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Saturday, October 3, 2015

Maureen Dowd, "The Speaker, the Pope and the Exorcism": The Devil Wears Pantsuits

In a New York Post article entitled "Secret Service agents: Hillary is a nightmare to work with" by Deroy Murdock, we learn that Hillary Clinton is being accused of conduct which would put Miranda Priestly from "The Devil Wears Prada" to shame. As reported by Murdock:

"“‘Good morning, ma’am,” a member of the uniformed Secret Service once greeted Hillary Clinton.

“F— off,” she replied.

That exchange is one among many that active and retired Secret Service agents shared with Ronald Kessler, author of “First Family Detail,” a compelling look at the intrepid personnel who shield America’s presidents and their families — and those whom they guard.

. . . .

“We spent years with her,” yet another Secret Service agent notes. “She never said thank you.”

  • Within the White House, Hillary had a “standing rule that no one spoke to her when she was going from one location to another,” says former FBI agent Coy Copeland. “In fact, anyone who would see her coming would just step into the first available office.”

One former Secret Service agent states, “If Hillary was walking down a hall, you were supposed to hide behind drapes used as partitions.”"


Meanwhile, in her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Speaker, the Pope and the Exorcism," Maureen Dowd provides us with a "hillarious" imaginary conversation between departing Speaker of the House John Boehner and his boneheaded presumptive successor, Kevin McCarthy. Dowd writes:

"“Kevin, did you make another mess I gotta clean up?” the Speaker growls. “Stop blubbering. That’s my department. Obviously, you really stepped in it with that Benghazi crack on ‘Hannity.’ You told Sean that I get a B-minus as speaker? I give you a D for Dumbo."

Might McCarthy's blunder save Hillary's candidacy? Has Christmas arrived three months early for the Clintons? I don't think so. You see, rather than help douse the flames of Hillary's email scandal, The International Association of Fire Fighters has decided not to endorse her, and instead, has opted to await Joe Biden's entry into the fray.

Care to imagine Hillary's response to this latest setback? My guess is that it didn't bear semblance to Tiny Tim's "God bless us, everyone."

DeYoung, Eilperin and Miller, "U.S. will not directly confront Russia in Syria, Obama says": "Thank You, Vladimir, May I Have Another?"

In a Washington Post article entitled "U.S. will not directly confront Russia in Syria, Obama says" by Karen DeYoung, Juliet Eilperin and Greg Miller, we are informed:

"President Obama has decided not to directly confront Russia over its new air offensive in Syria, believing that President Vladi­mir Putin will soon find himself in a Syrian 'quagmire,' but he has approved a new escalation of U.S. efforts against the Islamic State.

. . . .

At the same time, the president also approved proposals, made prior to this week’s Russian actions, to strengthen the U.S. fight against the militants. Those measures were recommended by Obama’s new Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr.

They include direct U.S. weapons shipments, overland from Iraq, to Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters who in recent months have pushed the Islamic State from a major portion of northern Syria along the Turkish border."

Question: Why must Putin be informed in advance that he will not be confronted? Is this not the equivalent of undertaking a "surge" in Afghanistan, while concurrently informing the Taliban of a departure date for US forces? This is no longer "leading from behind." Rather, if you are familiar with the 1978 comedy "Animal House," Obama is effectively telling Putin, "Thank you, sir, may I have another?"

Weapons shipments overland from Iraq to Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters? Let's see how many of those shipments - if they are ever made - will be intercepted by Iranian forces and Shiite militias in Iraq and transferred over to Hezbollah.

The WaPo article additionally informs us:

"Current and former U.S. officials voiced concern that the Russian bombing would damage a covert program already struggling to gain traction in the fight against Assad. It is also likely to increase frustration among the rebels 'that the Americans don’t do as much as the Russians do for their side of the conflict,' said Robert Ford, the former U.S. ambassador to Syria who resigned that position in part out of frustration with administration policy.

. . . .

A former senior U.S. intelligence official said the U.S. failure to respond to the strikes or bolster support for CIA-trained units is likely to anger CIA paramilitary teams in the region that have for several years chafed at White House-imposed limits on the level of support given to moderate rebel groups.

'There is a huge amount of frustration with the indecision and ability to commit by this administration,' said a former senior U.S. intelligence official with extensive experience in the Middle East. 'The agency has a problem,' the former official said. U.S.-backed fighters 'look at the CIA or DOD trainers as reflecting the U.S. government. They believe that we know what’s going on and can influence what’s going on. If we’re not influencing it, it makes them insecure. They will defect, go home or join the refugee stream heading to Europe.'"

Ford and this "former senior U.S. intelligence official" are both correct. However, this is not the first time that we have witnessed Obama's abject indecisiveness in the Middle East. As Michael Oren wrote in "Ally":

"[T]he deeper disillusionment arose from Obama's handling of the Arab Spring. The president at first coddled Gaddafi and then aided his killers, cosseted Assad and then applauded the insurgency against him, and courted Mubarak only to cast him out. Such a leader could not be esteemed. And the eagerness with which Washington sought a nuclear deal with Iran - a regime actively working to undermine Middle Eastern governments while brazenly provoking America - only deepened Arab mistrust."

Needless to say, the repercussions of Obama's inaction in Syria extend beyond the Middle East. American allies in Asia and Eastern Europe are watching as Obama once again waves his white flag, tattered and frayed from overuse. It's not a pretty sight.

Friday, October 2, 2015

New York Times Editorial, "Russia’s Dangerous Escalation in Syria": Langley, Please Ignore!

Langley, I'm begging you: Ignore everything written in today's New York Times editorial entitled "Russia’s Dangerous Escalation in Syria." The Times writes:

  • "Syria is Russia’s chief ally in the Middle East, and Mr. Putin has enabled Mr. Assad throughout the conflict."
In fact, Syria no longer exists as a country. Syria is loosely controlled by Assad; the Islamic State; the al-Nusra Front, i.e. al-Qaeda; other rebel factions backed by the US and Jordan (recently bombed by the Russians); and the Kurds (friendly to the US and being pounded by Turkey).

Still unbeknownst to the Obama administration, Russia's chief ally in the Middle East today is Iran, not Syria. Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Quds Force, traveled to Moscow in July in violation of a UN travel ban, to orchestrate this build-up of Russian and Iranian forces in Syria to buttress Assad's shrinking army and Hezbollah's bloodied fighters.

Putin enabled Assad throughout the conflict? Rubbish! Hillary Clinton enabled Assad when she presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with a "restart button" in 2009 and then declared in 2011:

"There is a different leader in Syria now. Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer. What’s been happening there the last few weeks is – is deeply concerning. But there’s a difference between calling out aircraft and indiscriminately strafing and bombing your own cities, then police actions, which frankly have exceeded the use of force that any of us would want to see."

President Obama enabled Assad when he promised Putin "flexibility" after his 2012 re-election and retreated from his "red line" threatening action if "we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized."

John Kerry enabled Assad when he called this monster "generous" and "my dear friend," and had an intimate dinner with Assad and their wives.

Nancy Pelosi enabled Assad when, all smiles, she met with this mass murderer in 2007.

The Times editorial continues:

  • "Whether Russia will try to help Mr. Assad reclaim control over the entire country is unclear."

No, Russia will not help Assad reclaim control over all of Syria. Putin remembers Russian casualties in Afghanistan. He's too wily.

The Times tells us:

  • "President Obama appears to have been caught off guard by the bold move to reassert Russian influence in the Middle East, as Mr. Putin no doubt intended. Despite American-led airstrikes, the administration has no real strategy for Syria. There is no obvious Russian strategy either, except for bolstering Mr. Assad, whom Mr. Putin considers the key to stability but most of his brutalized citizens detest."

There is no Russian strategy? Horsefeathers!  Putin is sending Russia's military into Syria to support Assad precisely because there is no one in the Oval Office to oppose him - at least for the next year and three months. Putin is taking full advantage of the opportunity to reassert Russian power and influence in the Middle East while it lasts.

The Times goes on to say:

  • "Mr. Obama will have to work with America’s partners on a unified response to Russia’s moves and seek a way to end the war."

Which "partners" are those? Israel? And all this while I thought that Russia was supposed to be one of Obama's darling P5+1 "partners," which helped bring about the unsigned, legacy-building, nuclear deal with Iran . . .

The Times ends it editorial by observing:

  • "On Wednesday, Mr. Putin said he hoped that after the Russian intervention Mr. Assad would be open to compromise. But with Russia willing to intervene directly on his behalf, Mr. Assad may conclude he can stay in power indefinitely."

Assad "may" conclude he can stay in power? I have news for the editorial board of the Times: Assad isn't going anywhere. After Russian intervention, Assad will be open to compromise? A pity Obama is incapable of comprehending that he cannot and should not believe a word of what Putin tells him, no matter how comforting his lies. The problem is that much akin to Father Flanagan, Obama still believes that there is no such thing as a bad boy.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Karen DeYoung, "Obama administration scrambles as Russia attempts to seize initiative in Syria": Obama Won't Be Bullied? Bullsh*t!

Karen De Young writes in a Washington Post article entitled "Obama administration scrambles as Russia attempts to seize initiative in Syria":

"Blindsided by the unexpected swiftness of Russia’s air attacks in Syria, the Obama administration scrambled Wednesday to retake the diplomatic and military initiatives, saying that it would not be bullied into supporting President Bashar al-Assad and that it was about to significantly expand its own Syrian air operations."

Obama won't be bullied by Putin? Bullsh*t! Obama caved to all of Khamenei's demands, and Putin knows that America's president is incapable of forcefully opposing him. Why did Putin send Russia's military into Syria to support Assad? Answer: For the same reason that he invaded the Ukraine, i.e., because there is no one in the White House to oppose him - at least for the next year and three months. Putin is taking full advantage of this opportunity while it lasts.

Friday, January 20, 2017 cannot come soon enough.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Thomas Friedman, "Syria, Obama and Putin": Is Tom Syrious? Is Obama Putin' His Foot in His Mouth?

"What kind of world will we live in if the United States of America sees a dictator brazenly violate international law with poison gas and we choose to look the other way?"

- President Obama, September 10, 2013

Well, both Obama and his favorite newspaper, The New York Times, chose to look the other way. The Times at first pretended that there was no concrete proof that Syrian President Assad butchered his own people with sarin gas, while Obama sought to avoid honoring his "red line" involving Assad's use of chemical weapons by passing the buck to Congress (although he was not willing to accede to the will of a majority of both houses of Congress regarding his nuclear deal with Khamenei). Next, Obama agreed to a deal brokered by Putin for the surrender of Assad's chemical weapons stockpiles, but when it turned out that the Syrian dictator had not turned over all his "inventory" and that he was continuing to use chemical weapons against regime opponents, America's president did absolutely nothing.

Thomas Friedman begins his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Syria, Obama and Putin" by declaring, "Your Honor, I rise again in defense of President Barack Obama’s policy on Syria." Policy? Which policy is that? Impotence?

Friedman goes on to observe:

"Putin stupidly went into Syria looking for a cheap sugar high to show his people that Russia is still a world power. Well, now he’s up a tree. Obama and John Kerry should just leave him up there for a month — him and Assad, fighting ISIS alone — and watch him become public enemy No. 1 in the Sunni Muslim world. 'Yo, Vladimir, how’s that working for you?'

The only way Putin can get down from that tree is with our help in forging a political solution in Syria. And that only happens if the Russians and the Iranians force Assad — after a transition — to step down and leave the country, in return for the opposition agreeing to protect the basic safety and interests of Assad’s Alawite community, and both sides welcoming an international force on the ground to guarantee the deal.

But to get there we need to size our rhetoric with our interests in Syria as well. Our interests right now are to eliminate or contain the two biggest metastasizing threats: ISIS — whose growth can threaten the islands of decency in the region like Lebanon, the Kurds and Jordan — and the tragedy of Syrian refugees, whose numbers are growing so large they are swamping Lebanon and Jordan and, if they continue, could destabilize the European Union, our vital partner in the world."

There are only two big "metastasizing threats" - ISIS and the Syrian refugee tragedy? Horsefeathers! As if Iranian military and financial support to Hezbollah, Hamas and the Houthis does not constitute a threat, particularly after Russia has now joined forces with Iran, Hezbollah and what remains of Assad's army in Syria. And what will be after Iran receives a cash infusion of some $100 billion from Obama's nuclear deal with Khamenei? The money will be used to create jobs in Tehran, Mashhad and Tabriz and will not be funneled to Iran's terrorist proxies? Yeah, right!

Friedman's conclusion:

"I think Putin’s rash rush into Syria may in the end make him more in need of a deal, or at least a lasting cease-fire, that stops the refugee flows. If we can do that, for now, we will have done a lot."

However, it is no longer a matter of what "we can do." Rather, it has become a matter of what Putin will decide to do. Putin brokered the chemical weapons arrangement, allowing Obama to climb down from his "red line" tree, and the United States must now hope and pray that Vladimir will take it upon himself to broker an end to Syria's civil war? Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey are all watching as Obama continues to abnegate moral responsibility in the Middle East and around the globe.

Meanwhile, according to Debkafile, Russia has "sent an official demarche ordering US planes to quit Syria, adding that Russian fighter jets were now flying over Syrian territory." I suppose this is all in accordance with the "flexibility" that Obama promised Putin after Obama's reelection.

Indeed, in what kind of world do we live?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tom Hamburger, "How Elizabeth Warren picked a fight with Brookings — and won": No Mention of Brookings, Indyk, Qatar and Hamas

In a Washington Post article entitled "How Elizabeth Warren picked a fight with Brookings — and won," Tom Hamburger writes:

"The hero of the country’s liberal movement launched a surprise attack Tuesday against Washington’s most revered Democratic-leaning think tanks — and drew blood.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, stepping up her crusade against the power of wealthy interests, accused a Brookings Institution scholar of writing a research paper to benefit his corporate patrons.

Warren’s charge prompted a swift response, with Brookings seeking and receiving the resignation of the economist, Robert Litan, whose report criticized a Warren-backed consumer protection rule targeting the financial services industry."

A pity that Warren was not equally incensed by Qatar's $14.8 million donation to Brookings in 2014, which goes unmentioned by Hamburger. As was reported by The Algemeiner in a September 7, 2014 article entitled "Revealed: Hamas-Backing Qatar, Also Funding Brookings Institute, Home of Former U.S. MidEast Envoy Indyk":

"Questions are emerging over possible conflicts-of-interest after The New York Times highlighted Qatari funding for U.S. think tanks, including the Brookings Institute, employer of former U.S. envoy Martin Indyk, who was directly involved in recent negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

'Qatar, the small but wealthy Middle East nation, agreed last year to make a $14.8 million, four-year donation to Brookings, which has helped fund a Brookings affiliate in Qatar and a project on United States relations with the Islamic world,' according to The Times.

The report comes just weeks after Israel vociferously voiced objection to Qatar’s funding of its major adversary, terror group Hamas."

And as Lee Smith is quoted in an October 2, 2014 Tablet article entitled "Brookings Responds to Tablet Piece on Qatar Funding":

"The fact that Ambassador Indyk’s employer raised $14.8 million from the same Arab regime that funds Hamas, a mortal enemy of the two parties—Israel and the PA—whose negotiations he was to mediate, should have been enough to tell Secretary of State John Kerry that Dr. Indyk would be, at the least, a questionable choice for the job. This judgment might have been further supported by Mr. Indyk’s strange demeanor in casting Israel, both anonymously in news articles and publicly in hotel bars, as solely responsible for the failure of peace talks.

Why Ambassador Indyk veered so widely from the normal practices of statesmanship is unclear. Perhaps he thought his own behavior to be above reproach, even when others might say it violates commonly accepted norms, and creates the appearance of a conflict-of-interest so glaring that it would be legible to a nine-year-old. Or perhaps one of the most influential think tanks taking money from one of the leading state sponsors of terrorism was taken as a sign that the rules of the Washington DC foreign policy influence-peddling game have changed, and become even more gross and venal?"

You will recall that Obama and Kerry sought to impose Qatari and Turkish mediation upon Israel during its conflict with Hamas during the summer of 2014. As reported in a July 30, 2014 Hudson Institute article entitled "John Kerry Has Hamas’ Back: So, Who Has Israel’s?" by Lee Smith:

"'Qatar and Turkey are the biggest supporters of Hamas,' Netanyahu told President Obama, according to an Israeli transcript of a recording of the phone call. (A transcript the White House and prime minister’s office now claim is false.) 'It’s impossible to rely on them to be fair mediators.' To which Obama snidely responded: 'I trust Qatar and Turkey. Israel is not in the position that it can choose its mediators.' When Netanyahu objected to Obama’s high-school mean-girl treatment—'I protest because Hamas can continue to launch rockets and use tunnels for terror attacks'—the president of the United States simply ignored him: 'The ball’s in Israel’s court, and it must end all its military activities.'"

Personally, I "believe" that the transcript accurately reflected the content of the conversation, although it involved translation back and forth between English and Hebrew.

David Brooks, "The Prison Problem": Breaking Out Is Hard to Do

David Brooks begins his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Prison Problem," by observing, "Pretty much everybody from Barack Obama to Carly Fiorina seems to agree that far too many Americans are stuck behind bars." Brooks's conclusion:

"But the fundamental situation won’t be altered without a comprehensive surge, unless we flood the zone with economic, familial, psychological and social repair."

Economic repair? Some 46 million Americans are receiving food stamps today, compared with some 17 million in 2000.

Familial repair? Single parent households have more than tripled in the US since 1960.

Psychological and social repair? One in five Americans takes a psychiatric medicine.

By all means, let's "flood the zone," but remember, David, breaking out is hard to do.