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Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Stay classy PBS

(Hat Tip: Gateway Pundit).

Unfortunately, history is likely to prove Netanyahu right and Obama-Kerry-Clinton wrong. And who will pay the price for that? Most likely the United States and Israel - not necessarily in that order.

It is truly a sad day.

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Surprise: Top Clinton advisers contemptuous of Netanyahu

A review of Hillary Clinton's emails shows that three of her top advisers - Martin Indyk, Sandy Berger and Sidney Blumenthal - have contempt bordering on the pathological for Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
The "self-defeating" Netanyahu, according to Indyk, believes "that he is a great negotiator, and that he is operating in the Middle East bazaar, he inflates his requirements well beyond anything reasonable in the belief that this is the best way to secure the highest price." As a result, Indyk wrote, the Israel-Palestine peace process ends up getting dominated by Netanyahu's ego and insecurity issues:
The process of bringing him down to a reasonable price uses up a lot of energy, uses up a lot of goodwill, humiliates his Palestinian negotiating partner, and raises doubts about his seriousness. In the end, under great pressure from all quarters, he will make the final concession, but only after wasting a lot of time, making everybody furious with him, and thereby securing no credit either with his supporters or negotiating partners. At heart, he seems to lack a generosity of spirit. This combines with his legendary fear of being seen as a "freier" (sucker) in front of his people to create a real problem in the negotiations, especially because he holds most of the cards.
One does not get the sense that Indyk thinks very highly of the Israeli leader.
But I thought the most interesting section was his assessment of Netanyahu's and Israel's future if they failed to take the necessary steps toward peace:
The reason for dwelling on Bibi's psychology rather than his politics is that the latter all point in the direction of making a deal: the Israeli public is ready to get on with it; if Israel doesn't make a serious move, it will further delegitimize its standing internationally (something Bibi [Netanyahu] is deeply concerned about); Bibi needs President Obama in his corner to deal with the threat from Iran and to avoid punishment by the voters for mishandling relations with the U.S.; and if he doesn't make the deal with [Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas] now, he will have helped to advance the future he is most concerned about — a Hamas takeover of the Palestinian leadership.
Obama is doing a great job of 'helping' us deal with Iran, isn't he? /sarc

And then there's Sandy "Socks" Berger....
Like Indyk, Berger seems to see Netanyahu — not Israel, but Netanyahu specifically — as the primary challenge for peace, and spends most of his memo discussing ways to bring him around.
"I am persuaded the most important factor is and is likely to remain what Netanyahu is prepared to do," Berger writes.
He acknowledges that the Palestinians can be difficult as well, but says that at least they "have a relatively clear sense of their positions on the core issues." Netanyahu, though, is someone who "either does not know himself or is not prepared to share [his positions on core issues] and who, until now, has neither felt the urgency to reach a deal nor the discomfort of the status quo."
And yet Berger concludes that Clinton should solve this problem by assuring Netanyahu that the US will help him meet Israeli security needs as well as his own personal political needs. The picture he paints is one in which Netanyahu is in charge and the US role is to provide him with concessions, personal assurances, and political support until the Israeli leader feels like making peace:
Rather, [a peace deal] will happen only if [Netanyahu] feels that (1) it is under the leadership of a U.S. administration he genuinely trusts; (2) he is convinced that the combination of the agreement and U.S. assurances meets his core needs in terms of Israeli security and international recognition of its Jewish character; and (3) he feels that, again with U.S. help, he can sell it to his people and survive -- or even thrive -- politically.
(1) and (2) sure explain this administration's total failure in the 'peace process,' don't they?

And then there's this one from Clinton loyalist Sidney Blumenthal.
A number of the latest emails from 2010 center on the Gaza flotilla raid. Israeli commandos boarded the “Freedom Flotilla” to force the ships to port for inspection. A few dozen of the hundreds on board fought the commandos; 10 activists were killed and 10 of the Israeli commandos were wounded.
In an email to Clinton that day — May 31, 2010 — Blumenthal called the incident “Bibi’s Entebbe in reverse.”
“The father, Benzion Netanyahu; 100 years old, secretary to Jabotinsky, and denounced as too radical by Begin, adored his son Yoni, heroically killed at Entebbe. Benyamin has never measured up,” Blumenthal wrote. “Benzion has constantly criticized him in public for his deviations from the doctrine of Greater Israel. Bibi desperately seeks his father’s approbation and can never equal his dead brother. See Benzion’s most recent scathing undermining of his son Bibi and Bibi’s tearful tribute to his brother just last month.”
“The raid on the ship to Gaza resembles the raid on Entebbe, except that there are no hostages, no guns, it’s not in Africa, and it’s a fiasco; otherwise, it’s Entebbe. (Then, there’s Ehud Barak reliving his youth as a raider killing Palestinians in Lebanon, a feat memorialized in Spielberg’s film, Munich. Ultimately, it didn’t work out well that time either. The film captures the moral quandaries, which appear to have escaped the participants.)”
Blumenthal goes on to write, “The international press will inquire whether the Obama administration gave a wink or nod as the Bush administration did for the Lebanon and Gaza incursions. Be prepared.”
“Further: Of course, the consequences for US foreign policy and national security are negative across the board: from the analogy of the North Korean ship sinking and the Chinese posture to support for Iranian sanctions, etc., etc. Did the Israelis not hear Petraeus’s testimony?”
Blumenthal added that “of course, whatever the outcome of such a raid, one of the inevitable ones would be the death of the peace process, such as it is, on the very eve of Bibi’s scheduled visit to Obama, which would have been, under any circumstance, in light of the raid, profoundly humiliating for the president. Or are the Israelis bone stupid? I don’t think so.”
Hillary forwarded the email 35 minutes later to Jake Sullivan, her deputy chief of staff at the State Department and director of policy planning. He is believed to be Clinton’s pick for national security advisor.
“Fyi and itys,” Clinton tells Sullivan. The latter is Internet slang for “I told you so.”
Blumenthal sent other messages to Clinton after the flotilla raid, including a Max Blumenthal column on “deconstruction of propaganda” by Israel, a Center for Strategic and International Studies piece titled “Israel as a Strategic Liability?” and “leaked” Netanyahu poll numbers.
Note what Indyk, Berger and Blumenthal all have in common - other than their love for the Clinton's.... Hint: It's a certain religion. No one matches the Jews at undermining the Jews.

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Barbara Mikulski completes the betrayal of America (and Israel)

Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md), who will never have to face the consequences of her vote, announced on Wednesday that she will vote for the Obama-Kerry sellout to a nuclear Iran. Her vote gives President Hussein Obama 34 votes - enough to sustain a veto if the sellout ever comes to a vote at all. This is from the first link.
Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski announced Wednesday she’s supporting the international agreement with Iran regarding its nuclear capabilities. In doing so, the Maryland Democrat gives the Obama administration a veto override-proof list of 34 Senate supporters, all from the Democratic caucus.

“No deal is perfect, especially one negotiated with the Iranian regime,” Mikulski wrote in a statement Wednesday. “I have concluded that this Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the best option available to block Iran from having a nuclear bomb. For these reasons, I will vote in favor of this deal. However, Congress must also reaffirm our commitment to the safety and security of Israel.”
The announcement from the Appropriations ranking member came as the top Democrat on Foreign Relations, her colleague on “Team Maryland” Benjamin L. Cardin continued to weigh his options. Cardin met Tuesday with college students at Johns Hopkins University.
Regardless what Cardin decides, it is a big victory for the Obama administration to get the necessary votes locked up before Labor Day weekend, and it is made all the more significant because Republicans and outside groups opposed to the agreement have been beating the drum against it, including on the airwaves. Opponents led by Trump and Cruz are set to gather outside the Capitol one week from today to warn of consequences.
Mikulski joined the list of supporters one day after two Democratic senators who had been seen as having among the most significant concerns made detailed presentations to explain their support.
Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania wrote a 17-page memo to explain his analysis, and Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, who has already developed into a key voice at the Foreign Relations Committee, gave a speech at the University of Delaware and spoke to reporters about his decision.
For Senate Democrats, party loyalty takes precedence over all other considerations. When will they pay the price?

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Tuesday, September 01, 2015

How the US taxpayer may subsidize the purchase of Boeing jets by Iran

If you're an American taxpayer, you may be subsidizing the purchase of Boeing jets by Iran through the Export-Import Bank.
The Ex-Im bank provides government loan guarantees to a handful of major corporations — coincidentally, major political donors — that allow them to sell goods to foreign countries without worrying about whether or not they’ll actually get paid.  If a country should fail in its obligations, Uncle Sam will make the debts good.  The American taxpayer ends up on the hook for the cost of expanding corporate business in suspect nations with wobbly economies.  Yet the small number of corporations who benefit from the Ex-Im bank are all quite wealthy, and capable of obtaining loan guarantees privately through insurance.  The taxpayer is made to do what the market is ready to do just because it saves these corporations money.
One country where the Ex-Im bank has not operated in recent years is Iran.  This is because of the American sanctions that will be rejected as a part of approving the Iran Deal.  The Congressional Research Service has recently published a document detailing the ways in which the Ex-Im bank will be freed to undertake loan guarantees with Iran.  The CRS piece was written by one of their research specialists in foreign policy legislation, Dianne Rennack.  The complete report can be viewed at the end of this post.
According to the report, restrictions on the Ex-Im bank working with Iran are going to be released by the repeal of a number of executive orders (E.O.).  E.O. 13590 prohibits the Ex-Im bank from entering into relationships with individuals named personally in the sanctions, such as Qassem Suleimani, the head of Iran’s unconventional warfare program.  The Iran deal will repeal this order.
E.O. 13622 authorizes sanctions on foreign financial organizations associated with Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism.  That will also be repealed under the deal.
E.O. 13628 freezes money and property owned by named human rights violators.  Under the deal, their property will be returned to them, and loan guarantees from the Ex-Im bank will also become available to them.
Finally, the repeal of E.O. 13645 will allow loan guarantees related to Iran’s oil industry.  Petroleum companies will be able to fund their operations in Iran without worrying about whether Iran will pay them, because the American taxpayer will.
Iran has announced that is planning to buy 80 to 90 Boeing and Airbus aircraft every year. Boeing is one of the corporations that benefits from the Ex-Im bank, and it has held the threat of moving its business offshore over the head of the Congress during debates about the bank.  Humanitarian safety concerns about Iran’s aging aircraft have already impelled the United States to waive restrictions on sales of repair parts for older aircraft.  The Senate might permit Iran being allowed to buy new commercial aircraft on the same basis.  Having those aircraft financed not by Iran but by the American taxpayer, however, will remain controversial.
 And those of you who voted for President Soetro have something else of which you can be ashamed.

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Black enough but not American enough

Get the full story here (Hat Tip: Jack W).

If you hadn't figured it out yet (and don't follow me on Twitter), I'm in Boston again. Yesterday was travel day....

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Shirley Temper 'rescues' her brother from the IDF, Papa is proud

Do you all remember Shirley Temper (real name Ahed Tamimi, and yes, from that Tamimi clan)? On Friday, Shirley and her mother attacked yet another IDF soldier to prevent them from arresting her little brother for throwing stones at soldiers.
The opening shots show a partially-masked soldier with a rifle in his hand running after the boy, Muhammad Tamimi, across an empty brown hillside filled with rocks and a few scattered olive trees.

The soldier catches Muhammad from behind and places him in a choke-hold. Muhammad screams and begins crying. The soldier pushes Muhammad onto a rock and lies on top of him, as a young female activist with a gas mask in one hand tries to pull the boy away.

The soldier pushes her back and tells her to leave the boy alone. Muhammad’s left arm can be seen in a cast.

The soldier calls out for reinforcements as he holds one arm around the boy’s neck and keeps his other hand on his gun. Within a minute, Muhammad’s sister, Ahed, 14, and mother arrive, along with other women and children.

Screaming, they hit the soldier, unmask him, and try to pull the boy away. They succeed just as a second soldier arrives. One of them throws a stun grenade at the Palestinians. Both soldiers, however, walk away without arresting Muhammad.

The IDF said the incident occurred during violent clashes between its soldiers and Palestinians in which rocks were thrown at security forces. It said that an attempt was made to arrest Muhammad after he was identified as one of the stone throwers.

The IDF said that during the execution of the arrest, a number of Palestinians, including women and children, acted in a violent and provocative manner. It said that a commander decided not to carry out the arrest as a result of this.
Papa Tamimi has told the Jerusalem Post that he's proud of his brood
"We have the right to resist. Our children are doing their duty and must be strong," Bassem Tamimi told The Jerusalem Post, when asked how he feels about his children's participation in West Bank protests against soldiers. He noted, however, that they are not against the soldiers, but against the occupation. 
"There is no safe place to be," he tells the Post, making no distinction between soldiers, settlers or Jewish extremists . "Because a lot of time they target houses, and there is fire on the houses." He gives the example of the Dawabshe family who were the victims of an arson attack on their home in Duma in July, which killed a Palestinian toddler and his father. The attack was allegedly perpetrated by Jewish terrorists.
It's actually far more likely that the attack was perpetrated by a rival 'Palestinian' clan but because our government is afraid to come out and say it, so is everyone else and we continue to be slandered.
Responding to comments made by right-wing Israeli politicians and activists on the heels of Friday's incident, that IDF soldiers should open fire immediately if they are attacked, Bassem Tamimi claims that it makes no difference if they are attacked or not: "they will open fire anyway," he asserts. 
That's a libel. 

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Matisyahu says he felt threatened in Spain

American reggae singer Matisyahu says that he felt threatened last week while playing at a fair in Spain. This is from the first link.
“People were standing on each other’s shoulders with flags giving me the middle finger,” Matisyahu tells The Daily Beast in an interview. “It was intense. It was not peaceful. It was like ‘Fuck you, Matisyahu.’ I’ve never had the experience of anything like that, as a Jew or anything in my life.”
Matisyahu performed at the Rototom Sunsplash festival after a public backlash prompted organizers to rescind their initial insistence that he sign a statement in support of Palestinian statehood as a prerequisite for his appearance.
Such nice people, those BDS'ers.... 

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Time to say good-bye

Looks like I will miss this.... But if you're in New York, please be there (Hat Tip: Leah P).

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Small world syndrome

One of my neighbors just came by for something and invited us to a Kiddush (celebration) at his synagogue tomorrow morning. The Kiddush is to celebrate 45 years (on the Jewish calendar) since he was released from being a hostage at Dawson's field in Jordan.

More here.

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IAEA: Iran may have built extension to Parchin

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports that Iran may have built an extension to its Parchin nuclear weapons testing facility since May, making it impossible to determine how far along Iran was in nuclear weapons research before entering into its farcical deal with the P 5+1 (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).

The confidential IAEA report, obtained by Reuters, said:
"Since (our) previous report (in May), at a particular location at the Parchin site, the agency has continued to observe, through satellite imagery, the presence of vehicles, equipment, and probable construction materials. In addition, a small extension to an existing building" appeared to have been built.
The changes were first observed last month, a senior diplomat familiar with the Iran file said.
The IAEA says any activities Iran has undertaken at Parchin since U.N. inspectors last visited in 2005 could jeopardize its ability to verify Western intelligence suggesting Tehran carried out tests there relevant to nuclear bomb detonations more than a decade ago. Iran has dismissed the intelligence as "fabricated".

"We cannot know or speculate what's in the (extended) building ... It's something we will technically clarify over the course of the year," the senior diplomat said. The report said the extended building was not the one that some countries suspect has housed the controversial experiments.
"It’s funny that the IAEA claims there has been a small extension to a building ... Iran doesn't need to ask for the IAEA's permission to do construction work on its sites," Reza Najafi, Iran's envoy to the agency, was quoted as saying by ISNA news agency.

I can't even say what I'd like to say about this. Certainly not in any forum that is likely to be widely dispersed.

Messiah should be arriving soon. It's the only solution.

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Unbelievable: Senate may not even vote on Obama's sellout to a nuclear-armed Iran

It's come to this: Thanks to Mr. Congeniality, Senator Bob Corker (R-Tn), President Hussein Obama's sellout and endorsement of a nuclear armed Iran may never even come to a vote in the Senate. This is Jonathan Tobin.
With only two Senate Democrats announcing their opposition (Chuck Schumer and Robert Menendez), there now appears to be a chance that the White House will be able to orchestrate a filibuster of the bill if at least three more Democrats join a unanimous Republican caucus. That will make a mockery of the approval process that Congress has been going through. If it does, the blame will belong to a president who has not hesitated to use inflammatory rhetoric and heavy-handed tactics to stop Congress from interfering with a policy of appeasement of Iran. But Obama didn’t do it alone. He could never have succeeded had he not had the unwitting help of Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chair of the Foreign Relations Committee. Without Corker’s foolish belief in working with the White House and pusillanimous unwillingness to push for an approval process in line with the Constitution’s provisions about foreign treaties, the administration might never have been able to get away with sneaking through the most important foreign policy decision in a generation.
The Tennessee Republican didn’t get much cooperation from the administration. However, he did listen to a lot of his Democratic colleagues who were unhappy about confronting Obama but wanted to preserve some sort of Congressional oversight on the Iran negotiations. Thus, hoping to maintain the bipartisan consensus on Iran, Corker shifted the emphasis in the Senate away from a bill that would toughen sanctions against Iran that had been proposed by Menendez and Illinois Republican Mark Kirk. Instead, Corker’s attention was focused on something else: something that would compel the administration to present any deal with Iran for a Congressional vote.
Thus was born the Corker-Menendez bill that would be renamed Corker-Cardin after Menendez was forced out as ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee and replaced by Senator Ben Cardin. Considering that the administration had openly said that it did feel compelled to present any agreement with Iran for Congressional approval, some sort of response was required. But the only thing Corker could get Corker and other Democrats to sign on to was a bill on an Iran nuclear deal that would provide for a simple up and down vote in both the House and the Senate.
What was wrong with that? The Constitution explicitly states that foreign treaties must be presented to the Senate where they must get a two-thirds vote to be approved. The impetus for this high bar was the thought that treaties ought to be a matter of national consensus since they involve the security of the nation and their impact will be felt beyond the current Congress or the incumbent president.
Corker’s bill turned that approval process upside down. Instead of 67 votes to pass a deal that would give Iran Western approval for becoming a nuclear threshold state and a nuclear power once the deal expired in 10 to 15 years, all Obama would now need was 34 votes in the Senate or one-third plus one vote in the House.
It can be argued that Democrats would never have gone along with a bill that would have designated the Iran deal as a treaty as it should have been. The administration knows that there is no legal argument for not designating the deal as a treaty. As Secretary of State John Kerry admitted in his testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the only reason they didn’t present it as a treaty is because it is too hard to pass a treaty.
Corker is flummoxed by this prospect, telling the New York Times that he cannot imagine that a Senate will do it.
“Ninety-eight senators voted to give themselves the right to vote on this,” he said. “Surely they are not going to deny themselves a final vote on the deal.” …
“To block a vote on the deal would be a fascinating turn of events at a minimum,” Mr. Corker said.
Fascinating isn’t quite the word I’d use for such a turn of events. A better description of what is happening is that a tough-minded administration has run rings around an inept Corker. Did he really trust liberal Democrats who promised that they wanted a vote? If so, he is clearly not smart enough to be left in the position of influence he has been given. Far from his accommodating attitude rebuilding the consensus on Iran that Obama has been busy destroying, Corker’s willingness to bend over backwards has facilitated Obama’s disastrous policy.
A filibuster will enable the president to say that Congress never defeated his Iran deal. That’s something that he would have been denied if he had been forced to veto the bill. Even a complete end run by the administration around congress where no vote at all would have been held would have been preferable to a successful Iran deal filibuster. Then opponents would have been able to point to the extra-legal way the president was sneaking his treaty with Iran through. A failed effort to designate the deal as a treaty would also at least have set the record straight about Obama’s disregard for the Constitution. But now Obama can say the deal was reviewed and in a sense passed. This will strengthen his efforts to undermine existing sanctions and make it harder for the deal to overturn it in the future once he leaves office.
For that he can thank Corker.
By the way, if you're wondering how this pea brain became chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee... the party was looking for an ideological conservative. Maybe the party ought to be looking for some intelligence before worrying about ideology?

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Iran to pay for its own 'nuclear inspections'?

With the IAEA looking for money to pay for inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities, the US State Department suggested on Wednesday another source of payment aside from the American taxpayer: Iran itself.
John Kirby, a spokesman for the Department of State, declined to answer multiple questions about how international inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites would be paid for by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is requesting at least $10 million to carry out the work.
The United States will likely fund some portion of the cost, and Kirby left open the possibility that Iran could also foot some of the bill.
The matter has been the subject of much speculation in recent days after it came to light that Iran would be permitted to inspect its own nuclear sites, raising the possibility that Iran could continue to hide nuclear weapons work.
“I don’t have any specific funding contributions to speak to today in terms of amount,” Kirby told reporters. “We’re still working our way through that. I do want to add that we have every intention to continue to contribute to the IAEA for the purpose of this—doing this very important work of the verification of Iran’s nuclear-related commitments.”
“I won’t speak for Iran,” Kirby added. “I don’t know what, if any, commitments Iran has or will engender under this, but we’ve—as we noted in the statement, we’re committed to working with all the member states to ensure that the IAEA has the resources that it needs.”
When pressed to explain whether the United States would pay for Iran to inspect its own nuclear sites or press the Iranian government to foot the bill, Kirby demurred.
“Honestly don’t have a specific answer for you in that regard,” Kirby told reporters. “I mean, again, we’re going to contribute—continue to contribute to the IAEA and their funding needs specifically as it relates to this deal. And it’s not just us; we want other member states to do it as well.”
“I’ll let Iran speak for itself in terms of what, if any, contributions it plans to make,” he added.
“But I don’t know that I would characterize the funding resources applied to IAEA and their need to do this work as sort of then paying for any efforts done by Iranian officials to meet compliance.”
Matthew Lee, a reporter for the Associated Press, continued to question Kirby on the issue.
“Well, I mean, someone’s got to pay for it,” Lee said. “They’re not going to work for free, whoever they are, whether they’re Iranians or they’re from Djibouti.”
“Well, I’m assuming many of them are government—work for the government of Iran,” Kirby responded.
 What could go wrong?

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