Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Short Takes

Turkey called an emergency NATO meeting over ISIS in Syria.

President Obama told African leaders who overstayed their welcome to get the hint.

Jonathan Pollard, who spied for Israel, will be paroled in November.

Tom Brady’s four-game suspension because he deflated his balls is upheld by the NFL commissioner.

Talk about an upgrade: Delta offers a private jet.

The Tigers lost 10-2 to the Rays.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Short Takes

Turkey and the U.S. unite to fight ISIS in Syria.

President Obama was in Ethiopia to talk about South Sudan.

“Ridiculous if it wasn’t sad” was how the President responded to Mike Huckabee’s oven door statement.

Boston bows out of the 2024 Olympics bid.

Europe approves world’s first malaria vaccine.

The Tigers lost 5-2 to the Rays.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Short Takes

At least 13 killed in Somali hotel blast.

Boat belonging to missing 14-year-old boys found off Florida coast.

Fiat Chrysler faces record $105 million fine for safety issues.

President Obama delivers tough-love message to Kenya.

Senate resurrects Import-Export Bank.

The Tigers got walloped 11-1 by the Red Sox.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Jumping The Gun

Three members of the president’s cabinet went to Capitol Hill yesterday to promote the nuclear deal with Iran, but they might as well have stayed home for all the chances they had of convincing the Republicans.

Their view seems born of genuine distaste for the deal’s details, inherent distrust of President Obama, intense loyalty to Israel and an expansive view of the role that sanctions have played beyond preventing Iran’s nuclear abilities.

The discord began the Sunday before a deal was announced this month, when some high-ranking Republicans, including Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, were booked on Sunday talk shows and denounced the accord ahead of its release.

Hours after the accord was revealed — but before classified sections were made available to Congress — Republican lawmakers raced to send out news releases criticizing it.

That’s the New York Times’ gentle way of saying that they had already made up their minds before the deal was done and even if it had a complete capitulation by the Iranians and a promise to turn Tehran into Jesusland East, they’d hate it because Obama.  These cats would launch an airstrike against Tehran if they looked at us funny.

And don’t you just love the part about their “intense loyalty to Israel”?  That’s nice to support an ally, but just a gentle reminder: you took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States.  In other words, you work for us, not them.  Try to remember that.

Short Takes

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter dropped in on Baghdad.

Autopsy results on Sandra Bland showed injuries consistent with suicide.

Secretary of State John Kerry went to Capitol Hill to persuade Congress to approve the Iran nuclear deal.

NASA mission discovers another Earth-like planet 1,400 light years away.

The Tigers lost 3-2 to the Mariners in extra innings.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Short Takes

Dylann Roof, the alleged shooter in Charleston, is indicted on federal hate crime charges.

Secretary of State Kerry testified about the Iran deal before Congress.

The highway bill is running into a speed bump in the Senate.

Texas officials claim the video showing the arrest of Sandra Bland was not edited.

Five volcanoes erupted in Indonesia.

The Tigers beat the Mariners 9-4.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Short Takes

Three Spanish reporters missing in Syria.

Iran’s parliament put off voting on the nuclear deal for 80 days.

Sweet Sixteen: Ohio Gov. John Kasich joins the GOP field.

Part of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s sentence for corruption is vacated.

Check your mailbox: Citibank is going to pay credit card holders $700 million for ripping them off.

R.I.P. Theodore Bikel, 91, actor, singer, humanitarian; E.L. Doctorow, 84, author of Ragtime and Billy Bathgate.

The Tigers lost to the Mariners 11-9.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Short Takes

As noted below, Cuba and the U.S. re-opened their embassies in Washington and Havana.

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to support the Iran nuclear agreement; votes to lift sanctions.

The military plans to increase security at recruiting centers following the shooting in Chattanooga last week.

Greek banks re-opened on Monday for the first time in three weeks.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a restrictive abortion bill.

The Tigers beat the Mariners 5-4.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Short Takes

U.S. and Cuba set to re-open embassies today.

Keep it up, Trump; you’re doing great.

Hobby drones hinder California wilidfire-fighting efforts.

Former President George H.W. Bush leaves hospital.

The Tigers‘ annual mid-season slump continues after losing two of three to the Orioles.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Short Takes

Not Again — Shooting in Tennessee leaves four Marines dead.

Aurora, Colorado, gunman found legally sane and guilty on all counts.

President Obama visited a prison, calls for reform.

Japan votes to expand military’s role.

Doctors expect former President George H.W. Bush to recover from neck injury.

The Tigers resume play tonight against the Orioles.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

It’s A Big Deal

If the reaction by the GOP is any guide, the deal between Iran and six nations to control their nuclear arms is a very big deal and will change the way we deal with both that country and the rest of the Middle East.

Before Congress had even begun its official review, Republican leaders vowed Tuesday to kill President Obama’s nuclear accord with Iran, setting up a fierce fight to save the president’s signature diplomatic achievement.

Congress will have 60 days to review the deal, once all documents have been sent to the Capitol, after which it can pass a resolution of approval, pass one of disapproval or do nothing. Mr. Obama would veto a resolution of disapproval, and the opponents could derail the agreement only if they could rally the required two-thirds vote of Congress to override his action.

Republican leaders were denouncing it as a sell-out, a betrayal of Israel, “appeasement,” and in the words of House Speaker John Boehner, “unacceptable.”  The fact that none of them had read the document in its entirety or even if they did, had the cognitive skills to know what was in it, made no matter; they were too busy rushing to get on camera at Morning Joe or Fox News to get their sound bites in and doing very little to restrain their anger and frustration at the fact that once again, Barack Obama had pulled off something against the odds, and, more importantly, had undercut one of the major planks of the party platform, which is, to paraphrase Charles Dickens, “Please, sir, I want some war.”

Regardless of what it means for diplomacy, peace, and the fact that we will not be sending yet another army in to invade yet another sovereign nation over yet more made-up lies and leaving our nation wounded yet again, politics drives this response and Congress’s actions on it.  Not unlike the response to Obamacare, the stimulus, the automobile industry bailout, or even the opening of diplomatic relations with Cuba, the degree of GOP vitriol tells you how important this agreement is.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Nuclear Deal Made With Iran

From the New York Times:

VIENNA — Iran and a group of six nations led by the United States have agreed to a historic accord to significantly limit Tehran’s nuclear ability for more than a decade in return for lifting international oil and financial sanctions against Iran, a senior Western diplomat involved in the negotiations said on Tuesday.

The deal, which President Obama had long sought as the biggest diplomatic achievement of his presidency, culminates 20 months of negotiations.

A formal announcement of the agreement was expected later on Tuesday, when foreign ministers from Iran and the six nations it has been negotiating with will meet at a United Nations complex in Vienna. Catherine Ray, a spokeswoman for the European Union, said a final plenary meeting of the six nations — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — will take place at 10:30 a.m. in Vienna, followed by a news conference, but she provided no further details.

Congress will now have 60 days to accept or reject it.  That means that the Republicans will rip it to shreds because it was negotiated by the Obama administration and therefore is a sellout to his secret Muslim brothers, ignoring the fact that five other nations, including Russia and China, were in on the deal.  Of course they are; Barack Obama is also a socialist and a collectivist and he holds sway over the rest of the world when he’s not a weak-willed nuancer.

Cue up the following:

Sen. John McCain:  This is a terrible deal and we’ll all be blown to smithereens.

Sen. Lindsey Graham:  Yeah, what daddy said.

Reporter:  Have you read the deal?

Sen. McCain:  Of course not!  What a stupid question!

Sen. Graham:  Why all this talk when there’s a perfectly good war to be waged?

Peace out.

Short Takes

Gone Quiet — Silence indicates that Iran nuclear negotiators are close to a deal.

Mexican authorities are searching frantically for the escaped drug lord.

New York offers Eric Garner’s family $5.9 million to settle case.

President Obama commuted the sentences of 46 non-violent offenders.

The Pentagon is finalizing plans to lift the ban on transgender soldiers.

Tropical Update: TS Claudette forms out in the Atlantic; heads to sea.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Agreekment

The Eurozone worked out a deal with Greece that sounds like the Greeks would have done better by going to a loan shark, and Germany is going to be the enforcer.

The agreement aims to provide Greece with its third bailout package in five years. The tough terms, demanded by Germany and others, are meant to balance Greece’s demands for a loan repayment system that will not keep it mired in recession and austerity budgets against creditors’ insistence that loans worth tens of billions of euros not be money wasted. Testy negotiations and Greece’s inability to live up to the promises made in its previous bailouts had put a cloud of distrust over the weekend’s discussions.

“It’s not personal, Fredo.  It’s strictly business.” — Michael Corleone.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Short Takes

Iran nuclear talks go on past the deadline.

The Confederate flag in front of the South Carolina statehouse will come down at 10:00 a.m. today.

France steps up for Greece in Eurozone debt negotiations.

F.B.I. chief says ISIS-inspired plots for attacks on 4th of July were foiled.

Florida Supreme Court throws out Congressional redistricting map; eight districts to be re-drawn.

The Tigers best the Twins 4-2.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Way Off Yonder in Vietnam

From the BBC:

President Obama has met the leader of the Vietnamese Communist Party, Secretary-General Nguyen Phu Trong, at the Oval Office in Washington.

It is the first meeting of its kind since the two countries normalised relations 20 years ago.

July 2015 marks 40 years since the end of the Vietnam war.

President Obama said the relationship was mutually beneficial.

America lost over 50,000 lives in the war to save South Vietnam from going communist and the world from the Red Menace.  We lost; that defeat has shaped our foreign policy ever since and still plays a large part in our politics; just ask President John Kerry.  Vietnam is still communist, their rulers still repress human rights, they still haven’t sent back all the remains of the MIA’s, and they haven’t paid us back for the expropriated property we left behind.  And now we sell them stuff and they crank out our t-shirts.  No one on Capitol Hill is raising a stink about us pandering to a tyrannical regime.

Cuba, too, is still communist; they repress human rights, and they haven’t paid us for the property they took over after the Revolution, all of which Marco Rubio and los historicos on Miami’s Calle Ocho say are deal-breakers for restoring diplomatic relations and ending the embargo.  Only until Cuba has democracy and white bread will they allow us to sell them iPads and Arby’s.  (As if Cuba was a model of Jeffersonian democracy before 1959, right?)

Why the disconnect?  Why is it good business to deal with our former enemies whose record on human rights is worse than Cuba’s and anathema to deal with Havana?

There are a number of reasons, but the most obvious one is simple: it’s personal.  A lot of the anti-Cuba sentiment is based not on ideology but on the vocal exiles who see the Castro brothers as the villains who marched into their homes, parked their butts on the sofa, ground out their cigars on the carpet and took over.  (I know many exiles who have all their old property titles and deeds carefully saved so that when Raul and Fidel finally check out they can go back and reclaim everything, including the DeSoto in the driveway.)  In some cases, it’s familial.  The Diaz-Balart brothers, Mario and Lincoln, who have been big dogs in South Florida politics and served in Congress, are — or were — related to Fidel Castro by marriage: their aunt was Fidel’s first wife.

It also has something to do with our own history with Cuba.  We engineered their liberation as a colony of Spain with the intent of making them one of our own, only to have them rebel against us.  That’s the thanks we get for setting up their mob-run casinos and corrupt dictators?

There’s no such connection with Vietnam; at least not to the degree that a small group of exiles with personal grudges and vendettas can block trade and isolate a country for half a century from America and Americans.

It also has to do with distance.  Vietnam is ten thousand miles from our shores.  Cuba is ninety miles from Key West and a constant reminder of the failure of manifest destiny.  As long as there’s a Castro to rub our nose in it — and grind out the cigar on the berber — there will be a blockade.

Short Takes

Greece’s new finance minister showed up at an emergency financial summit without doing his homework.

Wildfires are scorching the Northwest.

The Chinese stock market is cratering.

London commemorated the tenth anniversary of the subway bombing of 2005.

Heroin deaths have quadrupled in the U.S.

The Tigers lost 7-6 to the Mariners in 11 innings.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Short Takes

Germany is keeping the pressure on Greece.

President Obama says we will battle ISIS on two fronts: militarily  and ideologically.

Many non-violent drug offense prisoners could be freed by the president.

South Carolina Senate votes to take down Confederate flag.

Scientists excited about possible AIDS vaccine.

R.I.P. Jerry Weintraub, 77, Hollywood producer.

The Tigers beat the Mariners 12-5.