Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Iran's Charade

Is the deal with Iran an historic mistake?

So far this administration has bumbled domestic policy with ObamaCare leading the way. Consequently, the president’s approval rating is at an all-time low.  As of November 25, 2013, 60% of Americans disapprove of the job he is doing.[1]  Now we are sealing our fate across the international community with our attempt to appease the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Iran.

In case you missed it, there are significant tensions between Iran and the United States. In 1953, the U.S. played an important role in orchestrating the coup that removed the democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister Mossadeqh from power. The U.S. installed the Shah (Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi) who fled after 25 years to the U.S. and then the Iran Hostage Crisis (part of the Islamic Revolution) followed in 1979 and endured for 444 days until the day President Reagan took office.  We experienced Iran Contra under Reagan where weapons were secretly shipped to Iran and profits illegally channeled to Nicaraguan rebels creating the most memorable scandal of the Reagan presidency.

The history between the two nations is longstanding and Iran’s desire to make a nuclear bomb, in part, to annihilate the only U.S. ally in the Middle East, Israel, is well documented. 

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeated in 2012, as reported by Israel Today, that the primary foreign policy goal of his government is to see the Jewish state (Israel) erased from the map of the Middle East.

"The Zionist regime [is] a cancerous tumor," Ahmadinejad told millions of Iranians. "Even if one cell of them is left in one inch of (Palestinian) land, in the future this story (of Israel’s existence) will repeat. The nations of the region will soon finish off the usurper Zionists in the Palestinian land... A new Middle East will definitely be formed."[2]

This is the backdrop for why the deal struck in Geneva this past Sunday must be highlighted as a crowning failure of U.S. foreign policy if indeed that is intended to thwart the progress of a nuclear Iran.

Last week, our new Secretary of State and failed candidate for President of the United States, John Kerry, flew in for his ‘photo opp’ to support the deal struck in Geneva between Iran, Russian, Great Britain, Germany, France, and China.  Hailed by President Obama as a first step towards resolution of a decade-long impasse over Iran’s nuclear program, Iran agreed, in part, to suspend enrichment of uranium above a 5% level during the next 6 months; it agreed to cease construction of the Arak heavy-water reactor (dam) which is a key element in producing plutonium; and Iran agreed to allow inspection of Iran-chosen chemical plants.[3]  In exchange, United Nations’ sanctions are reduced to the tune of $7 billion by most estimates which President Obama facilitated by his executive power and without Congress.

Iranian clerical Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei endorsed the deal. And why shouldn’t he?  Iran gives nothing substantial and gets time and money to meet its goal of becoming a nuclear power while the U.S. actually believes the regime is an honest broker.  (We did this dance already with North Korea.  A wise man once said, “Fool me once, shame on me.  Fool me twice, shame on me.”  The U.S. is being fooled-again.)

Here is the problem with the deal:  Taking uranium from 5% back to weapon-grade 20% only takes 8 days so the suspension at 5% is meaningless; the Arak dam is actually still under construction and therefore there is no huge concession albeit a necessity; and the inspection sites are chosen by the regime which leaves other more probable enrichment sites untouched.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the most seasoned statesman in any room he’s in, said on Monday, “What was achieved last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement, it was a historic mistake”[4] [because]  the accord leaves intact Iran’s nuclear fuel-producing infrastructure, he said.

He poignantly added, "Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world took a significant step towards obtaining the world's most dangerous weapon.ӌ

Now for a comprehensive agreement with verification, transparency, and accountability,[5] Kerry said.  Good luck with that Mr. Secretary.

[1] /         http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Hillary-Clinton-Chris-Christie-2016-Cuomo-New-York-Obama-Approval--233311891.html
[2] /         http://www.israeltoday.co.il/NewsItem/tabid/178/nid/23348/language/en-US/Default.aspx
[3] /         http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2013/11/one-more-thing-the-obama-administration-isnt-telling-you-about-the-iran-deal.php#!
[4] /         http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/24/us-iran-nuclear-idUSBRE9AI0CV20131124
[5] /              http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/24/us-iran-nuclear-idUSBRE9AI0CV20131124

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Let’s Talk T.E.A. Party

Photo courtesy of www.bernardgoldberg.com
Do you believe Bernie Goldberg that Tea Party members are the true R.I.N.O.’s?

Bernie Goldberg on Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor, in the context of discussing the viability of  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as a presidential candidate,  said that Tea Party members are the true RINO’s (or “Republicans in Name Only”) and not Chris Christie, [as he has been called by many on the Right].  Goldberg said, to call anyone to the [ideological] left of Senator Ted Cruz, [as Christie may arguably be described by Tea Party members], a RINO is an insult.  He went on to say, the Tea Party members and members of the hard Right are the real RINO’s because their allegiance is not to the Republican Party, but to their particular brand of conservatism.

Goldberg, whose opinion I typically agree with, concluded that if the Republican Party nominates a candidate the Tea Party sees as moderate (meaning less than conservative or a RINO), they will likely stay home and give Hillary Clinton a victory.   His advice, in part, was for the Tea Party to not be as rigid as they are and he inherently implied the Tea Party must compromise their values and join the Republican old guard in order to win the presidential election. He gave no such advice to the establishment Republicans like John McCain who recently praised Hillary Clinton, the presumed Democratic nominee for president in 2016, for being an “outstanding” Secretary of State.

Notwithstanding the absurdity of Sen. McCain’s remark, perhaps Goldberg thinks that praising your opponents leading up to an election is a good way to win.

So what does the Tea Party stand for?

First it is important to recall the genesis of the Tea Party movement.  The movement was in response to the multiple bailouts started by President George W. Bush and expanded by President Barack Obama in 2009.  T.E.A. stood for then and now-Taxed Enough Already.

Secondly, there are multiple Tea Party groups across the country.  There is no central leadership.  They consider themselves to be champions of Constitutional principles.  While the Tea Partiers are routinely labeled as racists by the Left or worse as “Tea Baggers” (which is a sexual term), they were instrumental in taking back the House of Representatives in 2010 where 60 representatives were elected making that the biggest midterm election seat swap in the House since 1938.[1]  In that election, the Republicans picked up 6 Senate seats and 7 governorships.   Of those candidates who received Tea Party support, 50% were elected to the Senate and 31% to the House[2] in many cases defeating establishment Republicans.

Meanwhile, in the Fall of 2011 the Liberal establishment was hell bent on praising the Occupy Wall Street movement largely ineffective but memorable for the rapes of women and general lawlessness during the eight weeks the movement endured against the “greedy bankers.”[3]

In any event, one Tea Party group in particular, the Tea Party Express, stands for six principles. 
  • No more bailouts
  • Reduce the size and intrusiveness of government
  • Stop Raising our taxes
  • Repeal Obamacare
  • Cease out-of-control spending
  • Bring back American Propserity[4]
I suppose if Goldberg has his way, this particular Tea Party group should do what? Agree to grow government spending with an already unsustainable national debt in excess of $7 trillion. Agree to continue raising taxes and redistribute wealth to the nearly 43.3%[5] of American households who don’t make enough to pay federal income taxes. Or give up on repealing Obamacare the biggest and most unaffordable entitlement program in recent history.

Notwithstanding the Tea Party’s impact on the 2010 midterm election, there are social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and evangelicals – all conservatives of one kind or another-in the Republican Party who will all have a say in electing the next Republican presidential nominee. Conservatism is not limited to Tea Party members.

I don’t know Goldberg, maybe you should be advising the establishment Republicans (or the moderates), who may soon be outnumbered by true conservatives thanks to ongoing collapse of Obamacare, to stop acting like Liberals, support the Constitution and start embracing true conservatism which is at the heart of the Republican Party.  After all, what good is a Republican who acts like a Democrat!

[1] /              http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/morning-fix/2010-election-republican-score.html
[2] /              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_history_of_the_Tea_Party_movement
[3] /              http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/09/nyregion/at-occupy-wall-street-protest-rising-concern-about-crime.html?_r=0
[4] /              http://www.teapartyexpress.org/mission
[5] /              http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxtopics/federal-taxes-households.cfm

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Obama Fairytale

Photo Courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org
3.5 million Americans have cancellation notices from their insurance carriers as reported by the Associated Press[1] signaling the tsunami coming to another 12.5 million Middle Class Americans.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, a close friend, who happens to be a Democrat, said there was one thing he just could not tolerate (as he went on to malign Mitt Romney without any basis in fact) and that was for a politician to lie to his face.  He was quite emphatic and indignant over the notion of being lied to.  Indeed, he described political lies as the unpardonable sin. In his mind, Mitt Romney was an unrepentant Republican liar. (Of course we all know Mitt Romney waffled on his conservative bona fides but a liar? - I wouldn’t say so.)

Most people who paid any attention at all to the 2008 campaign promises of Barack Obama have to look back in wonderment.  The Hope and Change he promised has actually turned into a fairy tale, in the prophetic words of former president Bill Clinton.

The Promises
  • He promised to have the most transparent presidency in history (meaning no more politics-as-usual, no back door dealing but open and honest brokering for the American people);
  • He swore to tape all negotiations on C-Span so the American people could see the sausage being made;
  • He repeatedly said he would go through the federal budget line-by-line and cut out all wasteful spending and keep lobbyists out of the White House;
  • He promised to close Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and to reform the Patriot Act created under Bush doing away with the spying powers so many liberals hated; and
  •  He promised to provide health care for all Americans.

With both houses of Congress controlled by Democrats in his first two years, President Obama had every opportunity to fulfill his promises. He hasn’t.

Every single campaign promise stated above remains unfulfilled and now it’s clear the president sold America a Bill of Goods.

The Truth
  •  Lobbyists meet with the administration at Jackson Place just off the White House campus to avoid detection;
  • The stall tactics still persist today from the Department of Justice and State Department over Benghazi and Fast & Furious;
  • The IRS targeting the nonprofit applications of conservative groups remains unexplained;
  • The NSA spies on Americans in violation of the Fourth Amendment;
  • Guantanamo Bay isn’t even close to closing;
  • The Congress has yet to pass a federal budget under President Obama;
  •  The president failed to reform the Patriot Act but rather expanded it;
  •  And C-Span…well, you get the drift.

Although former president and Democrat Bill Clinton was right that it was all a fairytale, I concede President Obama is not the first politician and won’t be the last to over promise and under deliver after winning a campaign.

Of the broken promises, however, one hallmark promise has now turned out to be a big fat lie.  The president said, “if you’ve got health insurance, you like your doctors, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan. Nobody is talking about taking that away from you.”

Now, 3.5 million Americans, so far, have been dropped from their private healthcare plans because their existing policies do not square with the specifications of the new healthcare law. More specifically, the new law requires maternity, new born, mental illness and hospital visit coverage, to name a few, that you may not need but are now mandated to have.[2] (What if you cannot have children or do not suffer from mental illness?) Because of the law, the federal government is the barometer for whether your health insurance is adequate; if not, the insurance company has no choice. You are canceled!

Okay, okay.  So what was the lie, I mean, promise again?  Here it is:  "Let me be exactly clear about what health care reform means to you," the president told residents of the Garden State. "First of all, if you've got health insurance, you like your doctors, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep you plan.  Nobody is talking about taking that away from you."[3]

Unfortunately, these words now ring hollow. Besides the fact Americans are actually losing the plans and the doctors they have, it was recently revealed by NBC News that the Obama administration was informed by industry experts more than three years ago that 50-75% of nearly14 million Americans (out of 19 million) who buy their insurance individually would in fact lose their medical coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”).[4]  Perhaps in response, the administration created a policy within the ACA that insurance policies in existence on March 23, 2010 would be “grandfathered” (meaning not subject to the law) and thus remain in place even if they did not meet the new law’s coverage requirements.  However, that provision was later undermined by the Department of Health and Human Services that wrote regulations that limited the ability of a policy to be grandfathered if there was a change in deductible, co-pay or coverage.  Consequently, the first wave of cancellation letters kicked off in August of this year for 3.5 million Americans. 

Now with this revelation, it is clear.  Americans were lied to by the president and all of the Democrats who lined up and voted for the ACA.  Incidentally, the ACA passed with no Republican support.
Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post awarded the president’s most famous statement of his presidency four Pinocchios[5] reserved only for a whopper [of a lie]. I find no pleasure in calling the president out on this. This is not a partisan issue but one effecting all Americans Blue and Red alike.

To my dear friend, does your disdain for lying politicians stop at Mitt Romney or can we now agree that we are living a fairytale fraught with broken promises and at least one big fat shameful lie?      

[1] /              http://bigstory.ap.org/article/sticker-shock-often-follows-insurance-cancellation
[2] /              http://bigstory.ap.org/article/sticker-shock-often-follows-insurance-cancellation
[5] /              http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2013/10/30/obamas-pledge-that-no-one-will-take-away-your-health-plan/