Political Insider

A look behind the scenes in the political world

New Iran Sanctions On Hold

Negotiations to make sure Iran doesn't build a nuclear weapon got a boost Tuesday when a South Dakota senator agreed to administration pleas to hold off passage of new sanctions.

Sen. Tim Johnson (D), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, announced he would hold off bringing to a vote new sanctions legislation following conversations with President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.

Santorum Compares Himself To Mandela

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum this week compared himself to Nelson Mandela and likened the struggle against apartheid to Republican efforts to kill the Affordable Care Act.  Both, he said, are about opposing "injustice."

But that doesn't mean Santorum was on the same side as the late South African leader in opposing apartheid. He apparently praised Mandela's struggle for freedom because everyone else is doing so this week, but apparently he had problems with Mandela's goals.

Republicans' War On Chanukah

As Jews began lighting Chanukah candles, the National Republican Campaign Committee was peddling T-shirts that rejected the ecumenical spirit of the season.

The front of the shirt read "'Happy Holidays' is what liberals say" and on the back in large letters it said "Merry Christmas." 

People began asking if this is what GOP leaders meant when they said that after the 2012 election losses and the disastrous government shutdown that the party needed rebranding.

Or does it mean that GOP stands for Gentiles Only Party?

'Happy Holidays' is what liberals say.

Thanksgiving: A Favorite Jewish Holiday

We celebrate two important holidays on the same day this week, both with strong Jewish traditions that can be summed up in two words: freedom and food.  You know the story of the Jewish people in three sentences:  They tried to kill us.  We won. Let's eat.

Obama Presidency Bleeds From Self-Inflicted Wounds

Barack Obama's presidency is in deep trouble, his signature legislative achievement is floundering and our friends, allies and enemies have the impression his administration is confused and in disarray.

And the worst part of all this tzoris is that despite their best (or worst) efforts, Republicans had little or nothing to do with it -- Obama is the victim of self-inflicted wounds

'Nuclear Option' Depends On Where You Sit, Stand

You can ignore the Republican crocodile tears about the end of bipartisanship in the Senate after Democrats invoked the so-called "nuclear option" Thursday to limit the use of filibusters.  There never was any. Bipartisanship ended long ago when GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell vowed to make sure Barack Obama's presidency failed and proceeded to put that into practice by blocking as much of the administration's agenda as he could.

Senate: No New Sanctions For Now

The U.S. Senate won't act on a House-passed bill expanding sanctions on Iran until senators have time to assess what emerges from the negotiations that begin later this week in Geneva between the Iranians and the international group known as P5+1, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (United States, France, Britain, Russia and China) plus Germany.

Obamacare Bleeding From Self-Inflicted Wounds

The worst wounds a politician can suffer are usually self-inflicted.  Nixon had Watergate, Clinton had Monica Lewinsky, Reagan had Iran-Contra, Bush 41 had "read my lips" and his son, Bush 43, had Katrina.

And now it's Barack Obama and "if you like your insurance plan you can keep it."

Does US Aid Pay For Settlements, Terrorism?

The answer to that question is Yes and No.

U.S. law prohibits spending any American aid money beyond the Green Line, the pre-June 1967 border, to make sure none of it goes to build or benefit settlements or those who live and work there, which every single administration has considered illegal.

US-Israel Feud Brings Smiles In Iran

Secretary of State John Kerry seemed overly anxious to sign an interim agreement with the Iranians in Geneva last week, and many in the Congress, in Israel and parts of the Arab world breathed a sign of relief when he left empty-handed.  Israel and America's Arab allies in the Persian Gulf were convinced that Kerry wasn't paying enough attention to the details.

That, and Benjamin Netanyahu's withering criticism, helped torpedo the first round of nuclear talks with the Iranians since the election of the Rouhani government this summer.  And that's a good thing.

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