Obama Gets Iran Deal, GOP Freaks Collective Shit

Just go ahead and get yourself elected, Lindsey, and you can do that (heck, this is the kind of stuff we want debated before we elect Presidents…and note how we elected Obama twice, to do just this kind of stuff).

The hatred of Obama and the cover it provides for the GOP has led to some very interesting and, frankly, openly seditious, behavior.

I have to wonder if the Tea Party is going to die off before the reality they inhabit is just too far gone from the rest of us to continue moving forward together.

Look at how many in the GOP talk about reality itself, and you begin to see this issue.

What the Obama administration has done (if the deal holds) is the same thing the Bush administration claimed to have wanted to do, stop Iran (Iraq) from obtaining WMD.

The difference here is that Iran, unlike Iraq, had an active program and Obama, unlike Bush, was able to do it without a decades long war, thousand of lives and trillions of dollars.

The discrepancy here is massively huge and, it would seem, the only choice the GOP has is to double and triple down on the Obama-hate.

Sad, but there it is.

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Seems like a good week to end Wars

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Friday declared an end to the Iraq war, one of the longest and most divisive conflicts in U.S. history, announcing that all U.S. troops would be withdrawn from the country by year’s end.

Obama’s statement put an end to months of wrangling over whether the U.S. would maintain a force in Iraq beyond 2011.

“After nearly nine years,” the president, “America’s war in Iraq will be over.”

via Obama announces total Iraq troop withdrawal – seattlepi.com.

Wonder if this guy will ever get a prize for doing so much to bring peace and freedom to the parts of the world that long for it.

....aaaand done.

Iraq Libya Bush Obama Apples Oranges Fruit and War (and footnotes regarding freedom [x])

So it looks like we are at war again. 

Or in an unusual style I should say “we” [1] are at “war”[2] again [3].

-fin-

[1] We, the United Nations, of which I, as a United States citizen, am kinda a member. 

[2] It’s more of a humanitarian effort cloaked in war robes.  Well, let’s not cut dice here…what do we call this?  I think using “war”, flat out, is a bit extreme, especially referring to only the U.S. and Libya, and forgetting Europe and the Arab League, all of which are part of this…action.  This is a different type of thing [7], and I prefer it much to the other.[4]

[3] The U.N. is also intervening in other places….link…that needs to be updated…[5] 

[4] Iraq.  This is not the same thing as Iraq.  This is not a year of build-up, a parade of fake evidence, a cascade of fear-mongering, 500,000 300,000 (after Rummy got a hold of it) troops, multiple fleets, U.S. tanks rolling across the sand…this is just not the same thing.   This is a place called Libya.[6] 

[5] It’s Wikipedia, do it yourself.

[6] Libya.  It’s right here.  Between Egypt and Tunisia.   You might think, hey, wait, it’s barely between Egypt and Tunisia.  Well…yea…it does hang down a bit.  You remember hearing about the vastness of the Sahara Desert?  Yea…that’s what’s hanging there. “Libya” the piece of land, is better understood as the trade route by the Mediterranean connecting Egypt and Tunisia.  Note the bright line in the same place here, right along the sea.  Benghazi, the city that Kwudaffee [sp], was about to destroy, is right on that curveback part of the Med, where you can take a shortcut over sea.

The Tunisian people, just rose up,  and overthrew their authoritarian dictator.

The Egyptian people followed suit, rose up, and the overthrew their authoritarian dictator.

The Libyan people rose up, and got bombed and sniped and who knows what else.

[7] This “action” as I mentioned, falls into what I consider the “just war” category.  It is war based on justice.  Which, in pretty much every case, calls for a great deal of restraint, which we have shown in this case.

I am greatly saddened in this regard by Iraq.  On the one hand, great, I’m very glad that everyone now (welcome to the club, Republicans) is concerned about the cost and validity [8] of war.   I think Iraq re-taught that lesson to a lot of people.   On the other hand, I think that lesson came with it the somewhat cynical notion that all use of force, particularly by the United States, is “war” of the same caliber and just-ness as the one in Iraq.

They aren’t.  That’s the entire point of “just war” theory.  The notion that there is a time to unleash the Hogs. [8]

 [8] The President of the United States through the War Power Act of 1973 gets to do so when, and I quote…

SEC. 2. (c) The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.

That (2) up there, in this case, is the U.N. Security Countil resolution, adopted 10-0 by that body.  The U.S. is a signatory to the U.N. treaty, so here comes the Constitution..

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

Emphasis mine.  BTW, we have veto power in the U.N., so it’s not like “they” could ever order us to attack anyone we didn’t want to.   So that’s how the President “gets” to do this.  When somebody takes a shot at us, Congress tells him to, one of our treaties authorizes it (i.e. an attack on a NATO ally), or if he’s feelin’ really dirrty, whenever he wants.   Here’s the rub…

It is important to note that since the War Powers Resolution’s enactment, over President Nixon’s veto in 1973, every President has taken the position that it is an unconstitutional infringement by the Congress on the President’s authority as Commander-in-Chief. The courts have not directly addressed this question.

Remember folks, the President controls the Army, the Congress controls the purse strings.  That *is* the check and balance.  The rest is largely show and politics (and we get to vote out either next time ’round).    Congress has told itself it can cut off fuding after 60 (or 90) days.   It takes Congress a lot longer to do anything in most cases, hence the wiggle room written into pretty much every law concerning this stuff (if you read the law technically, simultaneously assassinating every member of Congress in an inconspicuous manner would make it impossible for the U.S. to ever strike back, as it violates none of the rules specifically listed in [8 – Sec.2.(c)(3)].)

All that being said, comparing this entire situation, from start to [current], isn’t  anything like Iraq.  If, perhaps, the people of Afghanistan had risen up and overthrown the Taliban, and the people of Iran has risen up and overthrown their Theocracy (as they’ve tried a couple times), and the people of Iraq rose up…and got gunned down by Saddam Hussein…then…perhaps then, we’d be talking about the same thing (at least it would be closer goegraphically and geo-politically.)   

Hindsight gives us this insight, for if Iraq had been the just war it was claimed, we would have a) found the WMD, b) been welcomed and c) the mass killing would have stopped by now.  We didn’t, they weren’t, and they haven’t.  We’ll know this about Libya much sooner [it won’t take 3 years for everyone to notice that if it’s going to fester for another 1o], but as it stands one can’t say the rest.

Iraq was spoiled from the start, to use it as a template for judging all war is folly.   Here, we seem currently and to me at least, to be on the righteous path.   A priest should not stand by and watch a slaughter he could stop with little effort, I daresay I don’t understand how a President could either.  

In this sense the apples and oranges can be compared on their own merits and not just lumped into that big basket of fruit called “war”.

[x] It ain’t free, but it is very much worth fighting for.  Like oil.  Which, like freedom, makes life flow much more smoothly.   Take that as you will.   If the right wants to take up the “war for oil” mantra, things will go uber-bizaroo and Trump might actually win (and have an army to fire people with).

[we’ll see how long this goes on.  Obama doesn’t seem to get into fights unless he knows he’s going to win, and he pulled the trigger here just about as soon as the i’s were crossed and t’s dotted.

Lest We Forget

I’ve been having a few economic discussions lately with various people in various places.

Everyone seems to be gung-ho against any sort of stimulus package that isn’t perfect.  Sorry, folks, this is why we have a “democracy” so we can make decisions even when a bunch of folks on TV and Radio whine about helping toddlers.

I mean…improving toddler care…what a waste, let’s buy bombs instead!

The simple fact of our economy is this…mentioned here previously…

Well, it looks like that move to leveler playing field happened a lot quicker than even I expected.  And the War in Iraq seems to be gone from the economic discussion.  Does not one realize that is why Bush, et. al. had to let the shennanigans on Wall Street continue so long?  Without the myth of great wealth, we couldn’t fund his War.   And that’s where the other 3 trillion went.

Does no one remember that Bush took the deficit from this…

Instead, the president explained, the $5.7 trillion national debt has been reduced by $360 billion in the last three years — $223 billion this year alone.

This represents, Clinton said, “the largest one-year debt reduction in the history of the United States.”

To this…

Are you surprised? Times Square’s National Debt Clock, which has been tallying up money owed by the U.S. government since 1989, is running out of spaces.

In September 2008, the digital dollar sign was eliminated to make way for an extra digit—the “1” in $10 trillion (the national debt is currently $10.2 trillion). Now, a new clock is in the works that will make room for a quadrillion dollars of debt, according to the Associated Press. Anticipated completion is early 2009.

A little history on the clock: It was created in 1989 by Manhattan real estate developer Seymour Durst to inform the public about the nation’s snowballing national debt (back then, it was $2.7 trillion). Seymour died in 1995, and the clock is now owned by his son, Douglas Durst.

Bush ran up a $4,500,000,000,000 tab.

Lest we forget…

A Bit or Twenty About My Political Views

[this is an excerpt from a private conversation with a friend, who wish to remail anonymous, I think]

This is a much more civilzed conversation, but I really do prefer to have these conversations in public, as, you know…I’m a struggling writer. Really struggling.

To summarize…I’m not a Democrat and don’t follow their agenda. I saw Obama admitted a mistake with Dashle, which is why I like Obama. Bush couldn’t think of a mistake he made after four years…which was a sad joke.

I think both Cavuto and Olbermann are loud mouthed windbags who treat politics like college football. Cavuto is damn near retarded and Olbermann is a pompous windbag.

I enjoy watching and responding to, the Sunday morning talkers. NPR is one of the better sources of info. I usually scan Google News, which is run by an AI and then research from there to do my writing.

I don’t think News and Opinion should be mixed, which is why I think Fox, MSNBC, CNN, etc. are a joke. Cronkite could say more with the raise of an eyebrow than most of these modern schlubs can say with a ten minute rant. All of them are first and foremost a BUSINESS and in the media game to make money. They are not after Truth, at all, they go after ratings, which is why they suck.

I blame Bush and Cheney for making a series of huge strategic blunders that pushed our country to bankruptcy. That was the goal of AQ, BTW, to bankrupt the country. It worked. Bush is an anti-intellectual fool who picked party over principle again and again and again. He picked image over substance and should be in jail for endorsing and pushing torture.

Morals are still important. 9/11 didn’t change that. We’ve killed tens, if not hundred of thousands of innocent people in response. That, I feel, is very immoral.

I’m against torture because I have friends in the military. I also believe in the Golden Rule, as it has been “discovered” by every major religion on the planet. If one endorses torture for others, they endorse it for their friends. I don’t want anyone tortured and think there are much better ways to get information. Study how we “interrogated” German and Japanese Generals during WWII for some good examples.

I can, and have, sat down with people, been honest with them, and have had them telling me their secrets in under 20 minutes. Torture only makes people tell their torturers what the tortoree thinks their torturers want to hear. It’s not a good avenue to get at the truth. It’s torture, and it’s wrong. No matter who does it. Jack Bauer is a fictional character and a number of lecturers at the U.S. War College had to make a public statement about it, because of bunch of keyboard commandos think we should torture more people.

It won’t work, and you also might want to read up on the Japanese we executed for war crimes after they water-boarded Americans. It’s just not right. We’ll have to agree to disagree on that one.

As Martin Luther King said, “An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.” He got assassinated for that view.

I’m not a big fan of Clinton. He sold his soul to be President. Watch, or read “Primary Colors” to see how that worked.

I’m currently reading McClellen’s book on Bush, and consider it to be one of the more accurate readings on what went on in that White House.

I’ve also read two of Obama’s books, and consider him to be a very intelligent, very well read, and very good leader. I don’t agree with the Limbaughian traitorous stance that seems to be dominating the GOP. I also think “Joe the Plumber” is a tard and have written extensively about him.

I’m curious about your view of Islam, which I have a great deal of respect for, and am also critical of in my book.

BTW, would you like to buy a book? I hate to give my writings aways for free to people, as I believe them to have real value. I am an independent thinker, and wish to stay that way.

Regardless, I hope this finds you well. And I VERY MUCH appreciate the more respectful tone this conversation now has.

Peace,
-Roy

Biden’s Response to McCain Tax Lie Gets More Coverage Than the Lie

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden said Thursday that paying more in taxes is the patriotic thing to do for wealthier Americans. In a new TV ad that repeats widely debunked claims about the Democratic tax plan, the Republican campaign calls Obama’s tax increases “painful.”

Under the economic plan proposed by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, people earning more than $250,000 a year would pay more in taxes while those earning less – the vast majority of American taxpayers – would receive a tax cut.

Although Republican John McCain claims that Obama would raise taxes, the independent Tax Policy Center and other groups conclude that four out of five U.S. households would receive tax cuts under Obama’s proposals.

Noting that wealthier Americans would indeed pay more, Biden said: “It’s time to be patriotic … time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut.”

News from The Associated Press.

Biden’s gaffe, if you want to call it that (and they will), will probably get a lot more airplay that McCain’s dissassembling.

I found a really good graph comparing the two tax policy proposals from the candidates.

You can see it here.

McCaina and Obama's Tax Plan

McCain vs Obama (re: Taxes)

And Biden is right, it is time for the rich to start paying their fair share. They haven’t been since Bush’s massive upper class tax cuts. Now some people think that a higher ratio for the rich is some kind of class warfare, but what they often forget is the VAST majority of wealth in this country in concentrated in a few small portion of the populace. There are larger differences in income and wealth now in the U.S. than ever before.

And they got a whole bunch worse with Bush’s tax policy, which included a massive tax cut and starting a war, both of which McCain endorses. BTW, Bush was the first President to cut taxes during a war. Taxes were increased to pay for every U.S. war in history (except for the one with Mexico…which was paid for by Texas).

Some people will dismiss the Obama’s proposal “Class Warfare”. What I see it as is something made to avoid actual class warfare. You know, the killing and robbing kind.

But enough on that, let’s talk about McCain’s lies. McCain thinks that Obama is going to raise taxes on “Middle Class Americans” because McCain thinks that “Middle Class Americans” make around two or three million dollars a year.

Now, McCain might have been joking about that, but he wasn’t joking when he said that the Americans wouldn’t pick lettuce for $50/hour.

And now he wants to cut taxes, mostly for the richest 1%.

That’s just not responsible government. You can’t cut out earmarks and balance the budget. We had a $406,000,000,000 shortfall this last year, and the total for earmarks is around $16-18,000,000,000. That’s not going to even get us close…

For instance, estimates from watchdog groups of total earmark spending in fiscal 2008 range from $16-18 billion. Current estimated outlays for the federal government in fiscal 2008 are $2.9 trillion (PDF). That’s less than one percent.

To put it another way, the current projected deficit is roughly $400 billion. Even if John McCain got rid of every earmark (an impossible task), it would only make a small contribution to deficit reduction. (See Factcheck.org’s takedown of McCain’s exaggerated claims of how much it can save by reducing earmarks.)

[full post]

So you could cut out every single infrastructure improvement project in the country (what “earmarks” often are) and that wouldn’t bring us anywhere near to balancing the budget. You can’t stop going to the movies when your salary is less than your rent and hope that somehow those “savings” balance the books.

What we need now are responsible politicians that don’t feed people the bullshit line that you can cut taxes to increase tax revenue in each and every economic situation.

This isn’t the 70’s, with a top marginal rate in the 70’s (percent).

This is the 00’s, with a top marginal rate in the teens (maturity-wise).

It’s a new situation and it needs a better solution than the one Bush offered (the one McCain was against before he was for it…both of which were *way* before he started lying about the whole thing).

If we look to history, the answer is easy. It we “make our own history” in the Neocon way, then we can happily make the same mistakes that have been made since time immemorial.

Lipstick on an Economy

2008 deficit forecast soars to $407B – Sep. 9, 2008

NEW YORK CNNMoney.com — The budget deficit will jump by $246 billion to $407 billion this year, the Congressional Budget Office estimates in a report released Tuesday.

“Over the long run, growing budget deficits and the resulting increases in federal debt would lead to slower economic growth,” the agency said.

Last year, the budget deficit was $161 billion. The governments fiscal year ends Sept. 30. The agency attributes the jump to “a substantial increase in spending and a halt in the growth of tax revenues.”

And jobs…

Not only are home foreclosures at a record high in the US, but national unemployment also climbed above the psychologically important 6 percent level last month for the first time in five years – and it’s likely to go even higher in the months ahead, possibly throwing the economy into a tailspin as Americans pick a new president. The rate has steadily climbed this year from a cycle low of 4.4 per cent and now sits just below the peak of 6.3 per cent seen during the last recession. (See: Home foreclosures at record high in the US)

And our failed bank de-regulation experiment…

One part of the cure for the nation’s credit crisis is transparency. We cannot work our way out of our debts until we know how much we owe. That is a simple fact. We need an absolute ban on accounting shenanigans that range from off-budget operations to fictional asset values. No more Enron-style books. Now, could someone tell those who run the country?

The Bush administration still hasn’t resolved how to account for the takeover — they say, conservatorship — of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Peter Orszag, director of the Congressional Budget Office, said at a news conference, “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be directly incorporated into the federal budget.”

Absolutely. Only this won’t be popular because its implementation would add big numbers to an already huge deficit. The most recent CBO budget and economic forecast is for a deficit of about $407 billion this year, growing to a record-breaking $438 billion in the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. Those numbers don’t include what it will cost to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

[full article]

The simple fact of the matter is that Republican leadership and economic policy and international policy has led us directly to the place where we currently find ourselves.

Read on for the full story and understanding where the money went….

Continue reading

Bush Leaves Biggest Budget Deficit Ever For Next President

WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Bush’s budget chief blamed the faltering economy and the bipartisan stimulus package for the record $482 billion deficit the White House predicted for the 2009 budget year.

White House projects record deficit for 2009 – CNN.com.

Jim Nussle, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, said the deficit would be about 3.3 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, the measure of the nation’s total economy.

The fiscal year begins October 1, 2008.

The federal deficit is the difference between what the government spends and what it takes in from taxes and other revenue sources. The government must borrow money to make up the difference.

While the deficit would be a record in absolute dollar terms, Nussle said it would be below the 2004 deficit, 3.6 percent of GDP, and the record deficit of 1983, 6 percent of GDP, when compared with the size of the overall U.S. economy.

Now one needs to remember this is without including the money for Bush’s War or the one in Afghanistan.

For those who can’t say you can blame an economy on one person, you are right.  However, when that one person embodies a political ideology and follows through with that, and it tanks, horribly, you can hold him and it fully responsible.

Read more for why that is…

Continue reading

Hypocrisy vs Irony via CNN

Sometimes it’s a tough call to judge whether someone is being Hypocritical or Ironic.

The same can often be said of situations.   What we have below is one such situation.  A simple confluence of world events that illustrates the absudity of….well….those same events and sometimes, the lack thereof (see #3).

cnn_cover

The storyline goes as follows….

Continue reading

Desktop Clearing Post

I have started a new productivity initiative where I’ll be using my desktop for writing and my laptop for blogging.  Hopefully this will work out better for everyone.  With that being said, I have to clear off my desktop, here’s the stuff I didn’t get to, but thought was worthwhile

———–

Here’s the walking across the U.S. for a good cause.

SAN DIEGO (AP) ― It took 10 months, 24 pairs of shoes and 40 pounds of flesh, but former New York Giant George Martin has finished a cross-country walk to raise money for people with health problems linked to the September 11 attacks.

[full article]

You can read all about it here.

——–

A slightly different story about Iraq can be found here.  It’s a more true-to-life kind of this.  Tyler Ziegel and Renee: one year on. 

To understand that story a bit better, here’s the picture that goes with it.

As I said, true-to-life.  Here’s the video if you want to watch that. It gives another angle on the story.

———

5 Bible Superpowers

5 Reasons GTA IV is the Worst Great Game Ever Made

I haven’t read Cracked in years, but found both of these articles read-worthy.  The GTA:IV one is particularly good.  It’s always nice to critique perfection..which kinda goes along with the first link…

——-

Cheney is a lying, cheating jerk.

Vice President Dick Cheney’s office was involved in removing statements on health risks posed by global warming from a draft of a health official’s Senate testimony last year, a former senior government environmental official said on Tuesday.

He hasn’t been heard from much lately, but he’s up to the same old b.s.

———

Israel keeps pissing off her neighbors and allies.

Jerusalem – Israel plans to build some 1,800 new homes in two Jewish neighbourhoods of Jerusalem built on occupied West Bank land, Israel Radio reported Wednesday.

Some 900 homes will be built in Homat Shmuel G’, an eastern extension of Israel’s controversial Har Homa neighbourhood, on Jerusalem’s southern outskirts, the radio said.

This settlement building just keeps angreing the Palestinians and even goes agiainst what the U.S. has asked for.  With each new settlement built under protest, peace retreats a bit more.   Stop building until an greement is reached, por favor.

——–

The U.S. is teetering.

Loong article on the problems facing the U.S.  A good read from a solid scholar.

———

What it’s like to watch Fox for 24 Hours.

Found this one pretty funny.  I wouldn’t recommend watching Fox (or any cable news) for 24-consecutive hours.  Heck. I wouldn’t recommend 24 hours a year.

——–

This is the best Halloween tower EVAR!!!

——–

World’s oldest bible on the Interwebs.  In the dump trucks.  Just like Jesus predicted.

This is actually pretty cool.  The technology makes so much knowledge and history so much more widely available than ever before.  Good times.  Good times.

——–

Terror driver in court.

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) — The judge in the first American war crimes trial since World War II barred evidence on Monday that interrogators obtained from Osama bin Laden’s driver, ruling he was subjected to “highly coercive” conditions in Afghanistan.

But Judge Keith Allred, a Navy captain, left the door open for the prosecution to use statements Salim Hamdan made at Guantanamo, despite defense claims that all his statements were tainted by alleged abuse including sleep deprivation and solitary confinement.

Hamdan, who was captured at a roadblock in Afghanistan in November 2001, pleaded not guilty at the start of a trial that will be closely watched as the first full test of the Pentagon’s system for prosecuting alleged terrorists. He faces a maximum life sentence if convicted of conspiracy and aiding terrorism.

It looks like they are going to allow “coerced” (i.e. tortured) testimony in these trials.  So much for “justice
———

And last but not least, my favorite song of the summer.

Bush Administration Takes RPN Advice and Talks to Iran

WASHINGTON, July 16 (Reuters) – With just six months left in office, the Bush administration has done an about-face in joining talks with Tehran over its nuclear program, a move analysts say is driven partly by a desire to avoid war with Iran.

For years, the Bush administration said it would join nuclear talks with Iran only if it gave up uranium enrichment, but with President George W. Bush’s term ending in January and tensions rising with Tehran, Washington feels it cannot afford to be excluded.

The perception, especially in global financial markets, of a growing likelihood of a confrontation between Iran and the United States or Israel has rattled oil markets in recent months, helping drive prices to record highs.

ANALYSIS-U.S. seeks talking over war with Iran | Reuters.

Ahh, finally we found the way to leverage the Bush administration to action…the near total collapse of the U.S. economy…at least it would if we attacked Iran.  Mere speculation has probably added 10-15% of the price of oil.  War itself would do something along the lines of 100-150%.

But to the main point here, the idea that Iran had to stop everything before we would even talk to them was a pretty fanciful negotiation tactic.  It’s the kind of tactic that only works of you have a boot on someone’s neck.  While we certainly overpower Iran, they are far from totally defenseless (as covered in this post regarding the recent missile launches and this one from a while back about the fast-boats.)

And the main weapon they have is economic.  Which is where we happen to be weakest at the moment.

So the talks began.  And since the story above is from a week or so back, here’s the results…

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused Iran on Monday of not being serious at weekend talks about its disputed nuclear program despite the presence of a senior U.S. diplomat, and warned it may soon face new sanctions.

In her first public comments since Saturday’s meeting in Switzerland, Rice said Iran had given the run-around to envoys from the U.S. and five other world powers. She said all six nations were serious about a two-week deadline Iran now has to agree to freeze suspect activities and start negotiations or be hit with new penalties.

Rice was briefed on the meeting by the State Department’s No. 3 diplomat, Undersecretary of State William Burns, who attended the session in a shift from Washington’s previous insistence that it would not meet with the Iranians unless enrichment of uranium had stopped.

[full article]

So there was little progress on this go round.  That is understandable, since now positions are being re-trenched.  There are also limits to the punitive actions that can be taken, which complicates the options for the Six Allies.

Meanwhile, world oil prices rose above $130 a barrel in part on concerns that the threat of new sanctions against Iran may escalate tensions in the Middle East.

At Saturday’s meeting, Iran had been expected to respond to a package of incentives offered in exchange for halting enrichment of uranium, which can be used to fuel atomic weapons. The Bush administration broke with long-standing policy to send a top diplomat to support the offer.

However, Rice said that instead of a coherent answer, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili delivered a “meandering” monologue full of irrelevant “small talk about culture” that appeared to annoy many of the others present at the table in Geneva.

And so the haggling begins. The next round should be in two weeks or so…

“We will see what Iran does in two weeks, but I think the diplomatic process now has a new kind of energy to it,” she said. “If they do not decide to suspend then we will be in a situation where we have to return to the Security Council.”

High-level contact between the United States and Iran is extremely rare and Burns’ presence at the talks may have confused the Iranians, Rice said, acknowledging a tactical change to demonstrate U.S. unity with the other five powers: Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.

“From time to time, it is important to invigorate the diplomacy,” she said. “I think that the fact that we went may have been a bit surprising to the Iranians, and they didn’t react in a way that gave anyone any confidence.”

Hey, at least we’re talking.  It’s a fair sight better than shooting.