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October 28, 2016 / 26 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Hillary Clinton’

In VP Debate Pence Fails to Score Resounding Blow on Iran Deal

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

In Tuesday night’s debate between Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D) and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), most of the pundits early on scored a slight win for Trump’s VP, mostly because he was much more restrained than Trump had been in his bout with Hillary Clinton a week earlier, and did not let Kaine go under his skin. One pundit even joked how presidential this guy Pence is, I wonder who’s going to be his VP pick. But while Pence held his own for 90 minutes, although he left all of his opponent’s challenges on Trump’s scandals and questionable statements unanswered, he let Kaine get away with at least one terrible lie: that the nuclear deal carved in part by Clinton as the former Secretary of State removed the Iranian nuclear threat.

This point should probably be scored as a win for the Democrat, because it’s one issue about which the consensus is wide and clear among many Democrats, as well as the bulk of the media: the much celebrated deal was forced on Congress by massive political trickery and outright lies, led to the release of an estimated $150 billion to the world’s largest perpetrator of terrorism, and freed Iran to start working on its nuclear weapon in as little as five years.

Overall, the debate veered to the Iran deal four times, and Gov. Pence was not able to turn any of them into a decisive knockout, or even a win on points.

When Sen. Kaine asked, “Do you know that Iran was racing toward a nuclear weapon and Russia was expanding its stockpile? … [Sec. Clinton] worked a tough negotiation with nations around the world to eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program without firing a shot.

Pence responded, astonished, “Eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program?”

Kaine came back, “Absolutely, without firing a shot.”

Pence let that statement stand and was dragged instead into a debate over who was responsible for the US withdrawal from Iraq. Advantage Kaine on the Iran deal.

Later on, the moderator, Elaine Quijano (CBS), asked Kiane, “Has the terrorist threat increased or decreased?” To which he responded, among other things, “The terrorist threat has decreased in some ways because an Iranian nuclear weapons program has been stopped.”

Kaine continued with an avalanche of points about why Clinton was a better leader to deal with terrorism, repeating ad nauseam that Donald Trump is an admirer of Vladimir Putin and other world tyrants.

When his turn came to respond, Pence first waded through a sluggish attack on Clinton’s responsibility for ISIS, which is not easy to prove, and only towards the end he reached what should have been his money shot, saying, “And a reference to the Iranian deal, the Iranian deal that Hillary Clinton initiated, $150 billion to the radical mullahs in Iran.”

Kaine said, “Stopping a nuclear weapons program without firing a shot?”

Pence then retorted, “You didn’t stop the nuclear weapons program.”

Kaine said, “Yes, we did.”

Pence was then cut off after blurting, “You essentially…” by Kaine, who actually said, “Even the Israeli military says it stopped.”

Pence, instead of pausing to challenge that misleading half-truth, made a weak statement lacking in specificity, that the deal “guaranteed that Iran will someday become a nuclear power, because there’s no limitations once the period of time of the treaty comes off.”

A little later on, Kaine said, again essentially unchallenged, “Hillary Clinton is the secretary of state who knows how to build alliances. She built the sanctions regime around the world that stopped the Iranian nuclear weapons program. And that’s what an intelligence surge means. Better skill and capacity, but also better alliances.”

Had Pence been better versed with the history of the Iran deal, he could have done a lot with this generalized statement, including, perhaps, mentioning the fact that by the Obama Administration submitted the nuclear deal for Congressional approval, it had already been implemented by all its “allies,” so that a continued US embargo would not have mattered — Iran’s revolutionary regime had already been legitimized by the world powers.

Pence then missed his last opportunity to score big on the Iran deal, when he opened, “But let me go back to this Iran thing. I mean, he keeps saying that [the deal] Hillary Clinton started [with the Iranians] prevented Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”

Kaine quickly interrupted: “That’s what the Israeli [chief] of staff is saying right now.”

Pence said, quite correctly, “Well, that’s not what — that’s not what Israel thinks.”

Kaine announced triumphantly, “Gadi Eizenkot, you can go check it.”

For the record, in January 2016, IDF Chief of Staff Lieut. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot said the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between Iran and six world powers was “significantly changing the vector that Iran has been on.” But in that same speech, and in many assessments that followed, Eizenkot and other Israeli generals have been warning against “many dangers as well as opportunities” created by the accord.

And on the day after that much quoted Eizenkot speech, a mini diplomatic crisis erupted when Israel’s Defense Ministry issued a statement comparing President Obama with British Premier Neville Chamberlain, who signed the 1938 Munich agreement with Adolph Hitler, basically abandoning the free democratic state of Czechoslovakia. But Gov. Pence probably did not bone up on that part, as can bee seen from his weak response, “You wouldn’t necessarily know that,” regarding Eizenkot’s supposed blessings for the Iran deal.

Kaine challenged him, saying, “Go to the tape.”

Pence then had enough of his wits about him to recall a talking point, when he said, “I know you boycotted Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech when he came before the Congress.”

Kaine did not deny the charge, but said, apologetically, “No, I visited him in his office. I visited him in his office.”

Pence then, finally, pounced on him, saying, “You boycotted the speech.” Except that instead of marshalling the facts to expose the Iran deal for all its dangerous failures, Pence delivered a weak jab: “The point is, what this Iran — so-called Iran deal did was essentially guarantee — I mean, when I was in Congress, I fought hard on a bipartisan basis with Republican and Democrat members to move forward the toughest sanctions, literally, in the history of the United States, against Iran.”

Which Kaine, quick on his feet, responded to, saying, “And then Hillary used them to get a deal.”

Pence would not let his opponent have the last word, though, repeating, “We were bringing them to heel, but the goal was always that we would only lift the sanctions if Iran permanently renounced their nuclear ambitions. […] Elaine, let me finish a sentence. They have not renounced their nuclear ambitions. And when the deal’s period runs out, there’s no limitation on them obtaining weapons. […] And the fact that they got $1.7 billion in a ransom payment… is astonishing to the American people.”

That was the sum total of Gov. Pence’s effort, which could have revived a very sore, anti-Obama sentiment among undecided American voters, especially Jewish voters who at this point are second only to African Americans in their commitment to the Clinton camp. Perhaps Presidential Candidate Trump would be able to articulate a forceful argument in Sunday’s debate. It would require an intimate familiarity with the details of the deal, as well as with the range of violations of a variety of UN resolutions on the part of Iran. Can Donald Trump do it? If he wants to become president, he really should.


Setting the Record Straight: Clinton Bears Partial Responsibility for ISIS

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

During Monday night’s presidential debate, Candidate Trump accused Secretary Clinton and President Obama of bearing the responsibility for the creation of the Caliphate, a.k.a. the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Trump charged: “President Obama and Secretary Clinton created a vacuum the way they got out of Iraq, because they got out — […] they shouldn’t have been in, but once they got in, the way they got out was a disaster. And ISIS was formed.” Trump suggested that ISIS “wouldn’t have even been formed if they left some troops behind, like 10,000 or maybe something more than that. And then you wouldn’t have had them.”

Clinton responded: “I hope the fact-checkers are turning up the volume and really working hard.” She explained that “George W. Bush made the agreement about when American troops would leave Iraq, not Barack Obama. And the only way that American troops could have stayed in Iraq is to get an agreement from the then-Iraqi government that would have protected our troops, and the Iraqi government would not give that.”

Without taking sides, there is something to what Trump is saying. The fact checkers on Politico found his statement attributing the responsibility to Obama to be wrong, since, as they put it, “ISIS formed as Al Qaeda in Iraq in 2004, before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state and Barack Obama became president, and long before the US began drawing down troops in Iraq.” But the fact is that the core of both Al Qaeda in Iraq and its splinter group ISIS that became much bigger and better organized than the original franchise, were Sunni Baath Party members who lost their government and military positions once the Americans had occupied Iraq and handed the national rule to the Shiite majority.

As Reuters reported in 2015, the rising Islamic State, with the help of former Saddam Hussein military officers, out-muscled the Sunni-dominated Baath Party troops which had been fighting a guerilla war against US troops in Fallujah and elsewhere, and absorbed thousands of them. The new recruits joined Saddam-era officers who already held key posts in the Islamic State.

It’s safe to say that President GW Bush, by invading Iraq and then sending hundreds of thousands of Saddam loyalists to the unemployment lines instead of incorporating them into the new, semi-democratic Iraq, created ISIS. The creation of the Taliban and later Al Qaeda, by the way, can be largely attributed to President Reagan, whose CIA recruited and trained the Arab Mujahideen insurgent groups who fought against the Soviet Army in Afghanistan. Those same highly trained, largely Saudi troops were later galvanized into a disciplined and effective force in Bosnia, Somalia and Chechnya.

So the bulk of the blame rests with the second Bush administration, which altered the Middle East forever. Incidentally, despite the citation of a lone radio interview with shock jock Howard Stern, in which Trump made a noncommittal, off the cuff comment supporting the Iraq invasion, he clearly has been one of the earlier voices against the American presence in Iraq, while Senator Clinton with her vote actually handed President Bush the keys to start the war. She says she and fellow Democrats had been duped by Bush, who promised not to use the war powers they gave him, but some in the Senate (Sen. Obama, for one) did not fall for it.

But the most devastating point was made by Secretary Clinton when she said the Obama Administration had no choice but to pull out of Iraq, because the Shiite government, practically operating on instructions from Tehran, wouldn’t agree to let them stay. Seriously? Had President Obama actually insisted on staying he couldn’t have come up with ways to persuade the Iraqis?

The fact was Obama had promised his voters to pull the military out of Iraq by the appointed time. He did not begin the withdrawal of troops, GW Bush did, starting in 2007. But it must be noted that the last US troops left Iraq on 18 December 2011, just in time for the first Democratic primary in Iowa. They left behind a Sunni-owned Fallujah where only the US military had been able to maintain a semblance of law and order, with a combination of raids and bribes. As soon as the declared date for withdrawal had arrived, those same former Saddam loyalists who had been transformed several times over the previous decade, were ready for their current reincarnation as ISIS.

Many, including several US senators, most notably John McCain and Lindsey Graham, begged for a contingency of troops to stay, just in case things went south in Fallujah. They urged Obama to sell the idea, with a measure of force if necessary, to Prime Minster Nouri al-Maliki. But as Iraq analyst Kirk Sowell told NPR in 2015, Obama never really tried. “This is one of the criticisms of Obama — that he sort of wanted the negotiations to fail,” Sowell said, “and, so, he didn’t even talk to Maliki until it was basically all over.”

To complete this fact check: the Obama-Clinton Administration did not start the complex and incredibly expensive process that led to the creation of ISIS, but there’s no doubt they could have stopped it with a comparatively low investment of troops and funds.

Advantage Trump.


Everyone Wants a Photo Op With the Jewish Prime Minister

Monday, September 26th, 2016

What a change there is in the world when the candidates for President of the United States vie for some face time with the Prime Minister of the Jewish State of Israel.

Trump and Netanyahu

Clinton and Netanyahu

Clinton and Netanyahu

Trump and Netanyahu

Photo of the Day

Trump Promising Netanyahu Jerusalem Embassy, Wants Advice on Building Fences

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

The Trump campaign press release following the meeting Sunday between Benjamin Netanyahu and the GOP presidential candidate stated that Trump told Netanyahu “a Trump administration would finally accept the long-standing Congressional mandate to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel.” The statement also said Trump “agreed that the military assistance provided to Israel and missile defense cooperation with Israel are an excellent investment for America,” and “there will be extraordinary strategic, technological, military and intelligence cooperation between the two countries,” should Trump be elected.

Trump emphasized that Israel is a “vital partner of the United States in the global war against radical Islamic terrorism.” According to the statement, the nuclear deal with Iran and ways to defeat ISIS were also discussed, as well as “Israel’s successful experience with a security fence that helped secure its borders.”

A short while before Sunday’s meeting between Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump, the GOP presidential candidate and indefatigable tweeter tweeted: “Looking forward to my meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu in Trump Tower at 10:00 AM.” The meeting lasted an hour and twenty minutes behind closed doors, and the two did not speak to the press before or after.

The Prime Minister’s office released a laconic statement saying, “Netanyahu presented to Trump Israel’s positions on regional issues related to its security and discussed with him Israel’s efforts to achieve peace and stability in our region.” The PM’s office also said that Netanyahu thanked Trump for his friendship and support for Israel. The meeting included Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer and Trump’s son-in-law, Jewish businessman, investor and political operative Jared Kushner.

Netanyahu was scheduled to meet next with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who has already committed to inviting the Israeli PM to her White House as soon as she’s sworn in. Clinton is on the record as supporting the nuclear deal with Iran, but repeats her commitment to Israel’s security. In an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 TV, Clinton said “Trump should worry every Israeli, regardless of his positions on Israel.”

The two meetings were arranged when a senior Netanyahu official told reporters after his meeting with President Obama that he hadn’t been approached by either candidate for a meeting while he’s in the US, but should they invite him he’d be delighted to accept. A day later the invite came from the Trump campaign, followed by one from Hillary.

Monday night the world will follow with bated breath the first presidential debate between the two candidates. Many Israelis have reported setting their alarm clocks (or apps) to wake them up at 4 AM Tuesday, to watch the Monday at 9 PM match.

David Israel

NYT Endorses Hillary Clinton, Democratic Candidate for President

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

The editorial board of the New York Times endorsed Clinton for president on Saturday in a pointed article in which the paper’s management said bluntly, “In any normal election year, we’d compare the two presidential candidates side by side on the issues. But this is not a normal election year.”

The Times went on to list what it considers her finest moments and achievements, among them, “efforts to strengthen sanctions against Iran, which eventually pushed it to the table for talks over its nuclear program, and in 2012, she helped negotiate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.”

The paper also praised Clinton’s “lasting achievements as a senator” for the state of New York, which the Times said “include a federal fund for long-term monitoring of 9/11 first responders, an expansion of military benefits to cover reservists and the National guard, and a law requiring drug companies to improve the safety of their medications for children. Below the radar, she fought for money for farmers, hospitals, small businesses and environmental projects.”

The paper acknowledged “her own share of mistakes” and her “lamentable penchant for secrecy.” It excused her “poor decision to rely on a private email server while at the State Department,” allowing that the decision deserved “scrutiny, and it’s had it,” but that the issue when considered against the current challenges facing the next president “looks like a matter for the help desk.”

Hana Levi Julian

Netanyahu to Meet Trump and Clinton in NYC

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to meet with the presidential candidates from both political parties in the United States on Sunday, following his meeting last Wednesday with U.S. President Barack Obama.

He’ll meet first with GOP candidate Donald Trump, and then with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, according to a source in the prime minister’s office (PMO).

“The meeting was first agreed to with the Trump people, and then we immediately reached out to the Clinton camp for balance,” said a PMO source.

Netanyahu has said he has no intention to get in the middle of the electoral campaign in any way. Four years ago, he was severely criticized for what appeared to be his perceived support of GOP candidate Mitt Romney, an old friend who visited Jerusalem during the campaign and discussed Obama’s foreign policies.

Not so the New York Times, whose editorial board on Saturday endorsed Clinton for president in a pointed article in which the paper’s management said bluntly, “In any normal election year, we’d compare the two presidential candidates side by side on the issues. But this is not a normal election year.”

The Times went on to list what it considers her finest moments and achievements, among them, “efforts to strengthen sanctions against Iran, which eventually pushed it to the table for talks over its nuclear program, and in 2012, she helped negotiate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.”

Hana Levi Julian

Obama Vetoes Bill Letting 9/11 Families Sue Saudi Arabia

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

President Obama on Friday vetoed the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act,” which was passed unanimously by both the House and Senate, helping families of 9/11 victims sue Saudi Arabia. The bill enables the families to sue the Kingdom should it be shown to be legally liable, having supported the attack. Out of the 19 Sept. 11 terrorists, 15 were Saudi nationals.

Obama released a statement Friday, saying he bears “deep sympathy for the families of the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, who have suffered grievously. I also have a deep appreciation of these families’ desire to pursue justice and am strongly committed to assisting them in their efforts.”

However, the president explained, the 9/11 bill is sure to “invite consequential decisions to be made based upon incomplete information and risk having different courts reaching different conclusions about the culpability of individual foreign governments and their role in terrorist activities directed against the United States — which is neither an effective nor a coordinated way for us to respond to indications that a foreign government might have been behind a terrorist attack.”

Yes, he actually used that as his argument: it’s going to cause a mess in the courts system.

A group named 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism released a statement Friday saying it is “outraged and dismayed” over the president’s veto, arguing that his reasoning is “unconvincing and unsupportable.”

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said she supports the bill. Her spokesman said in a statement that “Clinton continues to support the efforts by Senator Schumer and his colleagues in Congress to secure the ability of 9/11 families and other victims of terror to hold accountable those responsible. She would sign this legislation if it came to her desk.”

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Obama’s veto was “shameful,” adding in a statement: “That President Obama would deny the parents, spouses and children of those we lost on that horrific day the chance to close this painful chapter in their lives is a disgrace.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) said earlier last week that he believes ” the votes are there for the override.” Sen. Chuck Schumer, (D-NY), who co-sponsored the bill, is on the record as promising to help override a veto.

This is the 12th veto by President Obama in his eight years in the White House, and none of his first 11 have been overturned. His predecessor, President GW Bush, used his veto power 12 times and was overturned four times. Out of President Bill Clinton’s 36 vetoes, two were overridden; President GHW Bush had 29 vetoes (in one term) and lost only one.


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