Fatah and Hamas Announce Outline of Deal


Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times

Under a Palestinian flag, Palestinians of all factions called for unity at a rally in February in Ramallah in the West Bank.

By ETHAN BRONNER and ISABEL KERSHNER
Published: April 27, 2011

JERUSALEM — The two main Palestinian factions, Fatah andHamas, announced Wednesday that they were putting aside years of bitter rivalry to create an interim unity government and hold elections within a year, a surprise move that promised to reshape the diplomatic landscape of the Middle East.

Multimedia
Khaled Elfiqi/European Pressphoto Agency

Moussa Abu Marzouk, representing Hamas, left, and Azzam al-Ahmad of Fatah on Wednesday at a news conference in Cairo, where they announced a deal to create a unity government.

Readers’ Comments

“It is time for the Palestinian people to reject the corrupt and useless leaders who have used violence and strife to insure their positions. It is also time for Israel to reject the extreme factions of their government.”

Jack, Illinois

The deal, brokered in secret talks by the caretaker Egyptian government, was announced at a news conference in Cairo where the two negotiators referred to each side as brothers and declared a new chapter in the Palestinian struggle for independence, hobbled in recent years by the split between the Fatah-run West Bank and Hamas-run Gaza.

It was the first tangible sign that the upheaval across the Arab world, especially the Egyptian revolution, was having an impact on the Palestinians, who have been losing faith in American-sponsored peace negotiations with Israel and seem now to be turning more to fellow Arabs. But the years of bitterness will not be easily overcome, and both sides warned of potential obstacles ahead.

Israel, feeling increasingly surrounded by unfriendly forces, denounced the unity deal as dooming future peace talks since Hamas seeks its destruction. “The Palestinian Authority has to choose between peace with Israel and peace with Hamas,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahudeclared in a televised statement. The Obama administration warned that Hamas was a terrorist organization unfit for peacemaking.

The deal brings with it the risk of alienating the Western support that the Palestinian Authority has enjoyed. Azzam al-Ahmad, the Fatah negotiator, said that Salam Fayyad, the prime minister in the West Bank who is despised by Hamas, would not be part of the interim government. It is partly because of Mr. Fayyad, and the trust he inspires in Washington, that hundreds of millions of dollars are provided annually to the Palestinian Authority by Congress. Without that aid, the Palestinian Authority would face great difficulties.

The announcement was sure to fuel a debate on whether Mr. Netanyahu had done enough in his two years in power to forge a deal with the Palestinian Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas and Mr. Fayyad, widely considered the most moderate leaders the Palestinians have ever had.

The deal also highlighted Egypt’s evolving foreign policy, its increasing regional influence and the challenges that posed for Israel. The new Egyptian government pursued Palestinian negotiations aggressively; has recognized the Muslim Brotherhood, which has deep ties to Hamas; and is reconsidering a natural gas deal with Israel.

Relations between Fatah, the mainstream secularist movement led by Mr. Abbas, and Hamas, the Islamic militant group, have deteriorated since Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006. They ruptured a year later when Hamas seized full control of Gaza, the coastal enclave, after a brief factional war, routing Fatah forces there and limiting the influence of Mr. Abbas and his Palestinian Authority to the West Bank.

A desire for unity has been one goal that ordinary Palestinians in both areas have consistently said they sought. Until now it has proved elusive and leaders of the two factions have spoken of each other in vicious terms and jailed each other’s activists.

But with the Palestinians seeking international recognition of statehood at the United Nations by September, Mr. Abbas has repeatedly said that unity must be restored for a credible case to be made. Other recent developments also played a role.

As Mr. Ahmad said after the news conference in Cairo: “The changes in the Arab region and the political upheaval contributed to reducing the pressure on the Palestinian factions, and by pressure I mean the negative kind of pressure.” He said that he was referring to “the changing rules of the game in the region.”

Mkhaimar Abusada, a professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, said that the Palestinian Authority’s failure to reach an agreement with Israel and the anger following an American veto of a United Nations Security Council resolution against Israeli settlement construction in February encouraged Fatah to come to an agreement with Hamas. The Islamic group, he said, was motivated to get closer to Fatah by regional changes, especially the protests in Syria, where Hamas’s politburo is based. If PresidentBashar al-Assad of Syria were to fall, Hamas might no longer be able to use Syria as a base or enjoy the protection, money and arms the country has extended.

“We have ended a painful period in the history of the Palestinian people where Palestinian division had prevailed,” Moussa Abu Marzouk, a representative of Hamas who negotiated the deal, said at the Cairo news conference. “We gave the occupation a great opportunity to expand the settlements because of this division. Today we turn this page and open a new page.”

When he spoke at the news conference, Mr. Ahmad of Fatah recalled the chants of young Palestinian demonstrators mimicking the Tunisian and Egyptian chants: “The people want to bring down the regime.”

“To all the Palestinian youth who went out saying, ‘The people want to end the division’ and ‘The people want to end the occupation,’ we say what you demanded was achieved today,” he said, adding that the period of division had taught both sides “a hard lesson in confronting the occupation.”

He said that Israeli officials had warned Mr. Abbas not to collaborate with Hamas but that “he did not heed the warning, and he responded, ‘Yes, we want Hamas.’ ”

The Fatah-led Palestinian Authority has negotiated for a two-state solution with Israel, whereas Hamas says Israel has no right to exist and continues to fire rockets at Israeli towns.

The Palestinian negotiators offered few details of the proposed transitional unity government, saying that it would be composed of neutral professionals and that the leaders of each side would work out details. All the Palestinian factions are to meet next week to sign the agreement.

Mahmoud al-Zahar, a Hamas leader, told Al Jazeera Television from Cairo the sides had agreed to changes in the interim leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization, a tribunal for elections and a date for the elections. The P.L.O. excludes Hamas, which has long sought entry.

Hamas and Fatah will together nominate members of the technocratic government and a 12-judge election tribunal. He also said that an agreement was reached to set up an oversight committee to regulate security.

In November, officials from the two movements met in Damascus but failed to reach an agreement because of differences on security. It seemed likely that Fatah security forces, which work closely with the Israeli Army, would continue to rule in the West Bank, and that Hamas security would continue in Gaza with a tacit agreement not to arrest each other’s activists.

The last round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks broke down soon after they started last September when an Israeli moratorium on construction in West Bank settlements expired. The international powers have been working to get the sides to resume negotiations, and Mr. Netanyahu has recently been considering making an offer to the Palestinian Authority to try to pre-empt a United Nations vote. He is due to address a joint session of Congress in a month.

But with this latest shift in Palestinian politics, Mr. Netanyahu may also shift tactics. “I think the very idea of the reconciliation shows the weakness of the Palestinian Authority, and leads one to wonder whether Hamas will take control over Judea and Samaria, as it did over Gaza,” he said in his statement, using the biblical names for the West Bank.

Earlier Wednesday, Mr. Netanyahu instructed the Israeli security establishment to take all necessary measures to ensure the enforcement of Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza amid reports of plans for another international flotilla. Mr. Netanyahu met with his senior ministers and security officials and said that diplomatic efforts should continue to prevent the flotilla from setting out.

David D. Kirkpatrick and Mona El-Naggar contributed reporting from Cairo, and Fares Akram from Gaza.

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Teacher in a Strange Land

The following was written by vet­eran educator Nancy Flanagan, who takes a look at the issue of the “status quo.” This appeared on her Education Week Teacher blog, “Teacher in a Strange Land.” She spent 30 years in a K-12 music classroom in Hartland, Mich, and was named Michigan Teacher of the Year in 1993. She is National Board-certified, and a member of the Teacher Leaders Network. She is now an author and consultant.

By Nancy Flanagan

Take a look at this brief clip of Davis Guggenheim, speaking to what must have been one of hundreds of audiences about the heartbreaking failure of public schools, and oh, coincidentally, some film he’s flacking. A woman in his audience asks how we can get rid of teacher unions–a logical question, since the theoretical framework of “ Waiting for Superman ” is that Unions Protect Bad Teachers Who Ruin Children’s Lives.

Guggenheim hesitates–then says that not all unions are bad. His union, for example, the Directors Guild, protects his important creative rights and his compensation. Growing more enthusiastic, he declares that the reason that teachers’ unions are bad is because they “make policy.” End of clip.

Perfect. Unions that protect the creative rights of rich people (through contractual policy), justified. Unions that protect the due process rights of teachers and aim to improve working conditions in those failing schools–greedy and damaging. And who says so? That well-known expert on labor and education policy, Davis Guggenheim.

Earlier this month another well-known expert on education policy, Bill Gates, was interviewed by NPR (also one of hundreds of media audiences eager for his wisdom) on the subject of class size. The interviewer asks Gates about schools where classrooms are packed with 35 to 40 children–how can that be acceptable? Gates says 40 is too many. But putting 30+ kids in front of a “excellent teacher?” Well, that could be one way to save money and improve education at the same time. Problem solved!

What makes Bill Gates an expert on education policy? Money, evidently. Every nonprofit, university–and union–in the country that needs Gates Foundation money is now willing say that he’s an expert. What I would like to do here is raise my hand and offer Mr. Gates my own considerable and real expertise on the issue of class size. What makes me an expert?

Well, in addition to 30 years of classroom experience, two degrees, National Board Certification and an array of teaching awards, I am certainly the only Education Week Teacher blogger whose average class size hovered around 65 kids. Middle school kids, no less.

As an instrumental music teacher, I commonly handled 70+ students per hour, and one year (a year I do not remember fondly), had 93 students in my first hour Symphonic Band. That’s right, 93 8th graders, all holding noisemakers, at 7:25 a.m.. When it comes to class size, I am a credible, expert witness–the ultimate cost-effective teacher. And here’s what I’d like Mr. Gates to know:

• The size of individual classes matters far less than total student load. It is more “efficient” for a teacher to lecture to large groups of students. But good teachers lecture infrequently, because students actually absorb knowledge through action and interaction. Simply listening to content is wildly inefficient, unless the student is able to apply the new knowledge–through discussion, re-framing, deconstructing concepts, answering questions, receiving feedback, producing documents or performance assessments.

• Therefore, relationships matter a great deal in learning. If learning were as simple as pouring knowledge into someone’s head, like the infamous cartoon figure in “Waiting for Superman,” then class sizes could balloon with no ill effect. But learning a complex skill– like reading or equation-solving–hinges on small group interaction and guided practice.

Students must be willing to try and fail, repeatedly, before approaching competence and mastery. Which also involves trust. Considering these facts, it’s no wonder that the research overwhelmingly indicates that small classes are most critical for very young children, and students who lack adequate attention from caring, competent adults.

• Many people assume that small classes mean fewer discipline problems for teachers. This is patently untrue. Every veteran teacher has had a small class that drove them to distraction–usually due to the mix of kids–and classes where there was barely room to move, but produced a reliable, dynamic learning buzz. The problem is not raw numbers–it’s the energy needed to build the human relationships that lead to lasting growth.

• There is no magic around the number 30, or 18 or 40, when it comes to class size (although I found it interesting that Gates stuck to numbers commonly found in schools and union contracts). Bumping class size limits up from 25 to 30, or 30 to 35–even if every single teacher were “effective” or “excellent” or whatever Bill Gates is calling them, and given a bonus–may save money, but would have little impact on actual learning. Good teachers would re-think their instructional strategies, further subdivide their attention and energy–and decide, in increasing numbers, that no amount of extra money is worth eroding their beliefs and their practice.

• In fact, insistence on standardized numbers is at the heart of what’s wrong in the class size debate. Gates is correct when he says parents would rather have their child in a class of 30 with a terrific teacher than in a class of 18 with a bad teacher (or novice, I would add, given the unequivocal data about the efficacy of first-year teachers). When union contracts prescribe one-size-fits-all numbers, they’re not taking into account teacher experience, student needs, or pedagogical and subject discipline considerations. They’re building walls against putting teachers and students in untenable situations. We can do better.

The class-size solution Bill Gates proposed for improving education is all about cash flow rather than investment in human capital. It does not address the most pressing need of education reform–the dangerous gap between the appalling schools we now have for kids who have no resources and the good schools we have for other children.

Just one more expert viewpoint.

By Valerie Strauss  |  04:00 AM ET, 04/25/2011

“Does Israel have a right to exist?”

What is the legal basis for the State of Israel?

Some ask the question, “Does Israel have a right to exist?” That is not a proper question since Israel does exist, is recognized by the United Nations and many other countries, and is no more subject to being so questioned than is the United States, Japan, or any other country.

Anyone who persists with the question of Israel’s right to exist is one whose agenda is to eliminate Israel and its Jewish inhabitants.

But there is a legal background to the State of Israel. The Declaration of Israel’s Independence, issued at Tel Aviv on May 14, 1948, recites the legal history that led to the founding of Israel as an internationally recognized sovereign state:

  • The land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and national identity was formed. Here they achieved independence and created a culture of national and universal significance. Here they wrote and gave the Bible to the world.
  • In the year 1897 the First Zionist Congress, inspired by Theodor Herzl’s vision of the Jewish State, proclaimed the right of the Jewish people to national revival in their own country.
  • This right was acknowledged by the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917, and re-affirmed by the Mandate of the League of Nations, which gave explicit international recognition to the historic connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and their right to reconstitute their National Home.
  • On November 29, 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a Resolution for the establishment of an independent Jewish State in Palestine, and called upon the inhabitants of the country to take such steps as may be necessary on their part to put the plan into effect. This recognition by the United Nations of the right of the Jewish people to establish their independent State may not be revoked. It is, moreover, the self-evident right of the Jewish people to be a nation, as all other nations, in its own sovereign State.
  • ACCORDINGLY, WE, the members of the National Council, representing the Jewish people in Palestine and the Zionist movement of the world, met together in solemn assembly today, the day of the termination of the British mandate for Palestine, by virtue of the natural and historic right of the Jewish and of the Resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations, HEREBY PROCLAIM the establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine, to be called ISRAEL.

At that point, the State of Israel came into existence. The United States recognized the provisional Jewish government as de facto authority of the Jewish state within minutes. The Soviet Union granted de jure recognition almost immediately in 1948 along with seven other states within the next five days (Guatemala, Byelorussia, the Ukraine, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Uruguay, and Yugoslavia).

Since the League of Nations was formally terminated in April 1946, there was a specific UN resolution that preserved the rights of the Jewish people in Palestine (and in Jerusalem particularly). The United Nations, as the successor organization to the League of Nations, adopted Article 80 of the UN Charter, which negated efforts “to alter in any manner the rights whatsoever of any states or any peoples (emphasis added) or the terms of existing international instruments” at the time of the UN’s creation. This provision carried the British Mandate granted by the League of Nations, including all of its committments to a homeland for the Jewish people, into the framework of international law at the United Nations.

Israel’s success in defending its territory against the invading Arab armies in 1948 made the country an established reality. General elections were held on January 25, 1949: the provisional State Council was replaced by an elected Parliament (Knesset) and the Provisional Government by a regular parliamentary Government. De jure recognition by the United States was extended on January 31, 1949 after the permanent government was sworn in. On January 29, 1949, the former Mandatory Power, Britain, recognized the state of Israel, a step that also recognized the end of British efforts to affect the course of the region’s politics.

In the fall of 1948, Israel had applied for membership in the United Nations but failed to win the necessary majority in the Security Council. In February 1949, Israel renewed its application for membership in the United Nations. On March 4, 1949, the Security Council recommended to the General Assembly that it be admitted. On May 11, Israel was admitted, to become the 59th member. Between January 1, 1949 and May 11. 1949, Israel was recognised by 32 States, in addition to the 20 that had accorded it recognition prior to December 31, 1948. Today Israel has full diplomatic relations with most countries of the world, except portions of the Islamic/Arab block that continue to believe that Israel can somehow be eliminated.

Sources and additional reading on this topic:

“I was in love with the idea of Obama.”


Urgent! The White House announced that in a big speech tomorrow, President Obama will do what no Republican President has been able to do: Put Medicare and Medicaid on the table for potential cuts.

Many former Obama volunteers, donors, and voters are deeply disappointed. A Democratic Congressman said on MSNBC last night that Obama needs to “act like a Democrat.”

Will you sign this urgent pledge, which we’ll deliver to the Obama campaign?

“President Obama: If you cut Medicare and Medicaid benefits for me, my parents, my grandparents, or families like mine, don’t ask for a penny of my money or an hour of my time in 2012. I’m going to focus on electing bold progressive candidates — not Democrats who help Republicans make harmful cuts.” Click here to sign.

Below are some amazing notes from Obama volunteers who worked passionately for the President in 2008.

Many people still want to believe in President Obama. But the White House needs to understand that their actions now will have real consequences for 2012. The level of grassroots enthusiasm will be determined by whether the President fights for bold progressive change — and takes cuts that hurt grandparents, the disabled, and kids firmly off the table.

The White House will absolutely be watching the progress of this petition. And we’ll deliver the pledge signatures to the Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago.

Please sign today — then, pass it to others who worked to elect President Obama in 2008.

 


NOTES FROM ACROSS THE NATION:

Susan Carpenter, Obama volunteer from Ohio:

“Like many volunteers on his campaign, I was in love with the idea of Obama. I haven’t given up on him quite yet, but I’m mustering the energy to work on the resistance. He needs to know who we are.”

John Rotolo, Obama volunteer from Florida:

“I’m almost too heartsick to comment…I’m at a loss.”

Barbara Louise Jean, Obama volunteer from Nevada:

“It’s ludicrous to cut Medicare for seniors when Wall Street created this mess without being held accountable. At 69, I’ll be in financial trouble if Medicare benefits are lowered.”

Joelle Barnes, Obama volunteer from Pennsylvania:

“This is like a knife through my heart! This is a Republican thing!”

Suzanne Fair, Obama volunteer from Maryland:

“I know he has to compromise sometimes, but it seems that he is caving to the Republicans far too often. We elected him for real change and I would like to see him stand strong against the corporate rich.”

Margaret Copi, Obama donor from California:

“I contributed more to Obama’s campaign than I have to anything else in my life, but no more dollars from me and definitely not a moment of volunteer time, unless he makes huge shifts and starts to fight for the peoples’ interest.”

Frankie Perdue, Obama volunteer from Colorado:

“I do not think that Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security should be on the negotiating table at all. Have the corporations pay their fair share of taxes.”

Deborah Finn, Obama volunteer from North Carolina:

“This is wrong! We did not elect Obama to have him make cuts in valuable, important programs. He needs to stand up to the Republicans. And he needs to speak to the American people about why it is morally wrong to cut the programs.”

Michaele Bonenberger, Obama volunteer from South Dakota:

“This does not sound at all like the Barak Obama that I worked so hard to get elected in 2008.”

Dotty Hopkins, Obama volunteer from California:

“It makes it hard to gin up enthusiasm for 2012. More like hold your nose and vote again! As a former Obama volunteer, I’m already worrying about my lack of desire to do any campaigning and I’m on our County Central Committee for heaven’s sake.”

The White House needs to hear your voice — sign our pledge today. Then pass it on to others.



America: You Keep Using That Word… … I don’t think it means what you think it means.

So, I’m driving into Anchorage this morning. Along with the usual herd of jackasses who, despite living in Alaska still don’t seem to know how to drive in snow, one vehicle in particular caught my eye.

It was one of those enormous black pickup trucks, with the huge knobby tires and smoked glass windows and chrome roll bar complete with half a dozen giant chrome halogen lights and a ten foot high antenna whipping about in the slipstream  and pipe organ-like exhaust pipes jutting up from behind the cab belching thick plumes of white diesel smoke like the twin contrails of a fighter jet on full afterburner.
The great steel beast wasn’t, in and of itself, unusual for the Glenn Highway at 6AM – or even unusual for Alaska in general, where giant manly trucks full of patriotic manly Viagra-fueled studs are quite common.

What caught my eye were the bumper stickers:
Proud American emblazoned across a red, white, and true blue Captain America shield;
In God I trust, In big government I fear. We must protect the country we love!;
and my perennial favorite: I love my country, it’s the damned government I hate.

Now, to be perfectly honest, those bumper sticker slogans aren’t particularly unusual on the Glenn Highway at 6AM either – and normally, they wouldn’t be enough to rise above my “What the hell?” threshold.
Not by themselves.
No, what caught my eye was the giant Confederate flag treatment in the back window.
Wait, what?
Proud American.
Confederate Flag.
Proud American.


Confederate Flag.

And suddenly I’m the Old Spice guy: Liberals, look at your little sissy Prius. Look at it. Loser. Now look at this awesome RAM truck. Look at it! It gets five miles a gallon. Look at the patriotic slogans! They’re American. Now look at the Confederate Flag! The Confederacy. It’s American. Now look back to the bumper. Back to the Flag! The bumper!  Now I’m a Confederate! Look again, I’m an American! A Rebel! America, hell ya! I’m on a horse…

Proud American. Confederate flag.

I wanted to pull up next him and roll down the window and ask, So, Just to make sure I’m clear on this, you’re a proud patriotic American who loves the United States which is why you display the battle symbol of a long defunct political/military organization that directly and without equivocation attempted to destroy that self same country. Is that correct?

No, strike that. That’s wrong.

That’s really not what I wanted to ask him.

What I really wanted to ask is this: Proud American? Really? What is it exactly that you’re proud of?  You say you love your country? You say you love the United States? Really? Which part? What is it that you love about it? Specifically, what exactly do you love about America?

Because, see, so far as I can tell, people like you seem to hate just about everything that makes the United States what it is.

You hate the President, you call him a Nazi and a socialist and communist and an enemy of America.  You’re embarrassed by him.  You hate his big jug ears and his oh so white smile and his funny alien name.  You hate his politics and his elitist education and his religion and his agenda and the way he speaks. You hate his wife and you hate his kids.  Now, to be fair, you hated the last president too and in fact you’ve got a beef with damned near every president except for Good Ole George Washington and maybe Ronald Reagan. You couldn’t stand Carter or that pig, Clinton, Nixon was a crook, Johnson got us into Vietnam and the best thing that Kennedy ever did was to take a ride in that convertible – too bad he didn’t invite little brother Ted along.  You hate the president all the way back to FDR.  Hell, you even hateTeddy Roosevelt because he was nothing but a goddamned anti-American Progressive – you know that’s true because Glenn Beck told you so (and don’t you hate it when people accuse you of getting your ideas from him? Like you can’t decide who to hate all by yourself).

You hate Congress. You hate the idea of a republic, of representative democracy, where Senators and Representative don’t do only what you want.  It’s we the people goddamnit. They’re all crooks. They’re allliars. They’re all corrupt greedy bastards.  They’re all ineffective. You hate them all.  They should all be thrown out – well, all of them except for your guy that is. What’s that? Oh you hate your guy too? Yeah, that figures.

You hate the courts, especially the Supreme Court.  Oh how you hate that they won’t let you make your hate the law of the land.  You hate the whole damned liberal American legal system. You hate the lawyers, you’d like to line them all up and shoot them first.  You hate that criminals get a legal defense, you hate that people can’t seem to see that they’re guilty, just drop them into a hole and throw away the key.  You hate those groups that keep using DNA to vacate death row convictions, the scumbags are guilty of something otherwise they wouldn’t be scumbags would they – but now they get to go free and collect a big fat settlement and, man, don’t you just hate that?  Of course, you hate paying for prison too, and as long as we’re on the subject you hate that prisons are big country clubs nowadays, what the hell are those scumbags complaining about? You hate those damned judges, they’re all liberal activists, everybody knows it.  You hate the fact that we can’t just string people up in the town square any more, those were the good old days you bet.  You’d like to see more military tribunals, that’s the ticket. Not like that’s going to happen, and boy don’t you just hate that too?

In fact, you hate the whole goddamned Federal government. You really hate the “united” part of the United States. You say you love the Constitution, and you do – the 2nd Amendment part anyway – but youreally hate the parts that let other people say what they like and worship religions different than yours and give the Federal government the power to regulate interstate commerce and award citizenship to brown skinned babies and give people you don’t like the same rights as you and make the government a secular organization instead of a Christian one – yeah, you really hate that part.  You hate federal regulations and federal law and federal taxes.  You hate the Fed and the fact that our money isn’t based on the gold standard.  You hate that the government won’t let you sell defective products and contaminated food and unsafe toys coated in lead paint or snake oil that purports to cure cancer – that’s just bad for business.  You hate the idea of anybody other than you getting affordable healthcare or retirement or a home loan.  You hate Social Security, even though you yourself never bothered to save not one single penny towards your own retirement.  You think the military is “broken” and you hate those wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but you hate the idea of ending them even more because then the terrorists will “win” – and you hate that we haven’t yet declared war on Iran and North Korea and maybe even Libya because you hate those bastards too. In fact, you hate the idea of peace all together, goddamned sissy liberals, real Americans love the smell of napalm in the morning you betcha.
You hate the American political system. You hate political parties. You hate those filthy liberals, oh you hate them so much, that’s a given. But you hate the Republicans too, you hate Progressives and Centrists and Moderates and there’s nobody you hate more than those traitor RINOs.

You hate your neighbors, you do, you hate them. You hate the niggers and the spics and the chinks and the gooks and spooks and hajis.  And, man, there’s nothing you hate more than when they call you a racist and a bigot. You hate all those minorities with their whining about equal rights and political correctness and affirmative action. You hate that they get a free ride.  You hate how they can’t take a joke. You hate the greedy Jews. You hate the terrorist Muslims. You hate the child-molesting Catholics. And you just goddamned hate those atheists.  You hate anybody who wasn’t born again. You hate that guy with the long beard and the red turban who runs that store you hate downtown.  You hate those people who can’t speak English without an accent.  You hate having to dial 1 for English, my God how you hate that. You hate the fags in their little Speedos, demanding the right to wed just so they can mock your third marriage.  You hate immigrants, and not just the illegal ones either. You hate the idea that those dirty, diseased sons of bitches come here to this country and take all the good jobs.  You hate that your daughter is dating one of them. You hate that one of their kids can become president when there are plenty of good God fearin’ naturally born white men around – speaking of which, you really hate how white men have become the most persecuted minority in America, it’s shameful is what it is.  You hate the poor, the lazy bastards should just lift themselves up, stop being poor. You hate the rich, the ones born with a golden spoon full of coke in their noses and the ones who robbed their way to the top.  You hate feminists, those damned dyke bitches, and you hate that they think they should own their own reproductive organs.  You hate city people, the ones from New York and Los Angeles who think they’re better then you.  You hate those ignorant country bumpkins too, those pig shit covered farmers and their subsidies always sponging off your tax dollars.  You hate those college boys, those elitist snobs with their law degrees and science majors.  You hate people from the East Coast with their old money and blue blood, you hate them almost as much as you hate the fruits, nuts, and flakes from the West Coast, and by God, how you hate those crooked bastards from Chicago. You hate single mothers and women who breastfeed in public.  You hate fat people, those glutinous slobs taking up more than their fair share of the space.  Of course, youreally hate it when that America hating Michelle Obama suggests that your kids eat right and maybe get some exercise so they don’t end up overweight, how dare she, how dare she, if you want to be fat, by God, you’ll be fat and no hate-filled bitch is going to tell you what to do. You hate kids with long hair and tattoos.  You hate old people, the Greatest Generation of assholes, always complaining about how much better things used to be, why can’t they just die already and quit sucking on the Medicare tit? Speaking of Medicare, you hate that too, even though you yourself can’t afford health insurance for you family – besides, the emergency room is free. Right?

You hate the environment. You hate the flora and fauna and the terrain of the great American landscape.  You hate the polar bears and the snail darter and that stupid spotted owl.  You hate saving the Redwoods for generations to come. You hate those national parks and the bureau of land management. You hate clean air and water that’s safe to swim in. You hate that you can’t just shoot every deer and dip-net every salmon.  You hate catalytic converters and lead free gasoline.  You hate the fact that the fascist EPA won’t let you dump toxic waste into Love Canal or strip mine Utah. You hate carbon and separating your paper from your plastics. You hate blowout preventers and containment booms and hearing about the Exxon Valdez – honestly, hasn’t Exxon suffered enough?  Drill baby drill that’s what you’re talking about.  You hate the word “Green” and you hope Al Gore burns in hell for all eternity because you hate that commie fucker more than anybody else – well, except for maybe Obama, but that just goes without saying.

You hate public education.  You hate the Department of Education, you didn’t used to, but you sure do now.  You hate it because it’s not in the Constitution – the Constitution which you hated having to learn about in school, in that government class you so hated. You hate the school board and school administrators and the school principal. You hate schools, you hate having to pay taxes for a new roof so the kids don’t get rained on and you hate having to buy classroom equipment and you hate those afterschool programs – well, except for football, that’s OK.  And, by God, you hate the damned teachers, you hate those lazy, greedy, selfish bastards.  You hate that the arrogant pricks laugh at your poorly spelled TEA Party posters and you blame them for your ignorance. You hate that you have to pay them a living wage, you hate the idea that the modern world means that teachers have to be highly educated professionals instead of some chalk scented school marm who was good enough for your great grandfather. You grandfather didn’t need to learn about computers or technology or world events or funny looking people in countries that don’t matter, and you hate it when people tell you that your kids aren’t living in that world anymore.  You hate that your kids might have to learn about actual science, oh how you hate that they might hear about evolution or global climate change or plate tectonics or that people didn’t, in fact, live with dinosaurs and that the world is actually a lot older than 5000 years despite what you learned in Church last week.  You hate the liberal colleges with their long haired professors and their weird ideas – and you sure as hell hate how higher education tends to make people more liberal, not less.

You hate the media.  You hate CNN and MSNBC and ABC and the Washington Post.  You harbor a special hatred for Arianna Huffington, a hatred that flares as brightly as a burning deep water drilling rig.  You hate Hollywood, you hate how it’s controlled by the Jews or maybe the Bilderbergs and their New World Order or perhaps it’s really secretly controlled by the Illuminati or the Muslim Brotherhood. Whoever is in charge out there, you hate how every movie seems to have gay people in it, or blacks, or an Arab.
You hate American capitalism – oh, you love Capitalism with a capital C, but you hate what those greedy conniving Wall Street fat cats have done to it.  God, how you hate those sons of bitches, the ones like Bill Gates who built his business from the ground up and became for a time the richest man in the world, and then – and this is the part you really hate – he started giving his money away.  Of course, it’s all a lie, he’s just giving it away for the tax break and how you hate that too, don’t you? And you hate those pricks in management, those prissy white collar MBA’s who have never done an honest day’s labor in their privileged lives.  Ah, but as much as you hate the executives and the management, that’s nothingcompared to how much you hate labor. You hate unions. You hate that middle class Americans enjoy a living wage in safe working environments at a reasonable number of working hours per week.  You hate that they’ve thrown in together, bargaining collectively so that they might have a bit of leverage against those fat cats and greedy corporations you also hate.  You call them socialists and communists and you hate it when somebody points out that in far left socialist and communist countries workers have no rightswhatsoever (and didn’t in America either, until the unions came along). God how you hate being confused with facts by liberal Nazi Commies who dare to question your cognitively dissociative reasoning.

In point of fact, other than the flag (the American one, not the Confederate one – though that works too, I guess), there doesn’t seem to be much about America you do like.

So, when you say you love America, what is it exactly that you love?

When you say you’re a proud American, what is it that you’re proud of?

Because, I’ve got to tell you, I’m just not seeing it.

 

http://www.stonekettle.com/2011/03/america-you-keeping-using-that-word.html


Part 2 – America: Explained: Follow up article and amplifying thoughts about this post.

Part 3 – America: Land That I Love: Follow up article and why I love this country.

Update: This post has gone viral.  Thanks to all of you who linked, Facebooked, tweeted, and stumbled it – and if you haven’t, well why the hell haven’t you?

 

If you liked this post: you might like this one too:  Liberalism, Conservatism, and Insanity.  One of these days I’m going to have to put all these bumper sticker inspired posts into a book.

 

President Obama: Born in the U.S.A.

It seems crazy that people, some people, anyway, still cling to the belief or possibly the hope, that President Obama is not a citizen born in the U.S.

A poll of Republicans recently indicated that 40% of them were “unsure” about whether or not the president was born in Hawaii.

Here are the facts, reprinted for our reader’s knowledge and to put the issue to rest, so that we can go on to the more important question of how we are going to unite the majority of Americans in their own self interest when the de facto rulers of the country prefer to see us divided. Michael

More photos and documentation on:  http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/born_in_the_usa.html

The truth about Obama’s birth certificate.
Summary
In June, the Obama campaign released a digitally scanned image of his birth certificate to quell speculative charges that he might not be a natural-born citizen. But the image prompted more blog-based skepticism about the document’s authenticity. And recently, author Jerome Corsi, whose book attacks Obama, said in a TV interview that the birth certificate the campaign has is “fake.”

We beg to differ. FactCheck.org staffers have now seen, touched, examined and photographed the original birth certificate. We conclude that it meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship. Claims that the document lacks a raised seal or a signature are false. We have posted high-resolution photographs of the document as “supporting documents” to this article. Our conclusion: Obama was born in the U.S.A. just as he has always said.

Update, Nov. 1: The director of Hawaii’s Department of Health confirmed Oct. 31 that Obama was born in Honolulu.
Analysis
Update Nov. 1: The Associated Press quoted Chiyome Fukino as saying that both she and the registrar of vital statistics, Alvin Onaka, have personally verified that the health department holds Obama’s original birth certificate.

Fukino also was quoted by several other news organizations. The Honolulu Advertiser quoted Fukino as saying the agency had been bombarded by requests, and that the registrar of statistics had even been called in at home in the middle of the night.
Honolulu Advertiser, Nov. 1 2008: “This has gotten ridiculous,” state health director Dr. Chiyome Fukino said yesterday. “There are plenty of other, important things to focus on, like the economy, taxes, energy.” . . . Will this be enough to quiet the doubters? “I hope so,” Fukino said. “We need to get some work done.”
Fukino said she has “personally seen and verified that the Hawaii State Department of Health has Sen. Obama’s original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures.”

Since we first wrote about Obama’s birth certificate on June 16, speculation on his citizenship has continued apace. Some claim that Obama posted a fake birth certificate to his Web page. That charge leaped from the blogosphere to the mainstream media earlier this week when Jerome Corsi, author of a book attacking Obama, repeated the claim in an Aug. 15 interview with Steve Doocy on Fox News.
Corsi: Well, what would be really helpful is if Senator Obama would release primary documents like his birth certificate. The campaign has a false, fake birth certificate posted on their website. How is anybody supposed to really piece together his life?

Doocy: What do you mean they have a “false birth certificate” on their Web site?

Corsi: The original birth certificate of Obama has never been released, and the campaign refuses to release it.

Doocy: Well, couldn’t it just be a State of Hawaii-produced duplicate?

Corsi: No, it’s a — there’s been good analysis of it on the Internet, and it’s been shown to have watermarks from Photoshop. It’s a fake document that’s on the Web site right now, and the original birth certificate the campaign refuses to produce.

Corsi isn’t the only skeptic claiming that the document is a forgery. Among the most frequent objections we saw on forums, blogs and e-mails are:
The birth certificate doesn’t have a raised seal.
It isn’t signed.
No creases from folding are evident in the scanned version.
In the zoomed-in view, there’s a strange halo around the letters.
The certificate number is blacked out.
The date bleeding through from the back seems to say “2007,” but the document wasn’t released until 2008.
The document is a “certification of birth,” not a “certificate of birth.”
Recently FactCheck representatives got a chance to spend some time with the birth certificate, and we can attest to the fact that it is real and three-dimensional and resides at the Obama headquarters in Chicago. We can assure readers that the certificate does bear a raised seal, and that it’s stamped on the back by Hawaii state registrar Alvin T. Onaka (who uses a signature stamp rather than signing individual birth certificates). We even brought home a few photographs.

The Obama birth certificate, held by FactCheck writer Joe Miller

Alvin T. Onaka’s signature stamp

The raised seal

Blowup of text

You can click on the photos to get full-size versions, which haven’t been edited in any way, except that some have been rotated 90 degrees for viewing purposes.

The certificate has all the elements the State Department requires for proving citizenship to obtain a U.S. passport: “your full name, the full name of your parent(s), date and place of birth, sex, date the birth record was filed, and the seal or other certification of the official custodian of such records.” The names, date and place of birth, and filing date are all evident on the scanned version, and you can see the seal above.

The document is a “certification of birth,” also known as a short-form birth certificate. The long form is drawn up by the hospital and includes additional information such as birth weight and parents’ hometowns. The short form is printed by the state and draws from a database with fewer details. The Hawaii Department of Health’s birth record request form does not give the option to request a photocopy of your long-form birth certificate, but their short form has enough information to be acceptable to the State Department. We tried to ask the Hawaii DOH why they only offer the short form, among other questions, but they have not given a response.

The scan released by the campaign shows halos around the black text, making it look (to some) as though the text might have been pasted on top of an image of security paper. But the document itself has no such halos, nor do the close-up photos we took of it. We conclude that the halo seen in the image produced by the campaign is a digital artifact from the scanning process.

We asked the Obama campaign about the date stamp and the blacked-out certificate number. The certificate is stamped June 2007, because that’s when Hawaii officials produced it for the campaign, which requested that document and “all the records we could get our hands on” according to spokesperson Shauna Daly. The campaign didn’t release its copy until 2008, after speculation began to appear on the Internet questioning Obama’s citizenship. The campaign then rushed to release the document, and the rush is responsible for the blacked-out certificate number. Says Shauna: “[We] couldn’t get someone on the phone in Hawaii to tell us whether the number represented some secret information, and we erred on the side of blacking it out. Since then we’ve found out it’s pretty irrelevant for the outside world.” The document we looked at did have a certificate number; it is 151 1961 – 010641.

Blowup of certificate number
Some of the conspiracy theories that have circulated about Obama are quite imaginative. One conservative blogger suggested that the campaign might have obtained a valid Hawaii birth certificate, soaked it in solvent, then reprinted it with Obama’s information. Of course, this anonymous blogger didn’t have access to the actual document and presents this as just one possible “scenario” without any evidence that such a thing actually happened or is even feasible.

We also note that so far none of those questioning the authenticity of the document have produced a shred of evidence that the information on it is incorrect. Instead, some speculate that somehow, maybe, he was born in another country and doesn’t meet the Constitution’s requirement that the president be a “natural-born citizen.”

We think our colleagues at PolitiFact.com, who also dug into some of these loopy theories put it pretty well: “It is possible that Obama conspired his way to the precipice of the world’s biggest job, involving a vast network of people and government agencies over decades of lies. Anything’s possible. But step back and look at the overwhelming evidence to the contrary and your sense of what’s reasonable has to take over.”

In fact, the conspiracy would need to be even deeper than our colleagues realized. In late July, a researcher looking to dig up dirt on Obama instead found a birth announcement that had been published in the Honolulu Advertiser on Sunday, Aug. 13, 1961:

Obama’s birth announcement

The announcement was posted by a pro-Hillary Clinton blogger who grudgingly concluded that Obama “likely” was born Aug. 4, 1961 in Honolulu.

Of course, it’s distantly possible that Obama’s grandparents may have planted the announcement just in case their grandson needed to prove his U.S. citizenship in order to run for president someday. We suggest that those who choose to go down that path should first equip themselves with a high-quality tinfoil hat. The evidence is clear: Barack Obama was born in the U.S.A.

Update, August 26: We received responses to some of our questions from the Hawaii Department of Health. They couldn’t tell us anything about their security paper, but they did answer another frequently-raised question: why is Obama’s father’s race listed as “African”? Kurt Tsue at the DOH told us that father’s race and mother’s race are supplied by the parents, and that “we accept what the parents self identify themselves to be.” We consider it reasonable to believe that Barack Obama, Sr., would have thought of and reported himself as “African.” It’s certainly not the slam dunk some readers have made it out to be.

When we asked about the security borders, which look different from some other examples of Hawaii certifications of live birth, Kurt said “The borders are generated each time a certified copy is printed. A citation located on the bottom left hand corner of the certificate indicates which date the form was revised.” He also confirmed that the information in the short form birth certificate is sufficient to prove citizenship for “all reasonable purposes.”

–by Jess Henig, with Joe Miller
Sources
United States Department of State. “Application for a U.S. Passport.” Accessed 20 Aug. 2008.

State of Hawaii Department of Health. “Request for Certified Copy of Birth Record.” Accessed 20 Aug. 2008.

Hollyfield, Amy. “Obama’s Birth Certificate: Final Chapter.” Politifact.com. 27 Jun. 2008.

The Associated Press. “State declares Obama birth certificate genuine” 31 Oct 2008.

Nakaso, Dan. “Obama’s certificate of birth OK, state says; Health director issues voucher in response to ‘ridiculous’ barrage” Honolulu Advertiser 1 Nov 2008.

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FactCheck.org’s staff, not the Annenberg Center, is responsible for this.

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