Daily Archives: April 29, 2012


Understanding Iran’s Diplomatic Strategy

Truth Out has the interesting article Understanding Iran’s Diplomatic Strategy.  The link takes you to a written part by Gareth Porter, whose position is summed up by the following quote:

For Obama’s advisers, assuming Iran was simply “playing for time” justifies a heavy reliance on “coercive diplomacy”, which combines a boycott of the country’s crude oil exports and hints that an Iranian failure to come to agreement would open the way for an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear sites. But that conventional wisdom, which the Obama administration inherited from the Bush administration, ignores the accumulated evidence that Iran’s diplomacy strategy is to accumulate centrifuges, not in order to support a weapons programme, but rather to negotiate a larger bargain with the United States.

There is also a 25 minute video program with a Russian, an Iranian, and an American.  I suppose you might say that each expert is of “undetermined expertise and objectivity”.  However, some of them do present what are logically possible explanations.

To figure out among the four opinions which one to believe is beyond the scope of this blog.  Maybe the best we can do is to keep an open mind.  I suppose it is possible to stand back and see why some of the actors believe the way they do whether or not it turns out that their beliefs match reality.  The American’s argument as to what the North Korean example ought to mean to Iran amounts only to wishful thinking that Iran could accept his point of view.  I can see lots of reasons why his argument would carry little weight with Iranian leaders.

Being such a success at bringing peace to Sturbridge :-(, I am not sure anyone should trust my view at all.


Wisconsin Recall Election Tests Strategies for November

The New York Times has an article Recall Election Tests Strategies for November.

The combination of the squeeze on state budgets, high rates of unemployment and the conservative movement’s revived energy provided an opening for Republican efforts, often business-backed, to promote tough-on-labor legislation in key states. Those efforts have succeeded in rolling back gains made by unions over decades, prompting vows from labor to fight back with newly engaged members shaken from self-described complacency.

Ah, so this explains the Massachusetts Postal Worker’s rumored support of Scott Brown over Elizabeth Warren.  Maybe you have to be a masochist to work for the post office.

Or is it the amazing technique perfected by the Republicans of facing you with a smile while reaching behind you to stab you in the back.  You feel the pain, but you just don’t know who is inflicting it on you.  If there is a Democrat behind you, then you think the Democrats are the cause.

“Republican war on women?  What Republican war on women?  How dare you bring this up when we are keeping college loan interest rates low by taking money from women’s health care.  Give me a break.” – rough translation of Speaker Boehner’s rebuttal of Nancy Pelosi.


Postal rescue faces uncertain future after Senate OK’s bill

The article, Postal rescue faces uncertain future after Senate OK’s bill tells part of the story about the “rescue” of the post office.

The legislation, co-sponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman, I –Conn., Sen. Susan Collins, R- Maine, Sen. Tom Carper, D- Del., and Sen. Scott Brown, R- Mass., would use an $11 billion refund from Federal Employee Retirement system to pay for buyouts of up to $25,000 to postal workers. If 100,000 of the Postal Service workforce of 557,000 employees were to retire, the agency would save $8 billion a year.

Sounds like Scott Brown ought to be the candidate favored by the postal worker’s unions, but wait.

A leading postal workers union, the National Association of Letter Carriers, opposes the Senate bill.

“Relentless downsizing is not a strategy for success, yet the legislation adopted by the Senate targets more than 100,000 jobs and will force the Postal Service to slash services in order to pay unaffordable mandates to fund future retiree health benefits that no other agency or firm in the country faces,” said union president Fredric Rolando after the Senate vote. “This fight is far from over; the nation’s letter carriers will work tirelessly to build a Postal Service that can thrive in the Internet age while serving the country we love.”

The $11 billion dollars that Scott Brown wants so graciously to use to help downsize the Postal Service, comes from an onerous burden that the Republicans have put on the Postal Service.  Whereas the best private pension plans are funded just well enough to keep up with future pension costs and the worst of these plans are highly underfunded, the Republicans forced through a bill to make the postal Service prepay for its pension plan.  In other words, the Postal Service is not just required to fund pension liabilities as they accrue, they are required to pay for all future liabilities even before they accrue.  No private company with which the Postal Service competes is required to carry such a burden.

Apparently the postal workers in Massachusetts seem completely oblivious to how hard the Republicans have tried to shut down the postal service and get rid of their jobs.  Rumor has it that the Massachusetts postal workers favor Scott Brown and won’t even listen to Elizabeth Warren.  Perhaps it is a case of Stockholm syndrome where after a long enough time the hostages start to believe that their captors are their saviors.