The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
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    Obama’s ME Speech Live: Comments? [Updated]


    Tomorrow night, May 19 (time not yet announced), the President will lay out his administration’s role in the Middle East in an attempt to show that it intends to act as a facilitator, not a meddler, and a few other goodies according to his press secretary and aides.

    The Hill says:

    “The White House is also drawing a great deal of attention to the speech. Carney said Tuesday that the President will make news with the speech with "some specific new ideas about U.S. policy towards the region."

    "I can say safely the president will make news on Thursday when he gives this speech," Carney said.

    To that end, Carney said Obama will talk specifically "about ways that we can best support that positive change ... while focusing on our core principles: nonviolence, support for human rights and support for political and economic reform. (my bolds throughout)

    (Sounds as though the White House really wants attention drawn to the speech.)

    Aides hint he’ll speak about bin Laden’s message having been discarded by most Arab nations, and will extol the virtues of non-violent regime changes.  Carney said he will call on Assad of Syria, suggesting there is a limit to international tolerance, and other leaders (Yemen?  UAE?  Bahrain?) to listen to the demands of their people.  He might even talk about a sanction process; 800 protestors have been killed by Assad’s forces in Syria to date.

    After meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan on Tuesday, the President said he will call for renewed I/P peace talks, even though for two years his administration has spent a total of three weeks in talks, and George Mitchell has now resigned.

    The LA Times says:

    “The atmosphere around the speech is politically charged. Republican presidential candidates are looking for weaknesses in Obama's foreign policy positions and the White House is making an effort to rally Jewish leaders and other groups to its agenda.

    Republicans have been hoping to capitalize on tensions between the president and elements of the Jewish community, a relationship that has been fluctuating since his high-profile speech in Cairo in 2009. Some of Obama's critics are already referring to this week's address as the Cairo sequel. Netanyahu will address a joint session of Congress next week as the guest of House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).

    In a private briefing Tuesday for Jewish religious and other community leaders, four top White House aides portrayed Obama as an unwavering friend of Israel. The four included Daniel B. Shapiro, a national security aide and Obama's nominee as the next U.S. ambassador to Israel.

    Those who attended the meeting said Shapiro described the Islamic militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as the rulers of Iran, as hardened enemies of Israel. He also spelled out the administration's opposition to the Palestinian proposal for U.N. recognition of its statehood.”

     Now I had no idea that his agenda needed more rallying of Jewish leaders, but he’s the man, so okay.  And he'll address AIPAC on Sunday.

    Will he discuss that the War Powers Resolution of 1973 means that US intervention in Libya is about to time out on May 20, and that he is seeking ways to almost legally extend it?

    He isn’t likely to tell us where he and his administration stand on Rep. Buck McKeon’s extensions to the National Defense Authorization Act in which is contained more provisions for indefinite detainment of prisoners with essentially no ability to defend themselves, and according to the ACLU:

    “Tucked inside the National Defense Authorization Act, being marked up by the House Armed Services Committee this week, is a hugely important provision that hasn't been getting a lot of attention — a brand new authorization for a worldwide war.

    The current authorization of war provided the constitutional authority for the executive branch to go to war in Afghanistan. Subsequently, it has reportedly been invoked by the executive branch much more broadly to also use military force in Yemen and elsewhere, to justify torture and abuse of detainees, to eavesdrop and spy on American citizens without warrants, and to imprison people captured far from any battlefield without charge or trial.

    Before Congress this week, the proposed authorization of a worldwide war goes much further, however, allowing war wherever there are terrorism suspects in any country around the world without an expiration date, geographical boundaries or connection to the 9/11 attacks or any other specific harm or threat to the United States. There have been no hearings on the provision, nor has its necessity been explained by Rep. McKeon or anyone else in Congress.”

    All agree that Obama didn’t ask for this, but the last I’d read was that he hadn’t decided on a position about it. Thirty-two Democratic House Reps. led by John Conyers oppose it.

    What do you think ‘the news’ will be?  I could apologize for the red herring about the updated NDAA, but I won’t.  Obama has taken advantage of some of these provisions already, and it may reach the floor of the House by the end of the month.  (NY Times editorial)

    Will he announce the Pentagon’s 5,000 troop draw-down in Afghanistan?  Or that he has significantly reduced the target number of trained security forces there as a cost-saving measure?  (Critics charge that the reduction serves to make Petraeus look better, but I couldn't possibly say if that's true; but war cost savings?  Oh, never mind.)


    (cross-posted at


    He should totally rekill Osama bin Laden.

    Or Zombie-bin Laden.  Good 'un, Destor.   ;o)

    Well, I think that he now has OBL kill under his belt, he can now talk about things like nonviolence and human rights without the worry that the message will be lost in the "he's weak on national security and terrorism" screams from the right.  I have no idea what he might say that is particularly noteworthy - there are some many issues from Libya to Syria to I/P to Iraq and Afghanistan to torture to drones to NDAA.  As with many of Obama's speeches, it will probably be heavy on guiding principles / vision and light on specific policies. 

    Obama is definitely in 2012 mode now so it will be in many ways a speech that will help define the difference between his administration going forward and what will likely be the vision espoused by the Republican candidates.  In sense it will put all on them on the spot to respond to it, to say where they agree and where they disagree.  Since the general knee-jerk reaction is to talk negative about anything Obama does, it will likely generate some notable quotes from the candidates that won't play so well with those in the middle and the left.

    Loved 'OBL kill under his belt'; some imagery there, lol!  No biggies you see coming then?  The aides gave away some biggies, IMO, though not surprises; we'll see I guess.

    The only thing I see as possible is to make a commitment to utilize foreign aide to force change and reform - the amount of money we give to Pakistan has become a sore point on both sides of the political spectrum.

    Interesting.  But wouldn't the GOP hate the term 'foreign aide' even more than...'weapons funding'?  Not a peep in the leaks about Pakistan, though.  Hmmm.  He'd say someting about their nukes, though, if he said anything.  I mean, it's one of the new war fronts, isn't it?  Maybe he'll announce that since his 'major disappointment' that India didn't buy our fighter jet package last week, he'll help India broker a deal over Kashmir.  (I confess that I hate that our President is a weapons dealer like al the Ambassadors are.)  Tom Dispatch had something up about all that I haven't read yet; I'll try to snag it after some sleep (and hopefully, dreams). 

    Nah.  No Kashmir.

    Here's the Turse piece from TomDispatch, Trope.  It's very hard reading, worthy of its own diary.

    Well, the rumour mill up here is pretty strong, as well as pretty consistent on what has just happened, and what Obama will say - to the point that Canada's new Foreign Affairs Minister may have let slip what happened.

    Apparently, Obama gave the order for a 2nd mission, which is now over, and was a huge success. In an almost exact replica of the Bin Laden mission, a team of Navy Seals landed in Mecca... entered the Kaaba... captured the Black Stone... brought it back to a specially-cloaked chopper... and then went to dump it into the Mediterranean. 

    Unfortunately, they misjudged the heat, the chopper started to go down, and so... they had to dump the Stone prematurely. 

    Reports from a number of Israeli tourists have unofficially confirmed that the Black Stone crashed through the Dome of the Rock at roughly 09:17 am this morning, piercing the Foundation Stone, and entering the Earth. It is then speculated that the Stone plunged toward the core, which is what sent those jets of white-hot magma - of "unknown origin" - shooting into the sky that you can presently see on the BBC. These jets continued for approximately 3 minutes, at which time a number of at first cloudy, but later shining, forms appeared - announcing themselves to be Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammed. 

    Abraham then picked an American tourist out of the crowd (a David Steinberg, from Hartford), who was given a brief message from Moses, Jesus and Muhammed - a message to be given to the President. After this, the 3 (apparently) high-fived one another and disappeared into the clouds.

    Although final confirmation of the message's contents obviously cannot be given until President Obama publicly reads the message, the inside dope is that the message reads:

    "Bulls in 5. Howdya like us NOW, LeBron?"

    The world comes to an end this Saturday at 6 pm California time so I'm not buying your line...sounds like you're making it up to confuss the believers.

    Beetle you are correct

    Matthew 24:11 (New American Standard Bible)

     11"Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.

    There is no way Quinn knows the score,

    Crap! I had the Canucks over the Bulls. No wonder my bookie was smiling.

    Thanks, Quinn; that was fantastic.  I needed it!  'Mis-judged the heat'!  But what happened that The Fourth didn't join the high-fiving? Prolly that Moses; he allus was old and slow...

    Are the fellas in the clouds these folks?

    I suspect this may have more to do with the GOPer knee-jerk reaction to OSL death by looking at the DoD budget as a juicy tenderloin to be sliced, diced and eaten. They seem all to eager to cast the soldier on to the trash heap with no more than a murmured thank you for your service. They're too eager to withdraw funding for all the extra services they showered the soldier with to keep him interested in volunteering...volunteering so they wouldn't have to institute a draft where their own sons and daughters would be viable candidates. I guarantee you, once they starting cutting out the honey that keeps the solider in their ranks, they'll find them dropping out faster than rain drops in a thunderstorm. Kinda hard to have the fiercest fighting force in the world, but no one in their ranks.

    GOPers and cutting the Defense budget?  I can see them cutting more services to vets, but not active duty or signing bonuses and all that.  You must know something I don't; do say more if you will.

    cutting more services to vets

    May we not profitably pause in stark amaze at the scumbag effrontery of these chickenhawk, limpdicked Repugnants as they demonstrate with no sense of shame whatever hall of fame hypocrisy  in the support of our troops...(as they term it...)

    'Profitably'?  (Stardust shrugs.)

    Well  it broadens the imagination, useful when forced to contemplate the venality, stupidity, self-regard and cupidity of the forces of reaction amongst us.

    Ah; now I get your drift, Pirate.  I was just arguing with an as*hole at the other place about homelessness, and reminding him of his (probably) Sainted Reagan letting so many mentally ill people out onto the streets with prescriptions for psychotropic drugs in their wallets.  But now we have another generation of homeless vets due to untreated PTDS, and fraudulent foreclosure and medical crises.  Both parties have helped on those, I'm afraid.

    As more and more peoples take to the streets to demand freedom and basic human rights, Obama sees an opportunity to shape that change without U.S. interference, (White House press secretaty Jay) Carney said. 

    OK, the U.S. is going to somehow "shape" Mideast change, but without interfering. And without focusing on Israel-Palestine. While pressuring Syria on its internal crackdown, but giving the Gulf states a pass. This better be some speech, Mr. President.

    Ironies abound, canuck.  But probably telling the Palestinians that they'd better behave (I doubt Hamas will listen to him, but might to other leaders who sincerely ARE interested in a peace deal.  Sigh.  Shapiro to the Iraeli Ambassador ship will be helpful, no doubt.  For AIPAC and Israel, that is.

    To shape without interfering he must empower the UN,  which is where the action is gonna be anyway once the assembly ratifies the creation of Palestine (pause to rerun the touching 1948 newsreel footage in black and white from the vote on partition...

    Plus, it's consistent with his Lybia moves.

    The Times has it that he will announce his opposition to that declaration at the UN; it seems most believe that the US does have veto power over it, though I've heard arguments from both sides.  Israel only took the full general assembly vote they say, but the SC seems to be in on this one.  Opinion? 

    Bet that meeting with the Jewish leaders was interesting predictable.  They do usually film the AIPAC speeches.  One anti-Zionist at my.fdl quipped, "AIPAC!  Don't boo Obama!"   ;o)

    Thanks for the footage; will watch later.  Yep; I grew up on Uris's books.  Sigh.


    You all just carry on. I'll catch up.

    We'll wait, Quinn.            

    No no, don't you Americans mind me. Just on a bit of a smoke break.

    Bombs away!

    Well I hereby renderunto Stardust the Dayly Thingy of the Day Award for this here DAGBLOG Site, given to all of Stardust from all of me.

    By the way, its Sam Kinison! O told you on the other blog.

    Thank you, Dick.  This one's for you to play with.  I tried putting it up, but she spun around waaaay tooooo fast.  Dunno why; I grabbed it from numerous sites, still went dizzyingly speedily.  Let us know whatcha see.  And always take your dick with you, Dick.  Larry H said to, too.   ;o)

    Israel’s a big player now, they can defend themselves and their interests.

    If they overreach then they'll have to deal with it; if their neighbors overreach they'll have to deal with it.

    We are no longer going to get in the middle of a dog fight; continuing to be bit by both sides.    

    If NUKES are used then it’ll be a different story.

    Shadi Hama thinks that Obama should apologize for the US's tragic history in the region.

    "Facing a Middle East in turmoil, President Obama will have a chance to regain the initiative and articulate his vision for the region on Thursday, when he is scheduled to give a major address. This time, platitudes about America's commitment to democracy will not do, because they ring hollow to Arab audiences. No one really questions that Washington believes in democracy and universal human rights—in theory. What they doubt is the ability and willingness to translate such abstractions into real policy changes on the ground. Any major speech should address this dilemma head on.

    Doing so will require something as simple and powerful as it is unlikely: a real apology. The United States has a tragic history in the region. For more than five decades, successive administrations, with surprising consistency, funded, supported, and armed some of the region's most repressive governments. (We still do.) This, we now know, not only betrayed our ideals but undermined our strategic interests in the region. Autocracies do not, after all, last forever. If there has ever been a time to reassess and reorient U.S. policy in the Middle East, it is now."


    My guess is that Obama will be fairly successful in distracting the country's attention for a couple of  days from the bleak economic picture in this country, with this media campaign to turn the dial to foreign policy.

    'For a couple of days...'; yep.  But the media don't seem to acknowledge how bad it is out here anyway, Dan.  More thrilling things to sell than Hard Times.  Sleep well.

    Nice shout-out to the Defense Industry.  Clinton must forget the billions in weapons and weapons system we sell to so many nations to keep it mega-profitable, many of them the same Dictators the Arab Spring nations are trying to overthrow.

    Things are going very badly in Iraq; Malaki has shut down the press and expelled journalists, so we don't hear much about how many protestors are being killed during their demonstrations, and none of our troops (even the private contract ones) help stop it.

    Weren't those in the Kefiyah movement knowingly over-throwing neoliberal economics brought to them by the IMF and World Bank?  Wonder if they'll want the loans?  Forgive up to a billion in debt can't hurt, lend another billion?  Hope the terms are easy.

    Pretty clear that his words say that Israelis are the bigger victims in the conflict; guess he's not going to be too rigorous with the Israelis. 

    At least some good quotes from kids on either side.  Thought he might say the US will sponsor an aid flotilla to Gaza.  ;o)


    Didn't hear the speech, star, but what did he say that made it appear he believed that Israelis are the bigger victims?   

    Wish I could find a rush transcript; I'm sure I won't get it right.  It was on the order of 'when Israelis and their children have to fear missiles being rained down on them' and 'the suffereing and (something) and lack of a nation of their own'.  No mention of how many Palestinians have been killed. 

    He said that negotiations should be re-started, and talked '67 borders with land-swaps, Jerusalem unknown, I think.  Hadn't Clinton wanted a new plan? 

    I know you think I'm not right about this, but his I/P politics seem so slanted toward AIPAC views by now to me.  He did tell Israel that the winds of change need to say that this process is doable now; don't know if he believes it or not.  I sure wonder why Mitchell resigned.  Any thoughts?

    Fox news is already freaking out that Obama loves Palestinians, orders Israeli withdraw to '67 borders; writers like Glick at the JP were already primed yesterday to say the same thing.  Guess we'll see what happens next beyond the rhetoric.   ;o)

    Hm. Weird to do a whole big 'relaunch' of the I-P peace talks just after Mitchell due to the lack of progress. Weirder given Netanyahu clearly has his balls in a vice. And everyone making such a big deal about the '67 border? I didn't see that as a departure from the current view - everyone thinks of that as the baseline with land swaps to handle security/settlement issues.

    What am I missing here...?

    It was hailing hard here during the I/P part of the speech, so I missed some of it.  NYT contrasts the old plan with Dennis Ross's plan.

    "The debate around Mr. Obama’s remarks, which the White House has billed as a major address, is made even more significant since the president’s speech will serve as the beginning of what promises to be several intense days of debate over American policy in the region, its support for Palestinian statehood, and how far Mr. Obama is willing to push Israel on peace with the Palestinians at a time of upheaval in the region. Mr. Obama is to meet with Mr. Netanyahu the day after his speech, on Friday. Two days after that, Mr. Obama is scheduled to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobby. Next week, Mr. Netanyahu will counter with his own address to a joint meeting of Congress.

    Mr. Netanyahu, aides say, is planning to tell Mr. Obama that Israel wants to keep a military presence along the Jordan River and sovereignty over Jerusalem and the settlement blocs — three major stumbling blocks for the Palestinians — but that it would be willing to negotiate away the rest of the West Bank, more territory than Mr. Netanyahu has been willing to specify in the past. He has one condition — the Palestinian government cannot include Hamas. Mr. Netanyahu knows that the Palestinians will find this condition unacceptable, particularly since Fatah, the main Palestinian movement, just signed a unity pact with Hamas. But since the United States labels Hamas as terrorists, Mr. Netanyahu is betting that he will appear more forthcoming than ever."

    I thought he mentioned contiguous borders, but in what context I don't know. I don;t know that Bibi thinks his balls are in a vice, and Obama saying that he doesn't support Palestine declaring itself a state at the UN is pretty clear, no?  What am I missing, except that the ME is not feeling friendly toward either the US or Israel just now?  Is that 'the vice'?

    Dunno. Strikes me as mere sound and fury signifying nothing. Best guess - Obama wants to make a big show of being serious about peace so ... he can veto the Palestinian statehood motion with a straight face telling everyone that it would "endanger the talks", and suchlike. Mitchell left because he saw Obama wasn't being serious about it.

    What else anyone got?

    (on the 'contiguous borders', that just rings to me as the standard line again. It's part of the meaning of providing a 'viable state' - one that doesn't consist in a series of surrounded enclaves.

    'Swapping land' to achieve contiguous borders' was the phrase.  Pretty hazy, IMO.  And lots of thoughts about Hamas needing to prove itself to allow deals with the coalition.  But I think you're right about mouthing the phrases since he will veto statehood. 

    Thanks on the Mitchell reason; it makes sense.  Frustrating for him.

    Just found a rush transcript, Bruce.  Here's that part:

    "For decades, the conflict between Israelis and Arabs has cast a shadow over the region. For Israelis, it has meant living with the fear that their children could get blown up on a bus or by rockets fired at their homes, as well as the pain of knowing that other children in the region are taught to hate them. For Palestinians, it has meant suffering the humiliation of occupation, and never living in a nation of their own. Moreover, this conflict has come with a larger cost the Middle East, as it impedes partnerships that could bring greater security, prosperity, and empowerment to ordinary people."

    Read more:

    Hmmm, so Israelis suffer fear that their children could get blown up or rockets fired at them. But Palestinians only suffer humiliation of occupation.

    Perhaps if re-framed this to note that Israelis mostly suffer fear that their children could get blown up or rockets fired at them, while Palestinian children are regularly blown up and struck by rockets and mortars and gunship fire and other deadly ammo fired at them (as well as suffer from deplorable daily conditions).

    The numbers also do not include the sizable number of Palestinians who died as a result of inability to reach medical care due to Israeli road closures, curfews, the Israeli closure of border crossing from Gaza, etc.

    The figure for Palestinian deaths is extremely conservative, since it is difficult for B'Tselem to report on deaths in the Palestinian territories. The Palestine Red Crescent Society, internationally respected for its statistical rigor, reports significantly higher numbers of Palestinian deaths. We do not doubt the reliability of their data, and only use B'Tselem's more conservative numbers because they collect data on both populations.

    In the past we used the statistics provided by Israel’s military for the number of Israelis killed, but they have not updated their statistics page since early in 2006. In addition, there is reason to believe that their numbers may have been somewhat inflated.

    Breakdown of Deaths





    Children Killed
    (More on the impact on children.)
    Remember These Children
    Remember These Children
    Civilians* Killed731
    3,535 - 4,226
    People killed in the course of a targeted killing1408 or more
    People who were the object of a targeted killing1238
    People killed on own land586 (54.1%)
    6,359 (98.9%)
    People killed on others' land498 (45.9%)
    71 (1.1%)

    * The Palestinian people do not have a military, so the usual classification of civilian is not being used. Instead B'Tselem provides data on the number of Palestinians who did not participate in hostilities, a significantly more stringent qualification than the one used to identify Israeli civilians. We do not know how many of the Israelis listed as civilians participated in the hostilities. Many settlers who illegally have taken over parts of the West Bank (and used to live in parts of the Gaza Strip) are heavily armed and there have been numerous reports of their brutal attacks on their Palestinian neighbors.

    Causes of Deaths of Israeli Soldiers

    Committed Suicide30
    Terror Incidents     6



    You left out this category:

    Blind paralyzed geriatrics killed by missiles:  By Hamas - 0, By Israel -   one


    From the transcript:

    "Ultimately, it is up to Israelis and Palestinians to take action. No peace can be imposed upon them, nor can endless delay make the problem go away. But what America and the international community can do is state frankly what everyone knows: a lasting peace will involve two states for two peoples. Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people; each state enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace.

    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.

    As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself – by itself – against any threat. Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism; to stop the infiltration of weapons; and to provide effective border security. The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state. The duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated.

    These principles provide a foundation for negotiations. 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.

    Recognizing that negotiations need to begin with the issues of territory and security does not mean that it will be easy to come back to the table. In particular, the recent announcement of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel – how can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist. In the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question. Meanwhile, the United States, our Quartet partners, and the Arab states will need to continue every effort to get beyond the current impasse."

    Read more:

    Anonymous @ Rosa Parks Bus Doesn't Stop in this Country.  Pretty touching thought.

    Pretty offensive thought actually.  But to each his or her own.  The people at Mondoweiss are haters star--even though they like to consider themselves "progressives."  If that's the stuff you think belongs around here, respectfully we are in disagreement.  To use Rosa Parks is the same as some of the haters who have used Anne Frank to blast Israel.  I guess it's good to get the ire up of some, but ultimately that's all it does.  I don't consider it to be touching, and neither do I  consider it to be serious analysis.

    'If that's the stuff you believe belongs around here..."  I think it's an apt analogy, given that the palestinians are also struggling for rights, Bruce.  It was a cry from a Palestinian, not analysis, and it did touch me; imagine how much irony the author heard when the President said that we are all created equal, and he/she is forced to live as a second-class citizen, with Palestinian homes and businesses being bulldozed while the IDF guards the dozers, etc.

    I linked to the WSJ piece to show how much further they announced he seemed to need to go to appease Jewish contributors.  I'd submit that the American people by and large know very little about what life is life for Palestinians; there is very little truth from the MSM on the issue.  And what Obama used to know about the immorality of their treatment by the Israeli government shouldn't be so easily discarded in the name of re-election, IMO.

    I disagree that the Mondoweiss writers are haters, but I do think they are very angry at those who force fellow human beings to live in such beastly conditions.

    I read Caroline Glick's forecast of the speech at the JP: it made me sick that she would even be accepted in polite society.  That was hate.  And lies.

    Now I should go was my hair; it always makes me feel better.   ;o)

    I don't know.  It seems like a fairly even-handed expression of consideration of the interests of both Palestinians and Israelis, particularly since it seems to be pissing off folks on both sides.  I'm satisfied.  I just wish that the president had a leader in Israel and a leader among the Palestinians who were willing to make tough choices.  

    I am trying to be glad for you that you're satisfied, Bruce.  On the other hand, I see it partly as re-election rhetoric as per stuff like this (I loved Campaign Obama on I/P issues, by the way):

    "Jewish donors and fund-raisers are warning the Obama re-election campaign that the president is at risk of losing financial support because of concerns about his handling of Israel.

    The complaints began early in President Barack Obama's term, centered on a perception that Mr. Obama has been too tough on Israel.Some Jewish donors say Mr. Obama has pushed Israeli leaders too hard to halt construction of housing settlements in disputed territory, a longstanding element of U.S. policy. Some also worry that Mr. Obama is putting more pressure on the Israelis than the Palestinians to enter peace negotiations, and say they are disappointed Mr. Obama has not visited Israel yet.

    One top Democratic fund-raiser, Miami developer Michael Adler, said he urged Obama campaign manager Jim Messina to be "extremely proactive" in countering the perception in the Jewish community that Mr. Obama is too critical of Israel.

    He said his conversations with Mr. Messina were aimed at addressing the problems up front. "This was going around finding out what our weaknesses are so we can run the best campaign," said Mr. Adler, who hosted a fund-raiser at his home for Mr. Obama earlier this year.", etc.

    Wish I saw in Obama what they do on this issue.  I see him kicking the can down the road again.

    Star, thanks but there really isn't any need for you to try to feel glad about my satisfaction.

    As to the article you quote from, I'm not sure how it relates to what I was addressing, i.e. the substance of what the president said.  I wasn't addressng what you and others might see as the president's motivations, i.e. campaign money from the Jews.  Substantively I think that the president clearly articulated what is very much akin to the Clinton Parameters (which so far as I know are the only realistic way that this thing could be settled).

    As to what motivates Obama and just about all politicians that I am familiar with, winning elections motivates them most of all I guess, and in that respect I would submit that President Obama wouldn't give a hoot about Jewish money if the American people had a different feeling about Israel than those rich Jews.  


    Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser

    Leo Durocher

    Show me a politician who doesn't want money and I'll show you an ex politician


    Show me a post with lots of empty white lines and I'll ... edit it.


    When I try to shrink the white space the next item get's sucked into the quotation.

    "Show me a milkman that wears highheels and I'll show you a Dairy Queeen" .

    Soupy Sales 

    It's a commonplace to hear that politicians are "only" motivated by getting re-elected--as if that were a bad thing. But to get re-elected, you have to speak to the desires of your constituents.

    Isn't that what democracy is supposed to be about?

    As to money--unfortunately--it's what makes elections go around. If you don't have it, you have much less chance of winning. But why run if you aren't interested in maximizing your chances of winning?

    Peter, so good to see you. Now you have to go fetch Purple State so the rest of us can watch you two with your unmatched marathon debating sessions into the netherworlds.  

    Money does indeed talk, but money remains a necessary and not sufficient condition for getting elected. Here I think President Obama has stated that Israelis and Palestinians need to swap land based on the 67 borders.  So far as I know: (1)  there is no other way to do it, (2) it is a position that is consistent with current American policy and that of the Quartet, and (3) it is also consistent with what most Americans seem to be comfortable with, inclusive of lots of rich Jewish guys and most voters.  I don't think most Americans would disagree that Hamas needs to change its stripes in that the organization by its charter and actions seeks the destruction of the Jewish State.  And so I guess it's OK politically and morally for the American people in the aggregate to hear that from the president.  In short, sometimes presidents say things that please voters and people with cash at the same time.  Of course, it doesn't hurt that he appears to have pissed off folks on the far right, who are bellyaching that Obama has sold Israel out by referencing the '67 borders, and folks on the far so-called "left" who seem to be complaining that Obama didn't present something new and bold and different--which what that might be hasn't been articulated by them IMHO.

    Anyway, it's been a parlour game for quite some time and I don't expect that to change.  Cheers Peter.



    Hey Bruce,

    You know I REALLY miss your Tom Joad avatar. Is Armchair here somewhere? Yes, must find Purple, I agree.

    After tpm went south, I totally lost interest in this commenting jazz and in arguing about IP. Hasn't everything been said?The wind just went out of my sails.

    I agree with you totally--Obama did lay out the "common sense" solution to this conflict. And I say this despite my previous conversion to the One State solution. Ultimately, it's the abysmal situation of the Palestinian people that has to come to an end. Especially for those in Gaza.

    Funny, I ALWAYS used to read MJ; now I never do. I think I neglected all the other interesting bloggers because I spent so much time on his posts and the comments thereunder.

    Re: AA's banishment from TPM and all the trashing of Marshall, one must say this: He provided the soil that allowed this community of commenters to grow. And look! It's still intact. That's a pretty remarkable achievement that I have to lay at his door, at least in part.

    I still read TPM, however. The IdeaLab held promise, but is sort of a nothingness, as it turns out. I thought it was going to be full of, well, ideas, but it seems to be a place to put stuff that doesn't fit anywhere else. Maybe he'll develop it.

    Anyway, GOOD TO SEE YOU, too.  Best, Peter

    Good take, bslev.  Juan Cole, maybe not out of some denizens' doghouse in re to his comments on Libya, wrote of it:

    Still and all, it was a fine speech, a courageous speech because it challenged US allies as much as it did US foes, and it put the US on the side of Bourguiba Avenue and Tahrir Square and Benghazi and Deraa and Taizz. That is the side of history on which the US needs to stand. As a set of ideals, it was a big stride in the right direction. As practical policy, it is hard to see how it would be implemented effectively (upbraiding Israel and Bahrain slightly won’t change those crises). But, well, at least Washington is finally not standing in the way of the people in the region.

    Building on his Cairo speech in moving the US towards the right side of history in the region would normally seem like a good day's work for a U.S. president, granting the ridiculous complexity of the region's politics and not putting a halo on every element opposing existing autocracies there.

    Cole seems most concerned about the potentially undermining effect on Israel's current government of Obama's cool stance on the UN Palestinian resolution.

    One question I have is "why now?" when nothing other than the UN resolution is different on I-P and there does not appear to be some uber-creative strategy that is being pursued that has a chance of successfully end-running or working around the political leadership vacuum there that you refer to, Bruce.  Obama's coolness towards the UN resolution had to be privately pleasing to those who support Israel's hardliners, if Obama was going to say anything about it.  And probably privately discouraging to all the lightweight GOP wannabe presidents who were hoping he'd leave them with a real opening on I-P--but nonetheless felt compelled to insert foot in mouth with typically ludicrous responses to the speech.    

    It's predictable that Gingrich when he is in max attention-seeking mode is going to go over the over-the-top position, with his "most dangerous speech ever by an American President insofar as the security of Israel is concerned" nonsense.  In a line of work where loving the sound of one's own voice almost seems like a job prerequisite, he sets the bar.

    It's not only Newt, but ALL the GOP hopefuls are saying the same thing, more or less. Unfortunately, this sort of rhetoric gets a lot of traction among the American public. He needs to use the OBL kill to start calling their bluff.

    I hope he'll keep OBL in his back pocket.  Most of the public isn't really paying much attention to the election yet and won't be for awhile.  Everyone knows about OBL and will not forget it any time soon.  Let the action speak for itself.  He can do that.  Because the action does speak for itself.  It does not require elaboration, and may suffer for it.   

    Don't you get the sense that all the birther garbage going forward gets no additional traction, probably loses it with any potential swing voter, because the underlying fears and assertions that would make anyone really care about it--that Obama is somehow scary, not American enough, won't protect the country--has now been completely discredited?  I mean, who can seriously believe that now?  Sure, up to a 1/3 or so may continue to be receptive to this nonsense.  But there wasn't anything--except, possibly, OBL getting killed--that might have moved them anyway from anything other than a certain anti-Obama GOP vote. 

    I think one reason so many of the GOP wannabes are not entering or seem so, alternately, tentative and desperate, is because they can see no way now--when they have to make the decision--to win by turning this into a national security election.  Nor do they have particularly promising social/cultural wedge issue possibilities.  Obama has positioned himself pretty much smack in the middle on all the most obvious social/cultural issue candidates--immigration, abortion, same-sex partner issues, guns--and should not have difficulty covering attacks from either flank by marginalizing the attacker's position as extreme.

    I expect zero dagblogger  agreement but I think he  should have announced :  


    If there's  a peace agreement  within the next 6 months .we will

    1. Move a brigade from Germany and garrison it in the Negev. for the next 20 years.

    2. Give $10,000 to any Palestinian refugee family that relocates to a home outside the camps in the next 3 years .And $5000 to the country  which accepts them 

    Otherwise, it's your nickel.


    (1). Addresses  Israel's  existential fears.

    (2). Addresses the  obligation the Palestinian leaders should feel for this part of their constituency (which torpedoed Taba) and somewhat diminishes  one permanent incitement for terrorism. But more importantly, it's right.


    As to the actual content of what he said,. I like the fact that he created some daylight between us and Bibi.with respect to the borders. It's so obvious that an Israeli force on the Jordan isn't going to work it's either  an intentional show stopper or a bargaining chip to be exchanged only for some other guarantee of security.See abovr. 

    If there's  a peace agreement  within the next 6 months .we will

    1. Move a brigade from Germany and garrison it in the Negev. for the next 20 years.

    We've deployed our troops in all manner of far less worthwhile ways.  How about, ahem, in the northern and eastern parts of the country?

    I'm amazed to have any support.

    I understand the lack of opposition . Most likely  represents a completely justified editorial judgement,. "Sure it was a terrible insult" as the farmer said when kicked by the mule. " but consider the source." And's in line with dagblog's naturally anti war tone--a descriptive not judgemental characterization. But support's surprising.

    My suggestion reflects being stationed in cold war Germany. Even if we had been well equipped- which we weren't-the disproprtion in  troop strength vs a vs the Soviets ,meant our real function was to guarantee the European's that we wouldn't abandon them if Stalin's forces poured hrough the Fulda Gap.  


    I bit the bullet and poked around on MSNBC for commentary on the speech.  While I'm not always a big fan of Zbig, his take reminded me that Clinton had wanted the President to offer a new and comprehensive plan, which this wasn't.  From reading a lot of commentary, it appears that Republican freakouts about the '67 plan borders was only a reversion at all because Bush wrote a letter in 2004 okaying some pretty major settlements remaining within the borders (thus not contiguous, though the President left that hazy).

    As to the 'Big Surprise' of the speech, it may have been that he offered any kind of details about a plan; it was said everywhere that he wouldn't address it.

    All of this gets more confusing, IMO, because so much is about posturing, as we have found so clearly from the Wikileaked documents.  Zbig points out that since there was no package for the international community to rally behind, and especially for Israelis who might endorse one wholeheartedly, but are reticent now because no one knows what the fallout will be.  Still, Tsipi Livni gave her support, though she spoke against Palestine's move to declare itself a state at the UN.

    There still seems to be rampant disagreement about whether or not the UNSC needs to approve a motion to get that declaration to the General Assmbly; Reuters says Yes; UN says Yes; the entire panel at the Joe Show went with NO; no dissenters.  Pretty big point, IMO.  Obama didn't say, just dissed the notion.

    What will happen when Bibi and Obama meet today?  What will Bibi go home with?  Will we know?


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    So the big "surprise" was that Obama specified the '67 borders as a starting point for negotiations? Something everyone has understood for nearly two decades? That was what the White House was trumpeting?

    This will go over like a lead balloon in the Arab world, where I suspect the "sea change" in U.S. policy that some American pundits are proclaiming will be seen as, "OK, the U.S. policy will no longer be massive intervention to prop up friendly dictatorships, just to prop up friendly 'democracies.' Why doesn't it just stop intervening?" Note that the Libyan rebels are overwhelmingly defectors from the Gaddafi regime, the Supreme Council that runs Egypt were an integral part of Mubarak's crony system, the Yemenis who are trying to replace Saleh are members of his own clan, for God's sake.

    The Arab Spring is an unfinished revolution, and Obama (without saying so) is trying to freeze it where it currently stands by tossing a few billion dollars at countries willing to stay within the U.S. regional-power framework. Precisely what the revolutionaries want to break free from. In passing, the money for Egypt that Obama boasted of had already been announced by Clinton last month. And lots of it is guarantees for private foreign investment -- the kind of neoliberal crap that Gamal Mubarak was rejected over.

    As for Israel-Palestine, as Gideon Levy and Aluff Benn suggest in Haaretz, Netanyahu -- despite his crying wolf over the '67 borders, got everything he could have hoped for -- above all, cold water on the September statehood proposal and an endorsement of his two-stage approach: borders and security first, and only then talks over Jerusalem and right-of-return. It won't fly, which suits the Israeli government just fine. Some may boo Obama when he speaks to AIPAC, but it will just be pro-forma.


    Plus the comments about Hamas having to prove, la la la; hard to say what failure to meet some standards will mean, IMO.  But as far as the 'surprise', it was the only piece I saw that was news, as in Carney,, claimed no plan would be unveiled (maybe this wasn't a 'plan', but still).

    I confess I didn't see what Juan Cole did in terms of bravery in the speech; you seem to mirror that.  We get so used to posturing in speeches it gets hard to know what goes on behind closed doors (wink, wink...nudge...)  I'd love to hear what Mitchell thought of the speech.  I just read his resignation note; it was easily one of the most curt in history.  Obey was right: he was disgusted at the White House.  I know it's heresy to say, but I wonder if Obama thinks anything will come of any of this, frankly.  I read here and there the idea that 'Dennis Ross beat Clinton' on this one.

    I totally agree with your 'freezing the revolutions in place'; nice framing, canuck.  The only thing I've wondered about is why they haven't actually opened the Rafah crossing.  Could that be one of the conditions of the $$, and if so, it would signal that some in the present government might want to accept it, neoliberal caveats and all.

    I did laugh at the 'friends need to tell friends the truth' section.  It was dialogue straight out of a West Wing episode, which may have been right out of a Clinton speech.  But I sure didn't see the Bibi-smackdown/daylight-between them others did.

    Thanks for you informed take.

    After his meeting with Obama, Netanyahu stuck with yesterday's explanation of why the 1967 borders can't be the basis for territorial negotiations:

    "Israel is prepared to make generous compromises for peace, but it cannot go back to the 1967 lines, because these lines are indefensible."

    So it's a military question, a security issue? Riiiight.

    I'm no military strategist, but I always thought the easiest line to defend was generally the shortest one between points A and B. Exactly the opposite of what successive Israeli governments have been creating with their growing patchwork of settlement blocs, isolated outposts, and enclaves within Palestinian urban areas.

    Totally indefensible, in both senses of the word. And now, suddenly, security is trotted out as the key reason Israel can't return even 22% of historic Palestine?

    Total hypocritical bullshit. And manifestly FALSE. Whatever borders Netanyahu has in mind (if any), they are going to be exponentially longer and more convoluted than anything that existed in 1967. Ergo, less defensible.

    Are any of the analysts, experts and talking heads pointing out that self-evident fact? No.

    Bruce mentioned that we should look at the land above Ben Gurion airport, but I never did.  It may be one case, but still...on the face of it, you'd seem to be right.

    Plenty of decent op-ed pieces in Haaretz, as you said.  I just went to snag my favorite, and it seems to be gone, maybe to make room for more.  One squib was there denying Hillary had a big old row with Netanyahu.  ;o)

    Do stick in here what you find of interest; I'm a bit on the run in RL as usual.  Thanks, canuck.

    I haven't seen what Bruce wrote, and apologize if I'm putting words in his mouth. But the proximity of Ben Gurion to Palestinian territory is not an argument for seizing more land. It's an argument for making a viable, just and secure peace.

    The accuracy and range of surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles gets better all the time. It's logistically impossible for Israel to push its borders far enough that there are no Palestians living just the other side. At some point, Israel has to weigh whether it wants to live in peace with its neighbors or to embrace never-ending war. And dispossessing still more of them guarantees the latter outcome.

    It's exactly where my imaginings went over the past half hour.  That it's been so written in stone that there can be no peace makes all else nigh on to impossible; and I don't mean just between Israel and Palestine.  Accepting the bitter premise means no attempts to try.

    The problem is a failure of imagination (not yours, I'd add). If all that leaders on both sides can imagine is a hostile standoff, that's what will result from any negotiations. There was a period of optimism in the wake of Oslo when non-settler Israelis actually toured the West Bank, visiting newly opened casinos and surreptitiously buying pork in Christian villages. Visitors were called "the cousins." It took determined opposition by diehards and a woeful lack of leadership by supposed leaders to squander those early hopes. A multi-year intifada and a brutal war or two later, positions have only hardened. So maybe a hostile standoff (but with recognized borders) is the most we can hope for just now.

    That was a corazon espinado moment, canuck; no blame to you.  I did not know that history, and it may dwarf the movements to allow Israeli and Plaestinian children to meet and talk, though those effort are always such good causes, and no one can say what effects (karma) they might yield in time.  I wish and pine for a spiritual awakening that causes us to yearn more toward brotherhood, but it often seems such a distant yearning in the face of intractable suspicion and tribalist histories.

    Bslev calls me naive and worse; that may be true.  But I look to the third-world spokespeople (and especially the women who see so clearly the possibilities of a better more just world and the roads toward it)  so often and find the enormous amount of forgiveness and yearning for Better Times, and keep hope that someday...  well, you get the drift.

    I checked in with some of the Israeli peace groups and found that most thought that Obama had tanked any possiblitites with his vernacular about Hamas and not really taking any negotiations seriously la la; others figure that's a red herring given that the PLA alliance has already given assurances.  I don't know, but I do hope they are not goaded into some reaction that will show them to be...extremist.

    There was a song with a line about not being able to remember 'what was it we were fighting for'.  Not even googling helped, but some days I think of it, vis a vis Iran, Israel, India/Pakistan...just that we've become so accustomed to the enmity.  Sorry; Stardust needs...a jetpack and some Soma?


    What are we fighting for, Dont ask me I don't give

    @.20 seconds

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