Wednesdays Wars | Tom Callaghan: Israel: It’s Getting Ugly

On June 12, 2014, three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped while hitchhiking in the occupied territories about 40 miles from Gaza. They were found dead on June 30.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s immediate response: “Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay.” His evidence: None.

Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition partners want dead Palestinian bodies, and a lot of them, to pay for the deaths of the three teens. Assembling evidence and finding the actual perpetrators is of little importance compared to exacting a heavy price from the entire Palestinian population in Gaza.

So much for “shared values”. Shared with whom?

The blood lust of a senior member of Netanyahu’s governing coalition, Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home Party was reflected in a post to her social media page stating Israel should kill the mothers of combatants and bomb their houses “otherwise more little snakes will be raised there.”

Netanyahu will do whatever he has to do to pacify his right-wing coalition partners and achieve an “acceptable” body count. If he doesn’t, he will not remain as Prime Minister.

The shelling of Gaza is now in progress, and the body count is building. Precious few Israeli soldiers will get anywhere near harm’s way. It will all be done from above, with the best weapons US taxpayers can buy. Ms. Shaked of the Jewish Home Party will be pleased. Continue Reading………

Wednesdays Wars | Tom Callaghan: Obama – We’re lucky to have him

Published on May 7, 2014

Yeah, I know his approval rating is only 44%, but that’s a damn sight better than Regan’s lowest of 35%, or Bush II at 25%.

I’m familiar with Obamacare, and the website. But remember, he passed it and he hit the numbers he had to hit, and he stuck with Kathleen Sebelius all the way. Good for him.

Congress can always amend and improve it, as they have with Social Security and Medicare over the years. The basic tenets of the Affordable Care Act are, however, here to stay. Good for us.

FOX likes to say he was deceptive when he said, “If you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it.”

Not so. If you had a plan with low lifetime limits that excluded preexisting conditions and had high deductibles and copays and the insurance company could cancel it on 30 day notice, you did not have a Health Insurance Plan. You had a Certificate Of Victimhood. Obama assumed people knew the difference.

I’m aware that the right wing and TEA Party types have been whining that the IRS has been unfair to them when it processed their applications for tax-exempt status under that part of the Internal Revenue Code that requires an applicant to engage “exclusively in social welfare activities.” Continue Reading……….

Wednesdays Wars | Tom Callaghan: Ukraine, Crimea, Putin, Obama

Published on Apr 2, 2014

The conventional wisdom holds that Russia is not leaving Crimea; that Putin wants more; and that Putin has outmaneuvered Obama on the world stage.

The conventional wisdom is about half-right.

Russia Is Not Leaving Crimea

Since the Russian incursion into Crimea, Vladimir Putin’s popularity within Russia has soared. CNN has reported that he enjoys an approval rating of 82%, not withstanding a very weak economy.

If Putin had done nothing after his friend and ally Viktor Yanukovych was unceremoniously run out of the country, it would have given the lie to the image of Putin as a strong leader willing to move swiftly to protect the interests and restore the grandeur of Mother Russia.

If Putin had not moved on Crimea, he would have shown himself to be less than a “regional power”. Russia would have been exposed as a country that could not even protect a vital interest on its border. Putin’s approval rating at home would have been cut in half in a New York minute. Continue Reading………

Wednesdays Wars | Tom Callaghan: Ukrainian Upheaval – Can Obama and Putin do a De-Escalation Dance?

If Viktor Yanukovych, the Russian-friendly President of Ukraine and his dentist son had been satisfied with stealing millions of dollars from the Ukrainian people instead of billions, the US-Russian confrontation over Ukraine and its autonomous province of Crimea would probably never have happened.

Such, however, was not the case. The Yanukovych kleptocracy, enforced by brutality, reached a level of obnoxiousness that it was a close call if the dear leader could find somebody to pilot a helicopter to help him escape his loving subjects before they tore him limb from limb.

With his man Viktor defeated and hiding from his people, Putin had a problem. What would be Russia’s relationship with the new, hastily-installed leadership of Ukraine and, specifically, how would the change of leadership in Kiev impact the autonomous province of Crimea?

Crimea, which has a majority Russian population, was given to Ukraine by Russia (at that time, the USSR) in 1954. It is home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol. Continue reading………………

Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars : Watching Fox and Believing There is an IRS Scandal

Published on Feb 12, 2014

If you are capable of believing National Football League teams wrongfully discriminate against weak people who run slow and weigh less than 150 lbs and that they wrongfully favor strong people who run fast and weigh over 250 lbs, then you are capable of believing FOX and thinking there actually is an IRS scandal.

Let’s examine the law that FOX claims has been scandalously administered by the Internal Revenue Service. And, let’s take a look at the parties FOX claims have been wronged and those FOX claims have unfairly benefited from IRS actions.

What does the law say?

This whole sham controversy revolves around how the Internal Revenue Service has administered section 501c 4 of the Internal Revenue Code, which allows tax-exempt status “… for organizations not organized for profit, but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare …” Webster defines the term “social welfare” as “services for the assistance of disadvantaged groups.”

Those discriminated against according to FOX

FOX claims TEA Party groups have been unlawfully discriminated against by the IRS in the administration of the law.

Continue Reading………..

Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars: Book Review. Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel by Max Blumenthal

Published on Jan 7, 2014

Around the time of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, I attended an event at a synagogue in Washington DC. The speaker was Abba Eban … former Foreign Minister of Israel, Cambridge-educated, erudite, probably the best public spokesman the state of Israel has ever had.

He was there to make the case for Israel on a number of matters, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He used his famous line about Yasser Arafat, “he never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity for peace.”

Eban, however, was quick to assure his mostly-Jewish audience that the Palestinian problem was not solely their fault. There was plenty of room for the Israeli government under Begin-Sharon to do more for peace.

Touching on how difficult his fellow countrymen could be to deal with, I remember, vividly, him saying that, “There are Jews in Israel that believe it’s not murder if a Jew kills a non-Jew.” A significant portion of the audience gasped.

I was surprised, not so much by the substance of the remark, but that he, one of the founding fathers of Israel, would say it in public in the US. Good for him.

Max Blumenthal does not have Abba Eban’s stature. Not by a long shot. He has, however, told some powerful and discomforting truths about life in present-day Israel. In doing so, as a Jew, he has no doubt alienated himself from a not-insignificant part of his own community in order to tell a story that the American press, in its pathetic timidity, is loathe to tell. Good for him. Damn good for him. Continue Reading………………..

Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars: Iran Deal, Bibi is not amused

Published on Dec 5, 2013

Working mostly in secret over a period of many months, Barack Obama and John Kerry have succeeded in putting together a deal on Iran’s nuclear program acceptable to our European allies plus China and Russia, whose closest border is less than 200 miles from Iran.

The deal was accomplished with minimal hand-holding of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu, and without giving him veto power over the final product.

Mon Dieu! What is this world coming to? An American President acting pursuant to American interests on a foreign policy matter in the Mideast. It’s been a while.

Bibi was not pleased. But, with a nuclear arsenal of his own and a hammerlock hold on the US Congress, he has options.

He could seek to blow up the deal in Congress, where Republicans are looking to embarrass the President on any and all issues, and many Democrats are aware that there is a price to be paid for getting crosswise with the Israel lobby.

He could strike Iran unilaterally, or he could calm down, stop grandstanding, and work with the President towards the best possible final deal. Continue Reading……….

Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars: Senator Amy Klobuchar in 2016: Minnesota Mellow in the Age of Rage

Published on Nov 1, 2013

Senator Amy Klobuchar grew up in Plymouth, MN, just down the road from Garrison Keillor’s mythical lake Wobegon, where “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”

Plymouth is the epicenter of the heartland … halfway between Portland, OR and Presque Isle, ME. Head west out of Plymouth and you hit Bismark, Billings, Bozeman, and Butte, and not a whole lot more before you come to Portland, OR.

It’s safe to say Amy Klobuchar is a country girl. It’s also safe to say she hit the Lake Wobegon trifecta.

She’s strong. She looks like she could hold up her end on the farm or anywhere else. Politically, she won the four races she’s been in … two for prosecutor in the state’s largest county, and two for the United States Senate.

In 2012, Minnesota was somewhat of a battleground state. Barack Obama won the state with 52% of the vote. Meanwhile, Amy, in her reelection bid, won the state with 65% of the vote.

That’s strong.

She’s good looking. Hey, it matters. Look at who wins elections: JFK, Reagan, Clinton, GWB, Obama. They all did better than average in the DNA lottery.

Amy has that open, friendly, unpretentious, upper middle-West look and manner. By senatorial standards, she clearly is not a power dresser. Continue Reading……..

Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars: Bibi at the UN: A Three Part Bomb

Published on Oct 3, 2013

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s annual pilgrimage to the UN constituted a three-part cluster of bombs.

First, his Deputy Defense Minister, Danny Danon, published an Op-Ed in the New York Times, calling on Israeli to annul the Oslo Accords. Second, Bibi instructed his delegation to absent themselves from the hall during the speech by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Third, Bibi’s own speech was, as usual, pretty much an exercise in boast and bombast.


In order to lay a foundation for Bibi’s main event speech, the deputy defense minister of Israel published an Op-Ed in the New York Times entitled, “Israel Should Annul Oslo Accords.”

Danon had traveled to New York with Bibi on the presidential plane. He is a person of consequence in Israeli poltitics. His comments are not those of some outlier.

The Oslo Accords were adopted 20 years ago. They formed the basis of President Clinton bringing Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin together for an historic handshake at the White House.

Those on the Israeli right who want to annul Oslo are really saying that the status quo is just fine. Israel can establish more settlements on occupied land, and expand existing ones, thereby creating new facts on the ground.

Its friends in Congress will protect them from any do-gooder who happens to find his or her way into the White House.

If Palestinians continue to suffer in non-state and virtual non-human status with Israel’s foot on their neck, too bad. Have them call Jimmy Carter. Continue Reading…….

Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars: Obama’s Syria Team: Rodeo Clowns or Brain Surgeons?


Published on Sep 11, 2013

The 1962 Mets or the 1927 Yankees? It depends on who you ask and what day you ask it.

If you ask me, right now, the morning after the President’s speech to the country, I think Obama stopped the bleeding in the public perception of his leadership, and is more than halfway towards reclaiming the initiative on Syria. But that’s me, and I’m more often than not inclined to support Obama.

If you asked Charles Krauthammer, right-wing columnist for the Washington Post, who has been hammering Obama since Inauguration Day 2009, the same question at the same time, his answer was, “Obama’s most coherent statement so far. I’m glad he laid it out the way he did.” In other words, not bad, which is pretty good when it comes from the other side.

For Obama, getting to the September 10 speech was not pretty. If Obama ran either of his Presidential campaigns the way he handled the whole Syria episode, he’d still be either a US Senator or a practicing lawyer in Chicago. The message discipline of the campaigns was missing. Continue Reading…………