Sadly, the GOP is still committed to its "failed presidency" strategy even as the Obama era comes to an end.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is committed to torpedo this agreement. Well, he doesn't have the votes to do it without Democratic help but that hasn't stopped the GOP from throwing dust in President Obama's fact time and time again.
Nothing it seems will stop the GOP from pursuing its political "death wish" - not McConnell, not Boehner and not 16 pretenders to the Oval Office! When will Goofy throw his hat in the GOP ring - oh yeah it's done under the name of Donald "Daffy Duck" Trump.
This generation of GOP hacks doesn't remember Nixon going to China and Reagan negotiating arms control with Gorbachev. They rather stay in their ideological bunkers railing at the moon risking nuclear confrontation between Israel and Iran.
It's also important to keep in mind this is an "arms control" agreement as with the Soviets not a disarmament agreement. To expect Iran to de-nuke itself when neighbors like India, Pakistan and Israel all have nukes would be a deal killer.
Yes, Iran is a sponsor of state-terrorism. So are Saudi Arabia, Syria, Israel, North Korea and pseudo-states like ISIS. Dragging those issues into this discussion was a deal breaker. The key is getting Iran past its ideological blinders into negotiations.
The opposition to this accord from Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is founded on the concept of "linkage" borrowed from the Nixon/Kissinger era premising negotiations on Iran's good behavior across a spectrum of foreign policy issues.
The Nixon doctrine failed in Vietnam and ultimately was dumped by Nixon in normalizing relations with China. By isolating Iran as a paraiah state you entrench the hardliners. Given Iran's geo-political position we need to engage Iran, not isolate it.
For the record, the US is the greatest arms merchant in the world but hardly not alone - China, Russia but also our allies Britain, France and "neutral" Sweden play in this sadistic sandbox. So as Scripture suggests "those without sin, cast the first stone."
International relations is a matter of building trust and then institutions all the while adopting the Reagan attitude of "trust but verify. Roms wasn't built in a day - neither will the normalization of relations with Iran be done in a metaphorical day.
One hopes that President Obama will prevail. We don't need a deja vu experience of Woodrow Wilson at the end of WW I losing The League of Nations at the hands of another generation of Republicans - which opened the door to WW II.
Secretary of State John Kerry may earn a Nobel Peace Prize for his dogged determination to bring this accord to a successful conclusion. One hopes his predecessor Hillary Clinton will move from her tepid to full throated support for the Obama/Kerry plan.
This accord solidifies the Obama legacy - ending the Great Recession, passing the ACA, de-Americanizing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, normalizing relations with Cuba, passing Fast Track and ending the ban on Gay Marriage et al.
So much for labelling Barack as a "failed" lameduck president.
Today, after two years of negotiations, the United States -- together with our international partners -- has achieved what decades of animosity has not:
A comprehensive, long-term deal that will verifiably prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
This deal shows the real and meaningful change that American leadership and diplomacy can bring -- change that makes our country and the world safer and more secure.
We negotiated from a position of strength and principle -- and the result is a nuclear deal that cuts off every pathway to a nuclear weapon.
Because of this deal, Iran will not be able to produce highly enriched uranium or weapons-grade plutonium, the raw materials necessary to build a bomb. Here's why:
Under this deal, Iran will reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium by 98 percent, remove two-thirds of its installed centrifuges -- the machines necessary to produce highly enriched uranium -- and store them under constant international supervision.
To put that in perspective, Iran currently has a stockpile that could produce up to 10 nuclear weapons. Now, its uranium stockpile will be reduced to a fraction of what would be required for a single weapon.
Under this deal, Iran will modify its nuclear reactor in Arak so it cannot produce weapons-grade plutonium -- and all spent fuel from the reactor will be shipped out of the country indefinitely.
This deal is not built on trust -- it's built on verification. Under this deal, we will, for the first time, be in a position to verify that Iran is meeting all of these commitments. International nuclear inspectors will have access to Iran's nuclear program -- where necessary, when necessary.
This is the most comprehensive and intrusive verification regime that we have ever negotiated. If Iran tries to divert raw materials to covert facilities, inspectors will be able to access any suspicious locations.
As Iran implements this deal, it will receive gradual relief from sanctions. If it violates any aspect of this deal, sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy will snap back into place.
That's the deal.
It has the full backing of the international community. Without it, there'd be no agreed-upon limitations on Iran's nuclear program and other countries would feel more compelled to pursue their own programs, threatening a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region of the world.
Put simply: No deal means a greater chance of more war in the Middle East.
That is why it would be irresponsible to walk away from this deal. Moving forward, I welcome a robust debate in Congress on the details of this deal. As Commander-in-Chief, I am confident that this deal will meet the national security interests of the U.S. and our allies. So I will veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of this deal.
Our differences with Iran are real, and the difficult history between our nations cannot be ignored. But it is possible to change. The path of violence and rigid ideology; a foreign policy based on threats to attack your neighbors or eradicate Israel -- is a dead end.
A different path -- one of tolerance, and peaceful resolution of conflict -- leads to more integration into the global economy, more engagement with the international community, and the ability of the Iranian people to prosper and thrive. This deal offers an opportunity to move in a new direction.
We should seize it.
President Barack Obama
Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at 09:19AM
Sunday, July 12, 2015 at 10:08AM
Senate President Peter Courtney/House Speaker Tina Kotek
"When the session began Feb. 2, many Democrats were gung-ho to raise the minimum wage as high as $15 an hour. But Courtney warned that such a proposal would hit a wall in the Senate. More than a dozen bills on the minimum wage fizzled.
"It was disappointing for us that Peter Courtney said from the start he didn't want it to come to the floor for a vote, not even letting his members take a stance on it," according to a $15 advocate. "Absolutely we saw the Senate as more of an obstacle than the House."
This assessment is part of an excellent article in Sunday's unOregonian (see below):
After reading this article it became clear why the inclusionary housing bill HB 2564 didn't make it out of the Senate Rules Committee upon referral to that committee by President Courtney on June 2. This bill was Kotek's major initiative and has been on her top list since the 2014 session. She testified in favor of this bill on the House side gracefully blunting John Chandler's blunder busting attempt at dissembling. But ultimately she couldn't stop Courtney from putting the stake through its heart.
From my own observation, Courtney runs the Senate like LBJ ran the House back in the day when he was the US House majority leader and his friend Sam Rayburn, also a Texan, was the Speaker. Courtney is a "good old boy" who plays by the classic good old boy rules of a legislative "bully." Courtney is not a good loser, nor a good listener. He doesn't play fair, he plays old fashioned political hardball. And his Democratic Senate caucus enables him.
Courtney loves to hear himself talk. He uses rambling homespun jargon to make his points. When you're the Senate President nobody is going to keep you within the normal 2 minute limit mere mortals are obliged to obey in a hearing room. He just goes on and on which speaks to another character trait of Courtney - he's full of himself what the Greeks termed hubris. Kotek is no shrinking violet but a policy wonk more nuanced in the exercise of power not just another power grabbing 'pol'.
So at the end of the day, it's not ideology but personality styles which dominate the current Oregon legislature. One hopes as Governor Kate Brown establishes her presence in the hallways of the Puzzle Palace, she will help blunt the competing egos of Kotek and Courtney as she shapes her agenda. In the meantime Oregon is left with transportation and a housing policy as works in progress. If Brown can do this then she will be able to move her agenda with a solid Democratic majority.
Saturday, July 11, 2015 at 10:54AM
The 4th Reich?
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is this generation’s Iron Lady a la Britain’s former PM Margaret Thatcher. As the leader of the most dominant country in the Euro zone she has become the leading spokesman for the austerity program which has suffocated Greece which admittedly has been Europe’s profligate economy with its endemic corruption, being a tax haven for the rich and spending which exceeds its revenue stream. But Merkel is simply the political “front man” for Europe’s creditor class - Euro's version of the Wall Street thugs - and the IMF.
Paul Krugman's op ed below deconstructs the issues and why Greece is not alone in Europe and why if austerity continues Europe will have much bigger problems down the road. But now that despite the “NO” vote last Sunday, the Greek government is again begging for relief. So if Krugman's analysis is correct, then only bad things will happen. The irony is that after WW II when Germany was facing demands by the allies for reparations Germany was allowed to negotiate those demands down. Germany has conveniently forgotten that forgiveness.
Friday, July 10, 2015 at 02:57PM
BEWARE, GEEKS IN CHARGE..
Over the last two weeks my e-mail server company Easystreet was forced by Google to "migrate" 900 residential customers in the Portland metro area to Office 365, a Microsoft product. Oh joy!
I spent a week making this transition while backing up my e-mail files to my Comcast e-mail and Pacific e-mail systems just in case the migration didn't work.
Despite many glitches everything turned out fine and I now am using my new Office 365 e-mail without any major problems.
As a committed computer troglodyte I hate change while those in the industry seem to feel change per se is good. At Pacific the clueless Geeks there always wanted to make changes the week of spring finals! Ask the Greeks how they feel about ubiquitous system change or those on the receiving end of Wall Street's screwing us over in the Great Recession.
My motto is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a mantra Tiger Woods should have adopted early in his career!
OK, reality is that you and I - the consumers - have no say in this process. I got this message loud and clear the other night when I talked to a tech dude at Easystreet. I was simply trying to figure out how to add additional files to my e-mail and to delete multiple e-mails I don't want (as I did before the change) in one easy stroke (no pun intended).
After a two hour "conversation" it became clear I don't speak the same language as those in "Geek Dom."
At one point the tech dude asked if I was using a MAC not a PC. Well since I've been an Easystreet customer for over 20 years one would think they would have that info in their NSA enhanced records! MACs and PCs inhabit different computer universes! My takeaway is what we have here to steal a line from the Paul Newman flick Cool Hand Luke "is a failure to communicate"
It was suggested I move my files to G-mail. Well that was really helpful since Google started this mess.
The point by the tech dude is that this is the future of the world down the road. In my jaundice view the new face of "friendly fascism." It's a road I refuse to travel until I'm forced to. But it tells you who is in power in the parallel universes of Google and Microsoft. Big Brother knows what's best for us! Get over it. Done!
Well I refuse to submit to the "Tyranny of Geek Dom!"
Next time I won't bother asking help from what radio talk show consumer advocate Clark Howard terms "customer no service." I'll just figure it out on my own or not try to ask what appear to be simple questions since like dealing with IRS there are no such things as "simple" questions unless one knows the answers ahead of time!
Such experiences make me want to return to the good old days of the passenger pigeon, the Pony Express, the telegrah key or snail mail. But as GE used to say in their TV commercials in the '50s "progress is our most important product." One wonders progress for whom - corporate conglomerates and their hi-tech minions or simpletons like you and moi who pay the bills?
You might ask why don't you "just fire Easystreet?" I don't want to do that right now with all my political activities I don't want to lose my ability to maintain my e-mail records and keep access with my constituency....
But a year from now when I turned in my advocate badge, I just might do that!
Waiting for a flight home from SFO on Monday after 4 great days in the City by the Bay my significant other noticed I was the only person in the United waiting room not using some "device" - laptop, I-Phone etc. I have a simple cell phone - that's it. I don't text message, I don't do Facebook, Twitter et al. I keep it simple!
I heard on NPR the next day United's computer crashed leaving people stranded sea to shining sea! We just got out of Dodge in time! My oh my.... This was before the news that millions of federal employees had their files hacked - by who knows whom - Russian, Chinese or Drug Cartel hackers? As the line goes "only the paranoid survive."
Welcome to the Brave New World of Geek Dom!
Thursday, July 9, 2015 at 10:04AM
EDITOR'S NOTE: Memo to Dubya II - Americans already work more hours per week than any workers in the developed world. The French have August off plus hundreds of holidays, most other nations have down time spread throughout the year coinciding with school breaks. Jeb - just another "friendly face of a kinder/gentler" conservatism - eh?