obama brags about total non-farm payroll employment increasing by 175,000 —  you see the problem. The labor force participation rate remains at only 63 percent, a level not seen since the stagflation of the 1970s, and well below the rate when President Obama took office.

Where is Income Inequality the greatest? The gap between the wealthy and the poor is most extreme in several of the United States’ most prosperous and largest cities. The economic divides in Atlanta, San Francisco, Washington D.C., New York, Chicago and Los Angeles are significantly greater than the national average.

The one city that has hardly noticed a recession is Washington D.C.  There is plenty of income inequality, but more than half the members of Congress are millionaires. Members have long been  far wealthier than the typical American, but now a majority of members are, for the first time — millionaires.

So, if almost everybody is a millionaire, and Harry Reid certainly is, why is he at war with the Koch brothers? Liberal politics is seldom about what it claims to be about. The war on the Koch brothers is about discouraging any wealthy American from donating to the Republican party. That is what the IRS scandal is largely about — if you donate to the hated Republicans, we will attack you and make your name a poison among right-thinking people.

Democrats, on the other hand, are bountifully financed — contrary to all claims of thousands of small donations from regular folks — by the Democracy Alliance, a shadowy non-profit, self-described “liberal organization” which serves as a funding clearinghouse for progressive groups. DA members, called “partners,” include individuals and organizations alike. Partnership is by invitation only. There originally was an initial $25,000 fee, and $30,000 yearly dues thereafter. They must give at least $200,000 to groups which the Alliance endorses. There are at least 100 donor-partners. Members and staff have been working to establish subchapters in all 50 states.

There’s George Soros; Taco Bell heir Robert McKay; Tides Foundation founder Drummond Pike; Golden West Financial Corp. founders Herb and Marion Sandler; the AFL-CIO; Television producer Normal Lear; Progressive Insurance Co Chairman, Peter Lewis — for a sampling of partners. So you can see why attacking the philanthropic Koch brothers is so important. And why President Obama’s  IRS has gone to such lengths to illegally discourage donors to the Republicans with audits, searches and questionable investigations.

The man who professes solidarity with the poor has seen poverty increase every year of his presidency. His supporters and bundlers grow richer on government contracts, subsidies or grants to “green” start-ups that promptly go bankrupt. He claims to care deeply about the future of poor black children, yet teacher’s union opposition to charter schools trumps the most successful route to success for poor black kids. Charter schools have produced markedly better test scores than traditional public schools.

Inequality is no barrier to growth. There are no negative macroeconomic effects of inequality. We need to grow the ranks of working adults and shrink the rolls of those dependent on government.

The President’s latest big idea is “manufacturing hubs”— the first has been in operation in a once-abandoned furniture warehouse in Youngstown, Ohio. This  first in a series of ‘America Makes‘ operations is supposed to ensure “a steady stream of good jobs” into the 21st century. The focus is Three-D printers. The problem is that once they are programmed and loaded with raw materials, they work their magic with not a single human hand. If they are ever widely adopted, the main reason will be that they use less labor than traditional manufacturing.

Typical, typical, typical. The “ruling class” who are supposed to be ever so much smarter than any of us, have not, as usual, done their homework. Oh, they have some statistics, and some studies — but they are missing plain old common sense. So busy congratulating themselves on their brilliance, they have no understanding of how the world works; and the people they disdain as dumb, and needing job training, and food stamps, and welfare, and handouts, need government to get out of the way and give them a chance. Here’s the sleek new workplace of the future with an ever-declining need for workers. Go figure.

3D printers of all shapes and sizes fill the studios at America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Youngstown, Ohio



So It’s Now Time to Dump Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Eastern Europe and Iraq. by The Elephant's Child

As long as we’re talking about the free flow of information, as Vladimir Putin extends his grasp over former satellites of the Soviet Union, the Obama administration is cutting back the U.S. broadcasting outreach in eastern Europe and Iraq. It’s time for the reset button, and the pivot to Asia.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors FY 2015 budget request favors expansion in Africa as “an emerging top priority for U.S. foreign policy,” and concentration on the Asia re-balance” with video and digital initiatives targeting next-generation audiences” particularly in Burma, Cambodia, China and Vietnam. That’s to be sure to reach everybody’s iPod? I thought one of the great problems in Africa was that so many people didn’t have any electricity.

This agency has a strategic imperative to tie its priorities to global realities, making the most of relatively scarce resources while responding to shifts in audiences, technology use and media markets,” BBG Chairman Jeffrey Shell said in a March 4 statement. “As we wrestle with difficult budget trade-offs, excellence in journalism remains our most important objective. Hundreds of millions of people around the world count on our journalists for accurate news and information.”

Their $721 million budget request is a $12 million decrease from what was enacted in FY 2014, axes key diplomatic programs. Of course they didn’t anticipate Russia’s acting up, but neither did the administration.

Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill) wrote the Board the day after the budget release and the board’s vote:

Radio Free Europe (RFE) and Radio Liberty (RL) were established during the Cold War as a way to broadcast unbiased news to Eastern Europe to combat Communist propaganda coming from the then-Soviet Union.  Eventually, it was revealed to be a CIA-front organization in the 1960s, and the funding responsibility shifted to Congress, where it has remained. Since then, RFE/RL’s coverage has expanded to many other countries and languages as a source of free speech and Western thought.

“The ongoing situation in Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula has reinforced the importance of these services in recent weeks, and has underscored the original pretext upon which these broadcast services were established. Furthermore, there is the concern that these broadcasts, originally developed with great purpose, investment, and thought will not be easily reestablished once closed down,” Schock wrote. “These broadcast services promote the values of freedom of speech and democracy: values that must remain in the forefront of Iraqi thought, especially as our troops withdraw and that are needed in the Balkans more than ever, as expansionist policies threaten to unmake all the progress that has been made over the past two decades.

If the values of democracy, free speech, and liberty lose their foothold in these regions, it will become an increasingly hostile world for the United States, and a far more difficult world for the people of Iraq and the Balkans. It is for these reasons that I urge the Broadcasting Board of Governors to overturn their decision to shut down the RFE/RL Balkans’ Service, and Radio Free Iraq. I believe that it is imperative that these services be restored, and I respectfully request that the Board of Governors reconsider their initial course of action.

Here is the website for Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty.  The Hoover Institution at Stanford University houses the broadcast archives and corporate records of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty — 10.5 million pages of documents and over 100,000 sound recordings. The collection is being made available in stages, but it’s pretty interesting to poke around in what is available. It was an important effort in keeping hope alive behind the Iron Curtain. The Left has never had much interest, and I don’t think this is the first effort to shut parts of it down.

Most of this piece is shamelessly stolen from Bridget Johnson at pjmedia, who did all the hard work. I am a great believer in Radio Free Europe and fascinated by their story.

 




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