Tuesday, May 31, 2011

But if feels like a Monday

Oh how I hate Ohio State.  OSU Head Football Coach Jim Tressel stepped down amid the burgeoning investigation into wrong doing at THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY.  The man in the sweater vest won 83 percent of his games in 10 seasons with Ohio State. He went 9-1 against Michigan, won seven Big Ten titles and a national championship.  He looked like a high school algebra teacher and ended up like so many others before him: wins and sins go hand in hand.  This further backs my opinion that the Buckeye Bastards should not have been allowed to dress the five suspended players in January’s Sugar Bowl; a game that OSU defeated Arkansas 31-26.  On a personal note, I find most OSU Alumni to be boorish blowhards, so yeah I revel in this news story.

NBA versus NHL.  The respective finals kick off this week, and while I am admittedly biased by the presence of the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup final, I have to say the NHL playoffs kick the NBA’s ass in terms of pace of play, excitement, pressure, adrenalin, etc.  And nothing beats sudden death in the playoffs.  So LeBron, D-Wade, Dirk, et al have fun, but this guy is all about the frozen pond.
Did any competitor have a worse Sunday than IndyCar rookie driver JR Hildebrand?  After 499.5 miles, the rookie tried to pass a lapped car in turn four and hit the wall on the final lap and ended up a disappointing 2nd.  Paging Mr. Hildebrand, there’s a Mr. McIlroy on line 2.
NHL announces the Atlanta Thrashers have been sold and will relocate to Winnipeg. 90% of Americans ask: (1) There was a hockey team in Atlanta? And (2) Where the hell is Winnipeg?
Raising Cain and a few eyebrows too.  Herman “Godfathers Pizza” Cain must have been channeling Michelle “Make it up on the fly” Bachmann when he made this quote “We don’t need to rewrite the Constitution of the United States, we need to reread the Constitution and enforce the Constitution. We don't need to rewrite, let's reread. And I know that there are some people that are not going to do that, so for the benefit of those that are not going to read it because they don’t want us to go by the Constitution, there’s a little section in there that talks about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.... When you get to the part about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, don't stop right there, keep reading. Because that’s when it says when any form of government becomes destructive of those ideals, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.”  The problem: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is from the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution.  Seriously, what is with the Republican Party?  Who will announce their candidacy next: Cliff Clavin?
Eric Cantor stating that before the US federal government offers disaster recovery assistance to the people of Missouri, the Congress must decide what will be cut from the budget to offset the emergency appropriation.   Really?  Ideological posturing over disaster relief.  Yep, there’s that a compassionate conservative.
Rick the secessionist Perry is now saying he is considering a Presidential run.  The Governor of Texas is realizing that he better do it now before the pending implosion of Texas’ finances becomes publicized.  The massive cuts to education prove once and for all that the key to Republican success is to dumb down the electorate.
Egyptian businessman, Mahmoud Abdel-Salam Omar, was awaiting arraignment on Tuesday evening on charges that he sexually abused a 44-year-old housekeeper who brought tissues to his room at his request. Once she was inside the room, Mr. Omar grabbed her breasts, kissed her and rubbed against her, the police said.  This alleged assault also took place at the Sofitel New York where former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is accused of sexually assaulting a housekeeper.  Let’s these foreign sexual predators try this shit on Hazel or Alice.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

South Carolina Can Keep its Stars and Bars, Dixie, high infant mortality rate, and obesity.

A couple of weeks ago, South Carolina Governor and Tea Party Heroine Nikki Haley challenged GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney and his record as Governor of Massachusetts.  Romney has been defending his record as the man who signed into law the Massachusetts healthcare law providing universal healthcare coverage to all citizens.  "I will tell you we do not want a Massachusetts health care plan in South Carolina," Haley said in an exclusive interview with ABC News "This Week" anchor Christiane Amanpour.   I think that he will have to continue to deal with that issue. I think he's going to have to talk about how that was not good for the country. That wouldn't be a good thing that we'd want to mandate on all of our states."
So Li’l Sarah, you think South Carolina is better off than Massachusetts?  Well, let’s look at the numbers shall we class:

%Population without Healthcare:               MA (5%)               SC (16.4%)
Immunization coverage %                            MA (93.4%)         SC (90.5%)
Primary physicians per 100k people           MA (191.3)          SC (104.3)
Prenatal care (% Pregnant Women)           MA (88.2%)         SC (65.8%)
Premature Death (Yrs lost/100k ple)          MA (5,757)          SC (9,521)
Infant mortality (death per 1k births)         MA (4.8)               SC (8.5)
Stroke (% adult population)                          MA (1.9%)           SC (3.1%)
High Cholesterol (% adult population)       MA (35.6%)         SC (41.8%)
High Blood Press (% adult population)       MA (25.7%)         SC (32.6%)
Heart Attack (% adult population)              MA (3.9%)           SC (4.5%)
Cardiac Disease (% adult population)         MA (3.8%)           SC (4.4%)
Diabetes (% adult population)                     MA (7.9%)           SC (10.3%)

The above is but a sample of Massachusetts to South Carolina comparisons, and there are plenty of other comparisons such as education and employment that would tell the same story.  So Ms. Haley, you can defend your state of unhealthy unemployed uneducated masses because your citizens are free.  I will tell you fat, stupid, and out-of-work isn’t free, it’s sad and unnecessary.

The xenophobic Arizona state senate leader Russell Pearce once again is either confused or is an unabashed liar.  In a recent fundraiser letter, Pearce launched a half-ass inaccurate description of the Dream Act: “If the so-called DREAM Act becomes law, the Department of (IN)Security is required to grant amnesty to EVERY illegal alien who: (1) Has been present in the United States for at least the past five years; (2) Has attained a U.S. high school diploma or GED, or has been admitted to a U.S. institution of higher learning: and (3) Is of 'good moral character' and has not received more than two misdemeanor convictions."  Pearce is implying that all illegal aliens would gain citizenship by meeting these three criteria, when in truth, there are at least eight more criteria that would need to be met before an undocumented person could gain citizenship.  At the end of the day, less than 40% of the eligible undocumented people would likely gain citizenship.  By the way, these other criteria include learning English, providing biometric data for national identification and two years of college or military service.  Tell you what Pearce; get your story straight on your Fiesta Bowl and other gifts before you spew any more white supremacist nonsense.

Recent poll from KSTP/SurveyUSA in Minnesota, President Obama leads Pawlenty 47-43 in the poll, which surveyed 552 registered voters in Minnesota earlier this week. Obama leads Michele Bachmann 57-32. By comparison, Obama beat John McCain in 2008 here by 10 percentage points. That’s the President kicking the crap out of Minnesota’s finest Republican politicians in head to head polling.

One thing Mr. Obama must do is visit Israel and give a speech directly to the Israeli people so they can hear from his lips his thoughts, plans, and ideas for the region.  Sadly, too many Israelis are influenced by the ubiquitous Fox News Channel and the End of Days rants from the Evangelicals such as Palin, Bachmann, and Huckabee.

In related news and as predicted in this column, Israeli Prime Minister saw a major 15% spike in his approval ratings back home according to a poll in Ha’aretz.  What is unique in this poll was the across the board bump he got from the right, center, and left; the right, no doubt, from his confrontation with Obama, and the center/left from his reaffirmation of the two-state solution.  Equally surprising, and contrary to U.S. media claims, President Obama is not viewed as hostile to Israel by Israelis.  Asked their opinion of Obama, who tussled with Netanyahu late last week and also stung him a bit during his speech to the AIPAC annual conference on Sunday, 43 percent of those polled described him as "businesslike," while a quarter described him as friendly and only 20 percent saw him as hostile.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hey GOP the honeymoon is over

You know why so many Americans have the facts wrong on so many issues: Fox Freaking News.  Whether it’s the cable news channel or the website, they just seem to be forensically factually challenged.  The latest nugget was referenced by Michelle Bachmann in her attack on President Obama’s speech about Israel.  The twit’s (I could have used another noun) tweet had a link to a Foxnews.com article that stated: “The nation of Israel, created in 1948, expanded in 1967 after it was collectively attacked by its three Arab neighbors, Syria, Egypt and Jordan. Israel repelled the attack in six days and captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. It has since abandoned Gaza, which is now run by Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist group.”  Fact: Israel preemptively attacked Egypt, Jordan, and Syria based on verified intelligence that Syria and Egypt were planning an invasion of Israel, and Jordan’s King Hussein was pondering joining in.  When Jordan’s Arab Legion joined the fray, the Israelis pressed the attack and captured the West Bank and Jerusalem.    Semantics?  No, not really.  Yes, Israel was right to preemptively attack so say so and by all means try to include a shred of accuracy.  Oh shit, I just realized how stupid I sound.
So Palin is taking a motor coach rally across the country to promote her latest movie and probably feel out her chances (they’re dwindling) in a 2012 campaign.  Sarah, here is some friendly advice from a fellow Arizonan, be sure to check out your HOA regulations about parking RV’s in your neighborhood.
Not even seven months since the GOP’s landmark victories in the 2010 midterms, the luster has turned to rust.  Florida governor Rick Scott is already down to a 29% approval and 57% disapproval, Ohio governor John Kasich is down to 33% approval and 56% disapproval, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker is down to 43% approval and 54% disapproval.  And there is the Big Kahuna himself, the Governor of New Jersey and GOP 2012 Presidential Hail Mary Chris “Bobby Bacala” Christie who has seen is popularity plummet to a 40% favorability.  Conversely, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo in New York has passed significant spending and benefits cuts since taking office 7 months ago has an approval rating of 71%.  Why?  He has taken a balanced approach to spending and taxes which is resonating across the political spectrum, unlike his Republican brethren who have taken a slash and burn at the expense of the middle and poorer classes.
The birthers can’t let it go.  It seems they are still not convinced about Obama’s origins, and now they are going after our 21st President Chester Arthur, born in Vermont to a British father who ascended to the Presidency in 1880 after President John Garfield was assassinated.  I hear Abraham Lincoln was a Muslim.
Memo to Tim Pawlenty, your bid to become President may be in deep shit if you’re behind Godfather Pizza’s Herman Cain in the polls.  Yes the same Herman Cain who said Planned Parenthood’s early objective was to "help kill black babies before they came into the world."  Yep, not a good sign.
The Supreme Court made the right decision in backing the Arizona law penalizing businesses for hiring illegal immigrants.  The strange partnership between the ACLU and the Chamber of Commerce who fought against the Arizona law is reminiscent of the early 20th century KKK, Anti-Saloon League, and Women’s Suffragette Movement troika that fought to implement prohibition.  Politics makes strange bedfellows and strange bedfellows make bedbugs.
And to all Republican politicians, pundits, party officials, and water carriers, your cries and complaints that the Democrats are playing the demagogue card to get voters up in arms against the GOP because of Ryan’s slashing Medicare-privatization budget ring hollow after you played the death panel, Obamacare socialized medicine antics of 2010.  I’ll give you something to cry about Boehner.  By the way, what the hell is right wing social engineering? 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ronald McDonald leads Michelle Bachman in the polls

Did you know that circumcision came to America as a Victorian British fad, not as a primarily Jewish custom, of which the original stated objective was to dissuade young men from masturbating?  Why am I sharing this with you?  Well, this November there will be a ballot measure in San Francisco to ban circumcision.  Crazy Liberals, first they want to ban Happy Meals, but now they want to save foreskins.  I guess some budget cuts are tougher than others.    Safe to say this is headed to the Supreme Court in the future.
Speaking of the Supreme Court; this week’s 5-4 ruling mandating that the State of California release up to 30,000 inmates due to overcrowding has raised the ire of the right and with it, the usual cries of judicial activism.  You mean they cannot transfer the worst felons to other states as some sort of exchange program?  Hell, send them to the border with some materials from Home Depot and start building a fence.
The staff at Diggapedia is closely watching the special election in New York’s 26th Congressional District, my old district, where a Democrat is leading both the Republican and Tea Party candidates for the vacant seat of the Craigslist Congressman: Chris Lee.  A Democrat victory could be a harbinger of GOP difficulties attributed to the unpopularity of Paul Ryan’s Medicare privatization. 
Also keep an eye on the 2012 Virginia Senate race between former Governor and DNC Chairman Tim Kaine and former Republican Senator George Allen of Maccca fame.  These guys are running neck and neck for the seat being vacated by the retiring Democrat Jim Webb in a state that Obama carried by 230,000 votes in 2008.  The presence of Tea Party candidate Jamie Radtke could become a factor if it forces Allen to move so far right to get the nomination, he could lose the independent center in the general election.
Liberals piss me off when they can’t recognize that a moderate democratic candidate still should be supported against the opposition in a general election.  Good is not the enemy of perfect.  They are like many in the Tea Party, their twisted twins at the other end of the political spectrum, and cannot accept that 70% of America resides in the moderate zone in the chewy center. 
The embarrassing tough times for the Pakistani military continue.  Just weeks after the successful U.S. raid on Bin Laden’s Pornshop in Abbottabad, six Taliban militants raided a Pakistani naval base in Karachi and blew up two Orion Reconnaissance Planes.  Suddenly the once vaunted Pakistani armed forces are looking like a cross between F Troop and McHale’s Navy.  It would be funny, if they didn’t possess dozens of nuclear weapons.
So Greece is now in full liquidation mode to raise capital in the face of austerity induced programs related to its European and IMF rescue packages.  Sources tell me that George Papadopolous at the Century 21 office in Athens is listing the Acropolis as a unique fixer upper.
Speaking of Greece, the putrid politician and pundit hyperbole claiming the U.S. is headed down the road to financial failure like Greece need to STFU.  Do we need to get a financial house in order?  Absolutely.  But this inaccurate fear mongering needs to stop.  If the U.S. were headed to imminent financial ruin why are U.S. Treasury bond yields (higher yields are a measure of risk to default) at 3.13% while bonds from Greece, Ireland, and Portugal are 14.21%, 11.15%, and 10.01% respectively?  Further, as soon as there is a hiccup in Europe, capital inflows into the U.S. immediately pick up and the dollar strengthens.  This battle over the debt ceiling is a distraction and Boehner needs to get his newbies in line.
Activist shareholders at McDonalds annual shareholders meeting are trying to get a resolution passed to axe Ronald McDonald, the iconic red haired clown of the golden arches.  A somber Ronald told a reporter from the Candy Land Chronicle “When they came for the Hamburgular, I didn’t speak put because I wasn’t a burglar, when they came for Mayor McCheese, I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a politician, then they came for me and there was no one to left to speak out for me.”
Michelle Bachmann at a family values function in Minnesota said of running for President will not be easy.  “If this is something the Lord has called us to, he will make a way where this no way.”  Eight years of Jesus told me to run Bush Administration, and now we have another politician lining up to bring Evangelism to Pennsylvania Ave.  Seriously, Congresswoman Bachmann, be sure it’s the Lord really telling you to run.  That voice you’re hearing may be Chris Matthews.  Haaaaaaah!.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ben Stein has lost his mind

These comments have to do with IMF head and indicted sexual assailant Dominique Strauss-Kahn:
- Former Nixon speechwriter and Ferris Bueller teacher Ben Stein on the arrest of DSK: Stein: "People accuse other people of crimes all of the time. What do we know about the complainant besides that she is a hotel maid? ... How do we know that this woman's word was good enough to put Mr. Strauss-Kahn straight into a horrific jail?"
- Self-proclaimed French intellectual, journalist, and philosopher Bernard-Henry Levi Levy: "I do not know -- but, on the other hand, it would be nice to know, and without delay -- how a chambermaid could have walked in alone, contrary to the habitual practice of most of New York's grand hotels of sending a 'cleaning brigade' of two people, into the room of one of the most closely watched figures on the planet."
One rapist and two massive douchebags.  This represents the further decline of Ben Stein into buffoonery also known as Fox News Contributor.
Somebody has to win the nomination.  In a recent AP poll of likely Republican primary voters, 45% indicated they were not satisfied with the current selection of Presidential candidates.  Not satisfied with Mitt Car Salesman Romney, Herman Insane Cane, Rick Head Up His Santorum, Tim Yawn Plenty Pawlenty, Gary Who the Hell Johnson, Jon Worked for Obama Huntsman, and Michelle Batshit Bachmann.  Things are so desperate I hear Giuliani’s name being raised and there’s even a We Want Jeb The Good Son Bush movement getting underway.  Are they really that scared of Obama?
Thankfully the system worked in Tennessee.  After 16 months of rallies and court hearings, the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro will soon start construction on a future mosque.  Two takeaways: If a mosque can be built in Tennessee there is hope for us after all, and now we can answer the question how far away is far away enough to build a mosque from ground zero; 880 miles.
I don’t agree with Republican strategist Mike Murphy often, but he was spot on when he said this about Mitch Daniels dropping out of the GOP race due to family concerns: “There is an old rule in politics, if you’re going to run, make sure your wife will vote for you.”  Priceless.
If Paul Ryan (R-WI) and the Republican Party’s Boy Genius on all things budget and Medicare related were truly courageous he would have included tax increases as part of his deficit reduction plan.  Now I will give him credit for raising the issue of Medicare reform knowing that it was political dynamite, but to imply that Grandma or Grandpa will be empowered to buy healthcare on the open market is as insulting as it is ludicrous.
Jon Huntsman seems like a nice guy, but everybody has a clip in their closet which could kill a campaign.  In Huntsman’s case it is from 2008: “In a world of artificiality, we are looking for originality, we are looking for authenticity, for a rebel, a renegade,” he yells at the camera. “We are looking for Sarah! We are looking for a beacon of light to show us the way…We are looking for Sarah… Sar-ah! Sar-ah!”  America thanks Jon Huntsman for participating in the 2012 presidential contest and wishes him the best of luck in his future endeavors. 
Memo to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: When you want to prop up your 32% approval rating at home I suggest you find a different punching bag than our President.  I love Israel, but I won’t accept you coming to MY country and insulting MY President.  And I am sure you are smart enough to know the BILLION reasons why that is a stupid thing to do.

Sunday Brunch: Lance Armstrong needs a hug

Former Lance Armstrong cycling teammates George Hincapie and Tyler Hamilton are claiming Lance injected PED’s including EPO during his Tour de France reign.  This marks this first time that successful teammates and often self-described friends have testified they witnessed Lance inject.  Kind of makes Lance’s repeated claims that he ‘never tested positive’ ring hollow; test results can easily be manipulated and adulterated.
McDonalds announced that is looking into replacing cashiers in its European restaurants with self-serve kiosks and debit/credit card scanners.  No cashier?  Who’s going to tell the customers about the specials and the details of how the chef prepares the dishes?
The new American Corporation.  Neither Facebook nor Twitter are publicly listed, but secondary-market trade values these two social network giants at approximately $76 Billion..more than Boeing and Ford.  Also, LinkedIn completed its IPO this week and ended the week with a market capitalization of $9.8 Billion.  So Likes and Dislikes, Pokes, and Status Updates are more valuable than Mustangs, 747s, and Apache helicopters.  New world order or new dotcom bust?
Please Michelle Bachmann run for President.  Here are some funny jokes already coming out:
·        Bill Maher: "Michele Bachmann threw her hat into the ring. We think she's going to be running for president. For those who find Sarah Palin too intellectual.”
·        Conan O’Brien: "Lenscrafters is upset with Tea Partier Michele Bachmann because she called Planned Parenthood 'the Lenscrafters of abortion.' Lenscrafters released a statement today calling her 'the Costco of crazy.'"
·        Jay Leno: “"Michele Bachmann says she will launch her presidential campaign in either Massachusetts or New Hampshire as soon as she figures out which is which. There could be some eligibility problems for her. She has her birth certificate, but nobody can produce her high school diploma.”

Senate leaders from both parties are discussing tax reform, deficit reductions, debt ceiling, and budget cuts, and the use of so-called triggers that would go into effect if deficit levels are exceeded.  I thought I would share with you some previous Congressional and Presidential plans to curb spending via triggers:

·        In 1984 Reagan proposed an income tax surcharge and oil tax if deficit exceeded targets…it was never enacted, but Reagan, the Zeus of the Republican Party today, proposed a tax increase on the oil industry…the horror!
·        In 1990 Budget Enforcement Act capped discretionary spending and required offsets for tax cuts and new entitlements.  This was adhered to until the budget surplus generated in 1998.  Holy shit.  Imagine that two administrations and Democratic and Republican controlled Congresses agreeing to pay for tax cuts and new entitlements.  Where have those days gone?
·        In 1997 the Medicare “Sustainable Growth Rate” mandated cuts in physicians fees if costs gre too quickly.  This has been ignored or circumvented every year since, showing how effective Congress is at kicking some tough issues down the road again and again.
·        We’ll see what happens come 2014 when the Independent Payment Advisory Board, established in 2010, is set up to recommend changes if Medicare spending grows too fast.  Not holding breath.

The Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox are playing interleague baseball at Fenway Park this weekend and the teams are wearing throwback uniforms commemorating the last time the Cubs visited Fenway: 1918 during the World Series.  If the Cubs chose to wear uniforms dating back to when they last won the World Series, they would be wearing loincloths. 
So Paul Ryan (R-WI) is some sort of wunderkind and the brains of the Republican Party.  If he is so freaking smart, then explain to me how his deficit reduction plan, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) shows the debt increasing to $16.2 trillion in 2012 and rising every year after that up to $23.1 trillion in 2021.  So how the hell can the GOP be talking tough about the debt limit and deficit reduction when according to their own genius’ plan, the debt limit would have to increase by 50% over the next 10 years?  Hypocritical assholes.
And here is a shot at the Liberal Democrats who want to reduce the deficit by cutting defense and increasing taxes.  Grow up.  Spending needs to be cut across the board and tax rates need to be brought back to 1990’s levels. 
In a May Gallup poll, 53% of Americans surveyed think same-sex marriage should be legalized, for the first time since the organization has conducted the survey.  So why do people on the right continue to say we are a center-right country?
As the Republican Party bosses grow increasingly dissatisfied with the current field of candidates for the 2012 election, they continue to apply more pressure to Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels to enter the race.  Funny thing, don’t candidates always look better until people start focusing on what they said or did previously.  Exhibit 2: Daniels is for the implementation of Value-Added Tax (VAT), like they have, god forbid, in Europe.  I can see the Tea Partiers already reaching for their anti-seizure medicine.  BREAKING NEWS: Daniels won’t run.  Now Batting Chris Christie.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Digganalysis: What did Obama really say this week?

There is a lot of commentary, criticism, analysis, and mock outrage regarding President Obama’s speech on Thursday regarding Israel.  Politicians and pundits on the right are hammering the President saying he has sold out Israel.  Romney “…threw Israel under the bus.”, Bachmann “In a shocking display of betrayal towards our ally, President Obama is now calling on Israel to give up yet more land and return to its 1967 borders.”, Pawlenty "President Obama’s insistence on a return to the 1967 borders is a mistaken and very dangerous demand.", Limbaugh “The Arab Spring is an uprising of Middle Eastern nations against Israel and they aided and abetted by President Barack Obama of the United States of America.”, Beck “(Obama) betrayed our last great ally.”, Hannity: Romney said Obama threw Israel under the bus more like under a bus full of suicide bombers.”
But what did Obama really say?  With respect to the borders:
Obama said: “So while the core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear: a viable Palestine, and a secure Israel. The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.”
In other words, he articulated what has been the United States’ position regarding the region for decades.  He is stating the 1967 borders as a starting point with negotiations from there, though there is no way, rightly so, Israel will relinquish control of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.  But is this really a radical statement from a sitting U.S. President?  Who made the following statement while visiting in Israel?
“The point of departure for permanent status negotiations to realize this vision seems clear: There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967. The agreement must establish Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people, just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people. These negotiations must ensure that Israel has secure, recognized, and defensible borders. And they must ensure that the state of Palestine is viable, contiguous, sovereign, and independent.”

That would be George W. Bush in January, 2008.  So let’s be intellectually honest and admit that this week’s mock outrage from the right is because it was President Obama who made the speech. 

But never mind us.  How do Israeli citizens see the current situation with the Palestinians and how do they envision the future?
A Smith Institute poll conducted ahead of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s upcoming visit to the U.S. found that 58 percent of the public supports a "two-state solution" to the Israel-Palestinian Authority conflict, 37 percent oppose the plan and five percent claims no opinion. The study was conducted on a representative sample of 500 Israeli adults. Deeper review of the poll’s findings, however, revealed several differences in the population. Seventy percent of Israel's religious population and 53 percent of Israeli Jews under the age of 30 oppose the plan, with 73 percent of secular Jews and 63 percent of Israeli Jews over the age of 50 supporting the establishment of a PA state. 
Clearly Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is opposed to any peace settlement; but what about other Israeli government officials?  How about Israeli Defense Minister and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak: "I don’t think that the president's speech was such a bad thing," he added. "I think it's good that the prime minister brought attention to the fact that we expect the recognition of settlement blocs and that we want the refugees to be absorbed within the Palestinian state. I don’t think that the president said it was necessary to return to the 1967 lines, but rather that we need to start the discussion based on the 1967 borders."
While everyone in the US is focusing what the President said about Israel, his tough love for the Palestinians is not playing very well within the Arab community. 
Obama said: For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure. Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state. Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection. And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist.”
And you know what? Most Palestinians have had enough of the terror, rocket, and mortar attacks by Hamas.  Recent polling suggests that Palestinians are realizing that military attacks are not the right path to statehood.   According to the poll released by the JMCC on Sunday, since the Gaza war the ratio of Palestinians who opposed "military operations" against Israel rose from 38.1% in January of 2009 to 51.8% in April of 2011. Accordingly, the poll states, "the ratio of Palestinians who support military operations decreased from 53.3% in January 2009 to 37.1% in April 2011."
Obama closed with an extremely supportive position on Israel’s security and reminded everyone that unless we get the borders and security questions answered, the issues of access to Jerusalem and the Palestinian right to return for its refugees can never be addressed

As for Israel, our friendship is rooted deeply in a shared history and shared values. Our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. And we will stand against attempts to single it out for criticism in international forums. But precisely because of our friendship, it is important that we tell the truth: the status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace.

As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself – by itself – against any threat.

Palestinians should know the territorial outlines of their state; Israelis should know that their basic security concerns will be met. I know that these steps alone will not resolve this conflict. Two wrenching and emotional issues remain: the future of Jerusalem, and the fate of Palestinian refugees. But moving forward now on the basis of territory and security provides a foundation to resolve those two issues in a way that is just and fair, and that respects the rights and aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians.
Why should the U.S. care about Israel and why would our President, and all other U.S. Presidents, feel compelled to interject themselves into this perennial and perpetual debate?  For starters, the U.S. whether we or anyone else admits it, is the world’s sole global superpower and policeman and is therefore blamed for all the bad things and never gets the credit it deserves.  The Israeli-Palestinian situation is Main Street or City Center when it comes to the Arab world and The West, it is the lightning rod of Arab fire on the street and it is the real, imagined, or perceived evidence that the U.S. wants to keep the Arab people undermined and impoverished via its support of Israel and its support of Arab dictators and monarchs.  It was only natural that the Arab Spring, a stupid name for the 2011 populace uprisings across the region, would lead to Israel and the Palestinian Territories.  But why should we care?  We care because unrest in the region leads to economic instability and specifically skyrocketing oil prices.  We care because instability spawns radical elements that end up joining terrorist organizations that become threats to our troops.  Just like the invasion of Iraq led to terrorist recruitment, the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian situation also leads to terrorist recruitment.  General David Petraeus testified “Israeli-Palestinian tensions often flare into violence and large-scale armed confrontations. The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. … Meanwhile, al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support.” 

I have read about the Middle East and written extensively about the region this year and I am as convinced as ever that two state-solution is necessary.  As I wrote on April 21st in the fourth and final chapter regarding the region:
“… and put a credible plan of Palestinian autonomy on the table.  Believe it or not, the last suggestion will be the hardest to accomplish due to the politics in Israel and the weakness of the Netanyahu coalition government.  Creating a two state solution will not solve all of the problems and there will always be self-serving politicians and demagogues who will claim the Palestinians got screwed.  But, it may be enough to unify the vast majority of Western and Arab nations against the instigators in the militant wings of the Shia and Sunni sects”
So what exactly did The President do wrong?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

It's all a bunch of bologna

Looking to blame someone for high gas prices?  Blame George W. Bush and his neocons who decided to invade Iraq.  Iraq, following the destruction of the first gulf war, had clawed back to ~3million barrels/day in 2000.  In 2010, the maximum number achieved was less than 2.5million barrels/day.  So, in a world with increased demand, our fabulous oilman President contributed to higher gas prices by reducing supply in the face of growing global demand.  By the way, if Bush hadn’t invaded Iraq it is likely that country would be producing close to 4million barrels/day today.  Thanks W.
While everyone is complaining about illegal immigration and our need to close the borders, the real problem is our xenophobic-induced pendulum swing after 9/11 that has closed the flow of foreign-born PhD applicants to US universities.  These brilliant scientists, engineers, doctors, researchers, and inventors are staying home and when that happens, we lose out on the innovative powers and capability and yes, it results in high tech companies going off sure for R&D.  And before you say ‘good riddance’ because you wrongly believe there are US students waiting in the wings, guess again.  We produce too many MBA’s and Lawyers, and not enough scientists and engineers. 
Buried news story about former Blackwater founder and Chairman Erik Prince, Mr. Prince is creating a foreign born private army in the Islamic nation of the United Arab Emirates.  This foreign born non-Muslim army is being investigated by the State Department for violations of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.  The New York Times reported: Mr. Prince has been hired by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, to recruit an American-led force of mainly South American former soldiers, through a company called R2, with a view to countering a perceived threat from Iran and bolstering domestic security, the report said.  After getting blackballed by the Departments of State and Defense, Prince decided to sell his services offshore; funny one man’s free market contractor is another man’s foreign-born fighter.  Let’s just call them what they are: mercenaries.
I love Rick Santorum and hope he stays in the GOP race for a long time as long as he keeps offering up pearls like these: "Everything I've read shows that we would not have gotten this information as to who this man was if it had not been gotten information from people who were subject to enhanced interrogation," Santorum said. "And so this idea that we didn't ask that question while Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was being waterboarded, he (McCain) doesn't understand how enhanced interrogation works.” McCain stated that waterboarding is torture, we shouldn’t torture, and that, according to his conversations with CIA Director Leon Panetta, torture didn’t get us any intel on Bin Laden’s location.  But to think Santorum can make such statements shows how ridiculous the former Pennsylvania Senator has become.
Last Friday custom agents in St. Teresa, New Mexico busted a truck driver trying to smuggle 385 pounds of contraband bologna, hidden behind his seat, into the states.  We must stem the tide of illegal deli meats into this country.  Foreign processed luncheon meats take jobs away from our local deli employees.  My bologna has a first name it’s O-S-C-A-R, my bologna has a 2nd name it’s F-E-L-O-N.  This guy will go from smuggling the bologna to hiding the salami.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A response to Mahmoud Abbas' Op-Ed in the NY Times

Those that follow this blog know that I have written extensively about the Middle East, the Israel/Palestine struggle, democracy, and the birth of Israel and how the Palestinian state was stillborn.  So when, my dear friend Moshe suggested I read Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ Op-Ed in Monday’s New York Times I immediately sought out the piece.  Let me start by saying that I believe Abbas represents the best option for a long term Israeli-Palestinian two state solution, and I think he has bent over backwards to accommodate the Netanyahu government’s uneven approach to peace talks while holding off anti-peace factions from within the Palestinian ranks.  That being said, Abbas, counting on America’s dearth of knowledge of Middle East history, paints a rather creative narrative.  At the minimum, he has taken creative license with modern history; at the maximum he has lost touch with reality.
In Abbas’ piece he tells his personal story of how we was forced from his homeland by Jewish forces in 1947 and THAT was what lead to the invasion of Arab nations to save their brothers.  Abbas’ also claims his human rights were violated and that the UN must recognize the Palestinian state.  Abbas writes “Minutes after the State of Israel was established on May 14, 1948, the United States granted it recognition. Our Palestinian state, however, remains a promise unfulfilled.”  Yes the US recognized Israel per the Partition Plan, and yes the Palestinian State was not recognized.  Why?  There was no Palestinian state to recognize, because the Palestinians did not accept the UN Mandate and with it did not, like today, recognize Israel.  In closing his Op-Ed, Abbas refers to the December, 1948 UN resolution 194 which covers amongst other things, the right of return on Palestinian refugees.  Yes it is a compelling story from Abbas that has just enough facts to sound legitimate to many, but is grossly inaccurate with suspect analysis.
Here are some facts about the UN Resolution in 1947 that created the two state solution of a Jewish state and an Arab state.
·        On November 29, 1947 the UN General Assembly voted 33 to 13, with 10 abstentions, in favor of the Partition Plan, ending the British Mandate in Palestine and establishing a Jewish state and an Arab state in the territory known as Palestine.  This two state solution was to go in effect on May 14, 1948, the date of British withdrawal.  Immediately the Arabs refused to accept the Plan as did militant Jewish organizations such as the Irgun and its leader and future Prime Minister Menachem Begin.
·        The indigenous Arabs, or Palestinians, would not accept a Jewish state and believed with men and arms from fledgling Arab states would easily overrun the Jewish settlers and destroy the state of Israel before it got off the ground.
·        Political infighting amongst the Palestinian tribal leaders and distrust between the Arab nation leaders would result in a poorly coordinated Arab effort suffering from no leadership, training, money, and organization.
·        Did Jewish paramilitary forces drive indigenous Arabs from the land earmarked from the Jewish state?  Absolutely.  David Ben Gurion and other Jewish leaders knew they would be facing an existential external threat from the surrounding Arab states and could not afford to fight a rearguard action against a fifth column of Arab sympathizing Arabs.
·        Were some horrific acts perpetrated by Jewish forces?  Definitely.  Did Arabs do the same to Jewish settlers?  For sure.
·        Does Un Resolution 194 ask for the return of refugees to their homeland?  Yes it does.  But it also says: Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.  The kicker?  That little stipulation about living at peace with their neighbours.  I do not think Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al Aqsa Brigade, and the Salafist movements in Gaza know what peace is.
·        Abbas also fails to mention that in 1949 Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion offered the Arabs a deal to allow return of refugees, but the Arabs declined.
Will the UN recognize Palestine like many nations have been doing recently?  It may very well with a number of stipulations including Hamas/Fatah reunification and the combined recognition of Israel and pledge to halt all attacks.  Should Israel then negotiate fairly and honestly with the Palestinian Authority?  Yes as it is the only legitimate path to complying with the 1947 declaration.  Netanyahu will be making speeches while he is visiting the US this week, I suspect he will probably take some liberties with the facts as well.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Mishegas and Pop Quiz

Who said it:
“I am for people, individuals–exactly like automobile insurance–individuals having health insurance and being required to have health insurance. And I am prepared to vote for a voucher system which will give individuals, on a sliding scale, a government subsidy so we insure that everyone as individuals have health insurance.”
a)      Barack Obama
b)      Joe Biden
c)      Nancy Pelosi
d)      Newt Gingrich
e)      Rachel Maddow
Who said it:
"But when it comes to states requiring it for automobile insurance, the principle then ought to lie the same way for health insurance. Because everybody has some health insurance costs, and if you aren’t insured, there’s no free lunch. Somebody else is paying for it….I believe that there is a bipartisan consensus to have individual mandates."
a)      Joe Biden
b)      Harry Reid
c)      Keith Olbermann
d)      Chuck Grassley
e)      Bill Clinton
Who proposed this:
“In return, government would require, by law, every head of household to acquire at least a basic health plan for his or her family.  Thus there would be mandated coverage under the Heritage proposal, but the mandate would apply to the family head, who is the appropriate person to shoulder the primary responsibiity for the family’s health needs, rather than employers, who are not.”
a)      Ultra conservative think tank Heritage Foundation
b)      AFL-CIO
c)      The Teamsters
d)      John Birch Society
e)      New York Times
What President proposed this:
"All citizens should be required to obtain a basic level of health insurance. Not having health insurance imposes a risk of delaying medical care; it also may impose costs on others, because we as a society provide care to the uninsured. The risk of shifting costs to others has led many states to mandate that all drivers have liability insurance. The same logic applies to health insurance...”
a)      Bill Clinton
b)      Barack Obama
c)      Jimmy Carter
d)      George H.W. Bush
e)      Harry Truman
Who said this about Mitt Romney in 2008:
“We need a president who’s not a politician, but who is a real problem solver and who’s proven over the years that he can look at a problem and come up with a solution and actually get the job done. There’s no one in the race like Mitt Romney who’s proved in business and in his volunteer work and as governor of Massachusetts that he can solve a problem. Not by creating more government but by making freedom work for everyone. He’s done it with health care, he’s done it by cutting budget deficits and not increasing taxes.”
a)      Reality TV blowhard Donald Trump
b)      Tea Party Favorite South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint
c)      Radio blowhard Rush Limbaugh
d)      Senate flip flopper John McCain
e)      Faux News blowhard Glenn Beck
Answers (d), (d), (a), (d), (b)
Yeah, funny how the individual mandate was a Republican idea in the 1990’s to counter the employer mandate, but in 2009 it was anti-freedom and anti-American when Democratic President Barack Obama called for it.  Is it possible for an entire political party to flip flop?
Disappointed that Trump won’t be seeking the GOP nomination.  It’s like watching a Three Stooges marathon with no Curly episodes; you feel like you were robbed of some quality zaniness and craziness. 
So the Oil executives and their marionettes in Congress would let you believe that taking away their $2Billion tax breaks could lead to an increase in gasoline prices.  Really?  Then I have to ask, if we increased the tax breaks, how much would the price of gasoline go down?
You know why I enjoy Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, and Chris Wallace (yes I know he is on Fox)?  Because they are about the only talk show hosts who challenge their guests to back up their talking points and explain previous contradictory comments.
The Beltway Republicans are pushing Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels to run for President.  Come on down Mitchy, but please bring your explanation for your performance as George W. Bush’s Budget Director.  Yeah, you’re a fiscal conservative who happened to be watching the checking account when the nation ran up $7.4Billion in debt.  Stay tuned, more questions for Mitchy in the coming days.