Sunday, March 8, 2015

On Preparing Wristwatches for DST

Computers and smartphones do it on their own. But not wristwatches. I mean springing forward an hour at 2 AM Sunday morning for DST. Since I may be too distracted at that hour, I decided to advance my four wristwatches at 10:30 PM Saturday night. Here I was sitting on my couch with all of the watches calibrated to 11:30 while I stared at my cable TV box as it edged to 10:30 PM. At that moment I rushed to push in the knobs on all four watches, trying not to send any to the floor that had been draped over my right knee. Success! But now I realize that the three that indicate the date need correction because February was such a short month!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

My reaction to Netanyahu's speech to Congress on March 3, 2015

Here are my tweets in response to Bibi Netanyahu's speech to Congress on March 3, 2015, and some further comments beneath them:

#Netanyahu: reject deal, #Iran will blink, better deal to emerge. Evidence? None. That's been #Bibi approach to #Palestinians w/zero results
9:11 AM - 3 Mar 2015

.@SenFeinstein Excellent observations on #Netanyahu speech, its strengths, weaknesses. Bibi short on concrete alternative but evokes symbols
9:36 AM - 3 Mar 2015

Netanyahu, GOP can rail against Obama's #Iran nuclear deal as weak. #Bush43 & #GOP sure reined in North Korea's nuclear weapons. Not! 👎
9:48 AM - 3 Mar 2015

@RepAdamSchiff Agree w/you on @wolfblitzer. Bibi alternative? Iran blinks. Likely? Not really & P5+1 may relax sanctions, #Iran develop bomb
10:21 AM - 3 Mar 2015

I would like to see Obama respond publicly to Netanyahu's speech, calmly but with force and emotion outlining the rationale for his approach
10:23 AM - 3 Mar 2015

While I believe Netanyahu gave an impressive speech that may serve his political purposes in Israel where parliamentary elections are scheduled in a few weeks, and may buttress Republican opposition to President Obama's negotiations with Iran, I do not think he effectively laid out an alternative approach for the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1.  Essentially, Netanyahu argued that the terms of the deal apparently on the table are bad and that if the United States walked away from negotiations and increased sanctions, Iran would ultimately blink, return to the bargaining table and negotiate terms better for the United States, Israel and the world. But Bibi offered no evidence that such an outcome was highly likely, or even likely, other than to evoke the Persian bazaar and Middle Eastern bargaining proclivities.

It isn't very clear that the other world powers involved in the negotiations would accept the rejection of the present deal and the sanctions regime, rather than being intensified, might collapse. As well, the Iranians would redouble their efforts to develop sufficient fuel for nuclear weapons, apparently a goal they are not far from achieving.

That leaves the threat of war or war itself as the final way to stop Iran, something Netanyahu threatened in a veiled way in his speech. War itself, which could occur if no deal is reached or if Iran violates a deal that is reached, is an outcome most Americans, including Obama, strongly oppose. As to the threat of war inducing Iran to capitulate to stronger restrictions, including such a threat from Israel, such a possibility cannot be completely ruled out but the evidence at this point that it would work to bring about stronger restrictions in a deal isn't apparent.

I was struck by Senator Dianne Feinstein's reaction to the speech. She too noted the absence of concrete alternatives but she noted that she favored a deal with a longer breakout period for Iran to develop sufficient nuclear fuel if it violated the deal's terms and a longer period during which the deal would remain in force. Will Obama seek better terms on these issues? Will Netanyahu's speech and the reaction in this country play a role in securing these stronger restrictions? Or will Iran's negotiating position remain unchanged, leaving Obama with the choice of the deal as presently understood or no deal at all? I suspect Obama will opt for the deal he recently sketched out over no deal: a one year breakout period and a 10 year period for the restrictions on Iran in the deal. And I support the President in this matter.