In The Headlights

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EDITOR RILEY

Riley composes the Silly Sentinel editorials from the perspective of a dog who finds human behavior more than a little nonsensical. Being completely dependent on the support of others, he should advocate more of an accommodating view, but he doesn’t. His focus is on the silly things members of his benefactor species do and the farcical explanations they conjure to justify their actions. He will never run short of material.

Riley

The Weak That Was

Dateline: Punyville, April 5, 2015 On Thursday, the parties negotiating in Switzerland announced the framework of a deal to lift sanctions and slow roll nuclear development.

 

Congress and several of our Middle East allies have been very vocal in their criticisms of the negotiations with Iran, fearing that the U.S.-led delegation will give away the store.

 

So, Obama’s bragging about the announcement was understandable. The only problem, besides the framework being basically an agreement to agree, is that no one can agree on what it says.

 

Rather than signing a joint summary of the broad-stroke terms, the parties issued their own versions. They vary in more than the language they are written in.

 

The English version claims a gradual reduction in sanctions, which will continue only as long as Iran behaves itself. It also assures that Iran will only have a limited nuclear research capability. The importance of the limitation is to lengthen the time it will take the Iranians to build a bomb whenever they get around to it.

 

For those who read Farsi, the sanctions will be lifted immediately and permanently. Nuclear research, including at the hardened underground Fordo facility, will be unrestrained. The facility was constructed in violation of the Nonproliferation Treaty and only discovered in 2009.

 

The excuse the Obama administration gave for not issuing a joint summary of the terms was that it would take too long to negotiate. I guess. As soon as the Americans published their summary, the Iranian delegation leader tweeted that it was spin baloney.

 

Everyone does agree that the framework does not affirm Israel’s right to exist. The State Department rejected the idea saying that the agreement was only about the nuclear issue. That’s exactly Netanyahu’s point.

 

While the parties continue to spar publicly over the framework, several issues at home remain unresolved as well. The dispute over whether an agreement will be a treaty, which requires Senate approval, is a big bone of contention. So is the question of whether the President can end Congressional sanctions without Congressional consent.

 

The answers are unknown at this point. What is known today in Farsi, English and all the other languages on the planet is that the clowns have taken over the circus.

 

Pass the Cracker Jacks.

 

 

Riley

The Weak That Was

Dateline: Punyville, March 29, 2015 Last Tuesday, President Obama uttered words about the Middle East so weak, as in exceptionally lame, that critics figured he’d hit rock bottom. Undaunted, he’s gone down hill since then dragging the rest of us with him.

 

It’s really tiresome to showcase Obama’s Middle East goofs week after week. But, they just keep coming, with increasingly serious consequences following on their heels.

 

On Tuesday, Obama continued his unrelenting criticism of the newly re-elected Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Obama took him to task for promises made on the campaign trail, which Netanyahu later walked back. As if the President hasn’t done more than his share of walking backwards.

 

Anyway, the worst part of the tongue-lashing was Obama’s benediction promise to “evaluate what other options are available to make sure that we don’t see a chaotic situation in the region.”

 

Someone should take the President out of his cellophane box and let him watch a lot more TV so he can see what’s going on. The worst chaos in a generation is raining from Yemen to Iraq through Syria. And everyone but Obama and, possibly, John Kerry, knows it.

 

Obama’s befuddling response to the Arab Spring has thrust us onto the precipice of the Nuclear Winter of our Discontent. As James Jeffrey, Obama’s former Ambassador to Iraq, put it last week, “We’re in a goddamn free fall here.”

 

We are now at the point of fighting along side Iran in Iraq and against the Iranians in Yemen. Our head-spinning side switching has former allies, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and others, suspecting a growing American allegiance to the biggest threat to stability in the region.

 

Meanwhile, Kerry and Obama are hand wringing in desperation over the fact that a deal to eventually allow Iran nuclear weapons will fail. Kerry stiffened against critics last week claiming, in effect, that a very, very bad deal is better than no deal at all.

 

We can’t wait to see what this week brings.

 

 

Riley

The Weak That Was

Dateline: Punyville, March 22, 2015 – As usual, several occurrences last week competed for the title, The Biggest Weak That Was. One was so outstanding none of the others even deserve mention.

 

The current nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and Iran actually include a few more countries seated on our side of the table. They are the U.K., Germany, Russia, China and France.

 

Plenty of voices in the U.S. have blasted Obama and John Kerry for being too eager and much too weak in their dealing with Iran. But, nothing screams “bad deal” quite as convincingly as the French who have been highly critical of our negotiating team for the past two years.

 

Last week the French took Kerry to task publically for claiming a deal was close and that the March 31 deadline had to be met. Calling the time limit artificial, counterproductive and dangerous, France stated that our side should simply wait Teheran out to get the deal we need.

 

The French have taken a hard line stand on a gradual, rather than immediate, ending of U.N. sanctions against Iran. They also want tougher constraints on Iran’s nuclear research endeavors. Their statements last week dramatically underscored how weak the Obama Administration is in seeking a deal with Iran’s Supreme Leader who on Saturday called for death to America.

 

Why is the French criticism so telling? Until now, France has had a cowardly reputation of surrender in the face of threat. Flight is better than fight. Look the other way to live another day. Things like that. When they are the only ones in the room with a backbone, something is very, very wrong.

 

Our Secretary of State supposedly met with French representatives over the weekend to try to bridge the negotiating gulf that separates our two countries. But, it’s highly doubtful that John You’ve-Got-A-Friend Kerry can convince them of anything.

 

Back in November 2013, the French prime minister characterized American efforts to get an interim deal signed with Iran as “a fool’s game”. Unfortunately, the fools are still out there.

 

We can’t wait to see what this week brings.

 

 

Riley

The Weak That Was

 

Dateline: Punyville, March 1, 2015 – There were several revelations and actions in the past seven days competing for the title, the biggest weak that was. Two of them tied for the title with a third coming in second.

 

One of the first place prizes goes to the House of Representatives for needing to pass the seven–day DHS funding extension.

 

This was, possibly, the biggest instance of failed Republican leadership in the current century.

 

The dust up is over Obama’s executive action on immigration, which a federal judge blocked, at least temporarily, on February 17. The administration is appealing the judge’s order.

 

Refusing to leave the separation of powers determination to the courts where it belongs, Republicans vowed to undo it themselves through Congressional action.

 

But even with several months to figure out their strategy, the GOP’ers were easily out-foxed by much craftier Dems. Made to look like they were undermining the Country’s security, the Republicans took a seven-day time-out to regroup.

 

Maybe it’s better if these clowns take a permanent time-out.

 

Tied for first place is Jeh Johnson’s explanation for Obama’s refusal to use the term “radical Islam”. According to the Secretary of Homeland Security, the President is bowing to Muslim pressure.

 

Denying a deadly truth because it offends the sensibilities of others is the height – and depth – of dishonesty and much worse. It’s Orwell’s 1984, Stalin’s Russia and China at any time. It’s also the Obama administration in our time.

 

In second place all by itself is John Kerry’s claim in a Congressional hearing that “Americans have never been safer in their daily lives”. By ‘safer’, he means the risk of violent death is less.

 

Yet, just the next day, James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, made a very different assessment. According to Clapper, 2014 was the deadliest year ever recorded for terrorism and threats to our safety have never been greater.

 

Kerry also thought that using a singing James Taylor (“You’ve Got A Friend”) as a substitute for an appearance at the Paris unity rally was o.k. His reality is very different than ours.

 

I wonder what planet he’ll be on this week.

 

 

Riley

The Weak That Was

 
 Dateline: Punyville, February 22, 2015
 
 
The word weak can mean a variety of things, a fair amount of them bad. Stuff like feeble, lame, spineless, muted, diluted and half-hearted.
 

 

Lame and spineless are personal favorites because examples come in so many different flavors. Today, we focus on just three that happened in the week ending yesterday.

 

First is the President’s Terror Summit. To begin with, the name is lame. It elevates terrorism to a new high. Then there was the content of the speeches, and a huge number of speeches there were. They focused mainly on the sociology of terrorism.

 

Poverty and the lack of education and opportunity grow little terrorists like weeds. Solving social issues in far away countries is how terrorism will be defeated.

 

So we need to set up a whole bunch of career expos – a different kind of boots on the ground.

 

Of course, the grown up terrorists who’ve already made their career decisions will not be fans of the expos. But, they probably will like the fresh supply of defenseless bodies running them. If only someone would think ahead because it’s difficult to think without one.

 

The Summit’s conclusions on terrorism were panned in opinion pieces from a very wide variety of sources – such as the World Social Web Site (“barely coherent banalities”), CNN (“nonsense”) and Fox News (“meandering, unfocused and” – our favorite – “weak”).

 

Their opinions of what causes terrorism were just as diverse. They range from U.S. wars of aggression (WSWS), to perverted religious ideology (CNN) to someone really cares? (Fox).

 

Their solutions vary widely as well – end wars of aggression, provide religious education from Islamic leaders and scholars and kill, kill, kill. You can figure out which solution came from which source.

 

At the end of the day, the White House prefers to lecture people to death. No wonder they say it will take years to defeat ISIS. It may actually take forever because nobody’s actually listening.

 

Second is the video ISIS released on February 15. It purports to depict the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians along a Mediterranean shoreline in Libya. In retaliation, Egypt bombed the most likely Libyan site.

 

Yesterday, we learned that the slaughter probably occurred in a sound studio, location unknown, with the background added into the video. Film editing is a great way to get friends to bomb friends.

 

Third is the guy who showed up at a justice of the peace office ahead of his betrothed. When pressed, the groom-to-be could not remember his soon-to-be bride’s name. Smelling something fishy, the official called immigration.

 

Yes, it was a sham marriage so the groom could stay in the country rather than be deported on his about-to-expire visa. Gee, let’s see. If you’re going to pull a scam, it’s best to be able to identify all the moving parts or you just might stall out – right into the slammer.

 

We can’t wait to see what this week brings.

 

 

Riley

Still A JV Team After All These Months

DATELINE: Amateurville, February 10 – The Obama Administration’s response to the ISIS threat should be a tired subject by now. And it would be except for the deepening tragedy of it all. We learned this week that, despite the denials, Obama has never given up on his assessment of the murdering horde as a JV team.

 

Back in January 2014, the President gave ISIS the junior varsity label to underscore the minimal nature of the threat. Unlike bin Laden, who executed attacks on the U.S. homeland, the boys in the hoods were all about local power struggles and sectarian disputes. By September, Obama was forced to publically walk back his assessment after the Foley beheading and the brickbats of criticism.

 

But, a short four days ago, Susan Rice, our fleckless National Security Advisor, was back on the it’s-a-local-problem bandwagon. Specifically, she denied that ISIS is an existential threat to the United States. She probably meant a threat to our survival rather a reference to the philosophy of the whats and wherefores of human existence. But, after the White House remarks on the death of Kayla Mueller, that’s not a sure bet. Assuming she did mean our survival, denying an existential threat is just another way of diminishing the ISIS reach.

 

On Monday, the Vox media website posted an interview of President Obama conducted a few weeks ago. It’s been hammered as a yawning waste of time. But, there are a couple of interesting tidbits that Obama decided to share.

 

One of them is his view that the ISIS threat is significantly exaggerated by the media in its never-ending battle for ratings. According to the President, local news is all about crime and fires while International news is all about terrorism, dysfunction, chaos and plane crashes. If it bleeds, it leads. In other words, what plays on the nightly news isn’t newsworthy.

 

At least the President and Susan Rice are reading the same playbook. But, then, they’re pretty JV themselves.

 

In an oddly personal blog, the White House today announced the death of 26 year-old, Kayla Mueller. Ms. Mueller was an aid worker in Syria who was taken captive by ISIS five months before Obama airballed the JV team label. ISIS claimed she was killed in a Jordanian airstrike carried out last week in reprisal for the immolation of its pilot. There’s no way to confirm that claim or even determine when Ms. Mueller died. In its benediction, the White House blog stated,

 

“On this day, we take comfort in the fact that the future belongs not to those who destroy, but rather to the irrepressible force of human goodness that Kayla Mueller shall forever represent.”

 

Unfortunately, her considerable force for good was repressed with extreme prejudice. Uplifting thoughts and individual good works, no matter how outstanding, aren’t much of a roadblock to heavily armed, determined evil. The future belongs to those who seize, not cede, it.

 

 

Riley

What Is Obama Talking About?

DATELINE: What?ville, February 4, 2015 – When the news broke yesterday of the immolation of the Jordanian pilot, President Obama was attending yet another Obamacare dog and pony show at the White House. He was surrounded by his pity props, all ten of them, who had written letters praising the healthcare law’s impact on their lives.

 

At the conclusion of the show, Obama was asked about the latest ISIS atrocity. This was his opportunity to shine with a from-the-heart, unscripted response. This is what he said:

 

“It’s just one more indication of the viciousness and barbarity of this organization. And I think we’ll redouble the vigilance and determination on the part of a global coalition to make sure that they are degraded and ultimately defeated. And it also just indicates the degree to which whatever ideological they are operating off of it’s [sic] bankrupt.

 

We’re here to talk about how to make people healthier and make their lives better. And this organization appears only interested in death and destruction.”

 

The guy’s a major goofball. His delivery was pathetic. He was seated at a table, slightly hunched, speaking in fits and starts, almost inaudibly at times. His was not the commanding presence of a strong, confident leader. The words were uttered in a tired monotone. He offered not the tiniest bit of indignation at the monstrous execution or sympathy for its victim.

 

The President referred to ISIS merely as an “organization”, as if it were the Kiwanis Club. He called their nameless ideology “bankrupt”. That assessment oughta really put those bloody Islamic extremists in their place.

 

Obama did remember to repeat his catch phrase, “degrade and ultimately defeat”, like a robot. The slogan, repeated ad nauseam, was first heard the day after he admitted last summer that he had no strategy for defeating ISIS. Nifty buzzwords are great substitutes when master plans are scarce.

 

Most inexplicably, Obama lampooned ISIS by comparing it unfavorably to sitting around talking about his Grubered healthcare law. There’s nothing like an Obamacare love fest to make ISIS really look bad.

 

Is this a joke, or what?

 

 

Riley

Groundhog Day In U.S. Politics

DATELINE: Boringville, January 13 – Through one source or another, we all know about Groundhog Day. If you haven’t been introduced to Punxsutawney Phil, you’ve seen the 1993 Bill Murray movie. They’re both about repeating the same experience ad nauseam. In Phil’s case, it’s the dreary winter day repetition. With the movie, it is reliving the same 24 hours seemingly forever.

 

Like these repetitious experiences, the same day in U.S. politics is happening over and over again. The day that was is also the day that is and the day that will be again. The same political battle lines are drawn, the same taunting rhetoric is uttered and the same lack of progress is reported nightly on the news.

 

Every day it’s Obama versus the Republicans, executive orders versus legislation, vetoes versus bill signings, platitudes versus practicalities. The issues remain the same: global climate change, income redistribution, immigration reform and, what people are actually interested in, terrorism. Lovers of the old saying, no news is good news, never lived through the same old interminable day.

 

The American government is designed to operate on compromise in order to avoid the dangers of extremes. It has a two-party system, a bicameral legislature that must function internally – both within each chamber and between them – and a President that must work with the legislature. If there is no willingness to compromise, the business of the Country stops.

 

We’ve seen so little compromise since 2009 that we’ve forgotten what it looks like.

 

Will the political Groundhog Day end? Will issues be resolved, accomplishments achieved, and new challenges addressed? In the movie, Murray’s character was stuck in the same 24 hours because he was a narcissistic jerk stuck in the same self-centered rut. He finally moved on to a new day but only after he matured into an outwardly directed human being.

 

Like the Groundhog Day protagonist, President Obama is stuck in a self-centered rut. His rigid insistence on strict adherence to an extreme agenda guarantees that the same political day recurs incessantly. Oh sure, Congressional Republicans are plenty flawed themselves. But, they recognize the necessity of working with Dems and are doing it today.

 

Until that light dawns on the President as well, this day will never end.

 

 

Riley

Pelosi: Out With The Old

DATELINE: OldPeopleLieTooville, November 15 – Nancy Pelosi has had a very tough couple of days. First came the Jonathan Gruber revelation that Obamacare was sold to the American voters on a combination of politicians’ lies and gross voter stupidity. Then came the post-election suggestion from members of the media that Democrats might be better off with a change in House leadership. Pelosi responded to both in her own fashion of stilted gestures and garbled messages.

 

Shifting through the debris of her presentation style, the elder stateswoman appears to have plunged to new depths of deceit and pettiness. Regarding Jonathan Gruber, all sources but the former Speaker acknowledge that he was a prominent Obamacare architect.

 

The MIT economist visited the White House at least 8 times during the drafting period. He was paid over one million dollars for his efforts. His expertise in also architecting RomneyCare was used by Democrats in the 2012 presidential election to discredit the Republican candidate.

 

Pelosi herself acknowledged Gruber’s Obamacare involvement in a 2009 speech and in various press releases at the time. Yet, on Thursday, she stated, “I don’t know who he is. He didn’t help write our bill.”

 

Pelosi’s denial of Gruber came after videos were aired of three occasions when the economist made disparaging remarks about voters, politicians and the adoption process. He referred to the American voter as stupid, the premiums as disguised taxes and the process as deliberately vague. According to Gruber, but for the deception and voter stupidity, Obamacare would not have become law.

 

Come to think of it, Gruber’s comments are strangely similar to Pelosi’s “we’ll have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it” remark. No wonder she wants to distance herself from him.

 

Pelosi’s office now claims that her statement, “I don’t know who he is”, merely meant that she did not know Gruber personally. That’s a laugh. Pelosi’s denial is much broader than that. She must be losing her old mind.

 

The day after denying Gruber, Pelosi threw a hissy fit at the suggestion that Democrats might benefit from new congressional leadership. She accused the media, and Time Magazine in particular, of being sexist. Her point apparently was that Mitch McConnell was not similarly treated in past years and both he and John Boehner have been on the cover of Time. According to Pelosi, that honor should have been bestowed on her as well since she was the first female Speaker in American history.

 

She may have missed Time, but, for a price, she can get her photo on the business side of a Wheaties box. If she also wants it on a matching coffee mug and key chain, it will cost her more.

 

Or maybe she’s finally just run out of Time.

 

 

Riley

Still Crazy After All These Elections

DATELINE: Asylumville, November 6 – President Obama held a press conference the day after the election to discuss the results. Like most sane people, he first congratulated the winners. He then recognized that voters want their elected officials in D.C. to work together to render rational solutions. So far, so good.

 

Then things started to slip into auditory hallucinations land. Stating that his position in the leadership pyramid is unique, which it is, he claimed to hear the voices of Americans who did not vote. And, he was happy to report that they all support him. A decision not to vote was a vote cast for the status quo. And, since Obama is numero uno in that category, remaining silent was a shout-out for him.

 

Wow, is this delusional or what? Hold that thought for a minute.

 

The Republicans are presently occupying another wing of the asylum. On Wednesday, Reince Priebus, the out-going Chair of the National Republican Committee, stated that the election signaled a conservative waive washing over the Country.

 

That’s idiotic. The only waive in this election is bipartisanship. Voters want workable, interparty solutions for the significant problems facing us. Bipartisan means sensible centrist answers. It has been a consistent desire of voters for years. Obama claimed to understand that back in 2008. Despite making bipartisanship a key pledge in his first run for the White House, we’ve had none of it during his tenure in the Oval Office.

 

What we’re been handed, instead, is a series of impressive, partisan failures. A recovering economy that has bypassed most of us. A hugely unpopular healthcare law that adds layers of complexity and cost and subtracts availability and quality. A dangerously confused and counterproductive approach to foreign affairs. And more domestic scandals than there are shaking sticks.

 

At this point, the only chance of getting cooperative national management is through voter-mandated negotiations between a Republican Congress and a Democrat White House. Bipartisanship is the takeaway from this week’s election. Woe be to the party that leaves it behind.

 

So, what are those voices in Obama’s head actually saying? Midterm turnouts are typically low. Non-presidential elections are missing the dramatic appeal. But pollsters and other analysts usually come up with specific reasons for each election.

 

With this one, most observers agree that Obama is the beginning and the end of the inquiry into the dramatic defeat of his party. The Republicans kept him front and center and the Democrats were pinned in the bullseye with him. The Gallup poll people credited the lack of a popular figurehead in either party for the low turnout. This is another way to lay blame at Obama’s feet since he was the only national figurehead connected to the election.

 

Like 2010, Obama’s unkept promises left his traditional base sitting comfortably in their living rooms. In that midterm, the Dems lost an historic 50 seats to Republicans. In a brief moment of lucidity, Obama characterized it correctly as a shellacking, but his performance since then has descended straight into spasmodic incompetence.

 

The shellacking four years ago became a tsunami of rejection this week. Chickens eventually come home to roost. Eventually for Obama was Tuesday.