American Elephants


Some Days the “Information Age” Is Really Troubling by The Elephant's Child

Do we have too many aspiring reporters chasing too little real news? To much news and they can’t sort out the important from the trivial? Or only that the loons are now in charge? The “deal” that was supposed to emerge from the negotiations in Lausanne by today isn’t going to emerge so they were going to put it off for one more day, but then somebody in the White House said Eeew, tomorrow is April Fools Day. Very bad political PR, and so they decided to put the deadline off till June.

The Governor of Connecticut, Dan Malloy, responded promptly to the Religious Freedom kerfuffle in Indiana by banning any travel to Indiana, apparently unaware that his own state of Connecticut has long had a similar RFRA law. And nobody has bothered to read the law, but only act on others’ talking points.

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, who is gay, declared religious liberty protections that exist in 30 states as “dangerous” and the sure path to a semblance of “days of segregation and discrimination marked by ‘Whites Only’ signs on shop doors, water fountains and restrooms.” RFRA simply established the balancing test that courts must apply in religious freedom cases. Which indicates only that Mr. Cook has no idea what the laws actually say, and yet Apple happily sells their products in countries where homosexuality is illegal, and is punishable with the death penalty. ISIS throws gays off the roofs of tall buildings, but they may be too busy killing people to buy iPhones.

One of Hillary’s campaign supporters came up with a list of words that may not be used in reference to Hillary because they are ‘sexist’ and got a day’s worth of attention, but Hillary is running to be the “first woman president” while emphasizing that her particular qualifications are her work for women’s rights and for girls.  Seems as if there is some disconnection here, but nevermind, she has wiped her server of anything that might be incriminating.

The Washington Post reports that by a 2 to 1 margin, Americans support the notion of striking a deal with Iran that restricts the nation’s nuclear program in exchange for loosening sanctions, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds.   Huh? What was the question?

Q: Thinking now about the situation with Iran – would you support or oppose an agreement in which the United States and other countries would lift major economic sanctions against Iran, in exchange for Iran restricting its nuclear program in a way that makes it harder for it to produce nuclear weapons?

Apparently unmentioned was the notion that the “best deal” would be to extend to one year the time it would take for Iran to perfect a nuclear bomb.

Mohammad Reva Naqdi, head of the Basij militia unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards turned up to reassure the world that “erasing Israel off the Map” is very much on the table on the eve of the P+5 nuclear talks, and will never be negotiated away as part of any nuclear deal with President Obama.

John Kerry, Energy Sec. Moniz and Wendy Sherman did not rise from their chairs and say, well we’ll just have to put some extremely severe sanctions back on and walk out, but offered to continue talking till June, and what else could we give up to get a deal—any deal?

Breitbart is reporting that an Iran deal has been reached after a long night session, and details are to come, or it’s not a final accord, or?

Iran under the Mullahs believes that Armageddon is much to be desired because it will ring about the return of the Mahdi, the Messiah, which will be followed by total bliss, or paradise. Yet that remains unmentioned in the ‘news’ at all.

One story contradicts the other. What is Real?

Strange Day



It Isn’t Really About Religious Liberty, That’s Just an Excuse! by The Elephant's Child

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Today’s big Kerfuffle is about the Religious Freedom law that Indiana’s Governor Mike Pence just signed into law. It is simply a state-level version of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which imposes a “strict scrutiny” legal standard when state or local governments pass laws that interfere with the free exercise of religion. Governor Pence and Indiana’s legislators have been denounced as gay-hating bigots, a claim never made when President Bill Clinton signed the federal RFRA, or even about the people and officials of the 20 states with a RFRA. There are another dozen or so states that also have constitutional provisions that are similar.

Ssssh!  It’s not about religious freedom. It about Mike Pence who has been a successful and accomplished governor, is nice looking, very likeable, and who is one of a number of outstanding governors who might well run for the office of the President of the United States. This is what today’s far-left progressives do. The issue is never the issue. And this one is about an attempt to attack Mike Pence and disqualify him as a potential Republican candidate.

If you remember, Rick Perry was disqualified as a potential Republican candidate because of the way he melted down in the debates last time. Melted down? Well, not exactly. He went blank on a third agency he wanted to mention and couldn’t think of it. Something that has happened to lots of us. But the actual small blank moment has been boosted into a “complete disqualification.” Who says? Well, all those news people.

Then there was Chris Christie. It was the bridge thing. He was accused of deliberately blocking a bridge in order to influence votes by making commuters angry. He was absolved of the accusation, but the issue has been boosted into a “complete disqualification.”

Then there was Governor Scott Walker. A New York Times writer accused him of slashing the funds for schools and laying off teachers. Ooops! The writer was Gail Collins, and the slashing of funds, such as it was, happened in the previous administration before Scott Walker took office.

Ted Cruz, who just announced his candidacy, has already been accused as being even more unprepared for office than former state senate backbencher who kept voting present, and was a community organizer. He has been tarred with the McCarthy label, and many more drastic accusations will be forthcoming. What could scare the hard left more? He is conservative, has a link to the immigrant community, speaks Spanish, is an accomplished attorney who has argued for the State of Texas before the Supreme Court many times and often successfully, and is admittedly brilliant.

This is the pattern for the Left. Republican candidates will be portrayed as waging war on women and minorities, favoring only the rich, inflicting pain on working families to benefit the wealthy few, not caring about the poor and vulnerable, while Republicans say the left is using class warfare tactics, or being divisive. Democrats go for the throat, Republicans are too polite to do so, and try to explain how lower taxes for everyone will benefit the economy.

So the issue (religious freedom) is not the issue. The real issue is getting rid of Republican candidates who might be attractive to voters. Attacking religious fundamentalists (the anti-religion crowd has never gotten over Hobby Lobby). Distracting national attention from the poisonous Iran deal negotiations. And finding someone to replace Hillary who is building up a huge scandal with her email evasion before she even declares as a candidate.



Man The Lifeboats, The Ship of State is Sinking by The Elephant's Child

Why Yemen Matters: Daniel Pipes, Washington Times 3/28/15

Last Thursday, the Middle East Kingdom of Saudi Arabia led a 10-country coalition to intervene in the air and on the ground in the country of Yemen. And they didn’t bother to tell the White House what they were doing because they don’t trust them. Saudi and Egypt have been active in a Yemen war before, but on opposite sides. It is striking that they should join forces, not against Israel, but against Iran.

Uncertain of Obama, Arab States Gear Up for War: David Schenker and Gilad Wenig, Wall Street Journal, 3/29/15

“Few organizations boast a reputation of dysfunction comparable to the Arab League’s. Over seven decades the Arab League has distinguished itself through infighting and fecklessness. But now, with the Obama administration seen as missing in action in the Middle East, the alliance of 22 countries is undergoing a renaissance. Over the weekend, the Arab League met in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, and endorsed the creation of an intervention force to fight terrorism in the Middle East.

Regional backing for the force came days after a mostly Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes targeting the Iran-backed, nominally Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen, who last week sacked the provisional capital of Aden and drove Yemen President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi into exile.”

Obama Admin Threatens U. S. Allies for Disagreeing with Iran Nuke Deal: Adam Kredo, Free Beacon, 3/27/15

“LAUSANNE, Switzerland—Efforts by the Obama administration to stem criticism of its diplomacy with Iran have included threats to nations involved in the talks, including U.S. allies, according to Western sources familiar with White House efforts to quell fears it will permit Iran to retain aspects of its nuclear weapons program.

A series of conversations between top American and French officials, including between President Obama and French President Francois Hollande, have seen Americans engage in behavior described as bullying by sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.”

Richard Engel: Military Officials Say Allies No Longer Trust  Us, Fear Intel Might Leak to Iran: Daniel Bassali, Free Beacon, 3/27/15

“Saudi Arabia and other countries simply don’t trust the United States any more, don’t trust this administration, think the administration is working to befriend Iran to try to make a deal in Switzerland, and therefore didn’t feel the intelligence frankly would be secure. And I think that’s a situation that is quite troubling for U.S. foreign policy,” Engel said.

Obama’s Latest Concession Guts What’s Left of the Iran Nuclear Deal: Jonathan Tobin, Contentions 3/26/15

“The Iranians were holding their ground on yet another key point in the negotiations and, to no one’s surprise, the Obama administration is preparing to give in to them again. This time the issue is Iran’s refusal to open its facilities up to International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors eager to see how much progress they’ve made on military research for the nuclear program. But instead of threatening to walk away from a process that appears on track to ending sanctions on the Islamist regime over this key point, the administration is preparing to amend the current draft of the deal to allow the Iranians several years’ leeway before they’d be required to give a full reckoning about how close they are to a bomb. What this amounts to is the West waving the white flag on effective verification of Iran’s nuclear activities. And that means that not only will Iran be able to cheat their way to a bomb, but they may very well get there even while observing the agreement that is expected to be finalized by the end of the month.”

Free Fall in the Middle East: Walter Russell Mead, The American Interest, 3/27/15

“But as President Ahab glances around his deck, few of his shipmates are manning their posts—in fact, most seem to be scrambling for the lifeboats. Oh well, there’s always that trusty tar, Unnamed State Department Official, to rely on for a friendly quote in Politico:

“There’s a sense that the only view worth having on the Middle East is the long view. […] We’ve painfully seen that good can turn to bad and bad can turn to good in an instant, which might be a sobriety worth holding on to at moments like this. The truth is, you can dwell on Yemen, or you can recognize that we’re one agreement away from a game-changing, legacy-setting nuclear accord on Iran that tackles what every one agrees is the biggest threat to the region.”…

James Jeffrey, Obama’s former Ambassador to Iraq, cuts through the commentary on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East with a certain pithiness:”

“We’re in a goddamn free fall here.”



Another Fine Day in the Middle East. Terror, Killings and Destruction, and a New Civil War in Yemen. by The Elephant's Child

Yemen

To Briefly Sum Up:

On Monday, the Obama White House dismissed the Ayatollah Khamenei’s “Of course Death to America” rhetoric, telling CNN that it was just something “intended for a domestic political audience,” and thus can reasonably be ignored. Josh Earnest had just explained that such rhetoric provided even more reason for negotiating a deal with Iran.

How does that work? Iran has been proclaiming themselves an implacable enemy of America ever since 1979 and the Iranian revolution. If you think that although they are a major oil-producing state, they just want nuclear energy to keep the lights on, ask yourself why they also have been developing intercontinental ballistic missiles.

In spite of every effort made by the White House to prevent Bibi Netanyahu’s reelection, the Israelis gave him a significant vote of confidence and reelected him resoundingly. Obama is furious.

Obama has a bucket list of accomplishments that he expects will prove to the world that he did too deserve that Nobel Peace Prize, and go down in history as one of the greatest presidents. It’s not going too well. Getting the troops out of Iraq was a big one, and that has gone sour. Closing Guantanamo has not gone well, but he’s still determined. He’s just given in a little on getting the troops out of Afghanistan, but only till the end of the year — politely letting the Taliban know just how long they have to wait, with his usual lack of understanding of basic strategy.

He was determined to be the American president who made peace between Israel and Palestine with a two-state solution, forcing Israel to give up their borders, their safety, and their future to a bunch of terrorists supported by the peaceful state of Iran.

And now he’s determined to make a completely worthless deal with Iran, and will obviously give up anything and everything to get a deal, any deal. Iran has no intention of accepting any restraint on their activities. They have refused surprise inspections, or any inspections for which they cannot easily prepare. Since Obama reduced the sanctions, they have no reason to agree to anything. They don’t need to.

We’re told in the meantime that they could probably have a nuclear bomb within 45 days, but the UN nuclear inspectors have said that there is not much that they are actually sure of.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is threatening the Baltic states with Russian submarine activity and a rising cruise-missile threat, Obama has been unable to find the time to meet with NATO’s new Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The new idea is that he only has time for our enemies, but not for our allies.

Stoltenberg was twice prime minister of Norway, and is well aware of increasing Russian bomber patrols that include mock attack runs on NATO members’ warships. Our nation is pledged, as a NATO member to defend other NATO members. A meeting with the prime minister might be in order, but then Obama has dumped the eastern Europe missile defense and refused to send lethal weapons to Ukraine. And Stoltenberg might remind him of America’s binding NATO pledge.

Yemen has melted down. We got our people out, but apparently left $500 million worth of advanced weapons for al Qaeda, along with secret files about U.S. counter-terrorism operations. Saudi Arabia has launched military operations against the Iran-backed Houthi Rebels in Yemen. The Royal Saudi Air Force has bombed the positions of Yemen’s Houthi militia and destroyed most of their air defenses. In a joint statement Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait will repel Houthi militias, al Qaeda and ISIS as the coup in Yemen represents a major threat to the region’s stability.



Much of the World Envies Free Democratic Elections In Israel. by The Elephant's Child

We take regular elections for granted, as do most countries in the West, as does Israel, even if we find their multitude of political parties more confusing than enlightening. But in the Middle East many were envious that it even took place. Remember triumphant Iraqi’s holding aloft their purple-stained fingers to show that they had voted, and how the votes cast by Iraqi women shook the Middle East?

Evelyn Gordon writing at Contentions raises the issue:”Nowhere was this truer than among Palestinians who haven’t had an election in 10 years—not because Israel is preventing them from doing so, but because their own leadership is. And anyone who actually cares about the peace process ought to be far more worried by the Palestinian elections that didn’t happen than by the outcome of the Israeli one that did.”

A veteran Palestinian journalist from Ramallah summed up the prevailing sentiment succinctly. “We say all these bad things about Israel, but at least the people there have the right to vote and enjoy democracy,” he told Jerusalem Post reporter Khaled Abu Toameh before the election. “We really envy the Israelis. Our leaders don’t want elections. They want to remain in office forever.”

Ghanem Nuseibeh, an East Jerusalem Palestinian now living in Britain, put out an illuminating series of tweets throughout Election Day, including, “Over a million Arabs take part in Middle East’s most democratic elections today”; “The Arabs in Israel are the only Middle East Arab group that practices true democracy”; and “Israel is secure not because it will elect Bibi or Buji, but because of what it is doing today.” He was rooting for Isaac Herzog (“Buji”) and deplored Benjamin Netanyahu, but after acknowledging that his candidate had lost, he nevertheless tweeted, “Israel is the world’s most vibrant democracy” …. “If an Arab country had the same wide spectrum of political parties as Israel does, it would be fighting a civil war unseen in human history.”

Astoundingly, even Hamas in Gaza issued numerous tweets urging Israeli Arabs to vote for the Arab parties’ Joint List. One can only imagine what Gaza residents must have felt at seeing Hamas urge Palestinian Israelis to exercise a right Palestinians in Gaza are denied by their own Hamas-run government.

Evelyn Gordon adds: “If Western leaders are serious about wanting Israeli-Palestinian peace, working to rectify; the lack of Palestinian democracy would be far more productive than wringing their hands over the choices made by Israel’s democracy.”

The media is incorrectly trumpeting that Mr. Netanyahu said he wasn’t interested in any peace process or two-state solution with the Palestinians. He said not right now. When the Palestinians quit shooting rockets and making suicide attacks on Israel policy, and are willing to recognize the Israeli state, then they would be interested. in a two-state solution.

Gaza-v-Israel-copy

(Click to enlarge)



Marco Rubio’s Blistering Floor Speech on Obama’s Treatment Of Israel by The Elephant's Child

Senator Marco Rubio called out President Obama for his shameful treatment of the Prime Minister of Israel, and for his treatment of the Israeli nation.

Obama did finally call Benjamin Netanyahu today to congratulate him on his overwhelming victory in the recent Israeli election. Obama’s childish, petulant response has been embarrassing. Israel is the only free market democracy in the Middle East, and the envy of many Palestinians.

I think Obama has depended on an Israeli Peace Plan with Palestine, a two-state solution, to be one of the crowning achievements of his legacy and his presidency, something Bush couldn’t get done, and proof that he really did too deserve that Noble Peace Prize. He should have known better, but foreign policy is not one of Obama’s strong points. It’s a naive, foolish vision, but nothing he planned as his foreign policy triumphs is working out — ending the War in Iraq has turned sour; people are laughing at Cuba declaring victory over Obama’s surrender to them; Republicans in the Senate wrote a despicable letter to the Ayatollahs in Iran and may have messed up his much desired nuclear deal. Even killing bin Laden and having al Qaeda on the run doesn’t seem to be working out. He hasn’t much time left to secure a legacy.

ADDENDUM: Some wording changed to clarify what I was attempting to say.



Obama: “Iran Can Be A Successful Regional Power” by The Elephant's Child

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President Obama, in his most direct response to the Republicans about their open letter to Iran, said that he’s “embarrassed for them.”

”For them to address a letter to the ayatollah — the supreme leader of Iran, who they claim is our mortal enemy — and their basic argument to them is: don’t deal with our president, because you can’t trust him to follow through on an agreement… That’s close to unprecedented,” he said in an interview with VICE News.

Back in 2008, the Bush administration, along with the “six powers” was negotiating with Iran about their country’s nuclear arms program. The Bush administration’s objective was to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. On July 20, the headline in the New York Times read “Nuclear Talks With Iran End in a Deadlock.” According to the Times, Iran responded with a written document that did not even address the main issue — demands that it stop enriching uranium. Iranian diplomats considered the issue nonnegotiable.

On June 3, Barack Obama had clinched the Democratic nomination. At some point around that date, but before the election, he secretly let the Iranians know that he would be easier to bargain with than the current president. Michael Ledeen reported on it in August:

The actual strategy is detente first, and then a full alliance with Iran throughout the Middle East and North Africa. It has been on display since before the beginning of the Obama administration. During his first presidential campaign in 2008, Mr. Obama used a secret back channel to Tehran to assure the mullahs that he was a friend of the Islamic Republic, and that they would be very happy with his policies. The secret channel was Ambassador William G. Miller, who served in Iran during the shah’s rule, as chief of staff for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and as ambassador to Ukraine. Ambassador Miller has confirmed to me his conversations with Iranian leaders during the 2008 campaign. …

The central theme in Obama’s outreach to Iran is his conviction that the United States has historically played a wicked role in the Middle East, and that the best things he can do for that part of the world is to limit and withdraw American military might and empower our self-declared enemies, whose hostility to traditional American policies he largely shares.

So in the face of Iran’s struggle to obtain nuclear weapons, and the depredations of ISIS in the Middle East, Obama’s core strategy is to create a U.S.−Iranian alliance that makes Tehran the major regional power and leaves America as a friendly adviser. Assuming that we still exist after Iran develops nuclear weapons. Did you know that Iran has a major national holiday called “Death to America Day?” We have Christmas and the Glorious Fourth, they have “Death to America Day” celebrated on the day they took fifty-two American diplomats and citizens hostage, November 4, 1979, whom they held for 444 days.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani described his country’s diplomacy with the United States as an active “jihad” that is just as significant to Tehran’s advancement as the slew of new weapons and missiles showcased by the Islamic Republic’s military.

Rouhani praised the country’s military leaders for standing “against the enemy on the battlefield” and said as president, he would carry out this “jihad” on the diplomatic front.

Why does Mr. Obama assume that when Iranians have made their triumph over America into a national holiday, that they don’t mean it? The Shiia believe that the return of the hidden imam will bring about Armageddon followed by heavenly bliss for believers.

Foreign Minister Jarad Zarif said that Iran is the winner, whether the negotiations yield results or not. “The capital we have obtained over the years is dignity and self-esteem, a capital that cannot be retaken.”
Dignity and self-esteem come from sitting down at the same table to negotiate with the Great Satan America and the other major countries. To the people who were once the most advanced civilization in the world and controlled a vast empire and have fallen so far behind, that is a very big deal indeed. Not likely to be satisfied with minding the Middle East  and being “advised” by America.

ADDENDUM: Here are some links to articles about Iran that may help a little in trying to understand what is going on.

“Trust Iran Only As Far as You Can Throw It” by Michael Weiss @ Foreign Policy.com

“Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy” by Michael Doran in Mosaic

The Obama-Khamenei alliance” by Michael Ledeen in The Hill

“Obama’s Inner Nixon”by Michael Ledeen at PJMedia.

Follow Michael Ledeen at PJMedia. He writes often about Iran and the Middle East, and is deeply knowledgeable.




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