Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Israeli Defense Minister: Rick Perry is Wrong

Earlier today I posted about the GOP Presidential contenders attacks on President Obama for his supposed anti-Israeli policies and how ridiculous such claims are to anyone with half a brain..

I didn't mention any particular GOP contender simply because most of the field use the same general attack on Obama in this regard. However Rick Perry was the latest to chime in to this idiotic exercise today when he claimed Obama's policies towards Israel amounted to appeasement to Palestinian terrorist groups. Rick Perry made this statement in a speech in which he was surrounded by several well known Jewish political thinkers (which to me a shameful attempt at trying to appeal to the Jewish vote in 2012).

Then today on the FoxNews show, "The Five", the majority of the contributors also concluded that President Obama attitude towards Israel has been negative (apparently unaware of the $7 billion in FREE military aid and equipment President Obama has requested for Israel just in the last year).

Needless to say, this blatant lie (or just plain ignorance) drove me a bit up the wall and further enforce the statements I made in my previous post on the subject earlier.

So you will imagine my feeling when I watched the interview of current Israeli Defense Secretary Ehud Barak on Piers Morgan's show tonight. In that interview, the Def. Minister made clear he believed President Obama "is friendly to Israel, especially in security-related issues." He went further to refute the claim Rick Perry made this morning about Obama's supposed appeasement to the Palestinians by stating, "I don't think appeasement is an accurate description of the policy of this administration,".

So from that exchange, one can only conclude one of two things. Either Rick Perry knows something the Defense Minister doesn't about Obama's policies towards Israel, or Rick Perry doesn't have a clue what he is talking about and that he was practicing a rather shameful form of political pandering this morning. I wonder which conclusion holds true...

But here is what drives me nuts about all this..Why is the GOP wasting perfectly good oxygen and our time on such bogus attacks on President Obama when there are plenty of legitimate grievances against him? So please, for the love of God, quit wasting our time on this bogus "Israeli Problem" Obama has and get back to issues that matter to 99% of all Americans..THE ECONOMY!


CRFB's Critique of President Obama's Deficit Plan

A few days ago I posted the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget's initial impression of President Obama's Deficit reduction plan and how they said it was more a "Go Medium" proposal than a "Go Big" proposal as they and many others are hoping for.

Now, here is there is detailed analysis of the President's Proposal, read and be the judge..


Obama's "Israel" Problem?

In the last few days the GOP's Presidential contenders have decided to revert to a seemingly easy fallback attack on President Obama: his foreign policies concerning Israel have been naive at best and un-American at worst.

So why have this old attack resurfaced? It's likely because of the upcoming attempt by the Palestinian Authority to submit their bid for statehood to the United Nations in a week or so. President Obama has promised to veto any such bid for statehood should it come to a vote in the UN Security Council and has been trying to prevent the vote from even happening (though rather clumsily IMO). And as such, many of the President's supporters have pointed to this as proof of the President's unwavering support of Israel, not that the GOP contenders care. As far as they and others are concerned, the decision to veto a Palestinian bid for statehood unilaterally is a no-brainer. And I would have to agree at least on that part. However the President's decision to veto such an attempt should not necessarily be taken for granted. Regardless of differences the President has had with the Israeli government as of late, his stand against the PA's unilateral attempt at statehood proves that at heart he is a true supporter of Israel or else he could have used the situation to get some kind of concession from the Israelis (say, we will veto only if you agree to halt settlement expansion or something similar), but he didn't.

However the GOP's gripe with Obama's Israel policies are older than this recent vote. They largely stem from Obama's attempt to revive the peace talks last year and his statement this year that any serious negotiation should start with pre-1967 borders of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Now personally, I saw no problem with what the President stated then because that has always been the policy of the US government. All previous attempts at peace between the Palestinians and Israelis used the pre-1967 borders (also referred to as the 1949 Armistice Line), the only thing the President did differently was he actually said such OUTLOUD. And contrary to what most of the GOP contenders will claim, the President never said Israel should fall back to the pre-1967 borders, he merely stated that any future border between an independent Palestine and Israel should back from the pre-1967 borders. This only makes sense since if you look up the "West Bank" anywhere online you will be given a map that is based on the pre-1967 border between Jordan and Israel (Jordan was at the time called 'Transjordan' since it's territory covered both sides of the Jordan river, hence the name "West Bank").

Rightly, the Israelis were a bit nervous when the President stated this starting point out loud for all the world to hear and were quick to condemn that language publicly. And IF the President had called on Israel to pull back to the pre-1967 borders, Israel would have some real concerns. Before the 1967 war, TransJordan was able to shell Israeli towns at will, even reaching as far as Tel Aviv. As such, the Israelis were prefer to prevent such a "closeness" with a possible future enemy. This was the primary reason for the very first Israeli settlements decades ago. They were there to act as a "bufferzone" between the occupied territories and the Israeli populace.

And not shockingly, the GOP as a whole pounced on this opportunity to paint the President as being Anti-Israeli and claimed the President was trying to make the Israelis morally equivalent to the Palestinians.

It's actually similar to how the GOP attacked President Obama in his early years for being "soft" on terrorism because of public statements he made and internal memos that were creating a more politically correct War on Terrorism. However even then, while many in the GOP decried these actions, few could argue with the President's actions against terrorism. The President has been an aggressive supporter of the use of drones to kill terrorists wherever they are, even more so then President Bush in terms of the number of strikes performed. So in that case, the President's actions spoke more true than his words.

And I believe the same is true with the President's policies concerning Israel. Publicly, the President and his administration have had a very strained relationship with Israel with the Israeli government seemingly embarrassing and 'talking down' to President Obama's administration (including the President, Vice President, and apparently form Def. Sec. Robert Gates). This is further evidenced by the reports that former Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated the Israelis as a whole were 'ungrateful' for the actual support the President gave Israel. And what was this support exactly?

1. Foreign Aid- For the 2011 fiscal year, President Obama requested $3 billion in Foreign Military Financing for Israel

2. F-35- In 2010, Israel finally finalized an order for 20 F-35 fighters at a price of $2.75 billion, which would be paid for entirely with the afore-mentioned FMF. In other words, WE are fitting the bill for these advanced aircraft and giving them to Israel for FREE.

3. Iron Dome- This is Israel's defense against rockets/mortars fire from Palestinian terrorist grounds (was well as countering the rocket threat from Hezbollah in Lebanon). For the 2011 fiscal year the President requested $205 million to support the development and deployment of this defense system (which has been plagued with cost overruns and questions about it's abilities).

4. Israeli Defense Products- As part of the F-35 deal, the US also agreed to purchase $4 billion worth of Israeli produced military equipment. So now only are we giving Israel advanced fighters for free, we are also agree to spend $4 billion on buying their military equipment and therefore we are giving a total of over $7 billion to Israel in combined aid and guaranteed reciprocal arms purchases.

5. Missile Defense- In addition to the aid for the Iron Dome system, the Obama administration requested $202 million in aid to other Israeli missile defense programs in the 2010 fiscal year including the Arrow II/III and the David's Sling system and a further $122 million for the 2011 fiscal year

Source: FAS.org


So clearly to anyone with eyes and half a brain, President Obama's administration was been very supportive of Israel's continued security concerns since he came into office with no evidence of that support weakening anytime soon.

Then this the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. I won't get too much in depth about the legality of the settlements other than to state that since they were first built the US government has always referred to them as illegal and in the last 20 years has used financial pressure to try and get the Israelis to halt or slow their construction.

Now last year there was talk the US was weighing various options to try and pressure Israel into halting construction of the settlements in the West Bank and one of those options was lowering the amount of US Guaranteed Loans to Israel. As expected, the GOP and others in Congress (including many Democrats) decried such ideas as being against the alliance between the US and Israel..Except it has bee done several times before. Now by federal law, no US funds can be used to pay for Israeli settlements since the government considers them illegal. As such, both Presidents Clinton and Bush would reduce the US guaranteed loans to Israel relative to the amount of money it was estimated Israel spent on settlements that particular year. President Bush did so twice during his administration (2003 and 2005) in an attempt to make the Israelis a bit more cooperative in talks with the Palestinians. So while it was OK for President Bush to do this twice during his administration, it is suddenly not OK that President Obama's administration to even MENTION such a tactic. In the end the President has yet to actually pursue such a tactic even after the high tensions between the US and Israel last year and early this year.

So for all this talk about Obama not treating Israel like the close ally that it is, the President's actions concerning Israel have been nothing but extensive and faithful to the close alliance between our two nations. So when you read a story or hear Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, or any other GOP Presidential contender claim that the President has put Israel in danger, you can call out their crap and know the facts. While Obama may have public disagreements with Israel, his support for Israel's security has never waivered.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Obama's "Go Medium" proposal?

Today, President Obama laid out the ground work for his budget-cutting proposal for the new "Super Committee" to consider. And so far, there has been a pretty mixed reaction to his proposal.

As expected by most political wonks, the GOP as a whole has attacked his proposal as "class warfare" because it proposes having those who make more than $1 million per year to pay the same tax percentage as middle class Americans, now being called the "Buffet Rule".

Personally, I haven't made up my mind about what I think of the President's plan just yet (waiting for more specific figures and more expert analysis), but the good people at the Committee For A Responsible Government has released a brief statement on the President's plan:


Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 11th, 10 Years Later..

Today, as we wake up and go about our Sunday business (whether it be at a church, at home or work), we will at some time turn on our televisions, radios or computers and see images of that horrific day ten years ago and many will think about where they were that day. I know personally that there are many who to this day don't like talking about what happened that fateful morning, and to be honest I can understand why. We all experienced that day in different ways, and yet we all experienced some of the same things: shock, sadness, and anger.

Personally, I have never really talked to many people what happened that day, until now, and I would like to share my story with my readers...

I was 13 years old at the time, not too far from my 14th birthday and since I live in Iowa, I had just arrived at my middle school a bit before 8am. At first, I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary in the hall ways of my school. I followed by usual routine of putting my backpack in my locker and getting my books for my first class of the day (Science class). After putting my books in my classroom, I went to wandering the halls as I usually did and that's when I noticed something odd. I saw several teachers in another classroom watching a television news broadcast. When I walked by the room to get another look the teachers blocked the screen, though I saw that apparently something had hit a building in New York City. My first thought at this point was that of my Americans, this must have been some sort of horrible accident. I didn't give it much more thought and continued on my way..

Then, not long afterwards, I noticed that many of the kids in the halls with me were all talking about something and were trying to squeeze into this one classroom with the television I had walked past before. Note, this was just after 8am in Iowa (being in Central Standard Time), classes were supposed to start at 8:25am. I remember seeing the looks of shock on my teachers face as they looked at the television screen, and then I saw that now both of the buildings were on fire. I didn't understand how such a thing could happen so I was just as shocked as my teachers and fellow students. Our teachers didn't tell us much so we were all left wondering what had happened...

Soon, it was time for class and we all slowly headed towards our first morning class of the day. My science teacher had turned her television on now and had it on in the background as she tried to begin her lesson. However, she like the rest of us, was fixed to the television and we all wondering what was happening. Then, only 12 minutes after our morning class began, we saw the first reports on NBC that an explosion was heard at the Pentagon in Washington D.C.

As young as I was at the time, I knew something was terribly wrong and these were no accidents (likely because I have been a military buff since I was a young kid). Regardless, for the next hour I and everyone else in my school was fixed to the NBC news broadcast trying to absorb as much information as possible...And then, the Tower fell.

I remember not being able to fully process what was happening as I watched this giant building collapse. To be honest, the rest of the day was something of a blur. I do remember that we were released early from school, at 1 or 2 o'clock and I walked home. After I got home, I went over to a friends house nearby but before I got there, I thought I saw something.

It was a plane. I remembered that the news said no planes were supposed to be flying today so I wondered whose plane this was. I quickly ran to my house and found a pair of binoculars and looked at the plane. It looked pretty big and white/blue in color. I immediately realised that this was Air Force one and the President was flying overhead. It was an odd feeling, to know the leader of your nation was flying far above me. Some days later, I saw on the news that the President that day was flying towards Omaha when I saw the plane.

For the rest of the day, my family and I simply watched the television, hoping for some kind of explanation for why someone had done this horrible thing...

September 11th, 2001 will be a day that I and millions of other Americans will never forget. We all experienced the events of that day in different ways, but something we all share is the sorrow for the thousands who lost their lives that day in those needless acts of hatred and cowardice. We will never forget the sacrifice that so many police, firemen, and everyday citizens made that day trying to save as many lives as they could. Knowing that there were so many that day who willingly put their lives at risk to save others made me so proud to be an American, and I will NEVER forget that feeling. Never.

"There is no question what the roll of honor in America is. The roll of honor consists of the names of men who have squared their conduct by ideals of duty."

-President Woodrow T. Wilson

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mitt Romney's Jobs Plan

A few days ago, GOP Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney announced and published his detailed Job Plans (as opposed to general statements made by most politicians). The plan to say the least is pretty extensive so there is no real way for me to summarize it and do it justice. Therefore I call on my readers to read the full plan for themselves and be the judge as to whether Mr. Romney's proposals will really help our economy or not.


After reading it, I also encourage you to read Jared Bernstein's reaction to the Romney's Jobs Plan: