Tuesday, March 31, 2015

In Case You Missed it

++The United States and Cuba just completed another of their talks about the normalization of relations between our countries.These talks have been occurring rather regularly with minimum press coverage.

++The latest bilateral talk was about human rights. The Cuban delegation characterized it as a "civilized discussion " but that both sides have very different opinions. 

++This will jump back into the political arena when President Obama nominates the first Ambassador to Cuba in the new era.

Joni Mitchell Found Unconscious

++One of my favorite musical artists is Joni Mitchell. I loved her jazz phase but could have don't without her orchestration in the later albums.

++Her autobiography details her growing up in Canada and her first attempts at playing folk songs. Remember Ian and Sylvia. Her husband left her and she gave birth to a daughter with whom she was reunited with awhile back.

++She also chronicled the bizarre sickness she contracted. The symptoms are like trees and plants sprouting through your skin.

++Variety remarks about her lifelong smoking which she blames for destroying her voice but her illness was more serious to that.

++She was found at her Bel-Air home in California and is now in the ICU. Her condition is serious.

++Please recover, Joni. You are too young to go. She's 71.

We're On!

++Since our sterling news services are concerned with Indiana, it takes Haaretz to report that Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif says he hopes the agreement's text will be ready today. The reporting was done by Ravid Barack. 

++I hope to wake up tomorrow to read it. The Times of Israel still has the talks stalled. I think they do not want to disturb Bibi.

It May Be Over Except The Shouting

++Give a news scoop to DailyKos poster ericlewis0. I hope he's right.

+++First he caught BBC reporter Kasra Naji tweet that Zarif and Mogherini would announce the agreement.

++then He caught the news that Lavrov,the Russian Foreign Minister,said that the experts would work out the remaining technical details by the end of June. He said the final result was "completely reachable", according to TASS.

++Reuters reports that Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif claimed that he expected Tehran and the six world powers can start drafting a preliminary political deal on Wednesday.

++ericlewis0 caught that President Obama had called together a full National Security Council meeting this evening and the assembled group heard from the negotiating team headed by John Kerry. 

++The AFP reported that the Russian Foreign Minister said early wednesday the global powers had reached an agreement in principle on "all key aspects" of the outlines of the nuclear deal. He said it would be put down in paper in one day. 

++A senior American official said that not everything had been resolved. I take that to mean that the US didn't want Lavrov to have the final media say.

++But if these reports are accurate, we have a "framework" and now the final deal will be struck by the June deadline as promised.

++I hope President Obama doesn't low-key this achievement with the Republican Congress howling for blood. Over 60% of Americans support such a deal. They didn't think it possible--including me--and think Iran will cheat but it was worth it anyway.

Palestine Joins ICC Tomorrow

++The Palestinian Authority joins the International Criminal Court tomorrow. 

++They claim they will be bringing to the court complaints about the last Gaza war and the Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

++It should be pointed out that as a "state" entity ,Palestine can also be investigated for crimes against humanity.

++The Iranian Nuclear deal is hung up over what lifting sanctions means. The P5+1 ( I sometimes say P4) agree that United Nations sanctions would be "suspended" but the legal framework for the sanctions would remain until the IAEA has confirmed that the Iranian program is purely peaceful. 

++On the last item, the IAEA has a list of questions that have not been answered about the program dating back to 2000.

++The German and French Foreign Ministers have threatened to leave the negotiations tomorrow if nothing further has been decided.

++The United States lifted the arms embargo to Egypt, which was instituted because of the Cissi government's flagrant abuse of civil liberties in its crackdown on the Moslem Brotherhood and dissenters.

++The Iraqi militia have flown to Yemen to fight alongside the Houthis.

++Meanwhile the Iraq military has freed half the town of Tikrit from ISIS. This has only taken four weeks.

++President Obama cast his fourth veto--this time against the GOP's change in rules for union elections.

++France's foreign minister asked that the United States not interfere with its resolution on Palestine at the Security Council.

++Arkansas passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of their own. So far, there is no outcry because no one wants to go there anyway.

++Today, the Rolling Stones announced they will be playing Indianapolis on July 4th.

++Mormon owned Marriot Hotels blasted Indiana's law.

++The only sporting authority respected by the South--NASCAR weighed in with its denunciation of the law.

++Indiana is trying to dance backwards on this by insisting large corporations aren't affected by this. Oh myyy.

Climate Change

++Last week, Mexico submitted their claimed program to the United Nations. They will commit to cutting their emissions by 2025. They anticipate their peak will be in two years.

++Today President Obama announced America's plan was to cut emissions by 26% by 2025.

++This is all to set up the December Paris agreement--not treaty--with the UN countries to combat climate change. 

++For this to work,the United States and China, the world's biggest polluters, must lead the world to an agreement.

++So far,the Obama administration is on track with its submission today of its climate change policy to the United Nations.

++However, there is the Republican Congress whose Senate leader urged all states to violate the EPA standards on power plants.

Still Talking

++The P4 + I are still talking over the restrictions over Iran's nuclear program. There is talk about extending the negotiations for a few months to answer unanswered questions.

++Bibi denounced the deal or whatever is happening at the opening of the Knesset.

++The Washington Post bemoans the creation of an all-Arab military force as an indication that President Obama has withdrawn our military umbrella over the region. 

++There are problems with such a force as witnessed by the attack by the Saudis on true UN refugee camp and the Houthi attack on the nearby hospital. The rules of war go out the window.

++Meanwhile Mike Pence is trying to ward off the national storm against his Religious Freedom bill. As Thom Hartman's show explained the photo of Pence signing the bill showed the authors who are well-known homophobes in the evangelical community. His protests that the bill isn't meant to legalize discrimination against gays is phony since his political reputation has gay-baiting in it.

++But he has solidarity among the Republicans running for President. Ted Cruz was the first out of the gate but Jeb soon followed. Rand Paul said something stunning for a libertarian. He would not protect gay rights. The reason--rights aren't given to a lifestyle--i.e. gay is something someone selects and is not born to.

++Ed Kilgore may have hit on why the same bill got killed in Georgia. Volvo wants to build a plant there and the Swedish company hates the anti-gay stuff.

++The Swedish foreign minister spoke to the Arab League's summit. They invited her because Sweden has recognized Palestine. Well, she spoke on the Arab countries need to recognize women's rights. The Saudis denounced her for her "offensive comments".

Monday, March 30, 2015

Kerry Snaps

++Feeling the Iranians are playing last minute games, John Kerry snapped at the Iranian negotiators that if they don't come around,the Senate will vote to increase sanctions.

++John Sununu says that President Obama is goating birthers by going to Kenya for the first time next week. Sununu says people will talk.

++Carly Fiorina says she is 90% into running for President. Charles Pierce at Esquire says that her statements recently are testaments to her failure as Hewlett-Packard CEO.

++George Pataki says he will throw his hat into the Republican primary.

++An Iran deal says Israelis would be the greatest sell-out of Israel in its history. Say that again?

++Governor Pence is being bombarded on his signing the restoration of religious freedom act. From Apple to Twitter, businesses are urging people not to go to Indiana. Last year, true uproar stopped the Arizona act to discriminate against Gays--or for that matter anyone else.

Tomorrow Deadline

++The State Department said that Iran had reneged on sending the uranium to Russia. Then later in the day it claimed this was an option.

++Russian foreign minister Lavrov left the meeting mid-day and said he would return tomorrow is a deal is ready

++Haaretz spent the day showing how Israel was heckling from the sidelines while the negotiators tried to develop the winning formula.

++Bibi said today that the United States had joined the Iran-Laussanne-Yemen axis. 

++Very Republican of him. A new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that one-third of the GOP believes Obama poses the most imminent threat to the United States. 27% believe Khameni,25% Believe Putin,23%  Assad. Obama is the champ at 34%.

++Vladimir Putin showed up in Egypt and expressed support for an independent Palestine with a capital in Eastern Jerusalem.

++The Arab states decided to create a single armed force to attack threats in the region. 

++Josh Marshall at TalkingPoints refers to Bibi's concern that his coalition will alienate the world.

++Hillary Clinton said she wanted Israeli relations on a constructive footing.

++Congressional Democrats have been trying to talk Obama down from his animus toward Bibi.

++Congressional Republicans are in Israel getting an earful about the deal.

++There are only three elements remaining to the deal.But you never know. It could collapse tomorrow.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Still No Deal

++Iran claims they will not send the enriched uranium to Russia and they claim that the issue of what to do with the unused centrifuges hasn't been solved.

++Senator Bob Menendez said the deal must be reviewed and approved by the Senate. He will put forward his legislation of additional sanctions on April 17. Menendez claims he will not allow Iran to become a threshold nuclear state.

++Louie Gohmert says we should bomb Iran now.

++The DailyKos has a piece today on the Regime Change in Iran Act of 2015 and the insanity of recent moves in Congress.

++I totally missed the budget amendment that passed 100 to 0 in the Senate that called for the reimposition of sanctions if Iran violated the interim deal or the upcoming deal.

++John McCain yesterday said that the only way you treat Obama is bully him. (Which is exactly the opposite of what has been successful.) he said that the Israelis should do what the Saudis did. The Saudis turned down the position on the Security Council out of protest over Obama's Syria policy and forced Obama to visit to make amends. McCain claims that Bibi should just bomb Iran and Obama would cave.

The Reactions Will Be Swift

++John Boehner has already said the House will not honor the Iran deal. 

++But Haaretz noted that Bibi's alienation of the Black Caucus make it virtually impossible for Boehner to muster up the 2/3rds needed to stop the deal. The same is being said about the Senate where it says that the Tehran Tom letter was seen as inspired by Bibi to attack President Obama. 

++With Chuck Schumer to be elevated by Harry Reid,some of the wind may have gone out of the Democrats too oppose the deal.

++I have to saw that the failure of the GOP to understand multilateralism sure flash warning signs to anyone considering voting for them in 2016. The unilateral world where the United States could be a hyper power disappeared rather rapidly minutes after America invaded Iraq. 

++It is simply not that world anymore.

++Bibi told his cabinet that the Iran-Laussane-Yemen Axis (Calling David Frum) is a threat to humanity. That's almost like Saddam Hussein having centrifuges the size of washing machines.

++The Washington Post yesterday raised concerns that Iran has not answered the IAEA questions about parts of the Iranian program from the early 2000s about the military aspect of their nuclear research. They quoted approvingly David Albright of CSIS about  the weakness of the agreement. 

++Maybe we can invade Iran for not having a nuclear weapon.

++One thing to point out--the lifting of the sanctions will benefit the Iranian military and the companies which they own. While the Iranian people will be relieved about the deal dissatisfaction will settle in and the Iranian people within a short time may resort to the Green revolution again. 

++The Obama Administration is playing the long game. It feels the Supreme Leader is mortally ill and that the fight over a successor will either paralyze the country's political elite or lead to real reform. Bibi is betting that Iran will go farther hard-line.

++Meanwhile in Egypt, the Arab League is forming a regional ground force. Putin sent the meeting a letter about stability on the region. The Saudi Foreign Minister responded that there can be no stability while he supports Assad in Syria.

++Patrick Cockburn writing in the Independent says the Saudi offensive in Yemen will not be the Decisive victory they want and that the stage is set for a full-out Sunni-Shiite war across the Middle east. 

Provisional Iranian Deal Reached

++In Lausanne, the P5+1 seems to have reach a provisional with Iran. Allegedly Iran has agreed to ship all enriched uranium to Russia where it would be processed into nuclear fuel and it would cut the number of centrifuges in half. 

++The ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United States said on television that the Saudis are tempted to build nuclear weapons because of this deal.

++Bibi said the deal is atrociously bad and that the Lausanne-Yemen axis threatens the Middle East.

++If the deal is really concluding in the next few days as expected,the P5+1 would have until June to work out the specific details.

++The debate is now about the pacing of the lifting of sanctions. The Security Council can vote top lift UN sanctions and the EU countries can list theirs. President Obama can list the sanctions in executive orders. But other sanctions must be lifted by a congressional vote. The last will probably not occur with Republican control of Congress. 

++I remember when Namibia became independent from South Africa and held a democratic election. It took two years to lift sanctions in the United States. So don't expect anything soon.

++This deal will need President Obama to address the country and explain what just happened. This is a major foreign policy achievement and he and the Administration will need to mount a full court press. They have to explain the limits of congressional oversight to this agreement.

++Thanks to Harry Reid,Chuck Schumer who has been against the deal is now boxed into backing his president or losing the post Reid said he could have.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Iran Deal Scheduled to be Signed Tuesday

++President Obama and Angela Merkel urged Iran to make the necessary concessions to seal a nuclear deal.

++Israeli officials denounced the deal as bad as did other Arab states.

++The Iran deal--which would be the basic agreement that would be hammered out by June--is scheduled to be signed on Tuesday.

++Francois Hollande says the France will be working on a Security Council resolution outlining the way to a Palestinian state.

++The State Department and Tony Blair (remember him) praised the government of Israel for finally releasing the tax money from the Palestinians back to the PA. 

++John Bolton says we should bomb Iran. If Iran cheats on the agreement and ends up with a bomb, it would equal about the time their program would need after Bolton bombed them. So the agreement avoids Iranian retaliation and collateral damage to American interests and may very well work.

++Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are invading Yemen and say they will clean up in a few days.

++Josh Marshall says there are pros and cons to this. We wanted Arab states to start taking initiatives against security threats without needing our forces. That's a good thing but the bad is that we don't control where and when sanctions take place.

++I was with many people today who oppose the Iran deal. They claim the Obama Administration doesn't seem to be concerned with the role of Pakistan in nuclear proliferation. I agree. They go on to say that because of the Iran deal, the Saudis will get a bomb from Pakistan. We know from the Economist they already have one pre-ordered. Also the Saudis have said that allowing Iran nuclear fuel, they should get some. 

Hapless Harry Reid To Retire

++Harry Reid, at the age of 75,is retiring in 2016. He was a target of the GOP for the last three elections and his injuries have made him re-think his previous statements about re-election. 

++Harry actually ushered in the most productive period of progressive legislation in the first two years of the Obama Administration.

++He effectively maneuvered Obamacare to passage. It now stands threatened by both the Senate and House budgets that eliminated it.

++Watch the GOP eliminate Obamacare through reconciliation. Remember that maneuver and how the GOP protested that the Democrats use it? They never did but the GOP would.

++Harry needs to save this one for his legacy as well as his ushering Obama's judges through the confirmation process.

Michael Lerner

++Michael Lerner has an article in Salon entitled "Bibi Netanyahu has pharaoh", invoking Passover and the plight of the Palestinians. More Palestinians died this year than at any since 1967.

++The Zionist Union wants the Israeli ambassador to Washington replaced. President Rivlin told Bibi his first task is to repair his relationship with the United States.

++Ambassador Dermer's attempts to assuage the Democrats have bombed so far.

++Remember the Tan Man Boehner is flying to israel for Easter and should promise Bibi that the GOP will block any deal with Iran.

By the Way

++John Kerry is back at Lausanne for the final leg of the talks with Iran on a nuclear deal. Iranian President Rouhani has been making a flurry of calls to international leaders to support a deal. The US is cagy about the terms but Salehi, the nuclear negotiator for Iran, says the technical aspect is done.

++Israel called for a postponement of the talks because Iran is actively engaging in Yemen on the side of the rebels. It was ignored.

++The investigative reporter who procured the Pentagon's assessment of the Israeli nuclear program through the Freedom of Information Act is now seen by the right to simply be an instrument of Obama getting even with Bibi. Which I guess took several years of filing until the time is right.

++John Kerry warned that if a deal isn't struck ,the centrifuges keep spinning and the sanctions fall away.He criticized the critics of the deal for never stepping up and providing a constructive alternative.

++Francois Hollande said that Iran had the right to produce nuclear fuel for energy but not for weapons and that France was working to ensure this.

++It seems that General Suleiman of the Revolutionary Guard may be Karla but as a general leaves much to be desired. He has been the commander for the three week offensive against ISIS in Tikrit but hasn't managed to seize the small town despite tremendous odds on his side. 

++Now the Iraqi government had to call in American air power for the siege. The Shi'ite militias are stranding down because they don't want to collaborate with the Americans.

++The Saudis and the Egyptians are now invading Yemen, which is in total chaos. Its President has fled, its National Defense Chief has been captured and the television stations seized. 

The Coming of the Bizarre

++I don't know about you but something is in the air. I guess it must be Easter that brings out all the Freedom of religion laws. 

++The Indiana law that would allow discrimination against LGBT people raises mind-boogling issues. We had this nonsense in the Hobby lobby case in the Supreme Court. 

++Do you have to prove your religion is homophobic to guarantee you the right to discriminate? If you are a Mormon , does this allow you to discriminate against blacks? 

++Governor Pence said there was no concrete situations that made this act necessary. So naturally he signed it.

++How about if someone discriminates against people thought to be gay but aren't? Can they sue? 

++What gaydar provides probative evidence that you are justified in discriminating? 

++We have the same religious freedom clause being inserted in the Senate that federal contractors for religious reasons can discriminate against gays and those advocating abortion. 

++Meanwhile in Arizona,there is a law saying that doctors can lie to women seeking abortions by saying its reversible? 

++In Mississippi,they just did away with those niceties and fired bombed the last abortion clinic in the state.

++Things are getting creepy.

++Governor Kasich says extending Medicaid is what Jesus wanted. Great way to govern.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My Day at the Senate

++I listened to two counter-terrorism academics, who had no military experience and only had previously lectured on conflict resolution.

++I heard Joe Leiberman, that Joe Lieberman, invoke JFK's "Don't Ask What Y0our Country Can Do For You" as some kind of mantra to fight in the Middle east.

++I heard a speaker express justifiable outrage at torture practiced by a Middle Eastern country. He listed all the techniques already published in the Senate report with no sense of irony.

++I heard the Bibi 'bad deal" invoked about dealing with Iran without any attribution.

++I heard the new Democratic Senator from Michigan claim that Senator Corker was not going to let Iran get away with  a nuclear agreement because Tehran only understood power. So more sanctions are necessary.

++I heard only passing references to ISIS because that was a minor problem compared to the sweeping gains of Tehran in the region.

++I heard that Iranian expansion was a sign Tehran was weak and on the verge of collapse.

++I heard one of our former generals in Iraq ,whom I respect, say we should still be there.

++And Senator Schumer showed up at the end to assure everyone that the Senate will vote for more sanctions after their break.

++What bothers me is that this was sort of the same discussion that we had before invading Tehran. A speaker mentioned that Tehran was no longer contained. Gee, I wonder how that happened.

++These perception are hard-baked into the political culture now. We haven't gotten to the breaking point but give it six months.

++There was no mention of the Authorization of Force before the Senate and no outright partisanship. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Keeping Palestinian Hopes Alive

++ The New York Times editorial page--that's all the editors--urge true United Nations not to veto the Security Council's resolution on Palestine, which the United States has done before. 

++The UN resolution calls for the creation of a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines and for the return of Palestinians. Some of the Palestinians would be allowed to return to Israel. 

++The New York Times reasons that this would forestall the Palestinians taking Israel to the ICC for war crimes. (I doubt it.)

++This is an amazing editorial in light of the diplomatic flap between Bibi and President Obama.

++If the United States gets a deal with Iran, I bet the US vetoes the resolution. If not, they will let it slide past.

++The Palestinians are talking this week about whether to continue their security agreements with Israel.

++The other proposal I have heard is for the United States to leak the Palestinian and Israel agreement reached when Livini was the negotiator and vetoed by Bibi.


++John Boehner denies he received intel from the Israelis and expressed shock at reading the Wall Street Journal piece on Israel's espionage efforts.

++The Guardian had a follow-up piece on the Israeli spying on the Iran talks.

++The Israeli Minister of Defense claims that Israel didn't pay and give intel to Congress.

++Bibi told Business Insider--"What did Obama think we wouldn't find out?"

++The European far-right parties are enthusiastic, according to Reuters, about Bibi's victory and his call out about Israeli Arabs.

++An Israeli defense official said," we won't see a Palestinian state in our lifetime." Reminds me of statements that we won't see same-sex marriage in our lifetime--something I believed.

Just When The Evisceration of Ted Cruz Begins, Another Story Pops Up

++Realclearpolitics,the New York Times,Bloomberg News, John Stewart parsed Ted Cruz' announcement speech and crushed it. Bloomberg goes on about how Ted Cruz is not a "Courageous Conservative" because someone with courage would challenge conservatives about needing the 11 million immigrants here,the right to privacy extends to women who choose abortion, and climate change is a disaster upon the world. 

++It was a full court media blitz on everything from Ted Cruz' wanting to abolish the IRS to the kids at Liberty University being fined for not attending. Even the Donald got in his birther licks and FOX News joked about Cruz' Canadian heritage.

++Josh Marshall yesterday at Talkingpointsmemo finally recalled Ted Cruz because they were in the same dorm at Princeton. With the help of Josh's wife who also went to Princeton and then went to Harvard Law School with him, Josh calls former students and they are say a "smart asshole".

++BUT the effigy burning ends because The Story emerges from Europe and hits the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post,the Telegraph (UK) and all the Israeli papers that Israel has been spying on the Iranian nuclear talks and became privy to private briefings among diplomats. 

++Ok,it's to be expected and the Obama Administration downplayed the spying part. But the kicker is that Israel leaked selected intel to our Congress to sabotage the deal. That's why Bibi said President Obama was mad at him for Iran, not Palestine. 

++Israel sort of denied the story but not really. It claimed it got information in other ways.

++Throw in Bibi's speech to the Iranian people not to accept the deal. You have some crazy business. 

++the Imperial Post yesterday ran two pieces against the nuclear deal--one by Gerson, W's speechwriter, and another by Michael Hayden and Ray Taykeh. It really gets curious.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Bibi Apologizes

++Bibi apologized to the Israeli-Arabs for his election day remarks.

++The White House ha said that Israel must end its 50 year occupation of Palestinian land.

++The Israeli ambassador was a no-show at the United Nations Human Rights Council's discussion of Israeli human rights violations in Gaza.

++The United States didn't show up to defend Israel.

++The International Court of Justice ruled again that the West Bank and Jerusalem are occupied by Israel.

++The Nation magazine revealed that the Pentagon has released under the Freedom of Information Act documents detailing Israel's nuclear arms program.

++Israeli ambassadors appeared in France to lobby for a tougher Iran nuke deal. The French who have become harder line recently said their demands were unrealistic.

++John McCain threatened the United Nations to cut off funds if they recognized Palestine.

++Sweeney Todd on Face the Nation interviewed the Palestinian representative who outlined their next diplomatic moves and he refused to distance the Palestinian Authority from Hamas.

++The American ambassador to Israel said that American policy was being reviewed.

++Bibi said the disagreement between him and President Obama was about the Iranian nuclear deal, and not over Palestine.

++Strangely Ambassador Dermer actually explained Bibi's position on the Palestinian talks which made sense but it appears too late to persuade anyone.

++Bibi received the support from a majority of the Knesset to remain being Prime Minister. He would become the longest in Israeli history,inching out david Ben-Gurion.

Ted Cruz at Liberty University

++Ted Cruz announced his presidential bid before an enthusiastic crowd at Liberty University. Jerry Falwell,the founder of Liberty University, believed 9/11 was caused by the Gay. 

++Ted Cruz came out firing at mythical dragons. He would save the "sacrament" of marriage,defend all Christians in their first amendment rights,defend everyone who owns a gun,defend Hobby Lobby (because they are big GOP donors), and not side with the Pharisees.

++His speech was right out of his father's prayer book. He is really aiming at being the candidate of the Religious Right. He said instead, "He was the conservative candidate for President."

Washington Post Poll

++President Obama is at 50% approval rating and 44% disapprove.

++The poll breaks down questions on the economy, immigration and executive actions. The poll is split on these issues. On actual policy recommendations, a majority support President Obama. Mysteriously,a majority believe GOP are better for general economic development but a majority believe President Obama is better for the middle class. A majority believe he is justified in using executive orders.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

He Can't Wait For Liberty University

++Rafael Cruz became the first declared candidate for the 2016 presidential elections.

++He couldn't wait for his speech so he announced before midnight tonight.

++Anna Marie Cox at the Daily Beast has a thought piece about what if Cruz means what he says. He is one of Polifacts Greatest Liars.

++Steve Benen who chronicled Mitt Romney's lies might be interested.

++Think Progress is already off and running on things you should know about Cruz. The best is that he thinks the United Nations is plotting to confiscate all of America's golf courses. He also fears the imposition of Sharia law on American citizens.

"The Sodomite Suppression Act"

++The Text for this monstrosity is to be in every public school classroom and it supersedes all other laws in California. Of course, it has to have enough signatures to qualify for the ballot and then pass muster with the California Supreme Court.

++The bill would call for all gays, lesbians and transgender people to be killed by a bullet to the head "or other convenient means".

++The preface reads:
"The abominable crime against nature known as buggery, called also sodomy,is a monstrous evil that Almighty God ,the giver of freedom and liberty,commands us to suppress on pain of our utter destruction even as he overthrew Sodom and Gomorrha (sic)."

++The lonely lawyer who is pushing this should have added in repealing Obamacare.

John McCain Tells Obama To Over His Temper Tantrum over Bibi

++John McCain who says it's alright if Bibi changes his mind over a two-state solution says that President Obama should get over his temper tantrum about Bibi's election.

++McCain was referring to President Obama's comments in his Huffington Post interview. Hardly an interview of someone throwing a temper tantrum.

++For a better take on the interview, read Juan Cole's translation of Drama Obama, a translation from Vulcan. Cole claims that Obama is the last Vulcan after Leonard Nimoy died and so he explains the Huffington Post interview. At commonsense.com, a fun read or at your nearest democratic blog.

++President Rivlin is meeting with the Israeli parties today and lamented Bibi's remarks about Arab-Israelis.

++Bill Maher sort of defended Bibi that his remarks weren't racist because the country is surrounded by people who have constantly waged war on it, as recently as last year,so it's not like Romney screaming that the blacks are voting in force.

++Haavertz editorials are analyzing the post-election environment and the prospects of international relations against an Israeli apartheid regime.President Obama had warned that such a situation is not sustainable.

++That gets to what American diplomatic moves may be but also how to influence Palestinian behavior. It's not like there is a Palestinian Nelson Mandela.

I Don't Need No Stinkin' Exploratory Committee

++Rafael Cruz,the Senator from Canada, will announce his candidacy for presidency tomorrow at Liberty University,the campground of former Rev. Falwell. Maybe his Dominionist preacher father will host the festivities.

++Josh Marshall welcomes his entrance into the race as he was a classmate one year removed. But more importantly,Cruz becomes the first modern candidate that didn't create an exploratory committee.

++That's even more impressive than when Dick Cheney vetted himself to become Vice-President.

++While Cruz has verbally renounced his Canadian citizenship,has he completed the paperwork?

++Jerry Brown,the only candidate for President in my book, told Sweeney Todd that Cruz' statements on climate change made him unfit for politic office. I like Brown's new cranky persona. Run, Jerry, Run!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Saturday Take-Outs

++You can't take it away from him. President Obama is cool in Miles Davis cool. He gave two terrific interviews with Vice and Huffington Post. If we had passed everything he wanted, we would be a far better place. 

++Lindsey Graham now threatens the UN Security Council with cutting off UN funding if they agree to the Iranian nuclear deal.

++Senator Corker says his new Iran sanction bill will pass and be veto-proof.

++Josh Marshall gets a kick out of Steven King accusing American Jews as being democrats first and Jews second in their support for Israel. Steven Israel responds in a twitter war with King saying he is "meshugana."

++AIPAC is having cardiac arrest. It is urging President Obama to be nice to Bibi on his re-election.

++Tehran Tom wants to punish countries who accept Gitmo prisoners. 

++Doug Bandow, a libertarian, writes in Huffington Post that the Beltway pundits are beginning to say the same things about war and forgetting that doing stupid things endlessly only makes things worse.

++Don't look at the GOP budget. It is insane. It has two asterisks ,according to Paul Krugman, which total $2 trillion more of debt. They want to repeal Obamacare, which would cost $220 million in the first year alone and $5 trillion of debt reduction through 2020. And the American people don't get anything. 

++Governor Scott of Florida got rid of climate change literally. He wants anyone using the term in government to get help for mental illness. The words can not be used. Carl Hiassen in the Miami Herald did a funny column on all the real euphemisms used in Florida for environmental degradation. 

++You know Bibi is a Republican because he hasn't organized a government yet. Josh Marshall writes about some who may join him who are now driving hard bargains. The task is to get the extreme right parties away from the government.

++The EU has submitted their report on the West Bank and Jerusalem and notes increased polarization in the last year.

++The ACLU finally won their case for they release of the thousands of photos of prisoner abuse in Iraq. The court has given the Obama Administration two months to file an objection.

++The Loretta Lynch vote is supposed to come up the end of April after the Spring break,making her the longest waiting nominee for Attorney General in our history. That's because she's overqualified.

++Senator McConnell asked all states to ignore the current EPA rules on power plants. His own state of Kentucky refuses.

++NPR ran a show that Hillary Clinton is the most qualified candidate for President of the United States in a long time. The Gallup poll shows that she is held in high-esteem by both men and women. The CNN/ORC poll shows she's about 10 points ahead of any GOP challengers.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

What A Difference A Day Makes

++The Iranian nuclear deal is lowdown in written form as much of the brush has been cleared away.

++The Senate now has postponed the bill for additional sanctions to sometime after their upcoming  Spring break.

++Bibi had to go on all the American networks to swear he really is for a two state solution while no one is buying it. President Obama did congratulate him for "winning a plurality in the Knesset" but the White House is livid about Bibi's stance on the two-state solution.

++Republicans are still trying to find out why President Obama isn't acting as a lame duck--yet. If their Tehran Letter didn't blow up like a trick cigar,there budget is igniting a huge inter-party war.

++Basically the US' position is that our military and intelligence programs with Israel remain the same. They are guaranteed a ten-year deal. Only now the United States is mulling over its stance at the United Nations. All the hubbub about our relationship with Israel is rather moot at this point but we'll learn the price of Bibi's games later. The New York Times and Washington Post played "kiss and make-up" today in their editorials and op-eds. But in fact no one has to do anything.

++I want to know where the authorization of military force comes in. The noise in town is that the Senate can't figure out whom we are at war with. Hence the delay in the vote on war. 

CNN Poll--Obama A Success

++50% rate Obama's presidency a success; 47% a failure. But of that 37% said it was his own actions,9% because Congress blocked him.

++53% said things were going well in the country, 46% badly. When he came in office , 21% said it was going well,79% it was going badly.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Inspired by Allen Ginsberg

++A vote for Bibi is a vote for Fun!

++A darker perspective is provided by Gideon Levy in Haaretz. He says that hope in Israel is dirt. He said that Bibi marketed fear and all hail the victor. Every centrifuge is the holocaust. Can't go wrong.Check it out. Still one of the best writers in Israel. 

More Reax to Israeli Election

++J Street sees the re-election of Bibi as a threat to Israel's Shield--that is America's role at the United Nations to side-track anti-Israel resolutions and to veto more noxious ones. J Street sees the United States going more international in putting pressure on Bibi on the Palestinian issue.

++Fred Kaplan, who doesn't just us WASPs, writes in Slate "Israel Just Lost".Kaplan's point is that Bibi by doubling down on his stance against Israeli Arabs and the Palestinians puts the country into a box. Expect to see the disinvestment movement to become mainstream in our discourse.

++"Bibi Wins,Israel Loses" by Jonathan Alter repeats the themes of most of our op-eds that Bibi took the expedient way but left Israel with longer ,more durable troubles, particularly in the Western world.

++The Imperial Post thinks Bibi brought alot of grief on Israel. But, of course, this makes an Iranian nuclear deal harder?

++What makes the deal harder was that the GOP wants to jump the gun on additional sanctions and this plays into the Iranian hard-liners who can just blame the Zionists and call the whole thing off.

++The United States just took Iran and Hezbollah off the terrorist list. I wish there were objective criteria for both the "terrorist countries" and the "terrorist groups". On both the United States gives them credit for fighting ISIS.

The Israeli Elections Aftermath

++The Times of Israel writes that pressure will resume on Israel but it may not be that bad.

++The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the occasional Washington Post op-ed felt the election was awful and Bibi cynical.

++Tehran Tom Cotton was the first Republican who said that Bibi's no Palestinian state was practical. John McCain said that he preferred a two-state solution but isn't bothered that Bibi changed his mind.

++An Israeli writes Josh Marshall about what is Likud thinking that Israel will survive while there are boycotts against it and its leaders can only fly to the United States because they are wanted by the ICC. Do they really think the Palestinians will abandon their hope for statehood and accept their meager fate? What is the Likud excuse--that they want to avoid an Islamic terrorist state next door? Then why wait ten or twenty years? For what?

++Almost at the same time as Michael Tomasky's column tab the DailyBeast, Jonathan Chait in New York magazine wrote a piece about Bibi moving far right and embracing the fate of a garrison state that appeals only to right-wing Republicans.

++Ed Kilgore thinks Bibi acted like George Wallace while J.Goldberg at the Atlantic bemoans his embrace of Lee Attwater dog whistles against the Israeli Arabs.

++Should Bibi be seen as a radical factional leader leading a small state? Another writer questions.

++John Kerry called to congratulate Bibi but didn't talk about anything. President Obama's spokesman said that Obama would call him after his created his coalition but the President was bothered by his any-Arab language. 

++The interesting question is that both the White House and the State Department have openly questioned the need to change policy on the peace negotiations. The question is when and if to use our vetoes at the United Nations when the issue of Palestine arises. But avoiding the veto,President Obama throws the ball back at Bibi in a way that makes it impossible for him to govern.

++Thomas Friedman writes that the day of a Palestinian state is rapidly fading. Historically, he doesn't buy Bibi's line but thinks from a practical point of view it is not possible.

++I am seeing the scenario rapidly developing where Israel faces the resistance by the international community that South Africa had to deal with. I can see the pro-apartheid forces lining up right now. The Christian Right,the GOP,and the business community. The situation will take years to play out in the United States but in Europe the momentum is already there. I expect Palestine to be recognized by several European states this year after Sweden's initiative. I also expect Palestine to bring war crimes accusations against Israel for Gaza and the United Nations Human Rights Council to step up pressure on Israel. 

++I also expect to see the taboo about speaking or writing about the Israeli Lobby to fall rather quickly. I also expect that some people in the Beltway will press to have AIPAC register as a "foreign agent". 

++William Brennen, writing for the Atlantic Council,suggested that President Obama appeared weak and vacillating on the Bibi Iran speech and that if he had spoken up and slammed Bibi's interference in our domestic affairs things would have been different. I humbly disagree because President Obama knows that he is detested in Israel and the results in the election would have been the same. It was clear that President Obama wanted a different result but as the LA Times said, we don't tell people in other countries whom to vote for--But now that it's done we can make ourselves be heard.

++Does Bibi's election really affect President Obama's remaining days? I doubt it. He doesn't have to answer the phone calls. And what is it that we have to do on the agenda with Israel--just the Palestinian talks. While Bibi thinks he should have the final say on the Iranian nuclear talks,his election probably diminishes his influence considerable, except among the GOP.

The Israeli Elections

++Josh Marshall at Talkingpointsmemo has the must read piece on the elections since he was the only blogger who understands Israeli politics. His point was that Bibi made a cynical but accurate move in the last few days of the election when polls weren't allowed. 

++He raised the alarm that the foreign countries, the NGOs and others were trying to defeat him, he appealed to the racist voter in Israel by his attacks on Israeli Arabs, asserted there would be no Palestinian state on his watch. This resulted in a late surge by the end of the day from the right parties. 

++Basically,the polls weren't off because they had calibrated the right votes accurately. Josh says that the right voter made a rational decision to shift toward Bibi. 

++Hence you got the astounding comeback.

++Sadly,this leaves Israel more isolated internationally,its alliance with the United States fraying and Israel in a more perilous situation strategically.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Haavetz Results With 99% of the vote Counted

++Likud at 30 and Zionist Union with 24. The Arab list comes in third. So much for President Rivlin saving the day.

Michael Tomasky's Horrible Prediction

++In the Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky points out that if Bibi does form the government, expect a certain curious things to happen to the Republicans. He says it won't be overnight but given Sheldon Adelson's bankrolling of GOP candidates and the Christian-Zionist movement, expect the GOP to accept Bibi's "no Palestinian state" as their platform.

++Many have suspected Bibi of not supporting a two state solution. But this has been a pillar of American foreign policy for 25 years starting with George H.W. Bush. Failure to achieve this has resulted in many American strategists saying it is a sore point with the Arab states. But forget about it. We're an empire we create our own reality.

++This will be an inevitable consequence of the Bibi and GOP love affair. It will also ruinously politicized the issue of support for Israel for the future. Tomasky pointed to a resolution that had 25 sponsors in the House that Israel comprised all of Judea and Samaria. It got nowhere last year. But I won't be surprised if it surfaced again.

++For their part,the Palestinians have looked at the Israel election results and are moving ahead on the diplomatic front on the ICC membership. That Israel missed the opportunity to make a deal with Mahmoud Abbas will seem in the future as unforgiveable. 

++With the real security threats posed by non-state actors against Israel,it is curious to note that the Palestinians still hold to the state model as their diplomatic efforts show. Keeping 900,000 under occupation is a recipe for disaster--especially after several false starts toward a negotiated settlement. If the Palestinians abandon their mission toward statehood, the next Intifida will make then others look like child's play. 

The Frozen Chosen Accept Same Sex Marriage

++The Presbyterian Church changed their constitution to allow same sex marriages. For the frozen chosen, this is a big deal.

Don't Tell Anyone, Isaac Herzog Is Still Trucking

++Heading into the morning hours,Isaac Herzog is not even hinting at concession. 

++He tell Haavetz that the exit polls tell him that the Zionist Union can create a government of social reconciliation. Apparently the other center-left parties did well enough to consider a coalition.

++Herzog said labor hasn't done as well since Rabin won. 

++The exil polls indicate that early polling on Zionist Union was correct--they got 27 seats. One blogger at the Daily Kos noted there is a mysterious 4-6 mandate hole in any Israeli election and Bibi was the beneficiary of that this time. But the right lost seats since the last election.

Congratulations, Israel

++The Turnout was 71.8%. 

++Now all the party leaders are kibitzing. 

Maybe Smoke

++At 11p.m. Israeli time,a Likud spokesperson said that Bibi would work with Herzog to form a national unity government and would make the necessary sacrifices to get Herzog on board, including dumping Liberman. 

++Just a half an hour before,Kahlanu turned Bibi down and Meretz, which received 5 seats, warned Herzog not to enter into a coalition with Bibi.

++It's very easy to see a centrist government cobbled together out of the results.

But Wait

++Bibi learned W's lesson-Declare victory. AP reports that he has and is seeking to form a right-wing coalition.

++But the Forward has gamed this out and has a Herzog-led coalition three mandates ahead.

++The Zionist Union is still saying they are cautiously optimistic and that Herzog is waiting to hear what parties made it pass the wire to start forming a coalition.

++President Rivlin is clearly the only one who is right--they need to create a national unity government. 

Reflections on Israel's Elections

++Ed Kilgore trusts his sources and thinks Bibi stands the best chance of forming a coalition. 

++Josh Marshall says Israeli exit polls are better than here and that Bibi made a huge comeback. But that comeback came at the expense of gutting the far right parties. He sees maximum coalition of 63 mandates for a Likud led party.

++The BBC thinks a Bibi led coalition only has 1 to 2 years lifespan because parties will drop out over his abrasive governing style.

++If a national unity government were created, the Arab List would become the single major opposition party as it came in third. And will not be allowed to join a coalition of either the right or left.

++A Bibi-led coalition would doom any peace talks with the Palestinians. Not so sure for any Iranian nuclear deal.

Israel's Election Ends

++The sit polls either show 27-27 or Likud at 28 to Zionist Union at 27.

++President Rivlin has called for a national unity government. Bibi and Bennett are planning a right-wing government. 

++Official results won't be published until the end of the week. Most observers say that Bibi's last days of campaigning turned it around for Likud. 

++So we don't know.

66% by 8p.m. Israeli time--largest turnout since 1999

Aaron Schock Resigns From Congress Because Of Allegations About Finances

CNN/ORC Poll On Iranian Deal

++68% of Americans favor talks with Iran;29% oppose them

++77% Democrats support talks,65% of Republicans; and 64% of Independents

++49% said the GOP was wrong in sending Tehran letter.

++39% said that the letter harmed the talks.

++48% trust President Obama in the Iran talks;39% support his critics.

News From the Front-lines

++Ynet has an article saying Bibi's claims about the Arab vote are false. Arab communities have about a 45% turnout ,or about 1% down from previous elections. Bibi is claiming that American money is driving the Arabs to the polls.

++Josh Marshall says all us political junkies are bound to be disappointed by the jigsaw puzzle of this election. He notes that Bibi closed extreme right and racist. Rumors have Likud closing the gap between the two parties. Josh still leans to Bibi forming a new coalition, which will be marginal right-wing but says that Bibi's era will need in one year's time.

++We are now at lags in the Israeli media and J Street. Polls close at 6pm Eastern time in the States.

Goodbye, Grandpa Bibi

++The Election Commission nixed Bibi's early evening request to talk to the nation live on television. Bibi said he will not be silent. My, he likes Facebook. He blathered about foreigners buying votes and Arabs voting. Ed Kilgore at the Washington Monthly says he reminds him of early Georgian politicians crying about the "Black bloc."

55% by 6PM, slightly less than 2013

The Best Coverage Of the Iranian Nuclear Deal

++In the last few weeks,the Imperial Post's coverage of the Iranian nuclear deal was buried as some side note in the paper. But I noticed the coverage was actually good, expanding on others' focus on personalities or GOP reactions.

++The pieces were as technical as the average reader could understand. Today,Carol Morello does it again with a front-page piece that reports that Ali Akbar Salehi said that the so-called "technical issues" about how the plan would be implemented. Morello reports that the Western response was more muted.

++What makes the piece interesting is that she writes about the different tests the United States has devised to test each step of the agreement and the models it uses for verification. 

++In other words, this is a very complicated negotiation with expertise well beyond Tehran Tom and the Republican Senators. 

++I hope by the end of this process that Carol Morello gets a Pulitzer for her clear,concise descriptions of the real process and not the imaginary one.

36.5% by 2Pm in Israel

Early Turnout Huge in Israeli Election

++By noon 26.5% of Israel had voted with a large turnout of Israeli Arabs. Bibi warned that the Zionist Union was busing Arabs to the polls--sound familiar to the GOP complaints in 2012?

++The ultra orthodox Chief rabbi made a point of not voting that sent a signal to the ultra-right religious parties.

++At Think Progress Igor Volsky writes perceptively that the GOP has a problem when Bibi denounced a Palestinian state. The two state solution has been a consensus position in the United States,Israel and the international community. John Boehner had actually commented that Bibi would make bold steps in this area. Apparently not. It was one comment that further would isolate Israel in an election all the elite agreed meant that Israel would have to repair international relations.

++Oh and Chuck Norris endorsed Bibi--again. I wonder how this late minute celebrity endorsements from Americans go over.

++I'll check in over the day to see what happens. Israelis are saying the day of Bibi is over even if there is a unity government.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Zionist Union Could Have a Big Night

++The Times of Israel estimates that 80% of the Israeli electorate will vote. When the turnout is 70+ the leftist parties do well. They credit the response to V15, which has been doing Obama-style micro-targeting. So much so that Bibi mentioned by name and urged Likud supporters to go door-to-door.

++Meanwhile John Bolton writes in the Wall Street Journal that after Obama leaves office another President could attack Iran, claiming self-defense and that we could veto the Security Council resolutions condemning us. I'll just leave that where it is.

Bibi Says Nix On Palestine

++Bibi tries to rustle up the religious right  by promising there will be no Palestinian state while he is Prime Minister. He said he won't let Bethlehem surround Jerusalem? He also promised to build more settlements in Jerusalem. He also said that Herzog and Livini would allow the Palestinians to declare Jerusalem their capital. (Not)

++Josh Marshall, probably the only blogger left who understands Israeli politics,gives us a glimpse at Herzog's problems in cobbling together a coalition. Josh freely admits that the Israeli elites are fed up with Bibi but that Herzog's task is more difficult than Bibi's in trying to create a governing coalition. 

++The reports out of Israel is that the President can't stand Bibi personally and politically and might insist on a unity government is the results are close. The President usually chooses who he thinks can put together a coalition. This doesn't depend on the vote count.

Bibi Kills Dondi's illustrator--Pass It On!

++Dondi's illustrator died at the age of 93. The Hebrew Hammer Al Rosen died at the age of 91. Time to investigate Bibi's role in this.

++Ed Kilgore at the Washington Monthly raises the question for most of us--what would a Bibi defeat mean for the GOP? Basically all of the GOP's foreign policy rests on Netanyahu. What happens if he is debated by the Zionist-Union? Are they not Israeli enough? Would the GOP keep insisting on supporting Israel? One of the disturbing things this past weekend was a banner ad that surfaced from the rightwing--that asked "Should we continue to back Israel?" 

++Parties other than Likud have raised the issue that Israel has to repair its relationships with  the world. It's incredible to remember that George Mitchell, remember him?, persuaded the Arab League to simultaneously recognize the state of Israel if Bibi would "talk"--"just talk with Mahmoud Abbas. Of course he didn't. Israel thought they had a strong covert alliance with Turkey but then they sank the ferryboat during the Gaza flotilla. By the end of Bibi's tenure,the disinvest and boycott movement has picked up momentum and Western Europe seems on the urge of recognizing Palestine. Unrelated to Bibi has been the rise of anti-semiticism because of the rise of radical right parties. I'll say Israel has to repair  relations. Right now, it has talks with Egypt and bitching sessions with the Saudis over Iran.

++But where does this leave the GOP? Last election Mitt Romney said he would leave American foreign policy in the Middle east in the hands of Bibi. That is a sentiment widely shared by the Republicans. Without Bibi, the wall comes down and the GOP flounders.

++Maybe John Boehner can repair relations by inviting Isaac Herzog to address Congress. Fat chance. But the Senate will push the investigation of who funded Bibi's opposition.

++But Kilgore's question remains unanswered and maybe unanswerable. I find it hard to believe that the GOP will welcome Labor.