Archive for john kerry

Surprise: Newest American Saboteurs are Democratic Senators

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aipac

When you hear names like Charlie Schumer, Mark Warner, Cory Booker, Kay Hagen, Mary Landrieu, Bob Casey and Richard Blumenthal, you usually hear that some Democratically sponsored bill has their support. And usually you're right, give or take one of the above.

Yet recently, led by Senator Bob Menendez, these US elected officials to the upper house have been sold a bill of goods. And it's not a jobs or education bill. Nor is it some health plan or civil rights issue. It's war.

Real war. A potential nuclear war.

Why these guys? This isn't the Republican Party war stalwarts, Lindsay Graham and John McCain. These are normal people -- at least as normal as it gets in the senate.

The truth is these new Hawk senators are on the dole. Not necessarily news there -- all elected officials are influenced by lobbyists. But this time, and I'm going to take heat for this, it's the Jewish Mafia. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). It's the most influential Jewish lobby group in the US. And historically they have backed candidates who fight for justice and equality in social issues, and political ones when it comes to Israel.

Now Israel has a special place in my heart. Not just because it's the Jewish homeland and I was born a Jew, but my wife is a Sabra, a native born Israeli. And once you have that in your blood, you're generally a dyed-in -the-wool supporter of anything the Israeli Knesset (parliament) proposes.

This brings us to war and peace. For nearly 30 years we've been in a cold war with Iran. We've had no formal diplomatic talks with them and we've been the world leader in getting other nations to impose austere economic sanctions against them. That was until about four months ago. There was a breakthrough. John Kerry reported back to the US that talks on stopping or at least tightening nuclear safeguards with Iran were possible. But like all negotiations, there's a bit of 'give a little' to 'get a little.' The price for us was to hold off on further economic sanctions while negotiations would take place (a six months moratorium). The price to the Iranians is to allow open international monitoring of the Iranian nuclear program -- full inspections.

This was a great tit for tat -- especially as pressure was building for war between our two countries.  That would ultimately would result in a nuclear conflagration. There's no way around that. Yet here's a potentially peaceful solution at hand. The only ones unhappy in that region are Saudi Arabia (remember where the 911 trainees spent much of their pre-attack time) and Israel -- the other nuclear armed country in the region who doesn't want any competition in weapons superiority. And I can understand that.

Obviously those in the pocket of the neo-cons -- the entire GOP party hierarchy -- were against this. But the Democrats? How could they be against peace -- especially one their President is working so hard to accomplish? And if you're looking at public opinion, over 60% favor a peaceful solution with Iran over war. So how could 16 Democrats come out and favor new sanctions which would lead to Iran pulling away from the negotiating table?

Obama was told in no uncertain words that new sanctions  against Iran would be a line in the sand by the their President. Secretary of State Kerry was told the talks would be DEAD if Congress passed new sanctions by the Iranian Foreign Minister. So until we find a reason not to, why not give peace a chance?

The Republicans want war and they've been able, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. to stir the pot and brainwash the Jewish senate members (or those gentile members who aren't totally anti-semitic) by selling a bill of goods that peace negotiations can't be trusted. Netanyahu along via the dangerous and borderline deranged John McCain (who's totally bonkers) contacted his influential PAC, the AIPAC, and forced them to exert pressure on the weak and vulnerable among the Democratic senators. Face it, backbone is not a prerequisite for being a Democrat.

But don't take my word for it. Here's Chris Hayes:

Finally, some sense of sanity. Obama spoke to the Democratic Senate Caucus last night and evidently they've seen the light of their wayward ways.

UPDATE: Since this airing, according to WAPO:

But editorial boards and commentators have harshly condemned the push for a vote. Many Senate Democrats have continued to remain silent, which could well be a sign of an unwillingness to sign on to the bill. A couple Dem senators have come out against it in the last couple of days, joining 10 Dem committee chairs who have already done the same. At last whip count, this bill will not get past Harry Reid and is now considered dead.

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Luckily For Peace, Our Congress Is Inept

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nuclear explosion

If it weren't for the inability of either chamber of Congress to get their acts together and actually do something, we might be heading for war. Yup, war.

Just after Obama chose to involve Congress in a decision to take action against Syria for the use of chemical weapons, the elected officials went nutso. Everyone including the shoe-shine guy in the rotunda had an opinion and most were not leaning toward the elected official whose call it really was - President Obama's. The Republicans are a war machine and they wanted to start bombing. The Democrats were timid and were afraid they'd get nailed to the tree like they did when they went along with the phony war in Iraq. So they ran around like the beheaded chickens we've heard so much about.

Finally, in steps a possible diplomatic solution. You'd think everyone in Congress would breath a sigh of relief, even if only temporarily while the plan had a chance to be ironed out. But no, the Republicans were insisting on war. The only thing that kept us from spilling blood, lost lives both American and Syrian was that Congress can't agree on anything.

You'd think that's a bad thing. But there's a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel here. Even that blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes.

The good fortune in this picture is that we have a diplomatic chance to shut down, possibly even remove totally any threat of nuclear armament in Iran. Yes, that country who for over 30 years we had no official contact with. On the cusp of their going nuclear, a possible treaty is in the works. The only thing that could gum it up would be Congress. A warmongering Republican run House of Representatives. All it would take to tip the fragile preliminary diplomacy would be the House and Senate coming up with new economic sanctions against Iran. And the GOP were pushing as hard as they could. If they succeeded, the talks would be called off and probably immediate escalations would have taken place as a possible nuclear flash point could have been reached.

The Republicans in Congress didn't care if this would lead to nuclear war. The simple fact that Obama might go down in history for two huge diplomatic solutions to potential wars, on top of his successes with finishing up Iran's conflict and potentially running down the war in Afghanistan was just too much. How could a Black president be allowed a place like that in history?

So fortunately, the dis-functionality of Congress worked in the American people's favor this time.  Watch Rachel Maddow as she lays it out clearly, precisely and accurately for us. We owe our Congresspeople a collective acknowledgement that their inability to work is going to perhaps save our lives.

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The GOP Wages War On Peace

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shiny object syndrome

Republicans are just like pet cats. "Oh, look, another shiny object."

Recently rounds of their Scandalgates include: Solyndra, the IRS, Benghazi, Obamacare, court packing, and now Iran. Those frisky felines just can't find enough distractions from doing their job, legislating. How about financial reform? Immigration? A crumbling infrastructure? Job creation? Illegal voter restrictions? Education funding

Why can't the Republicans accept peaceful means as an answer for settling conflicts? Why must bullets fly? Are they really that heavily into the back pockets of the current day military-industrial complex?

This past Saturday night, a long in the works agreement was finally reached on a first step agreement toward resolving a growing nuclear threat with Iran. Happy, happy, joy, joy! Not to the war-torn tribes of the Republican party.

This agreement is but a first step. Not a treaty. An agreement to outline procedures that could ultimately lead to a resolve of tensions, sanctions and normalization with a huge population in the tension packed Middle East.

Though Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu isn't happy, the rest of the world should be. If we go to war with Iran, all of the middle east will be pulled in and every power around the world (Russia, China, Japan, England) will be drawn into the conflict. This area is the hotbed, the potential flash point of a possible nuclear annihilation of the world. Any chance at peace in that region must be seriously exploited.

So this accord should be looked at in a positive light -- unless you're a Republican. When you're the party of war and conflict, peace becomes your enemy. And if the people of the US have tired of war, you have to keep up the ruse of a threat so you can still hold onto your popularity. That's the talking points now for the Republicans. But what they're really saying is they're against possible peaceful solutions when they can profit so much more by seeing US troops killed and so much blood and money pumped into their war machine.

This agreement is a baby step, the beginning of a long and most arduous journey. But we have to start somewhere, and firing the shot heard round the world isn't the best option. Not when talking, peacefully negotiating and bringing the world together focusing on facts, not rumors, is the result.

The Israeli's who are generally very reliable say Iran is but moments (figuratively) away from nuclear capabilities. But the English and French who gave GW Bush the intelligence that Saddam Hussein had WMD's are just as reliable. And their claims proved false. Do we need a war when we can peacefully approach and confirm the situation?

There are risks here, make no mistake. But when the argument against the first steps are "this is just a smoke screen or diversion from the failed rollout of Obamacare" you have to wonder what planet these critics are from. A diversion? I can't wait until Obama faces responsibility for the next blizzard, earthquake or hurricane that happens upon our shores.

Let's get real here. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Senators John Cornyn and Bob Corker are leading the charge of talking points that claim this agreement is merely a distraction for Obamacare. This pablum is coming from leaders of the fallen GOP party. This kind of thinking indicates they are all in need a LifeAlert bracelet -- "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up."

help I've fallen

If these morons can utilize their talking points, maybe it's time the Democrats start pushing theirs-- play the racial bigotry card against the GOP. Republicans don't want peace because they don't want a Black president to get credit for eliminating chemical weapons in Syria, ending a war in Iraq and shutting down nuclear threats in Iran.

In the '70s, during the Viet Nam era, the popular chant of John Lennon's song became a peace mantra, 'All we are saying, is give peace a chance." Never truer than today. Let's give peace a chance.

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State Department: All Clear To Watch "Fifth Estate"

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Assange real and actor

Okay, I'm reading my morning feeds of news stories and this headline catches my eye from FOREIGN POLICY.

State Department Employees Cleared to Watch WikiLeaks Movie

Ever since WikiLeaks.org began releasing thousands of classified cables, State Department employees have been forbidden from visiting the website without explicit authorization. (Sure, it was a silly prohibition given the proliferation of mainstream newspaper stories based on the WikiLeaks cables, but them's the rules). So how about viewing WikiLeaks the movie?

Not a problem, the State Department tells The Cable. Watching the hotly anticipated WikiLeaks drama Fifth Estate will not place employees on the naughty list.

Now I know that in the State Department, they have all kinds of rules and regulations about how you conduct yourselves, what you can do, who you can speak with and where you can go. But really, how can an organization expect to run at full efficiency if they clamp on a governor to your viewing habits if these activities are fully legal to anyone else?

It's okay for my barber or kid's teacher to read these reports, or my watching the news and getting them fed to me, but I can't go to the site myself to see what I'm missing? I think there's a screw loose here, or maybe many of them.

I can understand asking a State Department employee from forgoing an activity which could lead to their being blackmailed. But going to Wikileaks? Watching a movie? Where is this line drawn and who gets to make the decision if something is to be  stamped, verboten?

Fifth Estate

Wouldn't it be in the country's best interest if the State Department allowed its workers to have access to a site like Wikileaks -- especially Wikileaks? If Julian Assange is printing things that are false, who would know better than the people who might be fingered on the site? And if the media organization's accusations and reports are true, but considered secret, who would know better?

I think viewing these sites, not by ordained monitors but by the full slate of State Department personnel should not only be allowed, but required. This way, if some secret is being revealed, or someone's safety is compromised, identity or hints insinuated, they can report it to the department. They shouldn't have to rely on some intra-agency readers to shed light on an employee's possible danger.

Doesn't it  make you wonder? Here's a film about a whistle blower (Julian Assange) who published classified info and continues to do so on his site (Wikileaks.org) and it's okay to watch but not visit the actual site?

This is nuts. And maybe John Kerry can explain it. If I was with the State Department, I would want to know everything the public knows, especially if my safety is being compromised. Wouldn't you?

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Bibi Netanyahu - A Hawk Among Hawks

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Hawk

If there's two people who've never met a war they didn't like, it's Lindsay Graham and John McCain. Now you can add a third name to that list-- Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu. He's the Israeli who's no Disraeli.

Tuesday, the Israeli Prime Minister flexed his wings, his sharpened talons and his polished beak and took to the podium to address the United Nations. What was this staunch leader's purpose? Peace? Trust? Unity?

None of the above. He came to stir the pot. He came to instigate potential war with Iran. If Netanyahu really cared about the safety of his country he would be rooting for US/Iran accords on nuclear weapons, not trying to start a war. Why are peaceful negotiations any less valid than winning by war?

Now is there reason for concern? You bet.

worried

HUFFPO:

Benjamin Netanyahu told the U.N. General Assembly that Israel's future is threatened by a "nuclear-armed" Iran seeking its destruction. He urged the international community to keep up biting sanctions against Iran, saying the greater the pressure, the greater the chance for diplomacy to succeed.

He also accused Iran of lamenting the human tragedy in Syria, but at the same time directly participating in "Syria's murder and massacre of innocents."

"Diplomacy to succeed." Now that's the kind of talk we all should have on our minds. Not war. Not nuclear, chemical or traditional warfare. And certainly not accusing a country of aiding in murder and massacre of innocents.

Talks, sanctions and emissaries is the way to proceed. A process that's been woefully lacking with the US and Iran -- over 30 years since their respective leaders have talked, until last week.

Now that direct interaction is beginning, one of the largest recipients of successful talks, Israel, is tossing fuel on the fire, not water. Through Netanyahu, they are stoking the fires and trying to instigate a war-like posture, not a peaceful one. That's just wrong.

It's fine to share your doubts on the credibility of the process and even the partners in the discussions, but not resulting in name calling. Unsubstantiated claims and rumors. Is Iraq to be trusted? That remains to be seen. But with a new regime, don't they deserve a chance to prove that they've changed before calling them names?

Netanyahu accused Iranian President Hassan Rouhani of masterminding Iran's strategy to advance the country's nuclear weapons program and said his goal was the same as his hard-line predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf's clothing. Rouhani is a wolf in sheep's clothing," Netanyahu said.

Bibi needs to tone down his rhetoric. There's no doubt Israel knows very well what's going on in the middle east. And they are in a very close proximity and reach of a nuclear weapon -- which, BTW, they have for themselves. So their input is valuable. But in needs to be tempered and privately discussed with the US. Not at the UN. Not unless you're going to bring names, dates and proof of verifiable complicity in war atrocities.. Rumors and innuendo aren't going to cut it. And waving a piece of paper around with dates and locations isn't enough. We learned that with Colin Powell. He had "proof" too. Show us the money.

When we were on the brink of a vote to go to war with Syria, we reached, with Russia's assistance, an accord on chemical weapons. That went to the UN and it was signed by the United Nations Security Council. Despite hawkish opposition in the US (McCain and Lindsay) the seemingly achievable and peaceful solution was reached. Will it succeed? We don't know yet. But we're not bombing and killing people just  to arrive at the same solution.

If we had listened to the hawks, we'd currently not only have a government shutdown, we'd be bombing Syria and as John McCain loved to sing, bombing Iran. Lindsay Graham had already announced a military action plan in formulation by him and other warmongers.

We have to give peace a chance. That doesn't mean surrender. But it also doesn't mean going to war to win a peace. It rarely happens that way.

Netanyahu should stay vigilant. But he also should watch his mouth and the inflammatory statements he's making. Despite what he may believe, he serves at the pleasure of the United States. If we didn't back Israel as we rightfully do, he very well could be under Palestinian rule in Jerusalem, and not the other way around.

Bibi's a good head of state but perhaps lacks the discipline, nuances or patience of a great leader. He needs to tone down the disruptive rhetoric and threats, stop shouting "...Or Israel will go it alone." They're not going anywhere alone. They walk with the US and we're proud of that alliance. They don't need to be undercutting what hopefully will be a peaceful solution to the potential nuclear weapons issues in Iran.

Chill, Bibi. If you have to shoot something, try clay pigeons, not people. As always, America's got your back.

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Video- The Daily Show: Fifty Shades of Graham

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When You Aren't Totally, Fully, Without A Doubt, Absolutely, Completely Sure, Be Quiet

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SYRIA-CONFLICT

We all know that there's a looming crisis in Syria. We're also quite aware that the public is not in favor of the US taking any miliarty action at this time regardless of the horrific poison gas murders of innocent civilians by the Assad regime this past August 22nd.

Fortunately, through a series of planned or unplanned events, a crack in the diplomatic door has been opened and Obama has chosen to pursue that potential avenue. This must be applauded. Despite all the rhetoric by the McCain hawks or the Rand Paul doves, the drumbeat for war was becoming quite alarming.

What we should be alarmed at is not our determination to make a stand against the use of chemical weapons. But that it took this August massacre to be the flash point. There have been reports of much earlier use of CW's that rose to the White House's attention.

LA TIMES:

WASHINGTON — In July 2012, senior U.S. intelligence officials drove to the Capitol to secretly brief top lawmakers on the first indications that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against its own people.

SNIP

But it was the beginning of a stream of intelligence documenting what U.S. officials say was a yearlong escalation in the use of the banned weapons by the government of President Bashar Assad, a far more extensive record of the incidents than previously known. The Obama administration did not publicly acknowledge the attacks for months, and declared in April that it believed Syria had used chemical weapons.

So if Obama knew this information that chemical weapons were being used, why is it that it took this large scale attack in August to trigger his "line in the sand?"

The Daily Beast.

Though President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and other officials have asserted there is "no doubt" Assad was behind the attack, they have been careful to refer to "Assad's regime" or the "Syrian regime" to avoid stating it outright. Outside the administration, analysts with senior-level intelligence clearance say there is real doubt that Assad has command of his chemical weapons.

It's this kind of tenuous reassurance or double talk that has me worried. I personally think Assad is in charge of his current regime and anything they do, whether with his explicit, implied or even blind eye are still his responsibility. Just as Obama is ultimately responsible for the US response.

With this question of who really has control of the chemical weapons in Syria, this is the time to tread lightly and continue to investigate. The Washington Times also echos this concern of who's really in command of these CW's.

U.S. intelligence has yet to uncover evidence that Syrian President Bashar Assad directly ordered the chemical attacks last month on civilians in a suburb of Damascus, though the consensus inside U.S. agencies and Congress is that members of Mr. Assad’s inner circle likely gave the command, officials tell The Washington Times.

If we don't know for sure if it's Assad or his lieutenants, there's something interestingly optimistic in this. Russia also may not know who's really pulling the strings in Syria. And they have a huge stake in making sure these CW's don't end up being used against them down the road. If they back Assad and someone else is capable of using the Sarin gas, then they have a fear that Chechen's or others within Russia may seek out an alliance with the real person responsible and that could bring about an attack on Putin's land.

Just a thought -- if it wasn't Assad himself who gave the order, look for some close adviser to the President of Syria to suddenly go missing, under Putin's secret authority.

Everyone's got some skin in this game. And for a change, the outcome for both the Russians, despite their bluster, and the US are the same-- elimination of the chemicals. So while we give negotiations a chance, let's keep some optimism alive. And maybe during that time, we'll find out who really pulled the trigger on the August 22 chemical attack. It just might be the Syrian Minister or General who doesn't answer "here" when they do the next role call.

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