Filed under: Foreign Policy, Intelligence, Iran, Israel, Middle East, National Security, Progressivism, Terrorism | Tags: John Kerry's Incompetence, The Geneva Accords, The Islamic Republic of Iran
So many of President Obama’s policies leave one puzzled. What can he possibly be thinking? Why would he do this? Why would he assume this to be a good idea? Particularly in the case of the interim agreement that the United States and its partners cut with Iran last week in Geneva which seems to be a centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. The core objective of the past two decades — preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons — and threatening fundamental regional and global interests have been ignored. Nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, strengthening the forces of radicalism and terrorism in the region — what can he be thinking?
We have compared Obama to Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who pursued a policy of appeasing Adolf Hitler, and agreed to the Nazi demand that Czechoslovakia should cede the Sudetenland to Nazi Germany to stave off a threatened invasion — without consulting the Czechs.
Obama does manifest some of Chamberlain’s trusting naïveté and insular self-righteousness. More important perhaps, like Chamberlain, Obama thinks his job is to accommodate domestic war-weariness and to keep us out of foreign conflicts. Also like Chamberlain, Obama in the Middle East has inclined toward appeasing Muslims at the expense of Jews in the Holy Land. And like Chamberlain, Obama will go down in history as a failed leader of the leading Western democracy, one whose policies will have to be reversed—one hopes this time at less cost—by his successor.
Churchill succeeded Chamberlain in 1940 and saved the West.
The Obama administration apparently believes that the supreme leader might forsake his historic quest for nuclear weapons begun under the Ayatollah Khomeini and carried forth under Khamenei and every Iranian president. The United States, “the epicenter of evil” has rallied the West against the Islamic Republic.
The idea seems to be that the supreme leader, and his Revolutionary Guards who control the nuclear program, terrorist operations and domestic riot-control aren’t sufficiently committed to developing a nuclear weapon that the persuasive voices of moderation from the Obama administration can seduce them from this dangerous path. Um, they seem to believe that the newly elected president Hassan Rouhani, and foreign minister Mohammad Zarif are forces for moderation. The evidence for this is a nice smile and a lot of fantasy. They believe that Rouhani must be a reformer — he has a PhD from a Scottish university. Ruel Marc Gerecht, who is an expert, spells out the evidence for fantasy. Do read the whole thing.
At the core of Washington’s debate about Iran’s nuclear program is a confluence of naïveté and fear of another war in the Middle East. The latter reinforces the former and bends the analysis of Iran’s internal politics. It makes America’s foreign policy elite, which has never been a particularly God-fearing crowd, even more blind to the role of religion in Iran’s politics. The president himself appears to believe passionately that an irenic American foreign policy insulates the United States from Muslim anger and terrorism.
No one in the Middle East believes that Obama would order a strike. The Washington foreign-policy establishment have conceded the bomb to Iran. They argue for “containment.” The only thing that matters is that we will not bomb Iran’s nuclear sites. Most on the Left do not envision any need for a militarily strong and aggressive America pushing back against Iranian adventurism. Containment is a synonym for patient, peaceful engagement and American withdrawal. Gerecht summarizes:
President Obama’s eagerness to avoid an unpleasant binary choice—surrender publicly to Tehran’s nuclear fait accompli or preempt militarily—will have led him to a situation where he confronts the same choice, but with Iran’s hand stronger and America’s weaker. Khamenei will have called Obama’s bluff—and will have billions more in his bank account. In all probability, the president has bought into a process of diminishing returns that he cannot abandon for fear of the cruel binary choice. For that matter, he may already have decided that the left-wing of the Democratic party is right.
Well, that’s what we get when the president can’t be bothered to attend his intelligence briefings. Does he worry at all about the new ICBMs being developed by North Korea and Iran?
Dan Bongino, former Secret Service member, now running for Congress in Maryland, has said that the White House staff were like kids with a shiny new toy. No one knew anything about government, and they treated the president like a cult figure — if he said it, it must be true. Nothing could be more dangerous than an ideologically-driven megalomaniac surrounded by obsequious yes-men in the White House.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, History, Iran, National Security, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: "The Deal of the Century", A Nuclear Pact With Iran, The Lessons of History
Secretary of State John Kerry returned from
Munich Geneva waving a document and proclaiming peace in our time “we have a deal.” The Obama administration regards the deal as a great accomplishment for the U.S., UK, France, China, Russia and Germany. Journalist Claudia Rosett describes the negotiations:
The world powers have been itching to hand Iran what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accurately described as “the deal of the century — the ticket to the nuclear arsenal the Tehran regime covets, and for which the infrastructure would be left in place.” So eager are some of these world powers to produce a signed piece of paper that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, for the second time in a month, decided to race to Geneva, ready to close the deal. Evidently it is no deterrent to the Obama administration that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei chose to punctuate rounds two and three of these nuclear talks by delivering a speech to Basij militiamen (who greeted him with chants of “Death to America”) in which he compared Israel to a “rabid dog,” said its officials “cannot be called human,” and added,” the Israeli regime is doomed to failure and annihilation.”
History is not a strong point of the Obama administration, but we have many examples of pacts with enemies, when the West is desperately hoping for peace, and anxious to avoid confrontation.
“Chamberlain returned from Munich to England. At Heston where he landed, he waved the joint declaration which he had got Hitler to sign, and read it to the crowd of notables and others who welcomed him. From the windows at Downing Street he waved his piece of paper again and used these words, “This is the second time there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honour. I believe it is peace in our time.”*
At the Nuremberg Trials, Colonel Eger, representing Czechoslovakia, asked Marshal Keitel: “Would the Reich have attacked Czechoslovakia in 1938 if the Western Powers had stood by Prague?”
Marshal Keitel answered: “Certainly not. We were not strong enough militarily. The object of Munich was to get Russia out of Europe, to gain time, and to complete the German armaments.”*
Claudia Rosett adds:
Then there is the also-obvious. Talks like these are a great boon to rogue regimes — just ask North Korea (which has parlayed two decades of nuclear freeze deals into time and resources for three nuclear tests, and appears to be preparing its underground nuclear test site for a fourth detonation). Iran’s regime is a terror-sponsoring government under sanctions for its rogue nuclear weapons program, and in theory its rulers are being shunned and “isolated” — or so we’ve been told. … Negotiations such as these, especially if they lead to a deal, serve as credentials, painting a veneer of legitimacy on regimes that deserve none.
The media, given to hyperbole, has declared this an historic deal that freezes key parts of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for temporary relief on some economic sanctions. ($6 billion+)
The agreement, sealed at a 3 a.m. signing ceremony in Geneva’s Palace of Nations, requires Iran to halt or scale back parts of its nuclear infrastructure, the first such pause in more than a decade. Kerry said the goal of the talks was to “require Iran to prove the peaceful nature of its program and ensure that it cannot acquire a nuclear weapon.”
Iran keeps its enrichment program and reactor in Arak, and just halts work. There is no indication that their pursuit of a nuclear weapon is peaceful in intent. They have also announced plans for two more nuclear power plants. I think history has lessons for us, and we do well to pay attention.
*from The Gathering Storm by Winston Churchill.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Iran, Middle East, National Security, Politics, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Negotiator Valerie Jarrett?, The Geneva Talks With Iran, Year Long Secret Deals
The Times of Israel reports that “the Geneva negotiations between the so-called P5+1 powers and Iran are a mere “facade,”because the terms of a deal on Iran’s nuclear program have been negotiated in talks between a top adviser to President Barack Obama and a leading Iranian nuclear official that have continued in secret for more than a year, Israeli television reported Sunday.”
The report, which relied on unnamed senior Israeli officials, said the US team to the secret talks was led by Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett. Her primary interlocutor, the report said, was the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi. The talks have been taking place in various Gulf states…
According to Channel 10, the secret channel marginalized Kerry, and was overseen by the president. The idea had been for Kerry merely to fly to Geneva, as he did last Friday, to sign a deal in which he had been a bit player. In the event, factors such as the French stance, and Israel’s very public objections, derailed this plan, and the talks broke up last Saturday without an agreement
White House spokesman Bernadette Meehan was quoted by Haaretz as saying that the report was “absolutely, 100 percent false.”
President Obama badly wants Iran to suspend parts of its nuclear program in return for easing international economic sanctions — which have been working quite successfully and have brought Iran to the negotiating table. Critics say that Iran could cheat far more easily than the rest of the world could reinstate tough sanctions.
Mr. Obama thinks that relaxing sanctions is reversible. Sanctions and arms agreements have a long history of failure. Democratic countries do not get what they bargained for, and then find themselves unable or unwilling to enforce the bargain.
According to Douglas Feith, a former undersecretary of defense for policy, the democracies are apt to hype the agreement to their voters as a proud diplomatic achievement. Their non-democratic opponents cheat, and Islamic countries are encouraged by the Koran to lie, cheat and dissemble. The mullahs have been in charge of Iran since the revolution in 1979, when the Shah fled into exile.
It is clear that Israel is deeply worried. Congress is not pleased with attempts at a bargain with Iran. The administration fights any new sanctions. And Russia will help Iran build a second nuclear power plant according to Tehran’s top nuclear official.
I fail to understand why the Obama administration would place any faith in any agreement with Iran, or why they would believe it to be a good deal. We should know better. Vast crowds screaming “Death to America” would seem to be a hint that perhaps the Iranian desire for nuclear weapons isn’t going to be easily abandoned. The Saudis are deeply concerned, and are working with Israel, which might be another gentle hint that something is amiss for Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry — and Ms. Jarrett as well.
Valerie Jarrett was born in Iran and still has connections there. She is a close adviser to the Obamas, but has no known record as a foreign policy negotiator. Michael Ledeen is better than most at grasping the obvious:
It’s not easy to make a deal with Iran (and even when you think you’ve made one, you might be wrong). The failure of the Geneva talks is just another in a long series of such failures. Even the public events are part of the well-established pattern: the secretary of state jumps on a plane and flies to meet with the Iranians. But when he gets there, he finds it’s not quite a done deal. And in the wee hours of the morning two days later, there’s no deal at all.
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Foreign Policy, Freedom, Intelligence, Law, National Security, Terrorism | Tags: Jeremy Rabkin, Michael Mukasey, NSA Data Collection
Scott Johnson reported at Powerline on a panel on NSA data collection at the National Lawyers Convention. The panel consisted of moderator former Acting Attorney General George Terwilliger, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and George Mason University Law Professor Jeremy Rabkin.
If you had concerns about the activities of the NSA, about National Security, and what is meant by data collection or just wondered ‘what-the-heck’ in the wake of Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, you will find this fascinating. What starts as a question about what is turns into a question of accountability. How do you make government accountable, and what is the responsibility of the executive to be accountable and make sure that his appointees are accountable. It is deeply interesting and worth your time.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Foreign Policy, History, Iran, Israel, Middle East, National Security, Politics, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Can Obama Be Trusted?, Geneva "Peace" Talks, Secretary of State Kerry
It’s a theme I’ve run into many times in novels, the idea that there is a certain point at which many people stop in their growth and openness to new ideas. They do fine for years, but at some point they have received all accepted knowledge, and are no longer open to revision of their worldview. I sort of accepted that as a little weird, but I knew a few people who did seem stuck in the past. The adult who remains the cheerleader she was in college, the man who can’t quite relinquish his football hero days.
Barack Obama was swept up in radical politics at Columbia, if not before. He said in his book that he went to every socialist meeting he could find, and somewhere in there or in his community organizer days he acquired fixed ideas about the country and about the world. Richard Epstein notes that once Obama believes something, it is set in concrete. He does not change his mind.
The president has been certain that the central problem in the Middle East is the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and if that is solved, there will be peace. He has continually been trying to “restart” the “peace process,” without the slightest notion that as long as Palestinians teach their little children that killing Jews is their noblest goal, there is no hope of any peace process.
The foreign policy experts who study Iran are worried about Iranian progress on nuclear weapons, but Obama is sure that his charisma will allow his Secretary of State to make peace with the mullahs in Iran. The collapse of the so-called “Arab Spring” made no dent in his convictions, he has denied the resurgence of al Qaeda, refused to give up on the Muslim Brotherhood, and slashed aid to the Egyptians who threw Morsi out. The Saudis have lost all faith in help or assistance from the Americans in controlling Iran, and are looking for nuclear technology., and turning for help to the Russians.
Obama’s signature accomplishment is turning sour. As James Taranto said “The exposure of Obamacare as a massive consumer fraud —and of Obama as the Bernie Madoff of politics— is well underway.” Obama wants a major triumph, and he wants it badly. Ordinary things like 20,000 jobs on the Keystone XL pipeline don’t measure up. He needs something big to match the presidential ego.
The only world leader who seems to understand what is happening is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is warning that a pact easing sanctions “would be a mistake of historic proportions.” The deal being hatched in Geneva, and apparently we are already easing the sanctions, is precisely an effort to short-circuit Israel’s own options. History is not kind to appeasers. The New York Sun is not kind to Secretary of State Kerry’s history, character, and role in the current negotiations.
The Times of Israel reports that “the Obama administration plans to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough at the beginning of 2014. The Americans want to move from coordinating between the two sides to a phase of active intervention.”
According to Gal-on, whose left-wing Meretz party is in the opposition, the plan is based on the pre-1967 lines with agreed land swaps and will cover all of the core issues. …
The scheme is spread out over a gradual timetable, calls for the investment of billions of dollars in the Palestinian economy, and will include a suggestion for a broader regional peace treaty based on the Arab Peace Initiative. The initiative, first proposed by the Arab League in 2002, calls for a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians together with normalization of ties between Israel and the Arab world. Central to the initiative was the complete withdrawal of Israel to its pre-1967 lines and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
The Obama Administration, eagerly seeking a deal on Iran’s nuclear program, is now signaling that it will ease the sanctions that finally forced Tehran to the negotiating table.
In fact, the White House has already chosen to lighten Iran’s sanctions burden by slowing the implementation of existing sanctions and delaying congressional legislation that would impose new sanctions. Eli Lake and Josh Rogin reported in today’s Daily Beast that the Administration began softening sanctions after the June election of Hassan Rouhani by slowing the pace of designating Iranian front companies, individuals, ships, and aircraft as sanctions violators.
The Administration has also lobbied Congress to postpone any new sanctions to avoid disrupting the current round of negotiations with Iran. But this is a gross misreading of the situation. The prospect of new sanctions would enhance American bargaining leverage with Iran and increase the chances that an acceptable agreement can be negotiated with the recalcitrant regime in Tehran.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is saying that only sanctions and the threat of the use of force on Israel’s part are the only things that brought Iran back to the negotiating table, it’s hard to understand why making it harder for Tehran to sell its oil and conduct business with those willing to risk the ire of the West would scare them away again. But many Democrats are not willing to ease sanctions.
Most of the articles suggest that this is Kerry’s initiative, but I suspect that Kerry has his marching orders from Obama, and knows what he has to try to bring back to his boss. Any assumption that Rouhani’s charm offensive is meaningful is based on wishful thinking of the West. The time is running short. Be very worried.
Here are some additional links:
— How Can We Possibly Trust Obama on Iran? PJ Media
— Iran Nuclear Deal Expected as Early As Friday Wall Street Journal
— More Pressure on Iran Can’t Wait Commentary
— Exclusive: Obama’s Secret Iran Détente The Daily Beast
— More Obama Problems: Kerry’s Peace Push Commentary
— Kerry meets Iran foreign minister to close gaps in nuclear talks Reuters
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Economy, Energy, Foreign Policy, Health Care, Immigration, Law, National Security, Politics, Terrorism, The Constitution | Tags: Great Expectations, Shattered Dreams, Squandered Opportunity
February 14, 2008: “The choice in this election is not between regions or religions or gender” he says in that beautiful baritone of his. “It’s not about rich versus poor, young versus old. And it’s not about black versus white.” What voters are really choosing he says is between the past and the future. The future to which he refers, of course, is him. He will take Americans to a color-blind, rational, humanist place where a common good will overpower narrow self-interest. This moves Obama’s fans close to rapture. CNS News
“President Obama has done and continues to do major damage to America. The only question is whether this can ever be undone.” Dennis Praeger
February 5, 2008: “We are the hope of the future; the answer to the cynics who tell us our house must stand divided; that we cannot come together; that we cannot remake this world as it should be.
Because we know what we have seen and what we believe— that what began as a whisper has now swelled to a chorus that cannot be ignored; that will not be deterred; that will reign out across this land as a hymn that will heal this nation, repair this world, and make this time different than all the rest— Yes. We. Can.”
What does it take to warn Americans about unchecked pension growth,
socialized medicine, vast increases in entitlements, higher taxes and
steady expansion of of government? In other words, what is it about
Detroit, Italy or Greece that we do not understand?
Victor Davis Hanson
January 28, 2008: “If you know who you are, who you’re fighting for, what your values are, you can afford to reach out to people across the aisle. If you start off with an agreeable manner, you might be able to pick off a few folks, recruit some independents into the fold, recruit even some Republicans into the fold. If you’ve got the votes, you will beat them and do it with a smile on your face.” It was a summons to reasonableness, yet Obama made it sound thrilling. “False hopes? There’s no such thing. This country was built on hope,” he cried. “We don’t need leaders to tell us what we can’t do—we need leaders to inspire us. Some are thinking about our constraints, and others are thinking about limitless possibility.
Obama spoke for only twenty-five minutes and took no questions; he had figured out how to leave an audience at the peak of its emotion, craving more. As he was ending, I walked outside and found five hundred people standing on the sidewalk and the front steps of the opera house, listening to his last words in silence, as if news of victory in the Pacific were coming over the loudspeakers. I couldn’t recall a single thing that he had said, and the speech dissolved into pure feeling , which stayed with me for days.” George Packer, New Yorker
June 8, 2008: “Obama is a LightWorker — an Attuned Being with Powerful Luminosity and High-Vibration Integrity who will actually help usher in a New Way of Being. …The appeal, the pull, the ethereal and magical thing that seems to enthrall millions of people from all over the world, that keeps opening up and firing into new channels of the culture normally completely unaffected by politics?
No, it’s not merely his youthful vigor, or handsomeness, or even inspiring rhetoric. It is not fresh ideas or cool charisma or the fact that a black president will be historic and revolutionary in about a thousand different ways. It is something more. Even Bill Clinton with all his effortless winking charm, didn’t have what Obama has, which is a sort of powerful luminosity, a unique high vibration integrity.” Mark Mortford, San Francisco Chronicle
Unprecedented levels of debt —$6.5 trillion in 5 years.
More citizens receive aid— means-tested— than work full time.
Saddling the next generation with enormous debt.
Stymied medical innovation.
IRS used to stymie political opponents and sway election.
Made U.S, weak. Drop to 17th in economic freedom.
Escalated racial tensions. Divided Americans by class.
Allies do not trust Obama administration.
Ignores Constitution. Takes law into own hands.
Ordering Dream Act that Congress rejected.
Impeding economy with red tape and uncertainty.
Keystone XL Pipeline jobs ignored.
Benghazi. Libya. Syria. Ignores separation of powers. Lack of leadership.
Evicting World War II vets from their monument.
Rules of engagement killing our troops in Afghanistan.
“Discretionary” attacks on other countries on ‘humanitarian’ grounds.
Stimulus. Auto bailout. Solyndra. Green jobs.
Weakest economic recovery in history.
Most partisan administration ever. The ObamaCare rollout.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Foreign Policy, Immigration, Middle East, National Security, Politics, Progressivism, Terrorism | Tags: "Not My Fault", Don't Blame Me!, Leave It to Beaver
Is he always the last to know? Or is it more the Eddie Haskell syndrome? Kathleen Sebelius has confirmed that President Obama was totally unaware that the initial rollout of ObamaCare was a major catastrophe until it happened. This was the president’s signature project, and clearly no one with the right technology experience was in charge. The company hired to do the work was the only bid, and Canada had fired them earlier for incompetence.
And he didn’t know anything about the NSA tapping the phones and email of German Chancellor Angela Merkel until after an internal review he ordered earlier this year, even though a German weekly reported that Army Gen. Keith Alexander, the NSA chief, briefed Obama on the Merkel wiretaps back in 2010.
Officials said that the president was briefed on and approved of broad intelligence gathering priorities, but those below him made the decisions about specific targets
He is remarkably ignorant of all the scandals that have cropped up in his administration, at least until they make the papers. Then he is just as angry as the rest of us about the slip-up. Remember how angry he said he was about the IRS’ efforts to hold up tax exemption applications from Tea Party groups in the period before the 2012 election, an effort that coincidentally changed the outcome of the election. And nevermind that the IRS inspector general issued a report that documented IRS abuse. Obama said “I first learned about it from the same news reports that I think most people learned about this, I think it was on Friday.”
Obama also didn’t know anything about his administration releasing hundreds of illegal immigrants — blaming the sequester cuts. Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security Secretary at the time, said even she was surprised to learn about the action.
The ongoing crisis in the Middle East, and now tensions between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have grown sharply in recent months. The president authorized the CIA to provide limited arms to carefully vetted Syrian rebels, but it took months for the program to even begin.
Even as the debate about arming the rebels took on a new urgency, Mr. Obama rarely voiced strong opinions during senior staff meetings. But current and former officials said his body language was telling: he often appeared impatient and disengaged while listening to the debate, sometimes scrolling through messages on his BlackBerry or slouching and chewing gum.
The Government Accountability Institute examined President Obama’s schedule from the day he took office until mid-June to see how often he attended his Presidential Daily Briefing, which seems to be about 43.8 percent of the time. President Bush held meetings six days a week with the Vice President, the Chief of Staff, Homeland Security, the FBI director and other Homeland Security officials.
Now NBC News is reporting that the Obama administration knew in advance that their catastrophic takeover of the health care industry would throw millions of their existing plans. Millions of Americans are about to get cancellation letters for their health insurance under ObamaCare, say experts, and the Obama administration has know that for at least three years.
Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act told NB that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year, and that number could reach as high as 80 percent.
I think it’s Eddie Haskell all the way down. But we never saw Eddie Haskell all grown-up. I wold assume that he always has an excuse, nothing is ever his fault, and he’s really irritated about it now that he found out with the rest of us.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Economy, Foreign Policy, Intelligence, Middle East, Military, National Security, Progressivism, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Foreign Policy Failure, Military Readiness, White House Incompetence
General Ray Odierno, Army’s Chief of Staff told a Washington conference on Monday that the U.S. Army had not conducted any training in the last six months of the fiscal year ending September 30.
He added that there are currently only two Army brigades rated combat-ready. A brigade numbers somewhere around 3,500 to 5,000 troops, commanded by a Colonel. That adds up to around 7,000 to 10,000 troops and less than one-third of what the combat veteran regards as necessary for national security. Odierno said:
Right now, we have in the Army two brigades that are trained. That’s it. Two.
Troops being deployed to Afghanistan now are prepared only to train and assist Afghan troops, not to conduct combat operations themselves, though there is no guarantee that they will not find themselves actually in combat, while accompanying Afghan soldiers.
Sequestration had its origins in the debt-ceiling battle of 2011. The President’s team, in an attempt to force Republicans into a compromise, devised the sequester as a sort of nuclear option. Sweeping cuts across all discretionary spending — including defense spending in a time of war, would be such a bitter pill to the Republicans, that they would fold and stop insisting on cuts in spending. Republicans took in the Obama team offer, and spat it out. The President remains furious.
Harmful automatic budget cuts — known as the sequester — threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs, and cut vital services for children, seniors, people with mental illness and our men and women in uniform.
These cuts will make it harder to grow our economy and create jobs by affecting our ability to invest in important priorities like education, research and innovation, public safety, and military readiness.
You have undoubtedly heard the president bragging about bringing the deficit down. Depends on who he’s trying to impress. Because the sequester is automatic for nine more years, it can only be changed or undone if both houses vote to change it. It is a powerful tool for Republican negotiators in the budget conference committee, and gives them leverage to address the real driver of the debt — entitlement spending. Left unchanged, the combined unfunded entitlements of Social Security and Medicare threaten to bankrupt the country.
Republicans are trying to save the country. Democrats are trying to win. It’s politics all the way down.
Obama has made an effort to make the cuts forced by the sequester as painful as possible, just as he did with the government shutdown.
All this to obey Obama administration orders to drastically cut the Army and military spending and meet cuts under sequestration. Since the Obama Pentagon began the troop draw-down two years ago under the president’s orders, more than 33,000 active duty soldiers have been cut.
Current plans call for additional reductions of 42,000 soldiers in the next 23 months to a total of 490,000, down from 570,000. Those cuts have been accelerated by two years under Pentagon orders and will involve involuntary separations of thousands.
Military planners, under directives from Defense Secretary Hagel, now anticipate administration orders to sever another 70,000 active duty Army personnel at all levels. There is apparently a purge going on of some of the nation’s top veteran generals, allegedly for personal misconduct.
It is not a peaceful world. Al Qaeda is on the rise, Bashar Assad seems to have control of Syria after gassing dissidents, the Saudis are not friendly. Egypt is no longer under the control of the radical Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, and a more friendly Army-backed government has taken over— so we have discontinued aid. Having botched Syria, botched a status of forces agreement in Iraq, Iraq is in flames again with an upsurge of al Qaeda in Iraq. So we are in peaceful conversations with Iran, the sponsor of all Middle East terrorism. Good time as any to cut back on military readiness.
Whenever wars are over, America settles back into heedless slumber, and we are never, never prepared when trouble breaks out again, as it always will.
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Humor, Terrorism | Tags: Alligators, Some Days Are Like This, The Elephant's Child
Sorry about the light blogging. Last two days have been interesting here, as well as on the national scene. First, I poisoned my cat. Accidentally! I have two cats, one gets an ointment rubbed in her ear twice daily for thyroid problems. The other gets a syringe of stuff shot down her throat twice daily (which she really, really hates) for her digestive problems. I picked up the wrong syringe and gave the digestive problem cat a bunch of ear medicine in her normal medicine. Panicked calls to pharmacist and vet. Needed to go to pharmacy to pick up more digestive medicine. The car wouldn’t start. Seemed to be something other than the battery because the lights turned on fine. Too late to go to pharmacy anyway.
A.M. Called roadside assistance to get car towed to my garage. Will arrive in an hour. Automated call, will be there in 20 minutes. Two hours later, the tow truck arrived. He said the fact that the lights would turn on did not necessarily mean that it wasn’t the battery and tried a jump-start.
Eureka! It worked. Off to Sears where my battery is still under partial warranty. Sign says pull in here. Harried man with computer, wads of work orders fills out reams of paper for woman with red SUV. A woman in a Honda pulls in, in back of me. After 20 minutes of waiting for someone to notice that there are two cars there waiting for attention. Got out of car.
Honda woman said briskly that SHE had an appointment (and obviously came first). Another 20 minutes. Harried computer work-order man kept disappearing. Many mechanics standing around with apparently nothing to do. I remain calm and unfrazzled.
After another 25 minutes (Honda woman may have made an appointment but they had no record of it) I finally got to speak to Harried man. He filled out work order, (why do they have 4 pages just to tell a mechanic to change the battery) Mechanic brings battery-testing gadget to check life of battery. No life. Directed to waiting room and promised about 15 minutes. After 25 minutes I go out to find car. It’s parked outside,
Harried man has disappeared, probably to have a nervous breakdown, and nice young man smiles, prints out another 4-6 pages and apologizes because two of their guys called in sick and they were short-handed. I did get a discount on the new battery.
Cat is fine, has suffered no ill-effects, but if she sees me touch her bottle of medicine goes to hide somewhere. Just a day in the life here at the elephant circus. I would have done better with a federal shutdown.
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Environment, Freedom, Terrorism | Tags: Once There Were Three, Unheeded Warnings, Unwanted Advice
I told them a thousand times if I told them once:
Stop fooling around, I said, with straw and sticks;
They won’t hold up; you’re taking an awful chance.
Brick is the stuff to build with, solid bricks.
You want to be impractical, go ahead.
But just remember, I told them; wait and see.
You’re making a big mistake. Awright, I said,
But when the wolf comes, don’t come running to me.
The funny thing is, they didn’t. There they sat,
One in his crummy yellow shack, and one
Under his roof of twigs, and the wolf ate
Them, hair and hide. Well, what is done is done.
But I’d been willing to help them, all along,
If only they’d once admitted they were wrong.
The Builders By Sara Henderson Hay
Filed under: Law, National Security, News the Media Doesn't Want You to Hear, Politics, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Aaron Alexis — Shooter, The Impulse to Ban Guns, The Navy Yard
In the Navy Yard shooting, 12 people were killed, 8 were injured. The shooter, Aaron Alexis, bought an uncontroversial shotgun from a licensed dealer, a background check was done according to the rules. Our laws do not really have any way to identify those who have mental illness.
Government officials are sure that evil acts can be prevented by making a law to prompt government action. Background checks do not weed out the mentally ill. Police response time in the case of the Newtown shooting was 20 minutes, and can vary up to an hour or more depending on traffic. Making laws to ban guns makes politicians feel good, but accomplishes nothing at all. Banning guns does not reduce murder and suicide. Chicago, where guns are banned, is the murder capital of the world.
In 1993, one of President Bill Clinton’s first acts upon taking office, was to ban guns at all military installations — like the Navy Yard, and Fort Hood. Merely a coincidence of course.