Ron Radosh

Ron Radosh

If Hillary Clinton becomes President of the United States, she will undoubtedly bring with her to The White House her long-time trusted aide, confidant and spinmeister, journalist Sidney Blumenthal.  Blumenthal served in Bill Clinton’s White House a special advisor , and was recently a staff member at the Clinton Foundation. 

Perhaps the most noteworthy revelation coming out of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails from the time she was Secretary of State, is what they show about her relationship with Sidney Blumenthal. The New York Times report summarized it well:

 In 2011 and 2012, Hillary Rodham Clinton received at least 25 memos about Libya from Sidney Blumenthal, a friend and confidant who at the time was employed by the Clinton Foundation. The memos, written in the style of intelligence cables, make up about a third of the almost 900 pages of emails related to Libya that Mrs. Clinton said she kept on the personal email account she used exclusively as secretary of state. Some of Mr. Blumenthal’s memos appeared to be based on reports supplied by American contractors he was advising as they sought to do business in Libya. Mr. Blumenthal also appeared to be gathering information from anonymous Libyan and Western officials and local news media reports. 

Secretary Clinton wanted Blumenthal to come to the State Department with her, but remembering how he orchestrated vicious attacks against Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign, the Obama administration turned down her request to bring him  aboard. Nevertheless, while she was paying his salary for his work at The Clinton Foundation, she appointed him a special advisor to the State Department anyway, getting around the Administration’s wishes.

As for the Blumenthal e-mails, Clinton forwarded his reports on Libya- where he had never been and about which he knew nothing- to others at State and elsewhere without identifying who wrote them. Most importantly, Blumenthal was sending out recommendations favoring those with whom he was involved in a prospective business deal. Especially damaging was one sent in    January 2012, in which  the Times noted  “Blumenthal said that Libya’s prime minister was bringing in new economic advisers, and that a businessman, Najib Obeida, was among ‘the most influential of this group.’ At the time, Mr. Obeida was a potential business partner for a group of contractors whom Mr. Blumenthal was advising.”

Blumenthal was also one of the first to tell her that according to Libyan officials, the Benghazi attacks were prompted by the famous video “The Innocence of Muslims.”  A “’senior security officer’ had told Libya’s president,” The Times reported,  that Blumenthal reported that the attacks on that day were inspired by what many devout Libyan [s] viewed as a sacrilegious internet video.” Blumenthal then added that, ‘Some of the Libyan officials believe that the entire demonstration was organized as a cover for the attack.’ ” As we know, Hillary decided to go with the first version.To those of us who have had contact with and familiarity with Blumenthal’s reporting, there is no doubt that he is incapable of being a non-partisan or objective.  Blumenthal always saw himself as a partisan fighter in the war against what Hillary Clinton famously called “the great right-wing conspiracy,” a term suggested to her by none other than Blumenthal.

To see what Blumenthal was all about in the 80’s, one must read Joshua Muravchik’s devastating review of Blumenthal’s 1986 book, The Rise of the Counter-Establishment, in which Blumenthal argues that a new conservative “elite” has been created and has built “an alternative presence” that he claims is more powerful and potent than the old liberal Establishment. Muravchick dissects the book, writing that in fact it is nothing less than “an outburst, a formless outpouring of venom, bounded by no ethics of discourse, nor by logic, consistency, or accuracy.” What it does show is that Blumenthal’s obsession with and hatred of those he brands “the Right” started in this era, if not before. And as Muravchick shows, Blumenthal remains true to the New Left origins from whose ranks he started his political life

Blumenthal would use any ammunition against her enemies, even if they came from conservative sources he hated. First, during the early days of the 2008 campaign, when Hillary was running in the primaries against Barack Obama, Blumenthal himself decided to use the work of various conservative news sources that were exposing Obama’s leftist background.  Blumenthal sought to use this information in the hope of mitigating the damage that might be done by  the release of information that  showed Hillary herself was on the far left in her youth.  I wrote this up for The Weekly Standard in a column titled “Dueling Redbaiters:  Which Candidate is the real Leftist?” I explained it this way:

Before you could say Comrade, Clinton’s close adviser Sidney Blumenthal was emailing out blog posts, articles, and reports from a wide array of conservative sources. Blumenthal’s missives went to “an influential list of opinion shapers–including journalists, former Clinton administration officials, academics, policy` entrepreneurs, and think tankers,” as the left-wing activist and professor Peter Dreier reported on the Huffington Post (May 1)….

Blumenthal sent out pieces from the ultra-conservative Accuracy in Media (AIM)–”With Obama, It’s the Communism, Stupid,” “Obama and the Fifth Column,” “Is Barack Obama a Marxist Mole?”–as well as items from more mainstream conservative publications, such as a Fred Siegel cover story from National Review, Fred Barnes’s “Republicans Root for Obama” from THE WEEKLY STANDARD, and an older City Journal article by Sol Stern reporting Bill Ayers’s current role in developing a radical curriculum for K-12 teachers (“Ayers’s texts on the imperative of social-justice teaching are among the most popular works in the syllabi of the nation’s ed schools and teacher-training institutes”).

This was shocking in its own way. Blumenthal, the very man who coined the term “vast right-wing conspiracy,” Dreier noted, by circulating articles from the conservative media, was attempting to exploit “that same right-wing network to attack and discredit Barack Obama.”

The man would clearly stop at nothing to put Hillary over. But Blumenthal’s viciousness—which led those who knew his real character to call him “Sid Vicious” —led him during the time of the Clinton impeachment drama to go to new extremes. At that time, he served the same function for Bill Clinton that he did in the 2008 campaign waged by Hillary in the Democrat primaries. After Clinton’s tryst with Monica Lewinsky was made public, he painted the picture that it was Lewinsky who was the responsible party and had been stalking the President. That led to a famous break with his once close friend, the late Christopher Hitchens who knew it to be untrue and detested both Clintons’ attempts to always blame his prey.

Paul Mirengoff explains more at Powerlineblog.com:

During the 1980s, Blumenthal became alarmed by the rise of conservatism as an intellectual-political movement. As a reporter for the Washington Post, he attacked those whom he viewed as in the vanguard of that movement, especially, it seemed, if they happened to be Jewish. Among his targets were Elliott Abrams (who, Blumenthal thought, didn’t take John Lennon’s death seriously enough), Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, and David Horowitz.

To that end, Blumenthal made an accusation that Michael Ledeen was responsible for a post appearing in The Drudge Report, in which Drudge had accused Blumenthal of beating his wife. Blumenthal sued Ledeen for defamation, and he and his wife Barbara were subject to what any reader can see was a broad-based witch-hunt meant to smoke out Ledeen’s political views, as well as scores of other personal and business matters have nothing to do with the allegation made by Blumenthal. Drudge eventually had to apologize and retract his accusation which had no basis in fact.  But Blumenthal used the accusation to go after the Ledeens  and possibly two dozen other conservatives he listed as accomplices. It was an opportunity to harass the Clinton’s critics, and to conduct a fishing expedition into the phrase he had given Hillary to use- that of “the great right-wing conspiracy.”

Michael Ledeen responded with an Open Letter to conservatives, warning others of what they would face when questioned by Sidney Blumenthal’s lawyers; the questions would deal with their views of Blumenthal, Clinton, and what one might have written critical of Blumenthal or the President, he warned.  Ledeen noted that these forced appearances would be a chance to show how Blumenthal, contrary to his own claims, was anything but a defender of free speech.

These past episodes remind us of what kind of an assistant Secretary Clinton swears by, and has repaid with continued jobs and responsibilities.

David Horowitz reported here on his own similar personal experience with Blumenthal. As he put it, “Sid is such a compulsive and mean-spirited prevaricator that he gives ordinary liars a bad name.” He goes on in detail to reveal just how Blumenthal lied about him in the pages of The Washington Post, especially about the “Second Thoughts” conference Horowitz and Peter Collier had organized in 1987. Blumenthal falsely said it was held  to carry out a “right-wing” agenda, although at the time, Horowitz and Collier had not yet become conservatives, and purposefully had major liberals speaking at the event, including the late David Ifshin, who was General Counsel of Walter Mondale’s presidential campaign. Instead of merely reporting what took place, Blumenthal invited a group of leftist journalists whom he knew would be hostile to the conference and would also slam it in print.

It happens that I personally learned how Blumenthal approached journalism earlier in 1986. That  year I had a dialogue in the pages of Commentary with both Robert S. Leiken and Penn Kemble, around the issue of Central America and the anti-Sandinista contras, as the armed guerilla forces opposed to the regime were called. I took a position that was at first opposed to both sides as violators of human rights. Hence I was opposed to the position taken by many conservatives and anti-Communists, that of outright support to the armed struggle against the Sandinistas that the contras were waging.

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As each day passes, the Left is becoming more excited about Vermont’s Senator Bernie Sanders’ entry into the Democratic primaries.

Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson points out:

[Sanders’ campaign] is the first such effort by a democratic socialist since Norman Thomas waged the last of his six such campaigns on the Socialist Party ticket in 1948.

However, there is one big difference between these two socialist campaigns: Thomas ran on his own party’s ticket, and not within the Democratic Party primaries.

He was acting on Eugene V. Debs’ old axiom that if you don’t vote for the candidate you really want, you’ll definitely get the one you don’t. Certainly, Debs received the largest vote a Socialist had ever received in the 1912 presidential race, but even so, it was only 5% and did not affect the election results. Debs believed, as he said in his post-election statement, that the million votes cast for him presaged something they could build upon — and that both the Republican and Democrat parties would collapse, leaving the Socialists in place for eventual victory.

That did not happen, but there have been changes within the current Democratic Party that might make Debs happy. Sanders decided not to emulate Debs, but to run within a Democratic Party that has already become a social-democratic political party on the far left of the spectrum.

The late socialist leader Michael Harrington considered the Democratic Party to be part of “the invisible social democracy” in which those who wanted America to turn socialist had to engage. That is why Harrington supported the policy advocated by Communist Earl Browder during the WWII years, which was to work within and support the Democrats, hoping to push the party towards the radical policies the socialists desired.

Today, Meyerson says that Sanders is advocating policies that are “distinctly more progressive than last year’s standard Democratic fare,” amounting to “a slightly more social democratic version of the newly populist liberalism.”

With Sanders running at a moment when “Democrats are moving left in response to the deep dysfunctions of U.S. capitalism,” Meyerson believes this is the right moment to put forth even more radical measures than Democrats of the past would have dared to propose, including higher Social Security benefits, single-payer national health care, major raises in the minimum wage, higher taxes on the rich, and cancellation of a new free-trade agreement with the Pacific Rim nations.

Give both Sanders and Meyerson credit for saying what they really advocate. They want to bring America closer to what exists in the welfare states of Europe, where economies are on the verge of collapse due to left-wing programs that cannot economically be sustained.

Do Meyerson and Sanders really believe that such programs are economically viable, and that taxing the rich will bring in enough money to fund what they advocate? If so, they are delusional. They seem to think, as William Voegeli argues in his seminal book, Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State, that our existing welfare state is limitless, and can be expanded dramatically so that the goal of equality by command will be realized.

Unlike the modest reforms Meyerson cites that Debs supported — an eight-hour workday, social insurance, and women’s suffrage — today’s socialists advocate such an expansion of government power and integration of the state with the economy that it would amount to destruction of the American idea.

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The Synagogue Of Satan - Updated, Expanded, And Uncensored

Most of us buy our books and much more from Amazon. The firm started by Jeff Bezos has become one of the most powerful corporations, always expanding its grasp or devising new forms of merchandising and delivery.

Amazon, however, got into trouble when it was found that its German division was selling neo-Nazi books and other materials promoting Holocaust denial. In 2009, the American Jewish Committee sued the firm’s German division for selling 50 pro-Nazi books, although sales of these books were banned by France, Germany, and Austria:

It is unacceptable that books are for sale on Amazon.de that normally are only available under the counter in far-right extremist shops. … We cannot let the spread of internet sales erode laws that ban Holocaust denial and incitement to hatred of minorities in Germany.

As a result of the suit and bad publicity, Amazon supposedly removed sale of these titles. But two years ago, reporters for the British press found that the firm was again selling Holocaust-denial, anti-Semitic, and white-supremacist books. The Daily Mail reported:

The online retailer has been shown to sell books denying the holocaust and promoting anti-Semitism and the superiority of the white race with titles such as The Myth of the Extermination of the Jews and Building a Whiter and Brighter World. … The tide of discrimination appears to have come back in. Among the Holocaust denial books is Did Six Million Really Die? The preview questions the validity of claims of gas chambers and alleges many survivor stories have been made up.

Most were on Kindle, but some were in both hardcover and paperback. These titles were on European Amazon, where anti-Semitism is growing and where the availability of such titles by a one-click purchase can provide ammunition for young and uneducated anti-Semites.

But now, it seems, many of these titles are readily available for purchase on U.S. Amazon, where Bezos began his world-wide business. My friend, Cantor Bob Cohen of Kingston, New York, was searching for a specific book on Judaism, and much to his shock found that his search returned this one: It’s the Jews Stupid: Who and what these evil vipers are! by R. Vincent Bert. The author intends, he says, to prove that Jews are the “Seed of Satan.” And also, if you didn’t know, that they control today’s world and are the single force promoting evil.

This book is not the only one of its ilk. Amazon also sells one written by Andrew Carrington Hitchcock, The Synagogue of  Satan, a 60,000-word book that, we can be thankful, has been “Updated, Expanded, and Uncensored.” Calling it a “groundbreaking historical study,” potential readers are told that it also contains the famous Russian forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of  Zion, as well as writing from Henry Ford’s old anti-Semitic newspaper, The International Jew.

An admiring reader comments on the Amazon book page that there will be attempts to “label the book as ‘hate’ literature,” when it contains only “historical truths” showing that Jews have an “agenda to control the world.”

Amazon, as the evidence shows, is allowing its business to market this as just another legitimate book whose arguments should be considered. But fear not. If you want to read what real old-fashioned Nazis from the Hitler era have to say, you can also order on Kindle, for only 99 cents, the Nazi propagandist and newspaper publisher Julius Streicher’s The Jew as Criminal, which this time we are told is being offered only “for research purposes.” Yet it seems that not only researchers have bought the book. A reader calling himself “Montana Man” writes: “Streicher sure has this one right. … Yes they [the Jews] are criminal in all facets of humanity and in their dealings with others.” Guess Amazon didn’t demand proof that this reader was a researcher.

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Kirchick's Cuba

As the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba continues, it is important for Americans to be informed about what life on the island is really like. This is all the more necessary because our major newspapers and magazines are running features proclaiming that “now is the time to travel to Cuba,” especially before the island gets American chain restaurants and the charming 50-year-old autos disappear from the streets.

Just visit sites from National Geographic to The Nation, and you will find the itinerary, cost, and joys of a trip to Cuba. A recent issue of Bloomberg Businessweek includes Cuba in its “Take a Real Vacation” section. The article explains that one can book a tour through a “government-approved” licensed operator; one of these “specialists” offers a nine-day package, departing from Miami for $4,449 a person.

What these tourists will get is a 21st century trip through Potemkin villages.

They will learn that Cubans are a friendly people, that they love and support their Communist leaders and system, and that they believe they are better off today than they were in the ’50s before Castro came to power. They will be told that the scenic areas and preserved sections of towns they travel to are the “real” Cuba. They will stay in hotels and listen to some good music in high-priced clubs that most Cubans can’t afford to enter — even if these Cubans could get into one of the hotels, they would not be allowed to stay there.

They will come back reporting how joyous and grateful the people are, living in this socialist paradise. Finally, they will all say that if there are any economic problems, it’s the fault of the United States and the embargo that prevents them from living in prosperity.

That is why the cover story in the new issue of National Review by Jamie Kirchick on his recent trip to Cuba is so important.

Unlike the regular American tourists who are signing up for the tours, Kirchick went on his own, staying at an individual’s guest house and then a hotel. He wanted to see for himself what Cuba is really like, and most importantly, to seek out and speak to Cuba’s dissidents, most of whom are not happy with Obama’s policies.

Kirchick writes:

The relaxed travel policies, the pending opening of embassies, the removal of Cuba from the State Department’s list of terrorism sponsors, the restoration of limited economic activity — all longtime goals of the Cuban regime — were declared without any corresponding demands that Havana change its conduct.

In other words, Barack Obama is applying to Cuba the same mindset that he applies to Iran: give our adversary what they want, and eventually they will democratize and become our good friends.

The dissidents, on the other hand, want support for their movement towards democracy.

They do not want Obama’s policy, which involves legitimization of the totalitarian regime in the false hope that such measures — such as lifting the embargo — will suddenly move the Marxist-Leninist caudillos in charge of the regime to change. They want an end to the kind of experience that dissident Antonio Rodiles told Kirchik he had when he was arrested, as he stepped out of his home on the way to a scheduled free-speech demonstration.

From what Kirchick reports, Cuba hasn’t changed much since I was there for a few weeks in the summer of 1973, and wrote about my experiences in my memoir.

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As Bridget Johnson reports on these pages, and as the left-wing Huffington Post told its readers on Thursday, Sen. Bernie Sanders, the self-proclaimed socialist senator from Vermont, is going to announce his entry into Democratic primaries to challenge Hillary Clinton.

The first response of many people will be to scoff. Everyone knows, even if Senator Sanders himself has delusions, that he will never get enough votes in a general election to become president, even if he somehow managed to win the nomination. Of course, the latter is not likely to occur. No matter how many small donors contribute to his campaign chest, it will never amount to anything close to the huge war chest that Hillary Clinton is amassing.

So why does his campaign even matter? Huff Po makes this point:

The Vermont senator’s entry into the race will provide a platform for Democrats to criticize Clinton from the left. It will not only do this, but could force Hillary to move further left in her campaign pronouncements.

If she does not, she will be in danger of losing a large portion of her base. In a close swing state, Clinton cannot afford to alienate those who believe she is too close to the banks and Wall Street.

Sanders has been arguing publicly that Hillary does not know why she is running and that she stands for nothing except her desire to be president and to have political power. As he put it:

Why don’t you tell me what Hillary Clinton is campaigning on? Do you know? You don’t know and I don’t know and the American people don’t know.

When he begins his campaign, the senator is certain to remind people that her husband was a force in the then-existing Democratic Leadership Council, which sought to keep the Democratic Party in the center and to function as an opposition to those Democrats further to the Left. He could also remind voters that Bill Clinton supported welfare reform and got his centrist programs through Congress only by gaining the votes of Republicans. He will undoubtedly try to argue that Hillary will be Clinton II, and that this is proved by the heavy funding she is receiving from corporate America.

What if the Republican candidate chooses to run by advocating new and innovative policies that respond to the growing plight of the middle class, and on measures that will enable the United States to once again become a true opportunity society? An opportunistic lurch to either the left or the center by Hillary Clinton will strengthen the chances of a Republican victory in the general election.

Hillary Clinton is very smart, and should not be underestimated. She will undoubtedly at first ignore Sanders, attempting to depict him as a marginal candidate whose campaign will only help Republicans. If Sanders manages to gain support in certain key states where voters do not trust Hillary to do anything that will help them, she will have to reevaluate and address the concerns he raises and the stands he takes that prove to be popular.

Sanders’ candidacy might be a harbinger of Democrats who will be emboldened to question Hillary’s inevitability. After her e-mail deleting, and after the revelations in Peter Schweizer’s Clinton Cash on the unsavory ways the Clintons amassed $150M over the past ten years, other challengers may well step forward. So run, Bernie, run! We will have a more interesting campaign, as well as a fight over the future direction of America. I’m certain that Sen. Elizabeth Warren is looking very closely at Sanders’ announcement and rethinking her own options. Maybe Joe Biden is, too. Then there is Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb, and, God forbid, John Kerry, who might think he is entitled to another go at it. Let the race begin!

This morning, too late for its print edition, the New York Times broke a major story about Hillary Clinton that is likely to grow and haunt her for the duration of her campaign. The story documents the millions of dollars donated to the Clinton Foundation by Canadian company Uranium One, which was seeking to sell American uranium mines to the Russians. The deal required approval by the Department of State — while Hillary Clinton was secretary of State.

The Times reports:

[T]he sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well … Whether the donations played any role in the approval of the uranium deal is unknown. But the episode underscores the special ethical challenges presented by the Clinton Foundation, headed by a former president who relied heavily on foreign cash to accumulate $250 million in assets even as his wife helped steer American foreign policy as secretary of state, presiding over decisions with the potential to benefit the foundation’s donors.

Shortly after the Russians announced that they intended to acquire a majority interest in the company, Bill Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank — that had links to the Kremlin — which was promoting the firm’s stock.

The story is not going away, and this time the mainstream media is on the case.

Moreover, the reporters writing the Times’ story, Jo Becker and Mike McIntire, give full credit in the article to the research of and material detailed in the new book by Peter Schweizer, the Hoover Institution’s former fellow and author of Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich. The reporters noted that Schweizer “provided a preview of material in the book,” and then encouraged them to scrutinize his information and build upon it with their own reporting.

As usual, the response of the Clinton team is to go with the old “great right-wing conspiracy” scenario used by Hillary Clinton during the impeachment drama surrounding her husband’s presidency.

On Morning Joe today, former Governor of Vermont and presidential hopeful Howard Dean used that tactic, arguing that the Schweizer story was just another right-wing hit job, although he acknowledged that as yet he had not even read the Times report, which had just gone online.

Dean, instead of arguing with Schweizer’s facts and research, emphasized that part of Schweizer’s funding came from an individual who was a major contributor to Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign. Jeremy Peters, the paper’s Washington, D.C. bureau chief, let him know that he was quite angry at Dean’s insult to his colleagues. Dean, he said, had no evidence that they had not done their job well.

And last night, Rachel Maddow took the same tack on her MSNBC program, as her website notes that “Peter Schweitzer (sic) … has a history of producing partisan misinformation and wonders why otherwise legitimate news outlets are giving him any credulous treatment.”

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Obama Forgets the Past at Our Peril

April 20th, 2015 - 9:34 am

Every day brings more evidence that President Obama is conducting his foreign policy under a kind of delusion. He believes that making concessions to tyrants, making deals with them, will bring about a peaceful world. He thinks this will earn him a legacy he can be proud of, thus saving him from leaving office with a disastrous foreign policy record.

At last week’s Pan-American Conference, Obama met with Cuban dictator Raul Castro and expressed his desire to forge a new U.S. policy towards Cuba. “This is obviously an historic meeting,” the president said to Fidel Castro’s brother. Castro responded: “We are willing to discuss everything, but we need to be patient, very patient. … We might disagree on something today on which we could agree tomorrow.”

Indeed, he expects that Obama will eventually accept many, if not all, of the Cuban regime’s demands.

Even before the two met, Castro publicly demanded that the United States hand the Guantanamo naval base to Cuba and stop interfering in Cuba’s internal politics. He listed all the affronts to Cuba for which the U.S. had to apologize before any real progress could occur. Indeed, the Cuban dictator demanded that the U.S. embargo be formally suspended, that broadcasts to Cuba from Radio and T.V. Marti from the United States end, and that the U.S. give “just compensation to our people for the human and economic damage that they’ve suffered.”

In a move to show Castro that he was listening, our president took Cuba off of the State Department’s list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.

He removed them even as the leaders of Colombia’s Marxist narco-terrorists violated their agreement to a ceasefire and resumed fighting and killing Colombians; he removed them while these leaders were sitting in Cuba as honored guests of the regime. And, as James Kirchick reminds us, Cuba also has been smuggling valuable munitions into North Korea.

What did we get in return? It appears we got nada. Cuba did not agree to honor human rights, end the constant arrests and persecution of dissidents, or institute democratic procedures leading eventually to nationwide free elections.

The president’s constant refrain is that the Cold War “has been over for a long time, and I’m not interested in having battles that, frankly, started before I was born.”

His statement is reminiscent of his statements during the 2008 campaign, when he was charged with associating with terrorists like Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers, and candidate Obama responded that what Ayers did took place long ago.

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Domestic critics of the Iranian nuclear “framework” are gaining ground. One problem is that John Kerry and the administration’s version of what is in the framework differs from Iran’s understanding.  As Michael Gordon wrote in a front page story in the New York Times, “there are two versions,” or as he put it, “noteworthy differences” between the U.S. and the Iranian version of what transpired. Indeed, Iran’s chief negotiator, Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif, denies that any agreement has been reached.

As a result of these discrepancies, Obama is going to have an even harder time selling it to Congress than he had before the announcement of the framework. This poses a problem for both the Democratic Party and his administration. The president assumed that he would be able to bypass Congress altogether or render them ineffectual in obtaining a final nuclear deal with Iran.  He did not seem to take into account that Republicans won a majority of both houses in 2014.  Nor did he grasp the fact that many in Congress, both Democrat and Republican, resented being bypassed and ignored for seven years and having their constitutional responsibilities usurped. Congressional pushback came in the form of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Act of 2015, put forth with bipartisan support by the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn). Congressionally mandated sanctions helped bring Iran to the table, Corker argues, and so Congress must have a say in removing them as well as a role in overseeing Iranian compliance with any agreement.

Obama also miscalculated his handling of Netanyahu and Israel and the ramifications of his hostility toward Jewish voters. After Netanyahu appeared before Congress, Obama and others in his administration decided to wage a virtual war against Israel. An anonymous top administration official called Israel’s prime minister a “chicken…t” and a “coward,” and Obama himself ignored Netanyahu’s just concerns, and accused all those opposed to his policies of desiring a Middle East war. The attacks continued even after Netanyahu won the election and in spite of the administration’s efforts to defeat him.  Obama appears to have been living under the illusion that J Street, a group he has been touting, is representative of American Jewry. In fact, J Street, which purports to be a “pro-Israel, pro-peace” organization, has from its start functioned as a surrogate for the White House in the Jewish community. It opposed and lobbied against any sanctions on Iran when they were first proposed, and just this week, signed a joint statement on behalf of the announced framework with both the Arab American Institute and the National Iranian American Council, calling it a “historic agreement.”

Since the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jewish Americans have been counted on to be loyal Democrats, but that might be beginning to change. As a result of the administration’s attacks on Israel’s prime minister, the very real threat that Iran poses towards Israel, and the backdrop of growing anti-Semitism in Europe, there seems to be a backlash. Suddenly fearing a revolt of Jewish Democrats, Obama’s national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, was dispatched to meet with some Jewish members of Congress. He was told, Politico reported, that Obama and his aides had to stop blaming Netanyahu for holding up the peace process, while saying nothing about the role Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had played in its failure.  The administration’s attacks on Netanyahu were perceived as being vindictive and gratuitous. One of the congressmen said, “You want us to go out and say the administration’s got Israel’s back.  How are you going to get us to say that when our constituents believe that the administration is stabbing Israel in the back?”

According to Peter Nicholas, writing in the Wall Street Journal, Obama’s policies and hostility towards Israel “are creating a rift in the durable alliance between Jews and the Democratic Party in the run-up to the 2016 elections.” When Jewish Democratic House members met with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, they told him that Obama had to do something to increase his popularity among Jewish voters. They urged that he tell his boss to “soften his tone” towards Netanyahu. Rep. Nita Lowey, a New York Democratic member of Congress, told McDonough that she was “extremely disturbed” by “overheated” rhetoric coming from the White House. The election returns showed that in the 2006 midterm elections, 87% of Jewish voters supported House Democratic candidates; while in 2014, the figure dropped to 66%. A shift like this, the story continues, could make a difference in parts of Florida, as well as the Philadelphia and Chicago suburbs, and have an impact on Senate races as well. A Democratic fundraiser, Leonard Barrack, told Rhodes that “many fellow Democrats of the Jewish faith were appalled” that members of Congress didn’t show Netanyahu “the respect and courtesy of being in the audience” when he spoke to both houses of Congress.

It is for that reason that President Obama has shifted his tone measurably in the past few days, trying to make it appear that he really cares about Israel and believes in doing everything he can to protect it and provide the umbrella of U.S. power for that purpose. This was revealed clearly in Obama’s April 5 interview with Thomas Friedman, appearing in the New York Times.

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Obama and the Democrats

March 30th, 2015 - 6:23 pm

The Obama offensive to garner support ahead of a possible deal with Iran has run into some headwinds.  The administration’s intensive lobbying campaign directed towards Democrats in Congress is, according to the Wall Street Journal, based on the argument “that opposing President Barack Obama would empower the new Republican majority.” Apparently there are reports that the administration has come to the realization that Congress will have to have a say, no matter how minimal, and is trying to come up with something to assuage a lot of congressional ruffled feathers.

The administration is also relying on liberal and progressive groups to do outreach in support of a deal.  Their pitch is that to oppose a deal, even a bad one, would mean going to war with Iran.  At the forefront of this effort is Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, who has appeared frequently on major TV talk shows speaking on behalf of negotiations and acceptance of a deal. His group has invested over $7 million over the past few years in think tanks, activist groups and friendly media that favor the administration’s position.  Also working as a shill for the administration is J Street, which had even lobbied against sanctions altogether a few years ago. At their recent convention, the keynote was delivered by James Baker, who, as George H.W. Bush’s secretary of State, developed a strong anti-Israel policy and who famously said at the time, “f*** the Jews. They don’t vote for us anyway.” By featuring Baker, the Obama front group is trying to make it appear that to oppose Israel is bipartisan.

Unlike J Street’s peculiar way of being a “pro-Israel” organization, Obama is finding that the majority of American Jews and the leadership of Jewish organizations are not happy with his treatment of Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel.  This is causing problems for Jewish Democrats in Congress and those who have significant numbers of  Jewish constituents.  Ben Rhodes was sent out to meet with them and bring them in line.  At the meeting, according to Politico, he was told that the president’s “aggressive approach” to Netanyahu was a problem.  As one congressmen said, “you want us to go out and say the administration’s got Israel’s back.  How are you going to get us to say that when our constituents believe that the administration is stabbing Israel in the back?” Describing the meeting as “tense,” the report summed up how the Democrats felt:

Obama and his aides, they said, had to stop acting as if the Israeli prime minister’s comments are the only thing holding up a peace process that’s been abandoned for a year while not expressing a word of disappointment about Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas — and openly toying with allowing the Palestinians their provocative recognition bid at the United Nations. The swipes at Netanyahu felt vindictive, and gratuitous.

Some Senate Democrats are saying that despite their opposition on tactical grounds to Tom Cotton’s letter to Ayatollah Khamenei, they, too, are wary about any administration deal signed with Iran.

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Almost immediately after Benjamin Netanyahu’s dramatic electoral victory, Barack Obama and his administration announced that they were going to reconsider U.S. policy towards Israel. If Israel was going to withdraw its support for a two-state solution, American would find ways to bring it about without them.  This new policy might cause the U.S. to “reevaluate” its position on Palestinian statehood at the United Nations, perhaps dropping its opposition to the UN recognizing Palestine as a nation, as well as not opposing Israel being brought before the International Court at The Hague for committing war crimes in the recent Gaza war.

These threatened measures are in response to Netanyahu’s strength and Obama’s inability to bring about his defeat.  Now, Netanyahu will most likely have the ability to put together a coalition resulting in a new Israeli government of the center/right with himself as the prime minister.  That must really irk Obama.  It also puts Netanyahu in a stronger position to oppose a weak deal with Iran.  In order to weaken and neutralize him, it makes sense to paint him as a right-wing extremist with whom there can be no accommodation.

For that task, the compliant defenders of Obama in the press must paint a portrait of Netanyahu in the darkest of colors.  To these writers of the mainstream liberal press, anything is fair game when it comes to demonizing Bibi. They suffer from what I call Bibi Derangement Syndrome (BDS).

First, they inevitably begin their argument by claiming that before the election he had cynically switched his position on the two-state solution from pro to con and that he had definitively stated that there would be no two-state solution and Palestinian state while he was prime minister.  In doing this he had repudiated his 2009 speech in which he publicly stated that he favored two states living peacefully side-by-side.

In fact, Netanyahu had not changed his position nor repudiated his earlier statement. In 2009 he said at Bar-Ilan University that “in my vision of peace, there are two free peoples living side by side in this small land, with good neighborly relations and mutual respect, each with its flag, anthem and government, with neither one threatening its neighbor’s security and existence.” The key is the last part of his statement, noting “mutual respect” and neither threatening each other, which is mandatory for any such treaty.

He sought to clarify his position after the election in a much-discussed interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, telling her:

I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state today, and evacuate areas, is giving radical Islam an area from which to attack the State of Israel. This is the true reality that has been created in past years. Those that ignore it are burying their heads in the sand. The left does this, buries its head in the sand, time and again.

Here, in his very first sentence, Netanyahu does not say he is opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state, but that today conditions in Palestinian society and the Middle East make it impossible to achieve and foolhardy to attempt.  Netanyahu made it quite clear, as The Times of Israel reported, that he had not changed his policy or retracted his 2009 position at all. What has changed, he told  Mitchell, “is the reality.” The PA united with Hamas, refuses to recognize the Jewish state, and insists on the right of return; hence, a “sustainable, two-state solution” is not on the horizon no matter how many offers Israel makes and land it is willing to hand over.

Despite Netanyahu’s clarification of his position, and his assurances in an interview with Fox News that he would continue to cooperate with the United States, the official U.S. position has not changed.  Instead, White House press spokesman Josh Earnest harped back to the prime minister’s pre-election statements, and told the assembled media that “words matter” and that the administration would not back down on the charge that Netanyahu used “divisive rhetoric” and opposed a two-state solution.

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