AlterPolitics New Post

Obama’s Veto of UN Resolution On Settlements Harms His Own Standing in World

by on Saturday, February 19, 2011 at 3:04 pm EDT in Egypt, Middle East, World

The Arab world has long suffered as a direct consequence of misguided U.S. policies in the Middle East. From propping up their brutal dictators, to funding and granting immunity to Israel as it colonizes Palestinian lands and bombs its neighbors with impunity, the U.S. has underwritten most of what is wrong in the region.

Until recently, the voices on the Arab streets have largely been muzzled by their oppressive (U.S. supported) regimes. But all that is finally changing. The people have had enough. They want a voice. They have taken to the streets, and are demanding their inalienable rights: freedom from repression.

First came the protests in Tunisia, and that quickly spread to Egypt. Like wildfire, the protests and demonstrations soon moved on to Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Oman, Algeria, etc.

One could argue that the seeds were sown when President Obama made his famous 2009 Cairo speech to the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims. In it, he asked for a new beginning between the U.S. and the Muslim world — one “based on mutual respect.”

On promoting democracy in the Muslim world, Obama stated:

I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.

There is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments – provided they govern with respect for all their people.

This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.

He stated, “America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs.”

He said of Israel’s colonization of Palestine:

… Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.

Though generally well received, the speech provoked a large degree of skepticism from much of the Arab world. Like Americans at home, they wanted to believe Obama was an authentic ‘change agent’, but as everyone knows, the status quo is the status quo for good reason. Powerful entrenched interests work 24/7 to massage ‘change agents’ into ‘status quo’ agents.

The Muslim world wondered if this new U.S. President, with an Arab-sounding name, would be true to his words. Would he apply pressure to their oppressive rulers to implement democratic reforms? Would he take the necessary political risks in the United States (See: Israel Lobby) to force Israel to end its colonization, and to forge peace with the Palestinians?

As far as promoting democracy, WikiLeaks cables revealed that the Obama Administration did next to nothing to press Mubarak to end his brutal policies and adopt democratic reforms.

Even after Egyptians took to the streets, the Obama Administration cautiously waffled around — never really taking a strong position until the smoke had all but cleared, and they knew definitively that the protesters would prevail.

To further undermine U.S. commitment to democratic change, once it became clear that Mubarak was finished, the Administration brazenly tried to insert Mubarak-equivalent (and alleged torturer) Omar Suleiman to take the reigns.

The so called ‘peace process’ between Israelis and Palestinians has been a much more transparent failure for the Obama administration, due in part because the U.S. is supposed to have more leverage over the Israelis — showering them with billions in aid and holding veto power over UN condemnations against their actions.

But what has forever been etched into the world consciousness is a disturbing image of the United States playing a subservient role to Israeli interests.

First the Netanyahu government outwardly defied the Obama Administration, by refusing to extend a 10-month partial ‘moratorium’ on its illegal settlement expansions in the West Bank, which brought the ‘peace process’ to a screeching halt.

The humiliated U.S. President undermined his own standing further by cowering back to the Israelis with an unbelievable display of servility. Obama offered them $3B — in addition to the $3.5 billion in annual aid — and pledged to grant them preemptive immunity for 1 year against any prospective UN Security Council resolutions (regardless of what Israel might do).

All this, for merely extending the partial moratorium — only in the West Bank — for an additional 90 days. And Israel refused.

Robert Fisk of The Independent rightly castigated Obama as an ‘appeaser’:

In any other country, the current American bribe to Israel, and the latter’s reluctance to accept it, in return for even a temporary end to the theft of somebody else’s property would be regarded as preposterous. Three billion dollars’ worth of fighter bombers in return for a temporary freeze in West Bank colonisation for a mere 90 days? Not including East Jerusalem – so goodbye to the last chance of the east of the holy city for a Palestinian capital – and, if Benjamin Netanyahu so wishes, a rip-roaring continuation of settlement on Arab land. In the ordinary sane world in which we think we live, there is only one word for Barack Obama’s offer: appeasement. Usually, our lords and masters use that word with disdain and disgust.

Anyone who panders to injustice by one people against another people is called an appeaser. Anyone who prefers peace at any price, let alone a $3bn bribe to the guilty party – is an appeaser. Anyone who will not risk the consequences of standing up for international morality against territorial greed is an appeaser … Yet that is precisely what Obama has done in his pathetic, unbelievable effort to plead with Netanyahu for just 90 days of submission to international law. Obama is an appeaser. […]

After the U.S. proved itself to be powerless in forcing Israel to cease stealing Palestinian land, the Palestinians naturally concluded that the United States would never do what was necessary to force Israel to recognize a Palestinian state. So they turned to the United Nations Security Council and asked for a resolution that does little more than recognize international law (as it already exists) — condemning Israel’s illegal settlement building.

The language in the UN Security Council resolution is ironically the official US stated policy on the matter, and so the Muslim world watched with interest to see if Obama would do as he promised them, and “align [his] policies with those who pursue peace”.

Obama — because Israelis rejected his unprecedented $3B offer — had essentially laid the political groundwork to allow this resolution to pass. This was Obama’s grand moment to show some fortitude. He offered the Israelis the world, for almost nothing in return, and they swiftly rejected it. Here was Obama’s moment to make good on his promise that the United States indeed sought a more just and equitable future for the Muslim world — one based on mutual respect …


By doing so, President Obama has squandered any remaining credibility he might have had as a champion for democracy, human rights, and international law. And he has reaffirmed to the world that the United States is not now, nor ever has been, a fair and honest broker for middle east peace.


WATCH as Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, struggles to justify the U.S. veto to Al Jazeera:


This November, Write-In “Public Option”

by on Friday, September 10, 2010 at 5:10 pm EDT in Healthcare, Politics

I met up with Stan at The Seminal at FireDogLake (FDL).

I’d recently written about the rationality of we on the Left strategically boycotting the upcoming midterm elections, and had continued pushing that notion in the comments of a diary by Democratic Party flack Jason Rosenbaum, seeking help in those elections from we who had given his co-opted little party the Congress and White House on a silver platter just two years ago. In that same diary’s comments, Stan suggested that a strategic write-in campaign, rather than a strategic boycott, would be even better.

And he’s right.

The resulting diary follows. (See it on FDL here.)

Reclaiming the Democratic Party for the American Left

By: themalcontent Wednesday September 8, 2010 11:42 am

Even as elements of the faux-Left media machine crank up their efforts to minimize the inevitable losses Democrats will suffer this fall, a few diaries in the last week […] at FDL have helped crystallize what I believe could prove an effective strategy by which the American Left might reclaim the party from the DINOs who have so thoroughly and blatantly co-opted it.

The search for a credible, irrefutable way to give voice to our frustration has bubbled up in direct proportion to failure of the Obama Administration – and its Democratic Party majorities in both houses of Congress – to lead, since Inauguration Day 2009. So the diaries I’m about to reference contain merely the latest and perhaps most clear statements (to date) about what form such a statement might take, and are not meant to diminish or negate all the deep thought and dedication to progressive ideals so many here have expressed since the 2008 election.

The first, posted last Wednesday by Bill Egnor, prompted this one from me, over the weekend. Yesterday, I shamelessly whored that admittedly hastily assembled diary on several threads on both the main page and here at The Seminal. Then Jason Rosenbaum posted this, and the comments indicate to me that perhaps something resembling critical mass is near.

TheCallUp’s comment on Jason’s diary was my lightbulb moment, and appears to have been one for others. Not merely a boycott of the two major parties by those on the Left, but a way to register our displeasure, one that resists the Coakley-esque parsing which DINO flacks perpetuated – that’s what’s needed.

While writing-in “public option” or “single payer” or “Medicare for all” (h/t to alternateid), or “John Q. Public Option” (and maybe “Jane Q.,” to differentiate male and female voters?) – and I think we must all agree on one of these, or another that relates to the massive health insurance reform FAIL, so as to further reduce any possibility of parsing – the mere act of writing it in won’t get us where we want to go. If the goal is reclaiming the Democratic Party for the American Left, we need to make clear how we’re doing it, why we’re doing it, and what we expect to happen next. Without a clear, succinct statement of our goals, we will be marginalized by the sycophants and we will fail.

Having just elaborated on How we’re doing it, I’ll again state, below, the other elements I believe critical (for ease of reference as we discuss this initiative further in the comments):

Why we’re doing it: Because Barack Obama has failed to lead based on his 2008 stump speech, and Democratic obstructionists within his administration and the Congress are complicit in that failure. To have even a hope of keeping the White House in 2012, we insist Obama begins leading based on his campaign. If he does, we might, in 2012, even give him a majority in both houses of Congress once more. But that majority will not include anyone who thinks or votes like Joe Lieberman, Bart Stupak, Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, and other duplicitous DINOs.

What we expect to happen next: On November 3, the massive Democratic loss still stinging, Obama must fire Rahm Emanuel, Tim Keane, Robert Gibbs, and Tim Geithner, and replace them with Russ Feingold, Dennis Kucinich (or Dr. Dean), Al Franken, and Elizabeth Warren respectively. Further, Warren’s counsel – alone – determines who will head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (Note: If Larry Summers has a problem with any of this, he can hit the fucking pike, too.)

And: On November 4, Mr. Obama addresses a joint session of Congress. In the somber, serious-as-a-heart-attack five-minute speech – two minutes is better – he creates by executive order, as Congress looks on, a public works program which mirrors the WPA, but in 2010 proportion to FDR’s 1935 model. He blunty states, with the wolrd watching, that a vote against funding it is a vote against putting Americans back to work. While he’s at it, he signs another order, ending DADT. Finally, he demands legislation outlawing corporate personhood, in similarly blunt fashion: “Refusal to do so will make quite clear which of you work for real people and which work for phony ones – and, I’ll venture, will subject you who work for the latter to the same kind of popular revolt my party has just undergone.”

In closing this diary, I’ll add one more thing: A lot of people have been saying for a long time that the Internet will change politics forever. It almost did in 2008. We now have a chance to actually make it happen, and (respectfully disagreeing with TheCallUp) we don’t need MoveOn to promote it, at least not yet. In fact, the more obvious it becomes that this has truly bubbled up from independently thinking Dems and Progs, the less it opens us to Righty accusations of being an astroturf org like the teabaggers.

So: What HCR-referencing phrase or name can we all agree is best to write in? And, will you commit to e-mailing at least 20 people and/or blogging your support of this initiative at one lefty blog, in order to help get it going?

Remember, we must move quickly: The campaign season is under way.

Lieberman Threatens To Filibuster Medicare Buy-In, As New Video Surfaces Showing Him Endorsing It

by on Monday, December 14, 2009 at 6:51 pm EDT in Healthcare, Politics

I discovered this video (courtesy of the Connecticut Post) via Digby, originating back to Greg Sargent.  Hopefully, it will continue to make its way throughout the net roots.  Pass it on! In the video — shot just three months ago on September 8, 2009 — Joe Lieberman explains his support for a Medicare buy-in.

The interviewer asks him, “Why do you now, in 2009, oppose a public option after for so long supporting it?”   Here’s a transcript of Joe Lieberman’s response:

“I didn’t really support a public option in the way that it’s being recommended now.  In other words, what’s being recommended now is a separate new government run health-insurance plan.  What I supported then, and um … thanks for mentioning this, because it points out for some period of years I’ve been concerned about health care reform and devoted to doing something about health care reform, and trying to figure out how to best cover with insurance, people who are uncovered.

So what I did — and here’s the difference — my proposals um … were to ah … basically expand the existing successful public health insurance programs, Medicare and Medicaid.  In the case of Medicaid, to allow people who were above the eligibility level to buy into the Medicaid system on the theory that it would be — up to a certain income level — a theory they’d be able to buy into it at less than the market rate of health insurance.

When it came to Medicare I was very focused on a group — post 50, maybe more like post 55 — people who have retired early or have unfortunately been laid off early, who lose their health insurance and they’re too young to qualify for Medicare, and what I was proposing was that they have an option to buy into Medicare early and again on the premise that that would be less expensive than the enormous cost — if you’re 55 or 60 and you’re without health insurance and you go into to try to buy it, because you’re older — although to me still young and vital — you’re rated as being; you’re rated as a risk, so you pay a lot of money.”

Here’s the actual video:


Joe Lieberman just articulated the merits of the EXACT bill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just put together — now being scored at the Congressional Budget Office — which includes a Medicare buy-in for those over 55.

And guess what?  Just yesterday, the Huffington Post reported that Joe Lieberman told Harry Reid to his face that he would filibuster any bill that includes a public option OR a Medicare buy-in:

Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) informed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in a face-to-face meeting on Sunday that he will vote against a health care bill that includes a public option or a provision that would expand Medicare, a Democratic Senate aide tells the Huffington Post. […]

Lieberman punctuated the discussion by telling the majority leader directly that he will vote against the bill if the Medicare buy-in and public option provisions remain in it. Roll Call reports that Lieberman said he would also support a Republican filibuster of legislation that included these provisions.

And today, Huffington Post reports, that Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel demanded that Reid bend over for Joe Lieberman and pull the public-option and the Medicare buy-in out of the bill:

Rahm Emanuel visited Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in his Capitol office on Sunday evening and personally urged him to cut a deal with recalcitrant Sen. Joe Lieberman, two Democratic sources familiar with the situation said.

Emanuel, President Obama’s chief of staff, has long been identified as leading a faction of White House advisers who have been pushing the Senate simply to pass any health care bill, no matter how weak.

His direct message to Reid (D-Nev.), according to a source close to the negotiations: “Get it done. Just get it done.”

As if we required any evidence that Joe Lieberman was nothing, but an unprincipled, dishonest, insurance industry ‘fuck-boy’ — we now have the actual proof to be aired over and over again in his home state of Connecticut.

Senator Reid,

It’s time to give Rahm Emanuel the finger, pursue reconciliation with a Medicare Buy-In For All, AND it’s time to strip Joe Lieberman of all his committee chairs.  After this video goes viral, anything short of that will make you look weak and spineless.

Obama’s Silence On Public Option Emboldens Obstructionists

by on Monday, December 7, 2009 at 11:03 am EDT in Healthcare, Politics

Obama met with Democratic Senators yesterday at a rare Sunday Democratic caucus to give something of a ‘pep talk’ — which is how he described it to reporters — to encourage them to complete their job of passing health care reform.  He didn’t take questions from the Senators, most of whom were reported as complimentary […]

What Makes America Safer: Fiscal Stability, Or Chasing 100 Terrorists Around Afghanistan?

by on Friday, December 4, 2009 at 4:53 pm EDT in Afghanistan, Politics, World

In Obama’s Afghanistan speech at West Point, he announced he would be escalating our troop levels in Afghanistan by 30,000-35,000 to ensure those who attacked us on 9-11 are resoundingly defeated.  ABC News notes that Obama conveniently left out a very significant fact, when making his case: A senior U.S. intelligence official told the […]

War Mongers Are Furious About Proposed War Surtax On Wealthiest 2%

by on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 4:35 pm EDT in Afghanistan, Politics, World

Those on the right — the same ones who claimed to be ‘fiscal conservatives’ while they doubled our national debt with trillions in tax cuts for the wealthy, while simultaneously fighting two wars — are now up in arms that the richest two percent may be asked to pay a war surtax to help fund […]

U.S. Press Corps Not Buying White House Spin On Israeli Intransigence

by on Wednesday, November 18, 2009 at 3:51 pm EDT in Middle East, Politics, World

The Huffington Post is reporting that, in clear violation of both U.S. demands and international law: The Jerusalem city government moved toward the construction of 900 additional housing units in a Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians claim for the capital of their future state. This comes right after the Obama Administration recently softened […]

NY Times: Congress Should Abandon Obama’s Deal With Pharmaceutical Industry

by on Wednesday, November 18, 2009 at 2:15 pm EDT in Healthcare, Politics

It’s been long reported now how President Obama — who had promised total transparency in all health care negotiations during his campaign (stating he would have them all televised on C-Span) — proceeded to cut a secret backroom deal with the pharmaceutical industry as far back as summertime.  The terms of their deal violated several […]

Organizing For America Targets GOP On Health Care: Why Not Blue Dogs?

by on Friday, November 13, 2009 at 3:29 pm EDT in Healthcare, Politics

We’re starting to see an iota of pressure — at least symbolic pressure — exerted by President Obama’s powerful and popular campaign arm, ‘Organizing for America,’ on the health care reform front.  Now housed within the Democratic National Committee, the group hopes to mobilize their once-energized members. The Times reports that yesterday the group emailed […]

Breaking News: President Obama Rejects All Military Options For Afghanistan

by on Wednesday, November 11, 2009 at 10:52 pm EDT in Afghanistan, Politics, World

The Associated Press reports from an undisclosed Administration official that President Barack Obama has rejected all four military options for Afghanistan.  The source revealed that the President is looking for a way to make clear that the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan is not open ended: WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama does not plan to accept […]