Saturday, July 17, 2010

With Friends Like These...

Well, you know how the rest of it goes.

Netanyahu is speaking to a small group of terror victims in the West Bank settlement of Ofra two years after stepping down as prime minister in 1999. He appears laid-back. After claiming that the only way to deal with the Palestinian Authority was a large-scale attack, Netanyahu was asked by one of the participants whether or not the United States would let such an attack come to fruition.

“I know what America is,” Netanyahu replied. “America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction. They won’t get in their way.” He then called former president Bill Clinton “radically pro-Palestinian,” and went on to belittle the Oslo peace accords as vulnerable to manipulation. Since the accords state that Israel would be allowed to hang on to pre-defined military zones in the West Bank, Netanyahu told his hosts that he could torpedo the accords by defining vast swaths of land as just that.

“They asked me before the election if I’d honor [the Oslo accords],” Netanyahu said. “I said I would, but … I’m going to interpret the accords in such a way that would allow me to put an end to this galloping forward to the ’67 borders. How did we do it? Nobody said what defined military zones were. Defined military zones are security zones; as far as I’m concerned, the entire Jordan Valley is a defined military zone. Go argue.”

Smiling, Netanyahu then recalled how he forced former U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher to agree to let Israel alone determine which parts of the West Bank were to be defined as military zones. “They didn’t want to give me that letter,” Netanyahu said, “so I didn’t give them the Hebron agreement [the agreement giving Hebron back to the Palestinians]. I cut the cabinet meeting short and said, ‘I’m not signing.’ Only when the letter came, during that meeting, to me and to Arafat, did I ratify the Hebron agreement. Why is this important? Because from that moment on, I de facto put an end to the Oslo accords.”

President Obama, and anyone else concerned about Israel’s commitment to the peace process, may watch the tape online here.
Nine years later, Bibi's back in charge, and nothing has changed.   The only truly bipartisan thing our Congress can agree on is telling Obama to sit the hell down, shut the hell up, and know his place before Israel.

It's almost funny if you think about how much power Netanyahu has over us.  That's a small tail to be wagging a big dog, for sure.  But that's the way it works.  There's no chance to fix the Palestinian-Israel relationship until we fix the Israel-United States relationship.  But that's not going to happen anytime within our lifetimes

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Why pretend you have any solutions at all for voters in 2010 when you can just blame Obama?  Even the Villagers see the obvious benefits in the GOP plan now.

Behind the scenes, many are being urged to ignore the leaders and do just the opposite: avoid issues at all costs. Some of the party's most influential political consultants are quietly counseling their clients to stay on the offensive for the November midterm elections and steer clear of taking stands on substance that might give Democratic opponents material for a counterattack.

"The smart political approach would be to make the election about the Democrats," said Neil Newhouse of the powerhouse Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies, which is advising more than 50 House and Senate candidates. "In terms of our individual campaigns, I don't think it does a great deal of good" to engage in a debate over the Republicans' own agenda.

Others are skeptical that any Republican policy proposals will have much of an impact. "They really still have to have a sharp contrast with the Democrats," said John McLaughlin, another leading Republican pollster whose firm counts both the House and Senate campaign committees among its clients. "They really need to drive that home before people will be willing to listen to what Republicans stand for."

It's not that Boehner (Ohio) is arguing for a cease-fire. The debate among Republicans comes down to this: The speaker-in-waiting, for all his love of political combat, thinks that voters will not trust GOP candidates if their attacks don't also provide at least some substance. The consultants argue that public anger, if properly stoked, alone can carry the party over the finish line. In their view, getting bogged down in the issues is a distraction and even a potential liability. 
The lesson the GOP spin machine has taken away from 2006 and 2008 is "specifics don't matter, stoking anger against Obama does."  That's all they've got under their thin cloak of populist Teabagger rage.  "Throw out the hated Dems!  Throw out the people taking away my country from me!  Those people and their allies are ruining my country and I'll be damned if I let people like them be in charge!"

The problem is, this inchoate rage is almost certain to work.  All the Republican consultants want to do is eliminate the jumping through hoops and contortions of twisted logic that Republican candidates and members of Congress have to go through.  If they all just agree that they hate hate hate hate President Obama then they're on the same page.

All this is...this is honesty about the Republican party in 2010.  They have no solutions.  They have no coherent plan.  They have no pretense anymore of being anything other than the last gasp of the most broken and diseased parts of 20th century culture.

They don't need any other platform other than "We Hate Obama".  And if we ignore them, they won't go away.

They'll win.

Time to fight back.  The Republicans certainly plan to.

More Useful Idiocy

Maha's analysis of Russ Feingold, Useful Idiot, is spot on.

I like Russ Feingold, but I think Mark Kleiman makes a good point about Feingold and the financial reform bill. Feingold was the only Democrat who voted with the Republicans against cloture. He did this because he didn’t think the bill was good enough, and I suspect I would agree with all of his objections.

However, Mark says, because Harry Reid had to compromise with some “moderates” so the bill could be voted on, it was watered down even more. Mark writes,
With the W.Va. seat still vacant, that meant that Reid needed Snow, Collins, and Scott Brown, as well as Ben Nelson. … The bill as passed exempts at least three major sources of consumer maltreatment in the financial market: car loans, payday loans, and check-cashing services. It omits the $19B bank tax to pay for bailouts. It has a very weak form of the “Volcker rule,” thus leaving the country exposed to future meltdowns. Those concessions were the price of those last four votes.
Mark goes on to say that Feingold suffers from “integrity narcissism,” which is a great phrase. It’s a syndrome I normally associate with Dennis Kucinich, but if the shoe fits …

And there's a lot of this integrity narcissism going around.  Feingold's a politician, after all.  But Maha brings up the much larger and much more important point that by refusing to compromise on the fact the bill wasn't good enough, the Dems had to then turn to the Republicans who made the bill worse.

And someone needs to beat Russ Feingold and in fact all the Firebaggers over the head with that salient point until they understand.  It is one thing to say "I will not support this bill because it's not good enough."  But when that intractable refusal to compromise becomes an abdication of legislative responsibility, and that loss of a vote in our hyper-partisan Senate means that Republicans can then work to strip out the provisions they don't like, your integrity doesn't mean a damn thing.

Russ Feingold made the bill worse by not voting for it, which was the complete opposite of what Feingold's stated intent was.  This is what I mean by "useful idiocy" for the GOP.  How did Feingold's opposition make the legislation more progressive in any way?  It failed miserably in that respect:  the Dems then courted Scott Brown, who had his own list of demands.  His demands were met.
“I’ve spent the past week reviewing the Wall Street reform bill. I appreciate the efforts to improve the bill, especially the removal of the $19 billion bank tax."
So again, what did Russ Feingold accomplish other than being a useful idiot?

The Mask Slips Again

And Republicans accidentally tell the truth.  Today's supplicant?  New York Republican Rep. Peter King.
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) told a radio show Thursday that the GOP should focus on its strategy of being against President Barack Obama's policies, but shouldn't give too many specifics on its own policies -- or those policies could be used against them.

GOP strategy should be "a combination of being against what Obama is for, and also giving certain specifics of what we are for," King told the Bill Bennett Radio Show. "Having said that, I don’t think we have to lay out a complete agenda, from top to bottom, because then we would have the national mainstream media jumping on every point trying to make that a campaign issue."
Hey that's awesome.  Peter King isn't even pretending anymore that the Republicans even have any ideas to fix the economy, just that they hate Obama and want you to hate him too.  Why lay out any specifics to help America when you can just call Obama a socialist or blow the racism dog whistle and win votes?  Oh no, if we lay out an agenda, the media might do their job and ask us questions about it!  We can't have that, right?

What makes anyone think the Republicans will do anything differently from the last time they were in charge?

Yes, they really all do think you are that stupid.

(Minimum) Waging A War On California State Employees

Earlier this month I talked about Gov. Schwarzenegger's plan to force 200,000 state employees to take a pay cut to minimum wage until the state got a budget in place.  State Controller John Chiang refused, saying the state's antiquated computer payroll system couldn't handle the change.  Yesterday, a judge sided with Chiang.
Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette today denied Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's request to immediately compel State Controller John Chiang to pay state employees minimum wage.

The denial means there will be a status hearing on July 26, with a full hearing sometime in August, but Marlette's ruling is a boost for about 200,000 state workers, who were facing paychecks for $7.25 an hour for the July pay period. Chiang has said he would issue full pay unless the legal process went against him before July 22, the cutoff to send payroll to the check printer.
The battle's not over yet, there's still no budget in place in California and there's probably not going to be one for a while.  It's the fact that Republicans believe that the best thing to do to help an economy suffering from a staggering lack of demand and facing a deflationary death spiral is to do everything they can to cut wages for state employees as sort of an anti-stimulus package that bothers me the most.

Is he trying to drive these folks out of state government and into the unemployment line?  Is he trying to drive them out their homes?  Is he trying to drive them out of state, period?  Can anyone explain to me how this actually helps the economy of California in any way?  Wouldn't paying wages to California state employees so they turn around and spend it in California to buy goods and services from California taxpayers be one of the most direct consumer spending stimulus vectors the state could use to boost the economy?  Why then would you want to turn that spigot off?  Who does that kind of thing?

Oh yes, Republicans would.  Even "moderate green Republicans" like Arnold there.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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