Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lula in Israel, Let's All Blame Mitch!

Maureen Dowd
Ahmad Rashid
"Ireland is a peculiar society in the sense that it was a nineteenth century society up to about 1970 and then it almost bypassed the twentieth century." - John McGahern
"Making peace, I have found, is much harder than making war." - Gerry Adams
"God's pity on the Ginger Man"  - J P Donleavy

The world took little notice when the Brazilian President visited Israel after Biden did, but his visit may have had more significance. It was the first time a Brazilian President ever visited, and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is pushing for letting Brazil be the added spark that will move the peace process forward: "After being grilled in the Knesset - including by Netanyahu - for his policy of non-confrontation and dialogue with Iran, Lula did not flinch. He condemned both the Holocaust and terrorism; he reminded his hosts of Brazil's and Latin America's stand against nuclear weapons; he stressed "dialogue" and "compassion" to solve the Middle East conflict; he defended a viable two-state solution for Israel and Palestine; but he also did not refrain from criticizing the expanded colonization of East Jerusalem. He received a standing ovation and, according to some members of parliament, "more applause than [former US president] George W Bush".

Brazil has good relations with Iran, and is part of an economic pact made between Brazil, Russia, India, and China, who are doing their best to stimulate their economies by preferential trading among each other. India is buying nuclear equipment from Russia, so is Iran. Brazil is on good terms with the US, and has offered to host an informal conference between Syria and Israel later this year which both countries have accepted.

Neither Brazil or China want to see sanctions placed on Iran, and have said that Iran has a right to develop nuclear plants to provide energy, as long as it works with the International Atomic Energy Committee. Brazil isn't proposing anything new for Israeli - Palestinian negotiations, but is offering to provide to be a new, neutral part of the negotiation process. This may play well in Washington, as Netanyahu has dismissed both David Axelrod and Rahm Emmanuel as "self-hating Jews." We'll see if da Silva can become an important player on this stage, or if he will get sucked into the stagnant vortex that comprise Middle Eastern relations. The fact that the pugnacious, extremely right wing Avigdor Lieberman boycotted his speech is a good thing. And his presence is welcome when the US and Israel need a little time to repair their relationship...
"And in World News, the tension between the White House and Israel is at its highest level in 30 years. Israel wants to build more houses in its territory, and the Obama administration wants them torn down. Here's the solution: You build the houses, but let Countrywide give everybody an adjustable rate mortgage. They'll be foreclosed on and out of there by July." –Jay Leno

health care reform...
The theatrics are switching into high gear, it's almost painful to watch as politicians down to the local level act mean and tough in their opposition. The Virginia Governor threatening to sue if it passes, Utah passing statutes that says their laws supercede any Federal laws... plus, they want to take over all Federal land in their state and put up Mormon churches and big parking lots in its place, giving a new twist to the Joni Mitchell song...

The Congressional Budget Office is supposed to come out today, scoring the proposed health bill, saying if it will either save money or cost money down the line, either giving it the green light to vote on, or killing it in its place.

The current GOP strategy was conceived by Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell. In a NY Times feature, Mr McConnell has: "used his extensive knowledge of Senate procedure to slow things down, take advantage of the difficulties Democrats would have in governing and deny Democrats any Republican support on big legislation. In meetings with his caucus, Senator Mitch McConnell urged members to continue to play “team ball” — with the team being the Republican Party. Republicans embraced it. Democrats denounced it as rank obstructionism. Either way, it has led the two parties, as much as any other factor, to where they are right now"
“To the extent they are trying to turn us into a Western European country, we are not going to be helpful.”   - Mitch McConnell
"Their goal, is to slow down activity to stop legislation from passing in the belief that this will embolden conservatives in the next election and will deny the president a record of accomplishment.”  - Richard Durbin
So, if you are like me and don't like the strategy of Republicans right now, we now know who to blame.
This is old school, old man style hardball politics, born out of bitterness, and has made the younger generations cynical about the political process. OK, us grumpy old men are cynical, too, but I feel more pissed off at the narrow mindedness of the whole thing. If we want to get different parties to negotiate in places like Israel, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan, then we should be showing them how it's done. Right now we are a poor example, despite the 11 Republicans who voted for the jobs bill.

late night jokes:

"And I'm sure you remembered to turn your clock ahead an hour, unless, of course, you're a Democrat working on health care. Then you might want to turn it back a year and start all over again." –Jay Leno

"You know, I was thinking about this health care problem. If you took all the money the Republicans have spent to stop health care and all the money Democrats have spent trying to get health care, we could afford health care." –Jay Leno
"Congress is getting ready to vote on President Obama's health care bill. It's going to be a close vote. The House Democrats say it could be a real tickle fight." –David Letterman

"Sarah Palin, out in Arizona, is campaigning with John McCain. He's running for Senate re-election. They're campaigning together out there. I thought, yeah, I mean, there's an unbeatable combination." –David Letterman
"Thank you for coming on the Ides of March. You know, this is March 15. It was on this day in 44 B.C., Julius Caesar met his end. He was stabbed in the back by members of the Senate, ironically, while pleading for health care." –Jay Leno

"Well, President Obama, turning up the pressure on Congress to pass this health care reform. In fact, he's telling Democrats, if they don't vote for this bill, he will go out and campaign for them in November." –Jay Leno

"It seems The Journal of Neurology reports that the longer you smoke, the less likely you are to develop Parkinson's disease. So what are they telling us? Follow me guys. Remember, a couple of months ago, doctors said drinking a glass of alcohol every day was good for your heart. Smoking prevents Parkinson's disease. Marijuana is good for glaucoma. Sex is good for your prostate. You know, screw health care. Let's party!" –Jay Leno

"And in his speech to the Export-Import Bank's annual gathering, President Obama announced that he will establish two brain trusts to double U.S. exports over the next five years. You know what our leading export is right now? Jobs." –Jay Leno

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