Got to love how all this stuff blows up in Obama’s face. Arrogance and naivety will do it every time.
Fidel Castro marked his 89th birthday Thursday by insisting the United States owes Cuba “many millions of dollars” because of the half-century-old American trade embargo.
Of course, given how poorly they negotiated the deal with Iran and understanding how willing they are to bow down to every enemy the nation has had, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that this is the reaction from a totalitarian – it’s your fault US that we’re an economic basket case and it is your duty to fix the problem.
And, my guess is he’ll find a sympathetic ear somewhere, even though the “embargo” was the loosest and most ineffective embargo in the history of embargoes. But in the era of blame shifting, what else would you expect from a failed dictator?
Castro wrote: “Cuba is owed compensation equivalent to damages, which total many millions of dollars, as our country has stated with irrefutable arguments and data in all of its speeches at the United Nations.”
Naturally no word on “compensation” for seized property when Castro took over Cuba.
As for timing – certainly it shows a lack of respect:
Castro spoke out in an essay published in local media a day before US Secretary of State John Kerry makes a historic visit to Cuba to reopen the US embassy as part of the countries’ restoration of diplomatic relations.
Not that this administration has done anything that has gained the respect of friend or foe alike.
According to some, that’s exactly what is happening:
While no one is predicting that the Islamic State will become the steward of an accountable, functioning state anytime soon, the group is putting in place the kinds of measures associated with governing: issuing identification cards for residents, promulgating fishing guidelines to preserve stocks, requiring that cars carry tool kits for emergencies. That transition may demand that the West rethink its military-first approach to combating the group.
“I think that there is no question that the way to look at it is as a revolutionary state-building organization,” said Stephen M. Walt, a professor of international affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. He is one of a small but growing group of experts who are challenging the conventional wisdom about the Islamic State: that its evil ensures its eventual destruction.
Granted, the tools it uses to establish and maintain control are terror and violence, however that’s not much different than hundreds of totalitarian regimes throughout history. And, at this point, it is in its first generation of “rulers”, which means they’re likely to be the most true to their warped “principles”. So corruption, pre se, isn’t yet a problem (they’re too frightened of their own organization to accept bribes, for instance).
Remember history, say the experts:
Drawing on parallels from history, experts say, the group’s violence can be seen in a different light. Mr. Walt mentioned the guillotine of the French Revolution, and the atrocities of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and the Communist one in China — imperfect analogies, to be sure, but ones that underscored the violence and oppression that can precede creation of a revolutionary state.
Then there’s Pol Pot’s Cambodia. It finally failed, but the same formula was applied there.
The problem, of course, is this isn’t the way it had to be. Certainly the left will say “if that evil Bush hadn’t invaded Iraq, it wouldn’t be that way”. Well with people often disappearing into wood chippers in Saddam’s day, Iraq was already that way.
The problem, as we face it now, really comes down to ideology and neglect – squarely placed in this administration’s lap. Gen. Ray Odeirno, outgoing Army Chief of Staff, said as much in an interview:
But Odierno had pointed words on the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria – suggesting it didn’t have to be this way.
“It’s frustrating to watch it,” Odierno said. “I go back to the work we did in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 and we got it to a place that was really good. Violence was low, the economy was growing, politics looked like it was heading in the right direction.”
Odierno said the fall of large parts of Iraq was not inevitable, reiterating concerns about the pace of the U.S. troop withdrawal there.
“If we had stayed a little more engaged, I think maybe it might have been prevented,” he said. “I’ve always believed the United States played the role of honest broker between all the groups and when we pulled ourselves out, we lost that role.”
But this administration wasn’t interested in staying longer regardless of the possible negative outcome of pulling troops from Iraq early. It had a campaign promise to fulfill, one of the few it ever has fulfilled. So it made routine SOFA negotiations impossible for Iraq to agree with, then blamed the lack of an agreement on Iraq and pulled our troops out before the job was done – giving ISIS the opportunity to rise.
Odierno made it clear that wasn’t the only problem we’ve let ‘rise’:
“Two years ago, we didn’t think we had a problem in Europe. … [Now] Russia is reasserting themselves. We didn’t think we’d have a problem again in Iraq and ISIS has emerged.
“So, with Russia becoming more of a threat, with ISIS becoming more of a threat, in my mind, we are on a dangerous balancing act right now with capability.”
The answer to these problems? Cut the end strength of the Army so we’re even less capable.
Can’t you just feel it?
We’re in good hands.
“Who would have imagined we would be giving up the conventional arms and ballistic missile embargoes on Iran? In nuclear negotiations?”
That’s the question Charles Krauthammer asked today.
Anyone care to make a guess?
When asked Wednesday at his news conference why there is nothing in the deal about the American hostages being held by Iran, President Obama explained that this is a separate issue, not part of nuclear talks.
Are conventional weapons not a separate issue? After all, conventional, by definition, means non-nuclear. Why are we giving up the embargoes?
Because Iran, joined by Russia — our “reset” partner — sprung the demand at the last minute, calculating that Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry were so desperate for a deal that they would cave. They did. And have convinced themselves that they scored a victory by delaying the lifting by five to eight years. (Ostensibly. The language is murky. The interval could be considerably shorter.)
There is the second pregnant question – if the hostages are a separate issue, so are conventional weapons, aren’t they?
But then, you find out that both Obama and Kerry fell victim to a negotiating trick that only a rookie would cave too. The tactic is well known and has been associated with Cold War USSR negotiations for decades. They teach it in Negotiating 101. This is what they always do and you have to know your opponent well enough to expect it and have a strategy to counteract it. As usual, Obama and Kerry were unprepared.
What Obama said about the hostages, if he really believes it, was the perfect answer to the Iranians when they sprang this on them.
But desperation is what the Iranians and Russians were counting on. Anything to make the deal. They knew how desperate these two were. So they held one of the most outrageous demands until the seeming end of the negotiations. When the end was tantalizingly in sight and time was running out. The Iranians gauged well the desperate desire for an agreement that the Obama/Kerry cabal had.
And so they used it against them to make a mockery of the deal.
Stunning. The incompetence and ineptness aren’t what stun anyone – that’s been demonstrated so many times in the past 6 years it’s the new normal for this administration. What’s stunning is what they gave away when they didn’t have too.
But then, this is the Obama administration and the Secretary of State is John Kerry.
Who is one of the only groups successfully fighting ISIS and consistently winning?
If you said the Peshmerga or the Kurds, give yourself a point.
What should we, the US, be doing because the Peshmerga is, in fact, winning engagements regularly against ISIS?
Well the smart thing, and something a leader would do at a minimum, would be to help them in any way we can and supply them with the weaponry they need.
If you said that, another point.
Now, the big question – are we doing that?
If you said “no” you get 3 out of 3. If you said we’re actually working against that, you get a bonus of 1 point.
Yes, according the the Telegraph, we’ve been active in blocking needed heavy weapons shipments to the Kurds:
The Peshmerga have been successfully fighting Isil, driving them back from the gates of Erbil and, with the support of Kurds from neighbouring Syria, re-establishing control over parts of Iraq’s north-west.
But they are doing so with a makeshift armoury. Millions of pounds-worth of weapons have been bought by a number of European countries to arm the Kurds, but American commanders, who are overseeing all military operations against Isil, are blocking the arms transfers.
One of the core complaints of the Kurds is that the Iraqi army has abandoned so many weapons in the face of Isil attack, the Peshmerga are fighting modern American weaponry with out-of-date Soviet equipment.
At least one Arab state is understood to be considering arming the Peshmerga directly, despite US opposition.
The US has also infuriated its allies, particularly Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf states, by what they perceive to be a lack of clear purpose and vacillation in how they conduct the bombing campaign. Other members of the coalition say they have identified clear Isil targets but then been blocked by US veto from firing at them.
“There is simply no strategic approach,” one senior Gulf official said. “There is a lack of coordination in selecting targets, and there is no overall plan for defeating Isil.”
Another in a long litany of failures by this administration. We have both the means and a reason to supply the Kurds with the weaponry they need, and yet ….
As mentioned yesterday, Jimmy Carter is right.
Failure of leadership.
About all Barack Obama has done in the leadership department is attempt to define it down (“leading from behind”). From the beginning it has been evident that this man not only isn’t a leader, but has no idea how to lead and has learned nothing about it in his 6 years in office. Even an idiot learns a little after 6 years, or at least that’s been my observation.
Today we’re served with a perfect example of the point that he’s at best an abysmal leader:
Dispensing with the usual formalities and professionalism that take place during political discussions, a Pentagon official responded to President Obama’s comments that he’s waiting on an ISIS strategy by saying, “What the f*** was that?”
The President confessed to not having a strategy to defeat ISIS, adding that “when a finalized plan is presented to me by the Pentagon, then I will share it with the American people.”
Because the Pentagon can’t develop a plan in almost a year.
An official responded with the above question and added, “We have given him lots of options, he just hasn’t acted on them.”
That’s right, it’s the Pentagon’s fault that it has been over a year since Obama first offered that we had no strategy to combat ISIS and that remains our status today.
Because, you know, it’s the responsibility of underlings to drive things. Leaders? We’ll they play golf and enjoy the perks of the job. And when they’re finally confronted with the lack of progress on a strategy, always lay it off on their subordinates.
The dearth of leadership this administration constantly displays is dangerous. And that’s what it is. I can’t imagine a real leader saying something like this (a year after he had made the same statement). Any leader worth his salt recognizes that it is his responsibility to drive any process like that and if there is a lack of results, it is because he has failed, not his subordinates.
This guy isn’t a leader and just doesn’t care. He lets things go that are very important. He simply avoids decisions. Again, knowing what the job entails, one has to wonder why he ever pursued it? Did he think it wouldn’t be necessary to make decisions or lead on his watch?
This was just another check off the checklist of his narcissistic life. Whether or not he’d actually fulfill the requirements of the job were obviously secondary to his need to obtain it.
And now we suffer … everywhere. Because, by law, we have to let this boob finish out his lackluster and inept execution of the job.
There’s a lot going on but not much that needs a long and laborious explanation or rant.
The Clinton Foundation and our former Secretary of State are really starting to stink it up. And my guess is there’s a lot more to come. Years ago Terry Goodkind wrote a book called “Wizard’s first rule”. The Clinton’s operate by that rule. The rule? “People are stupid”. And there’s a Clinton corollary – “so is the media”. They’ve operated off of that rule and corollary for decades. They don’t see any reason to stop now.
The administration is claiming it has killed 10,000 ISIS members since it began its campaign of airstrikes. Most people in the know doubt that number is anywhere near the truth and that, in fact, it’s much, much lower. Here’s why:
Three out of every four times that Obama dispatches American warplanes over Iraq, they return to base without dropping any bombs or firing any missiles.
“Seventy-five percent of the sorties that we’re currently running with our attack aircraft come back without dropping bombs, mostly because they cannot acquire the target or properly identify the target,” said U.S. Army General (ret) Jack Keane in testimony before the U.S. Senate last week.
That’s why White House and Pentagon briefers usually talk about the number of sorties, not the number of air strikes. The number of missions flown is four times larger than the number of bombing runs.
There’s a simple fix, but it is politically unpalatable to the “lead from behind” crowd:
Gen. Keane offered a straightforward solution. “Forward air controllers fix that problem,” he said.
You know, “boots on the ground?” Doing what they’re doing is sort of like firing artillery without forward observers. Yeah, you’re likely to hit something every now and then, but is it really effective? Uh, no.
Apparently ISIS acted as our own forward air controllers:
“Defense Tech reports that at a Air Force Association breakfast meeting in Washington DC on Monday, General Hawk Carlisle, the head of Air Combat Command, shared a story of how a careless social media post directly led to an airstrike against ISIS.”
While that is all well and good and wonderful, my question is why we have a General out there sharing this intel?
“The guys that were working down out of Hurlburt, they’re combing through social media and they see some moron standing at this command. And in some social media, open forum, bragging about the command and control capabilities for Daesh, ISIL,” Carlisle said.
“And these guys go: ‘We got an in.’ So they do some work, long story short, about 22 hours later through that very building, three [Joint Direct Attack Munitions] take that entire building out.”
He was careful not to share sensitive details about the location of the building and airstrike, but he noted how ISIS’ enthusiasm of social media was turned against them in this case.
“It was a post on social media to bombs on target in less than 24 hours,” he said. “Incredible work when you think about [it].”
He shared a timeframe for a mission to be put together and why they were successful. Who is the real “moron” here? Before ISIS may have been guessing why they were hit. Now they know.
This is going to disappoint the enviro-whacko crowd:
A decade into an energy boom led by hydraulic fracturing, the Environmental Protection Agency has concluded there is no evidence the practice has had a “widespread, systemic impact on drinking water.”
The report is the federal government’s most comprehensive examination of the issue of fracking and drinking water, and it bolsters the position staked out by the energy industry.
Yeah, fracking has only been around 66 years and been used on a million wells. One might think that if there were a drinking water problem it would have been discovered before now.
That won’t stop the narrative however. “Science” is only useful when it backs that narrative. When it doesn’t, it’s just to be ignored. See “climate change”.
Another liberal professor speaks out about the SJW “crisis” on campus:
The current student-teacher dynamic has been shaped by a large confluence of factors, and perhaps the most important of these is the manner in which cultural studies and social justice writers have comported themselves in popular media. I have a great deal of respect for both of these fields, but their manifestations online, their desire to democratize complex fields of study by making them as digestible as a TGIF sitcom, has led to adoption of a totalizing, simplistic, unworkable, and ultimately stifling conception of social justice. The simplicity and absolutism of this conception has combined with the precarity of academic jobs to create higher ed’s current climate of fear, a heavily policed discourse of semantic sensitivity in which safety and comfort have become the ends and the means of the college experience.
Hey, you created it. You get to live with it. Either that or you grow a pair and take academia back.
Finally, in the “out of control government” category, we have this little jewel:
IRS lawyers have ruled that once illegal immigrants get numbers, they can go back and re-file for up to three previous years’ taxes and claim refunds even for time they were working illegally.
The lawyers said since the EITC is a refundable credit, that’s allowed even when the illegal immigrants worked off-the-books and never paid taxes in the first place.
Now, these are “laws” the Obama administration is more than happy to follow. Pay up, sucker.
And those two words are “Barack Obama”.
I don’t know about you but I’ve gotten real tired of seeing the US play the dope on the world stage these last 6 years. I’ve touched on this before, but it doesn’t get much coverage and is indicative of how much foreign policy damage this administration is doing. I touched on this earlier, but I’m fascinated by how totally tone-deaf and inept this administration appears to be.
The story, as the administration wants it to unfold:
The US government has stepped up pressure on the World Bank not to fund coal-fired power plants in developing countries. In a letter sent to the World Bank United States Executive Director Whitney Debevoise said, “The Obama Administration believes that the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) have a potentially critical role to play in the future international framework for climate finance, and, in particular, to assist developing countries in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and strengthening their economies’ resilience to climate risks.” Following Debevoise’s controversial guidelines, the axe has already fallen on Pakistan’s Thar Coal and Energy Project on the grounds that “the limited financing available from the Bank should be directed toward investments that address energy supply shortfalls in an environmentally sustainable manner’’.
So there Pakistan? No coal fired plants for you! We have spoken!
Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to unveil a $46 billion infrastructure spending plan in Pakistan that is a centerpiece of Beijing’s ambitions to open new trade and transport routes across Asia and challenge the U.S. as the dominant regional power. The largest part of the project would provide electricity to energy-starved Pakistan, based mostly on building new coal-fired power plants.
It’s just blatant now … total disrespect for the US. Even our ally in the region, Australia, has had enough. Japan is tired of the posturing and pushing of ideology in support of something science doesn’t support much less prove. More importantly, they’re not going to play ball anymore and aren’t making any bones about it.
Who do you suppose Pakistan is looking too for leadership in the energy sector now? Who do you suppose they might see as a champion of their economic growth?
The Geological survey of Pakistan reveals that 175 billion ton of coal is buried under the Thar Desert. These coal reserves alone are equivalent to total combined oil reserves (375 Billion Barrels) of Saudi Arabia and Iran. The coal deposits in Thar can change the fate of the country if utilised in a proper way. The coal reserves at Thar Desert are estimated around 850 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas, and are worth USD 25 trillion. According to experts, if this single resource is used properly, we not only can cater to the electricity requirements of the country for next 300 years but also save almost four billion dollars in staggering oil import bills.
And if Pakistan feels that way, what about India?
India is hoping a new China-backed multilateral lender will fund coal-based energy projects, an official said, putting it in direct conflict with the World Bank, whose chief has maintained that it would stick to its restrictions on such lending. A senior Indian official told Reuters the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), sponsored by China, is expected to allow funding of coal-fired power plants that the World Bank has almost totally blocked. “When you have 1.3 billion people starved of electricity access and the rest of the world has created a carbon space, at this point denying funding is denying access to cheap energy,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
So now “rich America” is trying to force developing countries to forgo cheap energy in the name of … ideology. Hey, wasn’t Obama the guy always apologizing for the way he felt America bullied other countries?
Well, at least he only bullies allies.
There are so many places to point to that illustrate the answer to the question (Libya, Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, China, Russia … ad infinitum, ad nauseum), but there’s one that’s been going on sort of behind the scenes that illustrates it perfectly.
As we all know, our President has an ideological agenda item labeled
“global warming” “climate change” that he is hell bent on forcing on not only us, but the world to his agenda.
Here’s the interesting part – much of the world is sympathetic with his agenda. Just look at the UN and those who adhere to the UN line about climate change. A smart guy – at least the guy who supporters claim is always the “smartest guy in the room” – would use that fact to try to fashion some sort of coalition and agreement that would advance his agenda.
Not our prez. He’s an “all-or-nothing” sort of guy when it comes to things like this – science be damned. And he likes to bully and shame people and countries into doing his bidding.
Except that never seems to work. What am I talking about?
The Infrastructure Investment Bank – A China led initiative that not only extends China’s influence but will extend loans to developing countries to help develop their energy infrastructure – to include coal.
Well, Obama’s well known for his war on coal and his inflexibility about including it in future. But if you’re actually trying to be a diplomat – you know, foreign policy – you might end up understanding that you are at the extreme with the “no coal” position and see if you can’t influence the agenda via compromise. Oh, and if you’re against China’s initiative, you gather allies to work against their goal and toward yours. That’s if you have any savvy at all concerning diplomacy and foreign policy.
So, you have to ask, how did this happen?
Australia’s decision to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank follows a reversal of policy, revealed in The Australian this month, based on strategic arguments about China. The change followed a reassessment within government and intense talks within the G7 group of finance ministers and central bank governors.
Australia had been one of our allies, along with Japan, in resisting this effort by China. What happened?
While Australia, Japan, South Korea and Britain have been cautious and aware of the US criticism, all are moving towards joining. Japanese industrialists keen to sell “ultra-super-critical coal-fired” electricity generators to India for more efficient use of brown coal are pushing for Tokyo to sign up.
Mr Obama’s administration has been tightening international funding for coal-fired generation but the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank is likely to be more sympathetic to the pleas of developing nations.
The expansion of coal-fired power generation is a boon to Australia’s coal exporters and represents a boost to the flagging Japanese economy.
So, knowing that, what did the bully-in-chief do? Well, if you know anything about him, you’re unlikely to be surprised. Just think – “ally” and it will come to you:
Australia has joined forces with Japan in international forums to resist the US campaign of limiting lending to developing nations seeking more efficient coal-fired generation. The technology offers the promise of cheaper power. The moves follow Mr Obama’s climate change speech at the G20 summit in Brisbane last November. The US President’s remarks, which embarrassed Mr Abbott and angered his ministers, were seen as an attempt to push the administration’s climate change policies in Mr Obama’s final year in office.
Yup, condescension and embarrassment have a tendency to move things in a direction you don’t want – especially when you do it in the country of your ally.
Result? Another in a long, very long line of foreign policy failures. Australia joins with China in rebuffing Obama’s agenda.
On the whole, I’m quite pleased with that. However, it does indeed demonstrate how badly this circus is being run by the clown-in-chief. I’m sure, even now, that James Taylor is tuning up for a trip down under.
We see the end-state of what this administration deems a “success”:
Secret files held by Yemeni security forces that contain details of American intelligence operations in the country have been looted by Iran-backed militia leaders, exposing names of confidential informants and plans for U.S.-backed counter-terrorism strikes, U.S. officials say.
U.S. intelligence officials believe additional files were handed directly to Iranian advisors by Yemeni officials who have sided with the Houthi militias that seized control of Sana, the capital, in September, which led the U.S.-backed president to flee to Aden.
For American intelligence networks in Yemen, the damage has been severe. Until recently, U.S. forces deployed in Yemen had worked closely with President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi’s government to track and kill Al Qaeda operatives, and President Obama had hailed Yemen last fall as a model for counter-terrorism operations elsewhere.
Let’s see … SOF forced out of the country, President of Yemen on the run and both sides (Houti and AQ) romping all over the place. Oh, and the security breech which is likely to cost a lot of lives.
But the identities of local agents were considered compromised after Houthi leaders in Sana took over the offices of Yemen’s National Security Bureau, which had worked closely with the CIA and other intelligence agencies, according to two U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive operations.
Yemeni intelligence officers still loyal to Hadi’s besieged government burned some secret files, one official said. But they couldn’t destroy all of them before the Houthi fighters, whose leaders have received some weapons and training from Iran, moved in.
The loss of the intelligence networks, in addition to the escalating conflict, contributed to the Obama administration’s decision to halt drone strikes in Yemen for two months, to vacate the U.S. Embassy in Sana last month and to evacuate U.S. special operations and intelligence teams from a Yemeni air base over the weekend.
“Success”. Just breath it in.
Reminds you of the “success” in Libya, doesn’t it?
Executive and regulatory over reach, aka trashing the Constitution? Even Lawrence Tribe has problems with the Obama agenda:
As President Obama forges ahead in his fight against climate change, a leading Harvard Law School scholar says a central piece of the president’s strategy is akin to “burning the Constitution” merely to advance an environmental agenda.
In testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday, Harvard constitutional law professor Laurence H. Tribe said the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants is built on a shaky legal foundation. The proposal, Mr. Tribe argues, far exceeds EPA’s authority under federal law and strikes a blow to the 10th Amendment by essentially making states subservient to Washington on energy and environmental matters.
Mr. Tribe’s testimony — with which other legal scholars strongly disagreed during Tuesday’s hearing — comes about a month before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in a case that challenges EPA’s so-called “Clean Power Plan,” which would limit pollution from both new and existing power plants and is designed to reduce coal use across the country.
“EPA’s proposal raises grave constitutional questions, exceeds EPA’s statutory authority and violates the Clean Air Act,” said Mr. Tribe, who has argued before the Supreme Court dozens of times and represented Al Gore in the case that ultimately decided the 2000 presidential election.
“EPA is attempting an unconstitutional trifecta — usurping the prerogatives of the states, the Congress and the federal courts all at once,” he continued. “Burning the Constitution of the United States … cannot be a part of our national energy policy.”
On CNN this morning, White House aide David Simas avoided congratulating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the Israeli elections. Instead, he would only congratulate the Israeli people on having an election.
“We want to congratulate the Israeli people for the democratic process for the election that they just engaged in with all the parties that engaged in that election. As you know now, the hard work of coalition building begins. Sometimes that takes a couple of weeks. And we’re going to give space to the formation of that coalition government and we’re not going to weigh in one way or another except to say that the United States and Israel have a historic and close relationship and that will continue going forward,” Simas said.
Hillary Clinton continues to be a dominant force heading into the 2016 presidential election, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. The former secretary of state maintains a broad lead over the field of potential Democratic challengers she could face in a nomination contest and sizable advantages over the leading contenders from the Republican side in general election match-ups.