Monday, November 24, 2014

Downgrading US-Israel relations seems to be part of Obama’s détente with Iran.


Last Tuesday’s terror attack on a Jerusalem synagogue killed five people: four rabbis (including three born in the USA) and a Druze police officer. Two Palestinians entered during morning prayers and attacked worshipers with knives, meat cleavers, and a handgun. 

Congress showed moral clarity when blaming the horrors on Hamas and Palestinian Authority incitement, but Obama’s statements were perfunctorily “balanced.” Obama warned of a “spiral” of violence – an obtuse refrain of those suggesting moral equivalency between terrorism and the fight against it. 
Obama also misleadingly claimed that “President Abbas...strongly condemned the attacks” omitting that Abbas did so only after pressure from the administration and with equivocation (Abbas suggested a link between recent terrorism and visits by Jews to the Temple Mount, as if to justify the attacks). It’s also worth noting that Palestinians celebrated the massacre (as they did after the 2013 Boston bombing and the 9/11 attacks).
Obama’s weak reaction is consistent with his mostly impotent response to ISIS terrorists who behead Americans and Mideast Christians and grow their Islamist empire by the day. Frighteningly, his approach to the Iranian nuclear situation follows the same meek pattern, but the stakes are exponentially higher, because when Iran goes nuclear, so does terrorism.
Iran is already the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, without nuclear weapons. Iran-supported Hamas has already tried to commit nuclear terror: last summer, Hamas launched rockets at Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor. How much more dangerous will Iran become when it has nukes? Even if Iran doesn’t directly commit nuclear terrorism, an Iranian nuclear umbrella will embolden the regime and the terrorist organizations it sponsors. 
Obama has a long record of weakness towards Iran. In 2009, when Iran’s Basij paramilitary force brutalized demonstrators protesting Iran’s fraudulent presidential election, Obama kept his response irrelevantly mild for the sake of “engaging” Iran. That surely helped Iranian voters understand the risks of protesting the “free” election of 2012 (involving eight regime-picked candidates). It was indeed a very orderly rubberstamp.
In 2011, when a U.S. drone went down on Iranian soil, Obama cordially requested it back. The regime recently scoffed at such impotence by showcasing its knock-off based on that drone and some U.S.-made helicopters that it purchased, highlighting just how useless sanctions have become.
President Hassan Rouhani’s election vastly improved the public face of Iran’s nuclear program, and Obama was charmed, too. Obama has been unilaterally weakening the sanctions against Iran by not enforcing them. He has threatened to thwart any Congressional attempt to limit his nuclear generosity by simply lifting sanctions without Congressional approval. Yet despite these concessions and Rouhani's smiles, human rights abuses in Iran have actually worsened.  
Obama declared in 2012 (while running for reelection) that he doesn’t bluff when it comes to stopping Iranian nukes, and that containment was not an option, unlike military force. But the credibility of that statement collapsed after Obama shrunk away from his “red line” against Syrian chemical weapons use. In 2013, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gassed his own people and Obama took no military action. So if Obama cowers against a disintegrating state, what are the chances that he’ll militarily prevent Iranian nukes?
And Obama has dangerously undermined the only military threat to Iranian nukes that anyone still takes seriously: Israel. On the Iranian nuclear issue, Obama has isolated Israel on how close Iran is to a nuclear capability with estimates that are far laxer. And as long as Obama continues negotiating (even if Iran is clearly playing for time as the U.S. offers ever more desperate proposals) or reaches a deal allowing Iran to become a threshold nuclear weapons state, an Israeli military option to defang Iranian nukes appears less legitimate. 
The media’s anti-Israel bias is well known; they can’t even get a simple story about vehicular terrorism against Israelis correct (compare how The Guardian writes accurate headlines when Canada suffers an Islamist car attack but not when Israel does). So if Obama accepts Iran’s nuclear program and Israel then attacks it, the media will be even harsher on Israel-- even though the world will be silently relieved, if Israeli courage succeeds at neutralizing what scared everyone else.
Downgrading US-Israel relations seems to be part of Obama’s détente with Iran. Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei recently tweeted his plan for destroying Israel, but Obama grows even more determined to reach an accord that legitimizes Iran’s nuclear program. And the Obama administration’s diplomatic abuse of America’s closest Mideast ally is unprecedented – from his humiliation of Prime Minister Netanyahu in 2010, to Secretary of State John Kerry’s betrayal of Israel during Operation Protective Edge, to calling Netanyahu a “chickenshit” a few weeks ago, without even apologizing later (note the irony of calling Netanyahu a coward anonymously). 
Obama seems far more concerned by Israeli construction of apartments in Jerusalem than a nuclear Iran. And he has been pressuring Israel to retreat from more disputed territory, effectively rewarding Palestinians for launching the third missile war against Israel from Gaza in five years last summer and now the third Intifidah inside Israel in 17 years. That puts Obama just behind the European appeasers who think Palestinian bellicosity merits statehood. They all naively think -- at Israel's peril -- that peace is possible with raw hatred.
Obama indeed appears desperate to get a nuclear accord with Iran at any price. He has written letters asking for Iran’s help against ISIS after they hinted at an ISIS-for-nukes exchange, and has pursued an agreement at all costs. Obama’s top aide, Ben Rhodes, was caught saying how a nuclear accord is as important to Obama as “healthcare”; at least there’s a fitting slogan to sell the deal to Americans: “If you like your nukes, you can keep them.”
Russia, the serial spoiler, suggested extending nuclear talks past the November 24th deadline. Iran will undoubtedly agree to more enrichment time (while it keeps stonewalling the IAEA’s investigations into its nukes), as it did last July. For Obama, a bad agreement or an extension looks far better than concluding that talks have failed and issuing more empty threats to stop Iran militarily. And so U.S. foreign policy will continue its freefall, as the world’s bad actors will want to see what they can extort from a leader even weaker than President Carter. 
While Carter permitted Iran to hold 52 American diplomats and citizens hostage for 444 days, Obama may allow Iran to hold the world hostage with nuclear terrorism. It's now dreadfully obvious: without massive public pressure, Obama will help Iran get nukes. Anyone concerned about nuclear terrorism should sign this petition: 
Noah Beck is the author of The Last Israelis, an apocalyptic novel about Iranian nukes and other geopolitical issues in the Middle East.

VDH autopsies Obama's six year reign of lies, distortions and "it's not my fault" history

Explaining Away Obama

by Victor Davis Hanson

The only mystery about the last six years is how much lasting damage has been done to the American experiment, at home and abroad. Our federal agencies are now an alphabet soup of incompetence and corruption [1]. How does the IRS ever quite recover[2]? Will the Secret Service always be seen as veritable Keystone Cops? Is the GSA now a reckless party-time organization [3]? Is the EPA institutionalized as a rogue appendage of the radical green movement with a director who dabbles in online pseudonyms[4]? Do we accept that the Justice Department dispenses injustice or that the VA can be a lethal institution for our patriots? Is NASA now a Muslim outreach megaphone [5] as we hire Russia, the loser of the space race, to rocket us into orbit?
Will anyone again ever believe a U.S. red line, step-over line, or deadline? Will Iran ever accept that it should not have a bomb or fear the consequences of trying to get one? Is Iraq (omnis effusus labor) a sort of rescued Eurydice that was abruptly lost on the trek up from the Underworld? Will Afghanistan become Saigon, 1975? How could Putin ever again be worried about offending a U.S. president, or could China or North Korea? Are we now always to be allies of Islamist Turkey and indifferent to its enemies like our once-allied Kurds, Cypriots, Greeks, and Israelis?
Will the economy ever again grow as it should? Will disability, food stamp, and welfare recipients jump back into the workforce should we frack on federal lands, build the Keystone pipeline or quit berating private enterprise?
Every statistic that Obama has produced on Obamacare enrollment [6], deportation, unemployment and GDP growth is in some ways a lie. Almost everything he has said about granting amnesty was untrue, from his own contradictions [7] to the congressionally sanctioned small amnesties of prior presidents. Almost every time Obama steps to the lectern we expect two things: he will lecture us on our moral failings and what he will say will be abjectly untrue.
I hope we can all recover, but it would require an honest autopsy of a failed presidency. So far, progressives assume that the media and Obama’s whining, blame-gaming and finger pointing can somehow return him back to a 50% approval rate and perhaps even a face-saving legacy. The result is that progressives, the media, and the Obama cohort have promulgated an entire series of excuses for what is a failed tenure like few any in the last century.
Bush Everywhere
George W. Bush is blamed by the administration for all its woes and not mentioned for any of its inheritances that proved salutary. The economy is said to be Bush’s fault, without recognition that Bush assumed the presidency during the Clinton recession. Also, Obama did not enter office during the meltdown of September 2008 but over four months later, when the economy was stabilizing; the recession was officially declared over [8] before Obama’s first six months in office.
Nor do we remember that what caused the Wall Street/Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac implosion was not Bush’s policies per se, but rather all sorts of larger forces. Clintontites (was there a Clintonite who did not cash in with a rich brief tenure at federal mortgage agencies?) milked the system [9] under the guise of liberal caring to expand housing; the Congressional Black Caucus damned the auditors of Franklin Raines and equated worries over unqualified subprime mortgages with racism. The deregulation of the mortgage industry was brought on by both parties in the 1990s.
Bush was blamed for Iraq, and he was certainly responsible for invading and, at great cost in blood and treasure, securing Iraq. But Iraq by 2009 was quiet and by 2011, in the words of Vice President Joe Biden and President Obama, stable, secure and likely to be a great achievement. Relations with Russia were already reset by Bush for Putin’s going into Georgia. Obama reset that reset [10], and so followed Crimea, Ukraine, and what next?  Obama took Bush’s green-lighted gas and oil revolution, stopped new fracking on federal lands, iced the Keystone pipeline and then bragged about greater carbon fuel production that came despite not because of his efforts. Same with the war on terror: trash the “Bush-Cheney” protocols, and then either expand or embrace all of them. What works against terrorists Bush had already established, what did not  – civil trials for terrorists, swaps like the Bergdahl deal, euphemisms like workplace violence and man-caused disasters — were Obama’s.
But even Obama found that scapegoating Bush grew stale after six years. Now the media’s new phraseology is the “Bush-Obama years,” to suggest that Obama was overwhelmed by the economy, Iraq and Afghanistan, and the partisan culture wars, and thus inevitably would become as unpopular as Bush. This variant is more subtle than Bush Derangement Syndrome in that it both blames Bush for the bad 14 years, and yet suggests there are large cosmic forces that now explain Obama’s own growing unpopularity.
The House Republicans
A second whine focuses on the House Republicans, who came to power only in January 2011. This gripe is an especially odd excuse for Obama’s failures for a variety of reasons. He pushed though Obamacare in 2009 without needing any of them; no one was bothered on the left by the fact Obama did not worry much that he lacked a single Republican vote for the Affordable Care Act. His large majorities in a Democratic Congress until January 2011, coupled with media obsequiousness and high polls, granted Obama power not seen since the reelection of LBJ in 1964. The failure to pass cap-and-trade and amnesty was an in-house Democratic problem, given fears that to do either would mean doom at the polls. How  odd that the anti-terrorism protocols, the drilling on private lands, and the mandatory cuts — issues Republican exerted pressure on – are precisely those few areas where Obama now brags of success.
There is a variant of the House Republican scapegoating called the “Tea Party did it,” as if all those tired of new and often disingenuous taxes and Obamacare represented some elemental racist hatred [11] that was unleashed against the president, stymieing his otherwise successful trajectory. This, too, is nonsense. Take the charge of so-called Tea Party extremism: shutting down the government to stop insane borrowing? Obama should have approved because he did just that — as a senator voting to shut down the government rather than expand the debt ceiling. Loud demonstrations? The Tea Party assemblies were somnolent compared to the viciousness of the anti-war protestors between 2005-8 or what we have seen in Ferguson. Criticize a sitting president? Again the Tea Party seems docile compared to what Democrats said of Bush. Obama himself, remember, trashed Bush serially, alleging that he was an unconsititouanl president and reckless spendthrift, while assuring the country that the surge would not only fail, but also make things worse. Just as Bush did not cause Obama’s failure, neither did the House and the Tea Party.
“They” and “It”
All sorts of existential enemies conspire against Barack Obama. Sometimes it is a tsunami or the advent of the ATM machine that slows the economy. Sometimes mysterious people freelance without Obama’s knowledge. Obama assures us that he had no clue about Lois Lerner, and when he did there was not even a smidgeon of corruption. He was just briefed about the apparently total stranger Jonathan Gruber, who accidently found his way into the Oval Office. Kathleen Sebelius apparently on her own sabotaged Obamacare, not the president who inspired it. Steven Chu one day just disappeared. So did Lisa Jackson and Hilda Solis, these latter two on the way out of the administration a bit ahead of a posse of auditors. Fast and Furious also spontaneously occurred. Lying about Benghazi was due to the fog of war. The moment one of Obama’s disastrous scandals begins to destroy things, some obscure assistant, some unknown natural force must be blamed for such undermining of hope and change without His knowledge.
Racism, as Eric Holder and Obama have winked and nodded at, is supposed to have caused Obama’s failure. Everyone from Morgan Freeman to the Jimmy Carter has lectured us that Obama is a victim of white racism, in a way I suppose could not possibly explain the venom once shown to Condoleezza Rice or Clarence Thomas. How was Sen. Tim Scott  reelected by a wider margin than was Lindsey Graham, and in South Carolina — the birthplace of the old secession? Was it racism, reverse racism, reverse-reverse racism?
If Barack Obama counted up all the times virulent racists blocked his ambitions, and stymied his efforts due to his race, and then collated them against how many times — at Occidental, Columbia, and Harvard; and in Chicago, Springfield and Washington — his performance was not strictly evaluated on its merits or lack of, I think the verdict would not be so favorable. Obama was nominated, elected, and reelected not despite the work of racists, but in part because he and his associates so brilliantly played the race card.
Existential Stasis
Finally we are told Obama is failing because the presidency has now become unworkable in the 21st century. The economy is supposedly inherently and permanently stuck at 1-2% GDP growth. Congress is dysfunctional in a structural sense. The people are forever polarized. The Internet and social media have all made it impossible for anyone to govern.
Obama is a new victim of existential forces that require us to rethink the presidency itself. In lieu of chronicling Obama’s disasters, we are instead lectured to radically change the system: why not one six-year presidential term? Or the end of the Electoral College? Or let us ensure that IDs are never required to vote — anything to free Obama from institutional chains that make it impossible for a president to be free to govern anymore.
That whine, too, is a fraud. Compared to what Lincoln faced in 1861, or Roosevelt in late 1941, or Truman in 1950, or, yes, Bush in 2001, Obama’s challenges are relatively modest. Government is not working because Obama subverted entire cabinet agencies and federal bureaucracies — from Homeland Security to NASA to Justice — to make them tools of larger efforts to advance the Obama multicultural therapeutic message rather than to honor and keep faith with their traditional agendas.
When the president uses emphatics like “really” or “actually” or “make no mistake about it, “let me be clear,” “in point of fact” or “this is unacceptable,” we know that what follows will be untrue and others will be blamed for the president’s own self-induced blunders.  Like Jonathan Gruber, and his surreal statements on amnesty, Obama believes that Americans are too stupid to retrieve videos and transcripts that prove that Obama makes things up and contradicts himself serially. Or the fact that Obama believes that Americans know that he does not tell the truth and yet also sighs that there are no consequences to such presidential distortions somehow makes him think that he is all the more powerful. Blame-gaming, “scape-gloating,” and lying is one thing, but quite another is doing all that with the full knowledge that voters accept that Obama lies — and that there can be absolutely no consequences. We have reached a point in the presidency where with each news conference Obama is saying to the American people something like “I just lied to you. No one cares that I did. And because no one cares, I am going to lie to you all the more as I feel like it given your own gullibility.”
We have had storytellers and fabulists in the White House before, but rarely a president who is energized to distort the truth by the very contempt that he holds the people in.

Reports: Top Iranian Negotiator ‘Frequently Shouts’ at Kerry, Western Officials. What Obama has done to American foreign policy.

Reports: Top Iranian Negotiator ‘Frequently Shouts’ at Kerry, Western Officials

Zarif screams so loud bodyguards have entered the room, Iranian diplomat claims
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L), EU envoy Catherine Ashton (C) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif meet in Muscat November 10
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L), EU envoy Catherine Ashton (C) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif meet in Muscat November 10 / Reuters
VIENNA—Iran’s foreign minister and lead negotiator in nuclear talks is known to frequently scream and shout at Western diplomats, including Secretary of State John Kerry, a practice that has caused alarm among bodyguards stationed outside the negotiating room, according to a member of the Iranian diplomatic team who spoke to the Farsi-language press.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif—who is scheduled to hold one-on-one talks with Kerry this evening in Vienna—”frequently shouts at Western diplomats” in such a forceful manner that bodyguards have hurriedly entered the negotiation room on occasion worried that an incident might occur, according to one Iranian diplomat involved in negotiations who spoke anonymously with the Iranian press earlier this week.
On one occasion, Zarif’s shouts were so loud that a member of the Iranian delegation entered the negotiation room to check on the players, according to the report, which was independently translated for the Free Beacon.
Upon entering, the Iranian official was informed by European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, a chief western negotiator, that Zarif was just shouting and she had gotten used to it, according to an independent translation of the report.
The report of Zarif’s aggressive behavior is consistent with previous reports claiming that Iranian negotiators tend to treat their Western counterparts—particularly the Americans—with scorn.
Iranian diplomat Abbas Araghchi, another member of the negotiating team, is reported to have said in an interview that during past negotiations in Geneva, Zarif “shouted” at Kerry and spoke to him in a way that was likely “unprecedented” in the history of U.S. diplomacy.
Araghchi went on to claim that he and Zarif play the roles of “good cop, bad cop,” according to the report, also in Farsi. The two often exchange these roles in a bid to “baffle the Western diplomats” and keep them uneasy, the report claims.
Araghchi further claimed that Kerry said very little after being shouted at by Zarif, except for “one or two very respectful sentences.”
Meanwhile, negotiations in Vienna over a final deal continue just one day before a self-imposed deadline for the talks.
While some Iranian officials have said that they refuse to extend the talks any further, Western officials, including Kerry, maintain that serious divisions remain between the two sides.
Both sides appear convinced that it will be impossible to reach a final deal before the Monday deadline.
“Given the limited time left, reaching a comprehensive agreement seems unlikely,” an Iranian diplomat told the country’s state-controlled media early Sunday.
Desperation on the part of the United States has led to a situation in which Iran feels that it has the upper hand and can act brazenly in talks, according to Saeed Ghasseminejad, an Iranian dissident and associate fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).
“The problem with the nuclear negotiations is that everybody knows how desperately this administration wants a deal,” Ghasseminejad said. “Nothing good comes out of such a situation. Actually it is [Iranian President] Rouhani who should be desperate to reach a deal.”
The United States “has gone too far to meet [Iranian Supreme Leader] Khamenei’s excessive demands only because the administration wants to have a foreign policy legacy beyond the total chaos it has achieved till now; the problem is that what they do only makes things worse,” he said.

What a sad sack is this administration. Iran proves Kerry and Obama can be easily bullied. 

Racist Democrats and the double standard

Dem Shunned for Ethnic Slur Given Party Leadership Role in New Mexico

Democratic Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton / AP
Democratic Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton / AP
A Democratic lawmaker in New Mexico who angrily referred to Gov. Susana Martinez as “the Mexican on the Fourth Floor” was elected as minority whip by the party over the weekend.
Sheryl Williams Stapleton, a member of the New Mexico House of Representatives, in 2011 berated a fellow lawmaker for “carrying the water for the Mexican on the Fourth Floor,” referring to Martinez, who was the first hispanic woman ever elected governor.
Stapleton previously held the role of majority whip, but lost the position in 2012 because of her comments regarding Martinez.
The New Mexico Democrats, who lost control of the legislature in the 2014 elections, chose to give Stapleton back her role as party whip in a vote this past weekend, according to the New Mexico Telegram.
Stapleton at the time said that her comment was not meant “in a derogatory way or as an ethnic slur.”
The Democratic Party of New Mexico could not be reached for comment by press time.

How the Obama Administration Has Already Caved to Iran

How the Obama Administration Has Already Caved to Iran

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Jay Leno: a real mensch.

Jay Leno gifts army vet Challenger Hellcat on Today Show
Jay Leno, besides being a grade-A car guy, is also a pretty standup American. The late-night host has been a fixture on USO tours, visiting troops in the Middle East and Afghanistan. His latest move, though, is a step beyond even a trip to a war zone.

After teaming with Al Roker's Shine A Light campaign, which raises money for the USO, Leno sought out a worthy serviceman or woman to receive a special gift. After choosing from a pool, Cpl. Ethan Laberge was selected, at random, to meet with Leno and go for a spin in the world's most powerful muscle car, the 707-horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat.

Cpl. Laberge was seriously wounded after shrapnel from an Afghani suicide bomber sliced through his left leg and arm. On top of that, the blast left the US Army corporal with a traumatic brain injury, and he's since gone through more surgeries than anyone should be forced to endure. Yet, he still suffers from lingering pain.

Leno met with the young soldier, and the two had lunch and went for a spin. Not a bad deal, but it was only going to get better for Cpl. Laberge. Take a look at the video, straight from a segment on NBC's The Today Show

The Chinese entitlement mentality

LandWind X7
LandWind X7LandWind X7LandWind X7LandWind X7LandWind X7LandWind X7LandWind X7LandWind X7
Posted Nov 22nd 2014 2:59PM

Despite its position as a communist state, the People's Republic of China has taken a decidedly laissez-faire attitude towards copyright infringement. It's why, as evidenced in an old episode of Top Gear, you can buy a fake Omega, wear fake Ray-Bans, talk on a fake iPhone and drink at a fake Starbucks. It's also why Chinese automakers so shamelessly rip off the designs of western automobiles (exhibits ABCD and E). Land Rover is the latest automaker to take exception to this practice.

The Indian-owned, British-made off-road brand is calling out the Chinese over the LandWind X7 which, like all good fakes, is a remarkably close approximation of the real thing, that goes for a lot less money. In this case, the Range Rover Evoque, which the X7 apes, sells for 40,000 pounds ($62,000 at today's rates) Autocar reports, while the Chinese version will retail for a meager 14,000 quid ($22,000).

With the X7 making its debut at the Guangzhou Motor Show, Land Rover Chief Executive Officer Dr. Ralf Speth opted to take a strong stance, issuing a resolute statement against LandWind's new SUV to Autocar:
"The fact that this kind of copying is ongoing in China is very disappointing. The simple principal is that it is not something that should happen; the intellectual property is owned by Jaguar Land Rover and if you break that IP then you are in breach of international regulations that apply around the world.

As a company we have invested heavily in China with our joint venture partner Chery. That commitment is based on a clear business plan, that allows us to hit our sales targets at clear prices. Anything that damages the potential profitability of our plant damages the integrity of those plans.

I will talk to our officials and I will talk to our partners at Chery to find a way around this situation. I cannot imagine Chinese officials will be happy at any actions that undermine the credibility of the country. What we have seen today is not correct."
According to Autocar, LandWind is a joint venture between two of China's larger automakers – Changan Auto and Jiangling Motors – which count Peugeot-Citroen and Ford as their JV partners, respectively. It's unclear how, or even if, any action by Land Rover could impact the two Chinese companies' partners.
News Source: AutocarImage Credit: Indian Autos Blog, Copyright 2014