Nel's New Day

April 14, 2017

DDT: Week Twelve, More Failures Plus War-Mongering

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) went by himself to Mar-a-Lago this weekend—no senior staffers to monitor him and his tweets. You can keep track of his trips there—seven out of weekends thus far—and expenditures to taxpayers. He left after referring to the U.S. armed forces as “my” military and glowing about the “most beautiful” cake in his restaurant there while talking about bombing Syrians to Chinese President Xi Jinping. Hopefully, Xi didn’t get sick while he was at Mar-a-Lago because health inspectors has found undercooked meat and dangerous fish at the resort, one time before the state visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Among two broken coolers, 13 violations, three of them high priority, were found in the kitchen were a record for a resort that charges $200,000 in initiation fees.

Distraction of the Week: DDT’s polls rose only four percent with the Syrian bombing so he dropped the “mother of all bombs” on Afghanistan, the first time that the nation’s largest non-nuclear bomb was used. The nickname supposedly comes from an acronym for the Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, but considering that the most destructive device outside of nuclear bombs was developed by men, built by men, and dropped by men, it might more appropriately be called “father of all bombs.” The replacement cost is $16 million; the number of ISIS fighters killed is 36. Each death costs almost one-half million dollars in replacement charges for the bomb. Asked about whether he approved the strike, DDT refused to answer.

At the same time, DDT’s bullying tweets about North Korea are causing increasing tension with a country that could easily release nuclear bombs on the United States. Han Song Ryol, North Korea’s vice foreign minister, said, “Trump is always making provocations with his aggressive words. We will go to war if they choose,” he added. Without DDT keepers for a long weekend at Mar-a-Lago, the U.S. could be at war with North Korea by Monday.

Steep Learning Curve: About the healthcare plan, DDT said, “Who knew it was so complicated?” After talking with Chinese President Xi Jinping for ten minutes, he said that “it’s not so easy” for Beijing to quickly take care of North Korea. DDT told Xi that he “should let North Korean leader Kim Jong Un know the U.S. doesn’t just have aircraft carriers, but also nuclear submarines.” As if the entire world doesn’t know?! Then he protested that “you cannot allow a country like that to have … nuclear weapons.” First, North Korea already has these weapons, and second, DDT said during his campaign that all countries should have nuclear weapons and just fight with them. have nuclear weapons.

Whither Syria: Last week, DDT bombed Syria after warning Russia to get out of the way and probably letting Russia warn Syria. This week, he bombed Syria again, killing 18 members of the ISIS-opposition team. He claims that “we’re not going into Syria,” but the U.S. already has at least 1,000 members of the military stationed in the country. DDT’s Syrian policy during the past two weeks could cause whiplash:

  • March 30, 2017 – Bashar Assad can stay in power; the U.S. won’t take part in another Middle Eastern conflict against a leader backed by Russia.
  • April 5-6, 2017 –  Assad must leave power because of his alleged chemical attack that killed about 80 people; DDT bombed the Shayrat airbase in Syria.
  • April 6-10, 2017: The issue is not Assad but chemical weapons use.
  • April 9, 2017: Attack Isis first and let Assad stay or go depending on the Russian position; (Tillerson) the priority is the defeat of ISIS, and overthrowing Assad would be disastrous.
  • April 9, 2017: The country should have multiple priorities beyond defeating ISIS.
  • April 10, 2017: The U.S. will respond to barrel bombs by bombing Syria.
  • April 10, 2017: No, the U.S. will not respond to barrel bombs.

Erasing the Holocaust: In an effort to justify DDT’s Syrian bombings, Press Secretary Sean Spicer called Bashar Assad worse than Adolf Hitler because the Nazi leader did not “sink to the level of using chemical weapons.” Questioned about his statement, Spicer apologized and said that the Hitler used gas in the “Holocaust centers.” Yet he maintained that Assad’s acts were worse because Hitler didn’t use “airplanes to drop chemical weapons on innocent people.” On the first day of Passover, commemorating the Jewish flight from Egypt in 1313 BCE, Spicer didn’t mention the six million Jews killed during the Nazi regime, but he personally called Jewish donor Sheldon Adelson to apologize—but no one else.

More Spicer Statements:  Earlier in the week, Spicer had to take back his statement that DDT’s bombing took out 20 percent of Syria’s entire air force by explaining it was 20 percent of one wing—about 12 planes out of several hundred. He said he didn’t want to draw attention away from DDT’s attempts to “destabilize” the Middle East. No, that’s not a typo. More of Spicer’s gaffes here. At a townhall meeting, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) said that Spicer “needs to go.”

Ally Russia: Spicer also referred to Russia as one of our allies. At a G7 meeting in Italy with six other industrialized nations, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “Why should U.S. taxpayers be interested in Ukraine?” Abandoning Ukraine would give Tillerson a lot of money from Russian oil. Asked what Tillerson meant by his question, State Department spokesman R.C. Hammond said, “Rhetorical device.”

Another Firing: The National Security Council is still suffering from shifting members. Michael Flynn was fired, Steve Bannon was demoted, and now GOP pundit K.T. McFarland got the axe. Known for bragging in a meeting about “wearing shoes from Ivanka Trump’s brand,” she early on in her brief tenure told seasoned staff members that they needed to “make America great again.” Her disappearance follows several other potential major DDT-chosen players in the administration during just a few months. Evidently she was offered a job as ambassador to Singapore.

No More Data to Shame “Sanctuary Cities”: After only three weeks of publishing a weekly report about cities that supposedly refused to cooperate with ICE, DDT has stopped this effort because of massive mistakes. Another reason may be that the reports show the incompetency of ICE as they confused different counties in statistics and blamed some areas for events in others.

Texas Voters Win: Veasy v. Abbott has been wandering the courts for years, but the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has concluded that the Texas voter ID law’s intent is discriminatory against minorities. If the court order is upheld on appeal, the entire law would be thrown out, and Texas would be brought back under federal supervision. The question now is whether five SCOTUS justices will agree if the high court takes the case.

Iran Deal Successful: One of DDT’s virulent criticisms during the campaign was President Obama’s agreement with Iran to control its nuclear weapons. Iran is following the agreement—probably to the disappointment of DDT who would like to see failure for all the former president’s actions.

Lawsuit of the Week: Watchdog groups plan to sue DDT because he has stopped releasing logs of visitors to the White House, including lobbyists. The problem became obvious last week when Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) reviewed intelligence reports on the White House grounds before he briefed DDT about what DDT’s staff told him. In the past, exceptions to the visitor logs have been private visits to the family. The defendant is the Department of Homeland Security, overseeing the Secret Service, which is subject to freedom of information requests. Information is also being sought from DDT properties where he holds meetings such as Mar-a-Lago.

Climate Lawsuits against DDT: Seventeen states are suing the federal administration regarding DDT’s orders to promote climate change, including the implementation of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan that sets standards for power plants. The group also notified Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, that they will sue to if the government stalls on standards requiring specific electrical items meet low-carbon emission goals. In addition, it has petitioned New York federal courts to force DDT to implement efficiency standards for other goods, citing no justifiable reason for delaying these regulations for another six months.

Resistance: Lest DDT think that the protesting against him and his policies have been quelled, three protest marches are scheduled for the second half of April, one of them tomorrow:

  • April 15: Tax March, demanding that DDT release his tax returns.
  • April 22: March for Science, building a “broad, nonpartisan, and diverse coalition of organizations and individuals who stand up for science. We are advocating for evidence-based policymaking, science education, research funding, and inclusive and accessible science.”
  • April 29: People’s Climate March, defending the environment and mitigating the harmful effects of climate change.

More failures and bit more of Trumpia tomorrow.

August 31, 2015

Vote on Iran Deal Nears

Conservative media, including Fox, is still distributing the falsehood started by the Associated Press that Iran could use its own inspectors in investigating a military site (which it called a nuclear site). Republicans initially tried to use this announcement to scuttle the Iranian deal, but two hours later AP deleted the information. The original report stated that Iranian scientists would inspect air and soil samples at Parchin and that the number of these samples would be limited to seven. Media ran a scary headline: “AP Exclusive: UN to let Iran inspect alleged nuke work site.” The report that inspections in the past were carried out by Iranians with no one else allowed on the site came from a leaked draft agreement and is not included in the final one. The edited version eliminated the incendiary details and kept quotes from outraged GOP lawmakers .

According to arms control expert Jeffrey Lewis, the leak was to make the agreement sound bad and to hope that the information would make congressional lawmakers start making demands. The AP allowed itself to be duped.

In raising serious—and false—doubts about the Iran agreement, the AP joined Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who evidently leads GOP foreign policy. During the August recess, a Jewish lobbying group paid for members of Congress to visit Israel and hear Netanyahu’s arguments to opposed the P5+1 nuclear agreement with Iran, signed on July 14 by the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia. The 58 members of Congress who visited Netanyahu in August were told that they should visit him instead of their constituents if they want contributions from wealthy Jewish donors.

TV ads focused on making people believe that the Iran agreement to control the country’s nuclear weapons is evil should come to an end this fall. Congress has only 18 more days for the first vote to follow the prime minister of Israel rather than the President of the United States.

The process in Congress:

  • Return from recess on September 8, nine days from now.
  • Begin debate on a GOP-sponsored “resolution of disapproval” against the deal.
  • Gather at least 60 votes to move the resolution forward in the Senate.
  • Vote on the resolution by September 17 with a simple majority of 51 votes to pass.
  • Pass the resolution because the GOP has the 51 votes.

If (or when) both congressional chambers approve the resolution against the Iran agreement, the president has 12 days to veto the resolution. Congress has another 10 days to vote on an override. The president needs 34 votes to avoid an override; thus far, 31 senators have committed to supporting the agreement and voting against the override. The House would need at least 44 Democratic votes to override a veto. Passing a resolution of disapproval and overriding a veto would bar President Obama from waiving most of the U.S. sanctions on Iran, necessary to complete the agreement with Iran.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) received much publicity when he came out in opposition to the agreement. He thinks that the country would be better off with the nuclear aspects but objects to the role Iran may take as a trading partner. His goal in opposing the Iran deal is to keep Israel’s domination in the area for another half century. He claims that he doesn’t want a war with Iran, but GOP presidential candidates do. Scott Walker would bomb Iran on the first day of his presidency. Most of the other candidates weren’t as clear in their intentions except they would rescind the agreement. Donald Trump is the only Republican candidate who supports it.

Mike Huckabee, far down in the polls, visited Israel to get financial support although he cannot legally accept donations from foreign nationals. His earnings from selling survivalist gear to Doomsday believers on his radio show seems to be insufficient to run his campaign. Ignoring Israel’s liberal abortion policy and its universal healthcare, Huckabee opposed U.S. foreign policy that the West Bank is illegally occupied territory. He said it sounded like “someone is illegally taking land” (which it is) and refers to the Palestinian seat of government as Judea and Samaria.

Walker has promised Israeli officials an increase in military aid should the U.S. have the misfortune of Walker as president. To Walker—and Israel—the one-third of the U.S. foreign aid budget that Israel gets every year isn’t enough for its 0.001 percent of the world’s population.

Within the seven countries that signed the deal, only U.S. hawks are in opposition. Camille Grand, an expert on nuclear nonproliferation, said that no constituency in Europe is against the agreement. He said, “The hawks are satisfied [with the deal].” In the world, the only strong opposition comes from Iranian hardliners, U.S. Republicans, and some Israel officials. Like the GOP opposition to the new START nuclear treaty, U.S. officials are eager to derail an agreement to advance the nation’s interests because of their hatred for President Obama.

Worried that the Senate may not muster the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), leader in undermining U.S. foreign policy, has made a statement, asking the Congress and the president to “speak with one voice when it comes to dealing with the Iranians.” That would be Cotton’s voice after he persuaded 46 other senators to sign his letter to Iranian officials telling them not to trust U.S. officials. Cotton also wants to do away with the filibuster, ignoring the fact that the Republicans originally created the mandate for 60 votes to advance. The senators who express such amazement that Democrats might want to filibuster the Iran agreement ignore the GOP cause of almost total gridlock in that chamber during President Obama’s two terms. They also don’t recognize what might happen if they insisted on only up-and-down votes and then lost the simple majority in the senate.

Just looking at the names of people against the Iran agreement should be proof that the opposition is wrong. These are the same people who supported the Iraq War. George W. Bush learned nothing from that disaster and called the president “naive,” and David Frum, Bush’s speechwriter who coined “Axis of Evil” for Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, accused President Obama of anti-Semitic rhetoric. In the Senate, Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ), called war against Iraq the “only reasonable option” and “the right war for the right reasons.” Mastermind of the Iraq War, Dick Cheney, plans to give an address against the agreement on September 8 although he’s no longer in office. Reporter Eli Lake, who argued about Iraq’s non-existent WMD, accuses the president of practicing the “politics of fear” to achieve peace. Columnist Bill Kristol, board member of an Israeli committee, was the first to write in March 2003 that “we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators” in Iraq. Former Sen. Joe Lieberman, who turned against his own party to support the Iraq War, has become the new leader of United against Nuclear Iran after its former leader decided that the Iran agreement was a good deal. Not in office in 2002, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, testified at that time that Iraq had WMD. He is taking the same position with Iran.

Today’s problems with Iran come from Bush’s preemptive war on Iraq which expanded Iranian influence and a nuclear program exacerbated by the U.S. wars in the Middle East. Without the Iraq War, ISIS may never have existed. The agreement is a way to clean up the mess left by Bush and his hawks.

The Los Angeles Times has come out in support of the Iran agreement and has a very simple reason: “Although it certainly represents a gamble, the deal makes it highly unlikely that Iran will develop a nuclear weapon during the next 10 or 15 years. Without it, there is no such assurance…. It is far from a perfect deal … but at the end of the day, it must be supported because the alternatives are worse.”

With a large arsenal of nuclear weapons, Israel is a far more dangerous country than Iran because Netanyahu is willing to bomb anyone who gets in his way. The United States should take a good look at the far-right leadership in Israel and reconsider sending Israel one-third of our foreign aid budget to help wage war.

On the pro side of the agreement are dozens of former Israeli military officials, dozens of retired American generals and admirals, and a wide array of experts on nuclear non-proliferation. On the anti side is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is leading ignorant Republicans around by the nose. I’ll side with the experts.

May 16, 2015

Eight-second Bits for Your Weekend

gallery-thumbnailsTwitter has reduced information to 144 characters, and texting has decreased communication to far shorter bits. With the industrialized world concentrating on the brevity of technology, people now lose concentration after eight seconds, down from 12 seconds in 2000. To put this bit of information into perspective, the average attention span for a goldfish is nine seconds. The following information has been chopped up into eight-second—or less—sections.

The media has been abuzz with Jeb Bush’s whirling this past week that went much farther than flip-flopping. Asked whether he would have attacked Iraq if he knew then what the world knows now, he produced a series of answers: yes, I misheard, I misinterpreted, I can’t answer because it’s a hypothetical, I can’t answer because it does a “disservice” to people in the service, and finally—or most recently—“I would not invade.”

A non-scientific poll of over 2,000 Republican voters has put Jeb at .85 percent, somewhere below Sarah Palin write-ins. In the same poll, 60 percent of the respondents said that they wouldn’t vote for a president in 2016 if he were the candidate. And that was before the problems in the past week. We can look forward to the next “scientific” survey to see if that opinion holds.

bush graphHouse Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) likes Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), saying that “he showed he was fairly deft in his ability to smoothly answer those same questions.” Chaffetz might be questioned about his opinion after Rubio’s speech last weekend at South Carolina’s “Freedom Summit” when Rubio told the audience that his approach to terrorism comes from the film Taken: “We will look for you, we will find you and we will kill you.” Rubio might want to polish his policy a little.

Who’s the “greatest living president”? CNN’s Chris Moody asked this question of several possible and real GOP presidential candidates at the “Freedom Summit” event. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Donald Trump came up with Ronald Reagan. (For those who haven’t kept up with recent events, he died almost 11 years ago, and the question didn’t ask “alive in our hearts.”)

Republicans can’t say Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama which leaves them with a Bush—both of whom invaded the Middle East. Reagan is about all the GOP has, however, because Bush II caused the Middle East problems, Bush I raised taxes, Nixon had to resign, and Hoover started the Great Recession. That leaves Eisenhower who developed a great deal of the country’s infrastructure, and the GOP hates infrastructure.

A Public Policy Poll determined that only 40 percent of Republicans think that the U.S. doesn’t plan to invade Texas—forgetting that Texas is part of the U.S. Almost one-third of GOP voters think the government wants “to take over Texas,” and another 28 percent aren’t sure. The strongest believers are supporters of Cruz and former Texas Gov. Rick. Among Tea Partiers, half said yes to the idea of a conspiracy, and 25 percent aren’t sure. That leaves only one-fourth of Tea Partiers who don’t believe in the myth. (For those leaning toward belief in the takeover, Jade Helm 15 is a military exercise to train people for the Middle East.)

“Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely,” according to both Lord Acton and later George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Several state legislators have suffered from this problem in the past year. New York’s criminal indictment against the Democrat state Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver, in January was preceded by indictments against Republican House Speakers Bobby Harrell (SC) and Mike Hubbard (AL)–all for misuse of money. The most recent criminal indictment against a state House Speaker, however, was against Missouri’s John Diehl for sexual texting with a teenage intern. The texts were discovered in April, but Diehl denied them until this past week when he confessed. The anti-birth control, anti-choice, anti-LGBT, anti-safety net, anti-health care, anti-union, pro-family values House Speaker then waited a few days to resign, probably hoping that his problems would blow over. The 49-year-old ex-House Speaker is married with three children. Missouri Family Policy Council, the state affiliate of the Family Research Council, had earlier praised the speaker “for demonstrating moral leadership and true integrity”; Diehl’s website features “personal responsibility.”

In Vermont, state Sen. Norm McAllister, one of nine Republicans n the 30-member chamber, refuses to resign while facing felony sexual-assault charges. Charges include sexual assault and prohibited acts for demanding sex from tenants to offset rent payments, raping an employee, and attempting to have a woman provide sex to farm workers. The dairy and goat farmer lost a possible $20,000 agricultural grant for his farm after his arrest, and conviction could mean a life sentence. He can keep legislative his seat until then.

What’s more pathetic than a man going blind because he refused to get “Obamacare”? Maybe blaming his lack of health insurance on President Obama. South Carolina self-employed Luis Lang, 49, lives in a house worth $300,000 and used to take pride in not having health insurance. After a series of mini-strokes, bleeding in his eye, and a partially-detached retina tied to diabetes cost him almost $10,000 in health care, he changed his mind. The Affordable Care Act would have let him get a subsidy for health insurance because his income/assets were too high for Medicaid and he couldn’t be turned down for pre-existing conditions. Lang decided to get insurance a few weeks after the 2015 enrollment deadline, and Medicaid isn’t a possibility because South Carolina refuses to expand the program, free to the state with federal dollars.

Lang and his wife blame President Obama and congressional Democrats. Mary Lang said, “[My husband] should be at the front of the line because he doesn’t work and because he has medical issues. We call it the Not Fair Health Care Act.” Where was she when he could have enrolled 30 months ago? According to his (semi-illiterate) GoFundMe page, he knew about his serious health problems 18 months ago. The Langs learned absolutely nothing about the disaster they have made of their lives because they hate the president and the Democrats.

Crooksandliars.com suggested a way to solve Lang’s dilemma: the new Apple Watch. During a stop in Tempe (AZ), Jeb Bush suggested that people won’t need health care insurance in the future because of the Watch’s health apps. Jeb’s using his Watch to lose weight with the Paleo diet, the latest trendy diet, which is high in saturated fats by trying to replicate what people assume a diet from two million years ago. Some people swear by it; other studies show that it may cause brain change such as a “know-it-all” attitude, dementia, and memory loss. Maybe that was Jeb’s problem with answer the question about attacking Iraq again.

North Carolina has suffered from accusations of unconstitutional voter practices, but officials may not escape the most recent one. Federal law requires states to encourage voter registration in every state office, including public assistance and motor vehicle, but an analysis shows that the inauguration of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory in 2013 caused the program to collapse. Up to 40,000 poverty-level citizens in the state may have been disenfranchised because 75 percent of visitors to state public assistance offices were never asked if they wanted to vote. Many offices don’t even stock voter registration application forms. Although the state Department of Health and Human Services expressed surprise at the finding, the State Board of Elections said they had been trying to get the DHHS to address to the issue and proved it with over 60 emails and calendar entries for meetings.

Ohio plans a more direct approach to eliminate low-income voters: 24 GOP members of the state House have co-sponsored a bill to charge Ohio citizens for the ID card required for voting, in essence a poll tax forbidden by the U.S. Constitution. Legislators claim that this will stop voter fraud, a problem found in 0.002397 percent of votes cast in the 2012 election. The bill exempts individuals with an annual income of $11,770 in 2015, but it’s still unconstitutional.

All news is not bad. The Vatican is preparing to sign a treaty which will recognize Palestine as a country. Israel, which refuses to grant legitimacy to their neighboring country, and the U.S. right-wing will have another reason to hate Pope Francis.

 

In an oddity from Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that President Obama’s sociability—or lack thereof—has “no effect on policy.” He said that the two of them didn’t do much together because “we don’t agree on much.” Conservative columnist David Brooks has argued that the president and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) could understand each other better if the legislator were invited to the White House for lunch. Brooks thinks that schmoozing makes all the difference. Lots of other people have agreed with Brooks. McConnell has blown up the urban myth.

 

gallery-thumbnailsNow you can check your goldfish to see how long it pays attention to you.

April 13, 2015

Rubio Wants to be the Young President

Another GOP presidential candidate rollout, today Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). Writing for Nate Silver’s famous election analysis website, fivethirtyeight.com, Harry Enten puts him in the top tier following Jeb Bush and Scott Walker. Despite Rubio’s poor showing in polls, Enten calls him “electable and conservative.” A hawk on foreign policy, he may avoid Rand Paul’s pitfalls; less extreme than Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), he hasn’t alienated fellow senators; and more conservative than Bush, he could be an alternative, rather than a challenger.

resizeRubio’s entrance into the ring failed to make the splashes of the first two because Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy yesterday. His polling is even below Donald Trump with New Hampshire Republicans. Twitter responded with Rubio’s infamous video of reaching for a water bottle 11 minutes into his 14-minute speech responding to President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union speech. Constant references to the incident may seem cruel, but his votes against the people of the United States are also cruel.

Tweets about Rubio’s positions were less funny than the water bottle. As one said, “Rubio used to believe in climate change. Now he’s running for president.” Another suggested that he would lose Latino votes through his denial of climate change. They also included his argument that employers should be able to fire people for being LGBT and recorded robocalls for the National Organization of Marriage, an anti-LGBT group. One tweet posted a video of his top-ten anti-LGBT statements. He has also called adoption as a “social experiment” on children and joined 29 other senators in voting against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

In 2013, the Russian parliament declared war on LGBT people with a law that promoted anti-LGBT atrocities, including beatings and causing LGBT Russians to try to flee the country. The same day, Rubio dropped his personal immigration reform legislation because of an amendment allowing U.S. LGBT citizens to sponsor foreign spouses for permanent residency, even if they had death sentences in other countries. Thirteen days later the Supreme Court struck down a major provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, making Rubio’s argument moot. Because conservatives were increasingly opposed to his reform, Rubio may have jettisoned the immigration reform by blaming LGBT people.

Rubio has made as many—if not more—flip-flops as Rand Paul. Originally a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform, he changed his position to look GOP presidential. He could separate himself from the GOP crowd by opposition to lower taxes for high earners and punishing the poor and working class, but he won’t. When he fails in persuading anyone toward his position, he caves to the popular GOP position on increasing income inequality. He makes promises such as improving the lives of poor people with no substance, even compromising in causing more harm to the poor.

To identify as the foreign policy specialist in the candidate field, he collected right-wing advisers who call themselves “reform conservatives” to address economic issues. Rubio’s tax reform pairs a few middle class benefits with massive cuts for the wealthy, similar to George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cuts that cost the country trillions of dollars. His tax plan would eliminate capital gains taxes and the estate tax, dropping taxes for the wealthy like Mitt Romney far below the 14 percent that Romney claimed he paid. Romney’s sons would also pay no taxes on the millions that they inherit from their wealthy dad.

Criticized by conservatives as too generous, Rubio added more regressional tax cuts for the wealthy into his earlier unworkable plan, greatly increasing his plan’s original $2.4 trillion deficits over a decade. He also followed the conservative approach that solves the increased deficit with massive reductions in social spending, just like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. In theory, that worked when he was just a senator. As a presidential candidate, he will be scrutinized for his tax and spending proposals. No one can successfully argue the success of simultaneous upper-income tax cuts, middle class credits, and anti-poverty spending.

Attempts to woo warring parties usually alienate both of them. Rubio wants both the conservative base and the left-leaning minorities. The Tea Party calls Rubio’s former immigration reform as his “amnesty” plan and refuses to believe that he has abandoned this position. His public scolding of undocumented protesters also alienated Latino voters. According to his own campaign staff, Rubio needs over 40 percent of the Latino vote but is trailing Hillary Clinton in polls with this population. Romney got only 27 percent of Latino vote.

Rubio brags that his foreign policy credentials as his signature, setting him above other GOP candidates, but he vows to block normal trade with Cuba, calling President Obama’s position a “victory for oppression.” Koch Brothers’ business megadonors think that Rubio’s philosophy is “out of step with the more noninterventionist” beliefs amongst Koch network donors.

In March, Rubio stumbled badly while questioning Secretary of State John Kerry on foreign affairs. Rhonda Swan, a Florida-based journalist, wrote that Rubio fails his own test that the next president have a “clear view of what’s happening in the world” and a “practical plan for how to engage America in global affairs.” The next week he complained that President Obama is nicer towards Iran than Israel, despite Netanyahu’s gratitude for the billions of dollars the Obama policy annually gives Israel and the help for attacks on Israel, for example the Hamas rocket assault. Rubio’s position is that he would immediately abandon U.S. allies and negotiating partners by “unilaterally” imposing “crushing” sanctions on Iran—which, as president, he couldn’t do.

Rubio wrote in his memoir that he has shifted among the Mormon, Catholic and Baptist churches. He grew up a Catholic before he became a Mormon, then switched back to Catholicism, then became a Southern Baptist and a Catholic, then left the Baptists and simply became a Catholic, then he became a Baptist again, then a Catholic again, all the while technically remaining a Mormon. Even right-wing websites are a bit snarky about this statement, responding that “many Americans might question how someone could attend both churches and fully share in both denominations.”

Last year he alienated both LGBT and conservative religious people by condemning discrimination against gays and lesbians and arguing they should be denied equal legal rights. He went farther this year with harsh statements against the pope for helping arrange talks between the US and Cuba, accusing him of not prioritizing “the cause of freedom and democracy.” Seventy percent of Latino voters identify as Catholic.

Enten may see Rubio as a viable “alternative” to Jeb Bush, but Bush has been working behind the scenes to collect the elite support to decide the nomination. Both are establishment-oriented candidates who aim for compromise within the party. The New York Times described Rubio’s competition:

“Scott Walker, who took on unions and won in Wisconsin, is a conservative hero. Ted Cruz is a favorite of the Tea Party. Mike Huckabee is a favorite of evangelical Christians. Then there is a long list of other conservative candidates—like Ben Carson, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal—who might compete for votes.”

enten-datalab-rubio-21 chart conservativeRubio has lost credibility with almost everyone in the GOP. He failed to carved a niche in any majority faction of the party, and his message fails to resonate with any wing of the GOP. A winning candidate needs to be seen as exceptional—and Rubio does not have that designation.

Rubio’s speech slogan is that “it’s time for our generation.” The 43-year-old disses his old mentor, 62-year-old Jeb Bush, as well as many more in the over-50 crowd—Huckabee, Santorum, Carson, Fiorina, Graham,  Rick Perry—even Rand Paul and Chris Christie. On the other hand, he has “young” competition: 48-year-old Scott Walker, 44-year-old Ted Cruz, and 44-year-old Bobby Jindal. President Obama was only 47 when he was elected for his first term. Everyone took the hit from Rubio’s slam against 67-year-old Hillary Clinton.

Other conservatives are attacking Clinton, for example Meet the Press host Chuck Todd who asked, “How does Hillary Clinton deal with this freshness issue?”

Panelist and journalist Maria Hinojosa responded: 

“I have to be honest with you. The terms ‘expiration date’ and ‘stale’ and ‘too late for you’ as a woman, it’s like, I don’t know if men have that same reaction, that’s nuclear.”

Panelist Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, mayor of Baltimore, agreed, adding that the GOP is “stale.”

Rubio’s website uses the motto, “New American Century,” an organization that led the U.S. into war against Iraq. In 1997 founders called for regime change and much greater defense spending for the U.S. as the “world’s pre-eminent power” that led to George W. Bush’s “dominant” power. The focus was on military attacks rather than diplomatic strategy. By 2006, the organization had dissolved into a voice mail-box. Rubio may be bringing back the neo-con group to declare war on the world.

March 6, 2015

Prosecute Boehner for Netanyahu Speech

The rapture could have arrived with the GOP reception to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s arrival before a joint meeting of Congress on March 3 because of a secret invitation from House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). During the speech, 23 standing ovations greeted his message that President Obama was failing the world in his diplomacy with Iran and that the victims of the Holocaust were weaklings. During Netanyahu’s 40-minute speech trying to destroy the emerging nuclear deal between the United States, Iran, and the major world powers, the prime minister was interrupted by applause approximately 50 times. Although he gave no alternatives to keep Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons, he did indicate that Israel would protest a negotiated agreement by taking military action “alone.”

The United States, Iran, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany are close to an agreement guaranteeing strict inspections and controls on Iran’s uranium enrichment over several years in exchange for lifting sanctions against the country during the last five years. The strategy is to control Iran for a decade or longer until democratically-elected leaders can take power. Netanyahu insisted, however, that there be no negotiation until Iran stops “threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.” With no specific ideas he wants the U.S. to strike “a much better deal” that wipes out Iran’s entire nuclear infrastructure and maintains sanctions against the country “until Iran’s aggression ends.”

President George W. Bush’s similar policy of zero-enrichment allowed Iran’s centrifuges to grow from 164 in 2003 to approximately 19,000 centrifuges today, with Bush officials conceding during his presidency that “there was no way to reach a deal without Iran retaining at least a face-saving amount of enrichment capability.” The current negotiations started after an interim agreement with Iran that has frozen Iran’s nuclear program and rolled back its stockpiles of enriched uranium. Inspectors confirm that Iran is holding up the bargain. March 24 is the deadline for broad principles with technical details by June 30. Increasing sanctions has not stopped Iran, and losing the negotiation would allow Iran to accelerate its nuclear program with no oversight.

The five prominent newspapers from the LA Times to the New York Times failed to include some information about Netanyahu and his speech. Jim Naureckas of FAIR filled in pieces:

Israel owns nuclear weapons, an important piece of information when a foreign leader demands that the United States stop a rival state from getting nuclear weapons.

Iran consistently states that it has no interest in building a nuclear weapon, and the intelligence agencies of the United States doubt that Iran has an active nuclear weapons program.

Israel hasn’t signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty although both the United States and Iran have. This guarantees “the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.”

Netanyahu has a decades-long record of making false nuclear predictions about Israel’s enemies and crying wolf. Almost two decades ago, he gave another speech to a joint session of Congress and warned:

“If Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, this could presage catastrophic consequences, not only for my country, and not only for the Middle East, but for all mankind…. The deadline for attaining this goal is getting extremely close.”

That was almost 20 years ago, and Netanyahu has returned with more dire predictions about an imminent Iranian nuclear weapon. In 1992, 23 years ago, Netanyahu said that Iran was “three to five years” away from reaching nuclear weapons capability, and that this threat had to be “uprooted by an international front headed by the U.S.” Netanyahu’s 1995 book, Fighting Terrorism, asserted that Iran would have a nuclear weapon in “three to five years.” In 2009, Netanyahu told a Congressional delegation that Iran was “probably one or two years away” from nuclear weapons capability. A year later he said, “You don’t want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs. That’s what is happening in Iran.” By 2012, Iran was just “a few months away” from nuclear capabilities, according to Netanyahu.

In the 1990s, he temporarily transferred his focus to Iraq’s nuclear threat, claiming that there was “no question” that it was “advancing towards to the development of nuclear weapons.” Again he spoke to Congress in 2002 to say that Iraq’s nonexistent nuclear program was so advanced that the country had “centrifuges the size of washing machines.” He was part of the reason that the U.S. made a preemptive strike against Iraq, and the U.S. is spending trillions to recover from those claims.

Mossad intelligence chief Meir Dagan disagreed with Netanyahu in 2011 and said that an Iranian nuclear weapon was not imminent. He added that any military action against the country could end up spurring the development of such a weapon. He called Netanyahu’s idea of an Israeli attack on Iran the “stupidest thing I have ever heard.” A year later, the Israeli intelligence agreed.

Netanyahu spoke to Congress because he wants the following:

The United States to declare war on Iran because Israel doesn’t have the military to do so.

An embarrassing experience for the U.S. president who won’t take orders from Netanyahu.

Recognition that his false perspectives of Iran’s capabilities is superior to U.S. intelligence and diplomatic capabilities.

American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) support to ensure a veto-proof majority in Congress for a bill to stop negotiations with Iran.

A re-election in Israel by taking on the U.S. president.

A firm alliance with the GOP and a threat of repercussions toward Democrats who oppose him.

A distraction with Iran from President Obama’s goal of a Palestinian state in the disputed territories and Gaza.

The United States has provided billions of dollars every year—an average of $8.6 million every day—to help Israel destroy Gaza and wipe out the Palestinians. Netanyahu expects this nation to provide even more funding to carry out his other wars.

Mark Karlin, editor of BuzzFlash, described Netanyahu as “the Dick Cheney of Israel.” Karlin wrote:

“If this unprecedented effort of a foreign leader to publicly destroy the delicate foreign policy negotiations of a sitting US president succeeds, it will be US soldiers who die and are injured. This particular war, with a military as advanced as Iran’s–which possesses long range missiles–could also ignite a Middle Eastern conflict of horrific proportions.”

The Republicans want war, but they’re making the same mistake that George W. Bush made in 2003. They can’t see beyond getting into a war; they have no idea how to get out.

 

Opposing Netanyahu is no more anti-Israeli than opposition to President Obama is anti-U.S. The 200 veterans of the Israeli security services, all with the rank of general and called Commanders for Israel’s Security, call Netanyahu a “danger” to Israel. They are not anti-Israel, and neither are the six former generals who held a press conference in Tel Aviv last Sunday, urging the prime minister to cancel his speech. General Amnon Reshef, a hero for his role in the 1973 war against Egypt and Syria, said, “Nothing good for Israel can come from humiliating the US president.”

Hawkish former military chief of staff Dan Halutz has said that senior commanders know that Netanyahu’s lack of diplomacy creates an untenable situation in policing occupied territories. He said, “They recognize that there is no military solution to Israel’s predicament with the Palestinians and that borders created by force are inherently fragile and insecure.” The current Mossad head, Tamir Pardo, has declared that the “biggest threat to Israel’s security is the conflict with the Palestinians and not Iran’s nuclear program.”

 

Considerations to take away from Netanyahu’s speech:

 

  • The United States has a single foreign policy—not a Republican one and a Democratic one: A disagreement should be taken to the president and the public, rather than letting a foreign leader use the United States foreign policy for his own politics.
  • Boehner and Netanyahu’s actions weaken America’s bipartisan support for Israel: Together these two men have the sole intent of undermining the President of the United States and force people to choose between a commitment to Israel and to their own country. Netanyahu deliberately refused to meet with Democrats as they requested, which damages the U.S.-Israel relationship.
  • U.S. negotiations with Iran are the best way to proceed: Absent a negotiated, verifiable agreement, there is no way to ensure that Iran will not get nuclear weapons.
  • Almost all Israel wars since the country’s formation in 1948 have been initiated by Israel’s pre-emptive strikes: Israel has the 12th-largest military in the world with over 400 nuclear weapons.

 

A petition on MoveOn.org calls for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to be prosecuted and removed from office for conspiring with a foreign leader to interfere in U.S. foreign policy matters. Boehner’s  purpose for the Netanyahu speech was to force the United States into war with Iran. By secretly inviting Netanyahu to speak at a joint session of Congress in an effort to undermine the U.S. President, Boehner violates the 1799 Logan Act which forbids unauthorized government officials from interfering in relations between the U.S. and foreign nations, a power only the president has.

August 30, 2012

GOP Convention 2012 – Day Two, Mendacious

The GOP convention soldiered on into Day Two yesterday. Mitt Romney managed his usual “thumb-his-nose-at-the-poor” gaffe when a Florida developer held an event to thank people who had raised over $1 million for Romney—on a 150-foot yacht flying the Cayman Islands flag. Romney refused to give the names of these top “bundlers” who mostly hid their name tags when they were off the yacht. “He is the first nominee in 12 years to withhold these names,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political money.

In a pre-convention speech, Condoleezza Rice was heckled by protesters when she talked about her conversations with George W. Bush when they pondered “what could be done to show that America was compassionate about the poorest people.” People have wondered what would happen when the GOP finally brought up the joint specters of Bush 43 and the ill-conceived wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Rice also couldn’t remember one specific foreign policy in the past three years.

When Ann Romney spoke at a luncheon to persuade women and Latinos/as to vote for her husband, she said that Hispanics should get past their biases because her husband is better for them than President Obama. She didn’t mention that her husband said that he would get undocumented people to “self-deport,” veto the Dream Act that would provide a path to citizenship to young people brought to the country illegally as children, and use the virulent Arizona anti-immigrant laws as a model for the nation.

After the hoopla around Mike Huckabee’s support for Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) following his comment about “legitimate rape,” Huckabee’s speech was pretty pro forma: he grew up poor without government help, Romney gave 16 percent of his money to the church, etc. His reason for supporting Romney hit a new low bar; people should support Romney because he has been faithful to his wife and his religion. And how does Huckabee know how much Romney gave his church? Has Huckabee seen Romney’s tax returns?

The most tepid endorsement of Romney—and that’s saying a lot!—came from John McCain who moved back to basic Republican orthodoxy, using his speech to lie about President’s foreign policies and call for war in the Middle East. He wants a more aggressive stance against Iran, a more aggressive defense of Israel, a more aggressive whatever in Syria. He didn’t talk about Iraq or Osama bin Laden, two huge failures for the GOP. His recommendation is that the United States save all the oppressed people in the world, and he trusts Romney to do all these things without any funding. There’s a lot of trust of Romney going around the conservative world these days.

The highlight of the evening was actually Condoleezza Rice in a speech that some more liberal pundits declared as “presidential” and made up for problems earlier in the day. The beginning was what one might expect: 9/11, foreign policy, trade, energy independence—all standard Republican speech topics. It was when she moved to discussing civil rights, beginning her own experiences of racism as a child, that she sounded like a moderate. She supported compassion for immigrants who wish to come to the United States. Once again Romney’s name got short shrift. A question is whether her speech is a precursor to plans for 2016; she certainly made up for earlier disasters during the day.

The purpose of Day Two was to “introduce” Paul Ryan as the VP candidate. The nicest thing that a journalist said about his speech is that Ryan was “factually challenged.” Another asked the question about what word could be used when he went beyond lying. A Fox News column described him as dazzling, deceiving, and distracting with the statement: “Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech. On this measure, while it was  Romney who ran the Olympics, Ryan earned the gold.”

Even the right-leaning Washington Post referred to the speech as “a misleading indictment of President Obama” and lambasted Ryan for not spelling out some of the “tough choices” that Romney’s administration will require from the people.

Ryan’s speech dismissed the Obama $831 billion stimulus as “wasted money” while he failed to mention that his home town of Janesville (WI) is far better off because of what they received from the stimulus. He repeated his lie that Barack Obama didn’t help the GM auto plant that closed in Janesville in 2008 when he was a candidate. George W. Bush was president in 2008, and the plant may reopen if GM decides to do this.

Ryan blamed the president for not adopting the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles Commission. After Ryan voted no on the commission’s conclusions and walked out, Congress could not take action. Ryan also voted against job creation when he opposed the president’s 2011 American Jobs Act that would have created 1.5-2 million jobs.

One of the biggest lies from Ryan and the Romney campaign is that the president has stripped Medicare while the Republicans will keep it intact. Both parts of this statement are false: the president will save the country $716 while retaining Medicare because of the Affordable Care Act, and the Republicans will destroy the entire program the minute that they have any control.

Ryan blamed the president for the downgrade of the U.S. credit rating instead of explaining that the Republicans’ games brought the country close to defaulting on its foreign debt. He gave Romney credit for raising the credit rating in Massachusetts when Romney raised taxes (that he called fees) and had the support of a Democratic legislature. Another Ryan lie in the speech was that the president is totally responsible for $5 trillion of the national debt while the bulk of this was caused by the Bush recession, the Bush wars, and the Bush tax cuts—all of which Ryan supported.

Ryan said, “College grads shouldn’t have to live out their 20s in childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters.” Ryan opposed legislation to keep student loan rates from doubling.

Close to the finish, Ryan addressed what Romney brought up Romney’s role in saving the 2002 Olympics in Utah but failed to point out that the U.S. government poured $1.5 into this event after Romney went to the public trough to be bailed out. Even McCain called Romney’s move, “federal porkbarrelling.”

Ryan said, “We have a plan to create 12 million jobs in four years” and that their administration would reduce the Federal Budget to 20% of GDP “because that is enough.” There was absolutely not one specific about how they would accomplish this, including how they could create 12 million jobs when every government program would be cut except for defense. “We will not duck the tough issues,” he said while failing to describe what these are. His position was identical to Romney’s “trust me, I paid lots of taxes.”

Ryan’s biggest lies came at the end when he talked about “protecting the weak.” It is “the responsibility of the strong to protect the weak,” and “the mark of a society is how it treats people who cannot help themselves.” Etc., etc., etc.:

“We have responsibilities, one to another–we do not each face the world alone. And the greatest of all responsibilities, is that of the strong to protect the weak. The truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves.”

As Jamison Foser wrote, “The man who utters these pretty words is, in fact, a stone-cold [Ayn] Randian.”   Ryan wants to slash the safety net for everyone in the country to give to the wealthy. Sixty-two percent of Ryan cuts are directed at programs for the low-income. Loser continued, “These aren’t just lies. These are the pronouncements of a sociopath, someone who knows what he stands for and knows precisely why it shocks the senses, and persuades you that he believes the exact opposite, and maybe even persuades himself.”

Ryan concluded with the statement, “Our rights come from nature and God and not from government.” Ryan will wait for God to take care of all of us. If he doesn’t, then we will have less of a population problem.

Comedian Andy Borowitz was on target when he said the only truth that Ryan told in his speech was the names of his wife and children. My descriptions provide just the tip of the iceberg of the media pushback to Ryan’s speech. DailyKos has a long list, including “hypocritical,” “new Nixon,” “Ryan and the post truth convention,” “stunning for its dishonesty,” “brazen lies” complete with links.

A conservative on last Sunday’s Meet the Press said that both conventions, Republican and Democratic, would be about Romney because the Democratic convention would concentrate on bashing Romney. Thus far, most of the GOP convention has bashed Obama either directly or through all the personal stories of how hard politicians worked to get to the GOP convention.

Asides: Fox canceled Sarah Palin’s interviews last night; evidently they didn’t want her to talk about the media attacking John McCain in 2008.  And, to quote Rachel Maddow, the best new thing? Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer endorsed President Obama, hoping that he would secure the borders. Of course, he has worked on that already, but Brewer has not given him any credit for doing this. Her office explained later that she misspoke, but it’s lovely watching her honor the name of President Obama!

U.S. small-business-owner satisfaction is up sharply to 39 percent in the third quarter of 2012 from 26 percent in the third quarter of 2010. Even small businesses know that things are getting better for them.

Romney flew to Indianapolis yesterday to speak at the American Legion convention. Ari Shapiro of NPR interviewed some of the people who attended. Bobbie Lucifer of Virginia said, “I don’t like [Obama’s] wife. She’s far from the first lady. It’s about time we get a first lady in there that acts like a first lady and looks like a first lady.” Ms. Lucifer, what does a first lady “look” like? White and blonde?

AGR Daily News Service

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