Tuesday, October 22, 2013

It may be fall but everything's coming up roses in Geneva -- and in every press release about how swimmingly negotiations have been going in that picture-postcard-perfect Swiss spa. (How come diplomatic conferences are never held in Gary, Indiana, or East St. Louis, Illinois?) The subject of last week's meetings in picturesque Geneva: how to work out a deal over Iran's nuclear weapons program. That's right, the vast program that doesn't exist, never existed, and will be halted if only the West would be so kind as to lift its sanctions on trade with that country and theocracy.

Each side, East and West, had its own agenda as the twain met in Geneva last week. No wonder the late League of Nations chose Geneva as the site for all its futile deliberations. It's a lovely city on a lake and a fine place to take a vacation from all the petty irritations and frustrations of the real world. Like how to achieve a real peace.

Anyone who's read even a little history about Europe between the Wars will know the formula for an officially successful negotiation: talk a lot and achieve little if anything. Except maybe the next, bigger and worse war.

The only thing that seems to have changed about such formal conclaves since the Roaring Twenties and Drab Thirties is that the diplomats no longer wear wing collars and striped pants. Flowery blouses and dresses now crop up in the group photographs. But little else seems to have changed over the years. Especially the futility of international conferences. That the aims of the High Contracting Parties involved in such conferences may be diametrically opposed is but a minor detail that never seems to get in the way of the Pollyannas who write the communiqués.

The aim of Iran's mullahs in these latest negotiations at Geneva is to end the West's crippling sanctions on their country's economy. Which is understandable. Iran's oil exports have fallen sharply, its currency is largely worthless, its banks paralyzed, and the natives grow restless.

For the West, the aim is to keep Iran's nuclear program from producing a nuclear weapon, which by now is almost within reach. If only Iran's military-industrial complex can buy a little more time at Geneva, all these oh-so-solemn proceedings will prove but abstractions. Which is why Iran's diplomats are willing to talk, and talk and talk, at Geneva. So long as those centrifuges can keep whirring and Iran's supply of enriched uranium keeps mounting.

That sound you hear in the background of these negotiations is an atomic clock ticking. For the work proceeds apace at Isfahan and Natanz and Qom ... and sites still to be disclosed. Till it's too late, and the fog of diplomacy is replaced by a mushroom cloud.

Don't be concerned. Great progress is being made at Geneva, where last week the diplomats looked over their work and pronounced it good.

The head of the European Union's diplomatic delegation there, the Rt. Hon. Catherine Ashton, Baroness Ashton of Upholland, assured the world that last week's "very important" negotiations had entered a "new phase," not to be confused with the decade of deceptive deadlock that preceded them.
Iran's foreign minister concurred: "We have reached a serious stage in the talks."

Our own State Department's spokesperson, Jennifer Psaki, declared the discussions "substantive," which is almost as assuring as State's official line after the unfortunate events at Benghazi.

Even the White House's press secretary, Jay Carney himself, weighed in on this happy occasion: "The Iranian proposal is a new proposal with a level of seriousness and substance that we had not seen before." And we all know how trustworthy Jay Carney's words have proven. Not since Ron Ziegler occupied his position in the Nixon administration has a press secretary been so reliable a source.

If all these assurances aren't enough to leave you as bubbly and full of good cheer as that first glass of champagne, followed by a few more, Americans can always rely on the editorials in the ever in-vogue New York Times. The word from the Times is that anybody who criticizes these negotiations is just "sabotaging diplomacy," and that goes especially for Israel's Bibi Netanyahu, who keeps demonstrating a stubborn interest in keeping his pesky little country from being wiped off the map, troublemaker that he is.

All these stately proceedings at Geneva have an unreal yet familiar air. Like a nightmare that keeps recurring. Only those who think past experience might be of some use in assaying current events may recall another series of negotiations, those conducted by another administration with another ruthless regime. And how well they were going before they succeeded only in giving the world another nuclear power, and scarcely the most peace-loving one at that.

Back in 2005, which is almost another age in a country as historically amnesiac as the United States of Forgetfulness, the ancien régime known as the Bush administration announced to great fanfare that North Korea -- yes, the sealed hermit kingdom itself -- had just agreed to any number of concessions (meaningless, as it turned out) and would give up its plans to produce a nuclear weapon. Hooray! Let the confetti fly!

Leading the celebrants back then, Gentle Reader will not be surprised to learn, was the (no longer) good gray New York Times, which could scarcely contain its jubilation:

"For years now, foreign policy insiders have pointed to North Korea as the ultimate nightmare ... a closed, hostile and paranoid dictatorship with an aggressive nuclear weapons program. Very few could envision a successful outcome (to these negotiations). And yet North Korea agreed in principle this week to dismantle its nuclear weapons program ... and admit international inspectors. Diplomacy, it seems, does work after all."

For a while. Within a year, Pyongyang had set off its first nuclear explosion. Just as Teheran will soon be in a position to do. Thanks to our diplomatic corps' inexhaustible capacity for wishful thinking. It's a charming trait, really, and a very American one. If only it didn't come at such a high price.

At an event Monday to boost the Affordable Care Act after its glitch-rich rollout, President Barack Obama asserted that his signature health care plan is a hit because "prices have come down."

That's the administration's big lie: that Washington can mandate universal health care with beefed-up benefits and somehow the plan will save everyone money.

"One study shows that through new options created by the Affordable Care Act," the president boasted, "nearly 6 in 10 uninsured Americans will find that they can get covered for less than $100 a month." He glossed over the fact that according to the federal government study, 56 percent of the uninsured should pay less than $100 a month because they qualify for Medicaid or for federal subsidies. To the extent that these people's prices come down, it's because someone else pays the price.

Some people will save without subsidies. Obama read a letter from John Mier of Leetsdale, Pa. Mier agreed the website "stank" when he first logged on, but later he found that instead of paying $1,600 a month for coverage, as his current provider would charge, thanks to Obamacare, he and his family "have a plan that will only cost ... $692 a month -- a savings of $900 per month."

I talked to Mier, who is a consulting engineer; his wife works for his business. The couple do not qualify for subsidies. He's in his 60s. She's in her late 50s. He has a pre-existing condition, and she has diabetes. One insurer turned down his wife. I asked him whether he thought his claims experience, because of the family's medical history, explained the couple's high premiums. Mier answered, "Probably, no doubt."

I've been hearing from healthy Californians who were kicked off their private plans because of Obamacare and were informed they would have to pay much higher premiums on Affordable Care Act exchanges. It could be that his family's boon spells a financial hit for healthy individuals who had good affordable health care before Obamacare.

The White House doesn't hold events with families who have been burned by Obamacare. The president had promised Americans that if they liked their health care plans, they could keep them.

But the president doesn't read letters from people who feel they were betrayed and deceived.
Couples who decide to earn less money so that they can qualify for federal subsidies don't swoon on the White House steps as the president crows about how swell Obamacare is. There is no "rate shock" on Pennsylvania Avenue.

So let me quote from an email from a San Francisco contractor who is "very angry over this new health care act." Kaiser informed him that for him to comply with the new law, his deductible would rise from $2,700 per year to $4,500, and his premiums would rise from $356 to $567. "All I ever heard was that if you currently had health insurance, you need not worry; you could keep your same coverage, your doctor, and nothing would change for you. Wrong, wrong, wrong."

Voters never should have believed that Washington could provide the same benefits -- no, more benefits -- to millions more Americans and still people would pay less. That thinking, not computer glitches, is the real "kink in the system" of Obamacare.

Hamas top dogs admit to building tunnels to kidnap Israelis

From Jihad Watch / Posted by Robert Spencer   

Even if they wanted to, the Palestinian Authority leaders with whom Obama is demanding that Israel negotiate can't rein in Hamas. "Hamas Leaders Admit to Building Tunnels to Kidnap Israelis," by Adam Kredo for the Washington Free Beacon, October 21 (thanks to Block Ness):
Hamas leaders confessed on Monday that they had been planning to kidnap Israelis using a recently discovered tunnel system burrowed deep beneath the Israeli-Gaza border, according to reports. 
The admission that Hamas is still seeking to kidnap and ransom Israelis has renewed concerns that a new round of violent demonstrations known as an intifada could sweep the region and jeopardize nascent peace talks.
Israeli authorities revealed last week that they had discovered a complex 1.5-mile tunnel system running from the Gaza Strip into a nearby Israeli kibbutz.
Hamas officials came clean about the tunnel on Monday when a senior leader admitted that the terror group was planning to abduct Israelis and ransom them to secure the release of imprisoned Palestinian terrorists.
“This tunnel was made by the hand of the fighters of (Izzadine) al-Qassam and they will not sleep in their efforts to hit the occupation and kidnap soldiers,” Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida was reported as saying on al-Aqsa radio, a Hamas-owned station.
“Kidnapping soldiers is the only way to succeed against the (Israeli) occupation,” Obeida was quoted as saying by the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency.
The Hamas leader vowed to continue efforts to spark violence and kidnap Israelis.
“We are working on the ground and under the ground to release the prisoners,” Obeida said.
Hamas secured the release of more than 1,000 prisoners in 2011 under a deal that bought freedom for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Middle East experts said Hamas’ admission is another sign that the group is not backing down from its violent agenda as U.S. officials attempt to foster a peace deal....

Law Enforcement Laments: Americans Informed About How We Abuse Their Rights Are Hurting Our Ability To Abuse Their

by / Personal Liberty Digest

Law Enforcement Laments: Americans Informed About How We Abuse Their Rights Are Hurting Our Ability To Abuse Their Rights
The Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation stood before his law enforcement peers Sunday and warned them that they were all in danger of losing their technological toys in the ongoing effort to spy on non-suspects and to create probable cause out of thin air. The revolt of public opinion elicited by Edward Snowden’s revelations about government’s spy methods has simply made secret surveillance too unpopular and has attracted too many fresh sets of watchful civilian eyes.

Of course, GBI Director Vernon Keenan spoke of this as a bad thing, in the process revealing just how comfortably ensconced American law enforcement has become in its echo chamber of police-culture entitlement.

Speaking at the conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (a gathering that also features draconian surveillance cheerleaders such as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder), Keenan talked about how the law enforcement community must be careful in the near term if it wants to hang on to wonderful technologies like facial recognition software, license plate scanners and unmanned surveillance drones.

From Reuters, which reported on Keenan’s weekend speech:
“The scrutiny that the NSA has come under filters down to us,” Keenan said at the annual gathering that draws top law enforcement from the United States and elsewhere with workshops, product exhibits and conferences.
“…If we are not very careful, law enforcement is going to lose the use of technology.”
Watching the watchers is, in other words, a momentary public relations nuisance that, if negotiated skillfully by the police, will blow over. The only reason police need to be careful about abusing their powers right now is because all eyes are on them. Eventually, they’ll win the day — if they don’t make too great a spectacle of themselves in the meantime.

“Law enforcement should join us, instead of fighting us, as we seek to advance privacy protections for everyone in the United States,” responded a blogger for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. “After all, if they are only interested in spying on the ‘bad guys,’ what do the police have to hide?”

Political bullies...existing at all levels of government

By: Diane Sori

Bullying…the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively impose domination over others. Bullying…what better word is there to describe the growing number of RINOs in the House.

And while lately the issue and consequences of bullying in general has been all over the news…as in bullies in our schools, bullies on the playground, bullies in sports…sadly, the bullies within the ranks of the Republican party…certain long-term way past time to leave RINO bullies… seem to be dominating the headlines. These political bullies…as in the likes of John McCain and Lindsey Graham to name but two…held Republican lawmakers in both chambers hostage with their made-up doomsday scenarios about defaulting as they sold their party…and ‘We the People’…out to the Obama political machine.

These bullies…in getting House Republicans to surrender to ‘Prince’ Harry Reid…a bully in his own right…and his anything but compromise Senate bill to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling…made those in the House, when it came their time to vote, appear as the humiliated, impotent, beaten down lawmakers they proved themselves to be.

And their bullying doom and gloom tactics overwhelmed and overtook any semblance of a backbone that Speaker of the House John Boehner once had.

As if the House surrender wasn’t bad enough, in their efforts to sell us all out, these Senate bullies tried to defame the few Republicans in both chambers who stood strong against Reid and crew…zeroing their bully pulpit tactics in on the one man who had the guts and courage to get in their faces from day one with his unwavering stance against the nightmare that is ObamaCare.

Senator Ted Cruz, called a bully by the RINOs, led the charge against the true party bullies and in retaliation has been slandered NOT only by Senate and House Democrats but by those within his own party…by those who wanted to acquiesce to ‘Prince’ Harry Reid from day one…by those who cared only that they and their cushy perks might be hurt by the shutdown while NOT caring one iota about those who were disrespected by this administration…as in our elderly WWII veterans.

And so any in either chamber who voted for this abomination of an anything but compromise bill…voting in lockstep for it even after Obama…and YES it was Barack HUSSEIN Obama….blocked the memorials to those who served…these sellouts MUST be voted out of office…and their bully tactics along with them.

True Conservative Republicans in Congress must unite and stand strong on two front…against the always liberal Democrats and also against the growing ranks of the RINO bullies who seem to be overtaking the House. And in the toxic environment that is the hallmark of today’s political scene, these political bullies must NOT be allowed to rule the roost, because if they do the Republican party…the party of our beloved Ronald Reagan…will be forever doomed…doomed because of ‘old guard’ bullies who will try to hang onto their political life by any means possible, including by NOT doing the people’s bidding if it does NOT serve their personal agendas.

But sadly, political bullying is NOT just the signature of those in DC…it trickles down through the states, the counties, all the way down to the local level. And at the local levels it can be even nastier than at the federal level…I know as I’ve just recently experienced a tried but failed bullying attempt against me. Standing strong against the individual and their pitiful attempt to bully me…intimidate me…I used something so often forgotten…so often overlooked…but something very effective in neutering a bully…in a word ‘facts’…and facts are the very thing the RINOs love to ignore.

And while this Lady Patriot does NOT take kindly to being bullied so should those who were elected to do the people’s bidding for those who succumb to bullying…like the RINOS in the House…are pitiful…with those who do the bullying even more so. And bullies like McCain and Graham will get theirs when they’re up for re-election…that is if they even have the guts to run after their sellout to the Democrats and Obama.

Bottom lie…all politics starts at the local level so at the local level is where the bullying must be squelched first so that those in power in DC…those who think they’re untouchable…get the message loud and clear that ‘We the People’ will NOT tolerate their political bullying and bickering at any level…especially by those from our own party who are trying to implode us from within.

We already have head bully Barack Hussein Obama trying to implode our country from within…we don’t need our own party bullies helping him.

And so the Republican Party must return to its true Conservative roots if we are to keep the House and take back the Senate in 2014…and that means the bullying tactics of the ‘old guard’ must NOT be allowed to dominate the conversation any longer. It’s time for the next generation of leaders to take over…new leaders that include members of those aligned with the TEA Party…for the TEA Party will be the salvation of the Republican party…that is after all the RINO bullies have been sent packing.