by baldilocks

On Twitter, many people call on others to “do something” about the destruction and mass killing of civilians in Aleppo, Syria. By “doing something,” they mean something other than posting about it on Social Media. Likely, these are the same people that bashed our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, short of taking up arms and hightailing over there to fight on one side or the other—an action which was which was criticized both in the current US administration and the one preceding—what exactly should be done?

One wonders whether the do-something people were the same ones who were eulogizing mass murderer Fidel Castro as a freedom fighter a few weeks back.

Aleppo is how most of the real world operates. A New York Times headline calls it an example of “humanity melting down”—as if no group of humans has ever murdered another group of humans until this week. (Maybe they still believe OG Fake Newser Walter Duranty’s report on Ukraine from the 1930s.)

What it is: an example of true, unconstrained human nature. That nature is thusly described: fallen. When individuals allow their nature to be unconstrained, we see murder, etc. When nations allow their policies to be unconstrained, we see genocides.

And on a biblical note, with Russia and Iran being the main actors in this violent play, I can’t help but think of the Isaiah and Ezekiel prophesies about war in Syria—and the roles that Russia and Iran play in that war and in other wars destined to occur in the Last Days.

Could we be observing a prequel—a staging of sorts? Probably.

Side note: on my old blog, I had a commenter who criticized me for “fear-mongering” when I talked about Bible prophecy. My response was that if she didn’t believe the Bible, then I could not monger fear in her; and if she did believe the Bible, then she should know that there is no reason to be afraid.

Side note #2: Read about the Great Revolt—the fall and sacking of Jerusalem by the Roman Empire, 66-70 A.D. People who don’t read much history and who live in the USA, Canada, etc. are always shocked at how Hobbesian the rest of the world is and always has been.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

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baldilocks

By John Ruberry

Saturday night news broke–that has not yet been confirmed–that President-elect Donald Trump has chosen ExxonMobil chairman Rex Tillerson to be his secretary of state.

Predictably, the mainstream media is pouncing on this selection, zeroing in on his ties to Russia that go back to the Boris Yeltsin era. Russia of course is a major energy producer, it’s quite understandable that ExxonMobil would have a stake there. In 2013 Vladimir Putin honored Tillerson with its Order of Friendship.

This criticism folds neatly into the controversial CIA report that Russia tried to influence the presidential election, presumably to boost Trump. Of course the increasingly marginalized media is still trying to make sense of Hillary Clinton’s loss, even though the evidence is abundant and easy to understand.

On the campaign trail Trump promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington. And one way to do so is to bring in some outsiders, people like himself, to find a better way to run America.

On Fox News Sunday, in an interview where Trump told host Chris Wallace that he had yet to choose his secretary of state, the president-elect said of Tillerson, who has never worked in the public-sector, “In this case he’s much more than a businessman. He’s a world-class player.” Tillerson can point to decades of experience of negotiating deals with foreign governments, which is something his two predecessors did not have, unless you include Hillary Clinton’s shady doings at the Clinton Foundation.

John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven.

During the campaign Trump called the Iran nuclear deal “a disaster” and “the worst deal ever negotiated.” Alan Dershowitz, a liberal but a longtime defender of Israel, said of the Iran deal and the people who crafted it, “I wouldn’t hire this administration to negotiate a one-month lease for me.”

Nor would I.

It’s time for the amateurs and the Model United Nations role-players to exit Washington–the people have spoken. Trump values accomplishments. DC needs more men and women like Tillerson.

John Ruberry, who has never been employed by the private sector, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Yet one more instance of the Most Transparent Administration™ conducting itself in the era of Smart Diplomacy™: Launder $400 million in exchange for five hostages, refuse to call it a ransom, and then launder $1.3 billion more. Make sure it’s all in cash, à la Breaking Bad, load it in pallets, and fly it in, so you bypass the international banking system and Constitutional prohibitions.

The WSJ reports,
U.S. Transferred $1.3 Billion More in Cash to Iran After Initial Payment. First $400 million coincided with Iran’s release of American prisoners and was used as leverage, officials have acknowledged

The Obama administration followed up a planeload of $400 million in cash sent to Iran in January with two more such shipments in the next 19 days, totaling another $1.3 billion, according to congressional officials briefed by the U.S. State, Treasury and Justice departments.

The cash payments—made in Swiss francs, euros and other currencies—settled a decades-old dispute over a failed arms deal dating back to 1979.

On that arms deal, Stephen Green points out that

 The arms deal “failed” because the government we had signed it with ceased to exist, toppled by the Ayatollah Khomeini — whose supporters attacked the US Embassy in Tehran and took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

To this day, Iran celebrates the anniversary of the Embassy attack with annual anti-U.S. rallies.

But back to the WSJ (emphasis added),

The Obama administration briefed lawmakers on Tuesday, telling them that two further portions of the $1.3 billion were transferred though Europe on Jan. 22 and Feb. 5. The payment “flowed in the same manner” as the original $400 million that an Iranian cargo plane picked up in Geneva, Switzerland, according to a congressional aide who took part in the briefing.

The $400 million was converted into non-U.S. currencies by the Swiss and Dutch central banks, according to U.S. and European officials.

The Treasury Department confirmed late Tuesday that the subsequent payments were also made in cash.

Must I remind you, Obama took to the airwaves last month and bare-faced lied to all, smirking,

“We announced these payments in January. Many months ago. Th-that wasn’t a secret; we announced them.”

Following the latest news,

Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) introduced legislation on Tuesday that would bar such payments to Iran in the future and seeks to reclaim the $1.7 billion for victims of Iranian-backed terrorism.

Good luck with that.

Last month Claudia Rosett reported that Treasury made thirteen equal payments of exactly $99,999,999.99 each to the State Department under the generic heading of settling “Foreign Claims.”

Rosett points to The Judgement Fund, which is used for bypassing the Constitution:

The Judgment Fund has long been a controversial vehicle for federal agencies to detour past one of the most pointed prohibitions in the Constitution: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”

The Judgment Fund, according to a Treasury Department Web site, is “a permanent, indefinite appropriation” used to pay monetary awards against U.S. government agencies in cases “where funds are not legally available to pay the award from the agency’s own appropriations.”

Rosett asks,

And why were the 13 payments in amounts of one cent less than $100,000,000?

Who knows? Is there a rule or procedure which specifies that all payments of $100 million or more are referred to an official that would not have been agreeable to the transfer?

What we do know is that the Obama administration has laundered money for the Ayatollahs.

Parting question: Does that constitute an impeachable offense?

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S, and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

You know we really have it easy in the US. When our government lies to our faces about the Iranian Nuke deal we can pound our chests, talk about the debasement of democracy and how these poor decisions are making the middle east a less safe place knowing that in the end it will be a long hard slog for Iran to hit us with a nuke.

However if you are a nation actually IN the middle east and not half a world away from Iran this threat is not theoretical it’s happeing right in front of you and is cause some people to think twice about things that have always been:

Among Egyptian writers, the idea of regular dealings with Israel still excites fierce debate, even after nearly four decades of official peace. The owner of the prominent independent daily al-Masry al-Yawm outspokenly advocates pragmatic close bilateral ties, in Egypt’s own interest. But leading al-Ahram columnist Hassan Nafaa, in sharp contrast, argues strenuously against “free gifts” to Israel.

It is intriguing, however, that today even some Egyptian writers and academics most critical of ties to Israel acknowledge that the younger generation, turned against Iran, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood both by their own experience and by their government’s changing positions, is losing some of its animosity toward their Israeli neighbors. Examples of this discourse can be found in articles penned this year by Egyptian authors Muhammad Laithi in al-Watan and by Ahmed Hidji in al-Monitor, who cites three different Cairo professors lamenting their students’ growing openness to Israel.

and not just in Egypt but in Saudi Arabia too

Particularly noteworthy in this respect is a long article in the current issue of the popular and influential pan-Arab weekly al-Majallah, based in London but widely circulated and read in both print and online editions in the region.  This article not only reviews the long history of Arab-Israeli relations, but also cites statements about that by Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer at great length.

Responses by Saudi writers are mixed, but some are very vocally in favor of dealing with Israel.  For example, Ahmed Adnan, writing in the alarab.co.uk website, even argues that Arabs should follow Turkey’s model:  “Ankara has ties with Israel, but no one can accuse Turkey of being biased against the Palestinians.”  His article was reprinted in the leading al-Arabiya website on August 8.

And this stuff isn’t just going on in Theory, it’s happening in practice:

After several decades of unremitting hostility, some of the fiercest opponents of Israel are starting to view the Jewish state very differently. Covert ties with Saudi Arabia are now becoming more open. Egypt, whose cold peace with Israel remained frozen in open hostility since Anwar Sadat’s assassination, has a government that is no longer shy about treating Israel as an ally if not a friend. Jerusalem’s relations with much of the Third World, especially African nations, are also warming up.

Oddly enough our liberal friends are not amused as the cause of this effect are the failing policies of Barack Obama.

those nations that are targeted most directly by Iran—Israel and Saudi Arabia—understand that U.S. appeasement of Iran advances the latter’s drive for regional hegemony as well as merely postponing the moment when it will achieve nuclear capability. The coming together of other Middle East nations in reaction to this travesty is evidence that those most at risk consider Obama’s false promises and his desire for a general U.S. retreat from the region a clear and present danger to the region.

Or to put it simply the realities of the world are asserting itself and the fictions that might be comfortable to the readers of the NYT are of scant comfort to those actually in the Middle east.

All of this is via Elder of Zyion which should be a regular stop if you wish to know what is going on in the Middle East.

 

 

As I write this post, John Kirby, State Department spokesman, is on TV adamantly denying that it was a ransom:

The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran, according to U.S. and European officials and congressional staff briefed on the operation afterward.

Looking at that sentence, again (emphasis added),

  1. The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran
  2. coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran
  3. U.S. and European officials and congressional staff briefed on the operation afterward.

Double-dealing behind Congress’ back, the article goes on to describe that the Obama administration

procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland

because it is illegal to do so in the U.S.,

The $400 million was paid in foreign currency because any transaction with Iran in U.S. dollars is illegal under U.S. law. Sanctions also complicate Tehran’s access to global banks.

So, on the one hand, last November Obama was saying “that ransoms should not be paid to terrorist organizations that are holding hostages,” while bypassing American banks in order to break the law.

By the way, Iran is calling it a ransom, and, in case you forgot, Iran is still in the State Sponsors of Terrorism list.

Omri Ceren, posting at PowerLine points to the predictable result of this further example of Obama’s “smart diplomacy”:

Iran has taken more hostages since the deal and now is looking for another ransom – Tehran went back to arresting American hostages after releasing the last round, and are now seeking another billion dollar deal in the last six months of the administration

At $100 million per American, which is the agreed price, they have only ten more to go.

Unfit to be president“, you say?

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S, and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

 

By John Ruberry

Unless you live outside America, you’ve seen the GEICO insurance television commercials with the tag line, “It’s what you do.” Such as this one about golf commentators whispering regardless of the situation.

Shortly before the Obama administration released over $100 billion in frozen assets to Iran, the mullahs released five Americans held there on trumped up charges.

Can you say “quid pro quo?” Can you say “hostages?”

Also part of the the hostage exchange was the release of seven Iranians who were imprisoned for violating our trade embargo with the theocracy.

“Empowering Iran with sanctions relief is like Neville Chamberlain writing a $150 billion check to Adolf Hitler before WWII hoping he’ll behave,” Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said shortly after the swap news became public. “This Iran deal is an insane disaster and this White House has lost its mind.”

I’m not so sure the White House lost its mind. President Obama and his oval office sycophants are leftists who believe America is too strong and it needs to be put in its place. That explains why on the day of his final State of the Union address President Obama not only didn’t mention the capture and video humiliation of ten US sailors by Iran in the Persian Gulf, but also his failure to condemn it at all.

John "Lee" Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven
John “Lee” Ruberry of the
Magnificent Seven

And to drive the point home, Obama’s poltroon secretary of state, John Kerry, thanked Iran for releasing the sailors that they shouldn’t have seized.

Our policy with Iran should be regime change. Then maybe Iran can drop their pastime of hostage taking.

Hat tip to Doug Ross for the GEICO inspiration.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

If you remain indifferent in time of adversity, your strength will depart from you. Rescue those who are being dragged to death, and from those tottering to execution withdraw not. If you say, “I know not this man!” does not he who tests hearts perceive it? He who guards your life knows it, and he will repay each one according to his deeds.

Proverbs 24:10-12

Barack Obama: ” I told you earlier all the talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air. Well, so is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker. The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. It’s not even close. “ Jan 12, 2016

Joe Biden: “One of the boats had engine failure and drifted into Iranian waters. The Iranians picked up both boats, as we have picked up Iranian boats that needed to be rescued and took them to — I’m not sure exactly where. I don’t want to misspeak here. And realized they were there and distressed, and said they would release them, and they released them like ordinary nations would do.

Jan 13, 2016

John Kerry “I want to express my gratitude to the Iranian authorities for their cooperation is resolving this matter quickly”

Jan 13, 2016

US Sailors Captured by Iran
US Sailors being “rescued” by “cooperative” Iranians Jan 12th 2016

I don’t expect any better from Barack Obama, Joe Biden or John Kerry, to them the humiliation of America is a feature not a bug. Nor do I expect better from the press who believes the same or any of their enablers in the Democrat party. In this I disagree with Noah Rothman:

If these people had any sense of shame they would not be defenders of this administration

What really hurts is that I DID expect better from the American People, but perhaps I was a fool in doing so.

Update: Trump nails it

“She is right. I am angry, and a lot of other people are angry too at how incompetently our country’s being run,” Trump said Wednesday night on CNN’s “Erin Burnett Outfront.”

“I don’t care, let her refer to me. As far as I’m concerned, anger and energy is what this country needs,”

I wish I was more angry & less resigned over this
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I know you can get the MSM for nothing, but that’s pretty much what most of them are worth.

The State of our Union in four seconds

Perhaps he will leave 10 empty seats for the sailors in Iranian hands

I predict democrats will circle the wagons around him for the simple reason that they won’t risk upsetting the black vote less than a year to an election and because they sold their souls when they didn’t force Clinton to resign in 1998.

Plus they don’t see those active duty troops as their voters anyways

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Given that fact I would I ask you to please consider hitting DaTipJar.




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That gets all the bills paid. Consider Subscribing 100 Subscribers at $20 a month will get the job done and then some.


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Additionally our subscribers get our podcast emailed directly to them before it show up anywhere else.

I know you can get the MSM for nothing, but that’s pretty much what most of them are worth.

What passes for smart diplomacy these days: Foreign policy deals where the US gives in for nothing in exchange.

I have posted here and at my blog on the easement of sanctions with Cuba, which was preceded by the release of American hostage Alan Gross in exchange for five cuban spies. Gross was on 60 Minutes, and the takeaway from that interview will be lost on the Obama administration, but here it is all the same,

How regimes that coerce concessions are never satisfied. As we’ve seen throughout the year, no matter how many unconditional concessions and impunity President Obama grants the Castro regime, it simply emboldens it to want more. Repression, refugees and rogue activities are on the rise. That is the result of Obama’s coerced policy.

[Emboldened, indeed: Castro Government Orders Demolition of Five Christian Churches in Cuba]

Another deal in Havana, still in the making, is the FARC narco-terrorist group’s so-called peace negotiations with the government of Colombia. The White House’s envoy, Bernard Aronson, appears to be willing to rubber stamp an agreement, regardless of how much political or economic power it cedes to the FARC.

While the Cuban Communist regime and the FARC are emboldened,  both of those deals pale next to the no-deal Iran deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). By lifting sanctions, the U.S. is releasing $100 billion in oil-revenue assets frozen in banks.

To put that $100 billion number in perspective, the World Bank currently estimates Iran’s gross domestic product at $369 billion, down from last year’s $415 billion. The $100 billion is essentially a 27% raise, but Pres. Obama insists,

“We’re not writing Iran a check,” he said. “This is Iran’s money that we were able to block from them having access to.”

Now we find out that there’s nothing in writing:

“The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document,” wrote Julia Frifield, the State Department assistant secretary for legislative affairs, in the November 19 letter [to Representative Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.)].

Instead, it is a set of “political commitments.” Allahpundit looks at the bright side, briefly, of the “not-treaty-or-executive-agreement,”

So we’re lifting $100 billion in sanctions in exchange for a legally binding promise of … nothing. The flip side of that, I guess, is that the deal’s not binding on us either; if the next president or even Obama himself wants to reimpose sanctions on a whim, that’s fair game.

But,

The problem with that logic, though, is that no one believes our European partners, who crave renewed access to Iran’s markets (and vice versa), will reinstate sanctions unless Iran cheats flagrantly and egregiously on the deal, to the point where it would humiliate the EU internationally to look the other way. One of Iran’s core goals in all this, re-opening its trade relationship with Europe, will be achieved whether or not ion deal is binding. And once achieved, it’ll be nearly irreversible.

Guy Benson has more, much more on the deal, and he doesn’t even touch on the repercussions it may have for our hemisphere.

Back in Sam Goldwyn‘s days verbal a contract wasn’t worth the paper it’s written on. In our days of smart diplomacy, it’s worth $100 billion.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

As Pete notes, the knives are out against Robert Menendez, with lurid headlines again screaming Sen. Robert Menendez may have had sex with underage hookers in Dominican Republic. Menendez’s office again denied the accusations, which are part of a larger case (emphasis added),

And unlike in many federal public corruption cases, this prosecution revolves, in part, around testimony by ex-girlfriends of Menendez and his donor, the eye doctor Melgen. The Justice Department says at least six of those girlfriends are “direct witnesses to the corrupt relationship between the defendants.” Prosecutors added that they didn’t call all of the men’s former paramours, only those who benefited from the alleged corruption.

Woe betide those whose former girlfriends talk, or whose divorce records are opened.

It’s curious to see the hooker story pop up again. I have been blogging on the case for the last couple of years, and noted that a grand jury in Florida already found no basis for the prostitution allegations. Let’s not forget why it has.

The knives are out on Menendez for three reasons, all pertaining to foreign policy:
1. The Iran deal (about which we have been posting), and Cuba:

Mr. Menendez sharply questioned State Department officials about Mr. Obama’s move to open diplomatic relations with Cuba, calling it “a bad deal” that “compromised bedrock principles for virtually no concessions.” In December, Mr. Menendez, a son of Cuban immigrants who has made opposition to the Castro leadership a centerpiece of his political life, said Mr. Obama’s decision had “vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government.”

He has also battled with Mr. Obama over a bill to impose new sanctions on Iran, which the president argues would undermine talks to prevent Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Mr. Menendez is a co-sponsor of the bill.

And during Mr. Obama’s State of the Union address last month, Mr. Menendez sat grim-faced as other Democrats cheered the president’s promise to veto any effort to roll back his domestic agenda. Days later, Mr. Menendez told Obama administration officials that they sounded as if they were peddling “talking points that come straight out of Tehran” in arguing against his sanctions bill.

2. Russia

All the while, Mr. Menendez has agitated for a more aggressive response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, calling for more sanctions on Moscow and military assistance to Kiev.

3. Menendez’s support of dissidents from countries other than Cuba: He vigorously supports the State of Israel against Iran-sponsored Hamas in Gaza, which also figures in his support of international sanctions against the Iranian nuclear program – sanctions that Ecuador and Venezuela attempt to help Iran avoid. And, by the way, last year the story was that Menendez was allegedly helping a pair of Ecuadorian fugitive bankers.

The “Ecuadorian fugitive bankers” are brothers William and Roberto Isaías, who fled Ecuador ten years ago after the government allegedly confiscated media outlets they owned which were critical of the government. They are here legally.

As ranking member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, his word carries a lot of weight. Bringing him down is taking a heck of a lot of work. The senior senator from NJ is not giving up.

The die on the disastrous Iran deal may already have been cast and Menendez’s six-point rebuttal may amount to Failure Theater. No matter what, sinking Menendez sends out a clear message.

UPDATE:
Linked to by Babalu. Thank you!

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news and culture at Fausta’s Blog.