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.

 

Netanyahu Calls for a Unity Government

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu surprised the leader of the opposition, Tzipi Livni, with an offer to join the Likud-led right of center coalition government, saying Israel was faced with existential choices that required a broad coalition to form a unity government. By existential choice, Netanyahu is referencing Iran. The Kadima leader, and the former Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni did not reject the proposal out of hand.  The story in Haaretz:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked opposition leader Tzipi Livni, the chairwoman of Kadima, on Thursday to join a unity government. Livni did not immediately reject the offer, and added that if the offer is real "I always said that it is up for discussion."

Livni clarified that any decision regarding Kadima's moves will be taken by the party after thorough discussion and not by her alone.

Netanyahu told Livni that Kadima's addition to the government was crucial in light of the local and global challenges facing Israel today.

During their meeting, which lasted about 90 minutes, Netanyahu briefed Livni on political and security issues on the government's agenda, telling her that the basis for joining a unity government would be principles of peace and security that he outlined in his foreign policy speech at Bar Ilan University in June.

Netanyahu offered Livni to include four Kadima members in inner cabinet discussions, should Kadima join the proposed unity government, but he didn't offer ministerial portfolios.

The meeting between the prime minister and the opposition leader comes on the tail of Livni's accusation earlier Thursday that Netanyahu was trying to split Kadima, currently embroiled in a proxy war over the faction's leadership.

Kadima No. 2 Shaul Mofaz on Thursday demanded that Livni take the party to primary elections, telling reporters after their afternoon meeting that he hoped she would "listen to others, for once" and keep the party from breaking up.

The rift at the top of Kadima worsened on Wednesday, after MK Mofaz lashed out at Livni, saying it was her lack of leadership that has reportedly led 14 of Kadima's 27 MKs to start negotiations with Likud about moving to that party.

Mofaz met Livni at her north Tel Aviv home on Thursday afternoon, hours before the faction's council was to convene to discuss the future of the party.

Livni told Mofaz during the talks that she feared Netanyahu was "trying to split Kadima. It's on the table and it's a fact." She urged Mofaz, along with other senior members of the party to do everything possible to keep Netanyahu from "weakening Kadima."

Kadima, a centrist party by Israeli standards with 27 seats, is the largest single party in the 120-member Knessett. Israeli political observers seem to think that Netanyahu's offer is not much more than an attempt to destroy his only significant internal opposition by luring about a dozen of Kadima members to form a breakaway party and join the government.

Certainly events in the Middle East have been moving quickly over the latter part of 2009: a financial collapse in Dubai; a tribal revolt by a Shi'ite minority that has led to a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Yemen; US drone attacks in Yemen targeting Al-Qaeda operatives; a border dispute between Iran and Iraq amidst attacks on Shi'ites; an Egyptian move to seal off the Gaza Strip; a rapprochement between Syria and Turkey that perhaps has left the Israelis worried; a historic visit to Damascus by Saad Hariri, the new prime minister of Lebanon; an Al-Qaeda attack against a Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef in Riyadh; and the on-going but going nowhere talks between the West and Iran over the nuclear issue now set against the backdrop of increasing protests and unrest in the Islamic Republic. Never a dull moment.

There's more...

The Likud Charter: wiping Palestine off the map

When my attention was drawn to the article quoted below by Diane Nakamura, I suddenly realized that it is not Iran that intends to "wipe Israel off the map," but it is Israel that intends to "wipe Palestine off the map." And that is not just a threat. It is the reality.

Observers of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict often talk about the Hamas Charter, and the earlier PLO Charter, but no one speaks of the intents of the Likud Charter, the Bible of Israel's Likud party now in power to wipe Palestine off the map. But that is precisely what has been happening for the past 60 years.

There's more...

Ehud Barak Takes Labor Over a Cliff into Political Irrevelance

Fresh off its worst electoral showing in its history garnering just 334,900 votes or 9.9% of the electorate, Israel's Labor Party Central Committee voted in favor of joining Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition. Labor Chairman and the current Defense Minister Ehud Barak drafted the deal with Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

But half of the left-leaning party's lawmakers objected to teaming up with the Likud leader due to his long-standing opposition to peace efforts. Ehud Barak made his appeal to join the Netanyahu coalition invoking slain Israeli leader Yitzhak Rabin. In an impassioned speech before the vote, Ehud Barak said "we are responsible for the Labor Party, but we also have a responsibility to the state of Israel, to peace, to security. We don't have a back-up country, Yitzhak Rabin said that, and it is still true."

"Labor voters want to see us in the government, they want to see us there because we don't have a spare country," Mr. Barak added. I'm not so sure. I tend to agree with Kadima's Yohanan Plesner who said that Labor had "signed its own death warrant."

There's more...

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