Saturday, March 27, 2010

Gone In An Arizona Minute

The Minutemen Militia is calling it quits.
The Arizona-based border watch group that burst onto the national scene in 2005 sent an email to its members this week announcing the corporation has dissolved.

The group’s president, Carmen Mercer, of Tombstone, said she and the board’s two other directors voted to end the group’s five-year run because they were worried her recent “call to action” would attract the wrong people to the border.

On March 16, Mercer sent out an e-mail urging members to come to the border “locked, loaded and ready” and urged people to bring “long arms.” She proposed changing the group’s rules to allow members to track illegal immigrants and drug smugglers instead of just reporting the activity to the Border Patrol.

We will forcefully engage, detain, and defend our lives and country from the criminals who trample over our culture and laws,” she wrote in the March 16 e-mail.

Mercer said she received a more feverish response than she expected — 350 personal e-mails she said — and decided the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps couldn’t shoulder the responsibility and liability of what could occur, she said.

People are ready to come lock and loaded and that’s not what we are all about,” Mercer said. “It only takes one bad apple to destroy everything we’ve done for the last eight years.”
When Mercer realized she had at least a short battalion's worth of yahoos ready to put holes in anyone making a run for the border, she wisely realized she went too far.  She knew exactly what she was saying with the rhetoric, but for some crazy reason she didn't expect anyone to actually take her seriously.  350 emails made quite a nasty electronic trail that would have made it clear beyond a doubt she was absolutely responsible for any violence that would have surely come if she had followed through.

It's a good thing she didn't go ahead.  I understand the need for border security in the United States in 2010, but armed militia groups providing it just was never the way to go.

Bachmann Fails At Economics Again

Michelle Bachmann continues to be one of the most amazingly uninformed, ignorant, and embarrassing members of Congress on either side of the aisle.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is continuing to denounce what she says is a pattern of government takeovers of the economy -- going so far as to say that the economy used to be totally private.

"And what we saw this Tuesday, once the president signed the health care bill at the 11th hour in the morning on Tuesday, that effected 51% government takeover of the private economy," Bachmann said on Wednesday, during an interview with North Dakota talk radio host Scott Hennen. "It is really quite sobering what has happened. From 100% of our economy was private prior to September of 2008, but as of Tuesday, the federal government has now taken ownership or control of 51% of the private economy."
What's sobering is how this woman got elected to office to represent hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans and continues to remain there while having no clue about how basic economics work.  One hundred percent of our economy was private prior to September of 2008?  51 percent of it is government controlled now?  That's either proof positive that she's blindingly ignorant, or that she thinks everyone is stupid enough to believe her just because she said it.  It's a complete fabrication.  Yet she's treated as a serious lawmaker.

Either way, Minnesota needs to elect someone else from that district come November.

Obama's Squeeze Play On Bibi

With the recent diplomatic spat between Israel and the US now having gotten somewhat serious, Obama's next stage of the plan may be to strike now with his major Middle East peace initiative.  But what's Obama's real game here?  McClatchy's Warren Strobel (emphasis mine):
Obama, fresh from his legislative victory on health care, is planning an attempt to turn the current disaster into a diplomatic opportunity, according to U.S. officials, former officials and diplomats.

The administration is said to be preparing a major peace initiative that would be Obama's most direct involvement in the conflict to date, and would go far beyond the tentative, indirect Israeli-Palestinian talks that were torpedoed earlier in the month.

"It is crystallizing that we have to do something now. That this can't go on this way," said one of the officials who, like the others, wouldn't speak for the record because of the issue's sensitivity.

Because of the U.S. political calendar, Obama has limited time to press Israel before it becomes a major domestic political issue during midterm elections. Netanyahu, who this weekend confers with his closest allies, has limited political space in which to operate, if he wants to stay in power.

His coalition at home is populated with Israeli politicians who support Jewish settlements in the West Bank, oppose any concessions on Jerusalem and are skeptical of an independent Palestinian state next door.

One irony of the current confrontation is that the administration, which had laboriously organized indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians, had planned to use Biden's visit to provide "strategic reassurance" to Israel, in hopes of improving relations with the closest U.S. ally in the Middle East after a year of strains.
Now, trust between the two sides seems to be at a very low ebb.

"There's not a great deal of trust that he believes deeply in the two-state solution," a former senior U.S. official in touch with the White House said of Netanyahu. "There's a belief that he's a reluctant peacemaker here."

The Obama administration is said to believe that Netanyahu has more control over Jewish settlements than he admits, and political flexibility to dump his right-wing partners and form a government with the moderate Kadima party if he chose.

"Fundamentally, he's going to have to decide between his coalition and his relationship with the United States," the former official said.
My distaste for unnamed sources aside,  there's a clear play here.  Obama's trying to squeeze Bibi out.

That's right.  Regime change in Israel.  Let that soak in for a moment.  Let's explore what that means:  it means the Obama administration sees Israel's refusal to come to the table and stop with settlement expansion as a direct threat to US national security.  So much so, that Obama's looking to put Bibi in an untenable situation where he has to decide between the US or his job.

The idea here is that the current government collapses and Netanyahu is forced to form a more moderate one.  The chaos would also prevent Israel from going after the Palestinians or Iran for a while.

BooMan has the right of things.
Given that, there is no way forward until not only Netanyahu goes, but the far-right lunatics he needs to form a majority go, too. Consider:

The Arab League is scheduled to meet this weekend in Libya and is likely to repeat demands for a freeze on Israeli building in occupied areas before giving a final endorsement to the return of the Palestinian Authority to peace talks with Israel. Mr. Abbas, the Palestinian president, has sought pan-Arab cover for his decision to return to the talks.
With Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak recovering from surgery and unable to attend the Arab League talks, and with our Gulf allies (and Britain) still furious about the Mossad assassination team unleashed on Dubai, the administration must show naked resolve and displeasure with Israel in order to have any credibility whatsoever. Not to mention, humiliating Joe Biden when he traveled to Israel was bound to be returned in kind two-fold by a president who knows how to watch his number two's back. 
Obama's running the old squeeze play here and he's doing a pretty brilliant job of it.  We'll see how it turns out.  Either way, make no mistake:  Obama is out of patience with the Netanyahu government, and they are about to get a stark reminder about who really does run this relationship.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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