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Netanyahu Speech To Congress Shows America Will Buy Anything

A blistering piece of commentary by the esteemed (and leftist) Israeli political commentator, Gideon Levy, in Haaretz today is a must read for anyone who cares to see what progressives in Israel think of Netanyahu’s show today before the U.S. Congress.

Levy begins his piece with these loaded, and to my mind, honest salvos concerning Netanyahu’s speech to Congress today:

It was an address with no destination, filled with lies on top of lies and illusions heaped on illusions. Only rarely is a foreign head of state invited to speak before Congress. It’s unlikely that any other has attempted to sell them such a pile of propaganda and prevarication, such hypocrisy and sanctimony as Benjamin Netanyahu did.The fact that the Congress rose to its feet multiple times to applaud him says more about the ignorance of its members than the quality of their guest’s speech. An Israeli presence on the Jordan River – cheering. Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel – applause. Did America’s elected representatives know that they were cheering for the death of possibility? If America loved it, we’re in big trouble.

As Levy notes, Congress today applauded some painful statements by the Israeli head of state, and this applause said much about both their ignorance on the true state of affairs in Israel as well as their willingness to remain ignorant about the true state of affairs in Israel for political gain (see: the vote of Christian conservatives and the campaign contributions of the Jewish elite).

Below is a brief look at a few of the standing ovations Netanyahu received by our representatives in Congress, and why such applause should be troubling for us as American progressives:

1. Jerusalem as Israel’s Undivided Capital – by applauding this statement by Netanyahu, our leaders essentially applauded the death of any possible peace agreement, for, as everyone knows, East Jerusalem is the proposed capital for a future Palestinian state in every iteration of negotiations that have been produced since Oslo. And yet, a standing ovation. And it bears noting: with the Arab Spring spreading throughout the West Bank and Gaza, and a declaration of Palestinian statehood on the horizon by the U.N. in September, the death of peace negotiations no longer mean what they once did: the status quo. Instead, such a death will mean major instability with unpredictable outcomes.

2. Israel is not occupying the West Bank – when Netanyahu claimed, with a straight face, that the Jewish people are not occupiers, and that the situation in “Judea and Samaria” is not an occupation, Congress roared to its feet. That the U.S. Congress could rise in boisterous applause to a known lie is chastening – Israeli leaders past, including Ariel Sharon, have admitted the obvious: that Israel is in the difficult and damaging position of occupying another people’s land.

3. Boasting on the Status of Israeli-Arabs – Netanyahu’s government has backed a series of anti-Palestinian, anti-democratic laws recently, the most notable of which forbid citizens from recognizing, in any way, The Nakba (which is the sorrowful observance Palestinians engage in as Israelis celebrate Independence Day). By applauding, our leaders, wittingly or not, gave sanction to a leader and an administration which has done much to strip non-Jewish citizens of their democratic rights.

Netanyahu’s speech today, more than anything, signaled the official death of the peace process, for none of the “terms” presented by Israel’s leader comes close to acceptable for the Palestinians.

And by standing to applaud 29 times, our leaders today gave sanction to that death. Even the White House, this evening, issued a statement saying that Netanyahu’s speech “reaffirmed the strength of U.S.-Israeli relationship.”

Here’s why what happened today matters: America has incredible leverage with regard to Israel, and has always been capable of using that leverage to talk Israel down off the pathological ledge it’s been toeing for so long due to my peoples’ existential fear of annihilation. (For good reason, I should add, but I digress.) The United States gives Israel unprecedented monetary, military and diplomatic support, all of which could easily be drawn down.

But as we saw today, the tail unfortunately wags the dog. And this wagging may end up being disastrous not only for Israel, but for American interests in the region as well, for a Netanyahu-applauded vision of Israel-Palestine is nothing more than a recipe for confrontation, for instability like we’ve never seen.

The Arab Spring has changed dynamics such that there is no going back. If Netanyahu, and America, stay on the course articulated today, this is where we may be headed:

1. A Palestinian declaration of statehood by the U.N. in September
2. Israeli & American rejection, with possible annexation of lands
3. A conflict that will not end well.

May my analysis be wrong. I hope such is the case. I fear such a case is becoming increasingly unrealistic.

By: The Troubadour, The Daily Kos, May 24, 2011

May 24, 2011 Posted by | Congress, Conservatives, Democracy, Foreign Governments, Foreign Policy, GOP, Ideologues, Ideology, Lawmakers, Middle East, Politics, Republicans | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Partisanship, Ideology And Race Influence Attitudes Toward Obama

‘Birtherism’ is on the decline following the release of the President’s long form birth certificate. But it is nonetheless instructive to consider how the meme was accepted by so many conservatives. Alan I Abramowitz has what is likely be the definitive data-driven post on the subject up at Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball. Abramowitz weighs the data regarding the influence of partisanship, ideology and race on formation of the birther meme:

Until now, debates about the influence of racial attitudes on opinions of Obama have been severely hampered by a lack of survey data including relevant questions. However, the availability of a new data set now makes it possible to directly examine the impact of racial attitudes on whites’ evaluations of President Obama.The data used in this article come from the October 2010 wave of the American National Election Study Evaluations of Government and Society Survey (EGSS). The October 2010 survey was the first of several cross-sectional studies being conducted by ANES in 2010, 2011 and 2012 to test new instrumentation and measure public opinion between the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. The surveys are being conducted entirely on the Internet using nationally representative probability samples. Respondents are members of the Knowledge Networks KnowledgePanel, an omnibus panel of respondents recruited using telephone and address-based sampling methods who are provided free Internet access and equipment when necessary.

Evaluations of President Obama were measured by two questions, a five-point scale measuring positive versus negative feelings about the president and a seven-point scale measuring how strongly respondents liked or disliked him. The correlation between these two questions was a very strong .85, so I combined them into a single Obama rating scale with a range from 0 (extremely negative) to 10 (extremely positive). The mean score on this scale was 5.1 with a standard deviation of 3.6. About a third (34%) of respondents gave Obama a rating of 8 through 10 while 31% gave him a rating of 0 through 2. Thus, opinions of Obama were closely divided and highly polarized.

Abramowitz also notes that “Obama’s approval rating averaged 38% for whites compared with 59% for nonwhites including 85% for African Americans.” Turning to the question of ‘birther’ attitudes, Abramowitz examines the data and adds,

…Racial resentment had a strong impact on beliefs about his place of birth. While recent polling indicates that doubts about whether President Obama was born in the United States have diminished since he released his “long form” Hawaiian birth certificate, the “birther” myth has proven stubbornly resistant to evidence. In fact, 58% of white respondents in the EGSS expressed some doubt about whether Barack Obama was born in the United States including 28% who thought that he definitely or probably was not born in the United States.

Abramowitz concludes that “partisanship and ideology were the strongest predictors of overall evaluations of President Obama and opinions about his place of birth among white Americans” and that “regardless of party or ideology, whites who scored high on racial resentment had more negative opinions of Obama and were more likely to harbor doubts about whether he was born in the United States than whites who scored low on racial resentment.”

Given the tenacity of racial bias among a substantial segment of the public, President Obama’s approval ratings are all the more impressive, as is his ability to calmly navigate around the treacherous shoals of race in America.

By: Staff, The Democratic Strategist, May 24, 2011

May 24, 2011 Posted by | Bigotry, Birthers, Conservatives, Democracy, GOP, Ideologues, Ideology, Politics, President Obama, Racism, Republicans, Tea Party | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Straight-Talking, Truth-Telling Machine?: Tim Pawlenty’s Version Of The “Truth”

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty formally kicked off his Republican presidential campaign yesterday, and after struggling to come up with a rationale for his candidacy, he’s apparently settled on a theme. Pawlenty, we’re told, will be a straight-talking, truth-telling machine.

As rationales go, I suppose this isn’t bad. Indeed, Pawlenty took steps to back this up, telling Iowans he wants a gradual phasing out of federal ethanol subsidies, and noting that he’s headed to Florida to endorse overhauling Medicare and Social Security. Pawlenty has spent many years saying the exact opposite, but why quibble? This is the new Pawlenty, speaking truth to power, and adopting the mantle of the last honest man in American politics — or so we’re supposed to believe.

But for a man who used the word “truth” 16 times in his campaign kick-off speech, Pawlenty is already undercutting his message with all kinds of falsehoods.

An hour after his official launch, Pawlenty talked to Rush Limbaugh, who noted in 2006 that Pawlenty said that “the era of small government is over” and that “government has to be more proactive, more aggressive.” Pawlenty responded that the newspaper article that published those remarks was wrong; the paper ran a correction; and that he was only quoting someone else.

Dana Milbank looked into this and discovered that Pawlenty “had taken some liberties with the facts.”

The article is all about Pawlenty’s efforts as governor to take on drug and oil companies and other practitioners of “excessive corporate power.” It includes his boast that many ideological Republicans “don’t even talk to me anymore” because of his support for things such as the minimum wage.

“The era of small government is over,” Pawlenty told the newspaper. “I’m a market person, but there are certain circumstances where you’ve got to have government put up the guardrails or bust up entrenched interests before they become too powerful…. Government has to be more proactive, more aggressive.”

The newspaper did issue a “clarification,” but only to say that Pawlenty’s quote about small government was “in reference to a point” made by the conservative writer David Brooks — one that Pawlenty, from his other comments, obviously agreed with.

Of course he did. In 2006, Pawlenty wasn’t well liked by the far-right, as he defended big government, endorsed cap-and-trade, wanted to reimport prescription medication from Canada, and wanted officials to be more effective and aggressive in fighting the oil industry.

Everything he told Limbaugh yesterday, just like the new persona he’s struggling to adopt, just isn’t true.

And really, that’s just scratching the surface. Wonk Room ran a fact-check piece yesterday, noting seven obvious lies Pawlenty told yesterday, on issues ranging from health care on the nation’s finances. Similarly , the AP ran a similar piece, highlighting several more of the candidate’s falsehoods from yesterday.

Pawlenty needs to realize that those who base their entire message on offering candor and uncomfortable truths face an even tougher burden — they’re inviting even tougher scrutiny. By lying repeatedly on his first day as a national candidate, Pawlenty is off to an ignominious start.

By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly, Political Animal, May 24, 2011

May 24, 2011 Posted by | Big Government, Conservatives, Corporations, Elections, GOP, Government, Health Care, Ideologues, Ideology, Medicare, Politics, Republicans, Social Security | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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