When Montecore, one of two white tigers in the Las Vegas act of Siegfried and Roy, turned and almost killed Roy on stage, the reaction was that the tame and complacent beast had gone berserk.
Comedian Chris Rock was nearer the mark: ”That tiger ain’t go crazy; that tiger went tiger.”
Seems our Asian tiger is going tiger as well.
Sharply escalating its clash with Japan over ownership of the Senkaku Islands, Beijing has established an air defense identification zone over the islands and a huge stretch of the East China Sea. Before entering its ADIZ, says Beijing, all planes must now notify China.
The United States responded by flying two B-52s through the zone. Japan and South Korea sent fighter jets through, also without permission. China then sent a squadron of fighters over the islands.
Now, in a move that has startled Tokyo, the United States has advised U.S. airliners entering China’s new ADIZ to alert China. Japan considers this tacit U.S. recognition of China’s territorial claim.
While America is not a party to the dispute over who owns the islands, under our security treaty, we are obligated to come to Japan’s defense if islands administered by Tokyo are attacked.
And since Richard Nixon returned Okinawa in 1972, Tokyo has administered the uninhabited Senkakus, which were first claimed by the Japanese Empire in the late 19th century.
China’s contends that all territories acquired by the Japanese Empire were forfeit and should have been vacated with the Japanese surrender in 1945. Before Japan’s seizure of the islands, says Beijing, they had been Chinese territory.
Yet, now, with naval vessels of both nations plying the waters around the islands and fighter jets overflying these rocks, it is hard see either the China of Xi Jinping or the Japan of Shinzo Abe backing down before a clash occurs.
And should that happen, we are in it.
When, after the massacres at Newtown and the Washington Navy Yard, Republicans refused to outlaw the AR-15 rifle or require background checks for gun purchasers, we were told the party had committed suicide by defying 90 percent of the nation.
When Republicans rejected amnesty and a path to citizenship for illegal aliens, we were told the GOP had just forfeited its future.
When House Republicans refused to fund Obamacare, the government was shut down and the Tea Party was blamed, word went forth: The GOP has destroyed its brand. Republicans face a wipeout in 2014. It will take a generation to remove this mark of Cain.
Eight weeks later, Obama’s approval is below 40 percent. Most Americans find him untrustworthy. And the GOP is favored to hold the seats it has in the House while making gains in the Senate.
For this reversal of fortunes, Republicans can thank the rollout of Obamacare—the website that does not work, the revelation that, contrary to Obama’s promise, millions are losing health care plans that they liked, and the reports of soaring premiums and sinking benefits.
Democrats, however, might take comfort in the old maxim: If you don’t like the weather here, just wait a while.
For, egged on by Bibi Netanyahu and the Israeli Lobby AIPAC, the neocons are anticipating the return of Congress to start work on new sanctions on Iran. Should they succeed, they just might abort the Geneva talks or even torpedo the six-month deal with Iran.
While shaking a fist in the face of the Ayatollah will rally the Republican base, it does not appear to be a formula for winning the nation. Read More…
“Iran’s Nuclear Triumph” roared the headline of the Wall Street Journal editorial. William Kristol is again quoting Churchill on Munich.
Since the news broke Saturday night that Iran had agreed to a six-month freeze on its nuclear program, we are back in the Sudetenland again.
Why? For not only was this modest deal agreed to by the United States, but also by our NATO allies Germany, Britain, and France.
Russia and China are fine with it.
Iran’s rivals, Turkey and Egypt, are calling it a good deal. Saudi Arabia says it “could be a first step toward a comprehensive solution for Iran’s nuclear program.”
Qatar calls it “an important step toward safeguarding peace and stability in the region.” Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have issued similar statements.
Israeli President Shimon Peres calls the deal satisfactory. Former Military Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin has remarked of the hysteria in some Israeli circles, “From the reactions this morning, I might have thought Iran had gotten permission to build a bomb.”
Predictably, “Bibi” Netanyahu is leading the stampede:
Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world.
But this is not transparent nonsense?
In return for a modest lifting of sanctions, Tehran has agreed to halt work on the heavy water reactor it is building at Arak, to halt production of 20-percent uranium, to dilute half of its existing stockpile, and to allow more inspections.
Does this really make the world “a much more dangerous place”?
By 1968, Walter Lippmann, the dean of liberal columnists, had concluded that liberalism had reached the end of its tether.
In that liberal epoch, the 1960s, the Democratic Party had marched us into an endless war that was tearing America apart.
Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society had produced four “long, hot summers” of racial riots and a national crime rate that had doubled in a decade. The young were alienated, the campuses aflame.
Lippmann endorsed Richard Nixon.
For forty years, no unabashed liberal would be elected president.
Jimmy Carter won one term by presenting himself as a born-again Christian from Georgia, a peanut farmer, Naval Academy graduate and nuclear engineer. Bill Clinton ran as a centrist.
So toxic had the term “liberal” become that liberals dropped it and had themselves rebaptized as “progressives.”
Barack Obama, however, ran unapologetically as a man of the left. An opponent of the Iraq war, he had compiled a voting record to the left of Bernie Sanders, the socialist senator from Vermont.
And Obama proudly placed his signature achievement, Obamacare, right alongside, and in the tradition of, liberal giants FDR and LBJ.
This is the new progressivism of the 21st century, Obama was saying, and I the transformational figure who will usher in the post-Reagan era. Where Clinton failed, I will succeed.
But now that Obamacare is coming to be perceived as a political catastrophe, not only does it threaten Obama’s place in history, it could invalidate, indeed, eviscerate the defining idea of the Democratic Party itself.
Had there been no Dallas, there would have been no Camelot.
There would have been no John F. Kennedy as brilliant statesman cut off in his prime, had it not been for those riveting days from Dealey Plaza to Arlington and the lighting of the Eternal Flame. Along with the unsleeping labors of an idolatrous press and the propagandists who control America’s popular culture, those four days created and sustained the Kennedy Myth.
But, over 50 years, the effect has begun to wear off. The New York Times reports that in the ranking of presidents, Kennedy has fallen further and faster than any. Ronald Reagan has replaced him as No. 1, and JFK is a fading fourth.
Kennedy is increasingly perceived today as he was 50 years ago, before word came that shots had been fired in Dallas. That he was popular, inspirational, charismatic, no one denied. But no one would then have called him great or near great. His report card had too many C’s, F’s and Incompletes. His great legislative victory had been the passage of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. His tax cut bill was buried on the Hill. His triumph had been forcing a withdrawal of Soviet missiles from Cuba. But we would learn this was done by a secret deal for the withdrawal of U.S. missiles from Turkey and a secret pledge not to invade Cuba.
And after the missile crisis, Bobby Kennedy pushed the CIA to eliminate Castro, eliciting a warning from Fidel that two could play this game. Lyndon Johnson said that under the Kennedys, the CIA had been running “a damned Murder Inc. in the Caribbean.” What caused Nikita Khrushchev to think he could get away with putting rockets in Cuba? His perception that JFK was a weak president.
Kennedy had denied air cover for the Cuban patriots at the Bay of Pigs, resulting in the worst debacle of the Cold War. He was then berated and humiliated by Khrushchev at the Vienna Summit in June 1961. In August, Khrushchev built the Berlin Wall. Kennedy sat paralyzed. In September, Khrushchev smashed the three-year-old nuclear test-ban moratorium with a series of explosions featuring, at Novaya Zemlya, a 57-megaton “Tsar Bomba,” the largest man-made blast ever.
“Less profile, more courage,” the placards read.
In Southeast Asia, JFK had Averell Harriman negotiate a treaty for neutralizing Laos, resulting in Hanoi’s virtual annexation of the Ho Chi Minh trail through Laos into South Vietnam. Where Eisenhower had 600 advisers in Vietnam, JFK increased it to 16,000 and gave his blessing to a generals’ coup in which our ally, President Ngo Dinh Diem, was assassinated. Then and there, Vietnam became America’s war.
Kennedy had made a famous phone call to Mrs. Martin Luther King during the 1960 campaign when her husband had been arrested. Yet, he kept his administration away from the March on Washington and directed J. Edgar Hoover to wiretap Dr. King to learn of his associations with Communists.
Since his death, Kennedy’s reputation has been ravaged by revelations of assignations and mistresses from Marilyn Monroe to Mafia molls to White House interns from Miss Porter’s School. All of this was covered up by his courtier journalists who would collaborate in perpetuating the Kennedy myth and collude in destroying their great hate object, Richard Nixon. Yet, contrast what Nixon did, with what JFK failed to do.
If Bibi Netanyahu succeeds in closing down Obama’s diplomatic path to Iran, only the road to war remains open.
Which is exactly what Bibi wants.
For what terrifies Tel Aviv, and rattles Riyadh, is not a U.S. war with Iran, but the awful specter of American rapprochement with Iran, a detente.
Thus, when France’s foreign minister torpedoed the deal John Kerry flew to Geneva to sign, France soared in neocon esteem. The “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” of 2003 who opposed the Iraq war suddenly became again the heroes of Verdun and the Marne.
“Vive La France” blared the Wall Street Journal editorial declaiming, “Francois Hollande’s Socialist Government has saved the West from a deal that would all but guarantee that Iran becomes a nuclear power.”
Did Hollande really save the West? Or did he just rack up points with the Saudi princes for when the next big arms contract comes up for bid?
What is going on is a gravely serious matter.
If the Netanyahu cabal succeeds in sabotaging U.S. negotiations with Iran, it is hard to see how we avoid another war that could set the Persian Gulf region ablaze and sink the global economy.
And just what is it that has Netanyahu apoplectic?
A six-month deal under which Iran would freeze all enrichment of uranium, in return for a modest lifting of sanctions, while the final agreement is negotiated. The final deal would put permanent limits and controls on Iran’s nuclear program to ensure it is not used to build bombs
And there would be more and more intrusive inspections.
How would this imperil Israel?
Iran today has no atom bomb. Has never tested a bomb. Has never exploded a nuclear device. Possesses not a single known ounce of 90 percent enriched uranium, which is essential for a uranium bomb.
Nor does Iran have enough 20 percent uranium to make a bomb. And part of the stockpile it did have has been converted into fuel rods. There are inspectors in all of Iran’s operating nuclear facilities.
The Ayatollah has declared a fatwa against nuclear weapons. The Hassan Rouhani regime says it has no nuclear weapons program.
And U.S. intelligence agrees with Iran.
All 16 U.S. intelligence agencies in 2007, and, again, two years ago, said, with high confidence, that Iran has made no decision to build a bomb and has no nuclear weapons program.
How would new restrictions and reductions on an Iranian nuclear program that has never produced an ounce of weapons-grade uranium, let alone a bomb, threaten Israel, with its hundreds of atom bombs?
“You can’t trust the Iranians. They’re lying about their nuclear program,” says Lindsey Graham.
Is U.S. intelligence also lying?
Ten years ago, it turned out Saddam was telling the truth and it was Lindsey’s friends doing the lying about Iraq’s WMDs.
Looks like the same old crowd up to the same old tricks.
“Maybe the folks in Washington, D.C., should tune in their TVs right now and see how it’s done,” said the big winner of Tuesday last.
“I did not seek a second term to do small things,” Chris Christie went on, but “to finish the job—now watch me do it.”
Humility is not the governor’s strong suit.
Yet Christie registered a remarkable victory. He won with 60 percent in a blue state, winning 55 percent of women, half of the Hispanic vote and 20 percent of African-Americans.
If he could replicate those numbers in New Jersey and nationally in 2016, Chris Christie would be elected president in a landslide.
“[T]his fellow is really on the right track,” says seven-term Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, “if the Republican Party is not too stupid.” To fill out Christie’s ticket in 2016, Hatch proposes Susana Martinez of New Mexico, who made eight campaign stops with Christie on Monday.
Democrats concur with Hatch. The headline on the lead story on page one of Thursday’s Washington Post reads: “Democrats Take Aim at Christie: He’s Seen as GOP’s Best Hope for 2016.”
“The Elephant in the Room” is the title of Time‘s cover story.
And with the corporate contributors and Beltway bundlers gravitating to him, Christie is emerging as the establishment’s hope to recapture the GOP from its Tea Party, libertarian, social conservative, and populist wing.
Will Christie be the candidate in 2016?
Put me down as a skeptic. Read More…
Chutzpah. I believe that’s the word for it.
Just days after learning the Americans have been tapping her phones and taping her conversations, Angela Merkel has been publicly upbraided by the U.S. Treasury for being a bad global citizen.
What did she do to deserve this?
Merkel just won a third term as chancellor with a record vote and has an approval rating near 80 percent. But she is a bad global citizen because Germany is running the world’s largest trade surplus.
The Washington Post thinks the Treasury’s tongue-lashing is overdue, as does Paul Krugman of the New York Times:
In this environment, a country that runs a trade surplus is … beggaring its neighbors. It is diverting spending away from their goods and services to its own, and thereby taking away jobs.
Is this not astonishing?
Competing successfully in world markets is now tantamount to stealing food off the table of one’s less-competent and less-successful neighbors.
By this standard, America was a selfish nation and a rotten global citizen for the first seven decades of the 20th century, when we ran trade surpluses every year, averaging 4 percent of GDP.
From the Civil War through the Roaring ’20s, with a high tariff, we became the mightiest manufacturing power the world had ever seen. Our economic independence enabled us to stay out of two world wars. And when we did go in, we won within months in 1918, and we won again only a few years after Pearl Harbor.
Is this a record to be ashamed of?
Every modern nation that has risen to world power has done so through economic nationalism: Britain under the Acts of Navigation; the United States under protectionist Republicans from 1860-1914; Bismarck’s Germany; postwar Japan, which rose from the ashes of 1945 to become the world’s second economy; and China from 1980 to today.
Trade surpluses, run at the expense of rival powers, have been the hallmark of great nations in their rise to preeminence.
“Nothing is lost save honor.”
So said Jim Fisk after he and Jay Gould survived yet another scrape in their corrupt and storied careers in the Gilded Age
Fisk’s dismissal of honor came to mind while watching Barack Obama in Boston smugly explain how his vow—”If you like your health care plan, you can keep it!”—was now inoperative.
All along, it had been a bait-and-switch by the first hustler.
In Boston, Obama could no longer evade the truth. Hundreds of thousands of Americans who had purchased health insurance in the private market were getting notices their plans were being canceled.
That this revelation had blown a hole in his credibility did not seem to trouble Obama. Indeed, the president appeared impatient with the complaints. These were “substandard” plans anyhow, he said, the lousy offerings of “bad-apple insurers.”
“So if you’re getting one of those letters (canceling your insurance plan), just shop around in the new marketplace. … You’re going to get a better deal.”
Behind the arrogance is the reality: Obama has the veto power. No alteration of Obamacare, except for changes he approves, can be made before the winter of 2017. And by then, Obamacare will be so deeply embedded in law and practice it will be beyond repeal.
We won, you lost, was written across Obama’s face.
Yet, Obama’s victory calls to mind that of King Pyrrhus of Epirus over the Romans at Asculum as described by Plutarch. Counting up his dead friends, dead commanders and dead soldiers, the king remarked, “Once more such victory and we are undone.”
The price Obama will be a long time paying for this victory is historic and huge.
The first reports in early May of 1960 were that a U.S. weather plane, flying out of Turkey, had gone missing.
A silent Moscow knew better. After letting the Americans crawl out on a limb, expatiating on their cover story, Russia sawed it off.
Actually, said Nikita Khrushchev, we shot down a U.S. spy plane 1,000 miles inside our country flying over a restricted zone.
We have the pilot, we have the camera, we have the pictures. We have the hollow silver dollar containing the poisoned-tipped needle CIA pilot Francis Gary Powers declined to use.
Two weeks later, Khrushchev used the U-2 incident and Ike’s refusal to apologize to dynamite the Paris summit and the gauzy Spirit of Camp David that had come out of his ten-day visit to the USA.
Eisenhower’s reciprocal trip to Russia was now dead.
A year later, President Kennedy would be berated by Khrushchev in Vienna. The Berlin Wall would go up. And Khrushchev would begin secretly to install nuclear missiles in Cuba, 90 miles from Key West.
Had there been no U-2 incident, would the history of the Cold War have been different? Perhaps.
Yet, while there were critics of launching Power’s U-2 flight so close to the summit, Americans understood the need for espionage. Like us, the Soviets were installing ballistic missiles, every single one of which could incinerate an American city.
Post 9/11, too, Americans accepted the necessity for the National Security Agency to retrieve and sift through phone calls and e-mails to keep us secure from terror attacks. Many have come to accept today’s risks of an invasion of their privacy—for greater security for their family.
And there remains a deposit of trust among Americans that the NSA, the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency are not only working for us, they are defending us.
How long Americans will continue to repose this trust, however, is starting to come into question.
Last week, we learned that a high official of the U.S. government turned 200 private phone numbers of 35 friendly foreign leaders, basically the Rolodex of the president, over to the NSA for tapping and taping.
Allied leaders, with whom America works toward common goals, have for years apparently had their private conversations listened to, transcribed and passed around by their supposed U.S. friends.
Angela Merkel has apparently been the subject of phone taps since before she rose to the leadership of Germany and Europe. A victim of the East German Stasi, Ms. Merkel is not amused.