Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars: Netanyahu and Boehner – The Unctuous Manipulator and the Useful Idiot

Published on Jan 26, 2015

These two were made for each other. Yiddish describes them best. Netanyahu is a schnorrer, the perpetually uninvited guest that always wants more. Boehner is a schnook, the not-so-bright dupe. Skulking around in the shadows for six weeks, Boehner and Netanyahu hit upon a scheme to benefit each other individually and undermine American foreign policy.

The vehicle: an invitation from Boehner to Netanyahu to address a Joint Session of Congress on February 11. Netanyahu said, “Make it March 3.” Boehner, the perfect schnook, dutifully complied. No heads up was given to the Democratic leadership in Congress or to the White House. Legal? Yes, but absolutely unprecedented.

Netanyahu has an election in Israel on March 17. It’s going to be close. A high-profile speech and a poke in Obama’s eye helps him with his base back home. Why not weasel an invitation out of Boehner to address a Joint Session of Congress where he can insert himself into American foreign policy and try to queer any possibility of peace breaking out with Iran? Plus, the timing is elegant … two weeks before the election back home.

In Netanyahu’s mind, isn’t that what people like Boehner are supposed to do for people like him. Serve Netanyahu’s needs as directed. No need to worry about Obama. He’s already given Netanyahu all he could and, he’s so yesterday. Right, Bibi?

We’ll see.

Boehner is a completely incompetent Speaker of the House. Continue Reading…………

Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars: Barack Obama – Two years to go

Published on Jan 7, 2015

I liked Obama from the beginning. I thought he was, to use the words of the late Stuart Scott of ESPN, cool as the other side of the pillow.

I still like him.

I’m fascinated by the way he goes about the business of being President. Stylistically, he’s no drama Obama. In Obama’s world, things are never as good as they look in the best of times, nor as bad as they seem in the worst of times. Substantively, he is guided by the belief that good policies ultimately make good politics.

His working style is deliberative. He takes his time. He’s from Hawaii. He’s on Island Time. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who worked for Obama and seven of his predecessors, called Obama, “The most deliberative President I’ve worked for.”

Deliberation, however, is not to suggest paralysis. In his book, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, Gates reflected on his work with Obama in the planning and execution of the takedown of Osama bin Laden: “I was so proud to work for a President who made one of the most courageous decisions I had ever witnessed at the White House.” Continue Reading………

Wednesdays Wars | Tom Callaghan: Impeachment? Obama Should be so Lucky

Published on Nov 12, 2014

With 36% of those eligible voting, an older, whiter, less-gay electorate than the one that re-elected Obama in 2012 delivered both houses of Congress to Republican control. In other words, the people who watch FOX beat the heck out of the people who watch MSNBC.

The low turnout and the composition of the electorate are typical for off-year elections. Democrats seem to need a visionary-type figure at the top of the ticket (Kennedy, Obama) to drive turnout in elections. Republicans turnout all the time.

The difference between the two parties is amply illustrated by a couple of old adages, possibly attributable to Chris Matthews: 1. Democrats fall in love; Republicans fall in line. 2. Republicans want a leader; Democrats want to have a meeting.

The challenge for Republicans in the legislative branch will be discipline. They showed good discipline in terms of candidate selection in the last election. Very few, if any, of their candidates were so heavily laden with baggage that they were uncompetitive from the start. Continue Reading………..

Wednesdays Wars | Tom Callaghan: Barack Obama Not a Natural Born Killer

Published on Oct 8, 2014

There’s no doubt about it, Barack Obama is a reluctant warrior. He’s cautious about committing American forces to battle, and equally cautious about ordering military actions that are likely to result in substantial civilian casualties for the other side.

In other words, he brings a pro-life point of view to the table when assessing the efficacy of military action. That should meet with the approval of those on the right, who call themselves pro-life.

But, alas, such is not the case. Their interest in life peaks between conception and birth. Thereafter, it tanks precipitously.

The right equates leadership with a strong jaw, a steady gaze, and a good-looking suit. A strong leader identifies forces of evil, and calls them out.

Reagan was perfect. He identified the Soviet Union as an “Evil Empire”. He stood in front of the Berlin Wall and told Gorbachev to “tear down this wall”. When Reagan left office, the wall was standing.

When our embassies in Beirut, Lebanon were hit in April of 1983 and 69 people were killed, Reagan was resolute. Four months later, the Marine Barracks, also in Beirut, was hit with the loss of 244 American service personnel. Reagan vowed not to be “cowed by terrorists”. Four months later, we were out of Lebanon with no retaliatory response.

We’re talking Benghazi 78 times over. Could you imagine if that had happened on Jimmy Carter’s watch, or Barack Obama’s? A strong jaw and a steady gaze forgives a lot of sins. Continue Reading…………..

Wednesdays Wars | Tom Callaghan: Obama stops the bleeding

Published on Sep 11, 2014

In the wake of an assortment of self-inflicted wounds that left many wondering whether he was on top of the ISIS challenge, President Obama needed to communicate some clarity to the country. He did so last night in a 15-minute prime-time address.

It was crisp, concise and compelling. It should leave the average American … someone who is neither gung-ho Obama nor an Obama-basher … with the feeling that they have a President who is on the case and has a plan that makes sense.

Now that he’s caught up to the power curve, he’s got to get ahead of it. If we have intelligence capabilities that allow our people to listen in on Angela Merkel’s private telephone conversations, we should be able to get some good intel on what’s going on with al-Baghdadi, the boss of ISIS, and some of his top people. A successful hit on the top of the ISIS organization would go a long way towards rebuilding the critical mass of support Obama will need for the remainder of his presidency.

Obama can make it tough on those of us who like him. Who can forget the first debate with Romney in the 2012 campaign? If it was a boxing match, they would have stopped it, and someone would have had to carry Obama out. Almost as bad was a listless press briefing Obama gave about two weeks ago in which he admitted that he didn’t have “a strategy” to deal with ISIS. To add to the weirdness of that statement, Obama was wearing a strange tan suit that didn’t seem to fit him. Continue Reading…………

Wednesdays Wars | Tom Callaghan: Gaza – Who are the Terrorists….Israel or Hamas?

Before this, Israel’s third slaughter operation in Gaza in six years, the average American accepted Israel’s propaganda line that, “Hamas terrorists in Gaza are raining down missiles on Israel, which is only exercising its legitimate rights of self-defense.”

They accepted this explanation because the pathetically timid American press was afraid to ask logical follow-up questions, like:

1. Does Israel’s practice of regularly executing Gaza citizens by bomb or missile attack confer any self-defense rights on the citizens of Gaza? Or …
2. Does Israel’s practice of blockading Gaza and strangling its economy create circumstances under which the citizens of Gaza are allowed to indicate their displeasure with Israel in any way?

Apparently, this kind of follow-up was beyond the capability of most members of the American press.

Thanks, however, to the courage of some on the scene reporting from people like Ayman Mohyeldin of MSNBC, and Nic Robertson and Karl Penhaul of CNN, plus the online activism of Glenn Greenwald, Noam Chomsky, and the people at Mondoweiss.net, a more complete picture of Israel’s action in Gaza is emerging.

A few relevant facts: Continue Reading……………

Wednesdays Wars | Tom Callaghan: Israel – Slowly Beating a Sick Dog to Death…..Again

Published on Jul 26, 2014

In the summer of 1982, the Israeli Air Force pummeled the densely-populated and virtually defenseless city of Beirut, Lebanon for nine weeks. A Newsweek Magazine reporter on the scene cabled his New York office … “Watching the Israeli Air Force smashing Beirut was like having to stand and watch a man slowly beating a sick dog to death.”

The Secretary of State at the time, George Shultz, pleaded with President Ronald Reagan to do something to stop the slaughter. Reagan’s Deputy Chief of Staff and longtime friend, Michael Deaver, told Reagan he couldn’t continue to serve in the administration if Reagan was unwilling to do something to stop the carnage.

On August 12, 1982, President Ronald Reagan made the following entry in his diary:

“Met with the news the Israelis delivered the most devastating bomb and artillery attack on West Beirut lasting 14 hours.

King Fahd called begging me to do something. I told him I was calling Israeli Prime Minister Begin immediately. And I did – I was angry – I told him it had to stop or our entire future relationship was in danger. I used the word holocaust deliberately, and said the symbol of his war was becoming a picture of a seven-month-old baby with its arms blown off.” Continue Reading…………….

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………