Friday, February 28, 2014

Democrats In California Ignore Rule Of Law To Keep Their Supermajority

Political disagreements on the issues are one thing. A blatant disregard for law and an essentially fascist mentality are another.

California has a Democrat majority in both house of the state legislature, which means they can essentially do whatever they want. But it's slightly less in the state senate than in the assembly.

Two California Democrat state senators have been recently convicted of felonies. Sen. Ron Calderon was indicted last week on 24 counts of corruption, which included accepting thousands of dollars in bribes from undercover FBI agents posing as a film studio owner and a Southern California hospital executive as well as wire fraud, money laundering and falsification of tax returns. Given that he's a powerful state senator in the majority party, the vice-chairman of California's Latino Legislative Caucus and the fact the FBI is heavily involved, the fact that he's been indicted at all means this is almost a slam dunk guilty verdict and Calderon's lawyers are already attempting a plea bargain. Calderon is so dirty that even the Democrats in the state senate voted to give him until March 3rd to take a paid leave of absence while his trial is going on.

The other senator is Democrat Sen. Rod Wright, who was convicted of 8 counts of voter fraud and perjury which included lying about living in the district he represents.

The normal procedure for senators in these circumstances has always been to expel them from the senate, especially in Wright's case where he's already been convicted. But there's a problem...because if Wright and Calderon are both expelled from the senate, the Democrats lose their supermajority and would be unable to simply to ignore the concerns of the Republicans. So we can't have that:

So the senate Democrats blocked a resolution to expel Wright by sending the Republican proposal on a party line vote to the Rules Committee, where they can can permanently stall it. Instead, both Calderon (when he accepts it as he almost certainly will) and Wright already is - wait for it - going on a paid leave of absence at the taxpayer's expense.

Sen. Steve Knight, the Republican from Palmdale who introduced the resolutions said, “This will be precedent-setting.”

“We have gone past any time period where someone has been convicted of a felony and not resigned.”

Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, said, “You guys are the supermajority, you can do anything you want any time you want. ... Except for of course, if two members are expelled from this house. And then you would have to work with us to get that supporting vote,” Anderson said.

Democrat Senate leader Darrell Steinberg's excuse for this disgusting maneuver is both dishonest and bizarre. First, he gave the excuse that since Wright is already on a paid leave of absence, expelling Wright would “make zero practical difference.” Except this way, the committees and chairs stay in Democrat hands, and Calderon at least will still be allowed to vote if necessary.

Sen.Steinberg also made the ridiculous claim that technically,Wright isn't a felon even though he's been convicted by a jury since that jury's verdict hasn't been 'finalized' by a judge, and Wright plans to ask the judge to override the verdict...even though Steinberg acknowledged that judges almost always uphold juries’ verdicts!

“The integrity of this institution cannot tolerate a convicted felon in its ranks. But at this point in time Senator Wright is not a convicted felon,” Steinberg said. Ri-ight.

Not only that but Steinberg took the opportunity to throw some gratuitous slime,saying (without naming any names of course) that several Republican senators face allegations that they do not live in the districts they represent...even though that's by no means the only thing Wright was convicted of. He even had the nerve to quote the New Testament in which Jesus says, “Let him who is without sin among you cast the first stone.”

Of course the answer to this is simple...if there actually are Republicans in the senate who are guilty of multiple felonies,bring charges, indict them, convict them and throw them out of the senate.If Darrell Steinberg could pull that off, don;t you think he would?

And Steinberg's faux sophistry brings to mind a quote from Martin Luther.."Even the Devil can quote scripture to his own purpose."

Sen. Steve Knight is entirely correct, this is a precedent setter. It will not go unnoticed.

The Council Has Spoken!! This Weeks' Watcher's Council Results


Alea iacta est...the Council has spoken, the votes have been cast, and we have the results  for this week's Watcher's Council match up.

"Alas! ye lordes, many a false flatterer
Is in your courts, and many a losenger,
That pleasen you well more, by my faith,
Than he that soothfastness unto you saith".- Geoffrey Chaucer

" Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason?
For if it prosper, none dare call it treason." - Sir John Harrington

"Treachery is more often the effect of weakness than of a formed design".-François La Rochefoucauld

This week's winner, Joshuapundit's  Obama Appoints Hamas Ally To Key National Security Post    is my examination of yet another questionable appointment by President Obama to an extremely sensitive national security post...and what it signifies. Here's a slice:

The man pictured above is Robert Malley. Today, it was announced that President Obama has appointed him the senior director at the National Security Council (NSC).

The NSC is the key body that advises President Obama and helps make decisions on national security and foreign policy matters. Its members consist of,among others, the vice president, the Secretaries of State, Homeland Security and Defense, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Director of National Intelligence, the president's National Security Advisor and the deputy Adviser, the Attorney General and the president's UN Adviser.Other special assistants to the president also attend as required.

In other words, this is President Obama's 'inner cabinet' on national security, so to speak. The members, the top level members of the Obama Administrations, are privy to all of America's intelligence, planning and confidential data.

So who is Robert Malley?

Of Syrian descent,he was a Clinton-era National Security Council staffer known for his tirades against Israel and his championing of Yasser Arafat. He made waves by blaming the Israelis for the failure of the 2000 Camp David summit, thereby contradicting the words of President Bill Clinton and every other U.S. official present, and rationalizing and defending Arafat’s terrorist war on Israel's civilians.

Malley was a close crony of then presidential candidate Barack Hussein Obama and a foreign policy adviser to the campaign back in 2008. Way back then, Candidate Obama still saw the necessity of getting clueless American Jews to vote for him, so when it surfaced that Robert Malley was meeting actively with the genocidal terrorist group Hamas, Obama took the opportunity to remove him from the campaign in 2008 as a gesture to prove his pro-Israel bonifides.

According to 18 U.S. Code § 2339B, providing material assistance to a designated terrorist group (which includes advice) is supposedly a federal offense, But Robert Malley had powerful friends (including Clinton NSA adviser Sandy Berger and Senator Barack Obama, whom he was pals with at Harvard) so he simply drifted back into the world of think tanks, where he could be relied on to write articles and make speeches demonizing Israel.

And actually, according to he Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat, Malley never really left Obama's circle. Al-Hayat reported that Hamas engaged in talks with Obama for months through Malley, which among other things resulted in their receiving almost a billion of your tax dollars from President Obama.

Robert Malley comes by this honestly. His father Simon was a very Marxist journalist who shilled for Algeria's terrorist FLN, Egyptian dictator Gamel Abdul Nasser, African Marxist dictators like Kwame Nkrumah and Ahmed Sékou Touré, Fidel Castro, and of course, Yasser Arafat, of whom he was especially fond. Needless to say, Simon Malley also had an outspoken hatred towards Israel, and the apple definitely did not fall far from the tree.

Once Barack Obama became president, as we now know, he spent a great deal of time during his first term concentrating on bashing and attacking the Israel, giving the Arabs whom identify themselves as Palestinians more U.S. money than they'd ever seen in their lives and in general behaving like Mahmoud Abbas' own special community organizer.

That moderated a bit in 2012 when the president needed to fool people again for his re-election, but now that President Obama has no need to dissemble any longer, Malley will join the other members of the Obama Administration who have a long time record of hostility towards Israel.And he will be privy to America's most highly classified secrets.

Malley has some interesting ties with Islamists worth looking at. Among Malley's close associates is Wadah Khanfar, a Hamas activist based in the Middle East and South Africa (where he headed the International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations) and now a key figure with al-Jazeera, AKA Jihad TV. According to one of my sources, Malley also has a relationship with our old friend Muslim Brotherhood leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a foul genocidal maniac who is too dirty even to be allowed into the U.S.

Much more at the link

In our non-Council category, the winner was Mark Steyn with Hath Not A Jew Eyes? submitted by Liberty's Spirit. It's classic Steyn with a piece that will become a classic on the subject of anti-semitism.

OK, here are this week’s full results. Only Nice Deb was unable to vite this week, but was not subject tothe usual 2/3 vote penalty:

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

See you next week! Don't forget to tune in on Monday AM for this week's Watcher's Forum, as the Council and their invited special guests take apart one of the provocative issues of the day with short takes and weigh in...don't you dare miss it. And don't forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.....'cause we're cool like that!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Federal Judge declares Texas Law Banning Same Sex Marriage Unconstitutional

Judge Orlando Garcia, a Clinton appointee ruled today that a long standing law limiting marriage to one man and one woman is unconstitutional.

“Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution,” Garcia wrote. “These Texas laws deny plaintiffs access to the institution of marriage and its numerous rights, privileges, and responsibilities for the sole reason that Plaintiffs wish to be married to a person of the same sex.”

Of course Texas, like most other states allows domestic partnerships, and Judge Garcia would be hard pressed to name a right or privilege that domestic partnerships are denied, but it doesn't matter.

Nor do the rights of the people of Texas, who passed this law overwhelmingly in a popular referendum.Their rights only matter when they 'vote properly'.

Unlike California, the State of Texas has an attorney general who actually abides by his sworn oath. Greg Abbott, who also is the leading Republican candidate to succeed Gov. Rick Perry, is going to appeal the decision to the Fifth Circuit Court in New Orleans.

“This is an issue on which there are good, well-meaning people on both sides,” Abbott said in a statement. “The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled over and over again that States have the authority to define and regulate marriage.”

I would disagree with Mr. Abbot here. Actually, what the Supreme Court has ruled is that law and the will of the people can be subverted fairly easily.

The most recent SCOTUS decision on the issue are amazing in their disregard for law. In the one on California's Proposition 8, they simply decided that the people of California had no right to amend their own state constitution or to be represented in court if their state officials simply chose not to be bothered to enforce whatever laws they individually decided were politically inconvenient. The SCOTUS didn't even bother to declare Prop 8 unconstitutional, but punted and decided to take the cowardly way out and simply deny the people of California standing to appeal, which meant that the former attorney general Jerry Brown, now governor, could simply pretend the law doesn't exist and order it to be violated at will to curry favor with an important new constituency and source of fund raising.

Homosexual marriage activists understood this message quite well, and their tactics have changed accordingly. In states where they could count on friendly politicians to push same sex marriage over the line whether people wanted it or not like Massachusetts and California, they did so. In other states, rather than bother with state legislators or respecting existing law, they conducted what amounts to for Democrat appointed judges,filing suit and getting court orders to overturn long standing law and the will of the people.

It's worked pretty well in several states,making a mockery of the Supreme Court decision on prop 8 that called for existing laws against same sex marriage in states that already had them to be respected. It remains to be seen how well this tactic works.

One thing is certain. This is establishing a precedent for judicial tyranny. The balance of power changes, and just like Harry Reid's elimination of the filibuster, this is going to turn into something the Left is going to be quite sorry for in the future when it does.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Must See - Israeli Minister Naftali Bennett Vs. The BBC

Here we see Israeli economics minister Naftali Bennett making an appearance on the BBC's 'Hard Talk', hosted by one Stephen Sackur, who perhaps needs to learn that in an interview, if you want answers it's usually a good idea to listen, not talk over your guest and let the interviewee finish his sentences.

Nevertheless, Naftali Bennett makes an admirable showing. I especially found it humorous to watch Sackur (who, full disclosure is married to an Iraqi Arab and has always been outspokenly pro-Palestinian) lecture Israel's economics minister (and a multi-millionaire in his own right) on the state of Israel's economy.

Money quote from Bennett: "Would you hand over half of Britain to someone who keeps on killing you?"

Of course Sackur didn't answer that, but in reality the Brits are doing just that in places like Tower Hamlets and Birmingham, although they probably don't realize it yet. So are the French in La Zone and elsewhere, the Swedes in Malmö, and Norwegians in certain parts of Oslo, among others. This also explains a great deal about the anti-Israel sentiment in many European countries; aside from thei rown generic Jew hatred, they have now imported a huge number of Muslim voters with their own religiously inherent anti-semitism, and politicians if nothing else can count votes.

The implicit threats of boycotts against Israel also come from a similar place. Blackmailers of this sort will always do what they threaten to do to you eventually anyway, so Bennett's stance that a strong, secure Israel with things the world wants to buy is more likely to prosper and attract trade and investment than a cringing and vulnerable one makes a great deal of sense.

Mohammed's Birthplace In Mecca To Be Bulldozed By Saudis For 'Redevelopment'

The UK's Independent is reporting that a site in Mecca believed by most scholars to be the birthplace of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad is going to be bulldozed by a Saudi company in order to build a modern compound that would include a presidential palace. There's now a small library and shrine at the site, just steps away from Mecca’s Masjid al-Haram, or Grand Mosque, which surrounds the Ka’aba, and contains the Sacred Black Stone, a meteorite Muslims have worshiped since pre-Islamic times. This is the most sacred site in Islam, where Muslims come from all over the world to make the haj, or pilgrimage to Mecca.

 The Kaaba in Mecca (photo credit: CC BY-SA Al Jazeera English, Flickr)

The Binladin Group (yes, it's that Bin Laden) which has the contract from the Saudi government for redevelopment estimates the cost at billions of dollars.

“The last remaining historical site in the kingdom is the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad, probably the most important site to the Muslim and Shia community around the world,” The Independent quoted Irfan al-Alawi, a historian and executive director of the UK-based Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, as saying.

“Most people are not even aware there are plans now to destroy it.”

While some Muslims have expressed reservations, the Saudi government is behind the project, because they feel that preserving such relics encourages idol worship.

Contrast this cavalier attitude with the sort of sentiments expressed over the al-Kuds mosque in Jerusalem,which was an abandoned wreck until the fascist Grand Musti Haj Amin al-Husseini rebuilt it in the late 1920's, and the Temple Mount, where Muslims play soccer, defecate, picnic and pray facing Mecca with their posteriors facing the 'holy mosque', but riot and throw stones whenever Jews come near the Temple Mount simply to worship.

Or the murderous rage that occurs when 'kuffrs', non-believers even handle a Qu'ran.

Yes, it's political, and a part of jihad against the infidels. But you knew that, right?

Putin Orders Military Readiness As Crimea Puts Russian Leader In Power

Russian leader Vladimir Putin has ordered military readiness exercises and a state of alert in the Russian strategic base of Sebastopol in the Crimea and along the Ukraine's borders:

Sergei Shoigu, the Russian defence minister, said Moscow was "carefully watching what is happening in Crimea" and that measures were being taken to ensure the security of the facilities and arsenals of its Black Sea naval fleet, which is based in the fiercely pro-Russian Crimean city of Sebastopol.

The autonomous eastern peninsula, which is home to a largely ethnic Russian population, is at the centre of tensions over the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych, an ally of Moscow, by pro-European protesters at the weekend.

"In accordance with an order from the president of the Russian Federation, forces of the Western Military District were put on alert at 1400 (1000 GMT) today," Interfax quoted Mr Shoigu as saying.

At the same time, Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement today that 'extremists' were "imposing their will" on Ukraine and fomenting tension and unrest.

In the Crimea itself, where the population is 60% ethnic Russian, the local assembly in the Crimean capital of Simferopol is debating holding a referendum to decide whether the Crimea will remain part of Ukraine or return to Russia, which had control of the Crimea until Nikita Khrushchev transferred it to Ukraine administratively within the old Soviet Union back in the 1960's. Numerous clashes between pro-Russian demonstrators and non-Russians, mainly Crimean Tatars who want to remain part of Ukraine are being reported.

And in Sebastopol itself, ethnic Russians have kicked out the city administrator and installed their own mayor, who promptly announced the formation of paramilitary 'self-defense' units to defend the Crimea against the "fascists" in Kiev.

Yesterday, the country's interim president, Oleksander Turchynov called the new Ukrainian parliament to discus "the question of not allowing any signs of separatism and threats to Ukraine's territorial integrity and punishing people guilty of this," according to an official statement while Russia caled on the EU's Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to condemn the rise of "nationalist and neo-fascist sentiment" in western Ukraine and 'anti-Russian' activity.
In reality of course, the Ukrainian parliament has no power to enforce anything and would probably be much better off concentrating on forming a government. Any moves to bring the ethnic Russian population to heel as part of Ukraine would provide the Russians with just the excuse they need to send the tanks in.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov continues to say Russia will not intervene militarily in Ukraine, but if the Crimea breaks away with Russian assistance , then he can say that technically, he kept his word. The same is true of eastern sections of the Ukraine where there are also a great many ethnic Russians whom retain their loyalty to Russia. Russia retaking the Crimea would essentially give them control of Ukraine's sea coast on the Black Sea and effective control of the country.

Stay tuned...

Watcher's Council Nominations - Buh Bye Piers Edition

Parting is such sweet sorrow - not!

Yes, Piers Morgan's show has finally been cancelled by CNN. Not only were the ratings abysmal,  but apparently even his own staff disliked working with him.

So, CNN head Jeff Zucker had a sit down with Mr. Morgan and that was pretty much it.

Piers Morgan, of course blamed it on American audiences, but let's face it, anyone with a Brit accent automatically gets credit for 20 more IQ points by an American audience, however unjustified. In Piers Morgan's case, people flat out found him unlikeable, overbearing and unwatchable:

“Look, I am a British guy debating American cultural issues, including guns, which has been very polarizing, and there is no doubt that there are many in the audience who are tired of me banging on about it,” he said. “That’s run its course and Jeff and I have been talking for some time about different ways of using me.”

Actually, I have some inside info on how Jeff Zucker is going to be using him until his contract runs out in September, and I'm sure it will work out.

Welcome to the Watcher's Council, a blogging group consisting of some of the most incisive blogs in the 'sphere, and the longest running group of its kind in existence. Every week, the members nominate two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council.Then we vote on the best two posts, with the results appearing on Friday morning.

Council News:

Ah, first off we have some important business to take care's time to celebrate Greg at Rhymes With Right's birthday! The big day was actually yesterday, but we'll celebrate it today:

I had this cake made up special:

For liquid refreshment, an assortment of Shiner Bock, of course.

 With some nice, tender bar-b-cued brisket and my own special sauce:

 Greg's one of the few Council members who was here when I came aboard, so I've gotten to know him pretty well and vice versa. He's been a good friend over the years, and the Council definitely wouldn't be the same without him. When my site was targeted by Leftards and suspended by Blogger a few years back, Greg was one of those who offered me posting privileges over at his site for the few days it took until Google got its act together  realized what had happened and put me back online. I haven't forgotten that.

Happy Birthday Greg, give the Darling Democrat a hug and a kiss for me, and many, many more.



Bookworm Room was cited at Ace of Spades HQ

Liberty's Spirit has a new piece up at the Times of Israel, Inclusion for those with Disabilities Requires Educating Society

Nice Deb has a new piece up at Breitbart, White House Threatens To Veto House IRS Bill


This week, The Pirate's Covet and Tel-Chai Nation earned honorable mention status with some great articles.

You can, too! Want to see your work appear on the Watcher’s Council homepage in our weekly contest listing? Didn’t get nominated by a Council member? No worries.

To bring something to my attention, simply head over to Joshuapundit and post the title a link to the piece you want considered along with an e-mail address ( which won't be published) in the comments section no later than Monday 6PM PST in order to be considered for our honorable mention category. Then return the favor by creating a post on your site linking to the Watcher’s Council contest for the week when it comes out Wednesday morning

Simple, no?

It's a great way of exposing your best work to Watcher’s Council readers and Council members. while grabbing the increased traffic and notoriety. And how good is that, eh?

So, without further ado, let's see what we have this week....

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Enjoy! And don't forget to like us on Facebook and follow us Twitter..'cause we're cool like that!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Turkey's Erdogan Caught On Tape Discussing How To Hide Illegal Cash

The Turkish soap opera is continuing, with the latest development being recordings of a conversation between PM Tayyip Erdoğan and his son Bilal discussing how to hide huge sums of cash on the day police raided houses as part of a corruption inquiry into Erdogan’s government on December 17, 2013.

The tapes, posted on YouTube, have Erdoğan asking his son Bilal to hide millions of euros in cash stashed at several houses and turn them into "zero". The clips went viral on YouTube, receiving over two million hits.

In one conversation, Erdoğan can be heard briefing Bilal about the raids, which ended in top businessmen and the sons of former cabinet ministers being arrested on charges of bribery, gold smuggling and illicit dealings with Iran.

Bilal at one point can be heard saying: "There is 30 million ($41 million) euros more."

Erdoğan, of course is denying that the tapes of the wiretapped conversations are real, calling them a “dirty immoral fabrication” and “completely false”, while Erdoğan's Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ repeated the claim and said those responsible will be "brought to justice".

Meanwhile, Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), after an emergency meeting issued a statement saying that the government has lost its legitimacy and called on Erdoğan to step down.CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu called the prime minister "prime thief".

And the leaders of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) also held a meeting under the leadership of chairman Devlet Bahçeli, after which Bahçeli said “the talks between the Prime Minister and his fugitive son are beyond our capacity of understanding.” Bahçeli also demanded that Erdoğan be brought to justice.

At this point of course, it doesn't really matter whether the tapes are faked or not. Too much has already come out about the vast corruption Erdoğan, his son, other members of his AKP party and their families and cronies were involved in for this to seem all too plausible, and Erdoğan's inept attempts to quash the investigation and his brute force against protesters and jailing of journalists and opposition figures and his mass purge of police and government prosecutors involved in investigating the scandal has already destroyed any credibility he and the AKP has, especially since they once made 'clean government' their slogan.

And more to the point, Erdoğan's other boast, a booming Turkish economy has also collapsed. This was always going to happen fairly soon because of Turkey's huge credit bubble, but the scandals have accelerated things.

Essentially, Erdoğan and the AKP tried to pull off what a lot of banana republics in South and Central America have already failed at - buying popularity through social programs paid for by massive debt accumulation while a corrupt government and its cronies fatten off the proceeds.

At this point, Turkey can't attract buyers for its debt without offering much higher interest rates..and that will explode the credit bubble that has passed for Turkey's 'booming economy' since Erdoğan and the AKP took over.

In fact, the meltdown is already in progress. In an effort to support the falling lira, Turkey's central bank(Türkiye Cumhuriyet Merkez Bankasi) raised interest rates last month after Erdoğan pledged to keep them low. Inflation is at 7.75% (at least) and rising, and the central bank's 10% rate isn't enough of a premium to attract buyers for its debt or strengthen the lira all that much. Since a lot of Turkey's debt is now in foreign currency, and the lira's decline continues, the interest on Turkey's debt is actually increasing, and will have to be covered by even higher local interest rates.And the cost of imports increases.

This is already being felt on the Turkish street,with higher prices and rising interest rates and increased payments on consumer and business loans. Unemployment is growing too, since a lot of that credit bubble fed construction projects which aren't being done anymore since the money isn't there to fund them. Turkey admits to a rate just under 10%. The growing economic distress along with the sordid details of AKP corruption and cronyism have melted away a great deal of Erdoğan's constituency.

Erdoğan himself is making a point of blaming what he calls 'the interest rate lobby', by which he means
'Jewish financiers' rather than his own government's mismanagement and kleptomania. That also is no great surprise in an Islamist leader who has demonstrated his hatred for Jews more than once and torpedoed what once was a fairly close relationship between Turkey and Israel.

Where this goes is anyone's guess. No real replacement for Erdoğan has surfaced, and because of his purge of the military they aren't going to be there to stop Turkey from going over the cliff. The chief opposition, Erdoğan's former allies the Gulen group have a lot of media influence, but no real  political forces  on the ground. The AKP's Ponzi scheme is going to continue to unravel, while Erdoğan is going to continue to try to double down by going even more paranoid and autocratic and trying to appeal to the hard core extreme of his followers.

This will not end well.

Ukraine - What's Putin Up To?

While the Russian military buildup on the Ukraine's borders and in the Crimea remains in place, the Russians have opened up a new strategy.

This morning, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia has no plans to intervene militarily in the Ukraine:

Moscow pledged Tuesday it would not intervene in the crisis in neighbouring Ukraine but said the country should not be forced to choose between Russia and the West.

“We confirmed our principled position of non-intervention in Ukraine’s internal affairs and expect that everyone follows similar logic,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“We are interested in Ukraine being part of the European family, in all senses of the word,” he said after talks with Luxembourg counterpart Jean Asselborn.

But he added: “We agree that… it is dangerous and counterproductive to force Ukraine into a choice — either you are with us or against us.”

This is likely a response to President Obama moving decisively for once and sending a high level State Department official into the region, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns:

In Kiev, he will consult with key Ukrainian leaders, the business community, and civil society on U.S. support for Ukraine’s efforts to secure a stable, democratic, inclusive, prosperous future. He will also honor the memory of the victims of the tragic events of last week. He will meet with a range of political, business, and civil society representatives, including Acting President Turchynov, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and the deputies of the Verkhovna Rada, and will urge the new government to take all steps necessary for free and fair presidential elections in May. He will urge the rapid formation of a national unity government that represents the wide array of stakeholders in Ukraine’s domestic political discourse, and encourage immediate steps to undertake the critical reforms necessary to restore Ukraine’s political and economic health. The Deputy Secretary will be accompanied by representatives of the Department of the Treasury and the National Economic Council, who will work in concert with partners such as the EU and the IMF to discuss needed financial support while a new government implements the difficult steps necessary to reform the economy. The Deputy Secretary will encourage all Ukrainians to continue their efforts to write a new chapter in their history that leads to a Ukraine that is democratic, sovereign, prosperous, and free to choose its own future.

So the Russians are foregoing their usual response to this kind of thing - for now.

Ah, but what the Russians want in exchange is a return to the status quo - meaning the old pro-Russian parliament, although not necessarily deposed president Victor Yanukovich,who has now had a murder warrant issued for his arrest by the new government.

And as Lavrov and Putin know quite well, it was Yanukovich who brought the entire crisis on by refusing to ratify the agreement between the EU and Ukraine on Moscow's orders. He now has zero chance to be restored to power, so they're wisely dumping him.

The Russians are also insisting that the new government 'reinstate law and order and bring about national reconciliation'. Which means what, exactly? 'National reconciliation ' is an interesting phrase when Russian tanks and troops are sitting in the Crimea and on the Ukrainian border. Inthat context, 'national reconciliation' obviously means 'the Ukraine remembering who's really calling the shots here.'

At present of course, there is no new Ukrainian government.The Ukrainian parliament has delayed the formation of a new government for another few days, even though both the EU and US have insisted that badly needed financial aid is on hold until a government is formed.

Interim President Turchynov is apparently having a rough time getting all the various factions to cooperate..and they have a very slender window of time to get their differences and agendas ironed out.

Aside from the impending financial crisis, it isn't beyond Russia's capability to foment some kind of incident where some Ukrainians whom are native Russians are killed by Ukrainian 'terrorists', thus giving Russia the excuse to move the troops in 'to protect Russians and restore law and order'. That would be particularly convenient and easy in the Crimea, where the population is 60% native Russian, and Russia already has the troops and tanks in place to move in at their base in Sebastopol.

Lavrov has already made threats to the Ukraine about 'anti-Russian activities.'

Failing that, Russia can wait and do their best to subvert the coming May elections in their favor, something they did once before. Or they can simply issue passports to the native Russian inhabitants and then use 'protecting Russian nationals' as their excuse, as they did in Abkhazia.

The best bet for a Ukraine not under Russia's thumb is for Turchynov and his friends to get their act together quickly, form a stable temporary government, get the West invested with aid money and hope for the best.

Stay tuned...

Monday, February 24, 2014

What Samantha Power Meant And Why Berating Her Is Futile

President Obama's UN Ambassador Samantha Power is in the news today because of a tweet she made concerning Daniel Pearl, the Jewish reporter who was murdered in Pakistan by jihadis:

Samantha Power         @AmbassadorPower

Daniel Pearl's story is reminder that individual accountability & reconciliation are required to break cycles of violence. @DanielPearlFNDN

Obama Administration To Shrink Military Back To Pre WWII Levels

Pravda-on-the-Hudson has leaked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's proposals to downsize our military to pre WWII levels.

The Army is going to be cut to between 440,000 and 450,000, as opposed to a post-9/11 peak of 570,000. A lot of the troops we're getting rid of include battle hardened and experienced officers, NCO's and enlisted men whom served in AfPak and Iraq...not to mention experienced and successful commanders like General Stan McCrystal and the Marine Corps' General Mattis, who have already been forced into early retirement for political reasons.

Our entire fleet of Air Force A-10 attack aircraft, one of the best anti-tank planes in the world are going to be eliminated while more money is going to be spent on what the Times calls 'the controversial F-35 warplane'. It's controversial, all right.

The Navy will be limited to adding two destroyers and two attack submarines every year, but will have to give up 11 heavy and light cruisers, which will go into what's called 'reduced operating status'. That simply isn't enough to maintain America's naval superiority on the world's oceans.

The Navy managed to save all 11 of its aircraft carriers for now, but some of them are approaching mid life and we're not going to be building any new ones. The USS George Washington is going to be overhauled and will get a nuclear refueling, but there's no guarantee for any of the others, especially if the defense budget continues to shrink under the Obama Administration as it likely will.

In an effort to discourage retention and new enlistment, pay and benefits are being cut markedly. Pay for officers is to be frozen, while enlisted men will get a single 1% pay raise before their pay is frozen as well. At the same time, a lot of the perks and subsidies that make military life affordable at the current rate of pay are being eliminated or severely cut back. Tax-free housing allowances for military personnel are going to be sharply reduced, and so is the $1.4 billion direct subsidy provided to military commissaries, so groceries and other goods at the PX are going to be a lot more expensive.

Health insurance deductibles and some co-pays will increase for some military retirees and for family members of active duty servicemen, and new enlistees will see even higher rates for these items. This is on top of the screwing our active military already took on their retirement benefits and COLAS.

Aside from the F-35, the areas where the defense budget isn't shrinking? Cyberwarfare, special ops and drones, of course.

What's going on here is pretty easy to figure out, and I said it back when Hagel was first confirmed as SecDef - the idea is to sharply reduce our military capabilities, eliminate our military's ability to fight a two front war, and to use the 'savings' for the president domestic agenda. Instead of jobs for engineers machinists, scientists, assemblers that actually create growth, and instead of providing training in various fields for our military, we'll just hand out more food stamps and welfare checks. Instead of national defense, more green energy scams and more trillion dollar stimulus programs,

And of course, most of Pravda-on-the Hudson's reader thoroughly approve:

From Binghampton,NY

The size of the army is not the problem; the size of the Pentagon budget is. Replacing soldiers with gold-plated weapons systems is not the answer; demilitarizing the US economy is. The country needs a multi-year plan to cut defense spending in half without sending the economy into a tailspin. Each year 10% of the Pentagon's budget should be transferred to a new agency charged with rebuilding the country's infrastructure. In five years when half of today's trillion dollar military spending has been moved to civilian use, that new agency be phased out by cutting its budget 10% per year. In a decade, the US would finally have a peace-time economy for the first time since 1941.

From St. Louis:

It's high time that Americans have a conversation about our national values. Are we a country constantly at war, using the military as our #1 jobs program? Or are we a nation of peace, where we invest our resources and young people in more productive ways?

Given the long-term effects of war on our citizens, and the cost of caring for disabled veterans like my own father, it just seems obvious that we should scale back the military to pay for things like infrastructure, cleaner energy, job training and education. Let's hope Congress agrees.

And from San Francisco

Not only do we currently spend roughly the same annually on our military than the rest of the world combined, we currently spend ~4x more than the second place spender, China. Even if we scale back adventurous aircraft projects (that can likely easily be replaced by simple unmanned drones), other countries have a long way to go before catching up with us. The parallels drawn in the comments to WWI are unwarranted; we are not going to quickly be overtaken by any other country's military. Were another nation state to begin to turn into a threat we could also still adapt and increase spending. This is a fantastic decision to help balance our budget, and certainly wiser than cutting all known domestic aid programs...

As others have mentioned, the days of nation-against-nation combat are over. Outmoded cold-war-sized armies do no good against terrorists in bunkers. The time is right for intelligent trimming of the military.

Every one of these comments could be datelined 1938 and would fit in quite well.

This is quite a gamble to take, given what's going on with Iran, the PLA's increasing strength and a resurgent Russia,but that is after all what America voted for. Hey,what could go wrong?

Russia Says 'No Basis For Dialogue' Is Now Moving Troops To The Ukraine Border

As I reported earlier, on Sunday, President Obama's NSC Susan Rice came out with some forceful language warning Russia, about sending its military into the Ukraine, saying, “That would be a grave mistake.”

Today, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev responded, both to Rice and to interim Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov's statement about being ready for dialogue with Russia. And here's the full quote, a bit different from what Reuter's reported.

“Today I see no legitimate Ukrainian partners for a dialogue. If people crossing Kiev in black masks and Kalashnikov rifles are considered a government, it will be difficult for us to work with such a government." Medvedev said, as he referred to the new Ukrainian government as “the result of a mutiny.”
and a “real threat to our interests, and to our citizens’ lives and health.”

And unlike Ms. Rice, Russia is backing up its words with action on the ground.

According to my sources, there has been a substantial Russian military buildup on the Ukraine's borders. The ending of the Winter Olympics in Sochi allowed the transfer of units of the Russian forces that were guarding the games. They were flown today to Russian bases at the Ukrainian Crimean port of Sevastopol, where Russia leases a naval base. Russian Air Force transports and special forces are being consolidated at a base located at the Rostov, close to the southeastern Ukrainian town of Donetsk.

A Russian military build up was also seen near Belgorod, just a few miles from the Ukraine border and just to the north of the Ukrainian city of Kharkov. Both areas are have a majority of ethnic Russians in their population and are Russian speaking.

The Crimea and the strategic port of Sevastopol were part of the Russian empire from the 18th century until 1954 when Nikita Khrushchev, an ethnic Ukrainian, transferred it to Ukrainian control.
When The Soviet Empire collapsed, the Ukraine kept the Crimea. Russia now leases Sevastopol as a deep-water port for the Russian Black Sea Fleet, but ethnic Russians imported to the area originally a colonists by the Soviets now make up almost 60 per cent of the population.

Russian President Putin, as I explained before, sees this very much as a Russian security issue and definitely in Cold War terms. And his past experience with the Obama Administration's weakness and amateurish behavior has apparently assured him that he will face no real cost for using the Russian military in the Ukraine to bring it back under Russia's control.

At the very least, I expect the Russians to take back the Crimea, which would allow them both to keep their naval base and to essentially make whatever's left of the Crimea landlocked and dependent on Russia's good will.He may also use the Russian military to set up a puppet government in the eastern Ukraine under ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych,(another South Ossetia situation similar to what happened in Georgia) and might even go as far as to occupy the entire Ukraine 'to restore order on Russia's borders.

Absent a serious deterrent stance by the US and the EU, there's no real reason for him not to.

Stay tuned...

White Man Angered When Black Man Refuses To Sing And Dance For Him

 Jeffrey Toobin is one of those tenured media figures on the Left. You know, New Yorker,born into a very well to do family that already worked in the biz for the alphabet networks, Harvard and Harvard law where he met all the right people, Democrat uber alles, a gig with the New Republic, one of the team that tried and failed miserably to put Ollie North behind bars, CNN, then the New Yorker and frequent stints on the alphabet networks himself as a legal expert and talking head, lefty Obama supporting JournoList member in good standing.

But there's something rotten under the facade. While he's apparently tolerant of black folks who stay on the Leftist plantation and whom he can, deep down, patronize, give him an independent black man who thinks for himself and doesn't put up with that nonsense and Mr. Toobin gets downright hostile when that sort of black man doesn't 'know his place'.

Toobin has always hated Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, because Toobin is that kind of white Leftist and Clarence Thomas is not his kind of black man.In the past, he's said Thomas' legal views are strange and extreme, called him "a nut" and said that the Justice was "furious all the time."

In other words, Toobin sees him as an ignorant, crazy, angry black man. Now where have we heard that sort of language before?

Recently though, Toobin took in one step further, in The New Yorker.Now, he's furious at Clarence Thomas because he won't entertain him!

Here's a few of the more revealing bits from Toobin's piece entitled "Clarence Thomas' Disgraceful Silence':

As of this Saturday, February 22nd, eight years will have passed since Clarence Thomas last asked a question during a Supreme Court oral argument. His behavior on the bench has gone from curious to bizarre to downright embarrassing, for himself and for the institution he represents.{...}

These days, Thomas only reclines; his leather chair is pitched so that he can stare at the ceiling, which he does at length. He strokes his chin. His eyelids look heavy. Every schoolteacher knows this look. It’s called “not paying attention.” {...}

Thomas is happy to lay waste to decades, even centuries, of constitutional law. Clearly, then, Thomas could have contributed to this spirited, important debate. Instead, on this day he was, as usual, checked out.

For better or worse, Thomas has made important contributions to the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court. He has imported once outré conservative ideas, about such issues as gun rights under the Second Amendment and deregulation of political campaigns, into the mainstream.

In question-and-answer sessions at law schools, Thomas has said that his colleagues talk too much, that he wants to let the lawyers say their piece, and that the briefs tell him all he needs to know. But this—as his colleagues’ ability to provoke revealing exchanges demonstrates—is nonsense. Thomas is simply not doing his job.

By refusing to acknowledge the advocates or his fellow-Justices, Thomas treats them all with disrespect. It would be one thing if Thomas’s petulance reflected badly only on himself, which it did for the first few years of his ludicrous behavior. But at this point, eight years on, Thomas is demeaning the Court. Imagine, for a moment, if all nine Justices behaved as Thomas does on the bench. The public would rightly, and immediately, lose all faith in the Supreme Court. Instead, the public has lost, and should lose, any confidence it might have in Clarence Thomas.

'Checked out'? 'Not paying attention'? Showing 'disrespect' for his betters? You can see how Toobin perceives this. And yes, this is very much about race. Earlier in the piece, Toobin related how Left -leaning Justice Stephan Breyer interrupted a lawyer presenting a case to mouth off that the language in the Constitution "means something different over time",  giving the definitions of “due process” and “interstate commerce” as examples of "language that had clearly changed".To which Justice Scalia responded with a razor sharp comeback, “The two examples that Justice Breyer gives are examples where we gave it a meaning that was different from what it said.” Even Toobin admits that one had the entire courtroom chuckling at Breyer's discomfiture, but Toobin doesn't call Breyer stupid, embarrassing or out of touch.

No, that's reserved for Clarence Thomas, because he doesn't entertain the likes of Toobin with questions and off the wall comments and because he doesn't think the way Toobin thinks he should, being a black man. Instead, Justice Thomas listens, consults his briefs, and writes opinions and dissents that make it clear that far from being 'checked out' or 'not paying attention' he was listening to every word.

Or, is Toobin implying that Justice Thomas is too stupid to be writing those opinions, an ignorant,angry black man like him?

The odd thing is, Supreme Court Justices asking questions from the bench are a fairly recent phenomenon, dating from the Rehnquist court in 1986.Before that, it rarely occurred. And if Jeffrey Toobin was half as brilliant as he thinks he is, he'd know that.

But somehow, because Justice Thomas won't sing and dance for him, Toobin mentally divines that the public has lost confidence in Clarence Thomas, (most American probably don't even know whom he is, like most Supreme Court Justices), that the other members of Court see Justice Thomas as being 'disrespectful' and that he 'isn't paying attention'. Did he ask them?

Toobin clearly says that Thomas is being disrespectful, petulant, lazy ('not doing his job') uppity, ( he has those outre' views and disagrees with his betters) and doesn't know how to act properly ('downright embarrassing'). Again, where else have we heard this kind of language applied to black men before?

Or just maybe, is Toobin just upset because Clarence Thomas, a black man, is a Supreme Court Justice and Toobin never will be? Because  a 'disrespectful', lazy, out of touch black man whom Toobin of course thinks is a lot stupider than himself and has all those wrong, improper views has risen above Jeffrey Toobin in life's firmament and accomplishments? How dare Clarence Thomas succeed like that!

It sure sounds like it, doesn't it? Hidden, re-channelled envy is,after all, a fairly common source of bigotry.

And off course, the media is silent about this, because Toobin is a loyal soldier for the Leftist cause and the Democrat party as well as a well connected legacy talking head. Can you imagine what they'd say is if Charles Krauthammer or Glenn Beck talked this way about Al Sharpton or  Justice Sonia Sotomayor?

Forum: What Current World Leader Or Statesman Would You Most Like To Interview?

Every week on Monday morning , the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher's Forum, short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture, or daily living. This week's question: What Current World Leader Or Statesman Would You Most Like To Interview?

 The Razor: Here are my picks:

1. John Bolton – One of my favorite statesmen around these days. His stint at the UN was much to short under W, and I’m hoping that somebody picks him for Secretary of State if the GOP retakes the White House in 2016. What I’d like to ask him is: How do we engage China? Handling that nation seems to be one of the challenges of the coming decades. We need to engage them while at the same time train them to stop viewing the world in zero-sum terms. That requires a return to the peace-through-strength attitudes we saw under Reagan with the Soviets.

2. Emperor Akihito of Japan – As a lover of Japanese culture and history I’d like to get his take on his father’s role in World War 2. I’d also like to hear his opinions on Japanese society. Must Japan always rely on gaiatsu – foreign pressure – to change, or is it becoming more dynamic? Does he view Japanese history as cyclical – and are we entering a more militaristic period that we saw at the beginning of his father’s reign? What is his view of Japan’s future? Does he see it integrating more with the West (like the US), the East (China) or taking a more non-aligned, independent role?

3. Lech Walesa – In the 1980s I idolized both him and Vaclev Havel. Standing up to the communists in their countries took guts in the 1970s and 1980s, just a few years after the Prague Spring of 1968 was crushed under the treads of tanks. People forget just how dangerous that was, and how monolithic Communism appeared during that era. For Walesa I’d like his opinion on the future of socialism. Does it have one? I’d also like to hear what he has to say about the American Left which has shown itself to be no friend of dissidents to leftist regimes. The Left ignored the likes of Solzhenitsyn and Sakarov during the Soviet era, just as it ignores Cuban and Venezuelan dissidents today (and the Ukrainians too I might add).

Bookworm Room: When I look at world leaders today, I don't want to interview any of them. Not one of them strikes me as an interesting person.

While I'd like to know if Bibi Netanyahu has a plan for weathering three more years of Obama, he's not going to tell me. I'd also like to know what Obama's college and law school transcripts say (bad grades, foreign nationality,etc.), he's not going to answer that either.

In other words, my questions won't elicit anything interesting, so why bother? Interviews would be fun and interesting only if truth serum was a prerequisite.

The Glittering Eye:I've never cultivated the skills necessary to conduct a good interview. I think I could probably learn them but it would take some practice and I do believe that it's an acquired skill.

However, if I did have the necessary skills and I could interview anybody, I think I'd like to interview Vladimir Putin. I think he's taking a pretty poor hand and playing it extremely well. He's probably the most influential leader in the world today.

David Gerstman/ Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion :The world leader I would most like to interview is President Barack Obama. I don't believe I would get a straight answer, but I really want to know how he thinks, especially on Iran.

For example at the U.N. he confidently proclaimed that Iran's Supreme Leader had issued a fatwa against the use of nuclear weapons. Yet we know that in the mid-2000's, Iran's one time nuclear negotiator (and now President) Hassan Rouhani said, "the only thing that stands between mastering enrichment technology and obtaining weapons-grade uranium is a political decision to make that transition." (emphasis mine.) Iran's leadership does not view developing nuclear weapon as a religious decision but a political one. Iran recently agreed to disclose information of its experiments on "exploding bridge wire detonators." Additionally in 2011 the IAEA discovered "However, subsequently, the Agency was shown documents which established a connection between Project 5 and Project 111, and hence a link between nuclear material and a new payload development programme." Claiming that it is a military area, Iran has not allowed IAEA inspectors full access to the Parchin site. Last year the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) quoted the IAEA: “Iran has conducted further spreading, levelling and compacting of material over most of the site, a significant proportion of which it has also asphalted.”

Not only has Iran been shown to have been pursuing means for detonating and delivering a nuclear weapon, but it is likely covering up evidence that it tested its detonating technology.
Given all that I would ask President Obama, what is there about Khamenei that makes him trust the Ayatollah, especially given Khamenei's unremitting hostility towards the United States? Why is he willing to risk the safety of the West and America's allies to a ruthless tyrant such as Khamenei?

If you allow me a boast, I did "interview" a world leader in 2006, though he wasn't a world leader then. Rick Richman of Jewish Current Issues arranged a bloggers conference call with Likud leader, Benjamin Netanyahu. I got to ask one of the questions. The answer was cut off but, though it wasn't transcribed, he eventually went on for quite a while. From Netanyahu's response, "... if Iran has nuclear weapons then every American is in great peril. America is in peril. Our world is in peril. It’s very important that people understand that this is not Israel’s war, you know, our house against their house, to a limited extent. It is our house, in the broad sense of the word "our." That is, the house of freedom, the house of democratic societies ..."

Little has changed since then. Netanyahu is still warning about Iran and the world remains deaf to his pleas.

JoshuaPundit; Difficult to pick three... my first choice would undoubtedly be Vladimir Putin. I think he has a great deal to say about how he sees Russia's role in the world, and I've tried to dissect  that side of him before. It would be fascinating to do it in person. I would also want to talk to him about Iran and find out how, aside from a stable southwest border he sees any strategic value in building up Iran's nuclear capability, especially in view of Russia's dire demographic situation.

Mahmoud Abbas, the unelected dictator of 'Palestine' would also be interesting, but in a different way, My method here would borrow a few licks from Oriana Fallaci and force him to address certain, umm.... contradictions. For instance, rais, you recently told a group of Leftist Israeli students in Ramallah that you weren't a Holocaust denier. Yet your doctoral thesis from Moscow U was clearly  Holocaust denial, and you have seen to it that your thesis is an integral and mandatory part of Palestinian education to this day. And while you mentioned that, regrettably there was actually anti-Jewish and anti-Israel incitement in  Palestine's media and schools, as leader with absolute dictatorial powers, why haven't you done anything to stop it? And why does 'Palestine' pay salaries to men who murder women and children and make heroes and role models out of them if the idea is to educate your people for peace? Which you keep saying you want?

You get the idea.

Last but not least would be a toss up between Dick Cheney and  Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's foreign minister. I'd want those to definitely be off the record.

Ask Marion:Wow… the last time I had to answer a similar question was in college… but it was what 3-leaders from history (alive or dead) would you like to interview?  My answer then was Richard Nixon, Adolf Hitler and Jesus… Today that answer would be Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Jesus.

Hmmm… What leader(s) would I like to interview… that is alive… hmmm?   Three leaders that I would really like to interview would be Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and  Ted Cruz, none of which are world leaders… at least not yet.  But Sarah Palin really is the unofficial leader of the Tea Party and can captivate an entire room or auditorium as well as touching the heart of a single person at a book signing like nobody else….  And the Tea Party is a kind of nation unto itself.  Plus I do truly feel that she is the GOP’s ‘best’ answer to and possibility of beating Hillary Clinton in 2016, so very well can and will be a world leader. Glenn Beck is a leader and should be an inspiration to anyone in the media as well as the conservative movement.  He battled and stood his ground at Fox and when the door closed because he would not yield he started his own multi-media empire with little if any encouragement or help. And then there is Ted Cruz who is the latest victim of Progressive Palinization (Quaylinazation several decades back) who like Sarah Palin packs the house to rousing applause and support where ever he goes no matter what the mainstream media and Beltway Progressives try to feed us.  And if you are lucky you get a double shot of Cruz when his ever so popular dad, Raphael, shows up!  Palin-Cruz in 2016 is my vote and then they will be world leaders!

But back to the question… world leaders… Hmmm? There are so few ‘real leaders’ let alone Statesman these days… But I would have to say Benjamin Netanyahu, Mikhail Gorbachev and Angela Merkel would be my choices for an interview. (Pope Francis I or Vladimir Putin were my fourth and fifth choices).

Mikhail Gorbachev is the last of the courageous, creative and forward thinking team of four: President Ronald Reagan, Blessed (Pope) John Paul II, Prime Minister (Baroness) Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev (the General Secretary Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) who ended the Cold War and changed the face of the world without a single shot being fired.

Mikhail Gorbachev, soviet Politburo member poses with British PM Margaret Thatcher at Chequers during his December 1984 visit to the UK. REUTERS/Stringer

Although generally out of the limelight, the former Soviet leader is still active and said Sunday that the political crisis in Ukraine, which has seen its president driven from the capital after months of protests, stems from its government's failure to act democratically:

"Ultimately this is the result of the failure of the government to act democratically" and to engage in dialogue and fight corruption, Gorbachev said during an address at the International Government Communication Forum in the city of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.

Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu is a steadfast leader that should have the respect of the entire world, yet he stands virtually alone to defend the only real bastion of democracy in the Middle East. He is surrounded by enemies and under constant criticism from former allies and even second guessed by American Jews. Yet, he is the leader many Americans wish we had.  Netanyahu, who was educated in the United States, has a love for America but has endless devotion to Israel and the Jewish people.

A picture is worth a thousand words… here is Benjamin Netanyahu and Barry Soetoro (Obama) in their early twenties (Courtesy 

See Benjamin Netanyahu in 2006 tell it like it is during a 2006 General Assembly in Los Angeles.  . . . .  Most U.S. media outlets refused to show this clip

 GrEaT sAtAn"S gIrLfRiEnD:
Tony Blair!

Without a doubt - one of America's fav uncles - is also by happy chance the most articulate cat around.

Great Britain's youngest PM in a century and her longest serving ever. Undeniably, Tony is a master of political thinking. He is a genius when it comes to understanding the change in the public mood and society, although not without fault, as history has shown.

Labour philosophy, its political agenda, the structure of the voters who dug Labour, and who didn't, the meaning of "working class" in the 80's (the philosophical essence of the change to New Labour could be summarised in his words: "I hate class. I love aspiration")

Blair's declaration of support for America to Congress is still required reading for any serious discussion of diplopolititary concerns

Uncle Tony's Rules for Intervention and follow up thoughts and applications are totally spot on.

He also plays a mean rock guitar and takes his Xianity seriously.

Well, there you have it.

Make sure to tune in every Monday for the Watcher’s Forum. And remember, every Wednesday, the Council has its weekly contest with the members nominating two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. The votes are cast by the Council, and the results are posted on Friday morning.

It’s a weekly magazine of some of the best stuff written in the blogosphere, and you won’t want to miss it.

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