Category: General

Rejection of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Makes War Likely

By stancutler,

      Should Congress reject the agreement that imposes outside inspections on Iranian nuclear weapons development, the prospect of war with Iran in the near future becomes almost a certainty. Those who are against the agreement (Republicans, Arab principalities, the American Jewish Committee, the Israeli Likud Party) do not believe that the treaty has real value because, in their minds, given the fundamental and outspoken aims of the Ayatollahs, war with Iran is inevitable. With rejection of the treaty, that war is much more likely to come sooner rather than later – before the Persians have an atom bomb that they can drop on their Jewish and Arab neighbors.
     The objective of the agreement negotiated by the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the USA, plus Germany) with Iran was to forestall the development of Iranian nuclear weapons and delivery systems, to turn back the nuclear clock, to reduce the military threat of a nuclear Iran. Their position is that simmering clandestine actions and undeclared battlefield skirmishes sponsored by Iran are preferable to a declared war for total surrender that would dramatically destabilize an unstable region with unknowable, unintended consequences. Opponents of the agreement believe that the status quo is intolerable and that there is no permanent advantage in delaying Iranian nuclear progress so long as the theocratic regime in Tehran continues to sponsor terrorist forces and insurgent armies as a means of furthering its overall policy objective of replacing pro-Western governments with Islamic regimes.
      There is every likelihood that many of the countries now involved with sanctions will lift them, thus enriching the Iranian economy. The prospect of more money flowing into Iranian coffers will provide Iran’s neighbors with another reason to strike sooner rather than later.
     War will not be the only result if the agreement is rejected by Congress. American domestic politics, the contests of the 2016 general election, will be dominated by foreign policy questions. Americans will be asked to decide whether they favor belligerence over diplomacy, whether Obama’s way is the American way or not. It is doubtful that the majority would oppose the use of the American military to defeat a perceived enemy. Even Democrats would feel compelled to support a war with Iran.
     Rejection would have a powerful impact on our allies in Europe, especially in the cosignatory countries of France, the UK, and Germany. Because of their large Arab populations and anti-Israeli left wing parties, European politicians would immediately become embroiled in questions of their allegiance to NATO and support for Israel.
     If Congress succeeds in overriding Obama’s veto of their NO vote on the agreement, our diplomatic standing in the world will be seriously diminished. By rejecting the treaty, America decisively loses the diplomatic high ground and suffers the consequences of  diminished esteem on many diplomatic fronts. In effect, If Congress vetoes the agreement, America suffers a major diplomatic defeat and leaves our government with few options other than war against a major power in a volatile region. The State Department would be diminished and the Defense Department’s dominant role in foreign affairs will, once again, be affirmed.
     Belligerent American policies regarding independent Iran are longstanding, beginning with the CIA coup that deposed Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953 and continuing with the 1980-1988 Iran Iraq War in which we armed Saddam Hussein as our anti-Iranian proxy. Rejection of the agreement is virtually the same as announcing that we intend round three.

The Least Tern

By stancutler,

Least Tern (Sternula antillarum)

Least Tern (Sternula antillarum)


I dangle a shiny fish in my dagger beak,
so that the seashore sunshine
flashes on its mirror scales.

The lady least tern sits belly feathers in the sand
facing the sea,
ignoring me.

I clamp the tail,
waggle my fish in the sunshiney ocean breeze

2 terns w fish

I caught this fish
o yes i did
little me, the greatest of least terns
o yes that’s me

I take a step toward
my lady love
o so fine
who stares away
ignoring me

I flick my head,
fast as wing beats,
flashing my trophy
for her to see.

Flicker look at me and my fine fish

How to Undo The Citizens United Decision

By stancutler,

When you turn the telescope around, if you view the problem as one of cost control rather than financing, two approaches seem feasible: limiting the election cycle and empowering the FCC. Presidential hopefuls, particularly Bernie Sanders, should be making these proposals. A Constitutional amendment, a fix that will be extremely difficult to accomplish, the now accepted approach, likely to become an important campaign issue, is flawed.
For the cable news networks, revenues rely critically on the the election cycles. Just as retailers need Christmas, cable news needs election days. The bigger the audience watching the election news – and interviews, and “in-depth” analyses, and pundits, and popularity graphs, and election maps – the more money the media charge for airtime. The cost rises continually until the November elections. The icing on the cake is the money spent by the Presidential Campaigns themselves to advertise the candidates in both the Primaries and the General Elections. Airtime is auctioned off to the highest bidder. A similar process takes place in every TV newsroom in every local outlet from coast to coast. And the rates go up every cycle. In other words, as bad as it is now, it can only get worse.
Regulating the money spent has proven impossible, it’s even more difficult since the Citizens United decision legalized unlimited financing.
Campaign finance reform doesn’t work. It is a failed approach. I think a better solution is to reduce the cost, not to regulate financing. If you owned a widget factory, you would do everything you could to reduce the cost of production. You’d install faster, cheaper machines. We own a democracy, a factory, if you will, that produces Presidents and Legislators. But it is our democracy, not the financiers’. We need to reduce the costs of production.
I suggest that Congress enact legislation to limit the duration of the election cycles.
Article 1, Section 4 of the US Constitution, states “The times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations.” It is within Congress’s power to require that all primary elections occur either simultaneously or during a very limited span of time, perhaps a single week during a quadrennial election year.
This not the same as regulating free speech. The First Amendment rights of candidates and the Parties would not be in any way regulated. They’d be free to buy as much advertising as they choose. But it’s unlikely that they would spend nearly as much as they do under the current system, as voters tend to forget campaign messages fairly quickly. Campaigns would be wasting their money investing in advertising too soon before the actual voting.
Under a simultaneous primary system, it is far more likely that the final selection of Presidential Nominees would take place at the quadrennial conventions. But the conventions would be more democratic than they used to be, so long as each State’s and Party’s rules pledge delegate votes to the winners of the State Primaries, thus ensuring that the popular choices would significantly affect the convention outcomes. Yes, there would likely be a considerable amount of deal-making and trading at the conventions. Yes, there would be debates, compromises, and pragmatic decisions. That’s called democracy.
By abbreviating the primary cycle, there would be other significant benefits. The “early” primaries would have diminished influence on the other states, and the later primaries would be far more consequential. As it now stands, after a month or two of the first several primary elections, there are only a few front runners left in the race.
We need to reform the system that has changed our politics from a democracy into a form of oligarchy. But there are a host of reasons to think that a Constitutional amendment is a dubious prospect, fraught with political and legal obstacles that are likely to be insurmountable. And exactly what this amendment would say is problematic. But a law enacted under the powers vested in Congress by Article 1 Section 4 of the Constitution makes an Amendment unnecessary.
Campaign finance reform efforts have foundered on the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has ruled that Congress does not have the power to limit campaign funding on the grounds that contributors are exercising their rights to free political speech, manifested as money spent on advertising.
Senators McCain and Feingold, a Republican and a Democrat, in 2002, managed to pass a bipartisan bill that closely regulated campaign financing. Since 2002, repeated efforts to tweak the regulations with legislation have been rejected by a Supreme Court majority who have ruled that money spent on election campaigns is a form of political expression protected by the 1st Amendment, that reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Time and money – the longer something takes, the more it costs. Under a simultaneous primary system, the influence of rich donors would be minimized as a result of the lower cost, not as a result of efforts to limit their contributions. There would be no First Amendment grounds for a challenge.
Another approach to campaign cost reform is to consider the media companies as public utilities like electricity or water companies. Indeed, they are. Back in the 1920s, when the Federal Communications Commission was established, that was the perspective. The reasoning at the time, which I believe is valid, is that our society absolutely depends upon the companies that profit from providing news services. Water companies make money, as do power companies and transportation companies. Government is obligated to regulate businesses that benefit us, the people.
Giving the FCC real regulatory teeth is a legitimate approach. I think Congress ought to pass legislation that redefines the Federal Communications Commission. In its current form, the FCC arbitrates merger and acquisition disputes. If they are given cost control authority, as a true regulatory agency, then a government agency could serve as a brake on runaway campaign costs. I say go for it.

Pollard is a litmus test

By stancutler,

The reaction to Jonathon Pollard’s name is a litmus test of Jewish American loyalties: Pollard is a villain or a hero, a good Jew or a good American.

As far as I’m concerned, he should die in an American Federal prison. His release is a sop to Netanyahu and his fellow Republicans. The announcement of his release is blatantly political, and, in my opinion, misguided.

Why The Republican Field is Crowded

By stancutler,

The Clintons have earned over $125 million dollars in speaker fees and book royalties since 2001. The role mode on the Republican side, Newt Gingrich, estimates his average net worth at $18,129,534. That kind of earning power is what most of these fake Presidential wannabes are about. The amount of lucre flowing through American politics is obscene. Yes, there are issues aplenty, but the biggest issue is money itself.

The candidates for the Republican Party nomination are professional speakers on the tour. Few of them have any expectation of obtaining more than a few primary election votes. Once you’re mentioned at the Presidential level, you get to fly around in jet planes, get driven in limousines, and get paid in name-recognition points which you hope to leverage into paid book deals and speaking fees after the campaign – but the campaign itself is a marketing tool. The products being marketed are the candidates.

Sure, the ‘candidates’ are sincere – they speak the truth as they understand it. But they know that they have scant hope of winning the nomination. People like Santorum, Trump, Graham and Huckabee are on the tour because there are big payoffs for those named as a contenders for the Republican Party nomination. Don’t take them seriously, because they are in it for themselves.