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What Obama Should Have Said

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President Obama’s speech on the Middle East last week was nothing really new. He chastised the usual culprits for suppressing human rights in their countries and assured us all that the United States government would remain vigilant in its pursuit of truth, justice, and the American way when it comes to supporting the oppressed in the Middle East. Oh, he did shock Israel and her proponents by mandating that any peace talks between her and the Palestinians must begin with an acceptance by both sides of the borders as they existed in 1967. This proposition of course has Israel losing territory before it has even started to negotiate. One question is, will this really result in successful peace talks this time around?

Of course the bigger question for Americans is, where does Obama get the authority to issue any mandates with respect to Middle East peace negotiations? The simple answer is he has no authority in that area. He is the president of our country chosen to protect our rights, defend our Constitution, and enforce our laws. The issue of Middle East peace is between Middle Easterners and that is who should decide the matter if there is to be any long lasting peace in the region.

But I read the president’s speech anyway. In fact, at some point as I was reading the usual implied dribble about how America would solve all of the world’s problems, I dozed off into a glorious daydream. Here is the speech Obama gave in that splendid fantasy:

“My fellow Americans, I come to you tonight to mark a new beginning for American foreign policy. Israel, the Palestinians, and the other Middle Eastern nations are going to have to solve their own problems. America is done ruling the world. We have enough problems of our own that need our attention and as a nation we have learned for way too long that when we meddle in the affairs of other nations instead of pursuing a foreign policy of friendship, trade and exchange, things normally turn our poorly for us.

Take America’s entry into World War I for instance. It was meant to ‘make the world safe for democracy.’  Instead, our involvement ultimately produced Adolph Hitler in Germany. President Wilson, like all presidents, had good intentions, but America’s unnecessary entry into the war was the deciding factor leading to victory for the Triple Entente. His support for France’s over-the-top retribution toward Germany, manifested in the Treaty of Versailles, economically destroyed that country and paved the way for the rise of Hitler and his National Socialist party. The result was another world war where millions more died.

Then there are the smaller conflicts in which our government has gotten engaged from time to time. In the 1950s, on the Korean peninsula,  40,000 Americans and 2 million civilians lost their lives fighting an enemy that to this day is still a thorn in our side. In Vietnam, 50,000 Americans and 1.5 million civilians perished, while many more vets are still experiencing the effects of that war some 35 years later.

Let’s not forget that the CIA’s covert overthrow of popularly elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeegh in the 1950s ultimately led to the menacing theocracy in present day Iran. Our military support of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan produced the Taliban and Osama bin Laden. Lastly, our decade’s long support for Israel, even when she has been egregiously in the wrong, has produced terrorist networks bent on violently persuading America to change her policy.  There are many more examples of American meddling that have resulted in dire consequences for our country, but in the interest of time I will stop there.

My friends, it took us 10 years, three wars, 5000 American lives, and those of countless Iraqis, Afghans, and Pakistanis lives plus at least $2 trillion to finally bring Osama bin Laden to justice. And what do we have to show for it? Nothing. Al Qaeda has appointed an interim head to replace bin Laden, the organization has threatened retribution for his death, and our liberties at home are still being violated in the name of national security.

After deep reflection, I have devised a new direction for U.S. foreign policy. A foreign policy which will go much further to ensure our safety than any illegal wiretap or airport groping ever could. Effective immediately, I have ordered the following:

The immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya;

The immediate halt to drone attacks and military incursions into Pakistan;

A cut of hundreds of billions of dollars in military spending;

And a pledge to friend and foe alike that the United States seeks peaceful relations with you based on integrity, mutual respect, and trade.

By ending our quest for worldwide hegemony, we will be able to focus all of our attention and resources on the dire state of our economy. We have a lot of work to do, but by bringing the troops home and cutting our monstrously large military budget we can make great strides to balance the federal budget and get our economy moving again. Good night. God bless you and God bless the United States of America.”

Wouldn’t that have been a better speech?

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About Kenn Jacobine

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Revise history much?

    Actually, the answer’s not exactly ‘no’, if I remember our debate on the Depression correctly.

    Anyway, FYI Woodrow Wilson at first strongly opposed the severity of the Versailles Accord. You won’t find this online, but you will find it in John Barry’s brilliant historical work The Great Influenza. It seems Wilson strove to keep France and Britain from imposing such severe penalties on Germany…but then he was bedridden for some time with the same H1N1 that killed between two and five times as many people who were killed in the Great War. After his bout with the flu, he was weakened so that he could no longer exert the force of will that he once did…and so the Versailles Accord was passed and thus largely ensured the eventuality of WWII.

    You see, Kenn – I have good and bad things to say about all presidents…including Wilson (who, btw, I hold to be one of our nation’s worst…but NOT because of the Versaille Accord).

    But back to Obama – was he, indeed, “ordering” the two-state solution at the 1967 borders? Or was he simply noting his support of it? The latter, IIRC, would be in line with what most of the NATO countries have said. Here’s an opinion that was posted on CNN:

    “it’s not America that put people into the streets of Tunis or Cairo, [but that] it was the people themselves who launched these movements,” the president wisely cautioned that “we must proceed with a sense of humility.”

    Gee – “It’s not America” that made it happen…and “humility” – these are words you rarely hear from politicians these days, huh? Doesn’t sound like the tone one who is “mandating” anything….

    One more thing – you and I are in agreement that we need to slash our defense. At least that’s something that we can heartily agree on…but figure the odds of the Republicans ever letting that happen. I mean, it’s no longer the party of George H.W. Bush – the good Bush – who cut our military significantly after the end of the Cold War.

  • Clavos

    But back to Obama – was he, indeed, “ordering” the two-state solution at the 1967 borders?

    According to the Washington Post, he was:

    “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”

    ~President Obama, May 19, 2011

    This sentence in President Obama’s much-anticipated speech on the Middle East caused much consternation Thursday among supporters of the Jewish state. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who will meet with Obama on Friday, adamantly rejected it.

    For people not trained in the nuances of Middle East diplomacy, the sentence might appear unremarkable. However, many experts say it represents a significant shift in U.S. policy, and it is certainly a change for the Obama administration

    That’s pretty unequivocal and quite clear.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Do you know what the word “should” means? It means, it AIN’T an order. Furthermore, the quote you supplied spoke of a ‘significant shift’…but does it speak at all of an order, a demand, a mandate of any kind, in any sense? No, it did not.

    The ‘significant shift’ meant a change from the “let Israel get away with whatever they want” mindset that has infested American politics for far too long…to one that says that in the opinion – I repeat, opinion – of our government, Palestine should be its own nation, and the borders should be recognized at the 1967 border locations.

    But of course you knew all that – the only reason you choose to interpret ‘should’ as something other than what it actually means…is that you want so badly to believe the worst of the man.

  • Clavos

    The ‘significant shift’ meant a change from the “let Israel get away with whatever they want” mindset that has infested American politics for far too long…to one that says that in the opinion – I repeat, opinion – of our government, Palestine should be its own nation, and the borders should be recognized at the 1967 border locations.

    Which is tantamount to throwing one of our most loyal allies under the bus. As Mr. Netanyahu says, those boundaries leave Israel very vulnerable, and if the “opinion” is adopted, the Israelis, surrounded as they are by people absolutely determined to annihilate them, will be the victims of genocide in short order. That, in turn, will precipitate a far more vicious and widespread war than the US, a wimpy nation at best these days, has the stomach for.

  • http://cinemasentries.com El Bicho

    “Oh, he did shock Israel”

    It’s the same position that GWB and Clinton so why would Israel be shocked?

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Glenn,

    “FYI Woodrow Wilson at first strongly opposed the severity of the Versailles Accord. You won’t find this online,”

    Because it is not true. To say Wilson was too sick to know better is like saying someone was too drunk to know they ran somebody else over with a car. Maybe they should’t have been driving? Perhaps Wilson shouldn’t have remained president? Even your hero JM Keynes walked out of the conference because he knew the plan was not doable for Germany. That was probably the only smart thing he ever did.

    Whatever Obama’s objective is “should include, must include, will include,” it doesn’t matter. It is none of our business and we should just stay out of it.

    In the final analysis our history of meddling has usually turned out badly for all involved, given the enormous problems we face at home it would be great if our government could focus on those things and not everybody else’s problems.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kenn –

    Oh, if something’s not online, it must not be true? Something’s wrong with that particular line of logic. Like I said, check out that book. Any historian should be glad to have that on his bookshelf.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    You’re still having problems with the word ‘should’, hm?

    FYI, as long as they have 200+ nuclear warheads, they’re not going to be victims of genocide. Why? All it takes is one nuke on Mecca, and the whole Muslim faith has to rework their religious beliefs – no more Kaaba, no more Hajj. That’s the eight-hundred-pound gorilla in the war plans of those Muslims who want to wipe Israel from the face of the earth.

    Furthermore, the word is FAR different from what it was in 1967, in case you haven’t noticed. We’re in a world now that a little something called a ‘Stuxnet worm’ can set back a nation’s nuclear program for several years.

    And then there’s the little fact that not only America would step in if Israel were attacked again, but NATO likely would, too.

    Okay? Got that? While Israel will be in danger of rocket attacks and terrorist attacks from now till doomsday, as long as there are both Zionists and Wahabbi Muslims on this planet, the sovereignty of Israel would certainly be in no more danger than it is now with its belligerent attitude.

  • Cannonshop

    I can’t help looking at the precedents here-in 1956 the U.S. gave the Israelis a solid-gold promise to intervene if the Egyptians closed the Suez Canal to israeli shipping, when that marker came due in 1967, the U.S. sat firmly upon its hands and did not follow through on its assurances, which action precipitated the 1967 war (the “Six Day War”). In 197(3? 4?) the U.S. pressured the Republic of Vietnam to accept the Paris Accords, they did so under the express promise of U.S. support should Hanoi go ahead and violate those accords. In 1975, Hanoi violated those accords, the U.S. Response? Helicopter evacuation of the Embassy and attempts to block refugees fleeing the communists. The last shipment of U.S. military aid to the Republic of Vietnam (whose government had been savaged over the course of a decade by U.S. intelligence services sponsoring coups) was some helmet covers and bug-dope, most of the high-speed equipment we sold them wasn’t useful due to lack of ammunition and fuel (and spares).

    There is a pattern here-when the U.S. Left is involved, only the enemy can count on American promises, never the ally.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    When it comes to the six-day war, I also remember the U.S.S. Liberty. They don’t get a whole lot of sympathy from me.

    Concerning Vietnam, um, who was it in charge in 1973? The Left? I thought it was Tricky Dick Nixon (after the greatest landslide in American history) until 1974, and then Gerald Ford after Nixon had to resign or face impeachment. But don’t let silly little things like facts get in the way of you blaming the Left, now.

    I’m really curious, though – do you, then, think we should have stayed in Vietnam? That’s what it would seem by your j’accuse in comment #9. I thought that most of us here on BC agreed that it was a huge – and criminal – mistake. I personally don’t know whether JFK knew that the Gulf of Tonkin Incident was a ruse, but the war was America’s greatest strategic mistake of the 20th century…but not the worst mistake in our history, thanks to the Iraq War which helped to nearly bankrupt our nation.

    But you thought we should have stayed? Remember Kissinger’s maxim: nations do not have friends – nations have interests (note: this is not a set-in-stone rule).

  • zingzing

    and when did he ever suggest that they should go back to the 1967 borders? wasn’t there some bit about “land swaps” in there? this whole “the 1967 borders are indefensible” line of reasoning is just big old handbags of bullshit that clearly shows if someone was listening or not (or maybe they’re just playing politics, which of course they are).

  • Leroy

    So much loose talk in so few words. I heard Obamas speech and he said the borders should be negotiated from the 1967 borders as a start, not that they should be fixed there.

    IMO Neten-yahoo was just blowing smoke for domestic far-right consumption. Don’t take it seriously.

    Israel has about 5 million people. Soon all the anti- israel nations in the ME will have rockets and warheads (courtesy of N. Korea which must sell nukes to feed it’s people), so the future looks dark, not only for the ME but for the world. We better have a good redoubt strategy if we are to survive, and it appears to me that the Israelis are just picket troops in that case.

  • Clavos

    Zing and Leroy:

    Here’s the actual wording of the part of Obie’s speech advocating return to the 1967 borders:

    The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.

  • zingzing

    what is it about the phrase “with mutually agreed swaps” that makes it so easy to ignore?

    it’s there. it’s important. yes, the 1967 borders figure at the beginning of the negotiations, but they are not the end point, a fact that should be very clear to anyone reading the sentence. it takes into account the changed realities and populations of the region.

    to ignore the phrase is just political slight of hand, except you really stink at it and everyone can see what you are doing.

    i’m frankly disappointed that it seems people would rather play politics than see actual peace in the region.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    And what, pray tell, do you think “mutually agreed swaps” means? Especially when he said afterwards, “[The principles of a state’s right to security] provide a foundation for negotiations.”

    And then he said, “Recognizing that negotiations need to begin with the issues of territory and security does not mean that it will be easy to come back to the table.”

    IN OTHER WORDS, Clavos, the context of the paragraphs clearly show that his suggestion – “should”, remember? – was that they should sit down with each other, start with the template of the 1967 borders, and NEGOTIATE a new set of borders which allows Israel to maintain its security while allowing the Palestinians to actually have a homeland.

    Sheesh! You ping me on my reading comprehension…but sometimes you also need to read more than the sentence that – when taken in proper context – means something else than what you want it to mean.

  • zingzing

    that was directed at all the people who are trying to say obama advocated a return to the 1967 borders, which he clearly did not. it wasn’t just at clavos.

    if someone wants to say that it’s politically inconceivable that obama’s negotiating points will ever achieve peace in the region, that’s alright. but don’t try to make it sound like he said something he did not say. that’s just a waste of time. and i don’t quite understand why anyone would bother.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    As far as I’m concerned, Obama is perfectly entitled to express his opinion that any Israel-Palestine negotiations should start with a recogntion of the 1967 borders, just as Netanyahu is perfectly within his rights to tell Obama to fuck off.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    That would be true of private citizens, but not so of leaders of nations. I mean, it might be their personal ‘right’ to do so…but realpolitik often demands otherwise.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Glenn, as I see it, Obama is expressing America’s opinion on the matter. Obama gets to decide what America’s opinion is because he won the election to be the head of its government.

    Same goes for Netanyahu. These need not be their personal opinions, and diplomacy demands that they’re couched in rather more murky terms than the ones I put in their mouths, but they’re still opinions.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    Many’s the time a politician has to agree to something or say something that he doesn’t want to agree to or say – such is the nature of politics in a democracy. After all, how many flip-flops have you seen over the years?

  • Clavos

    …start with the template of the 1967 borders…

    Glenn, please don’t insult me. I negotiate for a living — been doing it for more than forty years; the starting point in any negotiation is always greater than what either party expects to be the ending point of the negotiation.

    Netanyahu is not a fool. He knows how to negotiate, which is why he immediately objected so strongly to Obama’s proposal.

  • zingzing

    well, clavos, that’s the problem. palestine will accept nothing less than the 67 borders, but if it had its way, it would take it all back because they view it as their stolen land. israel will not go with the 67 borders, it wants what it has today, and would rather spread than contract. the only thing TO negotiate is the the disputed territory, and the only benchmark that seems to get any play whatsoever from palestine is the 67 borders.

    yes, netanyahu is objecting because he knows how to negotiate. but he knows that he’ll get more than the 67 borders, if these negotiations start from there. he doesn’t for a second think that that’s where it’ll end up. he’s playing a) dumb, and b) smart.

    i’m sure he heard the “mutually agreed swap” phrase, and i’m sure he knows what it means. but he’s acting all shocked and insulted to start from as strong a position as he possibly can.

    not that these negotiations will ever really happen. more dumb shit will happen. and more dumb shit after that. and the shit will spiral around yet never flush.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    It’s not that the proposal/framework is new; it’s that it is being said in public rather than behind closed doors in negotiating sessions. The GOP is pretending to be shocked, but I’m sure Netanyahu was not shocked, and both he and Obama are doing a pre-ordained kabuki dance.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    You know, the point of the article is that we should mind our own business because we have enough problems of our own and our interference usually ends in disaster. You guys are arguing about a silly point – what Obama specifically said. It’s like Clinton’s “it depends on what your defintion of is is”

  • Glenn Contrarian

    zing –

    Thank you for clarifying the negotiation process…not that Clavos will pay any attention, but you explained it brilliantly.

  • zingzing

    kenn: “You guys are arguing about a silly point – what Obama specifically said.”

    oh fucking no. oh god. actual words? in politics?

    glenn: “Thank you for clarifying the negotiation process…”

    well, it’s only my own take on it, but i think it’s more accurate than “obama demanded that israel go back to the 1967 borders” bullshit that’s been floated like so much shit by the right and by israel, even if they’ve (israel, never the right,) backed off of that rhetoric by now.

  • zingzing

    to a hack, kenn, words aren’t important. meaning isn’t important. but to the population, and to people who have to speak to each other, words are important. you’re increasingly becoming a hack, and i think you know it. you’re not making any money off this, so don’t become a hack. it’s ugly and useless. if you want to be a journalist, be a journalist, but don’t become this.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    I know what the word “should” means. But in the case of how Obama used it, does it mean that the U.S. will not be a party to peace talks if Israel refuses to abide by this American “request”? Many believe the peace talks are empty without U.S. involvement. So without Israeli agreement are the talks dead? You are so blinded in always defending Obama that it muddles your thinking. You totally ignored the whole point of my article just to defend your beloved president.

  • Clavos

    “Goddamn America”

    Obama ought to appoint that guy to his cabinet — Secretary of State, perhaps.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kenn –

    Has it occurred to that zing and I might be defending Obama NOT because we absolutely love the guy – we don’t – but because we have to speak up when someone makes false accusations and groundless assumptions against someone else?

    If John Boehner had given the same speech in the same circumstances, and if some liberal had started making the same accusations and assumptions that you – and Clavos – had made, I’d be speaking up to defend Boehner (just as I’ve repeatedly defended Reagan)…and I suspect zing would do so, as well.

    To most of us, Kenn, it’s NOT about supporting ‘our’ party or defending ‘our’ president – it never was! It’s about standing up for right and wrong, and that’s all it ever was.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And Kenn –

    Ask yourself this – what has a Democratic president done that you supported? Ask yourself that question about every Democratic president you remember. I’ve done the same for every Republican president that I remember…and I can certainly name something that every Republican president’s done that is great, that is wonderful…even Dubya (see his initiative to help fight AIDS in Africa).

    BUT if you’re going to be one of those who sits back and says “No Democrat president has ever done anything good for America or the world!”, what does that say about you? Every single president has done good things and bad things – they’re all human.

    The trick is to see which ones do a lot more good things than bad things…and then support them against those who do a lot more bad things than good things.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Glenn,

    What I want are presidents that uphold their oath to the Constitution. What W did with regards to AIDS in Africa was not great – it was unconstitutional and therefore illegal and theft of the taxpayers’ money. Just because something is legal and compassionate doesn’t make it morally justifiable. I lived in Africa for 6 years and did my share of community service. Giving should be personal and not through governments. Besides how much of W’s giving was just to buy the good graces of those beneficiary countries or worst yet use it as a means of imperialism against the people. Have you ever read Confessions of an Economic Hitman?

    We just have a different worldview. And I will be the first to admit that while I have been called an ideologue on this site that is a fair description of my worldview. However, I would label it consistency instead. If a women has a right to privacy with respect to abortion then she has a right to privacy with regards to gun ownership, drugs, and her hard earned money. You would probably only agree with two of those four. And yes in my worldview it doesn’t make sense to choose some rights and freedoms and not others. And that is why I am not interested in “The trick is to see which ones do a lot more good things than bad things…and then support them against those who do a lot more bad things than good things.”

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kenn –

    What W did with regards to AIDS in Africa was not great – it was unconstitutional and therefore illegal and theft of the taxpayers’ money.

    That’s because you take the short view, see only the little picture, instead of taking the long view and seeing the BIG picture…and in the big picture, his use of our taxpayer dollars to help AIDS victims in Africa is VERY constitutional…a heck of a lot more constitutional than, say, insisting that we have a right to banana-clip magazines on assault rifles.

    Why is that? Ask yourself, Kenn – what is a president supposed to do? He’s supposed to look out for the best interests of the nation, is he not? And his anti-AIDS efforts in Africa ARE in the best interests of our nation.

    Why is that? Because the world’s population is more mobile than it ever has been – and said mobility will only increase as time goes on. There are hundreds of people who arrive in America every day…and what would you have us do? Put them in quarantine for six months until we can be sure that a test for the AIDS virus would be accurate?

    Remember polio and smallpox? Except for two samples – in Russia and in America – smallpox has been completely eradicated, and polio has almost been completely eradicated…in large part thanks to the support of the American taxpayer. But if you had your way, smallpox and polio would still be rampant throughout much of the world…and there is no way that we could keep it out of America.

    Got that? Treating diseases in other nations is VERY constitutional, for in a world with a mobile population, minimizing the spread of disease IS a matter of national security.

    Which is more important, Kenn? Your Precious Taxpayer Dollars (as opposed to the Precious Bodily Fluids of Major Bat Guano in Dr. Strangelove)? Or eradicating major diseases like smallpox, polio, and AIDS? There’s a time to be idealistic…but there’s a time to be pragmatic – and sometimes the pragmatic path is also the honorable path, and the right path to take.

  • Clavos

    Second, Kenn…

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Clavos,

    My email account has been compromised; changed it to read by last name first followed by letter z – still the same server.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Your opinion, please – do you think that it’s wrong, it’s even unconstitutional to spend money on treating serious virulent diseases overseas?

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Glenn,

    For you where would it end and how would you get enough money to pay for everything you think the government should do? I mean the way you justify everything you must believe that unending spending on the part of Uncle Sam will never have a consequence?

  • zingzing

    kenn: “You totally ignored the whole point of my article just to defend your beloved president.”

    didn’t even read your article, kenn. you’ve become such a hack, there simply is no point anymore. maybe i’ll miss a few things here and there, but those chances are tolerably low. i came on to argue with the commenters about the topic in general, not with your article. so yeah, i ignored the point of your article. completely.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kenn –

    For you where would it end and how would you get enough money to pay for everything you think the government should do?

    For one thing, we’re paying LESS in taxes now than we have since 1950, and…

    …which is more expensive? To treat AIDS (or polio or smallpox) overseas, or to treat it here?

    C’mon, Kenn – is it really that difficult to understand that spending a few million dollars in taxpayer money here or there can SAVE us billions in taxpayer dollars later? If anything, our support of virulent disease eradication is a shining example of “pay it now, or you’ll pay a lot more later”.

    THAT, Kenn, is the big difference in between the little picture – “don’t take my dollars in taxes!” – and the big picture – “I need the government’s help because such-and-such happened!”.

    But if you think that smallpox and polio weren’t costing us a lot of taxpayer dollars, I guess there’s no convincing you.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    you must believe that unending spending on the part of Uncle Sam will never have a consequence

    Kenn, I don’t think that Glenn, or most reasonable thinking people (myself included) have the notion of an immobile and unyielding line that demarcates where government spending should begin and end. There are times when a little more government outreach is appropriate – and I agree with Glenn that Bush’s AIDS initiative was one of those. Then there are others when it’s downright idiotic – the military intervention in Somalia springs to mind.

    The line is different for everyone, and to quote a certain Supreme Court Justice who was once asked to define pornography, “I know it when I see it”.

    But if, as you do, one adheres too rigidly to dogma, one is liable to step in its crapma.

  • zingzing

    crapma, eh? there is a line between pun and fun, and i know it when i see it.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Hey – good puns are high art IMO – just read some of Isaac Asimov’s works! I recommend Shah Guido G.!

  • Clavos

    Puns are, by acclaim, the lowest of the language arts.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    That’s what they say, Clavos – that puns are somewhere below slapstick and limericks and flatulence jokes…

    …but seven days without a pun makes one weak.

    And it’s especially important for writers to stay prepared to write at any time, for to write with a broken pencil is pointless.

    But I’ll stop. Besides, I need to go pay my exorcist before I get repossessed….

  • Arch Conservative

    Hundreds dead and total devastation in Joplin and Obama’s still hobknobbing with European dignitaries.

    How anyone can still defend this piece of garbage is beyond me.

  • zingzing

    archie, he’s going to joplin on sunday, and he’s been in touch with missouri officials about the disaster. it may irk you that his blessed divine countenance has not spread its healing gaze across joplin yet, but if he were to do so, it would irk the leaders of european countries. politics is a precarious game, especially when you unreasonably demand that a person currently in europe visit a disaster zone in missouri toot sweet. what would his visit accomplish? or do you really think the symbolic value is necessary? should bush have visited nyc on 9/11? why did he wait for 5 days to visit new orleans after katrina? (or will you criticize obama no matter what he does?)

    you’re so transparent, archie.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    WOW!!!! HUNDREDS DEAD IN JOPLIN!!!! WHY ISN’T OBAMA THERE????

    Um, Arch – it’s 122 at last report (2 minutes ago on the Detroit Free Press – and Obama’s in Europe doing something called ‘diplomacy’. Now I know that most conservatives are unfamiliar with what that word means, but it basically means keeping other countries on our side…and that affects all 300M+ Americans, and not just Joplin, Missouri. And affairs of state are scheduled months in advance – to cancel them for a disaster that, while quite deadly, was NOT widespread in scope or presented a significant threat to the economy (see “Mississippi River flood”, Hurricane Katrina, or Hurricane Andrew), would be irresponsible.

    It was nice that he visited Alabama when it was struck by a tornado…but it was not required. Every modern president has visited towns devastated by tornadoes…but NO president has ever visited every town devastated by tornadoes. He’s already said he will visit Joplin – but what is more important to the nation as a whole is that he continue conducting the essential diplomacy that keeps us close to our allies. It’s called prioritization, Arch – and the nation as a whole takes priority over a town in Missouri.

    BTW – while you’re griping about Obama, did Your Boy Bush ever go to see the bodies that were flown home from the war that he started (on false pretenses)? Even once? No? Gee, imagine that!

  • Kenn Jacobine

    “and the nation as a whole takes priority over a town in Missouri.”

    Does that mean federal aid will not be forthcoming since it will add to the nation’s deficit and therefore economic woes?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kenn –

    Does that mean federal aid will not be forthcoming since it will add to the nation’s deficit and therefore economic woes?

    Actually, if you listen to the GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, YES:

    On Monday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said that Congress would not approve funds for disaster relief without budget cuts elsewhere. “If there is support for a supplemental, it would be accompanied by support for having pay-fors to that supplemental,” he said.

    In fact, that will be the subject of my next article – how Ron Paul would get rid of FEMA and what would happen if his particular political philosophy were implemented. It should be up in a few days.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Can’t wait!

  • Arch Conservative

    “it would irk the leaders of european countries”

    Obama is president of the United States, not Europe, or the world…THE UNITED STATES. Therefore an ongoing natural disaster in the United States should take precedent over sipping Guiness in Ireland. Obama’s presence may in fact be symbolic but it is part of the job. A part which he obviously doesn’t get.

    I think you have it backwards zing. It’s you that will defend Obama no matter what he does or does not.

    I’m sure the European dignitaries with whom Obama was scheduled to meet would understand. It’s not as if those nations would cease to be our allies if Obama cancelled his meetings to come home so stop being so god damned melodramatic Glenn.

    It’s not just that what happened in Joplin has already happened but also the fact that we knew there would be more deadly tornadoes to follow, which there have been.

    The bottom line is that people like Glenn and zing have no intention of ever putting down the Kool Aid.

    I wish Ron Paul would get rid of you Glenn.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    I guess what Arch doesn’t get is that diplomacy isn’t just for the benefit of European nations – it’s for the benefit of AMERICA.

    But I get it, Arch – if Obama personally invented a cure for cancer tomorrow, you’d be out there crying that it’s part of a conspiracy to institute socialized health care….

  • zingzing

    “I think you have it backwards zing. It’s you that will defend Obama no matter what he does or does not.”

    only in your mind, archie. i have criticized obama when he has disappointed me. many times. it’s not surprising, given your abilities with comprehension, that you might have missed that.

    answer this question, if you would: how often do presidents fly to a disaster zone on the day of the disaster? that’s when you demanded it. it seems both strange and totally expected for you to do so.

    “Obama’s presence may in fact be symbolic but it is part of the job. A part which he obviously doesn’t get.”

    so you’d rather he go on symbolic mission rather than take care of business. it’s not all meet and greets over in europe. and on sunday, you’ll have your symbolic gesture needs appeased, archie. it’ll be alright.

    right now i’m am closing my fist, but not all the way, and i place the pad of my thumb on the nails of my index and middle fingers, creating a tubular hole through which something might pass. with my fingers positioned thus, i begin to use my shoulder muscles to move my arm, bent at the elbow, down, then back up, then back down in a continuous motion. my eyes roll back in my head and i think of you. there’s a symbolic gesture for you. hope in means the world to you and cures all woes.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    Arch, ZingZing and Glenn both called yesterday to express their unhappiness with the fact the Patriot Act was being rammed through.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    And Ron Paul is against capital punishment, so why would he want to “get rid of Glenn?”

    Debate him, maybe, say “no” there’s a different way to a lot of what Glenn is advocating, but never “get rid of him.”

    I agree that a lot of the international visiting used to be done by diplomats instead of presidents, and they seemed to be better at it, too. Kind of like we don’t have medics in the army shooting people up. Commander in Chief cum Diplomat is a weird combo.

  • Costello

    Lawrence O’Donnell just had a very interesting piece that revealed those who claim Obama threw Israel under the bus don’t know what they are talking about. Though he used different words, 67 borders with land swaps was said by Netanyahu in front of Congress. Not sure who said they know negotiating, but if that was the case, you would posturing is also an aspect of it.

    Arch, what do you expect Obama to do in the Midwest? He’s not the black person in the XMen that controls the weather. And since the country needs investments, it needs to to be more taxes or outside sources like European dignitaries. Your name makes me think you are against the former so what do you suggest?

  • Kenn Jacobine

    If I can weigh in. Americans need to grow up. The president should’t be expected at the scene of a natural disaster ever unless he/ she is going to help clean up or search for the dead. All it is is a photo op when they go anyway-to show they are presidential. It’s an insult to the suffering, but we have this crazy idea in America that our leaders have to suffer with us. That’s such B.S.

  • zingzing

    wow. kenn and i agree. either the world is ending or archie’s wrong. OH GOOD GOD IS THE WORLD ENDING?! …no, it’s not. next, the sun will go down and rise again.

    archie needs an orgasm detector on a cliff of painfully awesome shit which feeds him with junk.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Irene –

    I agree that a lot of the international visiting used to be done by diplomats instead of presidents, and they seemed to be better at it, too.

    The vast majority of the time, diplomacy IS done by diplomats – ambassadors, the Secretary of State, assorted (and often anonymous) go-betweens…

    …but sometimes it needs to be the Prez. Look at the wildly popular reception he’s received – and when foreigners look at him, they perceive America, and that’s how they’ll think of America…and it DOES have a positive effect on our foreign relations.

    Furthermore, sometimes it’s necessary for the leaders of different nations to look each other in the eye. Think of Nixon and China. Think of Carter and Israel and Egypt. Think of Reagan and Brezhnev, and later Reagan and Gorbachev. Were any of these a waste of time and taxpayer money?

    It’s important, Irene. Obama’s doing his job, and doing it well. At least he hasn’t done something like Bush 41 did when he upchucked on the lap of the Japanese prime minister, or like Bush 43 did and start giving an uninvited neck rub to the German prime minister Pat Schroeder (Google the video – it’s funny)…and thank goodness that Obama knows better now than to give a pack of DVD’s as a gift.

  • http://mekancatherine.blogspot.com/ Catherine

    Ken,
    I have to say, that I agree with most of your ideas on a revised foreign policy. I mean, it would be great if other countries stepped up to take care of their own regional affairs instead of the U.S. constantly needing to play the role of World Peacekeeper.

    However, I wonder at what costs? It is obviously completely hypocritical for us to get involved in the campaign against Qaddafi in Libya but barely utter three words about Syria (those three words would be – Bashar…umm…santions…ummm…UN?). But I’m sure that those who were not killed in Libya because Qaddafi was not able to have a killing free for all are happy to be alive.

    I generally would agree that we tend to do more harm than good when we get involved in affairs that have no direct relationship to us. The biggest thing holding me back from saying “Yeah Ken!! I totally agree with your revised foreign policy approach!!” is that having lived in Egypt during the revolution, I’m really glad that the Egyptian military was trained by the U.S. military and therefore was professional enough to not shoot at their fellow citizens. I also believe that if Egypt did not have such close ties to the U.S., the revolution would have been even bloodier and even longer. This is not to take away any credit from the incredibly brave Egytians that stood up to their dreaded state security though.

    Then of course, regardless of whether you agree with spending public money on charity, it’s hard to say – I wish more African children had died instead of us spending money.

    What I think the U.S. should do, is IF they decide to get involved or give aid money, we should call a spade a spade. Like in Syria, we should say – we’re not getting invovled in Syria because we’re scared $hitless of Iran but Libya, meh, they’re not so important to us. Or in the case of aid to Africa – we really want to look awesome for helping a bunch of impoverished sick kids, and hopefully one or two African leaders will give us some [insert pillaged natural resource].

    But yeah, generally I would have loved Obama to have said – we’re not invovled, you guys figure it out, but we’re witholding all aid money until you figure it out. Unfortunately, I think much of the world has gotten far to used to relying on the U.S. to kick-start any dialogue or move for peace.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Catherine –

    It is obviously completely hypocritical for us to get involved in the campaign against Qaddafi in Libya but barely utter three words about Syria (those three words would be – Bashar…umm…santions…ummm…UN?). But I’m sure that those who were not killed in Libya because Qaddafi was not able to have a killing free for all are happy to be alive.

    Yes, it’s hypocritical…but it’s also a political necessity. Why? For one thing, Qaddafi has few friends in the Arab world and doesn’t share any particularly important borders (except for a fairly desolate one with Egypt), whereas Syria is much closer to the rest of the Islamic world and shares borders with much more important countries…like nuclear-armed Israel, for one.

    Someone once called it “the art of the possible” – do what you can, but don’t attempt what you cannot accomplish. Pick your fights wisely – if there’s a tragedy going on and you can fight and end the tragedy with a reasonable chance of success and little damage to your own nation and people, then go for it!

    BUT if there’s a tragedy going on and you don’t see how you can step in without making things much worse and getting us a national bloody nose for our efforts, you use all means OTHER than military intervention.

    THIS is why Bush 41 wisely decided not to proceed to Baghdad in the first Gulf War despite what he probably knew would happen to the Kurds…because there was no exit strategy. His son wasn’t so wise.

    Change the things you can, don’t change the things you can’t change, and have the wisdom to know the difference.

  • Clavos

    and when foreigners look at him, they perceive America, and that’s how they’ll think of America…

    That’s the scariest thing I’ve ever read on these threads.

  • zingzing

    “That’s the scariest thing I’ve ever read on these threads.”

    would you rather they still think of bush?

  • Clavos

    You’re right, zing. Six of one; half a dozen of the other.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Catherine,

    I appreciate your comments. You make a good point about the Egyptian military and their restraint when it came to shooting civilians, but let’s remember that Mubarek used billions in U.S. aid to imprison and torture his opponents. Perhaps if we didn’t give aid to Mubarek to buy peace for Israel and instead had trade, cultural exchange, etc… Egypt would have developed more than it has. I was in Egypt last year and after billions of dollars in U.S. aid for the last 30 it is still a very undeveloped country.

    As far as Libya is concerned, the president had no right to act unilaterally. He is not an emperor and it is dangerous to our system of government for Congress to do nothing while he perpetuates one war after another. This includes his undeclared war in Pakistan. In Libya, he has even ignored the 60 day mandate under the War Powers Act. He is totally acting outside the law. This makes him an outlaw.

    I agree regretably about it being better for children to die in Africa than to temporarily save them today. As someone who lived on the continent for six years I can tell you that in many cases the more humane thing to do is let them escape their misery. That is hard for many Americans to understand. But I beleive that many times drought, famines, natural disasters are nature’s way of putting balance back into the environment.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    are you sure they’re the same? One started the Iraq War on false pretenses – the other refuses to commit ground troops to Libya because he doesn’t want us to get stuck there. Are they really one and the same?

  • Clavos

    But I beleive that many times drought, famines, natural disasters are nature’s way of putting balance back into the environment.

    Of course they are; for animals, plants and humans in situations where there are no other kinds of control.

    Here in Florida, we used to try to put out fires in the Everglades trying to save not only the plants, but animals as well.

    This went on for years, until we finally figured out those fires served a very important purpose — a purpose that required the plants be burned.

    The Everglades is not a swamp; it is actually a very broad, very shallow, very slow moving river. If the aquatic plants which grow in it (and which shelter many of the animals that live in the ‘Glades) are not burned off periodically, they begin to choke and impede the flow of the river, which creates a domino effect of detrimental effects on the ‘Glades, which in turn, if unchecked would inevitably destroy them. Now, the fires are allowed to burn in a controlled way, and not only the Everglades, but the plants and animals have all prospered as a result.

  • Clavos

    No, you’re right, Glenn. Obama is too far off the left edge to be accurately compared to GWB, although he was no great bargain either.

    Ain’t neither one of ‘em no ‘count.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    The president has been met with excitement and respect on his Ireland/England trip [probably in France too]. Brings to mind how much more popular Tony Blair and Mikhail Gorbachev were in other countries than they were at home. But Bush was viscerally disliked in Europe, because of Iraq, and because Rumsfeld and others deliberately insulted France and Germany. [Obama’s favorability rating at home is about 52-53%.]

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Obama is too far off the left edge

    Only when viewed from somewhere off the right edge. Nearly all his policies are considered centrist compromises by actual leftists.

  • zingzing

    obama, off the left edge? oh, clavos… he’s nowhere near the edge. right wing rhetoric is not reality. could you imagine if it was? we’d look like nazi germany, and obama would be a totalitarian dictator for life. of course, the right wing response to that would be “but we DO look like nazi germany, and obama wants to be a totalitarian dictator for life!” but of course, none of that would be true, but they think they can actually convince us they actually believe something that moronic… they lie to themselves. and that’s the worst kind of lie. it’s heartbreakingly pitiful. like a dog that swears that’s not its dogshit on the couch.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Obama’s “too far off the left edge”? You’ve GOT to be kidding! He’s the best Republican president we’ve had since Clinton!

    And I’m not really kidding on that particular point….

  • Glenn Contrarian

    But Clinton was the first black president….

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And Clavos –

    In case you’re wondering where the “Clinton/Obama was a Republican president” line came from, that’s a fairly common complaint by those of us who are on the left. I figured I’d better explain it to you first.

  • Clavos

    Well, you’re right, handy, from where I sit, Obama’s way off in left field.

    But then, from where I sit, so was GWB.

  • zingzing

    watch out you don’t fall over.

  • http://mekancatherine.blogspot.com/ Catherine

    Ken,
    Would you look someone who lost a family member in one of the recent tornados in the US or lost a family member to Katrina or any other hurricane and tell them it was a good thing that person is dead? Would you tell a family whose child is dying of cancer that they should stop doing cancer research because that is the way for the world to right itself?

    Also, if your rationale is that people who are destined to poverty and pain might as well die young, are you suggesting that a majority of the world’s population be shot tomorrow because their future’s are so desolate?

    I don’t think any human life, no matter how bleak their future, is so worthless to be tossed away. And don’t call me naive because I’ve been living in a developing country for awhile too, it has nothing to do with me denying their suffering, only that countries like America have the technologies and know-how to overcome some of the basic illnesses that many people living on the African continent suffer from. Not to mention that we, and to a greater extent colonial European powers, have everything to do with why many African countries are so under-developed to begin with.

    Why should American parents have to worry less about their children getting something preventable like small pox while African mothers have to be scared to death that a small infection can kill their child?

  • Kenn Jacobine

    I didn’t say we should do nothing. I said that nature has a way to replenish itself. When there are too many living creatures in one area and disease strikes that could be nature’s way of providing balance in itself.

    As human beings we have obligations to each other to help. When government gets involved it becomes political. Meaning we exchange one form of colonialism for another. Now they are dependent on us for aid or worse yet we steal from our poor to give to rich dictators in the developing world.

  • zingzing

    next time nature replenishes a house, get back to me kenn.

    “As human beings we have obligations to each other to help. When government gets involved it becomes political.”

    has it ever struck you that HUMANS created government to provide such services? why do you think we have a gov’t at all?

  • Clavos

    why do you think we have a gov’t at all?

    Why indeed?

  • zingzing

    to provide such services.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Sure, so government can spend itself into oblivion providing the services zing wants. I don’t want to be a customer of government – IRS FEMA CIA FDIC FEderal Reserve. So i live overseas, in a safe place, with a currency in the bank that is not collapsing. I am doing a lot better without all the “services” government porvides.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Catherine,

    The colonial argument is tired and old. Most African countries are poor because of their governments. There is too much corruption and not enough capitalism. To continue to blame colonialsm is simple. What about Liberia and Ethiopia? Very little or no colonialism and they are still very poor. Your analysis is based on pure emotuon and that is what we need to get away from if we are to solve especially our financial problems in the world.

  • zingzing

    I am doing a lot better without all the “services” government porvides.”

    if your house were to be wiped away, would you say the same?

    or would you rebuild it by hand from the woods around you? your bluster only has so much wind.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I am doing a lot better without all the “services” government porvides.

    Yeah, I’ve heard about you. You’re the Kenn Jacobine who could fly above roads on wings of pure liberty rather than drive on ‘em like us suckers. Well done.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    In the first place, I bought a house in an area not prone to natural disasters. If one did strike there is a little thing called insurance that i have taken out. By the way, the Amish get along just fine without government – they have barn raisings. Look it up, it is a fascinating concept.

    As to the roads, I would argue they should be privatised like many were in the 18th century and like turnpikes are today.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I would argue they should be privatised like many were in the 18th century and like turnpikes are today.

    Please do argue that. I’d love to read it.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    I am writing down that that willbe a future article.

  • http://mekancatherine.blogspot.com/ Catherine

    Hi Kenn,
    Actually, I wasn’t talking about colonialism at all because you’re right it would be much too easy to blame problems on that. I’m not saying that many African governments don’t have any responsibility for the position they are in, but the blame on America and other European powers have that I was referring to was actually companies from said countries coming into Africa, taking natural resources, selling them outside the countries and giving the money to said corrupt regimes/militant groups. Just like colonialism would be too simple an explanation, expecting capitalism to fix all the problems in Africa would be to simple a fix – in fact, I would argue that the way many companies abuse natural resource rich countries in the developing world in general is capitalism at its worst.

    I see that you’re a libertarian so I know you will never agree with me on this, but there are limits to how much capitalism can help if there are not certain checks in place. I think that it is very easy in many developing countries (not just in Africa) for outside foreign investment to very easily finance vast amounts of corruption. In Egypt, those at the top who talked the talk about bringing in foreign investment and opening up the financial sector were the ones who benefited from the money flowing into the country.

    As far as the comment about using emotion in this situation, I wouldn’t say it’s emotion as much as ethics. Maybe you think it’s emotional to say “we should help poor and starving African children” because you can imagine me tearing up at a picture of said child. But it’s not only for this reason that I think we should be using aid money to fix these kinds of diseases and problems. Each of those sick children could be potential contributors to an economy. Each of those children who are helped by a vaccine or are prevented from getting AIDS represent less money that in the future will need to be spent curing disease. If these countries have to continue to worry about problems that have mostly been eradicated in many more developed countries, this will only further burden their economies.

    Don’t you think it only proves the point when you say that you simply bought a house in a non-flood prone area and were able to afford insurance for this house? I’m pretty sure many people living on the brink of poverty cannot afford such a luxury.

  • zingzing

    “By the way, the Amish get along just fine without government – they have barn raisings.”

    ah, the amish. unfortunately, much of the rest of their lifestyle holds little appeal.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Catherine,

    Companies that have gone into developing countries and raped them of their resources is merchantilism and our founding fathers fought a war over that when it was done here. Capitalism more than anything respects and protects private property rights and in the developing world the biggest problem is the lack of protection for private porperty. With everything being so arbitrary economic growth is hindered. You must remember that the developing world has tried socialism over and over again with no success.

    As to helping others – that is best left to individuals. We would agree that slavery is morally wrong. It is wrong because it forces people to work for no income. Why is it that when government takes a portion of our income away and gives it to another, person or corporation, we don’t see that as a form of slavery – that is the transfer payment makes us work at least a part of the time for no income?

  • Jordan Richardson

    We would agree that slavery is morally wrong. It is wrong because it forces people to work for no income.

    Among a pile of other things, yeah.