Saturday, January 31, 2015

Nate The Great Predicts

++Nate "the Great" Silver predicts Seahawks.

Wish You Well

++For everyone watching the Superbowl tomorrow, good luck. I won't be watching since I have not had a television for 21 years. I haven't missed much. 

++But, go Seahawks!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Jeffrey Goldberg Strikes Again

++Jeffrey Goldberg decided to ask Ambassador Dermer how the whole Bibi speech ploy got cooked.

++The Israeli Ambassador emphatically said that Israel didn't mean to "disrespect President Obama" and that while he was discussing the dates with John Boehner he told the Speaker that it was his (Boehner's) responsibility to inform the White House. 

++THat's why, Dermer explained, he didn't raise the issue with John Kerry in their many hours of conversation because he thought Boehner would be.

++Dermer backpedalled the whole interview and said that "Israel's survival is not a partisan issue."

++Well,it is beginning to look that way.

Commonsense from David Brooks

++Yesterday, Andrew Bacevich wrote a withering piece about President Obama's foreign policy. He also slammed the advice of Leslie Gelb that President Obama needed to bring in seasoned strategists. Bacevich noted that everyone Gelb suggested was between 80 and 91 years old.

++David Brooks, catching the wind that the US still wants to be a chess master in the Middle East,wrote a column today in the New York Times that dispels this urge. 

++At risk of violating copyright laws, I quote the salient points.

"….We can't know how this drama will play out.We can only promote pluralism --steadily,consistently,simply.
     Sticking to our values means maintaining a simple posture of support for people who share them and a simple posture of opposition to those who oppose them. It means offering at least some reliable financial support for moderate fighters and activists even when their prospects look dim. It means avoiding cynical alliances ,at least as much as possible. It means using bombing campaigns to prevent mass slaughter.
    If we do that then we will fortify people we don't know in ways we can't imagine. Over the long term, we'll make the Middle East slightly more fertile for moderation, which is the only influence we realistically have. Ideas drive history.
    Right now there is a bipartisan inconsistency over the effectiveness of government. Republicans think government is a bumbling tool at home but a magnificent instrument abroad. Democrats think government is a magnificent instrument at home but a bumbling tool abroad. In reality, government is best when it chooses the steady simple thing over the complex clever thing. When you don't know the future and can't control events, bet on people. Support the good, oppose the bad.
    Realist half-commitments that undermine our allies and too-clever games that buttress our foes will only backfire--and lead to betrayals that make us feel ashamed."

++David Brooks' key admission in his full article is that the United States really has no ability to control events in the Middle East. Andrew Bacevich's key point was that we should be spared the so-called visionaries who believe they know how to shape things. Or in my previous posts,American strategy has too many moving parts, which sounds coherent but falls apart when you looks at the total picture.

++Brooks' view of keeping it basic and standing up for your principles because we don't know where events are moving is nice, simple advice.

And So It Ends

++Willard announced he was not running for President because he didn't want to diminish the Republicans' chances of winning the White House.

++Jeb Bush congratulated him for his service to the country and Mitt will end up dining with Chris Christie tonight.

++Mark Halperin gets to eat crow after he reported that the Romney camp had been encouraged by polls showing his strength in primary states and the possibility Romney could win in Ohio and Florida.

++And Willard seemed snakebit. His phone line disconnected at the end of the conference call. Thus ends his 20 year quest for the Presidency.

++And opens the door for Jerry Brown.

The Excitement Builds

++Bishop Willard "Mitt" Romney will make an announcement at 11 about his presidential plans.

++In yesterday's Boston Globe there was a feature story on all the real estate Romney has bought since he lost in 2012. The suggestion is that he has a lot to sell if he is going to run for President.

++By last night, the Los Angeles Times reported that Romney was looking to sell his La Jolla house,which has the car elevator.

++Yesterday in Mississippi (remember when Reagan launched his campaign there?) he attacked Hillary Clinton as the defender of the rich and running for the wealthy, This time, if there is a this time, he will be running on waging a war against poverty.

++Two days ago,the Mormons announced their new LGBT policy--which is don't discriminate against gays but they shouldn't marry. Hmmm.

++President Obama at the last press conference said he had no comment on another Romney run. But yesterday,he took a swipe at Romney's sudden concern for the poor.

++Romney still hasn't released his taxes--even the full taxes for the year of his last run. Remember he only released a partial set--promising the full set later. There was no later.

++Meanwhile, this morning there is news that donors who backed Romney and staffers are moving over to Jeb Bush.

++Where is the dancing horse? The dancing horse was supposed to be part of Ann Romney's therapy for Ms. Which again raises the question I had about the last campaign. If you are richer than Midas, and are in your late 60s, and your wife has a serious illness, why would you do such a thing as run for President?

++Rupert Murdoch is pissed at Romney and Fox News has made this plain the last few weeks in various comments on Romney's proposed run. Rupert still believes Willard could have won. 

++Just an FYI, I still hear Republicans say this, even when confronted with the data from Sam Wang, Nate Silver, and a score of analysts who showed Romney was not in the game, even after the first debate.

++So if not Mitt, who is in his late 60s, why not the other guy from California--Jerry Brown, Governor of all America?

PS. Jos Marshall perhaps has the story of the morning. Apparently John Boehner's office released a statement that The Speaker himself told Israeli Ambassador Dermer not to inform President Obama of the invitation.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

More Bibi

++Josh Marshall reports that Bibi's Speech Pact isn't going so well. The Israeli Prime Minister was burning up the phones with congressional Democrats, including both Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Both Democratic leaders told him the whole idea was a big mistake, Bibi was trying to pacify the Democrats so that the flap would die down. But it isn't. Democratic congressional leaders let Bibi know that he ensured there would be no additional sanctions against Iran until after the deadline for the talks and that he had alienated them and the American Jewish community.

++You would have thought that once key Jewish pundits and heads of organizations started to balk that Bibi would be quick to reach out and try to quell the controversy. This has already lingered too long. 

When the Neo-Cons Turn

++Robert Kagan tonight writes in the Washington Post why Bibi should turn down the invitation to speak before Congress because it fails the Churchill test,damages US-Israeli relations, does not help the debate over Iran in the United States, and was not thought out by Congress. 

++Meanwhile a poll in Israel shows that Herzog and Livini have taken a lead. The reason is because they now claim they are the Zionist ticket and that the others have damaged Israeli identity.

++Josh Marshall is still on the case.

++Democrats in the House are circulating a petition not to have Bibi speak. J Street has instigated this provoking an unusual diatribe from Jennifer Rubin about how J Street can't be called pro-Israel.

++By the way Bryan Fischer is back--that didn't take long. He has a new talk show and says that now he can really tell you what he believes. You can't keep a good man down--or something like that. Rightwing Watch no longer has to worry about programming.

Initial Unemployment Claims

++Initial unemployment claims were at 265,000. Anything under 300,000 is good news. But why this number is important is because this is the best since 2000. 

++I will not bore you with Jennifer Rubin's rant about the Obama White House flipping out about Bibi's speech. It is clear we are in for a counter-offensive since the NYTimes article hit home. 

++Conservative blogs have been running posts about different Obama operatives acting as political consultants in Israel for campaigns against the Likud coalition. 

++Andrew Sullivan promises you the Dish will go out with a bang once his staff recovers from their hangovers.

Senate Approves Keystone X: Pipeline

++The Senate approved the Keystone XL Pipeline by a vote of 62 to 39. 

++ Technically, the Pipeline is still being reviewed by the State Department and a slew of lawsuits have begun by land owners whose property is being seized  on the grounds of eminent domain.

++Right now, the pipeline doesn't make any economic sense. And the lawsuits will probably drag the process along another 3 years because the companies have to show the public need for the pipeline, not just their need for a profit.

++If I were President Obama, I would veto the bill simply because it is the executive branch that must prove cross-border pipelines,power lines, etc. 

++Organizations like want the pipeline vetoed because of issues around global warming. What they really object to is the tar sands oil, which is the most toxic fossil fuel.

++Rumor has the Koch brothers being the biggest winners from this deal since they own 1,000s upon 1,000s of acres of the tar sands. A hyperbolic estimate of their profit is $1 trillion. But the author of this has lowered the estimate.

++Americans get nothing but maybe 35 permanent workers and hopefully it doesn't ruin the Ogalala acquifers.

I Protest

++Everybody is cheering the firing of Bryan Fischer at AFA. But think about the implications of this. The AFA, not only is organizing but funding the RNC's trip to support the re-election of Bibi. No one would know about the American Family Association without Bryan Fischer. He has been their public face and their voice for the Obama years. They wouldn't have gotten to the Big Show without him.

++The first sign anyone focuses their attention on the group and complains they have bizarre and outlandish beliefs they throw Fischer under the bus. They still have not abandoned their beliefs. And Rightwing Watch and millions of Americans are deprived of entertainment. But AFA still gets to sponsor the trip for the National Republican Party. It only rejected Fischer's statement that the Holocaust was caused by gays but not his view that Judaism is a fake religion. I guess that Jewish guy who was crucified had a fake religion.

++Rev. Hagee was never fired when he called for a Second Holocaust--yes, he did. And Bibi greeted him after this statement instead of Joe Biden, who has been a staunch ally of Israel for his entire political life. The only reason the GOP disowned him was that he went after Catholics but Bibi never did.

++What is also an affront is Vishnu Jindal erasing Prophetess Cindy Jacobs call for people to attend his Prayer Rally.  I love Cindy Jacobs. She is real Americana and not of the vicious kind, just loopy.She was probably the only draw to that event at LSU.

++Now this brings us back to Bibi and his alliance with people thought pernicious by Americans. Remember the Queen of Birthers, Orly Taitz and her frequent legal suits pretending President Obama couldn't be President. She bragged that Bibi friended her on Facebook and for once she actually produced the screenshot proving it. He never unfriended her.

++Now about gays and the Holocaust, do you realize when Auschwitz was liberated that the gays were put back inside to "serve out their time". True. You can look it up as Casey Stengel would say.

++For my personal entertainment, I call on AFA to rehire Bryan Fischer and apologize to him. 

++Now during a time of Holocaust anniversaries, why doesn't anyone comment on the Koch Brothers dear aunt. Amazingly, she was convicted by the Nazis for stealing from prisoners in the death camps. Can you imagine! That's rough. She was tried by the allies and pressure by Americans was put to get her off and then she was tried by the Germans. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Too Rich

++The RNC will be flying off Saturday for a trip to Israel to express solidarity. 

++The trip is being organized by the American Family Association which held the prayer rally for Governor Jindal this past week and the prayer rally for Rick Perry to kick off his presidential bid last election.

++Now the slight problem with this is that their spokesman for many years and the Director of Analysis of Issue has been Bryan Fisher, who asserts that this is a Christian nation and those practicing any other religion do not have First Amendment rights. He also said that Nazism didn't cause the Holocaust but homosexuals who were recruited for the Gestapo because they were so vicious. 

++Haaretz published this story. The Southern Poverty Law Group blasted the trip as being organized by a "hate group". Fischer wasn't available for comment but a Mr. Lane told Haaretz that "America is a Christian nation and its goal is to spread the Christian faith."

++When the controversy hit today, the AFA fired Bryan Fischer and denounced the statements about the Holocaust, but did not renege on that we are a "Christian nation". 

++This has frequently happened before with Bibi. He received Rev, Hagee and snubbed Joe Biden. Remember Hagee said that the Holocaust was the judgment of God on the Jews but he was also the head of the Christians for Israel Committee. During the Clinton years, Bibi made a point of meeting with other extreme right Christian organizations.

++Yes, Rachel Maddow is right that this creates problems for Reince Preibus but what about the Israeli Ambassador Dermer, who got blasted tonight with a full page story in the New York Times. He was a Republican operative who worked with Frank Luntz. He must know the reputation of the American Family Association.

++P.S. George Washington explicitly answered anxieties from Jewish communities about whether Judaism could be practiced in the United States. John Adams went further in his letters to northern Africa by asserting we were "not a Christian country". This has become a perversion of the extreme Right and now I fear the Republican Party in the 21st century.

++But the issue continues the Bibi flap and what games he is playing with American political groups.

Obama The Narcissist

++From an enjoyable day exploring fines in my storage unit, I came home to a blizzard of e-mails complaining about President Obama's narcissism and his haughty behavior at the ceremony for King Abdullah.

++I was treated to the obligatory video of a speech where Obama said the I word 18 times. 

++For legitimacy, they produce a Richard Engels' interview from NBC where he said that King Abdullah hated President Obama. But Richard didn't mention that Abdullah had alzheimer's and probably didn't know who President Obama was.

++Next we received a shot over the bow for President Obama not receiving Bibi because the GOP invited him to lecture Obama on the seriousness of Islamic terrorism.

++I haven't gotten the line yet on Michelle Obama not wearing a head covering in Saudi Arabia.

++I received an approving e-mail of Bobby Jindal warning about "No-Go" zones coming to America where Sharia law is practiced.

++It was crickets about President Obama's trip to India. The same happened during his China trip. The world is the United States and the Middle East--solely.

++These emails can't quite figure out whether they like Putin or we should rev up the Cold War against him. But in any event President Obama is weak.

++Maybe it's just me but President Obama seems to be acting in the future while all the characters around Washington are in some distant past, which has no relevance to the challenges we face.

Tell Me It Isn't True

++Thoughtful, provocative and the only one who gives you shots of scrotums, Andrew Sullivan, the father of same sex marriage, has announced today at The Dish he is retiring from blogging after 15 years to spend more time away from the digital world to be a human being again. He alluded to health issues and assured readers they have nothing to do with his HIV positive status. He mentions his husband as a widower to blogging and his parents are still alive and he wants to spend some time with them.

++He has built The Dish solely on individual subscribers and done well. He is a must read for this blogger and provides a needed balance in a polarized digital world.

++I could have done with less religion on Sunday but his poetry sections and reviews of the latest books made it worthwhile. 

++He embedded cutting edge films and loopbacks at our video history that no one has done.

++What will happen with The Dish hasn't been announced yet. In recent months a younger staff of editors have ably assumed control with Andrew periodically chiming in on something he found important.

++Thanks for making a dreary political landscape interesting, amusing and providing some sparks of enlightenment.

War Authorization Bill

++Representative Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California,has submitted in the House a new Authorization of Military Force to deal with ISIS. The Democrats had submitted such legislation in December but Boehner sent the House on recess.

++John McCain complained recently that President Obama had not sent "wording" for a new AUMF to the Senate, even though the President had promised and made mention of this in his state of the union address.

++We saw how both parties ducked on President Obama's request for a similar resolution just after Syria used chemical weapons on its population.

++President Obama maintains the 2002 AUMF covers him on ISIS but others disagree.

++Schiff legislation has a three year life-span and prohibits the use of American ground forces. The so-called war against ISIS has gone since August, cost billions of dollars and 3,000 American troops have been deployed.

++If we are to have perpetual war, it is about time Congress have skin in the game. We have made war too easy for this country so much so that it is the first knee-jerk response to any crisis.

++President Obama is going to submit a military budget that increases Pentagon spending by 8%. Remember we spend on the military, intelligence and the terrorism complex more than the rest of the world combined

++To put this in perspective, the ferocious Vladimir Putin's defense budget is 50 billion dollars. That's less then 1/10th of America's declared defense budget.

Bob Dylan Supports The Koch Brothers

++You knew the mighty have fallen when Dylan's next album is covers of Frank Sinatra tunes. But his interview in AARP takes the cake.

++The interview was reprinted in Government Executive. Bob tells us that government has no role to play in creating jobs. He laments the state of the American economy and the troubles Americans go through.

++But Bob says that "Only Billionaires can create jobs." He urges billionaires to focus on creating jobs in America.

++Bob has had recent labor troubles of his own with the coffee bar he owns in southern California. Apparently he wanted to fire his long-time friend but hesitated. The man forced him to come into the coffee joint and fire him face to face.

++Maybe Jon Karl will see Bob at the next Koch Brothers powwow. 

++I never resented Bob's Chrysler commercials like some people but this interview reminds us that he's still in his own zone. Remember Bob doesn't vote.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The New York Times Weighs In

++The New York Times weighs in to slam Bibi and the Republicans. It assures its readers that President Obama will maintain his commitment to Israel's security despite then tension in the relationship. It notes John Kerry's efforts to head off the Palestinians from getting on the ICC and how Bibi just dissed him after he did Israel an enormous favor. 

++It blasts Bibi for weakening his own country's security through his petulant behavior and slams the GOP for not acting in the national interests.

++It notes that all these games being played on Iran can only jeopardize the negotiations and lead to nowhere.

Grand Illusion

++Josh Marshall ends the night with a tour de force. Writing as an American Jew and a Zionist, Josh picks up on Jeffrey Goldberg's piece and believes as Goldberg did that any way you look at the Boehner/Bibi ploy,it ends in disaster--except for, maybe, Bibi's electoral fortunes. Marshall thinks Goldberg's focus on Bibi's Iranian focus doesn't put enough emphasis on his domestic electoral policy. 

++Marshall feels the tremors of an earthquake in the bipartisan consensus on Israel and the reactions from the American audiences. He quotes Bibi saying he has had enough with President Obama as if he is the one managing the relationship. Marshall points to Bibi dismissing any of the United States' marginal efforts on the settlements and the Palestinian issue as evidence that since the Israel-United States relationship grew so large that this went to Bibi's head and he fails to realize anymore that America is the anchor for Israel's defense. He blames some of this on the language coming from the extreme right parties, who want to find another superpower patron.  

++Marshall also believes Bibi's Iran obsession is totally off base since it is at odds with Israel's military establishment. He notes that Bibi really doesn't have military experience except for a short time in an elite IDS unit. As Goldberg pointed out, at least he didn't attack Iran. 

++Read Josh's piece at TalkingPointsMemo because all week he has been trying to grabble with the Bibi ploy.

++Now for a counter to this Jennifer Rubin goes off the rails tonight with her call for the end of the Benghazi Oversight Committee. But not for the right reasons. She wants a Oversight Committee on the issue of the failure of the Obama Administration to deal with the Iranian nuclear program and its failure to develop a strategy to defeat Islamic Jihadist Terrorism. IJT is the new GOP talking point since President Obama has not used the phrase. If the Democrats won't agree to the new Oversight Committee then their should be a special commission headed by Leon Panetta and General Murphy with full subpoena powers to get to the bottom of it. 

++ (Note: the new chairman of intelligence oversight is Senator Burr from North Carolina. He wants to return the Panetta Report of the CIA Torture Program back to the Administration because the Senate really shouldn't poke in the Agency's business. It was the Panetta report that my Williams classmate Mark Udall exposed on the Senate floor as the CIA's own proof that its torture program not only went beyond limits but yielded no actionable intelligence. So Leon is now Jennifer's hero. Go figure.)

++And lastly this evening, you mention, Jews, Israel, the Holocaust and wars in the Middle East, then you know who will appear--the lovable anti-Semite Pat Buchanan. Pat rips the new narrative in Washington that the Iranians are on the march and only Bibi--a foreign leader can tell Americans what to do. Pat backs off his Israel tirades this time for an evisceration of the current Shiite Crescent theory. He says that commentators are saying Iran has won the major capitals in Beirut,Damascus, Baghdad, and Sana'a. He rips on the role the United States played in creating the disasters across the region. And says shi'ites have temporarily gained control in Sunni majority countries, which regard these people as heretics. He scoffs at John McCain and Ralph Peters crying the "Persians are coming" and says if war with Iran is where the GOP is going for 2016 then he wants off. 

++He almost has lost his taste for his usually vile rhetoric about Israel. He gets a few slams at AIPAC in and his litany about Washington being led around the nose by Israel. 

++He chides Bibi for coming to Washington to lecture us about the dangers of Iran's nuclear program. He recalls Bibi's speech in San Francisco that this was 1938 and that Israel can deal with the first nuclear exchange with Iran but then tehran will be going after the Great Satan. He notes--quite correctly--that the National Intelligence Assessment in 2011 said Iran had no nuclear bomb program and that assessment has not been changed.

++Buchanan points out the degree of intrusive monitoring going on and the fact that Iran has not enriched uranium to bomb levels yet. He says they have not exploded one. But he does mention that Israel has between 100-300 nuclear weapons and that  Pakistan has lots. Iran has none.

++The elderly Buchanan seems more fed up with the United States screwing up with our wars than Israel at this stage.

++But if the center-left goes after Boehner/Bibi and Buchanan chimes in, you have problems.

--P.S. All the emails from conservative military types are totally pro-Bibi,anti-Obama, Obama has failed against Islamic Jihadism and Iran both. If you can tell me how you think you are going to fight everyone at the same time or even in a tag-team match, let me know. These same types believe Obama's trips to China and India are junkets. It's not like he rounded up half the population of the world on his side to combat climate change--which is a hoax anyway.  It is clear from Boehner's invite was from his hatred for the President , the same reflected in my e-mails. The military types for all their bravado tend to stand down when I ask about how much war with Iran would cost, what's the final end game or the casualties they would accept.

Boom! ACA about to top Administration's Goal

++With the deadline about a month away, the Affordable Care Act has hit 9.5 million and it looks like it will make 10 million when the deadline hits.

++Also Indiana and the Administration have reached a deal that will allow Medicaid expansion in that state. Approximately 350,000 people will benefit.

Boehner Admits To Stumbles

++John Boehner admits his new House hasn't got off to the smooth start he wanted. Today the House couldn't figure out their own border security bill, which even Jeff Sessions admitted got too confusing. Senate Democrats are united in telling Mitch McConnell to just fund Homeland Security and not even thinks about bringing the House bill to the floor.

++John Boehner said that he is about ready to sue President Obama over immigration. The litigation strategy has just been reviewed. We are still waiting for his suit on Obama delaying the employer mandate.

++But Good news for fans of the Boehner/ Bibi show. John Boehner insisted he had the absolute right to invite Bibi because the House is a co-equal branch of Government. Even his math fails him. 1/6th or forget it. And by gum, he's going to stick by his decision.

++Dave Weigel reports that the Boehner invite was the brain child of Louie Gohmert and that Boehner made his dream real.

++Ed Kilgore , who isn't a very persistent Israel watcher, writes today "Bibi's Reckless Gamble". In sum, he writes that Bibi has alienated Obama's White House,congressional Democrats and American Jews, who overwhelmingly voted for Obama. He's receiving mixed reviews at home and earned a new bond with Republicans who have nothing whatsoever to do with foreign policy. Other than that,his plan is working brilliantly. 

++More seriously he gives the floor to Jeffrey Goldberg, who has been a fan of Bibi, but who writes "The Netanyahu Disaster" in the Atlantic. Goldberg thinks that Bibi's management of his relationship with President Obama has been a disaster and perhaps beyond repair. He's suspicious of the timing from the point of view of the Israeli elections. He's relieved Bibi hasn't attacked Iran--yet--which he agrees would be a real disaster. He's concerned that a bipartisan support for Israel may be threatened and he hopes it is not irreparable. That's heavy coming from Goldberg.

++So far,Jennifer Rubin has backed Bibi and Marc Thiessen. Marc as you know supports Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, which really did come from Gestapo handbooks. 

++Perhaps in honor of the occasion, they should invite Dick Cheney to be honorary President of the Senate so that the optics are complete.

Auschwitz Liberated 70 years ago

++It is incredible to me that 300 survivors went back to the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. They warn of future crimes against Jews in Europe. Ron Lauder of the World Jewish Congress spoke at the ceremony urging the world to be vigilant as the Jewish communities in Hungary, the Czech Republic and elsewhere are afraid.

++The Germans opened the camp in June of 1940. Between then and its liberation by the Soviet army,1.1 million Jews were exterminated. The largest numbers came from Hungary. Another 20,000 Roma or gypsies were also executed. 

++I first heard of concentration camps when I was a pre-schooler. My sister had to write a story about a remarkable person and she had to interview that person. Our neighbor was a man named Henry Sears, who made his living designing lingerie in the Garment district of Manhattan. His wife Ann told my mother what Henry had done during the war, something he never spoke about. My sister decided to interview Henry about his war experiences,which he had not talked openly about. Deciding to help a young student,he allowed himself to be interviewed. Henry had been part of the American forces that liberated the camps. I think it may have been Dachau. What was an ordinary school assignment became an intense emotional experience both both my sister and Henry Sears.

++Then years past and it was only around the early 1960s that paperbacks appeared describing the atrocities of the concentration camps and soon the Adolf Eichmann trial in Jerusalem made the Holocaust a common theme to explore.

++Even now there are whole areas that historians are just beginning to discover the documentary evidence for. Unfortunately for our own American history, this involves the role IBM played in the development of the information technology of the round-ups and our role in smuggling Nazis to the United States, an issue that only got raised in the recent Congressional action to deprive them of social security. 

++On that cheery note,I just received the Guantanamo Diary of Mohammed Ould Slahi,a Mauretanian held in Gitmo on suspicion of being a member of Al Qaeda. Ould Slahi maintains that he was sexually abused by American female guards and tortured to the point he fabricated a non-existent Al Qaeda cell in Canada.

Bibi Follow-Up

++If you recall during the flap over Bibi's speech, Senator Menendez was caught off-guard when he heard that Mossad had briefed GOP Senators and told them to hold off on sanctions against Iran. Today he sent a letter to the White House along with a number of Democrats saying that they would hold off submitting the new legislation until after March 25, when the nuclear talks are to conclude.

++Richard Cohen defends President Obama against the Boehner/Bibi ploy in today's Washington Post. Cohen's piece is a good warning on what happens when support for Israel becomes identified as a right-wing cause. He notes the changing nature of the American Jewish community and the demographic nature of the young, who basically oppose anything to do with the current issues supported by the Right. To be linked to people who are against immigration, abortion,same sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana is not cool. Cohen also worries that the younger generation is losing touch with the meaning of the Holocaust and the great cinematic history of the creation of Israel. 

++Cohen warns that a frontal assault on the prestige of the President of the United States, your strongest and increasingly your only ally, is dangerous when israel faces increased isolation on the world stage and that the Palestinian cause gains ground in Europe.

++Andrew Sullivan at the Dish noted the long list of Jewish Americans who took umbrage at Bibi's not so subtle attacks on President Obama. Sullivan was particularly galled by Bibi lecturing President Obama on Mideast politics in front of the press corps during one of his last visits. Andrew always laments the "Israel" lobby and blames it for the disasters of the Iraq war and American foreign policy disasters.

++The Israeli press reports more anti-Bibi remarks by the opposition who believes Bibi is threatening the relationship.

++Speaking of being lumped in with the Right, America's leading advocate of Torture , Marc Thiessen writes in the Post that Bibi was entirely right in by-passing President Obama.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Things You Might Have Missed

++The deficit is now the lowest of the Obama years, about the same as 2007 and about the same percent of GDP as 50 years ago.

++The CBO has calculated that Obamacare will cost 20% less in ten years because of lower health inflation and better economic conditions.

++The House Republicans have created the "Freedom Caucus" to oppose the right-wing Republican Study Group. This caucus will be members-invited only membership and be more extreme than the Study Group. If they object to Republican legislation they can block it.

++Speaking of blocking it,the Senate Democrats today blocked Keystone XL from coming to a vote. This was a rebellion against Mitch McConnell because he promised "an open amendment" process. Amendments to have the pipeline built with American steel and American workers got defeated.

++Russian bonds were ranked "junk" today. 

++Oh, about that wonderful Alaskan wilderness idea. The first shot across the bow came from NewsMax saying Obama took away our sovereignty. The next came from the American Petroleum Institute which blasted President Obama for not consulting with the GOP Congress. Next came Senator Murkowski who shouted, "Obama will negotiate with Iran, but not Alaska". The GOP vows a bitter fight--over Polar Bears--really.

++The Trademark and Patent Office has an unusual request. The Concession owner for the Grand Canyon wants to own the names of all the historic sites.

++Over half the states have lined up with Texas to sue the President over his immigration executive orders.

++Oklahoma has figured out how to get around same sex marriage. You can't be married in the state unless it is by a minister ,priest,and, they finally added, rabbi. No state official can marry you. It seems there is a little matter of what happens if you divorce.

++A federal judge ruled same sex marriages were OK in Alabama but put a hold for two weeks to see whether Alabama will appeal. Now probate judges will be prohibited from performing same sex marriages.

++Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal, fresh off their first presidential forays, propose a Constitutional Amendment against same sex marriage.

Holocaust Remembrance Day

++Memorial services are being held at Auschwitz and at other sites of the extermination camps. I found yesterday my Holocaust Library in my storage unit. The best histories were written last decade as more historical evidence emerged that showed the European-wide attempt to eradicate the Jews was much wider than originally thought. And the post-Holocaust theologies are not only provocative but grim.In recent years, the Holocaust has inspired Waspy writers like Peter Matthiessen and Martin Amis who were riveted to this essential story of evil. The attempt at interpreting the Holocaust will last many more generations of books. 

++Samantha Powers' claim to fame was to broaden the study of genocide to bring it up to date through Bosnia and Rwanda and advocating humanitarian intervention. And that expansiveness has its own problems as we have seen in the aftermath of Libya and the current debate over Syria. 

++I heard Alan Dershowitz speak only a month ago and he lamented FDR not bombing the death camps. In fact Jews fleeing Europe ended up in the Dominican Republic or Cuba because their entrance to the United States was banned.

++As historians now admit the average German supported and knew about Hitler's policies, even taking holidays near the death camps. Claude Lenzer made the awful--for the events--movie, the riveting Shoah, which not only documented the fate of the victims but interviewed the executioners. I still remember him finding the railroad engineer who drove the locomotive to the siding of the death camps where his passengers were sent to their fates. It was a brave movie that deserves imitators for all the other genocides in this century. The executioners are still around,even if their victims are not.

++James Carroll, a Catholic and a son of an American officer,tried to capture how his faith got militarized, In his film he shows the Jewish community just outside the Vatican and interviewed survivors how the Pope by simply walking to their ghetto could have saved Rome's Jews. Of course, he didn't. Instead he signed a Concordat with Hitler. Carroll backtracked to the first Pogroms which were the preliminary stages of the Crusades and how the river valleys around the Rhine were depopulated as the Crusaders marched to the Holy Land.

++So on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, where does this get us. To the rise again in Europe of anti-semiticism and the perceived dangers by the Jewish communities of attacks. This is really the appropriate subject of any address by Bibi to Congress.

++Just yesterday there were marches in Dresden, a stronghold of anti-immigrant, neo-Nazi sentiment. Angela Merkel has countered the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim demonstrations but the latest have been against the Americanization of Europe, which is encouraged --naturally--by the Jewish population.

++In England, the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish grocery raised alarms among that country's Jewish population, which sent out a bulletin about their concerns. The British government announced that security forces would be monitoring Jewish communities for any disturbances.

++The European Jewish community thought Holocaust Remembrance Day was an occasion to raise the prospect of the EU adopting legislation making anti-semiticism and Holocaust denial a hate crime.

++According to the World Zionist Organization poll published in Ynet, 55% of Diaspora Jews do not feel safe in their own countries. They registered 1,000 types of anti-semitic incidents--which range from personal attacks to physical damage to schools and synagogues--in 2014. There was a 400% increase in attacks during July and August, which happened to coincide with Israel's attack on Gaza. The WZO found that France was perceived as the most dangerous place for the Jewish population and this was discovered before the Charlie Hebdo attacks. In the past week, Israeli officials in France have been swamped by requests for the papers to emigrate to Israel.

++Anti-semiticism has again found fertile ground in the extreme right parties of Europe from France to Hungary,Belgium,Holland and Czechoslovakia as well as Greece where the neo-Nazi Dawn party came in third. 

++Maybe this is an unfortunate blip in the state of anti-semiticism but I recall the Jewish World Telegram then operating out of Geneva and New York failing to report then tales of the death camps because they thought the stories told be refugees too fantastic and that reporting them would scare off the Americans whom Roosevelt was preparing for war.

++I remember this today because the Democratic Underground had the only film clip of Anne Frank standing on her balcony. Watch it. What a lovely looking child.

Fast Forward

++Yesterday on Face The Nation, John McCain blasted the Obama Administration for failing to make headway against ISIS. Senator McCain claimed that ISIS still held Kobani in Syria. Tonight,that is no longer true. The Kurdish troops finally seized the town and ISIS withdrew. The Iraqi forces today announced they had withdrawn from the Diyala Province having pushed ISIS out. 

++Josh Marshall wrote more about Bibi's misadventures and openly wrote that he did not know what it meant either here or in Israel. He did say that every wise observer knows not to underestimate Bibi in his political maneuvers. As long as the issue centers around security he gains.

++The Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer said that Bibi had a "sacred right" to address Congress since a nuclear Iran would pose an existential threat to the world's only Jewish country. He did not comment on Israel's nuclear arsenal and how that may be used to defend Israel.

++Bennet Kelley in "the Unbearable Rudeness of Bibi" at the Huffington Post reminds us that Bibi has acted this way with all American Presidents, not just President Obama. It seems so long ago that James Baker refused to meet with then Foreign Minister Netanyahu because he lied so much. Or Bill Clinton twisting his arm to accept the Oslo Accords, only to find Bibi was cheating at the edges. Clinton got so annoyed he had James Carville run Ehud Barack's campaign against Bibi. Or that even under W, the White House told Israel not to go ahead with the settlements but Bibi did anyway. Kelley goes into the sordid history in his piece including the hours Kerry put in stopping the Security Council vote.

++Michael Tomasky in "How will Obamaa punish Netanyahu?" summarizes the flap and zeroes in on another United Nations vote to get even. I doubt it. The White House is trying to paper over the rift for now.

Oops, Obama's approval rating

++Gallup has Obama at 50% approval and only 45% disapprove. Congress still ant 16%.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Fact To Disturb Your Night

++There are 168 members of the John Birch Society in the House of Representatives.

Comment on Syriza Victory

++"Greece taught us Democracy, now they've taught us how to take it back."

Occupy Wall Street

Slap Me Down

++David Atkins, blogging in for Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly, says we are way out of shape on this Bibi flap. He argues that if the GOP cutting food stamps or fabricating evidence through torture to wage war in Iraq doesn't fry you, what is a little snub by Bibi. He thinks those in The Village don't have their priorities straight.

++Atkins was fuming at the tantrum thrown in Politico entitled "There are No Rules Anymore", which slams Boehner for violating protocol. I guess you have to be a millennial not to care. 

++I like the Bibi flap because I finally get to read Israeli papers on their domestic politics and feel relieved they are outraged by this stunt also.

Syriza Romps in the Greek Elections

++Young Alexis Tsipras was congratulated by the other party leaders as 61% of the Greek voters cast their ballots and Syriza, the anti-austerity party, came in --at this writing--with 149 seats, just two short of a  ruling majority. And that may happen in a few hours.

++Tsipras said there would be a mutually acceptable solution to the bailout problem. He said there "would be no rupture", but "no continuation to the subjugation either."

++It is like Occupy Wall Street winning a national election. The European and global financial elites were terrified by the prospects of a Syriza victory.

++The Golden Dawn,the neo-Nazi party, appears to have come in third.Their imprisoned leader claimed he would try and form a government. A 3rd place finish is not good for planet Earth either.

++The Greek public was fed up with the games with the Eurozone and the constant stories of corruption by government officials. They basically threw the bums out.

Forbes Attacks Boehner and Bibi

++Rick Ungar wrote an article in Forbes Magazine titled "Bibi Netanyahu--aka the Republican Senator from Israel--May Have Made A Fatal Political Mistake".

++Ungar writes that the Israeli political scene is up in arms about Bibi trying to interfere into the American political scene and that those Israelis who are upset are moving to the Labor-Hatnuah coalition. In a Channel 10 poll, the Labor-Hatnuah coalition stands a chance of winning 24 seats and Likud 20 seats. The same poll found that Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livini have a good chance of assembling between 61 to 68 seats to form a governing coalition.

++The other target of Ungar's article is Ron Dermer,the Israeli ambassador to the United States. Ungar repeats the Kerry stories we have heard and adds a bombshell from Israel. Moshe Dyan,the head of the Civil Service Commission, has warned Dermer of potential criminal charges because he endorsed Bibi's re-election in American media. This is "despite Israeli Civil Service regulations prohibiting him from doing so." 

++Haaretz goes into this story in depth, pointing out that Dermer broke the rules when he was interviewed by Jorge Ramos of the cable news network Fusion.

++Ungar turned the heart up in his prose against John Boehner, who he snarkily said had accomplished nothing while Speaker. He questioned whether Boehner wanted his legacy to be embarrassing The Office of the President of the United States. No matter what you think of who is in the presidency, the Office of the President is to be respected. I was surprised how vehement Ungar was on this since he generally doesn't support President Obama. Clearly this whole affair has struck a nerve. 

++Leftwing bloggers have made the point that Boehner violated the Logan Act, which prohibits someone from acting as the government of the United States when they aren't. In this case, Boehner doesn't have authority on foreign affairs.  Of course, this is a symmetrical accusation that has its counterpart in the Right's accusations against Nancy Pelosi traveling to Syria and pronouncing the then young Assad, Junior as being a reformer. Remember when Assad's wife was featured in Vanity Fair?

Meep! Meep! Wilderness President strikes again!

++ President Obama has received the studies completed by EPA which allows him now to declare 12 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,including Alaska's Coastal Plain a wilderness site. The move will provide the area with the legal protections such as a ban on oil drilling.

++Meanwhile in India, President Obama and Prime Minister Modi agreed to accelerate cleaner energy production in India as well as the reduction gas emissions. No targets were agreed to but Modi agreed to push for a Global Climate Change Deal in Paris.

Josh Marshall on Bibi's blunders

++Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has a must read on "A Bridge Too Far" on they reactions to Bibi Netanyahu's invitation to speak before a joint session of Congress. 

++Josh has been following the events as appearing in the Israeli papers where Michael Orens, an American born Israeli and former ambassador to the United States called it "a cynical political move". Chris Wallace termed it "wicked".

++Marshall says Chemi Shulev's piece in Haaretz is a must read for the damaging comments by Diane Feinstein who charged that it was a breach of protocol and jeopardized the Iranian negotiations. Marshall believes the intensity of Feinstein's remarks reveals that the Democrats are no longer cowed by the right to be "stronger on national security" than the GOP.

++The net effect is that support for new sanctions now has diminished since the flap over Bibi's speech.

++Obama's Chief of Staff tried to distance himself from the White House official who said "Bibi spit in our face." But the lengthier version of Kerry's interplay with Bibi over Iran and the Palestine Vote makes the Bibi move more egregious. Throughout the several hour meeting with the Israeli ambassador,Bibi's acceptance of Boehner's invitation never came up when the ambassador knew about it the day before.

President Obama in India

++You have to envy President Obama for escaping from the Beltway madness. He became the first American President to attend India's Independence Day where he poured water on the tree planted over the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi.

++But would we really be thrilled by a "breakthrough" on the nuclear deal with India? First, the United States was concerned about what happens with then nuclear materials. Fine. But second, companies were concerned about their liability before they were to invest. The whole deals boils down to trade opportunities for Westinghouse and General Electric and India satisfied their concerns.

OH NO, Joe Franklin died at the age of 88

++Where else could you see washed-up entertainers treated like stars but on the Joe Franklin show? This is a loss we may never recover from.


++It's Shepard Smith--not Sheppard-- and he quotes Martin Indyk saying Bibi should stay home. That's bad enough but the gist is as I reported it. 

Pigs Fly--Fox News Defends Obama

++Fox news anchors Sheppard and Wallace brought up the news that Orens opposed Netanyahu's visit to the United States. Wallace was more incredulous at the news of Bibi's trip because he had been at the White House when it had been announced and he said they were flabbergasted and he repeated the news that the White House had been on the phone to Bibi negotiating about the timing of A Trip not knowing it was a done deal.

++Sheppard said Israel was up in arms over the invite because there is an agreement we stay out of their politics and they stay out of ours. Sheppard was more incensed by the news. Wallace was just flummoxed.

++Again both men made the point that Israel relies on bipartisan support from the United States.

++Sheppard brought up the Mossad criticism of the trip and credited John Kerry with turning this against Bibi.

++If I were the Israeli Ambassador and lost FOX news, I would be in full damage mode and flying to New York to appear on Steve Doucy's show.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Nagual On Their Winter Tour

++Those shape shifters, Nagual have hit the road for their winter tour. Last night they started in D.C. and tonight there will be performing with Carl Mitchell in Boone, North Carolina. The tour will last a week and will end up in Philly and New Haven. 

I have one question

++Former Senator Bob Graham has been lobbying Congress to declassify the section of the 9-11 Report that concerns Saudi involvement in the financing and planning of the attacks.

++The Real News Network has a followed up on this with several interviews with Graham. Graham alleges that bin Laden threatened the Saudi monarchy that he had 10,000 fighters which he would unleash on the Saudis if they didn't help him plan the attacks on the United States. Graham says that did assist the hijackers through a network of Saudi agents.

++Is this true? Shouldn't we know?

While You Are Mulling on Saudi King Abdullah as a "reformer", don't forget Bibi

++Bibi's former ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren has called on Bibi Netanyahu to cancel his appearance before Congress.

++David Harris Gershen in Tikkun asked President Obama to invite him to the White House while Bibi speaks to show that American Jews have different opinions than the Likud Party.

++James Zogby,the President of the Arab-American Institute and never a fan of Israel, writes at the Huffington Post "Bibi/Boehner "So Smart, they're stupid." Zogby chronicles Bibi's relationships with the neo-cons and notes that Richard Pearle and Doug Feith  wrote one of Bibi's addresses to Congress.

++The New York Times devoted a full-page to this flap.

++Below the radar, John McCain invited Brent Scowcroft and Zbig Brezinski to testify before the armed services committee where both men told McCain increasing sanctions on Iran while you are still negotiating is counter-productive.

Quote Of Yesterday

++Charlie Dent , a Republican from Pennsylvania, complained to the Washington Times about the recent activists of the House.

"Week 1. We had the vote for speaker.
"Week 2. We debated deporting children.
"Week 3. We're debating rape and incest.
I just can't wait for Week 4."

Ernie Banks Dies At 83

++ Baseball's goodwill ambassador, Mr. Cub has died. Ernie Banks was the first black player for the Chicago Cubs and played with that franchise his whole career. An all-star shortstop, I saw him play first base at Wrigley Field in the twilight of his career when I was at the University of Chicago.  Classy guy and a great ballplayer. He'll be missed.

Friday, January 23, 2015

While Adrianna Huffington is off lecturing on Pop and Policy at Davos

++The race for the GOP nomination for President has begun in earnest. Tomorrow will be nativist Steven King's Iowa conference "The Freedom Summit", which brings together the Religious Right for their first look at potential candidates. Next up is the Tea Party Convention in South Carolina.

++So who have we heard from so far:
   **Sarah Palin told ABC News she is interesting in running because she has "a servant's heart".
   **John Bolton, who yesterday acknowledged climate change.
   **Donald Trump, who said that Romney blew it and he's sick of Bushes.
   **Marco Rubio, who wowed Eleanor Clift at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast.
   **Scott Walker,who just got Ed Rollins' ground game guy for Iowa.
   **John Kasich, who thinks a balanced budget amendment is just the ticket.
   **Mike Huckabee, who told Fox News Americans must understand that laws come from God.
   **Rick Santorum, who criticized the Pope for saying Catholics shouldn't breed like rabbits.
   **Ted Cruz, who just introduced a bill to strip American citizenship from anyone who is linked to a terrorist group.
   **Dr. Ben Carson, who said Obamacare was worse than slavery.
  **Rand Paul, who says people on social disability are faking it.
  **Bobby Jindal, who warns that Muslim No-go zones are coming to the United States.
  **Rick Perry, who will remember the three cabinet posts he will eliminate.
  **Chris Christie, whose last campaign is $800,000 in debt.
  **Jeb Bush, just because.
  ** Willard Romney because he has a dancing horse and a car elevator and wants a presidency.

++That's only about 17 candidates. Is there anyone there with the vision to lead this country in the 21st Century, not the 19th?

When You Lose Abe Foxman

++Abe Foxman said today that he was for more sanctions against Iran if the talks failed. He called on John Boehner to rescind the decision to invite Bibi. "The invitation and acceptance is ill-advised for either side. It (the Iran negotiations)is too important an issue to politicize it." 

++J Street said they heard from democratic lobbyists that the invitation has backfired and that the sanctions bill will not reach a veto proof majority. 

++The organization sent out letters urging congressman not to support the invitation, saying it was an "attempt to scuttle the critical negotiations taking place right now." 

++"But a foreign leader lobbying Congress is inappropriate." 

++Dylan Williams, the spokesperson for J Street, said,"The greatest danger from this is that it damages the long-term principle of bipartisan support for the special relationship with Israel."

++And one of my favorite Israeli politicians,Tzipi Livni accused Bibi Netanyahu of leading the country into "crisis and diplomatic isolation".

++When asked about the flap,Josh Ernst, President Obama's spokesperson, said that Obama had spoken to Bibi Netanyahu more times in his presidency than any other head of state and that the President remains committed to Israel's security.

++But, Abe Foxman, when he can't get silent you know you are in trouble.

"It May Have been Too Clever By Half"

++ Aaron David Miller speaking on CNN about the Bibi debacle.

++Now the issue is how much face President Obama and John Kerry will let Bibi save. Apparently they are lobbying to tone down Bibi's remarks.

++The opposition parties are swarming the Israeli press and ,yes,they have lodged protests with the Elections Council to have all broadcasts from the American speeches blocked.

Kerry Steamed

++From the people who called Bibi "chickenshit" comes a flood of reactions from John Kerry on the Bibi ploy. Kerry is said to be livid. The reason is quite simple--Bibi asked Kerry to conduct phone diplomacy over the Security Council vote to recognize Palestine. Kerry claims he made several dozen calls to stop the vote from succeeding. That's what the State Department meant "They thought they had seen everything from Netanyahu".

++The Prime Minister's office was in full damage control by saying it was a bipartisan invitation. Not so fast,Democrats on the Hill say that no one had been notified about the invitation. The White House felt sideswiped because the procedure is that a head of state gives notice about an impending trip. It's for the obvious reason that the Secret Service has to arrange their assignments in advance and clear air traffic for the arrival and departures.

++The Israeli press is having a field day with this. It seems today Josh Marshall at Talkingpoints will be doing the tag team blogging on this flap. Josh is reporting that American Jewish groups are weighing in criticizing Bibi's move, an unusual occurrence.

++Meanwhile in France, the French Jewish Councils are lambasting Bibi's call for French Jews to move to Israel. The French Jewish Community pointedly said they were not in diaspora,"We've been French for a thousand years." They said they wished Bibi would stop this appeal whenever he appears in Europe.

++This whole episode reminds me of some of Omar Torrijos stunts when he was President of Panama. He would appear like Zelig at moments when another Latin American President was speaking and put his hands over the other leaders' eyes and say "Guess Who?" One time during a meeting of Socialist International leaders,there was a cocktail party of the heads of state around a swimming pool. Omar just plunged into the pool fully clothed. Maybe Bibi could do something like that.

++I am sure we have not heard the last of this. Josh Ernst, the spokesman for President Obama, said they would be reviewing Bibi's remarks with him before he comes.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Odds and Ends

++ President Obama avoided the Washington madness and was in Boise, Idaho where he spoke about his economic ideas to a 3,000 person crowd who roared with approval. He reminded them that he had won the Idaho caucus in 2008 in the same arena where he was speaking and that pivoting off his SOTU remarks commented that he lost the state twice. 

++Willard Romney met Jeb Bush in Utah to hash out the rules of engagement for 2016. Michael Levitt, former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, was the intermediary. Both sides said the talks had been cordial and both men courteous. 

++A must read was the Washington Post interview with Laurence Tribe about how he views Justice Roberts' take on the Burweil versus Helbig case of subsidies over Obamacare. He said that unlike four of the judges, Roberts would not rule on a type-o to penalize millions of people. Tribe liked the Obama administration brief arguing that an adverse ruling would be a devastating penalty to states' that never anticipated not creating their own exchanges. Tribe said that both Roberts and Kennedy would be keenly aware of the disruption of the insurance market and the negative consequences to millions. It was clear who at least three of the judges are who could care less.  Tribe feels that if Roberts rules for the subsidies Kennedy will too. But that was the calculus for the first decision. Tribe believes that Roberts is the key here. Let's hope Tribe is right but I have begun to distrust his judgment recently.

++I usually think Juan Cole may be over the top but today he writes with incandescent fierceness about the invitation to Bibi to speak to Congress and the implications for the Iranian nuclear talks. I think he is right that the Republican Party is committed to waging a war against Iran. Remember John McCain refrain put to a Beach Boys' tune, which was "Bomb, Bomb Iran." Cole games such a war out and finds that its scale will be more Vietnam than Iraq, especially in terms of casualties, and the costs will not be in the 5-7 trillion dollar range but more in the Twenty trillion dollar range and up. And that it will not likely lead to victory. The problem with such Doomsday predictions is that in light of the real costs of Iraq they seem reasonable. 

++Leslie Gelb, who must be ancient by now,gets on Obama's case and urges some cooperation with Assad because he didn't and will not pose a threat to the United States. He notes that Obama leans this way except he is pulled away by Samantha Powers and Susan Rice who are the crusaders against Assad. Gelb says it is clear that President Obama wants to avoid another war in the Middle East at all costs and that he knows there will be no "moderate" Syrians to fight anytime soon and that the Arab states just won't really commit serious troops to fight ISIS on the ground. He fears that the area ISIS controls can be a staging area for attacks on the West and that they could even get a nuclear bomb. Here we go again.

++What is interesting is how Obama can square silent cooperation with Hezbollah,the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the Shi'ite militias trained by Iran with his regime change in Iraq promising a more open,inclusive and pluralistic government.

++Gelb is not totally off here. That is why Putin trip to the region gets interesting and why Israel's attack in Syria to kill the son of the founder of Hezbollah and a general of the Iranian revolutionary guard makes the situation too complex for the simplicity of Washington.

++The problem is that the GOP has made it clear that they want to drive this policy for the next two years and as Romney said today, will make national security the dominant issue in the 2016 Presidential elections.

On the Anniversary of Roe V. Wade, the House celebrates the milestone

++Union Station and the Metro were crowded with platoons of "right-to-lifers" sent from Catholic Colleges. The House Republicans balked at their 20-week pain-free fetus bill because Republican women thought it went too far.

++Remember how every GOP candidate for the mid-terms promised to protect contraceptives and the woman's right to choose? Abortion was kept off screen. But they came roaring back in the House and probably something similar will be passed in the Senate.

++The new House bill outlaws government-paid abortions. Nothing new here. Since the days of Henry Hyde, there has been a law against federally funded abortions. But this one is more insidious. It puts a tax on insurance companies who have policies that pay for abortions. I would love to litigate that one. 

++The House bill does lip service to the issue of rape and the mother's welfare.

++Isn't it amazing that this is still an issue 42 years later. By now Roe v. Wade is so eviscerated that one wonders what is left. 

++The Senate bills posted by Senator Vitter brings back the old canard about abortion clinics getting admitting privileges to hospitals and having to modernize to provide for gurneys through the halls. This was the Cooch's plan here in Virginia and it has resurfaced in the Virginia legislature again.

++ I am really surprised that the House Republicans haven't gone after contraceptives yet.

++Nancy Pelosi got in a nice line--"She knows more about having children than the Pope." 

++Rick Santorum has expressed puzzlement over the Pope's statement that Catholics shouldn't breed like rabbits. I express wonderment too especially since he upheld the Catholic position against contraceptives.

++The House also wants to defund all family planning programs through USAID. This has been a decades long crusade for Chris Smith of New Jersey.