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Saturday, April 18, 2015

New York Times Editorial, "Anti-Semitism in the Soccer Stands": The Pot Calls the Kettle Black

In an editorial entitled "Anti-Semitism in the Soccer Stands," The New York Times writes of anti-Semitic conduct by fans and players during European football matches:

"It is absurd to claim, as some soccer apologists do, that this is no more than the usual rough give-and-take of pumped-up, and sometimes liquored-up, spectators. The history of anti-Semitism in Europe is too deep and too raw not to see the problem for the hate-mongering it is. Even neo-Nazi salutes have been brandished at games by fans and an occasional player.

. . . .

European clubs that campaigned for years to rein in racism claim some progress. Officials must be no less aggressive in stopping the anti-Jewish slurs from being heard around the playing field."

Now if only The New York Times could be "no less aggressive in stopping the anti-Jewish slurs from being heard around" its pages. The Times fails to consider an op-ed entitled “Newt, Mitt, Bibi and Vladimir” by Thomas Friedman, in which Tom Terrific declared:

"I sure hope that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, understands that the standing ovation he got in Congress this year was not for his politics. That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby."

Similarly, the Times ignores the conduct of columnist Nicholas Kristof. As was reported in an article entitled "Nick Kristof’s Piggishness," written by Adam Kredo for The Washington Free Beacon:

"New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof is facing criticism after retweeting a controversial message that referred to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the National Rifle Association as 'the 2 most pig like lobbies' in America.

Longtime Israel critic M.J. Rosenberg, who was dumped by the liberal Media Matters for America for his use of borderline anti-Semitic language, authored the controversial tweet Wednesday afternoon. It called to mind recently unearthed statements by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi that referred to Jews as 'pigs.'"
Why was I not surprised by Kristof's retweet? As I explained in an article entitled "Nicholas Kristof, Israel, and Double Standards" for The Journal for the Study of Antisemitism, Kristof routinely rails against purported Israeli injustices, while ignoring the improprieties of other democracies.

Times columnist Roger Cohen? Have a look at the title of one of Cohen's op-eds, "Obama in Netanyahu's Web," which was painfully in keeping with the anti-Semitic tradition of depicting Jews as voracious spiders, and which, according to a very senior Times editor, "was not a good headline."

Consider also the behavior of certain "fans" of the The New York Times, whose horrifying anti-Semitic comments were routinely published by the Times, notwithstanding purported "moderation" by this would-be beacon of ethical journalism. (I no longer read comments appearing in the Times, and I have no idea whether Andrew Rosenthal has been able to bring this disgusting "phenomenon" under control.)

And what about the editorial board of the Times itself? Several days ago, in an editorial entitled "President Vladimir Putin’s Dangerous Moves," an alarmed New York Times observed:

"President Vladimir Putin of Russia has added new, chilling nuclear threats to his aggression in Ukraine, where 6,000 people have been killed in a war with Russian-backed separatists."

If only the editoral board of the Times could express the same level of concern over Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei's calls to annihilate Israel.

I would suggest to the editorial board of the Times that anti-Semitism in the United States, particularly its "highbrow" form in the media, can be just as sinister as the baser strains of this disease which exist in the Middle East and Europe. Moreover, American anti-Semitism is far "closer to home" than the editorial board would care to believe.

Maureen Dowd, "Granny Get Your Gun": "Figure Out How to Campaign as a Woman"? First Learn to Behave Like a Human Being!

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Granny Get Your Gun," Maureen Dowd begins by observing:

"THE most famous woman on the planet has a confounding problem. She can’t figure out how to campaign as a woman."

"She can’t figure out how to campaign as a woman"? Heck, before campaigning as a woman, Hillary first needs to figure out how to behave like a human being. Forget the bullshit sniper fire in Bosnia. Ignore Benghazi and "What difference at this point does it make?" Overlook "Don't let anybody tell you that it's corporations and businesses that create jobs." And put the 30,000 emails she recently deleted on a back burner. Instead, concentrate for just a moment on a Newsweek article of today's date entitled "Hillary Clinton's Big Benefactor Has Trade Links with Iran" by Rory Ross. As noted by Ross, Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk earlier this year "was confirmed as the largest individual contributor to the Clinton Foundation." Ross goes on to say:

"The fourth richest man in Ukraine, Pinchuk owns Interpipe Group, a Cyprus-incorporated manufacturer of seamless pipes used in oil and gas sectors.

Newsweek has seen declarations and documents from Ukraine that show a series of shipments from Interpipe to Iran in 2011 and 2012, including railway parts and products commonly used in the oil and gas sectors.

Among a number of high-value invoices for products related to rail or oil and gas, one shipment for $1.8m (1.7m) in May 2012 was for 'seamless hot-worked steel pipes for pipelines' and destined for a city near the Caspian Sea.

Both the rail and oil and gas sectors are sanctioned by the US, which specifically prohibits any single invoice to the Iranian petrochemical industry worth more than $1m."

Yes, this would sink any other candidate, but perhaps not Hillary, who is made of Teflon and to whom nothing sticks.

Also have a look at a Business Insider article entitled "There are some intense procedures for having coffee with Hillary Clinton" by Hunter Walker published yesterday. As noted by Walker:

"Clinton started the final day of her first campaign trail trip on Thursday by having coffee with a group of five local leaders in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Business Insider spoke with most of the attendees, and they explained the high level of secrecy that surrounded the event one of them dubbed 'the thrill of a lifetime.' There were warnings about leaks, drives to undisclosed locations, and a campaign staffer who confiscated the guests' cellphones ahead of the sitdown."

Confiscation of cell phones so as to avoid recordings of potential gaffs that could find their way into the news? Sorry, but this isn't normal. But then Hillary and her $2.5 billion campaign are not normal. Let's see if America is ready to buy into it.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Obama Caves to Khamenei: Amenable to Immediate Cessation of Sanctions and Apathetic to Supply of S-300 Air Defense Systems

Quite honestly, I didn't see this coming so soon: Speaking at a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Renzi at the White House on Friday, Obama declared that the US is willing to discuss the immediate cessation of sanctions against Iran, and expressed indifference to the supply of Russian S-300 air defense systems to Tehran. As reported by The Times of Israel:

"US President Barack Obama on Friday left open the door to “creative negotiations” in response to Iran’s demand that punishing sanctions be immediately lifted as part of a nuclear deal, even though the initial agreement calls for the penalties to be removed over time.

Asked whether he would definitively rule out lifting sanctions at once as part of a final deal aimed at keeping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, Obama said he didn’t want to get ahead of negotiators in how to work through the potential sticking point. He said his main concern is making sure that if Iran violates an agreement, sanctions can quickly be reinstated — the so-called 'snap back' provision.

. . . .

The president also weighed in on Russia’s announcement earlier this week that it would lift a five-year ban on delivery of anti-aircraft missiles, giving the Islamic republic’s military a strong deterrent against any air attack. The White House initially objected, but Obama said, 'I’m frankly surprised that it held this long.'"

A "snap back" provision? Obama knows that both Russia and China will prevent a future American president from reimposing sanctions against Iran, whether by way of seeking a United Nations Security Council resolution or otherwise. Meanwhile, the lifting of all sanctions means that billions of dollars will instantly flow to Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, and the Houthis in Yemen.

Obama is surprised that the ban on Russian supply of S-300 systems "held this long"? In fact the sale by Russia with the American president's tacit approval is very in much in keeping with Obama's 2012 pledge to Putin via Medvedev that after his reelection, he would have "more flexibility."

Why has Obama decided to become the first American president to sponsor terrorism, albeit in a roundabout fashion? As I suggested in a prior blog entry, Obama sincerely believes that enfeeblement of Israel by means of empowering an implacable foe, i.e. Iran, can bring peace to the Middle East. And then there is also the matter of this narcissist's "legacy."

Now we can only wait and see if there is a sufficient number of Democrats in Congress with the courage to oppose Obama, who has shed his last vestige of decorative moderation.

David Brooks, "When Cultures Shift": The Need to Climb Out of a Narcissistic Chasm

Hillary Clinton will be spending $2.5 billion to be elected president of the United States, and notwithstanding the fact that we know very little about this person, most voters think she will win. Do we know where she stands vis-a-vis Obama's efforts to reach a nuclear agreement with Iran? Not a chance. Do we know Hillary's position regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership? Nada. Do we know whether she still has intimate relations with Bill, or is, or has been, involved with someone else? No way, Jose. After all, there was a reason why all of those thousands of emails were erased: What we don't know about Hillary can't hurt her, because, in the final analysis, it's all about her.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "When Cultures Shift," David Brooks describes an American "cultural shift" over the past 70 years to "the Big Me." Brooks's conclusion:

"The romantic culture of self-glorification has to be balanced with an older philosophic tradition, based on the realistic acknowledgment that we are all made of crooked timber and that we need help to cope with our own tendency to screw things up. That great tradition and body of wisdom was accidentally tossed aside in the late 1940s. It’s worth reviving and modernizing it."

Okay, but how do you go about dragging Narcissus away from his reflection? Even the ancient Greeks recognized that it's not so easy.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Michael Gerson, "What is the president doing on Iran?": Naivete, Narcissism or Enfeebling Israel?

Testifying on Wednesday before the foreign operations subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee of the US House of Representatives, US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power declared:

"We will look to see what will advance Israel’s security and what will advance peace in the region."

In fact, we have heard something very similar in the past from Power, who in 2002 advocated sending a mammoth protection force to prevent a massacre of Palestinians by Israel. At the time, Power further declared:

"What we need is a willingness to actually put something on the line in the service of helping the situation. And putting something on the line might mean alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import."

Needless to say, Power subsequently denied any animus toward Israel; however, she obviously now appears willing to impose a peace upon Israel of Obama's design.

Today in a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "What is the president doing on Iran?," Michael Gerson observes that a final nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 is "likely — and likely to be bad — unless Khamenei is incapable of getting to 'yes.'" Actually, such an agreement is likely only if Obama is incapable of getting to "no," notwithstanding total abrogation of the US State Department's "fact sheet," which purports to describe the basis for the Lausanne framework understanding.

Gerson concludes:

"Obama’s grand strategy, meanwhile, remains a cipher. He could believe that a nuclear agreement and the lifting of sanctions will help transform Iran into a more benevolent regional power — which is naive. He could be making the move of an uber-realist — trying to extricate the United States from involvement in the Middle East by recognizing Iranian hegemony and developing a working relationship with the worst of the worst. This would fulfill the nightmares of Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Or Obama could have no strategy at all — in need of a political win, desperately hoping for a legacy and too invested to walk away."

Or stated otherwise, Gerson is asking whether Obama is acting out of naivete or narcissism. However, a third possibility exists: Obama sincerely believes that enfeebling Israel by empowering an implacable foe, i.e. Iran, can bring peace to the Middle East. Regrettably, this possibility, seemingly amenable to Power, cannot be discounted.

New York Times Editorial, "President Vladimir Putin’s Dangerous Moves": Maintain Sanctions on Russia, but Not on Iran

In an editorial entitled "President Vladimir Putin’s Dangerous Moves," an alarmed New York Times begins by observing:

"President Vladimir Putin of Russia has added new, chilling nuclear threats to his aggression in Ukraine, where 6,000 people have been killed in a war with Russian-backed separatists. Mr. Putin wants to expand his country’s influence and standing, but his alarming behavior has estranged Russia from most other major powers, damaged its economy and narrowed its future options.

Even for Mr. Putin, the recent nuclear threats have set a new benchmark for hostility in the conflict he has ignited with the West. Two weeks ago, The Times of London reported on a meeting between Russian generals and American officials in which the Russians threatened a 'spectrum of responses from nuclear to non-military' if NATO moved more military forces into the Baltic States."

The Times's conclusion:

"Russia’s bellicose behavior is a serious test for NATO, which has sometimes shown disturbing divisions. The Europeans and the United States have to stay united in maintaining sanctions on Russia and in continuing air patrols and training exercises, as it becomes increasingly difficult to predict Mr. Putin’s next move."

Hey, isn't this the same Putin whom Obama asked Medvedev to inform, "After my election, I have more flexibility"?

And isn't this the same Russia which, according to John Kerry, agreed that the US State Department "fact sheet" describing the Lausanne "framework understanding" was accurate, yet at the same time declared its intention to deliver S-300 advanced air defense systems to Tehran?

And aren't Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei's calls to annihilate Israel equally "chilling"? (Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel.)

So why should the Europeans and the United States "stay united in maintaining sanctions on Russia," but not on Iran?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

New Fact Sheet Issued by Iran's Parliament: Drastic Revisions of Lausanne Statement Required

If anyone still believes that sufficient common ground was achieved in Lausanne, justifying the declaration of a framework understanding between Iran and the P5+1, he (I'm talking about you, John Kerry) should have a look at the "fact sheet" released today by the Iranian parliament. As reported by Fars News:

"The Iranian parliament's Nuclear Committee on Wednesday released a factsheet to declare the revisions needed to be made in the Lausanne statement that was issued by Tehran and the world powers as a framework understanding at the end of their nuclear talks in Switzerland earlier this month.

The factsheet which was presented by Head of the Nuclear Committee Ebrahim Karkhaneyee on Wednesday stresses the necessity for respecting the redlines and guidelines specified by Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, making Iran's decisions and undertakings reversible to enable the country to resume its nuclear operations in case of the other side's non-commitment to its undertakings, and immediate termination of all sanctions in a single step and on the first day of the implementation of the final agreement.

The factsheet also necessitates commitment of both sides to their undertakings based on the Geneva agreement, a fair and reasonable balance between the gives and takes, taking good care not to impair the country's security and military boundaries and national interests, providing 190,000 SWUs (Separative Work Units) of nuclear fuel enrichment capability needed by Iran to produce fuel for the Bushehr nuclear power plant immediately after the end of contract with Russia, safeguarding the nuclear achievements, actual operation of all nuclear facilities of Iran not in words, but in action, continued Research and Development (R&D) works and scientific and technological progress in Iran and immediate application of R&D findings in the country's industrial-scale uranium enrichment cycle.

The factsheet urges operation of 10,000 centrifuge machines at Natanz and Fordo, a maximum 5-year-long duration for the deal and for Iran's nuclear limitations, replacement of the current centrifuges with the latest generation of home-made centrifuge machines at the end of the five-year period."

Or stated otherwise, there never was a framework understanding, and if the Lausanne statement relected any commonality whatsoever between the sides, it is now null and void.

Was the Iranian parliament responding to the bipartisan compromise reached by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding Senator Bob Corker's bill? Possibly. In any event, there is simply no way that Iran and the P5+1 are going to reach a final agreement by the end of June.