Is Civility a Sign of Weakness?

When the President bowed to Japanese Emperor Akihito it ignited a firestorm of righteous indignation among the macho members of the hard right.

It was not even a story, other than the right’s reaction to it.

President Obama, unlike the previous President, not only actually was elected to the nation’s highest office, his life, unlike Bush’s life, is one of accomplishments against odds stacked against him.

George Bush was born wealthy, he never had to struggle, therefore, he never really had the confidence to be himself, to do what he thought was right.

Obama, on the other hand, had to fight his way upstream, so to speak, from poverty to the opulence he enjoys today.

No matter what you think of Obama, this is a man. He doesn’t have to act tough.  He is tough, he’s proven that.

Bush talked tough, Bush swaggered, the sure signs of a man filled with self doubt.

I admire Obama’s self assurance as I despised Bush’s swagger.

The look on the face of the Emperor and his wife spoke volumes, the most pwerful man in the world was a humble man.

We should be humble too.

Humility is a good thing.

Arabs See U.S. Tilt to Israel

Thanks to the Wall Street Journal

By JAY SOLOMON

MARRAKECH, Morocco — The Obama administration’s drive for Middle East peace risked a major setback as Arab nations warned of “failure” after a surprise U.S. shift away from insisting on a total freeze of Israeli settlement-building in disputed areas ahead of peace talks.

A furor in Arab capitals forced U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to issue a carefully worded statement from Morocco on Monday, asserting that U.S. policy on the settlement issue hadn’t changed. That didn’t damp the criticism.

Associated Press

Hillary Clinton meets in Marrakech with Bahrain’s foreign minister, right, the deputy prime minister of Kuwait, left, and Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, far left.

“The Americans couldn’t bring something serious” on the settlement issue, said Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League and an Egyptian diplomat. “I’m really afraid we’re about to see failure….Failure is in the atmosphere.”

The disquiet was sparked by comments Mrs. Clinton made over the weekend in Jerusalem. She lauded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s commitment to a partial freeze of building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, calling it an “unprecedented” move toward peace that should bring Palestinians to the negotiating table.

The Obama administration had repeatedly described a full freeze as critical to creating the conditions for progress on peace.The White House’s point man on the Middle East peace process, former Sen. George Mitchell, has been seeking to get a complete settlement freeze in exchange for Arab governments taking early steps to normalize their relations with Israel, such as establishing trade and telecommunications links.

The inability to secure those moves by either side has stalled one of the White House’s signature foreign-policy objects. A breakdown could have wider implications, undercutting President Barack Obama’s broader outreach to the Muslim world and potentially diminishing cooperation in areas like counterterrorism and nuclear nonproliferation.

U.S. officials said they are continuing to push ahead with the peace process, and stressing to the Arab states that even a partial freeze is significant and should be seized upon. Mrs. Clinton will travel Tuesday to Cairo, in a hastily scheduled trip to make the same point to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a key player in the peace process.

“Successive American administrations of both parties have opposed Israel’s settlement policy,” Mrs. Clinton told reporters in the resort city of Marrakech, arguing that her comments praising Mr. Netanyahu’s position didn’t amount to a U.S. reversal. “That is absolutely a fact, and the Obama administration’s position on settlements is clear, unequivocal and it has not changed.”

U.S. officials weren’t able to outline what steps they will take if the Arab governments don’t relent and agree to resume negotiations without the freeze. That appeared unlikely Monday. Palestinian officials stressed that they can’t be expected to take further steps and expect public support without that concession. Some analysts say the U.S. should wait until the completion of Palestinian elections next year until pushing again.

[Despite his criticism of U.S. efforts, Mr. Moussa said he still holds out hope for President Barack Obama pushing the Mideast peace process forward.]AFP/Getty Images

 

Despite his criticism of U.S. efforts, Mr. Moussa said he still holds out hope for President Barack Obama pushing the Mideast peace process forward.

Arab leaders who had joined Mrs. Clinton at a regional development conference said there was a growing concern that Mr. Obama’s high-profile push for Arab-Israeli peace was veering off track. They said Mr. Obama’s election, and his strong statements on Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, had fed broad hopes in the Middle East — now being questioned — that his administration could extract concessions from Israel’s government as part of an agreement establishing an independent Palestinian state.

The theatrics in Morocco imperiled a weeklong trip by Mrs. Clinton to the broader Middle East that initially was designed in part to relaunch formal peace talks. On Saturday, Mrs. Clinton met in the United Arab Emirates with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and pressed him to return to negotiations without the complete freeze.

She then met with Mr. Netanyahu in Jerusalem and asserted that Israel’s commitment to limiting its settlement activity in the West Bank should be enough to bring the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. The perception she was now siding with Mr. Netanyahu rankled many Arab diplomats, who believe the Israeli leader isn’t committed to the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

Mrs. Clinton “can praise Mr. Netanyahu if she wants,” said the Arab League’s Mr. Moussa, “but we’re not impressed. We see the policies of Mr. Netanyahu as a major impediment toward peace.”

Other U.S. officials working on the Middle East stressed that Washington hadn’t shifted policy. But one official acknowledged that Mrs. Clinton’s comments stoked the negative reaction from Arab leaders. Officials said she had taken a tougher line privately Saturday with Israeli officials during her meetings in Jerusalem.

In trying to clarify U.S. policy Monday, Mrs. Clinton said Israel’s partial commitment to freeze settlements “falls short” of the Obama administration’s desire. But she said it was still an important step.

“If it is acted upon, it will be an unprecedented restriction on settlements and would have a significant and meaningful affect on restraining their growth,” Mrs. Clinton said. “This is an opportunity for both sides to try to move forward together, to get into negotiations, and to realize the goal that many of us around this table have supported and worked for for many years.”

After meeting late Monday with Arab diplomats to try to contain the damage, she said of Israel’s proposal, “It is not enough…It is not what many people in the region want to see. But it is fair to call it unprecedented.”

The Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister, Riad Malki, said Monday in Marrakech that he was “happy” that Mrs. Clinton clarified her statements from Jerusalem. But he said it was still impossible for Mr. Abbas and the Palestinians to return to formal peace negotiations without the settlement freeze. The Palestinian public wouldn’t support the peace process without it, he said.

“We should not put the credibility and the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority again under jeopardy if the Palestinian Authority will accept anything less than a total freeze,” said Mr. Malki. “[It] will be detrimental to the future and the existence of the Palestinian authority as a whole.”

Mr. Abbas was widely criticized across the Arab world last month by initially agreeing to a U.S. request not to support a United Nations report that alleged Israel committed war crimes during its attack on the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, last year, in the Gaza Strip. Mr. Abbas reversed course, after facing domestic unrest, and ultimately supported pursuing the U.N. investigation. But Mr. Malki said his organization’s bending to U.S. pressure on this issue weakened Mr. Abbas.

“They started accusing my president and the Palestinian leadership of treason [and]of selling the suffering of the Palestinian people in exchange of one item and another,” said Mr. Malki.

Mrs. Clinton also discussed the growing threat of Iran’s nuclear program with her Arab counterparts Monday, according to senior U.S. officials. The discussions came as there is growing concern that Tehran will reject an Obama administration proposal to better monitor Iran’s fissile material by shipping the majority of Tehran’s low-enriched uranium to Russia for reprocessing.

Arab diplomats have repeatedly said their ability to pressure Iran, and support sanctions, could be constrained if there isn’t any progress on the Arab-Israeli peace track. They have said Arab governments could be attacked by their publics for conspiring with Israel against another Muslim nation without getting anything in return.

Mrs. Clinton stressed Monday that the U.S.-backed offer to Iran wouldn’t be amended further, as Tehran has indicated it wants. “We urge Iran to accept the agreement as proposed. We are not changing it,” she said at the news briefing.

Write to Jay Solomon at jay.solomon@wsj.com

 

It’s about time!

I am happy to see the U.S. recognize that the Arabs are the obstacle to peace in the Land of Israel.

Michael


Are Human Rights A Slippery Slope To Socialism?

 

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948,proclaimed that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of oneself and one’s family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care.”

Believe it or not, the United States pushed really hard for these rights to be law.

 

All the world recognizes Health Care as a human right, a right which the United States, in 1948, demanded be included in theUN’s Universal Human Rights Law.
Not the Republicans, however.
Frankly,  the U.S. probably would not survive another Republican administration.
Our problems are too complex for simplistic solutions.
The Republicans believe that they can just continue to marginalize people who are “different”, that is, poor or non-White.
Aside from the ethics of such an approach, soon the U.S. will contain more minorities than whites.
Polls indicate, elections have shown, that people are tired of the Republican exclusivity, and massive government agencies whose sole purpose seems to be to “control” those they disagree with.
They are tired of being taxed more and more for wrong-headed military adventures which enrich the defense contractors and impoverish everyone else.
The Republicans believe that the only purpose of our government is to protect their wealth, and to oppress everyone else.
The Republicans say that “we” can’t afford to house homeless children.
They say we can’t afford to provide decent schools for those less fortunate.
The one percent of Americans who control 95 percent of America’s wealth, many who inherited their wealth, say that we cannot afford to grant economic equality to those who actually created the wealth that has allowed them to live as kings and queens, and dominate the world.
The children of slaves, for example, whose forefathers built much of this country, now form a huge percentage of those in cages in our country.
A country, by the way, that imprisons a larger number of its poor than Communist China.
Not just percentage wise, but in total numbers of caged human beings.
The Nobles  spend billions of dollars to convince the undereducated masses of America that it is wrong for our government to feed the hungry, that to even consider feeding hungry children and educating them and helping them with, again, basic human rights, which include a place to live and food to eat, is socialism.
The Republicans believe that the answer to social problems is more cages for the poor.
They build bigger and more expensive, and more inhumane prisons as the most efficient way to house the poor.
A recent , original bit of social engineering which has proven popular among these aristocrats of ours is the prison system of Arizona, where the prisoners are housed in tents, in the desert, where the temperature has been known to soar to 120 degrees in the summer.
The Warden of one of these American penal colonies brags, “My dog lives inside, in air conditioning. But he deserves it. He’s not a scum bag like the criminals I house in the tents.”
He is very popular among Republicans and  others, who think that merely housing poor people in cages where they will be beaten, robbed and raped, is too easy on them.
Americans want freedom of thought, and privacy in our bedrooms, and decent schools and repaired infrastructure.
They are tired of justice being “just us.”
Less than 20 percent of Americans consider themselves Republicans.
My personal view is that most Republicans are just not very aware of reality, they spend too much time listening to the hate speech of Limbaugh and Beck and the other lunatics of the right.
I believe that we, all of us, are responsible for what we do.
If a thousand members of the Nobility in America grow fat and fly around the world in air-conditioned luxury, sampling the local girls, or in Rush Limbaugh’s case, the young boys, while strung out on drugs and wolfing down Viagra and oxycontinin, in essence, legally raping and pillaging, and a hundred thousand babies cry for milk or a bowl of gruel in the Sub-Saharan desert, and poor kids go to prison for using the “illegal” version of Oxycontin, i.e., heroin, because they can’t afford a doctor to feed them the drugs Limbaugh gets “legally”,  serious wrongs have been committed.
A poor kid, desperate to get his “Oxycontin”, who goes to a 7-11 and shoots up the place is responsible for his actions, too.
Just like Limbaugh, although on a much smaller scale.
I have been, like many Americans, watching the news, and wondering where all the brutality we see on the local news comes from.
One source of origin may be that poor, hungry children see a government for the rich, of the rich, and by the rich as a sort of sociopathic monster.
Bush gunned down, blew up, and tortured thousands of people during his presidency, many of them were innocent women and children.
He bragged about torturing people.
He justified it, and so did his friends.
Just like gang members do.
On a much smaller scale.
Don’t tell me the difference.
Tell a gang member fighting for his turf.
Tell him that Bush earned his wealth and property because he was born rich.
Tell the poor that we have the right to kick down their doors and brutalize them because the drugs they sell are illegal.
Unlike the drugs pushed by the wealthy pharmaceutical companies, the tobacco companies and the liquor industry.
Show the poor how, although many more people die from the legal drugs, and alcohol, and tobacco, they are good, and the people who sell them are good.
Teach them why they go to prison for selling a drug that has never killed anyone, Marijuana, and teach them how evil they are in comparison to the heroes of tobacco and pharmaceuticals and liquor.
Ask them why they are angry, and sociopathic.
A young man goes to Iraq, and sees a fellow soldier killed or injured, and he becomes afflicted with PTSD.
He is eligible for free health care and a disability check for life.
Do poor children in America, who see their friends  and parents and siblings killed and beaten and raped, who are similarly victimized themselves, have a program to take care of them?
No, they don’t even have basic health care, and the Republicans say it is socialism for them to even want it.
The Republican platform, caring only for the wealthy, has worked pretty well for them, so far.
They have gotten richer.
And when they have financial worries, the same government that they viciously castigate for providing a school lunch for hungry children, will be more than willing to give them unlimited sums of hard currency, whatever they need, no problem,
That we can afford.
We can afford to pay CEO’s multi-million dollar bonuses from tax revenues.
Look, we probably could afford to have Medicare for all Americans…but that would be socialism, and we all know how evil that is.
Look at Europe, look at Canada.
Look at every other civilized country in the world.
Just plain evil.

It’s Almost Time For Channukah (Or Christmas..)

Most people I think,  know the difference between right and wrong, it is in our nature, that is why civilization has thrived and most of humanity has experienced a lifestyle that is a great improvement for vast numbers of people .

I have always felt that it is wrong for some people to be born wealthy and live unbelievably extravagant life styles, while millions of other people are born in grinding poverty.

George Bush, Paris Hilton,  and other members of the American “Nobility”  did nothing to earn life as Arabian Princes and Princesses.

Hilton has good looks, and may have been able to parlay that into something anyway, Bush has nothing going for himself yet he has been able to order others to kill thousands of people, poor people, for no other reason really except that he was born wealthy.
Many of the wealthy in America, especially the ones who know they didn’t really earn their millions or billions,  perform charity work and give vast sums away.
Others, again, like the Bush family, spend their fortunes protecting their fortunes from being shared by others.
Life is not fair, but every one with morals is trying to make it more fair.
That, again, is in our natures.
All we can do, is a. Be thankful we were born in the West, where although we have rough times, as  least we  probably won’t starve or be swept away in a mudslide, or drowned in a tsunami, and b., in my opinion, try to be kind, try to do good for other people, try to be humble and non judgmental and fair and moral, and happy.
Those are the main points, I could write a book on what I think we should do, many people have, and some of them are helpful.
I like the Tao Te Ching, available free online.
It’s not my gospel, but I get a lot of good out of it, and if I had to preach a doctrine, (which I don’t, obviously) that would be the one I would choose.

Right now, life is somewhat rough for me,  just getting over a painful divorce, but I am so healthy I really expect to live another 30 or 40 years, so I am working on building my life, taking advantage of what is good in it, and not letting other’s misperceptions drag me down.
I met a girl recently, her name is Paula.
She’s pretty, around late 30’s or early 40’s, and she thinks I’m funny.
There is something about her.
So I am going to go for it.
Remember, life goes in cycles, good and bad, up and down.
The trick is to get through the bad times.
You can do that.

Government of the Corporations, by the Corporations, and For the Corporations

Hopeful comments notwithstanding, it appears Health Care for all Americans is dead.
Last November Americans rejoiced, we had elected a President that cared, that was for the people, the revolution was here, and it was non-violent.

 

There was going to be change.
And there was.
A new President.
A Democratic Majority in Congress.
Different faces, the same old song and dance, however.
MFB
After the Democrats folded, caving to the special interests, Dennis Kucinich had this to say:

“Is this the best we can do? Forcing people to buy private health insurance, guaranteeing at least $50 billion in new business for the insurance companies?

“Is this the best we can do? Government negotiates rates which will drive up insurance costs, but the government won’t negotiate with the pharmaceutical companies which will drive up pharmaceutical costs.

“Is this the best we can do? Only 3% of Americans will go to a new public plan, while currently 33% of Americans are either uninsured or underinsured?

“Is this the best we can do? Eliminating the state single payer option, while forcing most people to buy private insurance.

“If this is the best we can do, then our best isn’t good enough and we have to ask some hard questions about our political system: such as Health Care or Insurance Care? Government of the people or a government of the corporations.”

 

Watch Rep Kucinich’s interview on MSNBC

Palestinians Choose the Illusion of “Victory” Over Negotiated Peace


By Barry Rubin*

October 11, 2009



This may be a very big development, a turning point. Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders are now openly complaining about President Barack Obama, saying he has hurt the Palestinian cause, by accepting less than a complete freeze of construction on settlements from Israel, pressuring PA leader Mahmoud Abbas to stand next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the president’s UN photo opportunity, and pushing the Palestinian Authority to ease off on demanding the UN put sanctions against Israel over the Goldstone Commission issue.

Obama is now going to discover what gratitude is worth in the Middle East. All his pro-Palestinian, pro-Muslim pronouncements, all his criticism of Israel, and everything else he’s tried to do to show his warm support for that side have availed him nothing. In the eyes of the Palestinian leadership it isn’t enough. It can never be enough.

I predict that within a month or two, Obama is going to be denounced in the Palestinian media–with the Syrians and others picking this up–that he is just another George W. Bush. Will he get angry or just keep pretending this isn’t happening?

Here’s how one Palestinian activist puts it, “We had more than a little hope that things would change with an Obama administration. Now the almost universal feeling among Palestinians is one of disappointment.” This view isn’t just coming from high-level officials but also has broad popular appeal.

Once again, the Palestinians have made clear choice. They can seek a mythical victory or real negotiations and a solution. They are choosing the illusion of victory over the reality of getting peace and a Palestinian state through negotiations.

Victory:

Fight on for decades, shed rivers of blood, try either to defeat and destroy Israel or to force it militarily or through international pressure to withdraw to the 1967 borders and give the Palestinians everything they want without concession on their part.

It is always tempting to try to get everything and give up nothing. It is also a good stance for a politician to tell his constituency that if they support him they can have all they want at no real cost.

But it doesn’t work.

Now Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has made a major public speech in which he calls for the UN Human Rights Commission to hold a special session on the ridiculous Goldstone report. The goal is that the Commission will condemn Israel and call for sanctions against it, the UN will endorse the sanctions, and Israel will face massive sanctions.

The next step, unless the U.S. government vetoes this campaign, would be the passage of sanctions condemning Israel for committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip that never happened, rubberstamping the claims of Hamas, an antisemitic terrorist group which preaches genocide against Jews.

Feeling that it is winning, the PA won’t be interested in negotiations. Feeling, understandably, that the world is against it, neither will Israel.

In short, the PA’s strategy would wreck President Barack Obama’s policy of trying to negotiate peace.

Or, there would be a U.S. veto of sanctions, which would make Obama and his administration angry and make them look bad in the world and to the very Muslims they’ve been trying to court.

In short, the PA’s strategy could wreck Obama’s international policy generally, undermining the popularity of someone who is obsessed with being popular.

Either way, the Palestinians would lose, assuming they really wanted peace and a state.

Negotiation:

The PA could actually try to compromise and get an independent state, the withdrawal of all Jewish settlements on its territory, more than $20 billion in aid, and the ability to return all refugees who so wished to live in Palestine.

So here’s the problem: the West and especially Obama wants to act as if the Palestinians are desperate to end the occupation and get a state and have peace.

But they show that they want victory, even if it sacrifices all those things, damages the Obama administration, and destroys its policy of supporting them.

This is what Bill Clinton and George W. Bush learned through experience. Now it’s Obama’s turn to discover that the Palestinian Authority isn’t some poor suffering force that he will rescue but rather a problem, the barrier to peace, and an enemy to U.S. interests.

Don’t underestimate the importance of what’s unfolding here. One thing politicians can’t forgive is someone making them look foolish. Yasir Arafat and the PA did that to Clinton by rejecting his plan for negotiations offered at the Camp David meeting in 2000. Mahmoud Abbas and the PA did that to George W. Bush by lying to him about their arms deal with Hizballah and Iran to smuggle a huge arms shipment that, if not intercepted by Israel, would have led to a bloodbath.

Now the PA is doing the same thing to Obama. Will he be any more forgiving than his two predecessors?


Why We Can’t Leave Iraq

Michael Moore hecame wealthy by telling the unadorned truth.

And this is shocking, because we have not heard the truth. It’s new to us.

To realize that the government is basically controlled by less than 1% of the population. To realize that they do cynical things for their own profit.

The companies that own the media and  have long promoted the idea that the government should not be involved in helping people, immediately had the government bail them out when they needed money.

For all of their wealth, those who make the decisions often make bad decisions, such as the timing of the war in Iraq.

I don’t know why Bush went into Iraq, really, it’s anyone’s guess.

But it was a mistake, a classic mistake, becoming overextended by having too many fronts.

This is elementary.

No doubt Saddam deserved to die.

The brutal humiliation  and hanging was not excessive when compared to his crimes.

At the time, I agreed with those who said, about Iraq, “Go in, get Saddam, and get out.”

But we broke it, we’ve got to fix it.

Bush policies broke it, and Obama has to fix it.

Let’s cut thorugh the flowery language and face what we have to do, to safeguard the Iraqi cilvilians, mainly the women and children, who are most vulnerable to the brutality of the various militant criminals.

We need no other reason to be there than that we are protecting innocent people from brutal criminals.

We have to make Iraq a client state.

We run it, for their benefit, but we don’t allow oppression of women or children or brainwashing or any of the other activities for which the militant criminals are justifiably famous.

If we can have a generation or two of education and less exposure to the evil side of Islamic indocrination, they may actually be able to run their own country, with us as staunch allies for as long as needed.

But we can’t leave now.

Even though I want to, and you want to.

The way they will oppress innocent people who just yearn for a normal life, and most particularly women and children, if we leave without putting in place a structure that will protect universally recognized human rights, would be brutal and murderous.

In Iran, right now, clerics are having women raped and executed.

In Afghanistan the Taliban orders women to be covered head to foot, with only a thick guaze peephole to see out of.

In Gaza women are being forced into the dark ages, more and more enforced “dress codes”.

I won’t go into all of it here.

The Sharia way is well known, or should be.

Some will say, it’s not our fight.

Of course it is.

We should have dealt with Afghanistan first  but now that we are in Iraq it would be immoral to just walk away.

That’s why we are still there.

I think it is an encouraging sign that President Obama isn’t just pulling out and leaving the people to fend for themselves.

It shows that he is going to do what he believes is right, even if it is not politically expedient.