Sunday, May 22, 2011

Last Call

With Laurent Gbagbo gone from his position as Ivory Coast's strongman, Alassane Ouattara was finally inaugurated President of the struggling African country.

In his speech, Ouattara recognized the 20 heads of state who were present at the ceremony in the capital, Yamoussoukro, mentioning French President Nicholas Sarkozy first. He then called for a moment of silence to remember compatriots killed in the bloodshed that followed the disputed November election.

Ouattara's predecessor Laurent Gbagbo refused to acknowledge defeat at the polls and cede power. Ouattara finally became president after Gbagbo's capture last month.

Ouattara had already been sworn in but Saturday's event was a formal start to a presidency challenged by myriad issues plaguing Ivory Coast. Ouattara's administration faces a huge task of reuniting a divided country, human rights groups have said.

In the months after the November vote, spiraling violence between forces loyal to both sides left hundreds dead, and cases of enforced disappearances and sexual violence were reported.

Human rights investigators said this month that they have found a total of 10 mass graves near the commercial capital of Abidjan.

The country is still greatly fractured along ethnic and tribal lines.   Vicious atrocities were perpetrated against thousands. Many of the worst crimes will go unpunished because there were so many.  And by no means is the country out of the dark times yet.  Ouattara and his government still have a long way to go before reaching anything that looks recognizable as a stable entity.

But today's inauguration is a start, at least.

The Epitome Of Ultimate Superlative Hyperbole

No subject in American politics in 2011 brings out the flammable straw men being engulfed in the fires of rhetoric, the over-the-top references to doom and destruction, the cries of helpless victimization and the utter nonsense of warnings of evil quite like the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.  Combine Obama Derangement Syndrome with this subject and the odiously mendacious Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post, and you have a recipe for one of the all-time classics of truly terrible "journalism" as the President addressed the annual AIPAC conference this weekend, elaborating on what he meant by "1967 borders" for Israel, and Rubin wastes no time in letting the blood fly.

Obama must be very certain that liberal Jews will enthusiastically support him no matter what. And there is evidence he is right. Josh Block, senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute and a former AIPAC spokesman, e-mailed: “It [the speech] was a strong reaffirmation of the US-Israel relationship, and was an important and positive change from his remarks on Thursday. It reflected an important continuity of US policy going back to President Johnson.”

This is the sort of spin that pro-Israel Democrats use to justify voting for Obama. But there is a reality that can’t be avoided. This president once again has proved an apt negotiator on behalf of the Palestinians and a thorn in Israel’s side. Now is a time of choosing for the American Jewish community, for Israel and for Congress. And if Obama should be reelected in 2012 one can only imagine how hostile he will become toward the Jewish state.

So not only does Rubin stop about a micron short of accusing first African-American president of being an anti-Semite and an enemy of Israel, she stops maybe two microns short of accusing anyone of Jewish faith in America who supports Obama of being the same, calling on the American Jewish community to choose between their faith and Obama.

That's outrageous, the kind of spittle-flecked invective one expects to find from Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post.  But the insinuation here is that the biggest single threat to the Jewish homeland is not the intransigence of Israel's righteous indignation, nor the continued justifications for the treatment of the Palestinians, nor the international community becoming bone-weary of a country that has flouted international law time and time again, but that the American President is saying these things in public. This alone makes him an enemy of all Judaism.

By no means are the Palestinians angels in this bloody idiocy.  They have killed with suicide bombers and gone after civilians for the sheer shock value and fired rockets indiscriminately and taken pound after pound of flesh from their neighbors.  They too are part of the problem, not the solution.

The issue is that the Palestinians aren't getting billions in military equipment, training, and cutting-edge technology from the United States, and that they aren't rounding up Israelis and putting them in armed camps, either.  Jewish right-wing neo-cons say that they could never understand supporting Obama.  I say given the tragic history of the Jewish people in the last century, I can't fathom anyone of the Jewish faith wanting to inter any group of people to single them out for collective punishment.

Imagine if the 12% of the nation's population that is African-American took over an American state, or if the nation's Native American population gathered together to do the same, or the nation's Latino or Japanese-American or any group took over an area of the country, declared it their new ancestral homeland, and then herded the people not of that ethnicity into separated, armed camps.  The new state created demanded its own independence and UN recognition, while the basic civil rights of those who were not of the proper background were curtailed severely in the name of public safety.  Trade of basic foodstuffs, livestock, building supplies, even information, would be arbitrarily monitored and controlled by the ethnic group in charge.  Bad movie plots and "Second Amendment remedies" aside, this is the reality of the Israeli-Palestinian "conflict" right now, it's pretty one-sided.

But to even mention this unfortunate truth at AIPAC, well apparently this makes Obama and anyone who supports him an enemy of Israel and the Jewish people.  And yet people like Jennifer Rubin wonder why no progress has been made on this front.

I can't imagine why.

Lesson Learned

University of Phoenix is being investigated for unethical practices, including misrepresenting regarding financial aid, accreditation and recruitment violations.  The investigation covers from 2002 to present, and the school has been asked to report a wide variety of information.

"Apollo Group is committed to being a leader in higher education and setting the gold standard in transparency, accountability and robust student protections," the company said in a statement. "We are currently reviewing the letter from the Massachusetts Attorney General. We are proud of the quality education that we have provided to Massachusetts students for over a decade."
The Massachusetts' law-enforcement agency is likely part of a "coalition" of several state agencies across the country, which are also weighing investigations into for-profit schools, according to the Apollo document.
Last year, Florida's attorney general confirmed that the agency had launched a probe into several for-profit colleges, including University of Phoenix.
The civil investigation will explore allegations that schools made misrepresentations about financial aid and engaged in "alleged unfair/deceptive practices regarding recruitment, enrollment, accreditation, placement, graduation rates, etc.," according to the agency's website.

In Which Zandar Answers Your Burning Questions

Digby reviews Garrett Epps's piece in the Atlantic on the Tea Party's more rabid Constitutional views, and boils the legal nonsense down to a paragraph.  She asks:

When I looked over all of these and thought about how they all seem to revolve around the idea that the States are primary and the nation as a whole is just a loose framework meaning almost nothing, I realized that these people are the real America haters. They literally loathe the fundamental concept of the United States of America as a nation, preferring to think of themselves as Mississipians or Minnesotans than Americans. Do you think they know that?

They do indeed.  Because to these meatballs, "America" is a land where it's perfectly reasonable to deny basic civil rights to the people you don't like, and that the individual states should have the power to do what they want, all while taking billions of dollars in federal tax revenue handouts and complaining about the far smaller amount of money that they put in.  They figure if they can drive "them" out to the other 49 states, they can then afford to go Galt and get off the federal gravy train for good, and do whatever they want to.

That's the point, to make states into giant gated communities where "we" can live in peace and "they" can literally go to hell with the rest of the country as it becomes more Asian and Latino and Black and gay and secular and science-based and equal and classically liberal.  But Digby's right:  the right has seen the future of America and they want no part of it.

They want out of the American experiment and want to get while they think the getting is good.

Update: Jeff Conaway Critical

Sources now say Jeff Conaway did not overdose, but is suffering from a serious infection and pneumonia.  He is now in a medically induced coma to prevent further damage.  Drew Pinsky visited Conaway and tweeted a short update on how he is doing.  Conaway is only 60, but suffering from multiple conditions that are aggravating each other, and the article above indicates that his chronic drug abuse masked his symptoms and made him slow to respond.  Maybe too slow.  The next three days will be critical for Conaway.  However, because I originally reported that he had overdosed, I wanted to correct that.

Rearranging Deck Chairs On The Clowntanic

The seating arrangements for the 2012 GOP clown car are firming up.  Herman Cain is all in...

Using an urban phrase used to convey a sense of excitement, radio host and businessman Herman Cain emerged to throngs of supporters on Saturday and formally announced his presidential bid.

"Awww shucky ducky," the conservative Republican joked with the crowd in Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park as he stepped out to applause and adoring chants.

Moments later, he turned to the more serious announcement.

"Right here, this day, this hour and this moment, I have looked inside of me. I came here to declare my candidacy for the Republican nomination for president of the United States of America," Cain said.

"And just to be clear, in case you accidentally listen to a skeptic, let me say it again, I'm running for president of the United States. And I'm not running for second," he added.

He's telling the truth.  He's not running for second.  He's running for dead last.  That may or may not be easier with yet another Republican too scared of Obama to throw his hat into the ring:  Indiana's GOP Gov. Mitch Daniels is taking a pass.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a former top aide to George W. Bush, ended his very public flirtation with running for president early Sunday with an e-mail to supporters that narrowed the field of plausible 2012 Republican challengers to President Barack Obama.

"The counsel and encouragement I received from important citizens like you caused me to think very deeply about becoming a national candidate," Daniels said in the message distributed through the Indiana Republican Party.

"In the end, I was able to resolve every competing consideration but one, but that, the interests and wishes of my family, is the most important consideration of all."

Once again, if President Obama is so vulnerable on the economy that he's easy pickings, and the Republican plan to unravel the social safety net of Medicare and Social Security to give more tax breaks to the "job creating" wealthy is so great, and Republican governors are so respected as serious political chief executives who have tamed their state's economic issues, then why are the serious candidates who are in Governor's mansions already refusing to take on Obama

Indiana's Mitch Daniels is now out.  New Jersey's Chris Christie doesn't want to go anywhere near the 2012 presidential race.  Texas's Rick Perry?  No thank you, he says.  Former Governors Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin?  No way and who cares?  The only "young gun" who seems to want to run is former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (who is expected to announce tomorrow), and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is just a glutton for punishment.

If Obama is so weak on economic issues and the GOP is so strong, and the Republicans have such a deep bench at the state level, then shouldn't these high profile governors be flocking to Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina right now?

Or are they in reality so unpopular in their own states already that a major backlash is underway even after a few short months past the 2010 elections that supposedly gave the GOP such a huge mandate at the state level?

Think about it.  If Obama's so toast in 2012, shouldn't these social program destroying Republicans be lining up to take him on?

But they're not.  And that's because the Republicans have already blown their 2010 lead.
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