Friday, 19 February 2010

OBAMA & IRAN

Ken Berwitz

I was flying home earlier today and was given a copy of the Wall Street Journal.  It lead editorial dissected President Obama's policy - and the result of that policy - towards Iran.

I think it is excellent, so I'm posting the entire editorial below.  See if you agree.  The bold print is mine:

          FEBRUARY 19, 2010

Obama and Iran

Engagement has failed. The President needs a new strategy.

These have been busy days for Iran's leadership. On January 28, the regime hanged two government opponents and sentenced 10 others to die. It has arrested and jailed some 500 opponents since December. Last week, it shut off access to Gmail and Google Buzz, as it already has done with Twitter, to prevent opposition forces from organizing. On the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, it jammed the streets of Tehran with supporters and security forces. Oh, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that Iran has begun enriching uranium to 20% purity, making it a "nuclear state."

Maybe now we can all agree that "engagement" with Iran has failed. So where does the Obama Administration go from here? It seems to be moving on multiple, not always coherent, fronts.

Last Wednesday, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on a commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps along with several IRGC-related companies said to be involved in WMD programs. And this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that Iran may be evolving into a military dictatorship, with the Revolutionary Guards essentially running the show.

The U.S. is also trying to get the U.N. Security Council to agree to a new round of sanctions on Iran, over continued Chinese opposition. A Western diplomatic source tells us we can probably expect another essentially symbolic U.N. resolution in the coming weeks.

Then there is Congress, which in the past two months has voted overwhelmingly for legislation that targets companies doing energy business with Iran. The two bills must now be reconciled, but the State Department has previously sought to postpone the measures on grounds that they would constrain its room for diplomatic maneuver and could hurt the Iranian people.

Our sources tell us the Administration may now reluctantly be willing to let Congress play bad cop as it pursues its sanctions options at the U.N. and, separately, with the Europeans. That's fine as far as it goes, and we hope the Administration understands that the Congressional bills would also have a major impact on the Revolutionary Guard, which dominates Iran's energy business and takes a huge cut from the $6 billion-plus annual gasoline trade, according to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Then again, we doubt even this Administration thinks that these sanctions alone can alter the regime's behavior, much less force its collapse. Insteadand in the absence of a credible threat of the use of U.S. military forcethe Administration seems to be gambling its Iran policy on a set of assumptions that look increasingly wishful.

One of these assumptions is that there may still be a "grand bargain" to be struck with the Iranian leadership, notwithstanding its refusals to do so last year amid President Obama's overtures. The Administration also allowed itself to imagine that Iran's protest movement would force the regime to take a more conciliatory nuclear line. It seems to have done the opposite.

Another assumption is that Iran has encountered serious technical difficulties in its nuclear program, out of some combination of incompetence and perhaps sabotage. We certainly hope that's true. But the driving fact is that Iran seems to have repeatedly surmounted these obstacles over the years, and last year it surprised U.N. inspectors by producing more low-enriched uranium than anticipated. Enrichment only becomes easier as it moves to higher states of purity. And yesterday, the U.N. nuclear agency said it is worried that Iran may already be working on a nuclear warhead.

Then there is the whispered assumption that a nuclear Iran would be "containable." But leaving aside the view that a religiously fanatic regime can never safely be trusted with a bomb, a nuclear Iran would open the Pandora's box of nuclear proliferation in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey. For an Administration that has made nuclear nonproliferation a centerpiece of its agenda, allowing Iran to go nuclear would seem an odd way to advance that goal.

***

All of this suggests the need for a new U.S. strategy that drops the engagement illusion and begins to treat Iran as the single biggest threat to Mideast and U.S. security. Sanctions can be part of that strategy, but they will need to be more comprehensive than anything to date. They must also be ramped up rapidly because they will need time to be felt by the regime. The U.S. should give up on the U.N., which will only delay and dilute such pressure, and build a sanctions coalition of the willing.

The U.S. can also speak and act far more forcefully and clearly on behalf of Iran's domestic opposition. The regime's recent crackdown suggests that the chances of regime change in the near term are remote, but popular animosity against Iran's rulers still seethes underground. The U.S. should assist that opposition in any way it can, especially with technology to help communicate with each other and the world.

Finally, the option of a military strike will have to be put squarely on the table. Sanctions have little chance of working unless they are backed by a credible military threat, and in any case Israel is more likely to act if it concludes that the U.S. won't. The risks of military action are obvious, but the danger to the world from a nuclear Iran is far worse.

After a year of lost time, Mr. Obama needs to put aside the diplomatic illusions of his campaign and make the hard decisions to stop the Revolutionary Guards from getting the bomb.

Give WSJ's editorial staff credit for seeing what is in front of their eyes. 

Now:  Will Mr. Obama do the same?  There may not be a lot of time for this to happen.


IS IT RACISM YET?

Ken Berwitz

Here is a short excerpt from the Public Policy Institute's analysis of their latest polling data.  See what it means to you:

Friday, February 19, 2010

Obama's Approval Decline

Barack Obama peaked in our national polling at a 55/38 spread last May. Now he's at 48/47. What's most interesting to note about that shift in his numbers is that it has come completely among white people. In May his approval with racial minorities was a 73/17 spread and now it's an almost identical 77/17. But with whites he's fallen from slightly positive ground at 48/45 to strongly negative territory at 37/58.

That is part of the problem for Democrats this year in the midterm election. While white voters were only 74% of the electorate in 2008, they made up 79% of it in 2006 the last time there wasn't a Presidential contest on the ballot. So before taking anything else into account the party is at a disadvantage simply because of the likely demographics of the electorate.

Let's think about this.

According to PPI's polling, Barack Obama's strongly positive profile has, in 9 months, turned into an even split among those who approve and disapprove of his performance.  Presumably this is because of dissatisfaction with the quality of said performance.

The entire reason is that some Whites have shifted from positive to negative territory. In other words they were, at one time, positively disposed towards Mr. Obama but subsequently became disenchanted with him. 

You may have noticed that Mr. Obama is Black.  You may also have noticed that he is no more or less Black now than he was in May.  So it is a bit difficult to pin this decline on White racism. 

By contrast, Blacks have not wavered one bit.  They have virtually the same feeling towards him now that they did last May.  His performance has not altered their immensely positive approval ratings even one little bit. 

Frankly, that is a lot easier to pin on racism.

One other thing:  If White voters comprised 79% of voters in 2006, and only 74% in 2008, it means a lot fewer Whites voted or a lot more Blacks voted when there was a Black Presidential candidate.  That is worth wondering about, isn't it?

I expect in the next few days that there will be political analysts concluding that the change in those numbers is Whites rejecting a Black President.  If I'm right, please keep remembering that those Whites did not reject him months before.  The difference from May 2009 to February 2010 is not his skin color; it is their perception of his performance as President.

free` Excellent!!! Unfortunately logic goes right out the window when someone has an advantage as big as the race card. If we are supposed to all be Americans why do we continue to separate ourselves by race? With the 2010 census coming up keep that in mind and under race mark Other and write in HUMAN. (02/19/10)


BILL MAHER: ABSOLUTE PIG

Ken Berwitz

An absolute pig.  That is the cleanest description of bill maher that I can muster.

Read this piece by Rusty Weiss of www.newsbusters.org, and see why:

Maher: Palins Job at Fox Equivalent to Talking to Her Down Syndrome Baby

 

By Rusty Weiss (Bio | Archive)
Thu, 02/18/2010 - 00:01 ET

How does one prepare for an upcoming appearance by Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy fame?  If you're Bill Maher, you follow up the Family Guy/Sarah Palin/Down Syndrome attack by doing an 'exclusive rant' for the Huffington Post which includes - you guessed it - a joke about Sarah Palin's son, Trig.

Maher appeals to his lower-intellect audience by stating:

"...while we were off, Sarah Palin agreed to do commentary at Fox News.  Which is actually very similar to her day job - talking to a baby with Down Syndrome."

To most with a conscience, this would clearly jump out as an appalling joke about an infant child.  But the politically incorrect Maher doesn't view baby Trig as an actual human being.  This is evidenced by past comments in which he refers to Palin's son as it' three separate times in yet another tasteless joke:

"And the trump card, why Americans will fall in love with her, she's got five kids. How can you not vote for someone who has five children, including an infant. Some touching details about the infant: it has Down Syndrome, she had it when she was 43 years old, and it looks a lot like John Edwards."

Silver lining? Maher appears to finally accept the fact that Trig is actually Palin's son, something he wasn't quite sure about prior to the election in 2008.

When did a Down Syndrome baby become fodder for half-wit comedians?  Better yet, as NewsBuster Noel Sheppard recently asked, Exactly WHAT'S considered too far when Palin and her family are concerned?'

While we are reminded of the downright hatred that the Palin family has endured since being thrust into the political spotlight, it is equally important to remind ourselves of another thought.  That Trig, and those who value life as a precious gift, all life, are extremely grateful for the Palin's decision, no matter the challenges.  Trig is a blessing and an inspiration to the conservative pro-life movement, as are Sarah and Todd Palin for making the right choice, the only choice.

What a bottom-dwelling scumbucket maher is. 

If there are two things we have learned about these haters, 1) there is nothing - and I do mean nothing at all - that they will hold back in their sickening attacks and 2) our wonderful "neutral" media will, for the most part, look the other way.

Let's compare:  George Allen, former Governor of Virginia, lost a senate race and (at least so far) his political career, for using one pejorative comment that most people, I suspect, had never even heard of - macaca - to describe a Democratic worker of Indian descent who was following him from campaign stop to campaign stop.   

But the mahers and the lettermans and the garofalos and their pals can say anything at all about Sarah Palin, her daughter, her downs syndrome child, her husband, her life, etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum ad nauseam.  And it is fair game. No problem at all.

I would say that maher should be ashamed of himself.  But someone with a mind and a mouth that foul, who reaps enormous financial rewards for both, never will be.


DIDN'T PRESIDENT OBAMA WARN AGAINST BLOWING YOUR MONEY IN VEGAS?

Ken Berwitz

President Obama has insulted Las Vegas twice in the past several months - enough so that the city's Mayor, Oscar Goodman, refused to meet with him when he came to town today.

But Mr. Obama came anyway, because he needs to somehow reverse things and be a benefit to Senator and Majority Leader Harry Reid - who is in deep, deep trouble this election year.

Here, via an excerpt from Ben Feller's article for the Associated Press, is how he is handling it:

LAS VEGAS (AP) - President Barack Obama is unveiling $1.5 billion in housing help, a boost timed to his appearance in the city with the worst foreclosure crisis in the nation.

Obama's move, detailed by aides in advance of his town hall here Friday, is the latest by a White House determined to show it is helping families rebound from a deep recession. The downturn is taking an election-year toll on Obama's party as voter frustration builds.

Obama was to announce that housing finance agencies in the five hardest-hit states in the housing crisis will receive $1.5 billion to help spur local solutions to the problem. Those five are Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan and Nevada.

The policy wrinkle comes during a two-day Western trip with different agendas for the president. He will be back in town-hall mode, a venue that aides say allows him to connect with people and distance himself from the messy process of Washington governing.

The president is also out to help vulnerable senators protect their seats and, in turn, gain as much legislative leverage as he can.

At the town hall and a business speech he will be lending his support to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, a top 2010 election target of Republicans.

That, folks, is the Obama way.  Make a promise, write a check and have the treasury issue some more money it doesn't have.

Is this going to help Reid and the other "shaky" senators?  Will it assuage Mayor Goodman?  (Hint:  how did it do for Ben Nelson in Nebraska?)

Well, now the chips are down.  We'll see......


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