Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Chuck Hagel and Fringe Disappointment

Yesterday after much Republican grandstanding, chest thumping and generally wasting everyone’s time, Former Senator Chuck Hagel was voted through the Senate as Secretary of Defense. Immediately the fringe blogosphere went nuts.

We saw commentary from the fringe right like this:

And now, due to American Jewish progressive-left ideological blindness, we have the first openly anti-Semitic Secretary of Defense in modern times; a man who favors Iran and Hamas and Hezbollah over the Jews in the Middle East.

or like this:

Hagel is a whore for sale to the highest Arab and Persian bidder. Always has been. He’s a narcissist who’d rather be hated than ignored. And of course he’s that perfect mix of stupid leftist progressive and right wing Pat Buchanan racist.

and from the Fringe Left we get this:

Hagel now stands in the place of George Marshall, except that where Truman’s Secretary of State warned of fanaticism, now fanaticism has become internal to the US government as well as spreading over the Middle Eastern zones of the empire. Obama, freed from Truman’s burden of facing election, is also free to settle scores, including with his nemesis, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, who was dumb enough to have blatantly favored Mitt Romney for President-or was he rewarding the Republican for reaching new depths of servility when Romney pledged that on any matter involving Israel, he would phone Netanyahu and do whatever the PM told him to?

Now, personally I am not a big fan of Chuck Hagel, in this article, I explained that in my opinion Chuck Hagel won’t really affect anything with regards to Israel or the Jewish People. My objection to Hagel comes from the fact that the President felt he needed to push a Conservative Republican into a fairly high level post when there were plenty of liberal Democrats (Joe Sestak, Jim Webb, Bob Kerrey, Wesley Clark, Michele Flournoy, to name a few) that were well qualified. As a Democrat, I didn’t vote to see a person who had complained about the “Jewish Lobby” or who had made very problematic statements regarding the LGBT community, or who had an overall extremely conservative voting record, placed into high office in a Democratic Presidency.

The fact of the matter (to be blunt) is that the fringes on both sides will be very disappointed. Hagel is not going to commence the bombing of Israel today, tomorrow, or any other day. U.S. policy towards Israel is what it is, and this President has committed us in both words and action to higher levels of security coordination with Israel than ever before. Whether he wants to or not, (and frankly I don’t think he cares), Hagel is not going to, and doesn’t have the power to change that. That is a policy decision made by the President. The Secretary of Defense doesn’t get to make that policy. All he (or she) would get to do is carry out the orders of the President.

If one looks at Hagels record with regards to voting on issues concerning Israel, Hagel’s record is certainly not indicative that he will be either the masked avenger on the Jews that the Hard Left wants, or that he will be ready to start shipping arms to Hamas next week like the Lunatic Right Fringe wants. In fact Hagel’s voting record on Israel is pretty much standard fare for most American politicians.

Here are the actual facts regarding Sen. Hagels voting record  Some of which include:

* As a United States Senator, Chuck Hagel voted time and time again to provide $37.8 billion dollars of military and security assistance for Israel.

* Hagel cosponsored resolutions with Sen. Dianne Feinstein including “commitment[s] to a true and lasting solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, based on the establishment of two states, living side by side in peace and security and with recognized borders” and calls on “Hamas… to recognize the State of Israel’s right to exist.”

* Chuck Hagel voted in favor of the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act of 19984, the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 20005, and the Iran Freedom Support Act of 20066. He is skeptical of unilateral sanctions, but supports multilateral sanctions which we have seen, in concert with allies, put tremendeous pressure on Iran

But… that doesn’t really matter. The overriding fact is that the Secretary of Defense simply does not make policy regarding our alliances or support for foreign nations or groups. That is the White House in conjunction with State. Hagel as Sec. Def. has to do what Pres. Obama tells him to do, and any policy decisions have to clear the White House. Simple fact.

Frankly, (and again I don’t particularly support the choice of Hagel not that it matters now but….) is that Hagel was brought in to do two things and two things only. The first is to stand up for U.S. veterans and their rights. Hagel has done a good job of that throughout his career. The second is that the Pentagon is going to be and frankly needs to be cut to help with budget concerns. Hagel is a reasonable choice for that job. Hagel is not the Secretary of Defense for Israel, nor is he the Sec. Def. for only the Jewish People. Some people really need to understand that.Hagel IS  the Sec. Def. of all American People and as such he is responsible to the entire nation, not just one part of it.

OH and is Hagel the “worstest, most ebilz, Sec. of State ever for Israel”, I think not.

How about Harry S. Truman’s Sec. Def. James Forrestal who urged President to Truman to reject Partition in 1947 because it might “infuriate” the Arabs and then saying that Jews were too influential in pressing the American Gov’t. Remind me again how that stopped the U.S. from voting for Partition.

Or what about Casper Weinberger of President Reagan’s admin. You know, the REPUBLICAN administration where the President actually went to present honors on German SS unit graves, that administration. Here is a little something about Weinberger:

In contrast to other members of the Reagan cabinet known for their sympathy toward the Jewish state, including Secretary of State George Shultz and the president himself, Weinberger developed a reputation not only for opposing Israel’s interests directly but for seeking to prevent any action, including counter-terrorist operations, that might upset Arab allies of the United States (vb1 emphasis).  Until the Iran-Contra scandal broke in 1986, Weinberger was perhaps best known for orchestrating the sale of AWACS jets – the highly advanced airborne surveillance, command, and control system built by Boeing – to Saudi Arabia. Opposed by Israel and much of the American Jewish community, the Saudi AWACS deal generated enormous controversy.

So, I am not sure how we can really take the fringe seriously on either side as to their objections regarding Hagel.

Either way, he was not my pick but now that he is in office, I say we judge him by what he actually does, NOT by what we think he may or may not do. Either way, the fanatics are going to be bummed out because their shrill cries (in support of or against) that he will be bombing Israel or sending gift baskets to open up our friendship with Hamas and Hizbollah simply won’t come true and really have no basis in fact. As I said previously, Hagel’s job is to watch over the U.S. Military in time when we will be paring it down and have a great deal of soldiers coming home from war.

How he does that will tell us what kind of American Secretary of Defense he will be.  

Why the Two State Solution is the ONLY solution

Cross posted at the Progressive Zionist (

Or better titled… when the “CW” (Conventional Wisdom) gets it completely wrong.

Everyone is spouting that the Two State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is either dead or dying, but frankly I see it getting stronger and stronger. I honestly do. I just can’t see how a One State Solution can ever happen. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t see a Two State Solution along any of the lines that have been previously discussed, NOR do I see a Two State Solution along the lines that either side’s hard Rightist wings would find acceptable, BUT I do think it is the only realistic possible outcome.

We keep hearing how Israeli annexation is dooming the Two State Solution. We keep hearing how Hamas’ rocket fire and insistence on destroying Israel is dooming the Two State Solution but all of it, and I mean all of it is complete nonsense (or as I learned in Hebrew – “Shtuyoat” – stupidity). Why?

Well let’s look at the arguments and take them out to their logical conclusions. First let’s take the argument that Israeli settlements stand in the way of the Two State Solutions. Ok… I can see why someone would say that. I mean Israeli settlements are popping up in parts of the West Bank that are fairly remote and even though these settlements are technically illegal and the Government looks the other way, they are also fairly non-sustainable. It is pretty obvious that these settlements are meant to create “facts on the ground” and make sure that there is no acceptable (to the Palestinians) way to reach a Two State Solution. SO… let’s say that these settlements are allowed to continue to pop up here and there creating little “facts on the ground” at some point Israel will be faced with a choice – annex the West Bank or annex the territory just around those settlements… OR turn that territory over to the Palestinians and let the settlers fend for themselves (which is something NO Jewish P.M. could ever, ever do).

IF Israel annexes the West Bank they run into a major problem. Demographics. All of a sudden Israel inherits approx. 2.6 million Palestinians. That is a lot of Palestinians for Israel to absorb as citizens. That would place considerable strain on social services not too mention the IDF who would now have to constantly patrol areas of the country that had absolute hostility to the central government. Oh, and not too mention that these new citizens would vote and soon enough would comprise part of an Arab majority inside of Israels borders. That would be in effect the end of Israel as we know it.

So what do those who favor annexation advocate… well there are three options that they support. These are:

1. Annexing the West Bank and keeping the Arabs as “not quite citizens”. In other words, disenfranchising around 22% of the population of the State. I would think the downside of this is obvious. It would immediately cause either revolution or intense civil unrest. Oh and I can’t imagine any other nation supporting Israel in this venture. Not even the U.S. would support this. In this case Israel’s internal budget which is already stressed would be further pushed by having to support continued military operations throughout Palestinian Populated areas for an indefinite amount of time. It would become simply unsustainable.

And then let’s look at the effect on morale in the IDF. Israel is a fairly progressive society in certain ways. For the IDF to take on the role of Oppressors to 22% of their nation, that would completely destroy Israeli secular society and turn the country into something far, far worse. The IDF would cease to be a defensive force and would transform into a police force and Israel into a police State, because I cannot imagine that the majority of Israeli Arabs would put up with this in their nation for one moment.

2. Another option is the Bennett Plan, where Israel Annexes Area C and maintains Areas A & B as autonomous provinces. Again, where will Israel get the international support for something like this? How will it budget for this? What role will the IDF take in maintaining calm should the PA simply say, “Screw you – handle security yourselves”. Remember, the world voted to recognize Palestine as a State, and while the World community may be inept in many cases becoming a State like North Korea (but without a large nation to support it, because no way the U.S. goes a long with this) is not something that is realistic for Israel to do.

The problem with the Bennett plan (aside from the obvious denials of Palestinian Right to Self Determination) simply is unworkable. The Palestinians would never accept this and would actively contest it. Unless Israel would be willing to “go Kahane” on the Arabs (which would then start a major regional war) there is no way that the Israelis could permanently maintain this situation. Sure the status quo is holding but, only because the Palestinians in the West Bank have chosen non violent resistance (by and large but not in every case). What happens when they go into full revolt? And what happens when that is seen as justified by the World community including both the U.S. and E.U.

3. Of course the third option is to simply ethnically cleanse the Arab Population from the West Bank. That would certainly solve a couple of the problems of maintaining an Occupation. Of course, perhaps those proponents of this solution should ask the Serbs how that worked for them. Not too mention that the Israelis would face full on revolt from 20% of it’s population along with continued attacks from pretty much every surrounding Arab Nation. Hell, if they tried that even the E.U. would probably send forces or at least major support to the Arabs.

And what of those morons who say… “Well Israel can go it alone”…. Really? You think Israel can stand against the rest of the world including the U.S. and E.U. Some moron once said “Well let’s tell the Americans we are on our own and that we will get other allies”. Who the fuck are they going to get? The Russians? The Russians are in bed with everyone but the Israelis. The Chinese? The Chinese are sucking at the Arab Teat for the worlds remaining Oil Supplies. Are they seriously maintaining that Israel could actually go “North Korea” (who is propped up only through the largesse of they Chinese).

So there really is no other option for Israel – IF Israel actually wants to survive.

At the same time… The Palestinians have absolutely ZERO options if they want a Single State. By going to the U.N. all they did was codify the Two State Solution. The Russians and Chinese may dislike Israel but they are not going to actively work to help radical jihadists and Mullahs in Iran realize their dream of wiping out a recognized State. PLUS the U.S. and Western Europeans would never allow it.

As for those on the Israeli and Palestinian Left that advocate the “Palestinian One State Solution”. NO ONE on their side, but, NO ONE takes them seriously. In the latest poll of Palestinians only 22% supported a One State Solution where Jews and Arabs lived side by side. I mean, nobody, not Israelis not Palestinians wants a One State Solution. It is freakin’ ridiculous that this theory is even given a second thought.

At some point, everyone is going to come to a reason that Israelis and Palestinians simply can’t live in the same nation under a One State flag. Both sides (rightly so) want their own “homelands”. Of course I support the fact that Jews should be able to live in Palestine, and that Arabs should be able to live in Israel as full and equal citizens with the caveat that people remember that Israel is the National Homeland and State of the Jewish People, and Palestine would be the State and National Homeland of the Palestinian People.

There simply is no other way the situation can continue to exist without either a major revolution or war breaking out there. At some point the “dam will burst” and when it does, there won’t be much left to piece together. So whether it through Israeli Unilateralism (because we already have the theoretical establishment of Palestine through Palestinian unilateralism), or a world effort to quell violence in the region this is what is going to happen. And even if war does breakout, this is what will be imposed whether both sides like it or not because neither side can take on the West, or the combined efforts of the Russians and Chinese. And at some point the major players WILL take care to see a solution imposed on the region.

I am just telling you what I think is real and what will play out in macro terms. If you see it playing out differently, please let me know how you see that. I would be curious to see what others think.  

New Elections for Israel?

Cross Posted at The Progressive Zionist ( and check out my related blog at the Times of Israel…

As the coalition building process wears on, a few things become obvious.

The first is that Tzipi Livni and HaTanuah have effectively counted themselves out of Israeli politics should there ever be new elections. Her racing to join Likud in coalition in return for the Justice Ministry (and the ceremonial Head of Negotiations with Palestinians team) plus the Environmental Portfolio AND the Head of the Knesset House Committee and willingness to toss away all of her pre-election promises renders her irrelevant.

Sure, she could have argued that at least moderate forces got those ministries (particularly Justice and the Environment) which might otherwise fall into the hands of Rightist “hacks” determined to follow Likud’s hoped for economic policy patterned on Republican Randian Economics, but, that is easily disputed as seen by Likud-Betainu’s protests about her impinging on “Rightist Legislation” (to quote Likud MK Ofir Akunis). Not too mention that her party is already struggling due to communication issues within the party (According to Haaretz):

During the meeting, Livni told those present that contrary to reports in the media, she has not yet decided Hatnuah’s second minister. She also told the MKs that she and Netanyahu had not yet agreed on which committee would be given to her faction or which Knesset member would be its chairperson.

Not all of Hatnuah’s MKs were pleased with Livni’s actions in signing the coalition agreement.

“Livni didn’t tell the Knesset members in advance that she had reached agreements with Netanyahu,” a party official said, “and she told the media she had signed before the members knew about it.  

“The way Amram Mitzna was treated won’t go by quietly, either,” he added. “The fact that Amir Peretz behaves in this party as if it were his own, making Livni break an earlier agreement she had with Mitzna, is wrong. Mitzna should be the next minister from the party.” As soon as the meeting was over, Livni held a private meeting with Mitzna on the matter.

The next thing we know is that either to join the government, either Yesh Atid or Habayit HaYehudi (particularly HaBayit HaYehudi) is going to have radically change at least part of their core platform principle. For instance, Jewish Home is committed to Annexing Area C of the West Bank and then keeping Areas A & B, as “Autonomous areas” linked through new high speed roads. Of course, while this goes along great with the new Rightist Likud it doesn’t jive with the Prime Ministers very public statement reiterating his Bar-Ilan speech, which commits him to Two States, nor does it fit with the new coalition agreement that PM Netanyahu signed with HaTanuah and Tzipi Livni. As Naftali Bennett (Head of HaBayit HaYehudi) said (Again according to Haaretz):

“We’ve come to serve the nation in any fashion, from the coalition or the opposition,” Bennett told a meeting of his party’s convention in Jerusalem on Wednesday. “The only question is what this government’s path will be: buying political time, or truly coping with fundamental problems? If the new government is interested in tackling the nation of Israel’s real problems, we’re in. But if the goal is to buy more time, we won’t be. And that’s not a disaster.”

Regarding Livni, he said that he’s “not interested” in Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas or any of the other PA officials who might negotiate with her. “What interests me is the nation of Israel – not Abu Mazen [Abbas], Abu Ala [Ahmed Qureia] or who knows who else will sit with Livni,” he said. “They’re not interesting. We’re at a historic crossroads, and the ball is in the prime minister’s court: Will we hold onto the Land of Israel and Jerusalem, or will we entrust the negotiations to someone who has already offered to divide the city of Jerusalem and conceded [the West Bank settlement bloc of Ariel?”

But also both parties Yesh Atid AND Jewish Home are even at odds with their own proposals on how to handle the Occupation and are only united in a desire to see some form of National Service happen. Of course then this precludes the joining of Shas and UTJ, unless Likud can work out some kind of compromise.

Now Likud has tried and drafted up a new compromise plan. However, BOTH Yesh Atid and Habayit HaYehudi have rejected that plan (according to Haaretz)stating:

The plan, proposed by the head of Netanyahu’s National Economic Council, Prof. Eugene Kandel, sets a goal of drafting 60 percent of Haredi (ultra-Orthodox ) men aged 18 to 24 within five years. But critics say it lacks teeth.

Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi had previously announced that they oppose the plan, and on Wednesday they were joined by Kadima. At a meeting with Netanyahu, Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz said he couldn’t join a government whose proposal on the Haredi draft issue was akin to the one over which he quit Netanyahu’s second government last summer.

Moreover, most of Hatnuah – the one party with which Netanyahu has so far signed a coalition agreement – is also expected to oppose the plan.

Thus if all these parties stand firm, Netanyahu will have trouble forming a coalition without agreeing to significantly tougher measures to get Haredi men into the army. Currently, 33 MKs – from Yesh Atid, Habayit Hayehudi and Kadima – have broadly agreed on the outlines of a much tougher plan than Kandel’s. The Kandel plan is so far supported only by Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu’s 31 MKs.

Well then, what’s on the horizon? Right now the Likud Betainu coalition has 37 MK’s. 31 from Likud-Betainu and 6 from HaTanuah. Even with both Haredi parties the best they can get to is 55 (11 from Shas and 7 from UTJ). To get there they would need either Labor, Yesh Atid, HaBayit HaYehudi, Meretz OR the Arab Parties to join the coalition. One can pretty much count out the Arab Parties and Meretz. That leaves Labor. There is no way that this would be a workable coalition longer than 6 months. There are just too many differences between the players.

Oh, and here is one other thing. The Knesset Channel just did a poll (Reported in the Times of Israel) of the Israeli electorate. Apparently IF there were new elections (still an unlikely possibility). Yesh Atid  would become the new leading party with 30 seats, Likud would drop to 22 Seats, HaBayit HaYehudi would go up to 15 seats, and Labor would drop to 13 seats. G-d only knows what would happen to HaTanuah… I would bet their people go to Yesh Atid along with Mofaz’ two seats.

Of course there would still be a mess in this case as well but now it would be on Yair Lapid to try to form a coalition and not Benjamin Netanyahu. Given Lapid’s ego (remember, he stated that HE would be Prime Minister within 18 months), and political ambitions the news of this poll has to make him and Naftali Bennett sit up and take notice.

Will there be new elections? No one knows, but, whatever happens we are going to see some defining moments for the Israeli polity in the next few months.  

“You Killed everyone, You Failed”

Cross Posted at The Progressive Zionist

Those were the words softly spoken in my ear… “You Killed Everyone, You Fail”.

Simple… to the point. Everyone: Dead.

Let me go back to the beginning…

This last weekend I was taking another course (I had one seminar in already – this was another basic course) in Israeli Tactical Point Shooting with Pistols. We were working on Targeting, target identification, shooting accuracy, shooting and moving and other basic tactical skills with handguns.

My instructor was a decorated member of the Israeli Special Forces and Security professional who flew over here to give a series of seminars in the above mentioned skills.

In this particular phase we were working dealing with clearing rooms and making sure that we were firing from maximum covered positions. For this drill our guns were not loaded and all Ammunition was carefully out of the way.

So.. what happened? Well, the instructor told us to turn our backs while he set up a room with various targets inside. Then on his call: “Shots Fired”, we were to race to the room and shoot whoever was a threat (the targets had various pictures of people on them, some with weapons, some who just looked suspicious). I was second in line.

The First person broke for the room – his trigger clicks signalling the shots. I heard the instructor say “Sorry, but you are dead” to him at the end. Then it was my turn.

On the call “Shots fired” – I broke for the room, drawing my pistol and charging for a point to not only have cover, but, for a point that could give a clear firing solution. I got that – hit my first target, and entered the room, going to one knee and firing as I went. With the Instructor yelling “FIRE, FIRE, FIRE” in my ear (to simulate pressure) I opened up on everything and anyone. They all died. I didn’t even think twice about it – in that moment and in that second I was going to shoot anything that moved. Then after successfully firing on everyone, I yelled “Room Cleared”. And that is when I heard my instructors voice softly telling me… “You Killed Everyone – You Failed”

I was dumbfounded… I couldn’t imagine what I did wrong. I used my cover to perfection, dropping in the middle of the shots gave me an advantage, what… what had I done wrong? AND THEN IT HIT ME… I looked at the targets… Two of them (out of five) didn’t have visible weapons. They had their hands in suspicious poses and in clothing BUT they were unarmed as far as I could tell. I would have killed potential hostages, I would have been just like the terrorists.

All of us… each one of us had failed the test by either killing the hostages (me and three others) OR by being shot not killing a terrorist. And this made me think… Here I am, training with police (there were a couple in class), ex-military, at least one security professional and a host of other people and I would have been almost as bad people doing the hostage taking. Because no matter what my intent… the hostages would have been dead anyhow.

And then I thought … “My G-d, how can anyone not be in favor of Gun Control??? How can anyone ask that kids and teachers be slightly trained and then allowed to carry loaded weapons into a school?” I thought, “That is insane”. I mean I have 32 hours of seminar time with active handling of a loaded weapon PLUS 3 years of martial arts and I would not have made the right decisions. I need a lot more training before I can even come close to addressing this situation.

YET, the NRA, their supporters and Conservatives seem to think that they, or their poorly trained but heavily armed citizens would never make those kinds of mistakes. It’s all one thing when you see it on T.V. or see it in movies. You can pick out your targets. BUT.. in real life it’s different. The pressure is enormous AND in this drill I wasn’t firing live rounds OR being shot at. I just wanted to be successful and “save the day”.

But Guns and being hero are not like you see on T.V. Handguns are notoriously inaccurate beyond 10 meters (give or take). Even the best operators make mistakes with loaded guns. Imagine a pressure situation with people running everywhere, screaming, shots flying…. How would some non-professional make any kind of sound decision?

Might they stop a massacre from happening? It certainly is possible. Probably though, while they might shoot the gunman, they would also probably shoot a few other people as well. Not always, but, I would bet that the numbers would be high.

Guns are not toys and they are not for people who want to play “John Wayne”. They may or may not help you in a home invasion, and if you have a gun in that situation you might just as easily shoot a family member as well as or instead of a robber.

I realize from this class the awesome power of a gun in the hands of someone who knows how to use it (I am just beginning). This is not something that should be widely available to just anyone without severe controls, as well as checks.

Maybe in our heads we are that brave hero from stage and screen and we all think we would do the right thing. We all want to be that person and honestly, there is nothing wrong with that… BUT, real life has a way of telling us that we might NOT be that “Hero”.

One day, we might wake up and hear: “You killed everyone. You Failed”.  

Sec. State Kerry Gets Serious about Iran

Cross Posted at The Progressive Zionist

In his first public address regarding Iran, new Secretary of State John Kerry has words from the Administration regarding Iran:

“We are prepared to let diplomacy be the victor in this confrontation over their nuclear program,” Kerry said after meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird. “The president has made it clear that he is prepared to talk about a peaceful nuclear program.”

Kerry also said: “Iran has a choice: they have to prove to the world that it is peaceful and we are prepared to sit responsibly and negotiate how they can do that and how we can all be satisfied.”….

…Kerry also said that Iran’s recent revelation that it would vastly increase its pace of uranium enrichment, which can make both reactor fuel and the fissile core of warheads, is “concerning” and “disturbing.”

“The president has made it clear that his preference is to have a diplomatic solution, but if he cannot get there, he is prepared to do whatever is necessary to make certain that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon,” he said.…

Now, this is clearly a diplomatic “shot across the bow” to Iran. Right now it seems it is meant purely as a rhetorical threat as the U.S. in reality is actually going through force reduction in the Persian Gulf and rotating a carrier group OUT of the region.

It comes on the heels of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini’s rhetoric stating:

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran’s supreme leader

Thursday strongly rejected proposals for direct talks with the United States, effectively quashing suggestions for a breakthrough one-on-one dialogue on the nuclear standoff and potentially other issues…..

….”Talks will not solve any problems,” Khamenei said in the statement posted Thursday following a meeting with air force commanders.

“You are holding a gun against Iran saying, ‘Talks or you’ll fire.’ The Iranian nation will not be frightened by such threats,” he added in apparent reference to U.S. sanctions over Iran’s nuclear efforts.

However, this bellicose tone however, has not necessarily been supported through their actions.

First off, while the Bulgarians found Hizbollah guilty in an attack on a civilian bus in Burgas, Bulgaria that wounded a number of Israelis Iran has been quick to distance itself from it’s client’s actions.

Second, The Iranians publicly rebuffed Syrian requests for action after Israeli warplanes attacked a Syrian transfer of Soviet SA-117 missles to Hizbollah as well as a chemical weapons research facility.

Lately Iranian rhetoric has simply not matched their deeds. SO… what can we take away from this ratcheting up of rhetoric from the U.S.

Well…. (and I have been very wrong before), I think this is a signal that the U.S. is about to take an enhanced DIPLOMATIC role in the region. Now note that I say Diplomatic rather than Military.

Why do I say this? Well I say this due to the fact that the U.S. is in Force Reduction and Balancing the Budget mode, so ADDING a conflict in the region would do neither of those things. Additionally, the administration is discussing peaceable Nuclear energy as a “live with” situation.

At the same time perhaps the unconfirmed “blast” at Fordo was a message to Iran regarding the realities of their quest to enrich Uranium to weapons grade levels.

What then does the U.S. taking the DIPLOMATIC initiative mean… Well, it means that the President is putting the U.S. out in front on both a political and economic track to isolate the Iranian regime.

So far, aside from the Civil War in Syria (that is sure to cost the Iranians that nation), there are grumblings in Lebanon against Hizbollah (an Iranian client), as Israeli Jets fly mock sorties over the country in response to Hizbollah threats. At the same time the Government of Egypt who just had productive talks with Iran is facing popular dissension in the streets.

So is the U.S. signalling a move to enhance it’s standing in the region through more covert means and with use of it’s allies?

As far as economically, my assumption from Kerry’s statements are that should the Iranians NOT “come to the table”, they will face another more severe round of sanctions in addition to the ones that are beginning to strongly effect the Iranian economy and causing grumbling amongst the populace.

What I don’t see is an all out military strike just yet, and honestly maybe not ever. BUT I do think things are about to get extremely “interesting” in the Persian Gulf.  

Mr. Obama and the Belagan.

Here is the word of the day: Belagan:

Noun 1. balagan – a word for chaos or fiasco borrowed from modern Hebrew (where it is a loan word from Russian); “it was utter and complete balagan!”

What is one of the most difficult intellectual endeavors on the Planet? Trying to figure out the politics of the Middle East. Nothing but nothing about this area is clear and nothing but nothing about this area makes a ton of sense. Into this fray – the President Obama steps. Living up to a campaign promise made during his first term the President will be heading to the Middle East to visit both the Israelis and Palestinian leadership (well the P.A. part of it)

Of course, in typical fashion for anything in the Middle East, nothing about this visit seems to make sense. One side (the Americans) state that the visit is for the President to “strengthen the bonds between Israel and the U.S.”, One side (the Palestinians) are insisting that the U.S. visit be used to “pressure” the Israelis into halting the settlement process and force the Israelis to negotiate with him for a State and finally One side (the Israelis), are saying that that the President is both coming with a plan and a proposal for a summit between the Israelis and Palestinians AND Not coming with anything (is this a surprise to anyone?)

A Fun Exercise in Foreign Policy

Over the last month we have discussed the Israeli Election and now that it has come and gone we eventually will at least have one diary on the results.

I am a junkie for “Political Compass” type tests. I think I know myself but I like to know where I stand. SO…

In emailing with a friend he told me that he took a poll at the Israeli Democracy Institute’s website regarding Political Compass in Israel.

What happens, is that they ask a number of questions regarding your political thoughts and then place you on a grid to give you an idea where you stand. Now, for a couple of years I have always thought of myself as a Left Center type guy with tendencies towards social justice and/liberty. In commentary, I always said that I fit with either Avodah (Labor) and HaTanuah (Tzipi Livni’s Party), SO… when my friend mentioned this to me I decided to take the poll and see where I came out.

Surprise of Suprise, there were seven parties in my range. The closest was HaTanuah, and AmShalem (this surprised me at first until I read up on them – but they didn’t cross the electoral threshold so…) and then I was right in between Avodah (Labor), Yesh Atid, and Kadima.  On the outskirts was UTJ and Tal (an Arab Party).

The furthest party from me (and I am proud to say this) was Otzma L’Yisrael (Strong Israel – a fascist party that did not cross the threshold), Yisrael Beitanu, HaBayit HaYehudi, and Hadash. And then at about equal distances out of my zone,Meretz, Likud, Shas, Balad,

Needless to say I was pretty proud of this because this is kind of where I thought I would land. I am no radical leftist though I lean left, and I for sure am no Rightist. It was nice to see that confirmed. So pretty much I guess this dispells the nonsense over at Daily Kos about me being a Rightist. Where one Celtic Merlin had this to say:

“Lately – over about the last 12 to 15 months – he has moved more and more in line with Israeli hard-liners”

Whoops… Oh well facts are always pesky things.

Anyway, take the Compass test and see where you come up. You might be surprised (or not) and honestly you will learn something.

Anyway, here is the link to the test: 2013  Israeli Election Compass ( – Where do you fit in… Please let us know as well as your thoughts on that.  

I Shoot, I Support Gun Control

Yep, that’s right. Just like the Title says… “I Shoot” AND “I support Gun Control”. Not Gun Bans (though I understand the call for bans on “Assault Weapons” and I can see why people do support this – I am agnostic on them leaning towards supporting the ban), but reasonable Gun Control.

I add this so that people have some context.

Understand…. I am no pacifist. At one point I thought I was. I was wrong. I practice a very aggressive style of Martial Arts called Krav Maga. I do abhor violence for the purpose of assault or other crimes and I would NEVER initiate violence for that purpose. But I do enjoy fight sports and enjoy sparring. I think people should be fully equipped with knowledge of how to defend themselves if the need arises


Cross Posted at The Progressive Zionist

Over at the Maddow Blog we have reports from the newest Village Idiot (even by Congressional Standards) Ted Cruz (R-Secessionist Republic of Texas).

Here let’s let the idiocy speak for itself:…

In this clip, at around the 0:44 mark, Cruz notes that the Senate has “two pending nominations, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel.” Describing the nominees, Cruz added, “Both of whom are very prominently…”

After pausing for a few moments, the event’s moderator said, “Anti-us?” Cruz responded that Kerry and Hagel are “less than ardent fans of the U.S. military.”

Perhaps Ted Cruz would benefit from a reminder about the men he’s attacking. John Kerry is a decorated war hero who was awarded combat medals including the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts. Chuck Hagel is a decorated war hero who was awarded combat medals including the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, two Purple Hearts, Army Commendation Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

Cruz, meanwhile, who apparently considers himself an “ardent fan of the U.S. military,” has never worn a uniform, except maybe on Halloween.

But then watch some more… Cruz goes on to solidify his claims to the title by saying that Ronald Reagan should have won the Nobel Peace Prize because he “caused the downfall of the Soviet Union and won the Cold War”.

Anyway, the sheer stupidity / ignorance of saying that two decorated War Heroes (no matter what else one may feel about either man), don’t love “us” (he did not say “the U.S.” he said “us”) are “anti-the U.S. military” is mind boggling in it’s wrongness. To say that both men only favor judicious use of the military or are anti-militarism would be far more accurate. BUT for someone who has never served in any military role to accuse two decorated war heroes, in leadership positions in the U.S. Government as being anti-U.S. military is mindblowingly dumb.

OH yeah, AND in the case of Chuck Hagel. These morons at the National Review Institute Summit should remember that not too long ago their guy Hagel was racking up scores from the American Conservative Union of over 95 on his voting record.

Oh well just another day in wingnuttia.


Cross posted at the Progressive Zionist (

Hat Tip to Jed Lewiston and his Front Page Diary at Daily Kos: Remember when Paul Ryan blamed the attack in Benghazi on the sequester?

In reading Jed’s diary something struck me in one of Paul Ryans quotes:

We should always stand up for peace, for democracy, for individual rights.

Ok… on it’s own sounds fine.

Then Ryan goes on to say:

And we should not be imposing these devastating defense cuts, because what that does when we equivocate on our values, when we show that we’re cutting down on defense, it makes us more weak. It projects weakness. And when we look weak, our adversaries are much more willing to test us.

And this is where Ryan channels Big Brother. Allow me quote from George Orwell’s Masterpiece 1984:


So… what Ryan here is directly saying is… (In my words): “Let’s stand for PEACE and the way we stand for PEACE is to build up our WAR machine to a point where no one will be able to challenge us, because if they do, we will utterly destroy them.”

Now, aside from the facts that Guerilla movements in SouthEastern and Central Asia give lie to his commentary (after all, we outgunned the Viet Cong and Taliban 10,000 to one and we were able to wreck complete destruction upon their relative nations and yet that didn’t stop them). This is a dangerous fallacy that has infected the American Polity in a number of ways.

OH, and before we go on I want to make it clear that I am not an isolationist, I am not a Green, and I have no issue with the United States having a presence around the Globe (though I am certainly not a supporter of “Empire Building”). Further, I fully support the notion that the U.S. and our allies should have what I term a “Stout Defense”. But, that said, I also support an honest commentary on what that means and NOT use of Orwellian terminology to create a false meme.

But here… Here is a chart of our Defense Spending relative to the rest of the world

1. United States          711.0    

2. China                  143.0    

3. Russia                  71.9

4. United Kingdom          62.7

5. France                  62.5

6. Japan                   59.3

Now, notice… IF the U.S. Cut it’s military spending by over $ 400 BILLION per year. That’s right… you saw it $ 400 BILLION PER YEAR, we would STILL outspend the next five countries on the list added up together.

Let’s break that down even further. IF we cut our Defense budget by $ 500 Billion for one year we would still almost outspend our main rivals Russia and China together (they would have us by $ 3 billion).

NOW, does anyone in their right mind think that Al Qaeda for one second looks at our defense spending and says: “HOHOHO America cut it’s spending – well they must be weak” and further does anyone even further out really think that our main allies, Britain, France, Israel, Australia, etc… think that we are somehow “weak” even though we are outspending the next five nations (Nations 3 2-#6) collectively???

No.. What this is, is a blatant Orwellian Chant of “War is Peace”, “We destroyed that village to save the village”.

Paul Ryan’s words are hypocritical. His party stands firmly against Democracy (look at his party’s efforts to not count the popular vote), his party party stands firmly against individual rights (Marriage Equality, voting rights, civil rights). Ryan talks about Peace but in this, he is only talking about the Peace that comes from utter destruction left in the wake of War.