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Belmont Club

The Washington Retro

October 22nd, 2013 - 8:48 pm

The news will come as no shock to the readers of the Belmont Club, nor will it surprise anyone who has been following events in the Middle East. But expect the phrase “unexpected development” anywhere you see the MSM label. Reuters reports that Saudi Arabia has announced it will shift away from the United States:

Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief is vowing that the kingdom will make a “major shift” in relations with the United States to protest perceived American inaction over Syria’s civil war as well as recent U.S. overtures to Iran, a source close to Saudi policy said on Tuesday. …

“The shift away from the U.S. is a major one,” the source close to Saudi policy said. “Saudi doesn’t want to find itself any longer in a situation where it is dependent.”

The story is accompanied by a large photograph showing Prince Bandar shaking hands with Vladimir Putin, a thumbnail of which is shown below.

Out with the Old, in with the New

Out with the Old, in with the New

Another senior Saudi, Prince Turki al-Faisal, expressed his view of the Obama administration’s actions in the Middle East. “The current charade of international control over Bashar’s chemical arsenal would be funny if it were not so blatantly perfidious. And designed not only to give Mr. Obama an opportunity to back down (from military strikes), but also to help Assad to butcher his people”.

This tirade, which would blister the paint off the diplomatic walls, comes after John Kerry met in Paris with Saudi Arabia urging them to consider the advantages of assuming their place in the UN Security Council.

“Secretary Kerry conveyed that while it is Saudi Arabia’s decision to make, the U.S. values Saudi Arabia’s leadership in the region and the international community, and a seat on the UNSC affords member states the opportunity to engage directly on these issues,” a senior State Department official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Judging by Prince Turki al-Faisal’s remarks, I guess the answer to Kerry’s offer is “no”.

The media, which tried hard not to notice the Obamacare website catastrophe is also trying its level best to ignore the collapse of America’s former coalition in the Middle East. How much longer they can divert attention away from the T-rex(es)  in the room remains to be seen.

Not so very long ago President Obama asserted his dominance over Vladimir Putin at the Moscow summit by a very strange demonstration of body language. Tracy Connor of NBC News asked experts to analyze what the nonverbal signalling meant. Patti Wood, author of “Success Signals: Body Language in Business,” said:

“It was very odd. Obama is treating him like he was greeting a doorman,” she said.

She noted the significance Obama buttoning his suit jacket after exiting the limo.

“That’s another way men show power,” she said. “It says, ‘I know the attention is on me’ and it’s a little bit rude to do that. It’s grabbing the power for yourself.”

Tonya Reiman, who has written three books on body language, said Obama extended his hand at least two seconds before Putin did.

“This is a show of power,” she said. “In addition, he leans in toward Putin with his upper body, placing himself slightly into Putin’s personal zone. Notice Putin pulls back ever so slightly, which indicates that Obama has the upper hand.”

But Obama’s stock has fallen somewhat since then, as epitomized by the crash of his Obamacare website, which comes on the heels of his failed attempt to bomb Syria on his own authority.

The Washington Post’s Sara Kliff tried the new “apply by phone” button on the Obamacare website. Yes folks, their website has an innovative user interface that tells you what telephone number to call.

My colleague Ezra Klein and I decided to give the phone number a try.

Ezra tried calling twice and was put on hold. His hold music then went silent, and eventually his calls was dropped by the system. I fortuitously ended up on the phone with a consumer representative right away, spending, at most ,about 10 seconds on hold. She asked for my name and phone number, told me hold on a moment, and then yawned. I asked if it had been a busy morning. She responded, “Yes, a little bit.”

I told the consumer representative that I had filed an application in the system, and that I wanted to check on its status. She asked if I had received an eligibility determination; I said I wasn’t sure. She took my Social Security number to check on it, and said I hadn’t received the determination.

“It’s not in our system just yet,” she told me. “We have a lot of people trying to create accounts. Keep checking your e-mail or expect a letter in the mail this week.”

For those who are daunted by the impersonal method attempted by Kliff and Klein, you can try the other Obamacare website interface: the storefront at the mall. “Following extensive technical difficulties with the new federal health insurance exchange, a Blue Cross Blue Shield retail storefront in Greensboro has seen customer volumes tick up as people seek new coverage in person.”

The Greensboro store was seeing 40 to 50 customers a day after Oct. 1, but that dipped down to between 13 and 20 last week, before rebounding this week …

Turning to insurance agents and call centers were among the suggestions offered Monday by President Barack Obama at a White House press conference during which he acknowledged the flaws in, the new online marketplace for health insurance.

“While the website will ultimately be the easiest way to buy insurance through the marketplace, it isn’t the only way,” Obama said. “Even as we redouble our efforts to get the site working as well as it is supposed to, we are also redoubling our efforts to make sure you can still buy the same quality affordable insurance plans available on the marketplace the old fashioned way – offline, either over the phone or in person.”

After six hundred million dollars and three years building a website the public gets a phone number or can go down to see lady at the mall. And oh yes, whatever you do, don’t forget to keep checking your email or the letterbox in the yard.

But maybe Saudi Arabia has also installed a new interface for its diplomatic dealings with the United States in keeping with the “old fashioned” theme. You can now click the “apply by phone to talk to Prince Bandar” button on the Saudi embassy website. But don’t be surprised if you get routed to a handset in the Kremlin.

Everything old is new in Obama’s retro-modern horse and buggy world.

The website said, "go down to the mall"

The website said, “go down to the mall”

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Top Rated Comments   
The list of topics not to named is growing so long that providers must be getting desperate for content. Expect wall to wall network coverage on what Rosie O'Donnell is up to and calls for action over brush fires in Australia.

There should be a way to make money off the Saudi break with the US. Can we invest long in vodka and Slavic escort agencies and short American swimsuit models and bourbon?

With Obamacare - the domestic economy and the Middle East - foreign and security affairs under his belt I can hardly wait for Obama's next act. What he does for the hat trick should prove spectacular. The man has a gift. Anything he touches turns to dust. Can anyone point to anything that Barry has ever done right and accomplished on his own? Anyone? Bueller?

We actually do know what is coming next. Immigration. We are now like the passengers in the plane when it gets real quiet and the pilot announces that in seven minutes the craft will make an unscheduled impact on the mountain range off the port side. At least on the airplane they might announce that the drinks are now on the house. Obama would be more likely to unleash Moochele in our final moments to harangue us to eat our peas.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The silver lining is that there's no point in continuing to regard Wahabism as the "Religion of Peace". They've shut the door in Obama's face. Granted he did not want it slammed in his face. Quite the opposite. Nevertheless there it is.

Here's the golden opportunity to get that off our backs. Having accidentally burned his bridges the President might at least be consistent and put pedal to the metal in developing domestic energy resources. In fact the optimal strategy for Obama now is to adopt the reviled conservative foreign policy lock, stock and barrel.

But that assumes a rationality of which there has been, as yet, no sign.

However having blundered this far and arrived at the place he least intended, Obama is likely to keep blundering some more. Al Gore has already declared war on oil production and the President probably doesn't have it in him to stop making this Ramadan and Eid greeting messages, so look for him to pour imported gasoline on the foreign fires in an effort to put it out.

Besides there are probably as many Saudi agents in Washington as there ever were and with this network of influence now at Russia's disposal, think of the possibilities.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
>>>The media, which tried hard not to notice the Obamacare website catastrophe is also trying its level best to ignore the collapse of America’s former coalition in the Middle East. How much longer they can divert attention away from the T-rex(es) in the room remains to be seen.<<<

Given that the American state-controlled media has been deliberately avoiding talking about:

1) the coming real effects of Obamacare.
2) the collapse of the Obamacare website.
3) the collapse of American foreign policy under Obama.
4) the real economy.
5) and anything else that might be newsworthy if it reflects poorly on Democrats and other Leftists.

We are soon going to be reduced to reading/hearing about Stakhanovite heros of Socialist Labor, quotas being exceeded, and the chocolate ration being increased from 25 to 20 grams.

To be honest, you get better coverage of American politics in British papers than from the American media. And that is not because the Brits are so good, but because American media is so bad because they cannot mention so many things.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (65)
All Comments   (65)
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Bush made a huge, huge mistake in the early days after 9-11 immediately letting Saudi Arabia off the hook with no consequences, publically embracing Saudi "Princes" and "Kings" at the Crawford Ranch, and with his truly regrettable remarks about the "Religion of Peace." Saudi Arabia of course spawned most of the 9-11 terrorists and Al Quaeda's core leadership, and actively state funds the hate/terrorist factories known as madrassas in Pakistan.

Between the "Religion of Peace" bullsh!t and the focus on "capturing" terrorists in Afghanistan and coddling them in Cuba for decades, the War on Terror started off almost immediately with an alrmingly a sharp decline in public approval. RE: "The Religion of Peace:" Is your average voter going to accept Bush's at best misleading characterization, or are they going to believe their own lying eyes? (15 of 18 hijackers were Saudi, ordered into battle by the Saudi "Prince" Osama bin Laden.)

That's like announcing after Pearl Harbor that the Japanese Bushido culture was only on a legitimate quest for more oil. Or other than the Nazi's little thing about putting Jews in ovens, they were primarily interested in expressing their legitimate grievances about the Treaty of Versailles.

It is abundantly clear to any casual onlooker that with this terrible start of the WOT, there was no intention of actually winning it. It was obvious that both Iraq and Afghanistan were going to be intermiddable United Nations-approved politically-correct kumbaya fests, with US soldiers magically transformed into social workers in harm's ways whose job was to somehow peacefully re construct two completely-totalled third-world sh!tholes into functioning civilizations.

Saudi Arabia escaped any meaningful accountability and punishment for their absolutely clear role in the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Now they are throwing a fit because Obama won't order air strikes against the terrorists SA sponsors in Syria!

SA is a real enemy. We are FINALLY starting to notice their clear intentions.

Good riddance.
(show less)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

In the legal battle between BP and Obama, the dispute has come down to the size of the oil spill. BP has presented evidence based on the beginning volume of oil in the formation and the ending volume. Simple subtraction gives their result.

The government under Marcia McNutt of the USGS bases it estimate on the integrated instantaneous flow rate throughout the event. Her panic in her emails then rivals Kathleen Sebelius' panic now. (BTW - where are the "rocks" in USGS possession that landed on the deck of the Damon Bankston?).

Kurt Mix was working on the question as to what happened to the drill pipe below the BOP? Check the well schematic.

The mud line was at 5.067 feet, the drill pipe extended down to 8,367 feet. That is 3,300 feet of pipe below the mud line. When they pulled the BOP off, did you see 3,300 feet of pipe hanging down like a tail? No? It seems they only found 300 feet of pipe.

That means the other 3,000 feet fell down into the well. Given the extreme hydrodynamic drag forces on the pipe during the blowout, it would logically have buckled and broken (as the pipe above the BOP did too). It would then jam into the cross-over (XOVER 12,487.64') of the production casing. Jam a 5.5" outside diameter pipe inside a 6" inside diameter pipe and you've got a significant flow restriction which would not permit the flow rate the government alleges.

FOLLOW THE MONEY! Use the criminal statutes to suppress unfavorable testimony. Hmm! Does that sound just like the Benghazi investigation?

Obama and his thugs don't use jackboots, they use cowboys boots "on the throat of BP", per Ken Salazar.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Dems are trying to cozy up to the Chamber of Commerce. Okay Mr. Hotshot CEO, what is your company's most important asset? Human capital? And what do those humans under you think of ObamaCare? Do they like the idea of having their plush corporate healthcare plans outsourced to government? Or do they like it the way things have been. Watch out for rioting in the cubicles. You can be replaced!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Germans next to sever relations?

President Jarrett's second term is off to a shaky start.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
President Barack Obama calls Paris to apologize for NSA - See more at:

He may soon be calling Merkel to apologize for tapping her cellphone, because she's complained.

In fact Obama may have to call Italy and Mexico also. Perhaps the president in order to save the trouble of calling 100+ countries should just sing on TV.

The last time I called Paris
The cause was NSA.
They eavesdropped on the diplomats.
I knew not what to say.
The last time I called Paris they said s'il vous plaît.
Now they call me lots of names.
I'll remember it that way.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"...the real question is whether the Washington elite can stand to lose any more of their shrinking power and influence."

But is this a bug or a feature? Power and influence overseas is undoubtedly being lost at an astonishing rate, so much so that I find it hard to believe mere incompetence could be so damaging so quickly.

Domestically it is another story though, the power and influence that the Obama administration and its sycophants are gaining over the citizens of the US is also happening at an astonishing rate. Perhaps the plan all along has been to break the distractions and expense of overseas involvements and concentrate on establishing full domestic control first.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Tangential but potentially relevant to the Saudi theme is dismissal of Jofi Joseph, a "senior White House official who was helping negotiate nuclear issues with Iran has been fired after being unmasked as the acidic voice behind a Twitter account known for its insults of public figures at the White House and on Capitol Hill" according to the NYT.

He posted as @natsecwonk. You will recall that he tweeted "I'm a fan of Obama, but his continuing reliance and dependence upon a vacuous cipher like Valerie Jarrett concerns me".

That's an interesting tweet, considering that Jarrett has been instrumental in Obama's, his political point person in Iran and also born there. There may not be any fire behind this smoke, but there's a whole lot of dynamite lying around.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I need an analysis of the kind of personality that can somehow worship Obambus but not his "muse".
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
--that'll go clinically pathological in the psycho-sexual area, in about the first sentence.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Oh come on. Religious schisms are common. They don't involve repudiation of the God, only the way in which he should be worshiped or the way the collection plate is divied up and to whom. How do you think the Muslims got split into the Shiites and Sunnis?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Wretchard quotes Turki al-Faisal: "And all the Islamic countries, 57 of them, agreed that there would be a center set up in the second holiest city, ..."

Hmmm! Didn't some third-rate candidate for President of the US make a reference to the "57 States" a while back? At the time, those few of us who did not look away in embarrassment thought he was referencing Heinz's 57 Varities -- a slip of the tongue showing from where his under-the-table financing was coming. Now we know better.

Anyhoo -- the difference between Soetero and the Saudis is that the Saudis know they live in a dangerous neighborhood. Within living memory, their neighbors have had the Iran-Iraq war, the invasion of Kuwait, the subsequent (usually ignored in Democrat circles) attempted invasion of eastern Saudi Arabia, the liberation of Kuwait, the liberation of Iraq from Hussein, the war in Afghanistan -- to say nothing of ongoing Palestinian problems, Egyptian problems, Syrian problems, Pakistan problems, and restive Iranians. Soetero also lives in a dangerous world, but he is too stupid to realize it.

The Saudis know that, despite their wealth, they have to live in the real world -- a place where sometimes we have to work hard to get to even the 'least unacceptable solution'. Soetero lives in Fairy-Land.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Many of you are looking for the silver lining in this tremendous debacle, but have not recognized it for what it potentially is- a monumental game changer and not for the better.

If America still had a sane leader and there weren't an overwhelming majority of girlie men and traitors in both houses of Congress, we might be able to react. But no Buraq has laid us prostrate and vulnerable.

Now try this on for size : what if the Saudi's stop accepting dollars for oil?

Say "goodbye" to the Dollar as the world's reserve currency's and "Hello" to economic collapse.

Our fate is now in the angry hands of the Saudi's, and there effectively ain't much we can do about it for it will be over three long years before we can change the leadership in Washington.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Unsk said:

"... what if the Saudi's stop accepting dollars for oil? Say "goodbye" to the Dollar as the world's reserve currency's and "Hello" to economic collapse."

This is an insightful comment. The Saudis are doing the equivalent of a rattlesnake buzzing its rattle or a scorpion displaying its stinger. The Saudis are telling America's ruling elite that our President is incompetent and they do not like it. The Saudis could terminate the US reserve currency status, particularly if Russia and China were collaborating with them. However doing so would cause the Saudis and Chinese considerable financial harm since they have many assets denominated in US dollars. So the Saudis are displaying their stinger and telling us to pull our socks up. What the Saudis may not realize is that having Obama as President is a symptom of a dysfunctional political system and not the root cause. They may think that some sort of hidden inner cabal of Jews and Masons can make Obama go away but that's not the case. The typical American voter, John Q. Public needs to understand that Obama is pure poison. Unfortunately, Mr. Public will not come to that conclusion so long as Obama is handing out free stuff and the MSM continues to tell Mr. Public that Obama is the messiah. The Saudis are jerking our leash but no one is paying any attention.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And replace the dollar with what? China doesn't have enough printing presses to create all that fiat money. Besides they have terrible air pollution problems

Once upon a time a pack of Marlboros constituted a reliable form of exchange. But if it comes down to it, tangible goods would form the basis of commerce and the USA is the world's dominant producer of goods, including food. They will not replace the dollar. There would be rioting in the streets of China, Russia and the KSA.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Why would it be necessary to have another reserve currency? The reason why the world sticks to the US in spite of the stupidity in Washington and New York is because the stupidity in Brussels, Beijing, Tokyo and elsewhere is as bad or worse. It is like inflation, we don't see much at all, but the money administrators are doing everything to make it happen. When it does it will be a total collapse in the confidence of the currency, far worse than even the wheelbarrows of cash in Weimar Germany.

Same with reserve currency status. It would collapse into a total mess, probably including some exchange of high explosives. The Saudis and Russians are hesitant, but someone someday is going to figure they have nothing to lose and pull the plug. Then all hell breaks loose.

If you make a habit of living on the knife edge, it will be no surprise if you either fall off or are sliced in two.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Machias, you are presuming rational behavior driven by economic interests as seen from a western viewpoint by Russia, China and Saudi Arabia.

But we each of those countries has in the recent past acted upon other ideas.

Why is Russia helping Iran nuke up? Makes no rational sense except for a deep hatred of America.

Why did China help the Norks with their ICBM's? Why is China at a near war posture with nearly all it's western oriented neighbors? Again a hatred of the West seems at fault.

The Saudi's are at the same time a terror sponsoring state and were a somewhat loyal ally of the US on certain levels. What gives there?

It would seem that the Saudi Royalty is frightened,scared and in desperate need of a protector. If the US has forsaken that role, it shouldn't surprise anyone if the next suitor ( Russia) may have some conditions that won't make us very happy.

The former KGB cronies and the PLA could give a crap if their new reserve currency doesn't work too well if it lays waste to America. If it destroys America, then all their effort will be well worth it in their eyes, no matter the economic consequences.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Unsk said:

"... you are presuming rational behavior driven by economic interests as seen from a western viewpoint by Russia ,,, Why is Russia helping Iran nuke up? Makes no rational sense except for a deep hatred of America."

Vladimir Putin maybe one of the most rational players out there. Through shear cunning, Putin made a total jackass out of Obama over the Syrian thing.

Are the Iranians mobs screaming "Death to Russa"?

Who do the Iranians call "The Great Satan"? Big clue: It's not Russia.

When the Iranians achieve nuclear weapons capability, they're going after:

1) Israel
2) United States
3) Saudi Arabia

My guess is they'd do all three in a single attack, e.g. pop off a really big and dirty nuke hidden in a freighter in New York harbor along with nuclear missile attacks against Israel and Saudi Arabia. Maybe the Iranians would claim that the Israelis first attacked Saudi Arabia and the Iranians counter attacked to defend Mecca and Medina? The Iranians could even leverage off of the Truther narrative and claim that the Israelis set off the big nuke in New York harbor.

After this bit of insanity, the Russians would be sitting pretty. Putin could demand that Iran immediately submit to Russian military control or simply turn the whole place into radioactive glass.

This is like the two guys being chased by zombies, i.e. the goal is not to out run the zombies but to out run the other guy so the zombies can get him first.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
OPEC and the Russians could cook up some sort of international voucher system based upon oil, e.g. one zlotnick is worth one barrel of light sweet crude, redeemable from any OPEC producer at any time. I'm actually surprised that this has not happened already. I guess, the members of OPEC are a devious bunch and would print zlotnicks wily-nilly thus debasing the value of their oil. Of course, Bernake has done that anyway by debasing the value of the US$.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
More body language from the NY Times:

"Besides the Syrian government’s gains, there was mounting evidence that Mr. Assad’s troops had repeatedly used chemical weapons against civilians. Even as the debate about arming the rebels took on a new urgency, Mr. Obama rarely voiced strong opinions during senior staff meetings. But current and former officials said his body language was telling: he often appeared impatient or disengaged while listening to the debate, sometimes scrolling through messages on his BlackBerry or slouching and chewing gum."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Obamacare rollout fiasco is like the dog who finally catches the car-"What do we do now?" The libs finally capture the Holy Grail of government power, the media cheers them on and trumpets the victory and the prize turns out to be a "flaming bag of s%it."

Well, don't blame the president-according to Sebilius, he knew nothing about it. He only "knows" of his successes and his enemies failures. Interesting how he treated the BP oil spill "fiasco:"

In comments after a meeting with his Cabinet to discuss efforts to stop the spill and minimize its impact on U.S. Gulf Coast communities, Obama said he was angry and frustrated about the spill, which threatens an ecological and economic disaster in the Gulf region, Obama said:
" I did not appreciate what I considered to be a ridiculous spectacle during the congressional hearings into this matter. You had executives of BP and Transocean and Halliburton falling over each other to point the finger of blame at somebody else."


1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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