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Friday, May 16, 2008

Good Riddance

According to the Jerusalem Post, US President George 'Nucular' Bush (the man born with a silver foot in his mouth), wrapped up his visit to Israel by telling a bunch of Israeli youngsters that "just as the US changed its treatment of minorities, he hoped that Israeli society could also change the way it treats its minorities."

He then jetted off to see his investors friends in Riyadh and Cairo.

Anyone want to venture a guess whether he will be taking the Saudis and Egyptians to task about their treatment of minorities.

This imbecile can't possibly finish his useless term of office soon enough to suit me.

[Note:  Before anyone lets their heart bleed all over my comment board, let me state a few things for the record:  Israeli has a long way to go in terms of it's treatment of Arabs.  Heck, Israel has a lot to answer for in terms of its treatment of Ethiopian, Moroccan, Russian, Yemenite and Tunisian Jews!  But comparing Israel's treatment of Arabs to the U.S.' treatment of blacks and Hispanics is just wrong-headed... unless I missed the part of the civil rights movement where buses in Selma and Birmingham were bombed on a regular basis.]

Posted by David Bogner on May 16, 2008 | Permalink

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How sad. After 9/11, I actually admired the president for addressing the issue of terrorism head-on, and not hiding his head in the sand like many of his predecessors. And for the first few years of his presidency, he really seemed to get it vis-a-vis Israel. As recently as a year ago, I was taking flak for the man from my liberal friends. Alas, it seems that he was only as smart as his advisors du jour. When Cheney & Rumsfeld had his ear, he was OK. Now he takes his marching orders from Condoleezza "Israel is the Jim Crow South" Rice. And here we go again.

Mind you, this doesn't make Barack Obama any better a choice (in case Jordan happens to be reading this)...

Posted by: psachya | May 16, 2008 4:48:27 PM

Next time, just make him sit at the back of the bus with the suicide bombers.

Posted by: Mark Patterson | May 16, 2008 5:20:05 PM

Just hope that the world can regain the peace, though the chance is not high but at least there is hope for all..

Posted by: Shopcart | May 16, 2008 5:28:35 PM

I am reading this. And for the record, I have yet to hear from you how Barack is not a good choice. But I digress. Oh, and by the way, Cheney and Rumsfeld are probably two of the biggest diplomatic disasters to ever hit the US government. Even on stuff they were right about, they could not fail to fuck it up miserably. Even their fellow right wing Republican nut jobs know that. Where do you get your news, the back row of Shul? There I go again. Wait, why did I post? Oh yeah...
David, the Saudis are like Bush's investors like Spitzer was an investor in the VIP room at Scores.

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | May 16, 2008 5:36:03 PM

Also, Trep, don't forget that there are...I don't know, maybe, MILLIONS of Blacks, Hispanics and Indians that would still dispute how "well" America treats its minorities.

Shorter version...George, shut the f*** up!

Posted by: dfb1968 | May 16, 2008 6:01:39 PM

It was an unnecessary and unhelpful comment. But don't get your knickers in a twist. President Bush will be remembered as one of our greatest presidents. He is the first western leader to confront Islamic terrorism since Jefferson. God bless Israel.

Lord, protect me from my friends. My enemies I can take care of myself.

Posted by: David Bailey | May 16, 2008 6:30:55 PM

For me, David Bailey nailed it.

It is unlikely that we will ever see in our lifetimes an American president more committed to fighting terrorism than G.W. Bush -- warts and all.

Posted by: Everett | May 16, 2008 7:25:41 PM

The only reason why Bush is confronting Islamic terrorism is both timing and that it was under his leadership that 9-11 happened. I would bet if 9-11 happened with any previous presidents, they too would be out there fighting against it.

I would also bet that if it didn't happen, he would still be on the sidelines giving out advice.

Posted by: jaime | May 16, 2008 8:22:16 PM

The only reason why Bush is confronting Islamic terrorism is both timing and that it was under his leadership that 9-11 happened. I would bet if 9-11 happened with any previous presidents, they too would be out there fighting against it.

I would also bet that if it didn't happen, he would still be on the sidelines giving out advice.

Posted by: jaime | May 16, 2008 8:22:21 PM

re: Jaime, 9-11 was not the first time that the World Trade Center was bombed by Islamic terrorists. Treating that assault on America as a problem of law enforcement instead of a declaration of war encouraged further attacks. I can site lots of examples of "failure to act" by previous Presidents. America has nothing to be ashamed of in confronting its enemies. Neither does Israel.

Posted by: David Bailey | May 16, 2008 8:56:27 PM

Let's make this brief.
Ugh. Bush is idiot. Don't waste time commenting on fool's utterances.
(I should have made this a haiku)

Posted by: Larry | May 16, 2008 11:14:18 PM

I think it has been said before, but in future make all visiting Heads of State stay in Sderot for the duration of their visit. Perhaps we will hear less self righteous pontificating. Grrrrr

Posted by: Noa | May 16, 2008 11:18:26 PM

Only a fool would think that an insult is an intelligent thought. How's that for brief?

Posted by: David Bailey | May 16, 2008 11:21:10 PM

Exactly, Mr. Bailey. I've noticed that several folks on the left who posted here used profanity and school yard insults instead of logical arguments and good manners. I guess the Kos Kids have found Treppenwitz.

9/11 happened eight months into George Bush's presidency. The conditions that allowed 9/11 to occur formed during the eight years of Bill Clinton. The World Trade Center was bombed with loss of life in 1993 and Clinton did nothing. Al-Queda bombed the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and Clinton's response was to fire a few cruise missiles into Afghanistan. Sudan offered to give us Bin Laden and Clinton turned them down. USS Cole was attacked in Yemen with seventeen dead and Clinton did nothing. The blood of the 9/11 victims is on Clinton's hands, not Bush's.

Oh....and Saddam won't be firing any more Scuds at Israel or making payments to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, now will he? You can thank Bush for that.

Posted by: Karl Newman | May 16, 2008 11:53:38 PM

Oh, dfb1968? About those minorities. Please explain why so many people are trying to gain entry to the US? Illiterate Latinos from Mexico or PhDs and MDs from Europe and Asia, they're coming here in droves. Why is that? They must like discrimination. And then there are all those Israeli expats that live here....

Posted by: Karl Newman | May 16, 2008 11:59:57 PM

Also, Trep, don't forget that there are...I don't know, maybe, MILLIONS of Blacks, Hispanics and Indians that would still dispute how "well" America treats its minorities.

I don't have any patience for listening to stories about how poorly treated minorities are here in the U.S. Racism doesn't prevent anyone from getting ahead, or have you forgotten that we have a Black man running for president.

The more significant issue has everything to do with finances and education than anything else.

Posted by: Jack | May 17, 2008 12:17:13 AM

I'm an American. I know a few Americans. Maybe one or two of them are annoyingly racist, still. The rest of us? -- not so much.

Bush-hatred, sadly, is *not* so five-minutes-ago, but neither is it evidence of rational thinking. It's like the vapors, or miasma. Funny to watch everyone over here campaigning for "change," as if they are somehow going to Defeat This Administration in the next election, rather than merely take advantage of term limits. Meh.

Now, to the point: we in the USA (indeed, we in the world) have so much on our plate that it is hard to understand the need to go elsewhere -- perhaps Mexico? -- and PUBLICLY make remarks about how other countries need to change their policies. Privately is ok, I think.

Welcome to the Glass House of America, Mr. Bush. Don't throw stones.

In other news, Mr. Bush asked the Saudis to put more oil on the market. I guess there's no harm in asking, but no points if you guess what the answer had to be.

Posted by: Wry Mouth | May 17, 2008 4:25:09 PM

I think Bush is a good man, with a good heart, with strong morals, and clear sense of right and wrong.

I also think he's a tad weak in the thinking department, and as a result, while he's (correctly) surrounded himself with smart people, they aren't as morally focused as he is, and feed him thoughts from their own agendas.

Posted by: JoeSettler | May 17, 2008 9:11:59 PM

Trepp -- One must admit, George Bush is nowhere near the statesman Jimmy Carter is. (But is that such a bad thing?)

Posted by: Bob | May 18, 2008 12:17:11 AM

I'm not a big Bush fan. I believe that if his hands wer enot tied he would be fantastic for Israel's true security needs. But they are tied, and that makes him weak and susceptible to Rice and others who dictate policy. But overall I agree with Karl. Clinton was a pansy when it came to recognizing and defeating the rapid growth of terror organizations under his watch (or lack thereof). I suspect that by arguing thus, Karl has given Jordan the set-up he needs to comment that Clinton only inherited the anti-US sentiment that was created during the 12 years of Reagan/Bush, Sr.

Sorry Jordan - You can take it from here more articulately...the stage is yours.

Posted by: yonah | May 18, 2008 12:17:13 AM

Yonah,

Anti-American sentiment built up over several decades under both Democrat and Republican administrations. Some of that was caused by poor policy, some of it was the result of doing the right things despite international opinion. The rich and powerful are always disliked by those who are smaller and have less. As the world's lone superpower, we will always be distrusted and disliked by most of the world, no matter what we do or who is in the White House. It comes with the territory.

Posted by: Karl Newman | May 18, 2008 2:42:13 AM

One more point. The Islamic terrorists hate us not because of what we have done, but because of what we are. If we stayed inside our borders and made it a point to stay out of everyone's business, they would still come after us. Their mission is world domination, not revenge.

Posted by: Karl Newman | May 18, 2008 2:46:03 AM

I honestly am unsure how any of us can say with confidence what success presidents have in their prevention of terror. From accounts of most National Security professionals, Clinton was extremely concerned about terror, and discussed it regularly. The US prevented a number of terror attacks under his watch, but were unsuccessful other times. Bush and his administration seemed to have ignored the advice of his professionals until 9/11 according to those same reports. 9/11 was a catastrophic attack,, which took place under Bush's watch, and for which ample warning signs were ignored. Does that make it Bush's fault? Well sorta, but the truth is that what is so hard about terror attacks, especially suicide attacks, is that without specific warnings, it is hard to tell whether they can always be successfully prevented. My complaints with Bush have to do with the policy decisions he made on a host of issues for which a good debate took place in policy circles, and where data was cooked to come up with the desired result. Afghanistan could have been more successful, but was bungled at the highest levels of policy. Iraq was a bad idea, and faced strong opposition from many in the Pentagon, and the result is that they paid a political price.
I predicted what would go wrong in Iraq, so imagine what the military professionals must have been saying.
Bush has messed up a variety of other things, and the fact that he sometimes says nice things to Jews, or I should say certain Jews, does not mean that he is a true friend of Israel.
I don't think he is a bad guy, but his intellectual ability is weak, and he is too ideological in pursuit of foreign policy goals.

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | May 18, 2008 5:29:24 AM

Karl, your last comment, delivered with all the certainty you can muster, may be flat out wrong. It is absolutely unprovable.

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | May 18, 2008 5:30:29 AM

It is too late, my friends. Bush's comments mirror the reality of the American scene. The American zeitgeist has formed around concepts like "inclusion" and "deconstruction" of values. We have already apologized to Japanese-Americans, Indian-Americans, Black-Americans, Women-Americans, Jewish-Americans, and Chinese-Americans. Can we do less for Muslim-Americans, even if they seek our destruction in the most open manner? Americans will never be able to defend themselves because the enemy is us.

Bush's comment about minority treatment in Israel does indeed reflect more on American reality than Israel's daily circumstances. However, he meant what he said, because he is American.

Posted by: jerry | May 18, 2008 6:23:59 AM

Why do I think Barack O. isn't such a great choice? To put it in a nutshell: what I have heard, so far, of his foreign policies if elected (talk to all the bad guys of the world with no preconditions, see if we can work this out folks, why can't we all just get along) is either dangerously naive or dangerously disingenuous - neither of which we can afford at this point in our history. Also, once we get past the oratory, let's face it, there's not much there. As our current president might have said, he's all hat 'n' no cattle. Add to that his extreme inexperience at running anything, and yeah, I think we can do better.

By the way, Jordan, I never sit in the back row of the shul. I thought you knew that by now. :)

Posted by: psachya | May 18, 2008 6:40:20 AM

The team I work with hasa saying/acronym we say whenever something is said that just blows our minds. Its "SMH" for Shake My Head," because that is often all we can do. We usually reserve it for something someone says or does near us, but it is often used for Bush and many governmental happenings. While I can't wait to see him go, I'm a bit worried about what's next. Do we all breath a collective sigh of relief, or worry that a kinder, gentler president will preside over the regrouping of terrorists and a rise in overt anti-semitism?

Posted by: arrrteest | May 18, 2008 7:35:02 AM

Jumping in here (first time in a while- hoping all are well :-)

First, to add my agreement with Jordan Hirsch's comments. During the transition between Clinton/Bush administrations, Clinton's National Security folks stressed the danger of terrorism to the point where one of the Bush crowd's comments was along the lines of "Jeez, you guys really got bin-Laden on the brain, here." With good reason, as it turns out...

Psachya- Okay, so being a musician who works nights gives me time to watch things such as Obama's press conference live Friday afternoon. His points were on-target. What I took away from it was that "talking without pre-conditions" is not the same as "negotiating without pre-conditions." We SHOULD be talking to our enemies, if for no other reason than to let them know- face to face and not through media reports-just where we stand. Obama refers to "tough diplomacy, and he gave a cleared-eyed analysis of what has occured under the Bush watch. I agree totally.

Karl- "The rich and powerful are always disliked by those who are smaller and have less." Okay. Maybe. BUT- what if the "rich and powerful" have made themselves that way off the backs of the smaller, who have less because of that. Different scenario then, no?

A friend of mine long ago once said "if we don't stop dealing with right-wing dictators for our own material benefit, we'll see them replaced with not-very-bright left wingers who don't like us very much." Lotta truth there. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is a prime example. At the UN he suggests everyone read Noam Chomsky. Yeah, right. Try getting through 3 pages of Chomsky's without your eyes glazing over. Now if Chavez had suggested Stephen Kinzer's very readable & "just-the-facts-ma'am" "Overthrow" (a history of US and "regime change" since Hawaii in the 1870's), just why many countries view us with distrust would become pretty clear.

End of rant...

Posted by: Michael Spengler | May 18, 2008 10:06:00 PM

I've been to enough places in this world to know better than that. I've spoken to the locals and listened to their rants. Much of what they gripe about boils down to envy of American wealth and power. It doesn't help that many of those people are bombarded by their government's propaganda machine which uses the US as a scapegoat to explain their poverty and misery instead of their government's corruption and oppressive polices. I've also heard it from Brits, Canadians, Aussies, New Zealanders, continental Europeans of various nationalities....countries that have prospered in their relationship with the US. Especially when the expenditure of blood and treasure was necessary. It's all a game of King of the Hill.

Posted by: Karl Newman | May 19, 2008 12:17:01 AM

Not calling into question either your travels or conversations with "jealous locals," but there's much more involved then simply "all a game of King of the Hill" here.

After all, much of the corruption and oppressive policies of governments you cite were historically supported and sanctioned by us in the name of "pragmatism." Which was simply a way of of our multi-nationals maintaining our wealth and power. At the expense of the peoples of smaller and weaker nations in Asia, the Middle East, and South America.

I'll reiterate the comment my friend made over 25 years ago. That our support of corrupt right-wing regimes has resulted in not-so-bright left wing (and possibly equally as corrupt) regimes not liking us.

Posted by: Michael Spengler | May 19, 2008 9:02:51 AM

Much of it was pragmatism, especially during the Cold War. We could support a corrupt right-wing dictator or we could watch a corrupt left-wing dictator make their country a Soviet client state, often in our own back yard (Cuba and Nicaragua, to name a couple). The Sovs were hard at it as well, attempting to topple governments friendly to the West and trying to draw Third World countries into their orbit. It may have been called the Cold War, but it was still a war and in war, national survival comes first. Which is why we had the Soviet Union as an ally in World War II, despite the fact that the Soviet communists were mass-murderers on a scale that surpassed even the Nazis.

Marxists like Hugo Chavez, Daniel Ortega or Evo Morales won't like us no matter what. We could shower them with aid and cater to their every whim and they would still spit on us. It's way too much to their advantage to use us as a scapegoat.

Posted by: Karl Newman | May 19, 2008 10:06:19 AM

Here's a link that suggests the entire reason for Trep's post was misinformed. It seems that Bush did, in fact, criticize the Arabs on Arab soil -- and rather ruthlessly.
http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/chavez/6771
Cheers.

Posted by: Everett | May 19, 2008 4:51:42 PM

In a number of decisions, "pragmatism" and "fighting Communism" were standard justifications for our actions in both support for dictators and/or "regime change." Unfortunately, they set the table for much of the situation now.

Our removal of a democratically-elected government in Guatemala in 1954 and replacing it with a brutal regime was not about "fighting Communism." It was about protecting the dominant interest of United Fruit. That along with the much more modern sponsoring of right-wing death squads in San Salvador, Colombia, and Bolivia have led to folks like Chavez, Morales, et. al. viewing us with a skeptical eye...

Mossadegh in Iran was no Communist. But the US supported the UK in its removal of him and installation of the Shah. For oil. Which led to much of how modern-day Iran views us.

While Reagan-nostalgia buffs congratulate themselves over bleeding the Soviet Union dry in Afghanistan, the consequences of that action led to the Taliban and, indirectly along with the 1991 Gulf War, the rise of Osama bin-Laden.

Now, in perhaps the most glaring example of both not thinking an action through and justifying lying to one's own people, we're in a morass in Iraq.

Yes, we're "King of the Hill." But by acting as such- and not by our own stated principles- we're seen simply as that. Not as a "shining city on a hill", but as a repository of wealth and power that seeks to retain it at other peoples' cost.

Now other powers- China, India, the Saudis (only via oil) slowly ascend the economic ladder, we, like the ancient Roman Empire and via the greed of our multi-national corporate elites, have lost the ability to think and compete economically. All we have left is the power of destruction.

Posted by: Michael Spengler | May 19, 2008 5:45:18 PM

Quick question for Everett:

Do you suppose Bush would have made those same comments if the Saudis, to whom he went hat-in-hand because we have ignored alternative energy sources, had said "sure, we'll open the oil spigots and get you guys back down to $2.50 a gallon..." ?

Posted by: Michael Spengler | May 19, 2008 5:49:14 PM

re: Michael Spengler. Was there a particular point you were trying to express or was the above just a stream of consciousness rant?

Posted by: David Bailey | May 20, 2008 12:46:14 AM

Michael,

1) What about the left-wing death squads belonging to FARC, Sendero Luminoso and Tupac Amaru? What about Castro? What about JFK's support for the coup against Diem in South Vietnam? What about Clinton bombing the Serbs in 1998, despite the fact that the US had absolutely no national interest in the Balkans and no NATO partner was threatened by the Yugoslavian civil war? Talk about angering a lot of people, the Slavs of various countries (including the Russians) were really unhappy about that. Be honest, your screeds are thinly veiled shots at the right and fail to mention actions by Democrats. Don't be a hypocrite.

2) The Shah was already there, Mosaddegh was his Prime Minister. Mosaddegh tried to nationalize the economy, overthrow the Shah and managed to scare the Mullahs into thinking that he was taking the country Communist. The Iranians themselves took him down after he tried to set himself up as dictator.

3) Yep! It's about oil! That's always the leftist chant every time a Republican administration does something to defend the country. It's always about oil. Well....guess what? It's not about oil, it's about national security. Part of national security is securing our oil supplies. Modern society cannot run without oil. The majority of the components in your computer were made from oil. If you wear synthetic fabrics, you're wearing oil. Your food is packaged in plastics made from oil. Roads are paved with oil, vehicles roll on tires made from oil, your food gets to market using oil....get it? Oil is a legitimate reason to go to war. You're kidding yourself if you believe otherwise. If you want to go back to a early 19th Century standard of living, then be my guest. But I enjoy having a strong national defense, modern medicine and a high standard of living, all made possible by oil.

The last word is yours. :)

Posted by: Karl Newman | May 20, 2008 3:41:00 AM

Whoa.....Karl, there is no question that there have been brutal left wing regimes. Putting the NATO bombing in Bosnia in the same category is a little different, as the issues at play were not about pragmatism, but about a desire to stop a real scary dictator who was engaging in ethnic cleansing, as well as a fear in Europe of Milosevic destabilizing the Balkans even further.
Castro is also a bad example. because had the US handled him differently, he might have ended up a more neutral player a la Tito rather than a Soviet client.
As far as the leftist rant about oil, well you are right. Oil is a national security issue. By the same token, so is conservation, alternative energy, and technological innovation. A stable mideast is a good thing for US national security, and both Democratic and Republican regimes have done good things on that score. But there have been times where the oil issue overrided other concerns and caused us to act against our best interests, like in the current fiasco in Iraq. This is not entirely a left-right issue, but one about long term and short term goals, and the unintended consequences of choices made using theoretical constructs of logic that take into account only the immediate issue.

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | May 20, 2008 4:00:26 AM

Karl- thank you for a civil exchange.

1). Yes, there were terroristic actions by governments of the "left", and I don't romanticize "leftist liberation movements." (I use quotes because an authoritarian dictatorship or opposition-by-terror is simply that, and is in my mind to be condemned no matter what its claimed political trappings).

As bad as Castro was/is, what he replaced was unbelievably corrupt.

Democrats are not exempt here. It was early decisions by FDR/Truman shortly after WW2 to shore up France as an ally against Russia that led to our involvement in Vietnam.

The Balkans may be a different story than you're portraying. Journalist/Historian Misha Glenny's work is very valuable here. The Clinton Administration (including the military) made the decision for using air power as a means of "doing our part" at the insistence of NATO partners France and Great Britain without involving large numbers of US ground troops. Not a decision I necessarily supported, but the Clinton folks didn't lie about our reasons for doing it. But again, I agree that Democrats- especially modern ones- will prove to be just as culpable as Republicans when decisions are made that are actually against our own best self-interest.

2). The evidence in Iran is clearer than what you're presenting. Yes, the shah was there. Yes, the US and the UK acted in collusion in staging a coup to get rid of Mossadegh (named by that bastion of American liberalism TIME Magazine as its "Man of the Year" in 1952). The US took the active role, with the CIA using its money and contacts to create mayhem and chaos. Come time for the US to actually replace Mossadegh with General Fazlollah Zahedi, the shah showed his strong support by getting out of the country as fast as he could until it was all over.

3). Funny- first you deride "leftists" for saying "it's all about oil", then you proceed to explain why it is...

Fair is fair, however. I'll point out that the glaring error I found in Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 911" had to do with Moore's claim that pre-9/11 Bush make-nice-nice overtures to the Taliban were about a Unocal pipeline. That happened under Clinton, not Bush. I always wondered why my friends on the right never caught that one.

Perhaps because since Stephen Coll ("Secret Wars") was an editor at the hated Washington Post? And therefore along with Stephen Kinzer, and maybe even Misha Glenny, is never to be read?

At any rate, good debate here. Thanks also to David for providing a space where disagreements can be intelligently discussed. A rare thing on the web, I confess. And I hope I'm not overstaying my welcome here...:-)

Posted by: Michael Spengler | May 20, 2008 4:46:58 AM

Jordan and Michael,

Thanks guys, it was fun.

I'm surprised that David hasn't banned me yet. :)

Posted by: Karl Newman | May 20, 2008 5:30:00 AM

Karl,

Never mess with two politically minded trumpet players.....(what are the odds)

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | May 20, 2008 7:42:47 AM

Psachya,

re: Obama. I suggest you go to his website. Take a look at his position papers. Mike made a good case for the talking to dictators position, with which I agree. No point in talking to your friends. Without talking, you don't get to make your case away from the glare of publicity and with it the concomitant spin.
It is impossible for me to conceive of supporting any candidate who does not agree that the US Health Care system cannot b fixed without some kind of government intervention. And I can't think of a more important issue right now than the long range planning of energy policy, with the eventual goal of freeing ourselves from oil. Nothing is more important to the environment, and certainly not to the long term security of the US or Israel. And you will not get that from a Republican administration, certainly not one headed by John McCain.

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | May 20, 2008 7:50:31 AM

Jordan -
Kol Hakavod. I went to Obama's website, and glanced at some of his papers. To be honest, I still can't see voting for him, but I will say this - he does seem to have thought things out more than I realized, and he seems to be (at least for now) mostly saying the right things vis-a-vis Israel. To go into more detail is probably beyond the scope of this venue (IOW, Dave is probably MAJORLY steamed at how his comments section was hijacked by us partisan-politics junkies), but let's just say that there were always things that you & I have agreed to disagree about, and many of Obama's positions are no exception to that. (I'm also concerned about, shall we say, some aspects of his character that aren't quite covered in his position papers.) But there is substance to the man, and my all-hat-no-cattle remark was unfair and unkind.

Posted by: psachya | May 20, 2008 9:17:48 AM

Hi guys. A couple of quick thoughts:

"Thanks also to David for providing a space where disagreements can be intelligently discussed. A rare thing on the web, I confess. And I hope I'm not overstaying my welcome here...:-)"

This is one of my favorite things about treppenwitz. I can't take credit for it since it happened without any particular effort or design on my part... but I love that people of different backgrounds and political stripe can exchange views and polite barbs without fear of intimidation. I wish I could always behave as well as my commenters. Mike, you couldn't overstay your welcome if you tried.

""I'm surprised that David hasn't banned me yet. :)"

On the contrary, I've been enjoying the discussion very much. I just tend to shut up when better minds than mine are holding forth. Certain politicians could benefit from this habit. :-)

On "politically minded trumpet players"

As if trumpet players weren't cute and cuddly enough without politics! :-)

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this thread. Don't mind me... I'll just enjoy the discussion.

Posted by: treppenwitz | May 20, 2008 3:42:52 PM

Dave -
So you were there all along! :) Thanks for your hospitality. And as for "better minds than yours" - don't sell yourself short, my friend.

Jordan -
Actually, there is one more point I want to make. I don't agree that there is "no point in talking to your friends." I think we lose a lot more points in world opinion by taking our friends and allies for granted than we do by standing up to our enemies. Friends and allies aren't so easy to come by, and it's important for us to let them know that they are appreciated, as well as to coordinate matters so that we are still on the same page. As for talking to our enemies - well, there are enemies and there are enemies. When there are minor disagreements and resentments - sure, let's discuss it in a civil and diplomatic manner. But when a guy like Ahmedinejad calls for America's destruction, sponsors Holocaust-denial seminars and suicide bombers, and wants to wipe Israel off the map, well, what's the point? In the words of John McCain, what's there to discuss? Talking to these guys, and extending them diplomatic niceties and visits to the White House, simply sends the wrong message to the people who are supposed to be our friends, and only makes our enemies think we're weak. Shutting out the Ahmedinejads, Kims, and Assads of the world sends a message to them that their words and actions have no place in the civilized world. And it tells our allies that we're not planning on wimping out on them.

OK, I'll shut up now. I think.

Posted by: psachya | May 20, 2008 4:53:31 PM

I of course agree with you Psachya about talking with your friends. I meant it in a rhetorical way.
Talking to Ahmedinejad is useful. I am not saying that you tell him you will give him anything he wants. In fact, telling him to f^&*$T off is still talking to him. But taking his temperature, fining out from other contacts in Iran what really is going on, getting a sense of what they will settle for, can only help our relative position.
Talking to Hitler was right to do too. If only it had been Churchill and not Chamberlain.

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | May 20, 2008 9:45:05 PM

Jordan -
OK, but there is talking and there is talking. On the one hand, you have high-level talks between leaders. Examples would be the infamous Hitler-Chamberlain talks, or, more recently, the haunting of the Clinton White House by Yasser Arafat. (I believe that even President Clinton admitted at the end that it was a mistake.) On the other hand, you have unofficial talks between low-level officials. A good example would be the talks between Israel and Jordan in the late '90's, both of which sides denied were happening, until there was suddenly a peace treaty. (Which, IMHO, has worked out better for both sides than the more-heralded "cold peace" between Israel and Egypt.) I could be wrong, but I seriously doubt that John McCain would cut off this kind of contact with the Iranians. My problem is with a President Obama meeting personally with Ahmedinejad, or Chavez or Kim, et al, "with no pre-conditions." Even if the purpose is to scold them, it's more honor than they deserve, and that's how it will be perceived on the world stage.

Posted by: psachya | May 20, 2008 10:35:37 PM

BTW, David, you probably realize that you're dealing with a couple of Jewish club-date musicians smack in the middle of Sefirah. We really have nothing better to do than to snipe at each other in your comments section. I dunno, Jordan - maybe a bunch of us should get together for a BBQ, and discuss these important matters over a keg of Sam Adams. :)

Posted by: psachya | May 20, 2008 10:43:05 PM

Well, it may be more honor than they deserve, but it will be perceived well on the world stage. We in the US have a very strange idea about how we are perceived. In the 60's, we were afraid that if we pulled out of Vietnam, we would be perceived as perfidious by our allies and the rest of the world. Actually, our allies and the rest of the world in general, couldn't figure out why we were there to begin with, and basically agreed ith the nti war protesters that it was undermining our image.
Your objection to the Obama-Iran meeting reminds of the Orthodox Rabbis who object to contact with Conservative and Reform Rabbis because it will legitimize them. Idiots- they don't look for legitimacy from Orthodox Rabbis, because their congregations already consider them legitimate, and the Orthodox world doesn't hold from them anyway.
If Obama meets with Ahmedinajad, the rest of the world says, "this guy is willing to talk to anyone if he thinks it will help." Now if he were saying that we have to give the Iranians what they want, then I would have a different reaction. In fact, in some ways, by meeting, it gives you the credibility to take even tougher stands where warranted.

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | May 21, 2008 5:50:47 AM

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