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July 30, 2016 / 24 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

Report: J-Street Received More Than $500,000 to Promote Obama’s Iran Deal

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

The far-left J-Street lobby, which calls itself a “pro-peace” and “pro-Israel” organization, received $576,500 dollars last year to push the Obama Administration’s Iran deal, via the Ploughshares Fund, according to an AP report.

The Ploughshares Fund, one of the main groups named by the Obama administration’s spin doctor Ben Rhodes, set its sights on other media organizations in its campaign too. Their goal, according to Rhodes was to set up an echo chamber of pro-Iran messages bouncing back and forth between different organizations and individuals.

For instance, utilizing the services of the GMMB.com ad agency, the Ploughshares Fund attempted to directly reach politically active US Jews via online advertising on Israeli and Jewish websites, with a budget in the tens of thousands of dollars.

I’m looking to run on local Jewish community sites in PA, NY, MD or run on Jewish sites that can geo-target to these states.
More information below –
Timing: Sept 5th – September 18th
Goal: Completed video views and traffic to landing page
Geo: PA, NY, MD
Budget: $5- $40k
Target: Jewish people (preferably politically active)

GMMB was particularly interested in advertising on JewishPress.com, which did not run their ads. They were even willing to prepay for their campaign.

Two other sites GMMB expressed interested in advertising on were the Times of Israel and the JPost.com.

Banner ads that ran in the various newspapers and websites appeared to be from different organizations, which then led to different pro-Iran Deal websites and YouTube channels.

The Times of Israel ran ads for an organization called “No Nukes for Iran Project“, which of course supported the Iran deal.

Ads were also run on Google.

But the underlying account name from the back-end ad server sent to JewishPress.com said “Ploughshare Fund”.

Ploughshare Fund account information for the pro-Iran deal campaign to run on Jewish websites.

Ploughshares Fund account information for the pro-Iran deal campaign to run on Jewish websites.

One such YouTube channel heavily featured Peter Beinart calling for viewers to #DefendTheDeal, under the name “Iran Deal Forum”.

"The Iran Deal Forum" promoting the Iran Deal with Peter Beinart videos.

“The Iran Deal Forum” promoting the Iran Deal with Peter Beinart videos.

The Associated Press explored the 2015 Annual Report of the Ploughshares Fund, a fund mentioned in the expose/profile of Rhodes published last week by The New York Times.

In that profile, Rhodes boasted about the main groups responsible for helping to create the “echo chamber” that promoted the Iran deal despite facts that contradicted the hype.

A fact sheet distributed this weekend by The Israel Project (TIP) managing director Omri Ceren noted The Ploughshares Fund is a donation hub that has distributed millions of dollars in recent years to groups pushing the Iran deal.

After Congress failed to defeat the deal, Ploughshares President Joseph Cirincione published a video and letter boasting about how the echo chamber – over 85 groups and 200 people – was created with Ploughshares money: “groups and individuals were decisive in the battle for public opinion and as independent validators… they lacked a common platform – a network to exchange information and coordinate efforts.

Ploughshares Fund provided that network… we built a network of over 85 organizations and 200 individuals… We credit this model of philanthropy – facilitating collective action through high-impact grantmaking – with creating the conditions necessary for supporters of the Iran agreement to beat the political odds” Cirincione said.

The Ploughshares Fund gave National Public Radio $100,000 last year towards the mission to report on the Iran deal, funding reports on related issues and NPR’s annual report. According to the mission statement of the NGO, its primary raison d’etre is to “build a safe, secure world by developing and investing in initiatives to reduce and ultimately eliminate the world’s nuclear stockpiles.”

But it was that NGO and others who were used by the White House to carry out what amounted to a deliberate propaganda campaign to mislead the American people.

In its probe of the 2015 Annual Report of the Ploughshares Fund, the Associated Press broke down into three kinds of groups, the network of 85 organizations and 200 individuals funded by the NGO:

— Journalists and media outlets:

Ploughshares has funded NPR‘s coverage of national security since 2005, the radio station said. Ploughshares reports show at least $700,000 in funding over that time. All grant descriptions since 2010 specifically mention Iran… Previous efforts… Ploughshares has set its sights on other media organizations, too. In a “Cultural Strategy Report” on its website, the group outlined a broader objective of “ensuring regular and accurate coverage of nuclear issues in reputable and strategic media outlets” such as The Guardian, Salon, the Huffington Post or Pro Publica. Previous efforts failed to generate enough coverage, it noted. These included “funding of reporters at The Nation and Mother Jones and a partnership with The Center for Public Integrity to create a national security desk.”

— Think tanks and nuclear-issues associations:

The 33-page document lists the groups that Ploughshares funded last year to advance its nonproliferation agenda. The Arms Control Association got $282,500; the Brookings Institution, $225,000; and the Atlantic Council, $182,500… Princeton University got $70,000 to support former Iranian ambassador and nuclear spokesman Seyed Hossein Mousavian’s “analysis, publications and policymaker engagement on the range of elements involved with the negotiated settlement of Iran’s nuclear program.”

— Lobbies:

Other groups, less directly defined by their independent nuclear expertise, also secured grants. J-Street, the liberal Jewish political action group, received $576,500 to advocate for the deal. More than $281,000 went to the National Iranian American Council.

Hana Levi Julian

Netanyahu Was Right On Iran Deal

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

It wasn’t all that long ago that our nation was transfixed by President Obama’s full court press to close a nuclear arms deal with Iran. It will be recalled that the administration spared no effort in this regard, beginning with its miscasting of the deal as an agreement rather than a treaty requiring Senate approval. And when an irate Congress, enacted legislation requiring a period for a measure of Congressional review, the president engaged in blatant procedural legerdemain to neutralize that legal mandate.

All of this took place in the context of overwhelming popular opposition to the deal. Further, virtually every member of Congress who ultimately signed on to the agreement did so with reservations, saying there was no real choice and that any deal was better than none.

And now we know that while the president was using every procedural trick in the book to prevent Congress from killing the deal, an even more insidious effort was being mounted under the radar.

You really can’t make this kind of thing up. A major piece by veteran journalist David Samuels in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine focuses on Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, the person President Obama relied upon most to “sell” the Iran nuclear deal as critical to U.S. national interests. Mr. Rhodes came to the job with a background as a writer of fiction, a talent in the use of modern communication technology, and absolutely no foreign policy experience.

The article was built around an interview Mr. Samuels conducted with Mr. Rhodes and clearly shows how the public and Congress were purposefully misled.

Thus, the Obama administration successfully pitched the Iran deal as designed to take quick advantage of the election of a so-called moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, which presented an opportunity for a breakthrough in U.S.-Iran relations. And many members of Congress have said this argument weighed heavily on their minds when they voted to approve the deal even though they had serious misgivings about the specific terms of the agreement.

In truth, however, it now appears the negotiations were begun two years before Mr. Rouhani’s election when the notorious Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was still the president of Iran. Indeed, Mr. Rhodes acknowledged that President Obama planned an outreach to Iran soon after he took office in 2009 and the contrary spin was simply his –Mr. Rhodes’s – fabrication.

In other words, the notion that the Iran deal was the choice of peace over war did not arise out of any facts on the ground but was manufactured out of whole cloth by the imaginative Mr. Rhodes. And thanks to the administration’s fanciful narrative, legislators came to believe the proposed nuclear deal with Iran represented the only way to avoid war with Iran.

How did this all come about? Here is how Mr. Samuels put it:

Rhodes is a storyteller who uses a writer’s tools to advance an agenda that is packaged as politics but is often quite personal. He is adept at constructing overarching plotlines with heroes and villains, their conflicts and motivations supported by flurries of carefully chosen adjectives, quotations and leaks from named and unnamed senior officials. He is the master shaper and retailer of Obama’s foreign-policy narratives, at a time when the killer wave of social media has washed away the sand castles of the traditional press.

Mr. Samuels quoted Mr. Rhodes to this effect:

All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus. Now they don’t. They call us to explain to them what’s happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.

Mr. Samuels continued:

In the spring of last year, legions of arms-control experts began popping up at think tanks and on social media, and then became key source for hundreds of often clueless reporters. “We created an echo chamber,” [Rhodes] admitted, when I asked him to explain the onslaught of freshly minted experts cheerleading for the deal. “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”

When Mr. Samuels suggested that all of this manipulation seemed out of place in an America that reveres the principle of rational debate as the bedrock of democracy, Mr. Rhodes countered with, “I mean I’d prefer a sober, reasoned public debate, after which members of Congress reflect and take a vote. But that’s impossible.”

Editorial Board

Key Obama Adviser: We Misled Nation To Sell Iran Nuclear Deal

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

A lengthy New York Times Magazine profile of Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, portrays him as a spinmeister contemptuous of the foreign policy establishment who fed credulous journalists a misleading narrative to sell the Iran nuclear deal to the American people.

According to writer David Samuels, Rhodes oversaw a “war room” whose task was to sell the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to Congress ahead of crucial votes last fall that failed to kill the agreement.

“In the spring of last year, legions of arms-control experts began popping up at think tanks and on social media, and then became key sources for hundreds of often-clueless reporters,” Samuels wrote.

“We created an echo chamber,” he quoted Rhodes as admitting. “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”

According to Samuels’s piece, the strategy included the White House’s TheIranDeal Twitter feed. Rhodes used groups like the Ploughshares Fund, which advocates the elimination of nuclear weapons and lobbied for the JCPOA.

“We drove them crazy,” Samuels quotes Rhodes as saying of the opponents of the nuclear deal.

Samuels wrote that Rhodes does not think much of the journalists the war room was using to spread its narrative: “The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns,” Rhodes was quoted as telling him. “They literally know nothing.”

According to the article, the administration put out a deliberately misleading narrative about the way the nuclear negotiations came about, linking them to the rise in 2013 of the “moderate” President Hasan Rouhani at the expense of “hardliners,” ushering in a supposedly new political reality in Iran.

In fact in 2012 State Department director of policy planning Jake Sullivan – a close aide of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – began holding talks with the Iranians in Oman and elsewhere, and he and Deputy Secretary of State William Burns drew up the framework of what would eventually become the JCPOA three months before the election that brought Rouhani to office.

Obama was known by insiders to have wanted to make a deal with Iran from the beginning of his presidency in 2009, but the idea that the rise of “moderates” provided the opportunity was “largely manufactured for the purpose for selling the deal,” Samuels wrote.

Samuels argued that the misleading narrative was useful for the administration.

“By obtaining broad public currency for the thought that there was a significant split in the regime, and that the administration was reaching out to moderate-minded Iranians who wanted peaceful relations with their neighbors and with America, Obama was able to evade what might have otherwise been a divisive but clarifying debate over the actual policy choices that his administration was making,” he wrote.

He characterized the approach as part of a broader strategy – helping the U.S. to extricate itself from existing regional alliances with countries like Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Turkey, with the ultimate goal of U.S. “disengagement from the Middle East.”

It’s an objective, Samuels said, that Rhodes – a determined critic of the Iraq war – views with a sense of “urgency.”

The profile depicts Rhodes as being comfortable in spinning the issue to the American people.

“I mean, I’d prefer a sober, reasoned public debate, after which members of Congress reflect and take a vote,” Samuels quotes Rhodes as telling him. “But that’s impossible.”

Rhodes holds a dim view of the foreign policy establishment, according to Samuels, referring to it contemptuously as “the Blob,” and including in that grouping Hillary Clinton; Obama’s first defense secretary Robert Gates; and “editors and reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker and elsewhere.”

Patrick Goodenough

Analysis: Obama Administration Fighting Netanyahu Via AP Leak

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

The Obama Administration has apparently decided on its course of action regarding Judea and Samaria until the inauguration of a new president in January: threats and attacks delivered through well placed leaks with the major news outlets, which are intended to foster anxiety in Jerusalem. A case in point is this weekend’s AP story, citing US and other diplomats who say Obama plans to endorse a “tougher tone” against Israel in the upcoming report by the so-called “Quartet” of mediators from the US, the EU, Russia and the UN. Said diplomats have promised that the US will no longer endeavor to temper the language of the report, criticizing settlements construction, demolitions and property seizures. They also promise to place the blame for the impasse in the peace negotiations squarely on Israel.

The report, due in late May or early June, will bear no intrinsic penalties against Israel, an island of violence and unrest in an otherwise peaceful and idyllic Middle East, but the diplomats who leaked the news have told AP it could be used by the UN assembly and “possibly sent to the Security Council for an endorsement.”

It is curious why the Obama White House would want to create yet another problem for the Democratic presumptive presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who would be forced to comment on such a report and run the risk of alienating either the left- or right-flank of the party. Is the Obama need for revenge against the Jewish State stronger than his support for his own party’s campaign? Time will tell.

On its face, the AP leak looks more like a taunt than a change in policy, reminiscent of the reference to the comparison by an anonymous Administration official of Netanyahu to chicken droppings in the famous October 2014 Jeffrey Goldberg article. Like that and so many other poisoned arrows, the report will probably enrage Netanyahu and his circle, and will also endorse complaints on the part of the PA, but its influence on policy changes is doubtful. Scores of anti-Israeli, pro-Arab reports cannot change the math of the 20th Knesset nor the precarious balance of Israel’s Labor party under Chairman Itzhak Herzog.

As the AP story put it soberly, “The Quartet, which is supposed to guide the two parties to peace, has been largely irrelevant for the past several years. It was created in 2002 at a low point in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship and in the years since has held sporadic meetings. Most have ended with bland statements condemning violence, criticizing settlements and calling for both sides to improve security and the atmosphere for peace talks. … The new report will repeat those calls, but the diplomats said they hoped the new criticism of Israel, in particular, would jolt the parties into action.”

Not in this Knesset, apparently.

JNi.Media

Obama Animus?

Sunday, May 1st, 2016

Supporters of President Obama typically argue that he’s had to act alone in the course of his presidency because the GOP is preternaturally hostile to him. Most often the argument they offer comes down to racism. They think the underlying animus in the Republican rank and file to Obama is discomfort over his race.

There’s certainly little doubt that there has been a sharpening of partisan lines in recent years, but this goes back much further than our current president’s two terms. Yet there is also little doubt that those lines have hardened during the Obama years. Witness the rise of the Tea Party and now the self-devouring anti-establishment rebellion within the GOP base.

Progressives take pleasure in the current GOP internal division, even if they find the rise of Trump horrifying (never mind that it confirms their most fevered anti-Republican imaginings). There’s no doubt that passions are running high and a lot of those on the GOP side are still directed at the current president. The question is why it’s come to this.

The GOP closed ranks soon after Obama’s election (marked by Sen. Mitch McConnell’s famously intemperate remark about making sure Obama would be a one-term president – a remarkably dumb thing to say publicly even if that is always what political parties aim to do when the other side wins an election). But aside from that initial reaction (of one party hunkering down to protect its turf and regain power) and the usual tension between the legislative and executive branches of government, something more has been going on since Obama stepped into the Oval Office. The left cries racism, and because there has been racist sentiment in some quarters hostile to Obama, it’s inordinately easy for them to make that claim. But it’s simplistic and misleading.

Obama won election to the presidency twice and his racial makeup hasn’t changed in that time. The largest segment of the American electorate clearly has no racial animus. And among those who oppose Obama, most do so because they find his policies wrongheaded. But clearly he has inspired an unusual amount of angst among his opposition during his years in office. Why?

Start with his scornful attitude toward his opponents and then factor in his oft-demonstrated willingness to bend the rules (as in the Constitution) to get his way. Presidents in the past have traditionally reached out to the opposition and tried to win converts to their causes, allies on the legislative side of government. This president hasn’t.

When he controlled both houses of Congress, Obama used the overwhelming support it gave him to push through what he wanted without regard to the concerns of the opposition. Then, losing the House as a result of Americans’ disaffection over the Obamacare political steamroller, he focused on using the Senate, still controlled by Democrats, to stymie any legislation he opposed.

Under then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Congress (which requires joint action by both houses for most things) was paralyzed because Reid controlled the Senate calendar and kept bills sent by the House to the Senate from getting a vote while keeping senatorial legislative initiatives under his tight control, preventing amendments to legislation he supported.

He did it to keep bills that might have presented the president with unpleasant political choices from ever reaching his desk, thereby sparing him the uncomfortable optics of vetoing unwanted legislation or feeling forced to sign something he preferred not to (which is why Obama has had such a sparse veto record during his years in office).

Even after control of the Senate fell to the GOP and Reid lost his ability to manage and dominate the Senate agenda, he used the Senate’s filibuster rule to continue to prevent bills the president didn’t want from coming to a vote and thus reaching his desk (e.g., the filibuster engineered by Reid to block the promised vote on the Iran nuclear deal — a deal cut by the president as an executive agreement rather than as a treaty which the scope of that kind of arrangement between the United States and another country would normally have called for).

So it’s not surprising that there is so much anger on the conservative side of the aisle. Obama has used both congressional majorities and minorities to thwart Republicans in Congress while attacking them from the political stump and condescendingly dismissing them in public interview after public interview.

Rather than reach out to the other side to make his case, to win allies over to his side on particular issues, to work with the opposition, the president has high-handedly gone around them, unhesitatingly using his power to issue executive orders to alter, overrule, or simply replace legislation in this country, thereby usurping the constitutionally designated power of Congress. And he has directed his agencies (see the EPA) to do the same while some of them (like the IRS) have at the least given the appearance of coordinating with members of his administration to act outside of the law.

With that kind of record, no one on the left should wonder why this president inspires such anger and angst in his political opponents. Nor should they simply assume it’s all about race.

Stuart W. Mirsky

White House Explains Why Saudi King Didn’t Really Snub Obama

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

The White House denied reports that the fact that Saudi King Salman failed to greet President Barack Obama at the airport, after greeting Gulf State representatives just before Obama landed, meant US-Saudi relations are in a crisis. Administration officials are insisting the president and the king “really cleared the air” in their Wednesday meeting afterwards.

When he arrived, the president was greeted at the airport by the governor of Riyadh, and the event was ignored by Saudi TV. That same day, King Salman bin Abdulaziz and senior officials were seen on state TV greeting the leaders of neighboring Gulf states who were arriving for Thursday’s summit of the Saudi-dominated Gulf Cooperation council, which Obama will address.

Eventually, King Salman did greet Obama in the al-Auja palace, where they posed for a photo-op, where they said, “The American people send their greetings and we are very grateful for your hospitality, not just for this meeting but for hosting the GCC-US summit that’s taking place tomorrow,” and, “I and the Saudi people are very pleased that you, Mr. President, are visiting us.”

In the background of this obvious rude treatment of Obama is the Congressional bill allowing lawsuits against the Saudi government in American courts for the Sept. 11, 2001 crimes against humanity. The Saudis are threatening to sell their US assets if Obama signs that bill into law, making the kingdom liable for multiple billions of dollars in damages from the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Former Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Turki Al-Faisal told CNN his country plans “a recalibration of our relationship with America. How far we can go with our dependence on America, how much can we rely on steadfastness from American leadership, what is it that makes for our joint benefits to come together.”

Out of the 19 hijackers of the 9/11 attacks, 15 were Saudis. The Saudis sponsored the Taliban in Afghanistan (although, to be fair, the CIA started training mostly Saudi extremists to fight the Soviets there). It is highly probable that ISIS, too, receives financial support from elements in Saudi Arabia.

David Israel

FOI Request for Obama to Share Advance Game of Thrones Copies

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

One day after news came out last week that President Obama asked for and would receive early screeners of the Game of Thrones season 6 episodes, journalist Vanessa Golembewski applied through the Freedom of Information Act that the president must “share his advance screeners” with the American people.

At the Game of Thrones premiere event in Hollywood on Sunday, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss confirmed rumors that Barack Obama wanted – and was going to get – episodes of their ultra-secret show ahead of their debut on HBO. “Only Obama Gets Game Of Thrones Screeners, So I Filed An FOIA Request For Them” is the title of Golembewski’s story, filed with Refinery29.com, asking, Why did Obama get these highly coveted assets?

“He’s the leader of the free world,” she quoted Weiss, who added, “When the commander-in-chief says, ‘I want to see advanced episodes,’ what are you gonna do?”

FOI GOT

“This was my first time filing a FOIA request and I wasn’t really prepared to explain myself on a government form. I went for the most direct approach. Under ‘Description,’ I wrote: ‘I would like President Obama to share his advance screeners for Game of Thrones with the public.’ Plus, the FOIA site mentioned that the simpler the request, the faster it would be to process.”

“Perhaps, in one of his final cool-president moves,” Golembewski wrote about Obama, “he will thoroughly recap the first couple episodes of GoT in a vlog or something.”

David Israel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/foi-request-for-obama-to-share-advance-game-of-thrones-information/2016/04/17/

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