The Watering Hole, Monday, July 20th, 2015: Iran Nuclear Deal Fallout

Last week, it was announced that the long-awaited Iran Nuclear Deal was finally agreed to by the negotiating parties. The EU High Representative and the Iran Foreign Minister issued a joint statement, which included the following:

“With courage, political will, mutual respect, and leadership, we delivered on what the world was hoping for: a shared commitment to peace and to join hands in order to make our world safer.’

Apparently conservatives don’t understand most of the words and phrases in that statement. As we have seen throughout the Obama presidency, their idea of “negotiation” means “you give us everything we want, or else.” FoxNews gives a rundown on the ‘highlights'(?):

Jeb Bush: “This isn’t diplomacy – it is appeasement.”

Ted Cruz: This is a “fundamental betrayal of the security of the United States.”

Ben Carson: “A historic mistake with potentially deadly consequences.”

Scott Walker: “Will be remembered as one of America’s worst diplomatic failures.”
[According to Raw Story, Walker also stated that:

“He would terminate it as soon as possible and persuade U.S. allies to join Washington in imposing more crippling economic sanctions on Tehran…

He would dramatically increase U.S. military spending after budget cuts that military officials have complained about…

“The United States needs a foreign policy that puts steel in the face of our enemies,” Walker says.”]

Marco Rubio: The President made “concession after concession to a regime that has American blood on its hands.”

Now, the above presidential wannabes mainly focused their criticism on the ‘evil’ Iran, with a minor mention of our bestest friend ever in the whole wide world, Israel. Huckabee, on the other hand, is pretty much all Israel, with barely even a mention of OUR country, the United States.

Mike Huckabee: “Shame on the Obama administration…

“Shame on the Obama administration for agreeing to a deal that empowers an evil Iranian regime to carry out its threat to ‘wipe Israel off the map’ and bring ‘death to America.’
John Kerry should have long ago gotten up on his crutches, walked out of the sham talks, and went straight to Jerusalem to stand next to Benjamin Netanyahu and declared that America will stand with Israel and the other sane governments of the Middle East instead of with the terrorist government of Iran.

As president, I will stand with Israel and keep all options on the table, including military force, to topple the terrorist Iranian regime and defeat the evil forces of radical Islam.”
[emphasis mine]

Mike, why don’t you just move to Israel and run for president there?   ‘Cause there will be no “As president” for you here.  You do realize that this agreement is about limiting Iran’s ability to acquire a nuclear weapon, not the unHoly war you’re salivating over.

Donald Trump: “Iran gets everything and loses nothing.”

[The Donald was also quoted by FoxBusiness as saying, without elaboration, “I think the deal is absolutely horrible for us, but it’s really, really bad for Israel”]

Rick Perry: If elected, I will “fully rescind this accord.”

“President Obama’s decision to sign a nuclear deal with Iran is one of the most destructive foreign policy decisions in my lifetime. For decades to come, the world will have to deal with the repercussions of this…”

Seriously, Rick? You think that signing a deal that means peace, that signals a willingness to negotiate instead of starting WWIII, is more destructive than deliberately and cavalierly lying our country into a wasteful quagmire of an unnecessary war?

Perry also stated: “As President, one of my first official acts will be to fully rescind this accord.”

There’s more, including comments from the lower-tier lineup of Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, and…wait, is that it? Oh, yeah, and Elmer Pataki. But there’s no need to continue wallowing in the their ignorance, I think you get the idea.

Do any of those responses reflect “courage, political will, mutual respect [or respect of any kind], and leadership”? I think it’s abundantly clear that the (R) presidential field has none of those qualities.

This is our daily Open Thread – have at it!

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The Watering Hole, Saturday, June 27th, 2015: Il Papa, Don’t Preach

Recently, “Il Papa”, Pope Francis, has pissed off several (often overlapping) factions of conservative “Christian” politicians, pundits, and what I’ve decided to call “pulpiteers”, aka Evangelicals. Apparently the Pope is only “infallible” when his flock agrees with his pronouncements or actions. I find it deliciously ironic that the first Pope in, well, “god” knows how long, to actually emulate the teachings and actions of Jesus Christ according to their own bible makes all of these faux christians so suspicious, dismissive, and ultimately hypocritical. I can just imagine one of the conversations:

Derp 1: “Washing the feet of poor people and criminals? Who the hell does that?”
Derp 2: “Well, according to the Bible, Jesus Christ did. Oh, and Christ fed the poor, too – you heard that Frankie wants all of us Christians to do that, too, right?”
Derp 1: “I know, is he crazy?! C’mon, that do-goody stuff isn’t supposed to be taken literally!”
Derp 2: “No, of course not, not those “New Testament” Jesus-y parts, anyway; just the parts about dominating the earth and all its resources, and the parts about stoning homos and wimmen and your kids if they sass you.”
Derp 1: “Exactly, that’s my point, we have to put the fear of god into these $chmuck$, er, potential voters!”

After already dissing unbridled capitalism and corporate greed, among other things, in his 2013 missive “Evangelii Gaudium: Apostolic Exhortation on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World”, last week Pope Francis issued his now-infamous encyclical focusing on man-made climate change, and his idea of the correct Christian, and, as he noted, human course of action necessary to combat it for the good of Planet Earth and all of her children.

While some Catholic and other Christian groups agreed with Pope Francis and are willing to preach his ‘gospel’ to their flocks, other self-proclaimed “Christians” pretty much think that either Pope Francis is wrong, or that he should mind his own goddam beeswax. In particular, the many Catholics (or whatever “Christian” flavor) among the numerous Republican 2016 Presidential hopefuls would prefer that the Pope stay quiet. From the ThinkProgress article:

“At a town hall event in New Hampshire…[Jeb] Bush said that religion “ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting into the political realm.”

 

“I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home,” Bush said, “but I don’t get my economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope.”

No, Jeb, you certainly don’t get your economic policy from your pope, otherwise you’d actually have to DO something to help the poor. And it doesn’t seem to be working out when it comes to “making [you] better as people”, unless somehow by “better” you mean “more hateful.”

However, you and your ilk seem perfectly happy to get your SOCIAL policy, in particular regarding women’s rights, abortion, and LGBT rights, from your pope and your bible.  And you definitely LOVE it when your flavor of religion ends up crafting legal policy for the entire country, you fuckwad.

The article goes on to say that:

“Bush’s views on climate change and religion have, at times, been contradictory. In May, the presidential candidate and brother of George W. Bush said that the science surrounding climate change was “convoluted.”

“For the people to say the science is decided on this is really arrogant, to be honest with you,” he said. “It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t have a conversation about it, even.”

Once again, NO, Jeb, it’s NOT “intellectual arrogance” when the vast majority of scientists who have studied all of the data have come to the inevitable conclusion that global climate change is real, it’s mostly man-made, and it’s going to make the lives of your – and everybody else’s – grandchildren and greatgrandchildren a miserable hell.

And, of course, Rick Santorum had to get his twisted views out there:

““The Church has gotten it wrong a few times on science,” Santorum told radio host Dom Giordano. “We probably are better off leaving science to the scientists, and focusing on what we’re really good at, which is theology and morality.”

WHAT the huh? Morality? Wait, he’s got more:

“I’m saying, what should the pope use his moral authority for?” Santorum asked. “I think there are more pressing problems confronting the earth than climate change.”

Are you fucking kidding, Rantorum? Oh, hold on for the finish:

“When we get involved with controversial and scientific theories, I think the Church is not as forceful and not as credible,” Santorum continued. “I’ve said this to the Catholic bishops many times — when they get involved in agriculture policy, or things like that, that are really outside of the scope of what the Church’s main message is, that we’re better off sticking to the things that are really the core teachings of the Church as opposed to getting involved in every other kind of issue that happens to be popular at the time.”

Okay, for Jeb and Sick Rantorum and every other Catholic and self-proclaimed Christian: If you are true to your supposed faith, then every official utterance of Pope Francis or any other Pope is, according to YOUR dogma, the infallible transmission of the Word of your God. It doesn’t matter what the topic is, the Pope is supposed to be the unquestionable representative of your Trinity. And if you and your science-denying conservative cohorts DON’T think that global climate change is the MOST pressing problem confronting the Earth, then you don’t deserve to even be aspiring to the Presidency of these United States. Just sit down and shut up.

Anyhoo…NOW Pope Francis has done something to ruffle the feathers, to say the least, of Israel and her supporters: According to Foreign Policy Magazine:

“On Friday [June 26], the Vatican signed a comprehensive treaty with Palestinian authorities, formalizing a basic agreement between the Catholic Church and the PLO back in 2000. In essence, it is a formal declaration of the Holy See’s support for the creation of a Palestinian state and the peace process with Israel. “[I]t is my hope that the present agreement may, in some way, be a stimulus to bringing a definitive end to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which continues to cause suffering for both Parties,” wrote Vatican foreign minister Archbishop Paul Gallagher.”

 

“The news is not going over well in Tel Aviv. “This hasty step damages the prospects for advancing a peace agreement, and harms the international effort to convince the Palestinian Authority to return to direct negotiations with Israel,” said Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon.”

 

“[G]iven its sordid history of anti-Semitism, book-burnings, forced conversions and Inquisitions, the Catholic Church should think a hundred times over before daring to step on Israel’s toes,” wrote Michael Freund, former deputy communications director to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in the Jerusalem Post on May 18. “If anything, the pope should be down on his knees pleading for forgiveness from the Jewish people and atonement from the Creator for what the Vatican has wrought over the centuries.”

I’m really starting to enjoy this new Pope Francis reality show (especially as a former Catholic) – it beats the hell out of Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice Asshole” or “19 and Groping.”  Heh.

This is our daily Open Thread–go ahead and talk about things!

The Watering Hole, Monday, February 2, 2015: Speaker Logan?

After the French Revolution, tensions had risen between the USA and France. Many French revolutionaries felt we had not aided them enough, and after we signed the Jay Treaty with Great Britain, France authorized the seizing of American ships and taking prisoners. In 1797 President Adams sent John Marshall, Charles C. Pinckney, and Elbridge Gerry (who would later try to redraw political districts that reminded people of a salamander in order to give him an electoral advantage, thus giving birth to the term “Gerrymander”) to negotiate a peaceful settlement. Instead, the result was what would become known as the XYZ Affair and an unsuccessful trip. After their return, a Philadelphia Quaker named Dr. George Logan decided on his own to try to negotiate a peaceful settlement. He was successful and France agreed to stop seizing ships and to release their prisoners. This did not go over well with President John Adams and he recommended that Congress pass a law to stop the “temerity and impertinence of individuals affecting to interfere in public affairs between France and the United States.” The result was the Logan Act. As amended today, the act reads:

Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

The Act does grant an exception for private citizens who wish to sue a foreign government for injuries, but that’s it. And when you think about it, it makes sense. For example, would you want the Koch Brothers to be allowed to legally negotiate their own agreement with the government of Canada regarding the tar sands oil? Would you want them to then be allowed to go into court and demand that the Keystone XL Pipeline be built because they had a contract and that contract must be honored? Bad idea. Better to not let them have that negotiation in the first place, especially if our government is not in favor of the project. (The Republicans are, because they only care about businesses earning huge profits, even foreign ones. President Obama will veto it.)

In the 200+ year history of the Logan Act there has never been anyone prosecuted under it. There was a farmer who was indicted, but that was over something he had written regarding the land which eventually became the Louisiana Purchase. He was never prosecuted and the Purchase quelled the entire argument being made. (Plus, I’m not so sure he would have been prosecuted, since he only advocated in a letter to a newspaper for something. I don’t believe he actually negotiated with anyone in France.) There have been arguments made (not in court) that the Logan Act may be unconstitutional, but there have also been numerous references to it in other court decisions. And the basic idea that the President is the only one who can negotiate on behalf of the United States has been mentioned several times in court rulings. So while nobody has been prosecuted (including Rev Jesse Jackson and Jane Fonda), the law remains in effect. Which brings us to Speaker John Boehner.

In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama said this about Iran:

Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material. Between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran, secures America and our allies — including Israel, while avoiding yet another Middle East conflict. There are no guarantees that negotiations will succeed, and I keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran.

But new sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails — alienating America from its allies; making it harder to maintain sanctions; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again. It doesn’t make sense. And that’s why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress.

Iran has made it clear that they will stop enriching uranium and negotiate with other countries about its nuclear program provided the United States does not pass any sanctions bill before the talks are concluded. So what do Republicans want to so? They want to pass a sanctions bill anyway that would take effect if the talks break down. What they seem unable to grasp is that the very act of passing a sanctions bill (even if and when it does get vetoed by Obama) could be the trigger that ends the talks. It truly makes me wonder if Republicans want Peace or not. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu views Iran as an existential threat, which is just another way of saying, “Even if they don’t try to harm us today, they probably might try to tomorrow, or they might decide to help someone else harm us, so let’s go to war with them before anyone attacks us.” This is not a workable foreign policy, this is paranoia. But since Republicans want to deny Obama any kind of victory at all, on any subject at all, they decided to try to thwart Obama’s foreign policy by inviting Netanyahu to address our Congress, specifically on why we shouldn’t enter into this agreement with Iran. It’s pretty clear that this invitation, arranged and negotiated without the knowledge of the White House (until a few hours before it was publicly announced), is a violation of the Logan Act. The purpose of both the invitation and of the address is to “defeat the measures of the United States,” and it clearly violates the Logan Act. The President has already said he would not meet with Netanyahu because they have an election coming up. And we know that Netanyahu thinks it’s wrong to do something like this because he said so himself, almost 20 years ago. When then-Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres visited the US in 1997, just before he faced an election, opposition leader Netanyahu said, “I can’t find an example of any previous Israeli government whose prime minister, on the eve of elections, made a cynical attempt to use relations between Israel and the United States as a party advertisement.” Being so hypocritical, it’s no wonder he enjoys such support from the Republican Party (a/k/a The American Likud Party.)

This is our daily open thread. Talk about anything you want, just don’t invite any foreign heads of state to address our Congress. That would be bad.

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 6, 2014: No Nukes for You!

As usual, I found the topic for today’s thread while researching something else: in this case, looking for info on the time frame when Bush wouldn’t let the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) finish its inspection for WMDs in Iraq, just prior to our heedless and headstrong invasion. I never finished that research, as I was distracted by more timely news.

The first IAEA link that came up was, surprisingly, from a Chinese news site, from which I learned that the IAEA is sending a team to Iran shortly for talks on Iran’s progress in meeting certain deadlines regarding its nuclear program. In addition, the National Journal says “The IAEA has sought information on the “potential military dimensions” of the Iranian nuclear program, in particular information about Iran’s extensive research and development of a nuclear explosive device.”

From the Chinese site, xinhuanet.com:

“Iran and the IAEA agreed to implement five practical measures including the cooperation of resolving two points of Iran’s nuclear program related to the alleged nuclear weapon plan, so- called possible military dimensions (PMD) to Iran’s nuclear plan by deadline Aug. 25 in order to provide greater transparency of Tehran’s nuclear program.However, the IAEA said Iran missed the deadline in implementing three measures, and two measures related to PMD issues have yet to be implemented so far.”

Then in an article from Arutz Sheva, Israel National News, the headline shouts “353 US Reps to Kerry: Iran ‘Stonewalling’ on Nuke Detonator”, followed by the opening line, “Stunning bipartisan congressional letter focuses on Iran’s ‘refusal to fully cooperate’ with IAEA over Parchin.”   Hmmm, well, here’s the letter, which I didn’t find particularly “stunning.” The article continues:

“The Congressional Letter’s signatories included almost all of both parties’ leaderships, and was greatly aided by Republican Congressman Peter J. Roskam (R-IL-06) of Illinois, a stalwart, and tireless, advocate of Israel as a vital strategic asset of the United States.”

“This Congressional warning follows a similar warning from Israel Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, who issued a statement last week that emphasized that “credible sources” alleged that “internal neutron sources such as uranium were used in nuclear implosion tests at [Iran’s] Parchin.”

I also found this ^^ article interesting as it includes a diagram of a “neutron initiator” by the infamous AQ Khan – KHAAAAAAANN!  (Sorry, I had to.)

Okay, Congress and Israel, don’t get all freaked out and start shouting “mushroom cloud.” Remember the last time that we had “credible sources” about possible nukes, purportedly in Iraq, and went off half-cocked and half-assed? As Donald Rumsfeld (spit) so insultingly told under-provisioned U.S. troops to their faces, “…you go to war with the army you have—not the army you might want or wish to have…” How many thousands of American and coalition troops died, how many maimed, how many innocent Iraqis were killed? How much of their “sovereign nation” did we destroy? Seriously, do you macho politicians ever remember history, because you seem quite willing to repeat it.

Moving along…again from israelnationalnews.com, blogger Batya Medad writes about the following news:

“Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told Israel Radio late Thursday that he had agreed to an American framework proposal whereby Israel would negotiate peace with the Palestinians on the basis of the ’67 cease-fire lines with territorial swaps. (Jerusalem Post)”

Ms. Medad then writes:

“American policy is American policy. They promote what they think is good for the United States of America, and they want the support of what they perceive as “moderate Arab states.” The fact that such a phrase is an oxymoron has nothing to do with anything. Let the USA do whatever it wants. My complaints are against the Israeli Government, Binyamin Bibi Netanyahu’s government coalition.

Israel is supposedly an independent country and has been since the 1949 Armistice, which ended the active fighting between the newly established State of Israeli[sic] and the surrounding Arab countries, which had attacked it.

Although the State of Israel has been victorious in all of the wars against us by our Arab enemies, we have had successive governments that beg the United States for support and friendship. Bibi’s acquiescence to American demands is just the latest in a long series of bad policy steps over the decades.”

Oh, my, where do I start with this bit?

How about, if it weren’t for the U.S. and its allies, the State of Israel would not exist?

Or, AIPAC is the biggest and probably most powerful lobby in the United States?

Or, how much money and military equipment and assistance has the U.S. given to Israel throughout its existence?

Or, didn’t you guys actually start some of those “wars against us by our Arab enemies”?

Or, Israel doesn’t “beg the United States for support and friendship”, it demands it unconditionally and unswervingly, then spits in our faces. And when we politely ask that Israel restrain itself a tad when they’re violating the conditions of the 1967 agreement by bombing their neighbors and taking their neighbors’ land, Israel considers it an affront to their sovereignty. Bite me, Israel, you can stop taking our money and assistance, we can certainly use a few extra billion dollars right here.

As to Israel’s worry over the possibility of Iran hiding the development of a nuclear weapon, all I can say is, how big is Israel’s nuclear stockpile that Israel denies exists?

Okay, rant over…for now.

This is our daily open thread – don’t mind me, feel free to discuss whatever you want.

Sunday Roast: March 17, 2013 – Including NSFW

So what is going on this Sunday, not much, and that’s not always bad. I picked a fews reads for you, I hope you all slept in 😉

President Obama will be in Israel next week. The so-called peace process, was there ever a real effort (?), is not only stalled, it is at it’s lowest point since I remember. The Economist picks up the topic:

IN 1942, as the Holocaust in Europe was entering its most horrific phase, a pacifist American rabbi called Judah Magnes helped found a political party in Palestine called Ihud. Hebrew for unity, Ihud argued for a single binational state in the Holy Land to be shared by Jews and Arabs. Its efforts—and those of like-minded idealists—came to naught. Bitterly opposed to the partition of Palestine, Magnes died in 1948 just as the state of Israel—the naqba, or catastrophe, to Palestinians—was being born. Decades of strife were to follow.(read more)

Cyprus needs a bailout. That’s not really news, but the account holders will get a haircut, oops:

Cypriots reacted with shock that turned to panic on Saturday after a 10% one-off levy on savings was forced on them as part of an extraordinary 10bn euro (£8.7bn) bailout agreed in Brussels.(read more)

Formula 1 is on, finally, The Lotus Effect:

Kimi Raikkonen proved he and Lotus have what it takes this year to become Formula One world champions after storming to victory in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.(read more)

And, kids, you look the other way now:

Close your eyes and ears,” warns an off-screen voice, “because here comes a sex comedy that’s all about bonking and banging.” Then Bavarian character Sepp appears on screen. As he assumes a wide-legged stance in an Alpine pasture, a cow gazes awe-struck at the fly of his lederhosen. Thunderbolts shoot out of his tight leather shorts, bulging with excessive man-power.( read more)

Again, there’s not much going on really, I could have brought you ‘She Who Must Not Be Named’ and her CPAC speech, but I am not cruel.

This is our Open Thread. All Yours!

Meanwhile, Back in the Holy Land….

All cartoons are posted with the artists’ express permission to TPZoo.
Paul Jamiol
Jamiol’s World

It seemed, this year, that a new insanity gripped the United States:  The Newtown mass murder of little children, followed by reports that others were planning similar crimes.  Then the NRA out there stumping for arming every man, woman & child in the country.

Insanity grips the “Holy Land” as well: Brinksmanship of the most deadly kind. And, again, children are dying. For what?  ‘Tis this insanity that inspired the following poem, written several years ago:

CRYSTAL TIME

      When dreams are swept away,
And the jagged edges of crystal time
      Have etched their painful memories in the hourglass;

When angry seas crash
      Upon the upturned fist of the shore,
            Well worn,
            Well worn,
And the clay breathed no more;

When blinding Truth and Reality collide
      Into time’s crystal,
            Blinding,
            Binding,
And the sounding of the bell,
      The deep sounding of the bell,
            Tolling,
            Tolling,
Prophesying the virtues of the sand,
      (The sounding of the bell,
            The sweet sounding of the bell)
      Tolling for the dust;

Then tears shall fall,
            Falling,
            Falling,
      For the Counter of the sand.

THIS IS THE OPEN THREAD OF THE DAY. PEACE BE WITH YOU.