Blog Archives

RIP President George H.W. Bush

“I love you, too.”

Those were the last words of former president George H.W. Bush (called ’41’), who died this past Friday night in Houston, Texas at the towering age of 94. In that final moment, he was responding to his son, former president George W. Bush.

Signing up to serve during World War II on his 18th birthday proved to be his story’s beginning. It’s astonishing, as well as a bit overwhelming, to recap Mr. Bush’s life of public service that led him through World War II to the halls of Congress to the secrecy of the CIA to the vice presidency and, ultimately, to the presidency. And we can’t forget that he was the father to a governor of a major state and a president (’43’), adding his duties and influence as Bush family patriarch that extended beyond his immediate family into our national political family for many years.

The man referred to as 41 was honored today in the U.S. Capitol rotunda as he will lie in state for 41 hours before a funeral service on Wednesday in Washington, D.C. Mr. Bush’s final resting place will be in Texas.

For your resolute service to our country–which fittingly led you to preside behind the Resolute Desk–Americans love you, too, Mr. President.

RIP George H.W. Bush. 

P.S. On a lighter yet still appropriate note, my socks this week will be red, white and blue. 

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Not Trusted, but Verifiable

That was a short vacation.

Just one day after Americans took time to enjoy a long weekend by reminiscing and celebrating what they love about this amazing country, FBI Director James Comey and Hillary Clinton brought us back to earth. Back to the gritty, dirty realities of the world around us.

If you thought there were questions for Secretary Clinton concerning her private email server before…

Regardless of political party, trust in the modern era is evaporating. Trust is a precious asset, whether in a person or institution. Politically, dissenting views and distrust from the left, right and middle about the presumptive Republican nominee and Democratic nominee for president seem to get louder by the day (Clinton and Trump are honestly the choices?). Mr. Comey added the FBI to the list of influential institutions Americans will view with a shake of the head and hands up in the air. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton added the Justice Department last week.

Something is wrong and has been wrong for some time now.

Without diving into the details (of which there are sadly too many), Mr. Comey read a laundry list of violations starting at 11:00 a.m. ET this morning by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding her private email server. Then, with no logical turning point, concluded his incriminating statements about Secretary Clinton did not warrant a recommendation to indict Secretary Clinton. His justification relies on the notion that he chose not to see intent.

Literally unbelievable.

(The background music is inappropriately lighthearted for such a serious issue, but the back-and-forth is important to see) 

He used the phrase, “extremely careless.” You can bet a few lawyers will be using that defense in the near future.

Even Edward Snowden was confused (his Tweet had a Wall Street Journal link describing the indictment decision).

🤔

The larger point is that America’s leaders frequently and blatantly demonstrate there are different rules and standards for those in power versus the public. Moreover, that there’s special treatment for specific individuals. Consequently, there’s a trust gap that continues to grow wider by the day. The yearning for competent leadership and inspiring, yet practical vision may be at an all-time high in this country, even around the world.

Consider Brexit: The leading voices of that movement have “conveniently” removed themselves from responsibility for their actions by not running for the governing position. Was Brexit a good or bad idea in the long-term? That remains to be seen, but the British people likely aren’t comforted by their cowardly leaders, whether they were for the monumental change or not.

The precedent set this morning by FBI Director James Comey was a dangerous one. He will have to answer for his decision in hearings and interviews for a long time. Perhaps, in an effort to maintain an apolitical position and reputation (a term he used this morning) like Chief Justice John Roberts, he was too clever for his own good. The facts against Secretary Clinton and her constant lies for the past year were clear as day as detailed by Mr. Comey (thereby removing any benefit of the doubt for Secretary Clinton), yet the FBI Director chose nonsensical nuance over substance and common sense.

The problem is trust isn’t nuanced. You either have it or you don’t.

Maybe there was an indictment today after all.

The I Ran Into a Bomb of a Deal

The argument against the Iran Deal’s publicized “merits” to extinguish the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon is that a better deal could have been negotiated. The problem with that assertion is the foolish presumption that what currently exists qualifies as an agreement with any degree of effectiveness.

It’s downright terrible and embarrassing on an epic level.

“Iran, in an unusual arrangement, will be allowed to use its own experts to inspect a site it allegedly used to develop nuclear arms under a secret agreement with the U.N. agency that normally carries out such work,” the Associated Press reports.

Don’t be fooled: The P5+1 did not engage in negotiations with Iran all these years, but instead gradually collapsed into a series of devastatingly bad concessions to one of the most dangerous countries in the world.

What did the United States get in this agreement? The answer is increasingly nothing relative to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The consequences of this deal for Israel are directly connected to its survival.

The key question in all of this is why did it take Secretary Kerry and Co. so long to give the farm and all the land away? The willful incompetence and delusional views of the Obama Administration (not just with this deal) is simply incomprehensible.

If we don’t like President Obama’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad deal, tough luck because we’ll likely have to live with President Obama’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad deal.

Out of curiosity, are there any international sanctions against common sense? If so, the U.S. and its P5+1 allies are in trouble.

The Middle East’s Chilly Future

“Upon verification that Iran is keeping its commitments to dismantle much of its nuclear program, major economic sanctions will be lifted, effectively releasing more than $100 billion in frozen Iranian assets.”
— Justin Fishel & Molly Hunter, ABC News

The key word with Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon has been verification, yet the early details released thus far on this historic deal do not inspire hope that the international community will prevent Iran from building the bomb. Is Iran giving the international community unprecedented, completely transparent access to their most protected facilities? No. Has the United States and its allies forced Iran to abandon its existing nuclear program? No. Instead, what’s been negotiated is a timeline as to when Iran will build their bomb, not if.

And the effective economic sanctions will cease to impede Iran and the billions of dollars will, accordingly, be reinvested into reaching their primary objective of weaponizing to a terrifying capacity after predictably deceiving future inspectors.

If the objective of this historic deal was to prohibit Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, mission not accomplished. President Obama merely made this a future president’s prodigious foreign policy migraine. It may be viewed as a good deal today, but it’s a devastating “solution” when Iran has their world-altering bomb in the foreseeable future. Iran will surely skirt the agreed upon rules and regulations (like always) as they adjust their calculations for their underground science project to continue by the end of the next decade, with the ambition to become a nuclear superpower.

A nuclear Iran now appears inevitable.

“Iran has not agreed to robust “anytime, anywhere” nuclear inspections. They have not agreed to a heightened level of scrutiny by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has already been frustrated by Iran’s lack of cooperation. Snap inspections have been replaced by pre-approved “managed” inspections, with no guaranteed access to all Iranian nuclear sites, or to military facilities where secret research may be carried out. These are weaker verification provisions than under the 1990s Agreed Framework with North Korea under which Pyongyang still developed nuclear weapons.”
— James S. Robbins, USA TODAY

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu severely criticized the deal. Put simply, he said it was a “historic mistake for the world.” We all know the the life-and-death stakes for Israel on this issue. And the virtual silence from the surrounding Arab nations is very telling. It’s probably a safe hypothesis that the Middle East is about to begin its own nuclear arms race, with the potential to enact a new cold war and possibly a new world order in the forthcoming ten to fifteen years. Iran’s neighbors will build comparable arsenals to defend themselves as a realistic precaution. The collateral damage of what’s likely coming as a consequence of this deal is greater than the perceived short-term benefits.

This deal failed to diminish Iran’s supreme ambition.

The Obama administration was so desperate for a deal/photo-op for legacy purposes that it didn’t negotiate for its sole purpose: preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Some foolishly argued that no deal meant impending war, which was utter nonsense. The alternative to a perceived bad deal was a better deal. Unfortunately, the latter never came to fruition due to the United States and its P5 + 1 partners’ impatience and refusal to (in a unified front) declare and defend a red line of crippling conditions against Iran.

“There’s no strategic plus in (the Iran deal) for the United States,” Stein continued. “All there is is just taking Iran, a meddlesome, dangerous, killer, terrorist state and making a nuclear power. People who want to die, people who’ve pledged to die in order to eliminate Israel. This is a scary group of people to allowed to have a nuclear weapon.”
— Ben Stein, The Steve Malzberg Show

President Obama has routinely criticized the late President Reagan’s policies. Interestingly though, Mr. Obama is now adopting Reagan’s, “trust, but verify” mantra he used during the Cold War for his 2015 Iran deal. However, one important distinction needs to be made about the these two presidents and this phrase: Reagan ended the Cold War, whereas Obama appears to be starting one.

Strong leadership is about making decisions that will lead to a brighter future. It seems like the words that were missing from the Iran nuclear negotiations on our side were strong leadership. The lack of this essential characteristic is what inherently prevented a better deal from being established and ultimately signed.

Unfortunately, strong leadership is not verifiable in President Obama.