Thursday, September 03, 2015
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Reflections on President Obama's August 5 Address at American University

 

August 19, 2015 --

When President Obama gave his "aggressive" (quoting a New York Times August 6 report) defense of the nuclear arms deal with Iran, August 5, he included two comments that, to LPR, were interesting but generally ignored by the media.

The president said that "we will continue to insist upon the release of Americans detained unjustly." Presumably in Iran. LPR wonders, does negotiating the nuclear arms deal with Iran violate U.S. policy to refuse to negotiate with hostage-takes and terrorists? If, somehow, negotiating with Iran while it holds Americans "unjustly" does not contravene U.S. policy, couldn't President Obama have demanded the release of these Americans, instead of merely insisting on their freedom?

President Obama also asserted that he has "done more than any other president to strengthen Israel's security." Really? Is that why he cut off air travel to Israel during the Gaza fighting, last summer? Is this statement backed by polls, let alone facts?

It was reported that President Obama spoke at American University because that was where President John F. Kennedy, in 1963, proposed a treaty with the Soviet Union to ban nuclear arms tests.

For LPR, however, President Kennedy's call for a treaty banning nuclear tests is not comparable to the current deal with Iran. A treaty, after all, requires two-thirds backing of Senators present and voting. The deal with Iran merely calls for the president's approval, backed by a minority -- one-third plus one -- of senators present and voting. A treaty follows the constitution's guidelines. A deal, being whatever the president says it is, takes us away from the Constitution into the vast government wasteland of an imperial presidency.

 

 

 
"A vote that represents free will is never wasted"
-- David Zukerman
 

Red Line

Reflections on New York Times Columns by Nicholas Kristof and Maureen Dowd.

August 19, 2015 --

Nicholas Kristof, August 13, noted that "...Obama (petulantly) suggested that some opponents [of the nuclear arms deal with Iran] were 'alarmist,' 'ignorant,' 'not being straight,' and "making common cause' with Iranians who chant 'Death to America.' Kristof first asserted: "Critics [of the president] are (ludicrously) accusing President Obama of appealing to anti-Semitic tropes."

Well, LPR sees a whiff of anti-Semitism in this comment from Maureen Dowd, in her July 18 Times column: "Republicans were never going for the Iran deal. Their apocalyptic statements were written well in advance and they just had to hit 'Send' followed by a fundraising appeal to Jewish donors." "Jewish donors?" Are Jews the only Americans opposed to the deal? Are there no Jews backing the president. Why didn't Ms. Dowd simply accuse Republicans of using their opposition to the president to make a fundraising appeal to donors, generally -=- without reference to religion?

By the way, the lead New York Times editorial, August 6, "A Compelling Defense of the Iran Deal," airbrushed the president's reference comparing Republicans to Iranians chanting "Death to America." The editorial merely commented that President Obama "likened Republicans to Iranian hard-liners, saying both are more comfortable with the status quo." Here are the President words: "Just because Iranian hardliners chant 'Death to America' does not mean that that is what all Iranians believe. In fact, it's those hardliners who are most comfortable with the status quo. It's those hardliners chanting 'Death to America' who have been most opposed to the deal. They're making common cause with the Republican Caucus."

This Times editorial offered an explanation, of sorts, why the administration accepted this "deal."

The administration backed down in the face of threats from Iran's rulers. The editorial, summarized post-American University remarks by the president: "Though Iran may not attack the United States directly, it could threaten American troops in Iraq with Shiite militias there, threaten Israel with rocket attacks by Hezbollah or send a suicide bomber in a small craft against American navel ships in the Strait of Hormuz," the president said talking with "a small group of journalists" after his American University speech.

(LPR's comment: if Hezbollah fired rockets at Israel, the administration would warn Israel not to respond disproportionately and, above all, not to harm civilians who might be used as "shields" by Hezbollah.)

Addressing the Turkish parliament, April 6, 2009, President Obama declared: "The United States is not, and never will be, at war with Islam." Apparently, Iran takes a rather different view vis-a-vis the United States.

 

Red Line

To Succeed in Politics and in the Media -- Be Smug?

August 19, 2015 --

A history professor sent a letter to The New York Times Book Review (August 16) suggesting that conservatives have "a thinking problem." A letter writer to the Times, reacting to Gerard Alexander's August 9 article, "Jon Stewart, Patron Saint of Liberal Smugness," explained the political "asymmetry" of Stewart's attacks because "there is no evidence" that the "Democratic left" is detached "from reality."

When the president and members of his administration like Treasury Secretary Jack Lew assert that opponents of the Iran deal have not offered an alternative, LPR hears them arguing that the critics haven't offered an alternative acceptable to the administration, as well as to Tehran's rulers.

LPR's concern is that the Republican establishment agrees that conservatives have a thinking problem, are detached from reality and, therefore, any alternatives they propose are without merit, ab initio.

 

 

Red Line

August 19, 1955

August 19, 2015 --

At Camp Wabigoon, that Friday morning, 60 years ago, the sun was out, again, and we campers were amazed to hear radio news broadcasts mentioning that Winsted, Connecticut, a city of 8,000, had been hard hit by a flood caused by Hurricane Diane.

Our camp, on a hill above Winsted, suffered no flood damage; the only effect was that the camp lake -- Rowley's Pond -- now extended onto the softball field.

The radio reports told us that Winsted had been devastated by Hurricane Diane, which followed Hurricane Carol, the week before. It had started raining just as our Color War (three days of athletic and other events with the camp divided into two teams) concluded, the night of August 17. It rained all day August 18 and into the night of August 18-19.

We walked down Spencer Hill Road to Winsted, Sunday, August 21, and saw Main Street turned into a ravine of rubble, with buildings on the Mad River side of Main Street gone, or turned around, or cut in two. A marker on the Winsted green, erected at the intersection of Main Street (Route 44) and Park Place (Route 8), on the first anniversary of the flood, is dedicated to the memory of Josephine D. Cornelio, 49; John M. Gould, 28; Maney Leshay, 67; Mary C. Machrone, 46; Sinclair L. Meggison, 52; William A. Samele, 56; and Concettena Zappula, 58 "all of whom perished in the devastating flood of this city August 19, 1955." Mr. Leshay, proprietor of the United Cigar Store, at the corner of Main and Elm was known to the Wabigoon/Wahanda community.

Sixty years later and this witness to the devastation still recalls the remains of a building on the Mad River side of Main Street, across from St. Joseph's Church, cut in two, the pinks and blues of the interior rooms now in the open, as if the structure were a doll's house.

There was no FEMA in 1955. I guess it was the Army Engineers who quickly set up temporary "Bailey" bridges in place of the spans in the area washed away by floodwaters.

Camp ended one week later, August 26, on schedule and those Bailey bridges made it possible for our buses to take us back to New York City and the metropolitan area for the next school year, during the first presidential term of Dwight D. Eisenhower, when gas cost about 25 cents a gallon.

 

 
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August 19, 2015 --

A Bizarre Comment in "The Forward," August 12:

Jews in Iran are "basically well-protected second-class citizens."

"Mockingbird"

LPR is curious why the recent attention given Harper Lee, the author of "To Kill a Mockingbird" -- and, now, "Go Set a Watchman" --hasn't much noted "Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee," by Charles J. Shields. LPR definitely recommends this "portrait," which, among other things, prompted the thought that the character in "To Kill a Mockingbird" Ms. Lee has come closest to resemble is...Arthur (Boo) Radley. The Shields book includes interesting information on Lee's assistance to Truman Capote, gathering material for "In Cold Blood," and on the filming of the movie version of "To Kill a Mockingbird," which starred Gregory Peck who won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Atticus Finch, the lawyer/single parent in "To Kill a Mockingbird."

 

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In Memory Of …

Shana Zukerman
1989 - 2006