Sunday, April 19, 2015

Is Obama laying the groundwork for a cave-in to Iran?

In Obama's latest press conference, in response to a question about the Iran negotiations and the obvious conflict between Obama's claims that sanctions would only be phased out over time contrasted to Iran saying all the sanctions had to be lifted on the first day of signing the deal, Obama said there "would have to be some creative negotiations".
For those who need the translation,  based on Obama's history,"creative negotiations"  means figuring out a way make concessions to Iran and then try and lie about it to everyone else by pretending they're not concessions just so he can claim he made a deal. 
Obama knows he's not going to fool the Ayatollah and the Iranian leadership with "creative negotiations" that are less than what Iran has insisted on publicly.  For Obama, coming up with "creative negotiations" is more about trying to fool the Washington press corps, members of congress, the American people or groups like MoveOn, Daily Kos and ThinkProgress who are the easiest for him to fool. 
Iran has said clearly they will accept no deal unless all the sanctions, all of them, are lifted immediately, on day one of signing the deal. Nothing less. They also made it clear from both their political and military leadership that there will be no unfettered inspections and military sites will be off limits. Those inspections are supposed to determine if Iran is complying with the agreement which are supposed to be tied to the lifting of sanctions and are to take place anywhere at any time. Iran has said they will never agree to that. 
 So what does Obama have in mind by "creative negotiations"?
The term " creative accounting"  comes to mind,  a wink and a euphemism for a sleight of hand or something of borderline legality.  Or creatively trying to circumvent reality and the truth. 

There are no creative ways around reality.  Creativity is all about bringing new ideas into reality. Not lying about failed ones.
And any  thought that Iran's defiant position on sanctions and inspections is only for public consumption in Iran as some have suggested,  is preposterous. The Iranian leadership doesn't have to worry about a free press or free elections or public opinion.  They are accountable to no one.  

When they make statements as unequivocal as their stated positions on the framework,  it's because they have no intention of backing down and looking weak and foolish to the world and home. 

A red line could have been drawn from the beginning so Iran always knew that sanctions would be  phased out only gradually over time based on Iran's compliance.  And to insure compliance there would have to be unfettered inspections anywhere any time since Iran had been caught lying and cheating before.   Iran could have been told those terms were non-negotiable.  Maybe don't call it a red line since Assad already knows what  that means coming from Obama and so does Iran.  But the terms of  lifting of sanctions and the inspections should have been a non-negotiable part of any agreement from the beginning,  not as Kerry once called it,  "sticking points".
Iran is not going to sign any deal that does not lift all the sanctions immediately. And they are not going to agree to unfettered inspections to insure they are complying. Which means that unless Obama is willing to walk away from the deal or pressure Iran into accepting his terms, (okay everybody can stop laughing  at that one) Obama is liable to try and pull the same  kind of bait and switch he did with healthcare reform and pave the way for a cave in to Iran.  Then try and claim it's not a cave in at all but a  good deal and "all" and "at once" "immediate" and  "unfettered" are just semantics. Obama will claim the deal does everything he wants. 

 The last time Obama claimed he got everything he wanted was in an interview with Jim Leherer on PBS after the Obamacare vote when Leherer reminded him that there was no public option and Obama lied and said " I never campaigned for the public option".
So be prepared for " I never said all the sanctions had to stay in place until Iran proved they were complying." And, " I never said Iran had to agree to completely unfettered surprise inspections". The one promise Obama seems willing to stand by is " if you like your nuclear reactors you can keep your nuclear reactors."
Unlike Nancy Pelosi who went along with the bait and switch on healthcare, this congress isn't going to let that happen with just as many Democrats as Republicans refusing to go along with any "creative negotiations" which tries to call concessions to Iran anything other than what they are.  Which means congress has a veto proof majority to refuse to go along. 
So when the senate bill  on the Iran negotiations which passed in committee 19-0 is passed by the whole senate, it might be a good idea for some in congress to publicly make clear what Obama wont -- that there will be no lifting of congressional sanctions immediately upon signing an agreement and since Iran has been caught cheating before, unfettered inspections to make sure Iran is complying is non-negotiable. If Iran wants the sanctions lifted, if they are being truthful that their nuclear program is only peaceful, they should have no problem with  agreeing to any of that. If. 
And that would actually help Obama  in the negotiations.  Iran would know that if they want a deal that eventually lifts all the sanctions it's congress they have to satisfy not Obama.  And unlike Obama, there won't be any "creative negotiations"  with congress.  That would save everyone a lot of time.  And Obama's face. And convince Iran that their current positions won't get them the results they want. And it will also tell Obama that trying to pave the way to make concessions to Iran just to say he made a deal  isn't going to work either. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A few tips for a successful Hillary Clinton campaign.

Here are a few things for Hillary Clinton to keep in mind to guarantee a successful presidential campaign:

 1. Clinton needs to distance herself as far from president Obama and Nancy Pelosi as humanly possible.  Getting too close to either of them would require a political HazMat suit. It's best to stay away.  Say thanks but no  thanks to offers of campaign appearances. Though both will give endorsements they will  mean nothing.  And should be accepted  like a birthday kiss on the cheek from an aunt you think is weird and needs a shower and you hope goes home early.

Pelosi it should be remembered, was, in 2008, one of the engineers behind one of the most rigged and underhanded and dishonest Democratic presidential primaries since the politics of Boss Tweed. She along with other DNC officials tried to disenfranchise 1,600,000 Democratic voters in Florida and Michgan, two states where Clinton had beaten Obama by landslide numbers so their votes wouldn't count. Pelosi consistently lied about the role of super delegates to try and give Obama an edge, famously said Obama was ready to be president from day one and eventually sold out congressional Democrats , herself and the American people by capitulating to Obama's sell out of health care by dropping the public option which she at one time said was the "centerpiece" of healthcare reform and which eventually  led to Democrats getting wiped out of the House in 2010.

The Democrats are in serious need of a major house cleaning and the party is currently in shambles, much like the way Republicans were after 8 years of George W. Bush, the result of having to defend a duplicitous, unqualified and failed president who has probably told more outright lies and reneged on or did an about face on more promises than any politician in history.

2.  Ignore so called "progressive" support groups like Daily Kos, MoveOn, and ThinkProgress.  These groups have become Tea Party Left  but without the influence the Tea Party had on Republicans.    These groups support outcomes on domestic issues that are  traditional Democratic goals and worth achieving, especially economically,  but lie, distort and fabricate on a daily basis in support of their agenda  as much as the right wing Tea Party does, when its not necessary to lie.  And their foreign policy positions are and have been a disaster and usually based on ignorance since they are against anything that might be construed as actually standing up to a dangerous adversary.  It's one thing to have been against the war in Vietnam in 1968 and to have been right. It's another to think its still 1968.

As an example  MoveOn currently portrays Democrats skeptical of the Iran framework deal which is already falling apart, as " Pro War Democrats".  This in spite of the fact that Iran's take on the deal is the opposite of what Obama said it was. Clinton doesn't need to be associated with that kind of stupidity.

These groups take foreign policy positions that have no intelligent basis or facts to support them and seem to be willing to play Russian Roulette with a nuclear Iran.  These are the same  groups who rolled over and played dead for Obama while he sold out and undercut every domestic Democratic goal or promise and like the Tea Party on the right, they frame everything in partisan terms. If Republicans offered free puppies to everyone they'd accuse Republicans of running puppy mills.  They put all the onus of congressional skepticism  on the Iran deal on Republicans while most Democrats are just as skeptical. So Clinton will always run the risk of  being put in an embarrassing position if she is seen to publicly align with them to closely. 

While some of these groups boast multi-million member email lists, most people on the lists aren't influenced. When MoveOn circulated a petition for Obama to renege on his pledge of a military strike against Assad if  he used chemical weapons,  less than 2% signed the petition while 98% didn't.  And while Obama did finally decide to put his integrity to a congressional vote, (his integrity lost), MoveOn tried to claim it was their petition that stopped the missile strike against Assad's military (which in the end would have saved thousands of lives so if MoveOn wants to they can take credit for thousands of additional dead Syrian civilians).

Most importantly these groups cannot influence an election. They fell flat on their faces trying to defeat Rahm  Emanuel in the mayoral race in Chicago after calling him every name in the book including being a sell out of Democratic principles and in the pockets of corporate interests while conveniently ignoring the fact that this underhanded corporate sellout was Obama's choice to be his chief of staff  for four years  and  probably had a lot to do with Obama's selling out health care reform to corporate interests and Wall Street reform to the bankers.  Everything these groups had to say about Emanuel they could've said about Obama four years ago but were too partisan and dishonest to do. And didn't have the guts. So they are not only without influence, they can be accused of hypocrisy.  Clinton should  deal with them using the Crazy Aunt strategy. 

3.  Keep the national news media at arms length and don't overestimate their influence or underestimate their lack of influence.

This doesn't mean shut them out or not be accessible. That is impossible and besides, wouldn't look good.  But it does mean don't be afraid to throw some of their nonsensical and juvenile questions back in their faces or hoist them on their own petard. Most of the American people have little to no respect for them and they have little or no influence on anyone's opinion. They usually have their own agenda which is generally about  trying to impress their friends. Which, based on cable news ratings are about the only people they are impressing.

The days of Walter Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley, John Chancelor and Frank Reynolds are long gone. More recently,  Dianne Sawyer is gone too. CNN and MSNBC's ratings start with a zero and there aren't any Fox News viewers who can win an election for Hillary nor would she need them, though if the Republicans don't field a credible  enough candidate to oppose her (Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio  not among them)  there are enough conservatives who praised her when she was in the senate ( John Mc Cain and Peter King of New York to name two) along with a liberal independent like Sen. Bernie Sanders, to put together a rare coalition.

But how to deal with the news media who are still smarting from the way Bill gave them enough rope to hang themselves and look stupid on Whitewater  will be Hillary's biggest challenge. Treating them with thinly veiled contempt when its deserved is not a bad strategy since most Americans have contempt for them to begin with. Remember, not one of them, not one, has the courage to stand on their own on anything. They run in herds like mindless water buffalo and will only attack in groups and if they feel it's safe. Stand up to them when they're being stupid,  and make any one of them look ignorant and they'll all back down and look for something else to hunt. 

A recent case in point: the so called email "scandal".

Since the email nonsense became an issue the State Department and White House email servers have both been hacked and her server wasn't. So to anyone who wants to make a security issue out of her use of her own email server, it looks like a pretty good decision now since her server was more secure than the State Department's or that of the White House.  She can always joke that given the hacking, if she is elected president she will bring in the same people who maintain her email system to do the same for the White House and State Department.

Case in point #2:  News media opinion. 

In discussing the Clinton announcement Peter Beinart on CNN said that Clinton must run on a continuation of Obama's policies otherwise she will seem " inauthentic". You will have to go pretty far and wide to find a political assessment as blatantly stupid and out of touch with reality as this one.  Of every point Beinart made, the precise opposite is true.

Obama sold out health care reform to the big corporate health insurance companies by dropping the public option, sold out Wall Street reform to the big banks, touted Yemen as one of his big foreign policy successes before it collapsed into chaos, called Isis the "junior varsity", rejected Clinton's advice and the advice of 3 secretaries of defense who all quit over Obama's refusal to take the same advice of arming the moderate Syrian rebels to stop Isis in their tracks before they got bigger,  was rolled by Putin in Crimea and eastern Ukraine and so far is looking foolish on the Iran negotiations since Iran is now saying everything Obama claimed is part of the deal isn't part of the deal which Obama said "was not a surprise",  but yet had no trouble getting  into a war of words with Netanyahu. Add to that the economic recovery is tepid, the ACLU has called Obama's  record  on civil liberties "disgusting" , even sycophants like MoveOn accuse Obama of offering cuts in Social Security to Republicans, and a continuation of all of Obama's inauthentic policies is something  only a lunatic would do.

Clinton distancing herself from that kind of record is not just common sense,it's vital.   The only thing that would be "inauthentic" to use Breinart's word, would be to pretend Obama was a success and some kind of  strong leader that the country wants more of  in the name of partisan politics when everyone, including Democrats,  knows he isn't. In fact, there is more buyers remorse among those who had supported Obama than with any Democratic politician in history. 

The only authentic thing for Clinton to do is what she's already done to an extent when she pointed out in her book the rift between her and Obama on Isis and arming the Syrian rebels and that Obama's credo of "don't do stupid stuff" was, in Clinton's words, not an organizing principle. 

As long as Hillary doesn't take anything the news media says seriously, remembers their bias, dishonesty and ineptitude in 2008, and acknowledges Obama's failures by promising to fix what needs fixing, she will be authentic. Anything else would be inauthentic. So in all cases ignore any and all opinion coming from the news media and their ignoring good vs bad policy wanting instead to focus on personality and rifts.

Republicans are already trying to portray Clinton as a continuation of Obama's failed polices. Rejecting those policies which in every case has  led to failure, and putting real distance between herself and Obama is not just easy, it's credible. Clinton can point to disagreements with Obama when she was secretary of state and make clear she will improve on or change policies both foreign and domestic she disagrees with and thinks needs changing.

But Clinton needs to realize what she is dealing with when it comes to the news media.  They are not her friends.  Clinton had not even made her announcement when Brianna Keilar on CNN was already criticizing "the Clinton campaign"  even though there was no campaign yet. Clinton's announcement was still hours away but it wasn't too early to start bashing with CNN running a banner that read "Clinton  campaign grinds to a start" which would be an uncharacteristically clever line for CNN  if it were true. It wasn't.

Which leads back  to the best strategy in dealing with the news media:  Crazy Aunt works  here too.

Limit accessibility to national media  which has no influence anyway, while doubling the number of interviews given to small town and local news outlets in both TV and print. Local news outlets are apt to have more integrity than the national media, and less likely to be trying to impress their friends  by asking stupid questions.

If the  national media complains about the emphasis on local media over national,  accuse them of elitism. Cable news' influence with voters is zero and their reach is small.

According to Nielsen ratings,  on a day last July, Wolf Blitzer's flagship Situation Room on CNN between 5 -6 p.m. had a national audience of 28,000.  That  would be considered a lousy crowd at Yankee Stadium much less a national cable news network who, like other news media,  will try and cover her presidential campaign by playing their own game.  But to sparse crowds and empty seats. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Should the Iran nuclear framework deal be called O-Bomb-A-Care?

A pattern has emerged in the nuclear talks with Iran and it's the same pattern we've seen with Obama on every issue, every policy,and every negotiation of his presidency - Obama willing to make unnecessary concessions so he can say he made a deal.

He's been doing it with Iran just as he did with the health insurance companies during the debate on health care when he agreed to drop, not a bomb, but the public option in a major concession to the health insurance industry whose actions and behavior, like Iran's, was the heart of the problem. In making those concessions to the health insurance lobby Obama all but ruined health care reform which has been a well documented failure at everything health care reform was supposed to do despite White House fabrications to the contrary. Which is why more than once Howard Dean, former chair of the DNC called Obamacare "junk". 

Similarly the framework agreement Obama is touting with Iran is also junk, not much more than nuclear O-Bomb-A-Care which is why the Iranians, like the health insurance industry executives before them, were celebrating right after  the announcement. 

The comparisons to health care reform are not far fetched.  As with Iran and the sanctions that are crippling Iran's economy, Obama held all the cards with healthcare reform. Obama had  the biggest congressional majority  of any party in 60 years and could have passed anything he wanted. There was overwhelming support for the promised public option both in the congress and in the  country.  And it was the best policy for everyone. Except  for the private health insurance lobby who leaned heavily on Obama and pressured him to cave in and drop the public option.Which, after months of promoting the public option, he did.

The problem with the Iran framework as announced is that it reeks of the same kinds of unnecessary concessions Obama made on health care reform, Wall Street reform and every other policy he tries to call a success (Yemen anyone?)  that was junk to begin with and doesn't come close to solving the problem its supposed to solve . 

One big difference in the negotiations is that Iran is taking the long view of any deal with regard to its nuclear capability while its well documented that Obama's vision for the future never goes beyond what he wants or needs at the moment and what he can claim now with no regard for the future or it's consequences. 

This is how, during the 2008 Democratic primaries, he repeatedly pledged to use only public money if he was the nominee as part of his promise to reform Washington and keep big money out of politics, then as soon as he was nominated, dumped the pledge and raised $450 million against John McCain's $88 million who did promise to use only public money and stuck to his promise. 

It's also how Obama repeatedly  promised the public option then dumped it, drew a red line over the use of chemical weapons in Syria and dumped it, said he supported a single Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel and dumped that position too as soon as the Palestinians took offense.  And a lot more. So Obama's history has shown over and over again that what he says means nothing and nothing he says can be trusted.And  even Democrats are coming around to that realization on the Iran framework with Democratic senator Chuck Schumer  joining other Democrats along with Republicans by saying any deal with Iran has to be approved by congress.

These are the main points of the framework and why a closer inspection reveals it's not what Obama says it is but more O-Bomb -A- Care than a solution to the problem that Iran poses.  

1. The US had insisted on unfettered inspections any time any place anywhere to insure that Iran, who has been caught lying and cheating before, this time can't.  In the past Iran has said no. And there is no indication that is going to change.  They will accept inspections but not as unfettered as that. For example in the past they reneged on an agreement for inspections by denying access to a military facility the IAEA suspected of nuclear research . Iran said military sites were off limits and not part of the deal, only nuclear sites. So Iran could covertly do the research to develop a bomb at a military facility and claim it's off limits making the inspections worthless.

2. The U.S. wanted to ship Iran's stockpile of already enriched uranium out of the country , to Russia. Iran said no. Obama's compromise? " Iran's current stockpile of enriched uranium will be neutralized".  What does "neutralized"  mean?  Obama doesn't say. Because Obama doesn't know.  In fact Obama has no idea. If he did he would have said so. It's to be "negotiated". But all you have to know for now is Iran is happy. 

3. The heavy water reactor. Iran gets to keep its heavy water reactor. Why? You only need a heavy water reactor to enrich uranium or plutonium to weapons grade. Nothing else. So why do they get to keep it? Forget the claim that its to be  used for other purposes. The Israelis and the Saudis wanted it dismantled.  Instead Obama is telling Iran, if you like your heavy water reactor you can keep your heavy water reactor.

4. Last but not least, the sanctions. The sanctions are why Iran is negotiating in the first place. The sanctions have crippled their economy. Iran wants the sanctions lifted now and claims their nuclear program is peaceful. Yet it's Obama and Kerry who are always walking on egg shells, afraid it's Iran who will walk away from the negotiations  if they get their feathers ruffled. Which tells Iran Obama wants the deal more than they do which hardens their position. 

Iran initially celebrated  the framework because they claimed the deal called for all the sanctions to be lifted immediately as soon as the deal is signed. Kerry now says that's not true , that the framework calls for sanctions to be lifted gradually as Iran proves its living up to their agreements. Iran has already said before that would be unacceptable. Based on this little misunderstanding that seemed to whiz by Obama as he was touting how good the deal is, there really is no deal. And no framework.  Unless Obama caves in on sanctions.  And congress, knowing Obama's history is already making clear they will prevent Obama from doing that. 

When senator Tom Harkin, a staunch supporter of the public option was asked after the health care vote what he thought of Obamacare without the public option  he said,  "Well,  it's better than nothing".

That won't fly with O-Bomb-A-Care. An Iran nuclear deal that is "better than nothing" is not better than nothing. 

So when you see the leaders of Iran including their Supreme Leader at first praising the framework much like health insurance industry executives celebrated after Obama dropped the public option that saw health insurance stocks skyrocket,  you can bet that Iran thinks it's going to get a deal that is nuclear  O-Bomb-A-Care, a deal that gives those at the heart of the problem everything  they want while giving very little  in return, that does nothing to solve the real problems and still leaves those most vulnerable unprotected. And likely to blow up in everyone's face.

ADDENDUM: 4/9/2015.

It didn't take long. A little more than 24 hours after this was initially written Iran announced in a public statement that unless all the sanctions are lifted all at once , immediately upon signing the framework deal, there is no deal. In their words they are insisting on an immediate "full and complete" lifting of all sanctions as soon as the deal is signed.

The Ayatollah statement read: " The White House put out a statement just a few hours after our negotiators finished their talks. This statement which they called a fact sheet was wrong on most of the issues".

Which makes Obama's initial statement look like buffoonery, Netanyahu's harsh criticism of the deal as understood by Iran even more valid and makes Obama and those who tried to support the deal like Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein who wished Netanyahu would " contain himself" until the deal was done look even more incompetent.

ADDENDUM#2: 4/11/2015

As speculated here when this was first published three days ago, Iran's military and political leaders issued statements today to add to their statement on sanctions,  that military facilities will be off limits to any nuclear inspections.  Which makes inspections as a condition worthless. Which means the framework deal that Obama touted and warned congress not to interfere with was non-existent to begin with. And all the face to face talking was nonsense.  Or has completely unraveled. Or was never raveled in the first place, making Obama again look foolish. 

In response and no doubt much to the chagrin of Tea Party Left groups like Daily Kos who on a daily basis has been supporting the nonsense that is the  Iran non-deal and calling Democrats who were skeptical " pro war Democrats", Secretary of Defense Carter put out a statement in response to those from Iran  that the U.S. has bunker busting bombs that can take out Iran's nuclear facilities no matter how deep underground they are and that using those bombs is not off the table. A clear bit of saber rattling by Obama . Which to Daily Kos and other  similar groups like MoveOn   must now make Obama a pro war Democrat also. Though they'll never say it.