Randy Forbes: Dems Playing into Partisan Spectacle by Boycotting Partisan Spectacle

Randy Forbes released the following statement:

At a time when our allies across the globe continue to have questions about this Administration’s commitment and competency, the United States’ support for Israel should be unwavering. Instead, we see the White House prioritizing risky negotiations with a nuclear obsessed Iran over the concerns of a trusted ally, and Democratic Members of Congress playing into a partisan spectacle rather than respecting the longstanding relationship between our two countries. To allow the American commitment to the nation of Israel to be thus called into question is not only shortsighted, it is detrimental to security and U.S. interests in the region.

Forbes makes a pretty bold statement as he conflates our friendship of Israel with our trust in Bibi Netanyahu. We now know he lied about Iran’s nuclear capabilities in 2012, when he used a stupid picture of a cartoon bomb to exaggerate how close Iran was to being a nuclear power. A leaked Mossad document shows that Netanyahu’s lies contradicted information held by his nation’s own intelligence agency. But of course Republicans support lying about military data in order to start wars, so I guess Netanyahu’s lies only bolster Republican’s affection for him.

It’s also a pretty bold statement about allies across the globe having questions about this administration’s commitment and competency. It was George Bush, after all, who invaded Iraq under false pretenses and squandered the international support we had gained after the September 11th attacks that he failed to protect us from. Obama actually raised international support back up from Bush’s low. Peter Beinart’s article in the Atlantic pointed to a Pew Research report (which has since been updated) that shows us that international attitudes towards the U.S. are positive, and much better than they were when Obama took office.

America’s image began to rally in some nations and to soar by the end of the decade following the election of Barack Obama, at least in Europe and parts of Asia and Latin America. After slipping a bit again in the first years of this decade, brand U.S. has stabilized and even recovered in a few nations in 2014.

So where are all those allies questioning this administration’s commitment and competency?

The biggest decline in ratings for the U.S. is in Russia, where 71% now hold an unfavorable opinion.

Of course, Russia’s not an ally, but the way Republicans have been fawning over Putin lately, maybe Forbes is a little confused.

Pretty bold of Forbes to call into question Obama’s commitment to our national security, since he just voted ‘No’ to even a one week stop-gap measure to fund the Department of Homeland Security.

Pretty bold to talk about the concerns of an ally when even Israeli’s are questioning the wisdom of his visit and about 200 members of Israeli’s security community have voiced their opposition to it.

It’s pretty bold to talk about partisan spectacles considering what a partisan spectacle it was for the Speaker of the House to breach protocol and Constitutional law by inviting a foreign leader into our Congress without notifying our President.

Considering all of those facts, it’s not just bold, it’s bizarre to suggest that it’s un-American to boycott the inappropriate appearance in our nation’s Congress of a foreign leader who has lied to us to influence our diplomatic and military strategies, and is risking the security of our nation and his own in a desperate attempt to shore up his slipping popularity just before an election. But then, lying and risking national security to bolster their popularity is what Republicans do, so I guess Randy Forbes is just towing the Republican line.

Israel’s First Punch and Continued Hope for Peace

A while ago, I pointed out that a photo which a Facebook friend shared, showing a soldier with a boot on a little girl’s chest, was faked. But now there is so much genuine horror that it seems moot that some of the images are not real. I can’t seem to hold on to an opinion for more than a few minutes, and may instantly regret what I write after I post it, but what I see happening today is Israel claiming to minimize civilian casualties while its military members are so hateful that they don’t really care. I see Palestinians in an unacceptable and unfair situation, but who long ago chose the most horrific methods of expressing their frustrations. I see Israel’s right to invade Gaza and destroy the tunnels, and I see Palestinian’s right to protest the carnage. I see terrible wrong on both sides and partisans on both sides sharing half-true news stories, with Zionists ignoring the economic hardship caused by overbearing security measures and Palestinian supporters ignoring the fact that no matter what Israel gives them, they either destroy it or use it against Israel. There is wrong on both sides.

The first punch, though, is on Israel. Not because the Zionists expelled all of the Arabs to create their homeland; that story ignores all those who willingly left so they could join their Arab neighbors in a failed attempt to murder Israel. And not because Palestine was a sovereign nation that was invaded. It never was. And not because the region hadn’t already changed hands many times before. And not because the people who lived on the land that became Israel might not have prospered had they accepted the Zionists’s offer of citizenship. But despite all that, there were people living in the land that became Israel, and when those people were told that a bunch of new folks were going to move in and form a nation, their response was, “we don’t want it”, and that response should have been honored.

Finding out who threw the first punch isn’t enough to bring peace or justice in an escalating conflict. Today, we have an imperialist military power fighting against a movement that wants nothing short of the death of the sinner as reparations for its sins. Israel will not die to appease terrorists and Palestinians will not accept brutal conditions imposed on them by occupiers. It seems hopeless.

I do think it’s hopeless to stop the horror of the current operation. I am still supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself but cannot blame all of the carnage on Hamas’s “human shields” while praising Israel for not targeting civilians. Too bad my support is irrelevant. This operation will play out until the tunnels are destroyed and Hamas is devastated, along with dozens of innocent, non-targeted children.

But after this incursion, there will again be hope. Israeli supporters claim it is hopeless because they keep making concessions and getting nothing but aggression in return. That is, to a small degree, true. In support for their arguments they contrast relinquishing the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in exchange for peace against withdrawing from Gaza in 2005. That withdrawal resulted in Palestinian criminals looting and destroying greenhouses that Israeli settlers left for the Palestinian people, economic devastation in Palestine, and continued attacks on Israel. But there are many differences between giving the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and withdrawing from Gaza, including:

  • Israel’s continued control and harsh restrictions of Gaza’s borders (with Egypt’s help).
  • Egypt’s financial and political establishment which would not have allowed the Sinai Peninsula to descend into chaos
  • Palestinian longing for land within Israel’s borders

Another difference: if militants on Egypt’s border were to fire rockets at Israel, Israel’s response, even if it were disproportionate, would not be so devastating that all of Egypt would be bathed in the blood of Egyptian civilians.

The next withdrawal from Gaza must include a genuine economic investment for peace. It must include a police force capable of protecting resources from looters and the ability to move goods in and out of Gaza. It also must include a willingness on both sides to show enough restraint not to let enemies of peace scuttle the entire process. That last point means accepting the fact that there will be more murders, but not every murder should be answered with a military incursion.

Peace won’t happen without pressure. For Americans it means writing letters to politicians expressing support for Israel’s right to self-defense but also support for pressuring Israel to make genuine, costly, and risky efforts towards peace. It means financial contributions to organizations working for peace. For those who can, it means volunteering for such organizations.

A true effort towards peace is almost impossible to imagine, since Israelis will raise hell in protest and it will not eliminate the threat from anti-Zionists who only want the death of Israel. But considering Israel’s prosperity on land that once belonged to others, they should and hopefully can be pressured to take the only realistic path towards peace short of self-annihilation or criminal oppression and murder. As for the Palestinians who want Israel dead, I believe that pragmatism can beat extremism even when the extremism is fueled by a legitimate grievance.

Update: This post was originally titled “Israel’s Original Sin and Continued Hope for Peace”, and I had used the phrase “Original sin” in the text. I posted it on Daily Kos as well as this blog, and on Daily Kos I was strongly criticized from commenters who told me the phrase was inflammatory, and who felt I was literally cursing Israel, in a religious sense. That was not my intent. I was only trying to find a place to point to and say, “There, that was the definitive moment.” As I did on Kos, I apologize for the poorly chosen phrase, and I hope this is more clear now without it.

Romney’s lies are more important than his bungles

Romney’s week of gaffs has steered attention away from the lie he told to the VFW recently, and the dishonest sound-biting of President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” quote. Gaffs can be forgiven more easily than blatant lies, and Romney’s untruthful jabs at the President will continue to reverberate through the right wing blogosphere while fact-checking of his statements gets lost among jokes about his diplomatic errors. And those errors will be excused by apologists who actually see it as a sign of strength for an American to go around the world insulting our allies and carelessly violating protocol, as long as the violator is a Republican.

But let’s not forget the lies. Mitt Romney blamed Barack Obama for a bi-partisan congressional budget agreement that will result in defense cuts. Remember, last year congressional Republicans threatened to shut down the government if they didn’t get tax cuts for the rich and cuts to vital services for the rest of us. Their willingness to cripple the nation’s economy in order to get their way prompted a downgrade in Standard and Poor’s U.S. bond rating, and despite S&P specifically citing Republican “brinksmanship” as the cause, Romney was one of the first Republicans to blame Obama for the downgrade. Still, Democrats and Republicans worked out a short-term budget deal with a rider that if they couldn’t work out a follow-on deal, across-the-board budget cuts would automatically kick in, including cuts to the military.

Those automatic, pre-negotiated, bi-partisan budget cuts are the ones Romney refers to as “the president’s”. I wrote earlier that across-the-board budget cuts was a bad deal for Democrats. The idea that cuts in the military balance out cuts for programs that help the poor and middle class is ridiculous. Democrats don’t actually want to defund the military, but Republicans don’t care about defunding the poor and middle class. The pressure that Romney is putting on the president and Democrats indicates that when Republicans agreed to the budget cuts, they were lying, and always felt they could scuttle the agreement by accusing Democrats of not supporting the troops if they adhere to it.

The other big lie was the sound-bite, “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.”. “That” was referring to an example of a bridge, a road, or some other improvement provided by the people as a whole, which is clear from the full quote. Romney can claim “soundbiting” for “I like being able to fire people”, but while the statement is less harsh in context, ( he likes being able to fire people because the ability to do so encourages performance ) at least nobody is being mislead about what the words, themselves, actually mean. Even though context softens his words, Romney does, in fact, like being able to fire people. Obama does not, in fact, believe that entrepreneurs don’t build their own businesses. Romney’s sound-biting of Obama’s speech isn’t just putting a negative slant on something Obama said, it’s making people think Obama said something that he didn’t say, and it demonstrates severe level of dishonesty. Romney is more honest than that when he just plain lies.

So by all means, let’s talk about Romney’s diplomatic blunders. They’re more than just funny, they’re an indication of Romney’s ability to represent the United States of America to our allies. But let’s not forget the more important fact: Mitt Romney isn’t just a bungler, he is a liar.