Read this and Weep….

Opinion | Trump’s Dream Come True: Trashing Obama and Iran in One Move
8-10 minutes
Thomas L. Friedman
May 15, 2018
President Barack Obama invited President-elect Trump to the White House after the 2016 election. Since taking office, President Trump has counted as successes his undoing of Obama-era initiatives.CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times

My wife is building a language museum in Washington (I’m its vice chairman), so people often send her funny examples of word play, including a list of mixed-up idioms from oxforddictionaries.com. Among my favorites: “Don’t judge a book before it’s hatched.” “Every cloud has a silver spoon in its mouth.” “It’s not rocket surgery.” “You can’t teach a leopard new spots.” And one that perfectly describes President Trump’s approach to every one of Barack Obama’s policies, including his nuclear deal with Iran: “We’ll burn that bridge when we come to it.”

And that’s my subject for today. Trump, by taking a hard line on Iran, drew some needed attention to Iran’s bad behavior and created an opportunity to improve the nuclear deal. But to do so would have required Trump to admit that there was merit in the deal Obama had forged and to be content with limited, but valuable, fixes that our European allies likely would have embraced.

Instead, Trump pushed for the max, torched the whole bridge, separating us from Germany, France and Britain, undermining the forces of moderation in Iran and requiring Trump to now manage — on his own — a complex, multidimensional confrontation with Tehran.

Color me dubious that a president who has not been able to manage his confrontation with a stripper, or prevent leaks in his White House, can manage a multifront strategy for confronting Iran and North Korea and trade wars with China, Europe and Mexico.

Obama’s view of the Middle East was that it was an outlier region, where a toxic brew of religious extremism, tribalism, oil, corruption, climate change and mis-governance made positive change from outside impossible; it had to come from within. By the end of his eight years, Obama was skeptical of all the leaders in the Middle East — Iranian, Arab and Israeli — and of their intentions.

It made Obama a policy minimalist on the Middle East: keep it simple and focus on the biggest threat. That meant joining with Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China to keep the most dangerous weapons — nuclear weapons — away from the most dangerous bad actor there — Iran. By lifting sanctions on Iran as part of the deal, Obama hoped Iran would become integrated into the world and moderate the regime.

The latter did not happen, but the former did. Iran agreed to tight restrictions on its enrichment of nuclear weapons-grade materials for 15 years in return for an easing of sanctions. Two years in, Iran has abided by the restrictions, says the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“It was a transactional deal that kept Iran’s latent nuclear capabilities latent — not a grand bargain, not a transformational breakthrough encompassing all of Iran’s objectionable behavior,” said Robert Litwak, an expert on the Iran negotiations at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The deal never covered Iran’s regional aggression or its ballistic missile program.

By contrast, Trump’s team is made up of maximalists. They want to limit Iran’s ballistic missile program, reverse its imperialistic reach into the Sunni Arab world, require Iran to accept terms that would ensure it could never ever enrich enough uranium for a nuclear bomb, and, if possible, induce regime change in Tehran.

But Trump has left many key questions unanswered: Who is going to take over in Tehran if the current Islamic regime collapses? One thing we have learned from the Arab Spring uprisings that toppled their leaders is that in almost every country the alternative to autocracy turned out not to be democracy, but disorder or military dictatorship. If Iran, a country of 80 million people, was to go the way of Syria, it would destabilize the entire Middle East, and refugees would pour into Europe.

It is true that Iran has projected its power deep into the Arab world. But that was not because of money it got from the nuclear deal and sanctions relief, as argued by Trump & friends. It was because of the weakness of the Sunni Arab states and their internecine fighting, which created power vacuums that Iran has filled with its network of Shiite proxies. That’s how Iran today has managed to indirectly control four Arab capitals: Beirut, Baghdad, Damascus and Sana.

Is Trump going to use U.S. forces to push Iran back? No. Does he have Arab forces to do so? No. And now, does he have European allies to do so? No. So how exactly is this Iranian tide going to be reversed?

To his credit, Trump has drawn attention to Iranian misbehavior in ways the Europeans never have. Israel gets censured for implanting settlements deep into the West Bank. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates get censured for contributing to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. But the Iranians have gotten away with murder, mass murder, at home and abroad — with virtually no censure.

Iran’s clerical regime has stifled one of the great civilizations, preventing so many of Iran’s youth from realizing their full potential, and mercilessly jailing and killing the regime’s opponents. In Syria, Iran’s special forces and its mercenary recruits — Hezbollah militiamen from Lebanon and Shiite hired guns from Central Asia — have helped President Bashar al-Assad perpetrate a ruthless genocide against Syrian Sunnis, including the use of poison gas, in order to maintain a pro-Shiite, pro-Iranian dictatorship in Damascus. Millions of Syrians have been made refugees with Iran’s help.

A column last month in the Lebanese daily Al-Nahar, titled “Hizbullah Resettling in Syria,” by Ahmad ’Ayyash detailed exactly how Iran, with the help of Hezbollah, has engaged in ethnic cleansing in Syria: “The aim … is changing the demography” of Syria by settling Iranian-backed Shiite militiamen “from Afghanistan, Lebanon and other countries in the region … to fill the demographic vacuum” left by the hundreds of thousands of Syrians who have fled their civil war.

Good for Trump for calling Iran out, but he still needs a strategy to translate his pressure on the country into sustainable gains. “Strategy without leverage is feckless,” noted the Carnegie Endowment’s Karim Sadjadpour. “And leverage without strategy is reckless.”

Trump should have kept it simple, too. Rather than scrapping the deal, he should have told the Europeans that all he wanted to stay in the deal were three fixes: 1. Extend the ban on Iran’s enriching of uranium to weapons grade from the original 15 years Obama negotiated to 25 years. 2. Europe and the U.S. agree to impose sanctions if Iran ever attempts to build a missile with a range that could hit Europe or America. 3. The U.S. and Europe use diplomacy to spotlight and censure Iran’s “occupations” of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

Europeans likely would have jumped at that deal. It would have maintained a united Western coalition to contain Iran’s most important threat and it would have created a huge fight inside Iran between moderates, who would have been tempted to accept the revised deal to avoid a re-imposition of sanctions and to get Trump off their back, and hard-liners, who would have rejected it. All the onus would have been on Tehran, not Trump.

What a shame. Just improving on what Obama started would have greatly advanced U.S. interests — a 25-year assurance, with intrusive inspections, that Iran could not suddenly build a bomb. And it would have left us arm in arm with our closest allies, rather than us now threatening to sanction their companies if they trade with Iran.

But Trump wanted to crush both Obama and Iran, and so he trashed the whole deal. Well, as the oxforddictionaries.com blog on mixed idioms would tell him: Donald, “You’ve opened your can of worms, now lie in it.”

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.

Quiz for Trump voters who own a family business.

Let us say that you own and run a highly successful (and dearly valuable to you) business. Your children, and even grandchildren are taking some interest in it too.

1. Would you be comfortable being bought out (giving up ownership and control) largely in return for an uncollateralized note? And in particular, an uncollateralized note from the purchaser, Donald Trump, or any business where he has full control? Check the box:

1.
A, YES:_____
B, NO:______

2. Would you be comfortable giving up virtual total control of your company for a 4 year period to Donald Trump, or any business where he has full control? Check the Box:

2.
A, Yes:________
B, No: ________

2. Can you please email us your vote, simply cut and paste to your email with your answers.
Can you also pass this survey to any Trump voters you know. We will report out the results of this survey. Our email is billkaufman1000@gmail.com

What else is really new here? This is profoundly sad.

May 1, 2018

Of course the original letter from Dr. Bornstein, was a farce! Like everything else about BOS Trump.

One of the Trump “storm troopers” actually broke into Trump’s dostors’ office and took Trump’s medical records! If you recall, Trump did not allow the release of his medical records (like his tax returns), as presidential candidates typically do. Instead, we got a bizarre letter from his doctor (Bornstein) where the doctor stated “unequivocally”, that Donald Trump “will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency”. Now we learn that this statement was actually dictated by Trump. This whole sad episode is worth a read.

But it is not funny. Clearly Trump lied, and “covered up” these most important credentials, that is credentials that would have revealed his physical and/or his mental fitness to be president. Would you want to hire anyone, once it was revealed that they lied and covered up critical facts about themselves that would impact their ability to perform the tasks that were required?

It is time to fight back! Can you help? A simple effective protest

6/11/18

What could be simpler. Simply watch fox network shows from time to time and note the advertisers. Don’t buy their products or services and tell everyone you know about your action. For example, I used Expedia to book hotel and plane reservation, no longer now. There are plenty of other choices.

Consider this, why would an advertiser pay money to advertise on a show when the ad itself will delete customers? Radio and tv advertising is expensive and only moderately successful anyway. If it served to actually repel more customers than it attracted, an advertisers’ response would come very quickly indeed. The Fox show followers, prospective targets of an advertisement, are only some fraction of an advertisers’ current customer base. If all others who object to where Trump and his cohorts are taking our country, and who coincidentally are in the advertisers customers base, and the advertiser risked losing any/all of that group, things will change very quickly.

Follow the dollars and you will be amazed how quickly things can change.

3/29/18

Our friends tell us that we are preaching to the choir. And we can’t help agreeing with them SO LET’S FIGHT BACK! How? We always say follow the money. It seems that various Fox talk shows love Trump and have given him and his enablers a generous pass for behavior and policies that would have led any other president to be impeached by now. It’s past time!

So we started a list of advertisers, first, on Fox’s Lou Dobbs show. We intend to avoid doing business with all of them. But before that we will send them each a note.

Our first note sounded like this: “We are customers of yours, but now question our relationship, as you advertise on various Fox programs that promulgate, excuse, distort and rationalize Trump’s errant and damaging policies. We need to defend ourselves, our children and grandchildren from the damage this administration is doing to the country that we love. We have decided to no longer do business with entities that advertise on these poisonous shows. We did love your company, but feel this is the best way to have some impact, small though it may be”.

And here is the list so far. If you can help, email us additions as they occur. And please let us know about any responses to your email. Email us at: billkaufman100@outlook.com

Expedia, Phillips Colon Health, PCMatic.com, PC Medic, Judicial Watch, Men’s Warehouse, Claritin D, Capital One Bank, Joseph A Bank, Nissan, Nissan, Alpha Romeo, TIAA, Quicken Loans, One A Day vitamins, Uline.

We are sure that the various Fox programs, such as Hanity, have another list of regular advertisers. We need some volunteers to monitor these shows too. It is past time to boycott all of them. Please help by adding to the list, which you can send us as you discover them, and we will add it to our published list. Maybe you can send a copy of our script above, or one other of your liking to these companies to help support the cause. Thank you, and the generations to come will thank you too.

Russian Roulette and the Stormy Daniels Saga

Mar 26, 2018

The most troubling detail for all of us about this ….. we will get to that shortly…

The payoff of Stormy by Trumps’ attorney to cover up for Trump, was likely an election law violation. Further, it is hard not to see Trump colluding with his attorney on the payoff. Lawyers are unlikely to layout that kind of money absent getting reimbursement from somewhere. But will the sycophants and Trump supporters really care about that? That is “ordinary” business for Trump. So what?

No, the really shocking thing that should keep all Americans (and his sycophants) awake at night is a thousand times worse.

It is Trump’s willingness to take such a risk with a porn star (according to the person who would know, Stormy herself). In an age of AIDS, Trump didn’t even take the precaution of wearing a condom!

Betting that Stormy (or he himself) didn’t have AIDS is one unnecessary and stupid enough bet, either putting himself or her (and Melania too) at great risk. But isn’t that the kind of bets he is making for all of us?

America is now tied to him and his awful judgement while he leads us on a path with a palpable risk of destruction.

P.S. Now Trump and enablers are saying that Stormy’s claims are not “accurate”
I guess that means they are just mostly true, if not precisely true, right?
(Webster definition of “accurate”: exactly true, precise in all details.)

Sent from my iPad

Nikolas Cruz, mass shootings, and anti-depressants.

Feb. 17: It’s not just the ease of getting killing machine weapons, but the mental conditions that lend a tendency to wish to use them, specifically depression treated by SSRI drugs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), like Prozac et al. To be successful, drugs like these can make many who take them feel powerful, emboldened, angry, impatient, in many ways, the opposite of depressed. So in some adverse reactions, there is suicide (which is rage against oneself) and violence against others, who may have been perceived as the causes of one’s own depression, which then turns into anger, rage, and revenge.

The gun industry and the pharmaceutical industry are big money makers and big political contributors. So expect not much intent to get to the bottom of this societal scourge. As usual, follow the money.

Impeachment? Trump, a step ahead of the coming protests?

    We 12/29/17

    What if Mueller’s investigation fails to lead to Trumps’ impeachment? Or if the investigation is somehow ended by firing Mueller?

    Many more public demonstrations are extremely likely in either case. Hopefully they will be peaceful, but surely they will be disruptive. Thousands of people in the street, by their mere presence, will inadvertently be blocking traffic and workplace entrances. How will the Trump administration respond?

    We believe that the administration is preparing for just such an eventuality. One example is the expansion of the private prison system.

    Another by the appointment of crony supportive judges.

    Let’s be honest with each other. This is the president who equivocated ligitimate protestors with Neo-Nazis, when referring to an incident where an innocent woman was run down and killed and 19 others injured by a neo-nazi during a lawful protest. Trump said that there “was blame on both sides.” Joe Biden recently remarked, this was the telling moment for him. Surely many others too. This Trump comment will go down in history as one of the greatest presidential blunders of all time. But we should be glad he couldn’t keep it to himself, as it truly revealed Trump for what he was.

    This is what we are dealing with now. There are not enough prisons presently to house or threaten all the potential protestors, and the presidents’ collaborators, like Jeff Sessions, know this, and thus they may be preparing. This needs to be tracked carefully.

New Tax Law: It’s like stealing from anothers’ future to enrich oneself

12/19/17: The tax bill passed, now what? The republicans are set to celebrate a longed for victory. But how should we measure success? do we just check it off a list today, or do we wait to measure what today’s action causes? The bulk of economists that we have been following warn that the tax cuts, mainly focused on large corporations and the well to do, will lead to massive deficits.

The Republicans argue that the tax cuts will pay for themselves by creating more jobs and higher wages, while leading to higher tax collections. And they may be right. But what if they aren’t? What if the economists are right? Can we safely assume that no one knows for sure that these tax cuts will be successful at stimulating the economy, creating more jobs, and if the “trickle down” effect will create more wealth for everyone. What makes the administration appointees smarter than the mainstream of professional economists?

 

Using some logic, in a case like this, no one knowing for sure what the future holds, maybe being a 50/50 coin toss. logicians would correctly argue to weigh the outcomes if the economists are right and the Republicans are wrong and vice versa, since no one has sufficient certainty of outcomes.

So knowing what we do know already, that the tax bill largely rewards the wealthiest folks, gives a pittance to the middle class, and actually takes away from those most in need (the Republicans are already talking about cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security), (The cuts mentioned will be the bow to the hardline deficit hawks, without which the bill would not have passed). and absent the hoped for stimulus, will create unfathomable deficits. (A recent well researched article in the Atlantic reports that, in 2018, “the 670,000 households earning more than $1,000,000 a year will collectively benefit more from this bill than the 113,000,000 families earning less than $75,000”).

So let’s give the Republicans plenty of  room. Say there is only a 25% (and not 50%) chance that the tax cuts fail to create the offsetting stimulus, dramatically ballooning the deficit. Surely rational folks would agree that there is at least some risk that the stimulus  calculous is wrong, and if so, we all need to look at the outcome of a miscalculation. In short, let’s say the Republicans are wrong.

The government will either have to borrow money, much more money, or print money, to pay for all the things that Trump and the Republicans want to do (that is, build the wall, reinforce the military, rebuild the infrastructure, etc.) . Let alone the things we are already doing. All while insisting that  their wealthy constituents pay less for them.

Well Trump has a bad history of defaulting on debt, even using the bankruptcy code to bail himself out. So if they miscalculate, the harm to our lenders will be enormous. Interest rates, even short of an actual default, will surely perk up, while bond buyers wait for better rates before committing more funds, like a tide going out. At the very least, the interest on our ballooning deficit will overwhelm our economy. Its pretty close to doing that already.

This means that the government will have no choice but to accelerate inflating our currency, that is, simply running the printing presses 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no end. It’s easy to print money. And what’s scary about that is that inflation tends to benefit real estate, Trumps’ primary holding, making his mortgages easier to pay off, while increasing rent, hotel rates, and commercial property values. Trump surely knew this, if little else. And if he didn’t, it probably was explained to him by one of his collaborators.

We know a bit from studying history what inflation and hyper-inflation was like. Not fun at all if retirees have to use a month of savings to buy a day’s worth of groceries.. Ditto for all folks on a fixed income.  Even if the risk is only 25%, is it worth taking? The problem is that this is a win/win risk for Trump.

The frustrating thing is that all the rest of us are thrust into taking that risk by a minority party that does not have the interest of most of its’ citizens in mind. It is a  group that generally would actually either benefit from hyper-inflation or not be harmed by it.

And what if the Republicans are right? That the  tax bill will dramatically stimulate the economy producing new jobs. Wait, aren’t we about at full employment already?

How much real benefit will be created? Well we already know that many of our citizens will be hurt by this tax bill.. Maybe the tax bill is going to be like “good medicine”, but maybe too, there is that 25% chance that it will kill us. Most people are not that sick to want to take that chance.