Big Bird

I went out canvassing for the Democrats out in Antioch, California yesterday. There I met a woman in mid-50s perhaps who said this to me. 

I ain't voting for the other guy after he dissed Big Bird.

And rightly so.

 

No Daylight Equals a Whole Lot of Darkness

There has been a debate within the Romney camp as to whether it suits the flailing candidacy of Mitt Romney to use the turmoil in the Middle East for political advantage. Mind you, Mittens already has tried this inappropriate if not heinous comments in the wake of Ambassador Chris Stevens' death in Benghazi.You would think having being once burned, actually twice burned because he of the recent summer tour in which he managed without even to batting an eyelash to disparage friend and foe (at least from his perspective the Palestinians are foes) so unwittingly that it raised issues of mental competency, Mittens might be shy about wading into issues that have singed him in the not so distant past. But if at first you fail, then fail, fail, fail again.

Probably at the behest of John Bolton, the arch neo-conservative who served as George W. Bush's Ambassador to the United Nations and who just last week thought it appropriate to describe US foreign policy during the Obama Administration with a homophobic slur, Mitt Romney has taken to the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal to demonstrate how utterly unfit he is to be President of the United States.

There are numerous outright fabrications in his piece. He writes for example that "in recent years, President Obama has allowed our leadership to atrophy." By what measure and over what time frame? Because while a June 2012 Pew Research Center poll found that "global approval of President Barack Obama's policies has declined significantly since he first took office, while overall confidence in him and attitudes toward the U.S. have slipped modestly as a consequence" but nonetheless remain significantly higher than at anytime during the George W. Bush years.

Romney goes on to write "our economy is stuck in a 'recovery' that barely deserves the name. Our national debt has risen to record levels. Our military, tested by a decade of war, is facing devastating cuts thanks to the budgetary games played by the White House." Well if the economy is in a recovery that barely deserves such assignation, it is thanks to your party which in the words of Senate Majority Mitch McConnell believes that "single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president" and never mind the welfare of the American people. Thus for example it was your party which just last week defeated a jobs bill that would have put some 30,000 veterans returning from serving their country in Iraq and Afghanistan to work. The line about the national debt would be more believable if not for the fact that under Reagan-Bush your party tripled the national debt and under Bush the Dumber doubled it. And that line about the military facing "devastating cuts" is an outright fabrication. The Obama budget proposal called for spending $36 billion more on the Pentagon in 2017 than in 2013. Only in the mathematically challenged world of the GOP is more less.

But no line is more egregious nor more dangerous than when Romney writes that there should be "no daylight between the United States and Israel." Now think about what this means. For starters, it means jettisoning a bipartisan bedrock principle of US foreign policy as regards the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Notwithstanding the fact that Israel is an ally, it has been the policy of the United States government to at least back to Nixon Administration to act as a honest broker between the two sides. Romney would have throw us this away. Let's be very clear here. Both publicly and privately, Mitt Romney has expressed a rather one-sided, if not racist, view of the Palestinians. Even when he has a former US Secretary of State expressing that there might be a pathway to a permanent peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Romney is so entrenched in his views that he fails to ask that learned, experienced voice to expound on his views. Such incurosity in a president isn't just remarkable, it is remarkably dangerous and unbelievably dismissive.

No daylight also means accepting the policies of the Likud government as our own. Those policies include an ethnic cleansing of proportions that would make Slobodan Milosevic blush, an apartheid regime unlike even that of P.W. Botha. If Mitt Romney is to believed as he suggests at the beginning of his Wall Street Journal op-ed that US foreign policy has a "human rights" component than means accepting that Palestinians are human beings with human rights. It is not clear that Mitt Romney believes this.

Accepting Mitt Romney's premise that there be "no daylight" between the United States and the Israeli Likud government means accepting a whole lot of darkness.

 

The Incurious Mitt Romney

When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mitt Romney, it seems, has long ago made up his mind - blame the Palestinians exclusively. But take this portion of the dialogue from the Marc Leder-hosted Boca Raton fundraiser for which Mother Jones has now published the transcript and the only conclusion one can draw is that Mitt Romney isn't just incurious, he's not interested in anything that might contradict his already pre-held views. Is this a characteristic one wants in a President?

Romney: I got a call from a former secretary of state—and I won't mention which one it was—but this individual said to me, "You know, I think there's a prospect for a settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis after the Palestinian elections." I said, "Really?" And his answer was, "Yes, I think there's some prospect." And I didn't delve into it . . .

Romney likely had Jim Baker, who served in several capacities during the Reagan-Bush years from 1981-1993, on the phone and Romney "didn't delve into it" when Baker, who remains well-connected and well-respected both in Jewish and Arab circles, suggested that there might be a prospect for a settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis after the Palestinian elections. Why delve into it when you can just "kick the ball down the field"?

Mitt Romney is unfit to be President on many levels but his disinterestedness in hearing the erudite thoughts of the well-connected is as damning as any. The incurious Mitt Romney is a dangerous Mitt Romney.

Obama: Israeli Settlements "Have To Be Stopped"

Two cheers for President Obama.

President Obama, at the press conference yesterday with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu:

Now, Israel is going to have to take some difficult steps as well, and I shared with the Prime Minister the fact that under the roadmap and under Annapolis that there's a clear understanding that we have to make progress on settlements.  Settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward.

There's more...

Obama To Name George Mitchell As Mideast Envoy

"Israel has a state, but its people live in unbearable anxiety, so security for the people is an overriding objective. The Palestinians don't have a state and they want one, an independent, economically viable and geographically integral state; that is their overriding objective. I believe that neither can attain its objective by denying to the other side its objectives. Israelis are not likely to have sustainable security if the Palestinians don't have a state, and Palestinians will never achieve a state until the people of Israel have some security." - George Mitchell, December 2008

The New York Times is reporting that President Obama will name former Maine Senator and Majority Leader George Mitchell as US Special Envoy to the Middle East. It's a smart choice for the former Senator is one who firmly believes that "there is no such thing as a conflict that can't be ended." Beyond his crucial role as US Special Envoy on Northern Ireland for President Clinton, Senator Mitchell has ties to the region, is intimately aware of the issues and most importantly is seen by most parties as a studious and impartial negotiator.

There's more...

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