Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Iranians Cheer as Netanyahu Advocates Lifting All Sanctions

Have you ever seen a delayed reaction to a joke?  It took a while, but the Iranians get it.  Bibi has inadvertently provided a path for the lifting of all sanctions with no concessions by Iran.

Step one:  The United States acts in bad faith by making unrealistic non-negotiable demands at a late stage in the negotiations without support of its negotiating partners, Germany, France, Great Britain, China and Russia.

Step two:  The negotiations break down with everyone blaming the US.

Step three:  The Republican Congress imposes meaningless unilateral sanctions. since the US does not buy Iranian oil.

Step four:  The rest of our negotiating partners repeal or ignore all sanctions.

Step five:  Iran continues to build nuclear weapon capability.

Step six:  Israel bombs Iran, or talks the US into doing it.

Step seven:  The unintended consequence is that the Arab world rallies around Iran,  Iranian hardliners become more entrenched and the US standing in the Middle East further diminishes.

Bye Bye to BiBi

I hope that in the upcoming elections the Israeli electorate will say Bye Bye to Bibi.  But I have no more right to tell Israel who to elect, than their leader has to tell us to ignore what our president believes is in the best interest of America, and to instead do, what he believes is in the best interest of Israel.

But if we are to consider his recommendations, we should look at his track record.  He heartily encouraged America to spend its treasure and sacrifice lives by invading Iraq.  The rise of Iran is a consequence of the resulting destabilization of the region.  Obama was right on this issue, Bibi, not so much.

He has a valid point that Iran is not trustworthy.  Of course, he would be better poised to make that point if he had not, according to his own intelligence agency, lied to the UN about Iran's nuclear progress.

The option Netanyahu offers to a deal is war.  He dressed it up, but his rhetoric is sheer nonsense.  We along with our bargaining partners, England, France, Germany, Russia and China, will try for the best deal possible.

But what if the US follows Bibi's advice and demands stronger terms than our allies.  The result, when the negotiations break down would not be tougher sanctions.  The reality is sanctions would disappear.  The US does not buy Iranian oil, so our unilateral sanctions are meaningless.  If the US is seen as responsible for cratering the negotiations, our partners would ignore the sanctions.

Without a deal or sanctions, Iran would be on its way to nuclear capability, and the only alternative would be war.  As we learned in Iraq, war usually has unintended and disastrous consequences.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Stop Redistribution of Wealth

If Republicans are against redistribution of wealth, they should stop promoting it.  Over the past decades the productivity of American workers has shot up, while wages have flat lined.  Since productivity equals economic output, where has the wealth gone?

The wealth has flowed upward.  Tax policies that stem this flow are actually minimizing redistribution.  These are the very policies that Republicans condemn.

Monday, December 29, 2014

New Blog


I am devoting most of my blogging time to my new blog:  http://traveleronarope.blogspot.com.

My new ebook  Southeast Asia on a Rope:  Thailand and Laos is now available on Amazon, Google Play, and most online retailers.  The companion volume  Southeast Asia on a Rope:  Cambodia and Myanmar,  will be available in a few weeks.

As 2016 draws closer, I will again activate this blog.  Thank you all for your support.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Kurdling Iraq

The Iraqi Shias have proven incapable of governing.  Their military skills are limited to mosque massacres.  Armed opposition is beyond their pay grade.  Iraqi Sunnis are better fighters, but have a troubling tendency to fight for the wrong side.  ISIS is the Sunni side of the street.

Kurd is the word.  As many as 50 million stateless Kurds inhabit the Middle East and parts of Europe.  The desire for statehood, which subsumes their own religious differences, has caused problems for Turkey, our NATO ally.

Kurds are politically cohesive and fearless fighters.  Remove all aid and assistance from the current corrupt regime, and focus are largesse on the Kurds.  Recognize Iraq as a Kurdish State, in return for a Kurdish  commitment to tolerance of the non Kurdish population.  Kurds will flock from throughout the Middle East to defend their homeland.  Turkey's woes will wilt.

Iraqi Sunnis and Shias have been a pain in  the American ass.  Time to Kurdle their noodle.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Anti-semitism in Virginia's 7th Congressional District??

David Brat is a very religious man who wore his religion on both sleeves in a strongly Christian district. Did Eric Cantor's religion (Jewish) play a role in his defeat?

In hebrew, cantor means someone who sings and leads Jewish religious services.  But Cantor could not chant the psalms or sing the praises of Jesus that, if Brat's victory speech is any indication, were the score for the David versus Goliath epic.

Brat made no overt appeal to anti-semitism.  But did his preaching to the choir have a subtext?  Did Brat's speeches, peppered with New Testament quotes not only expose Cantor as an old school pol, but also as an Old Testament guy.

One parallel is the defeat of Tom Bradley, Los Angeles's first black mayor.  As was the case with Cantor, usually reliable polls had him well ahead.  Voters keep their prejudice out of public polls, but freely express it in the privacy of the voting booth.

Eric Cantor was divisive and polarizing.  I will not say a Kaddish for the death of his political career. But if he lost for the wrong reason, I will be singing a different tune

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Duke it Out

Arsenic and old waste are killing old Dan River, and injuring the North Carolinians who depend on it for their water supply.  Law suits by environmental groups to prevent disasters, like the February 2nd spill of coal ash into the Dan River from a Duke Energy coal ash dump, were blocked by John Skvarla, head of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

When a state fails to act, citizens may file suit on behalf of the public.  Environmental groups had given notice of intent to bring legal action to require Duke to clean up coal ash basins and pay applicable fines.  In March of 2013, DENR brought suit against Duke, precluding any action by environmental groups.  Ordinarily, a state stepping up to the bar is a good thing, but not when the defendant is buying the drinks.  North Carolina governor Pat McCrory spent 28 years at Duke and received 1.1 million in campaign contributions from the energy giant.

DENR entered into a proposed settlement with Duke.  Duke, a 50 billion dollar company, would pay $99,111 in fines, less than one week of compensation for the Duke CEO.  More importantly,  Duke was not required to take any corrective action.

John Skvarla is lying when he denies this was a sweet heart deal.  As a lawyer, I can state definitively that none of the usual reasons for a low ball settlement apply.  A typical reason for retreat is that interrogatories, depositions and other legal discovery highlight weaknesses in a case.  This settled before any such discovery.  A related reason is that mounting legal costs exceed the possible benefits of proceeding.  But in this instance North Carolina would have bourn no legal costs if it allowed private environmental litigation to continue.

The rationale offered by Skvarla is nonsensical.  He contends that DENR settled to avoid years of litigation that would have delayed dealing with coal ash.  This fails on two grounds.  The settlement did not require corrective action. More importantly, litigation does not prevent corrective action.  For instance, if someone slips on a crack in the sidewalk and sues the city, municipal repairs may not be introduced into evidence.  Public policy precludes corrective action being used against a defendant  in litigation.

Continued litigation would expedite, rather than delay, coal ash solutions.  John Skvarla is a liar.  Recently issued Federal subpoenas may reveal whether he and governor McCory are dirty liars.