This post first appeared on Booman Tribune. Austan Goolsbee, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, explains income tax policy in a way even a moran can understand. Yeah, more of these please. Keep them at two minutes, and people will actually watch them. I'm waiting for one on immigration policy.
This post first appeared on Booman Tribune. Before there were tea parties there was the rise of the progressive blogosphere. We had our own insurgent candidates. Most notably, we had Jon Tester, Jim Webb, Donna Edwards, and Ned Lamont. There were others, of course, but mostly they didn't win. I don't think any of them could properly be considered radicals. But they weren't the first choices of the Democratic power structure. When Ned Lamont beat Joe Lieberman in the 2006 primary, the power structure begrudgingly got behind him, but they did nothing like this:
Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) also reacted coldly to [Sen. Lisa] Murkowski’s decision [to wage a write-in campaign]. In a terse statement Friday night, he reported Murkowski has been removed as vice chairwoman of the Senate Republican Conference.“By choosing to run a campaign against the Republican nominee, she no longer has my support for serving in any leadership roles, and I have accepted her letter of resignation from Senate leadership,” McConnell said in the statement. Republicans said the decision wasn’t personal, but made clear they are cutting their ties. “It’s strictly business,” a senior GOP aide said. “She’s running against a Republican. She’s no longer one of us. Period.”
I don't think we necessarily need to behave like Republicans, but it makes me a little envious to see how they respect the decisions of their base voters. Lieberman wasn't a member of the leadership, so the situations aren't exactly comparable. But what about Lieberman's decision to openly campaign for John McCain in 2008? Maybe a little stronger message in 2006 and he wouldn't have dared to pull that stunt. Maybe he wouldn't even have been a sitting senator in 2008 if the Democrats had sent the message to Connecticut voters that he was persona non grata with their conference. Meanwhile, Murkowski's decision has the Republicans nervous that she'll split the vote and hand the seat to Democrat Scott McAdams. I don't know how likely that is, but it will be difficult for the anti-pork Joe Miller to withstand a combined opposition from most established figures and institutions in the state. (For some background on Alaska's reliance on the federal government, this Sept 2nd piece from the Christian Science Monitor is pretty good). The only senator to ever win a write-in campaign was Strom Thurmond in 1954, and he had the backing of South Carolina's governor. Thurmond's issue was Jim Crow, which he wanted to sustain in the South. In some ways, Alaska faces a similar choice. Are they going to continue to enjoy their way of life, which relies heavily on their influence in the U.S. Senate? Or, are they going to elect someone who pledges to disavow earmarks and wants Alaska to develop more self-reliance? Alaska's lone representative in the House is Don Young (R-AK), who is known as a master of the appropriations process, just like the late-Sen. Ted Stevens. Freshman Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) is a more traditional politician, and he is still building his seniority. But you can expect him to campaign hard against Miller and what his proposals would mean for Alaskan's standard of living. And, regardless of the challenges of winning a write-in campaign, expect Lisa Murkowski to buy a lot of advertising on the same subject. I don't think present polling means anything. We have to imagine Miller taking all this heat and criticism and still maintaining his support. That's not easy to envision. If his numbers crater, as I expect they will, the only question is who winds up benefitting the most.
This post originally appeared on Booman Tribune. Ask a politician if they'd rather be voted out of office by their own party's voters in a primary or by all the voters in a general election. In the latter case, maybe the political winds were just blowing the other way. But in the former case, you've been stripped of your political home. That is why primary upsets have more potential to change the behavior of a party and long-term voting trends than a party merely getting trounced in an election cycle. Democrats are facing a political headwind, but Republicans are already in disarray. Basically, there is a whole breed of Republican who feels like they are no longer welcome in the party.
“We can’t be a majority party if we can’t appeal across the spectrum, if we have an exclusionary approach in general,” said Ms. Snowe, who considers Mr. Castle a personal friend and was crestfallen by his defeat.“A 100 percent ideological purity test — I don’t live in that utopian world; it’s not reflective of the real world,” she added. “I hope that’s not the approach.”
For now, however, it most definitely is the approach.
Ms. [Susan] Collins [R-ME], who provided a key vote in support of President Obama’s economic stimulus plan and backed the Wall Street regulatory overhaul, said Mr. Castle’s defeat had come as a shock. She attributed the rise of the conservatives to a backlash against Obama administration policies.“It is stunning that he could be defeated in a primary, and it is very troubling to me,” Ms. Collins said in the recent interview.
She may be spinning or she may be in denial, but the Tea Party is also a reaction against the Bush administration's policies. This becomes clear if we pay close attention to what Tea Party standard-bearer Sen. Jim DeMint had to say in yesterday's Washington Post.
In 2006 and 2008, bailouts, bipartisan support for earmarks and big spending bills no one had read blurred the lines between the Republicans and Democrats. But after Barack Obama was elected president, Washington's economic policies went from bad to worse. In a short time the Obama White House and the Pelosi-Reid Congress have made clear that they intend to push America to the left of Europe.Americans quickly realized that if this country was going to survive, they needed to elect people who would respect, not ignore, the limits of government prescribed by the Constitution. I vowed to do all I could to help. The Senate Conservatives Fund, which I chair, was designed to do just that. I knew in my heart that the Republican Party could save this country if it could recruit more members to stand up for the principles of freedom.
The Americans DeMint is referring to are the Republican primary voters. They are the ones who rejected on Establishment candidate after another in favor of candidates who believe in an extremely limited role for the federal government. In context, DeMint is saying that Republican Establishment voted for bailouts, abused the earmark process, produced new entitlements (e.g., Medicare Part D), and other large federal commitments (e.g., No Child Left Behind). It's important to focus on what the Tea Party advocates. So far, their victims have all been Republicans. So, Susan Collins should keep in mind that it isn't just a reaction to the Obama administration's policies that is driving this purge. The Wall Street bailout was requested and signed into law by the Bush administration. The Bush administration ran up the deficit long before Obama came into office in an economy that was shedding over a half million jobs per month. Sen. DeMint is trying to assure that no future Republican administration will expand the role of the federal government. In fact, he won't be satisfied with keeping the status quo. He wants most of what the federal government does to be ruled unconstitutional. This isn't a debate about the size of government. It's a debate about whether the government, as we know it, should really exist. Any Republican who approaches their job as a legislator with the idea that their ideas can help craft more balanced legislation is completely missing the point. This is Government Shutdown-politics, plain and simple. There's a kind of inexorable logic behind this kind of movement, and it doesn't allow for positive governance. It rejects the very idea that the Congress exists to identify problems and craft legislative solutions. The idea of compromise is completely rejected. It isn't just a matter of Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe having moderate views on social issues. The fact that the think they should engage in the legislative process at all is the real bone of contention. How would such a party function as a majority? They'd obviously be incapable of producing a budget that a Democratic president could sign. President Obama would have to rent an industrial-size fan to keep his veto-pen cool. For now, the fallout from the Tea Party movement is limited to an intraparty struggle among Republicans, but that will change after election day if the Tea Party candidates do well. We'll all feel the fallout, because Congress won't be able to do its most basic tasks, like providing funding for the government's agencies. People may not like their choices, but they definitely will not like what they get if they elect a bunch of DeMint acolytes to six-year terms in the Senate. People will grow disgusted with what they've done long before those six years are up. The Republicans' disarray will be our country's disarray before long.
This post originally appeared at the Booman Tribune. Mike Huckabee makes an unintentional point:
"It sounds so good, and it's such a warm message to say we're not gonna deny anyone from a preexisting condition," Huckabee explained at the Value Voters Summit today. "Look, I think that sounds terrific, but I want to ask you something from a common sense perspective. Suppose we applied that principle [to] our property insurance. And you can call your insurance agent and say, "I'd like to buy some insurance for my house." He'd say, "Tell me about your house." "Well sir, it burned down yesterday, but I'd like to insure it today." And he'll say "I'm sorry, but we can't insure it after it's already burned." Well, no preexisting conditions."
He's on to something. It makes no sense to insure somebody who is already sick. That's why the health insurance industry hasn't traditionally offered plans to sick people. The government can't very well come along and force a private business to make a business decision that is guaranteed to lose them money. So, what's the solution? The individual mandate is the solution. By compelling all people to buy coverage, the insurance industry gains enough new, healthy planholders that it makes up for the cost of insuring those with pre-existing conditions. What's the problem with that? Well, now the government is requiring us to become the customer of a private for-profit health insurance provider. Some of us don't believe in for-profit health insurance and we resent the hell out of having to become their customers. That's why we demanded a public option that would serve as an alternative to the private insurers. We didn't get that, and so we're pretty dissatisfied with the health care reform bill. But the individual mandate and the public option were already suboptimal solutions. As Huckabee points out, it doesn't make sense to insure people against getting sick, since many of us are already sick. Hell, we're almost all going to get sick before we die. It's as if we knew with certainty that all our homes were going to burn down in the next fifty to sixty years. Recognizing our shared mortality, it makes sense to simply cover everyone's health needs rather than to insure against them. Here's what you do. You pay into a health care fund while you are of working age. When you need medical attention, you go get it. To prevent overuse of the system, you have small co-payments. Rather than paying doctors for each procedure they perform, you pay them for how efficiently they provide for the health of their patients. If they convince you to eat better, exercise, and quit smoking, they makemore money rather than less (as it stands now). This is basically a Medicare-for-All plan with some elements of the British health care system thrown in. People are not houses. I don't know how Mike Huckabee ever developed a world-view that sees people and houses as interchangeable. Some of us are blessed with good health, while others struggle with chronic pain and disease. We never know when we might jump from the first group to the second, so we ought to be humble and support a system that provides for all of us in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Health insurance has no necessary role in this, and it certainly doesn't contribute to increased quality or better cost-efficiency. It just creates a wholly unnecessary middle-man. Imagine if you not only had to pay for Medicare, but you had to put an extra $100 in the mail to AETNA just to gain access to your Medicare. That's what our current system effectively asks us to do. No one benefits except for the people the private insurers happen to employ and the shareholders in those companies. So, yes, the Health Care Reforms were nice, and it's great that people with preexisting conditions can now gain access to health care that won't force them into bankruptcy, but we can do so much better than concocting some bizarre system that has to account for the fact that people are not houses.
This post originally appeared at the Booman Tribune.
Here's something I didn't realize until I watched The Rachel Maddow Show tonight. There are five Republicans running for U.S. Senate who do not believe in any rape or incest exemption from their proposed ban on abortions. Maddow was able to document through video and surveys that Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ken Buck of Colorado, Joe Miller of Alaska, Sharron Angle of Nevada, and Christine O'Donnell of Delaware all hold this extreme view on reproductive rights.
I'm pretty sure that none of the 100 senators currently serving have publicly embraced this absolutist position. I would hope that holding such a position is sufficiently repulsive to make you unelectable to statewide office in this country. But Miller and Paul are ahead in the polls and Angle is within the margin of error. Not too many people are focusing on social issues in this election, but we shouldn't fail to take notice of this disturbing trend. Anyone who wants to tell you that there is no difference between the parties is full of shit. The Republican Party was bad enough when Ronald Reagan was running the show. They were catastrophically bad under the latter Bush. But they are now worse than they've ever been. When you're pro-bestiality and anti-masturbation, when you're pro-rape child and anti-desegregated lunch counters...you've left the universe of the sane. We need to defeat all five of these Senate candidates.
This post originally appeared on Booman Tribune. We've seen the first pre-emptive cave-in on the Republican side in the entire Obama administration:
The House Republican leader, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, said on Sunday that he was prepared to vote in favor of legislation that would let the Bush-era tax cuts expire for the wealthiest Americans if Democrats insisted on continuing the lower rates only for families earning less than $250,000 a year.
It's actually a kind of double cave-in, in that Boehner is actually pledging to vote for Obama's bill to strip tax cuts from the rich. It's a definite deviation from the Party of No Strategy, but it doesn't end the debate. With several Democratic senators indicating that they don't want to raise taxes on anybody in the current economic environment, we could still face a problem preventing an amendment from passing that keeps the tax cuts for people making more than a quarter of a million dollars a year. We could also have a problem overcoming a filibuster of a bill that doesn't extend those tax cuts for the wealthy. Boehner seems to be hoping that his new strategy causes internecine fighting on the left.
At least five Senate Democrats have already voiced public support for continuing the lower tax breaks at all income levels, at least temporarily. That suggests that Democrats could come up short of the 60 votes that they would need to overcome procedural obstacles for a bill that would allow the cuts to expire for the wealthy.Mr. Boehner, in the interview, said he agreed with those Democrats and suggested he was content to let them fight the Democratic leadership and the White House.
In other words, the Republicans want to avoid giving the impression that they are holding up tax cuts for 97% of the people just to preserve $100,000/year tax breaks for millionaires, and they're hoping a few Democrats will help out the rich on their own. Of course, this strategy only works if the Senate Republicans actually allow a vote. That means, they'd have to prevail on an amendment prior to cloture, or those tax cuts for the rich are going away. Nevertheless, this strategy eases pressure on the Democrats because they know they can pass what the president wants if they just hold together. This is the reverse of the situation we've faced most of the last two years, where the Republicans have known they could defeat or water down legislation the president wants simply by holding together. If the Democrats fail to do so and buck the president, they'll have a hard time blaming the Republicans for it. Because, as I said, this strategy of avoiding the appearance of hijacking 97% of the people's tax cuts won't work if they actually hijack them with a filibuster. So, assuming that a filibuster can be overcome, the Dems will prevail on the substance unless they choose not to.
This post first appeared on Booman Tribune. I guess they were never able to prove definitively that South Carolina Democratic senate nominee Alvin Greene was recruited by the GOP. But there isn't any question about the phony candidates the GOP is supporting in Arizona:
TEMPE, Ariz. — Benjamin Pearcy, a candidate for statewide office in Arizona, lists his campaign office as a Starbucks. The small business he refers to in his campaign statement is him strumming his guitar on the street. The internal debate he is having in advance of his coming televised debate is whether he ought to gel his hair into his trademark faux Mohawk.Mr. Pearcy, 20, is running for a seat on the Arizona Corporation Commission, which oversees public utilities, railroad safety and securities regulation. Although Mr. Pearcy says he is taking his first run for public office seriously, the political establishment here views him as nothing more than a political dirty trick. Mr. Pearcy and other drifters and homeless people were recruited onto the Green Party ballot by a Republican political operative who freely admits that their candidacies may siphon some support from the Democrats.
There is also the guy who is homeless and penniless but who nevertheless wants to be Arizona's Treasurer. He reads Tarot cards to feed himself and he's known for his trademark purple and green jester's hat. There's the white-bearded dean of the streets who goes by 'Grandpa.' He's a state senate candidate.
The Democratic Party is fuming over Mr. May’s tactics and those of at least two other Republicans who helped recruit candidates to the Green Party, which does not have the resources to put candidates on ballots around the state and thus creates the opportunity for write-in contenders like the Mill Rats to easily win primaries and get their names on the ballot for November. Complaints about spurious candidates have cropped up often before, though never involving an entire roster of candidates drawn from a group of street people.
But, you know, this isn't cheating. This is just playing hardball, right? It doesn't demonstrate any contempt for the process or for the intelligence of the people. Nooooo. I thought the people loved the Republicans. Aren't they all supposed to be frothing at the mouth to go vote for them? So, why is cheating necessary? On another note, this is a side effect of making ballot access too easy. We normally complain about access being too hard (either too costly, or requiring a ridiculous number of signatures), but if you make it too easy, the other side can just put up a slate of homeless people to drain away some potentially decisive votes. But Republicans love our country soooo much.
This post originally appeared on Booman Tribune. I always allow myself to get hopeful when peace talks break out on the Middle East, and my hopes are always dashed. But, there were some very fine statements made tonight at the opening dinner. They are worth a read. No doubt there are little clues riddled throughout that signal where real problems lie, but the sentiments are seemingly sincere. Even Netanyahu's statement showed more enthusiasm that I would have expected. But, you know, these may be fine words, but they are still just words.
THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release September 1, 2010 REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA, PRESIDENT HOSNI MUBARAK OF EGYPT, HIS MAJESTY KING ABDULLAH OF JORDAN, PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU OF ISRAEL, AND PRESIDENT MAHMOUD ABBAS OF THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY BEFORE WORKING DINNER East Room 7:05 P.M. EDT PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good evening, everyone. Tomorrow, after nearly two years, Israelis and Palestinians will resume direct talks in pursuit of a goal that we all share —- two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. Tonight, I’m pleased to welcome to the White House key partners in this effort, along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the representative of our Quartet partners, former Prime Minister Tony Blair. President Abbas, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Your Majesty King Abdullah, and President Mubarak —- we are but five men. Our dinner this evening will be a small gathering around a single table. Yet when we come together, we will not be alone. We’ll be joined by the generations —- those who have gone before and those who will follow. Each of you are the heirs of peacemakers who dared greatly -— Begin and Sadat, Rabin and King Hussein -— statesmen who saw the world as it was but also imagined the world as it should be. It is the shoulders of our predecessors upon which we stand. It is their work that we carry on. Now, like each of them, we must ask, do we have the wisdom and the courage to walk the path of peace? All of us are leaders of our people, who, no matter the language they speak or the faith they practice, all basically seek the same things: to live in security, free from fear; to live in dignity, free from want; to provide for their families and to realize a better tomorrow. Tonight, they look to us, and each of us must decide, will we work diligently to fulfill their aspirations? And though each of us holds a title of honor —- President, Prime Minister, King —- we are bound by the one title we share. We are fathers, blessed with sons and daughters. So we must ask ourselves what kind of world do we want to bequeath to our children and our grandchildren. Tonight, and in the days and months ahead, these are the questions that we must answer. And this is a fitting moment to do so. For Muslims, this is Ramadan. For Jews, this is Elul. It is rare for those two months to coincide. But this year, tonight, they do. Different faiths, different rituals, but a shared period of devotion —- and contemplation. A time to reflect on right and wrong; a time to ponder one’s place in the world; a time when the people of two great religions remind the world of a truth that is both simple and profound, that each of us, all of us, in our hearts and in our lives, are capable of great and lasting change. In this spirit, I welcome my partners. And I invite each to say a few words before we begin our meal, beginning with President Mubarak, on to His Majesty King Abdullah, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas. President Mubarak. PRESIDENT MUBARAK: (As prepared for delivery.) I am pleased to participate with you today in relaunching direct peace negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis. Like you, and the millions of Palestinians, Israelis, Arabs and the rest of the world, I look forward that these negotiations be final and decisive, and that they lead to a peace agreement within one year. Our meet today would not have taken place without the considerable effort exerted by the American administration under the leadership of President Obama. I pay tribute to you, Mr. President, for your personal, serious commit and for your determination to work for a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine since the early days of your presidency. I appreciate your perseverance throughout the past period to overcome the difficulties facing the relaunching of the negotiations. (Continued as translated.) I consider this invitation a manifestation of your commitment and a significant message that the United States will shepherd these negotiations seriously and at the highest level. No one realizes the value of peace more than those who have known wars and their havoc. It was my destiny to witness over many events in our region during the years of war and peace. I have gone through wars and hostilities, and have participated in the quest for peace since the first day of my administration. I have never spared an effort to push it forward, and I still look forward to its success and completion. The efforts to achieve peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis encountered many difficulties since the Madrid Conference in October 1999, and progress and regression, breakthroughs and setbacks, but the occupation of the Palestinian Territory remains an independent -- an independent Palestinian state is yet -- remains a dream in the conscious of the Palestinian people. There is no doubt that this situation should raise great frustration and anger among our people, for it is no longer acceptable or conceivable on the verge of the second decade of the third millennium that we fail to achieve just and true peace -- peace that would put an end to the century of conflict, fulfill the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people, lift the occupation, allow for the establishment of normal relations between the Palestinians and Israelis. It is true that reaching a just and comprehensive peace treaty between both sides has been an elusive hope for almost two decades. Yet the accumulated experience of both parties, the extended rounds of negotiations, and the previous understandings, particularly during the Clinton parameters of 2000, and subsequent understandings of Taba and with the previous Israeli government, all contributed in setting the outline of the final settlement. This outline has become well known to the international community and to both peoples -- the Palestinian and Israeli people. Hence, it is expected that the current negotiations will not start from scratch or in void. No doubt, the position of the international community, as is stated in the consecutive statements of the Quartet, in particular, in its latest August 20th statement, paid due respect to relevant international resolutions and supported the outline of final settlements using different formulation without prejudice to the outcome of negotiations. It has stressed that the aim of the soon-to-start direct negotiation is to reach a peaceful settlement that would end the Israeli occupation which began in 1967, allowing for the independent and sovereign state of Palestine to emerge and live side by side in peace and security with the state of Israel. I met with Prime Minister Netanyahu many times since he took office last year. In our meetings, I listened to assertions on his willingness to achieve peace with the Palestinians, and for history to record his name for such an achievement. I say to him today that I look forward to achieving those assertions in reality, and his success in achieving the long-awaited peace, which I know the people of Israel yearn for, just like all other people in the region. Reaching just peace with the Palestinians will require from Israel taking important and decisive decisions -- decisions that are undoubtedly difficult yet they will be necessary to achieve peace and stability, and in a different context than the one that prevailed before. Settlement activities on the Palestinian Territory are contrary to international law. They will not create rights for Israel, nor are they going to achieve peace or security for Israel. It is, therefore, a priority to completely freeze all these activities until the entire negotiation process comes to a successful end. I say to the Israelis, seize the current opportunity. Do not let it slip through your fingers. Make comprehensive peace your goal. Extend your hand to meet the hand already extended in the Arab Peace Initiative. I say to President Mahmoud Abbas, Egypt will continue its faithful support to the patient Palestinian people and their just cause. We will continue our concerted efforts to help fulfill the aspirations of your people and retrieve their legitimate rights. We will stand by you until the independent state of Palestine on the land occupied since 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital. We will also continue our efforts to achieve Palestinian reconciliation for the sake of the Palestinian national interest. Once again, I’d like to express my thanks to President Obama, and I renew Egypt’s commitment to continue exerting all efforts, sharing honest advice and a commitment to the principles on which Arab and regional policy rests upon. Please accept my appreciation, and peace be upon you. (Applause.) HIS MAJESTY KING ABDULLAH: (As translated.) In the name of God most merciful, most compassionate, President Obama, peace be upon you. (In English.) For decades, a Palestinian-Israeli settlement has eluded us. Millions of men, women and children have suffered. Too many people have lost faith in our ability to bring them the peace they want. Radicals and terrorists have exploited frustrations to feed hatred and ignite wars. The whole world has been dragged into regional conflicts that cannot be addressed effectively until Arabs and Israelis find peace. This past record drives the importance of our efforts today. There are those on both sides who want us to fail, who will do everything in their power to disrupt our efforts today -- because when the Palestinians and Israelis find peace, when young men and women can look to a future of promise and opportunity, radicals and extremists lose their most potent appeal. This is why we must prevail. For our failure would be their success in sinking the region into more instability and wars that will cause further suffering in our region and beyond. President Obama, we value your commitment to the cause of peace in our region. We count on your continued engagement to help the parties move forward. You have said that Middle East peace is in the national security interest of your country. And we believe it is. And it is also a strategic European interest, and it is a necessary requirement for global security and stability. Peace is also a right for every citizen in our region. A Palestinian-Israeli settlement on the basis of two states living side by side is a precondition for security and stability of all countries of the Middle East, with a regional peace that will lead to normal relations between Israel and 57 Arab and Muslim states that have endorsed the Arab Peace Initiative. That would be -- well, that would also be an essential step towards neutralizing forces of evil and war that threaten all peoples. Mr. President, we need your support as a mediator, honest broker, and a partner, as the parties move along the hard but inevitable path of settlements. Your Excellencies, all eyes are upon us. The direct negotiations that will start tomorrow must show results -- and sooner rather than later. Time is not on our side. That is why we must spare no effort in addressing all final status issues with a view to reaching the two-state solution, the only solution that can create a future worthy of our great region -- a future of peace in which fathers and mothers can raise their children without fear, young people can look forward to lives of achievement and hope, and 300 million people can cooperate for mutual benefit. For too long, too many people of the region have been denied their most basic of human rights: the right to live in peace and security; respected in their human dignity; enjoying freedom and opportunity. If hopes are disappointed again, the price of failure will be too high for all. Our peoples want us to rise to their expectations. And we can do so if we approach these negotiations with goodwill, sincerity and courage. (Applause.) PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Mr. President, Excellencies, Shalom Aleichem. Shalom Alkulanu. Peace unto us all. I’m very pleased to be here today to begin our common effort to achieve a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. I want to thank you, President Obama, for your tireless efforts to renew this quest for peace. I want to thank Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator Mitchell, the many members of the Obama administration, and Tony Blair, who’ve all worked so hard to bring Israelis and Palestinians together here today. I also want to thank President Mubarak and King Abdullah for their dedicated and meaningful support to promote peace, security, and stability throughout our region. I deeply appreciate your presence here today. I began with a Hebrew word for peace, “shalom.” Our goal is shalom. Our goal is to forge a secure and durable peace between Israelis and Palestinians. We don’t seek a brief interlude between two wars. We don’t seek a temporary respite between outbursts of terror. We seek a peace that will end the conflict between us once and for all. We seek a peace that will last for generations -- our generation, our children’s generation, and the next. This is the peace my people fervently want. This is the peace all our peoples fervently aspire to. This is the peace they deserve. Now, a lasting peace is a peace between peoples -- between Israelis and Palestinians. We must learn to live together, to live next to one another and with one another. But every peace begins with leaders. President Abbas, you are my partner in peace. And it is up to us, with the help of our friends, to conclude the agonizing conflict between our peoples and to afford them a new beginning. The Jewish people are not strangers in our ancestral homeland, the land of our forefathers. But we recognize that another people shares this land with us. I came here today to find an historic compromise that will enable both our peoples to live in peace and security and in dignity. I’ve been making the case for Israel all of my life. But I didn’t come here today to make an argument. I came here today to make peace. I didn’t come here today to play a blame game where even the winners lose. Everybody loses if there’s no peace. I came here to achieve a peace that will bring a lasting benefit to us all. I didn’t come here to find excuses or to make them. I came here to find solutions. I know the history of our conflict and the sacrifices that have been made. I know the grief that has afflicted so many families who have lost their dearest loved ones. Only yesterday four Israelis, including a pregnant women -- a pregnant woman -- and another woman, a mother of six children, were brutally murdered by savage terrorists. And two hours ago, there was another terror attack. And thank God no one died. I will not let the terrorists block our path to peace, but as these events underscore once again, that peace must be anchored in security. I’m prepared to walk down the path of peace, because I know what peace would mean for our children and for our grandchildren. I know it would herald a new beginning that could unleash unprecedented opportunities for Israelis, for Palestinians, and for the peoples -- all the peoples -- of our region, and well beyond our region. I think it would affect the world. I see what a period of calm has created in the Palestinian cities of Ramallah, of Janin, throughout the West Bank, a great economic boom. And real peace can turn this boom into a permanent era of progress and hope. If we work together, we can take advantage of the great benefits afforded by our unique place under the sun. We’re the crossroads of three continents, at the crossroads of history, and the crossroads of the future. Our geography, our history, our culture, our climate, the talents of our people can be unleashed to create extraordinary opportunities in tourism, in trade, in industry, in energy, in water, in so many areas. But peace must also be defended against its enemies. We want the skyline of the West Bank to be dominated by apartment towers -- not missiles. We want the roads of the West Bank to flow with commerce -- not terrorists. And this is not a theoretic request for our people. We left Lebanon, and we got terror. We left Gaza, and we got terror once again. We want to ensure that territory we’ll concede will not be turned into a third Iranian-sponsored terror enclave armed at the heart of Israel -- and may I add, also aimed at every one of us sitting on this stage. This is why a defensible peace requires security arrangements that can withstand the test of time and the many challenges that are sure to confront us. And there will be many challenges, both great and small. Let us not get bogged down by every difference between us. Let us direct our courage, our thinking, and our decisions at those historic decisions that lie ahead. Now, there are many skeptics. One thing there’s no shortage of, Mr. President, are skeptics. This is something that you’re so familiar with, that all of us in a position of leadership are familiar with. There are many skeptics. I suppose there are many reasons for skepticism. But I have no doubt that peace is possible. President Abbas, we cannot erase the past, but it is within our power to change the future. Thousands of years ago, on these very hills where Israelis and Palestinians live today, the Jewish prophet Isaiah and the other prophets of my people envisaged a future of lasting peace for all mankind. Let today be an auspicious step in our joint effort to realize that ancient vision for a better future. (Applause.) PRESIDENT ABBAS: (As translated.) His Excellency President Barack Obama, His Excellency President Hosni Mubarak, His Majesty King Abdullah II, His Excellency Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mrs. Hillary Clinton, Mr. Tony Blair, ladies and gentlemen. I would like to start by thanking President Obama for his invitation to host us here today to relaunch the permanent status negotiations to reach a Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement covering all the permanent status issues within a year in accordance with international law and relevant resolutions. As we move towards the relaunch of these negotiations tomorrow, we recognize the difficulties, challenges and obstacles that lie ahead. Yet we assure you, in the name of the PLO, that we will draw on years of experience in negotiations and benefit from the lessons learned to make these negotiations successful. We also reiterate our commitment to carry out all our obligations, and we call on the Israelis to carry out their obligations, including a freeze on settlements activities, which is not setting a precondition but a call to implement an agreed obligation and to end all the closure and blockade, preventing freedom of movement, including the (inaudible) siege. We will spare no effort and will work diligently and tirelessly to ensure that these new negotiations achieve their goals and objectives in dealing with all of the issues: Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, border security, water, as well as the release of all our prisoners -- in order to achieve peace. The people of our area are looking for peace that achieves freedom, independence, and justice to the Palestinian people in their country and in their homeland and in the diaspora -- our people who have endured decades of longstanding suffering. We want a peace that will correct the historical injustice caused by the (inaudible) of 1948, and one that brings security to our people and the Israeli people. And we want peace that will give us both and the people of the region a new era where we enjoy just peace, stability, and prosperity. Our determination stems to a great extent from your willpower, Mr. President, and your firm and sweeping drive with which you engulfed the entire world from the day you took office to set the parties on the path for peace -- and also this same spirit, exhibited by Secretary Hillary Clinton and Senator George Mitchell and his team. The presence of His Excellency President Mubarak and His Majesty King Abdullah is another telling indication of their substantial and effective commitment overall, where Egypt and Jordan have been playing a supportive role for advancing the peace process. Their effective role is further demonstrated by the Arab Peace Initiative, which was fully endorsed by all of the Arab states, and the Islamic countries as well. This initiative served a genuine and sincere opportunity to achieve a just and comprehensive peace on all tracks in our region, including the Syrian-Israeli track and the Lebanese-Israeli track, and provided a sincere opportunity to make peace. The presence here today of the envoy of the Quartet, Mr. Tony Blair, is a most telling signal, especially since he has been personally involved in the Palestinian Authority for many years and in the efforts for state building in Palestine. Excellencies, the time has come for us to make peace and it is time to end the occupation that started in 1967, and for the Palestinian people to get freedom, justice, and independence. It is time that a independent Palestinian state be established with sovereignty side by side with the state of Israel. It is time to put an end to the struggle in the Middle East. The Palestinian people who insist on the rights and freedom and independence are in most need for justice, security, and peace, because they are the victim, the ones that were harmed the most from this violence. And it is sending message to our neighbors, the Israelis, and to the world that they are also careful about supporting the opportunities for the success of these negotiations and the just and lasting peace as soon as possible. With this spirit, we will work to make these negotiations succeed. And with this spirit, we are -- trust that we are capable to achieve our historical, difficult mission -- making peace in the land of peace. Mr. Netanyahu, what happened yesterday and what is happening today is also condemned. We do not want at all that any blood be shed, one drop of blood, on the part of the -- from the Israelis or the Palestinians. We want people in the two countries to lead a normal life. We want them to live as neighbors and partners forever. Let us sign an agreement, a final agreement, for peace, and put an end to a very long period of struggle forever. And peace be upon you. (Applause.) PRESIDENT OBAMA: I want to thank all the leaders for their thoughtful statements. I want to thank the delegations that are represented here because they are the ones who oftentimes are doing a lot of the work. This is just the beginning. We have a long road ahead, but I appreciate very much the leaders who are represented here for giving us such an excellent start. And I particularly want to commend Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas for their presence here. This is not easy. Both of them have constituencies with legitimate claims, legitimate concerns, and a lot of history between them. For them to be here, to be willing to take this first step -- the most difficult step -- is a testament to their courage and their integrity and I think their vision for the future. And so I am hopeful -- cautiously hopeful, but hopeful -- that we can achieve the goal that all four of these leaders articulated. Thank you very much, everybody.
Somehow, when something like this happens, it makes a lot of other things seem petty. Here's hoping it comes to something.
This article originally appeared on Booman Tribune. Tell her she can't shoot caribou but one day a year. And who in Obama's Islamic Kenyan Socialist Federal Government would dare to stymie the Real Americans of Alaska in this evil manner? Uh, no one. It's Alaska's bureaucrats that are the problem:
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced Friday that it would close the Fortymile caribou herd hunt after a single day.In an effort to avoid an over harvest, the season will close 11:59 p.m. Sunday. [...] In two of the past three seasons, the Fortymile hunt has closed early because caribou were congregated near the highway, easily accessible to hunters. Last year, for instance, hunters exceeded the quota by 36 percent in just three days, killing 870 animals. As a result, the winter Fortymile hunt was cancelled.
What the hell are those state bureaucrats thinking? That just because Palin quit as Governor they could get away with ruining the lives of Hunters? Well, actually, maybe they're a little concerned that the caribou (reindeer everywhere else on the world) population is declining so rapidly large scale hunting is no longer viable unless we want to make Santa's sleigh pullers extinct within the next generation.
June 22, 2009 -- In Alaska, Canada, Greenland and other Arctic regions, people depend on caribou and reindeer as both a food source and a spiritual anchor. A new study reports that the animals have declined dramatically in recent decades.Overall, caribou and reindeer populations have dwindled by an average of nearly 60 percent, the study found. In some cases, dips have been far more extreme than that. [...] Land development is one of the biggest threats to caribou and reindeer, especially for the subspecies that migrate long distances. Caribou are among the few species left that have retained their ancient migration routes, said Justina Ray, executive director of the Wildlife Conservation Society in Toronto. Even those that don't migrate need lots of space, and they're extremely sensitive to changes in their environment. Logging has changed much of their habitat from old-growth forests to leafier vegetation. [...] Climate change is another problem, albeit an indirect one. For one thing, warming has increased mosquito populations to the point where caribou spend so much time running around and shaking off insects that they don't eat enough to make it through winter with a good supply of stored body fat. With warming, whitetail deer have also spread further north -- bringing along a parasitic disease that doesn't sicken the deer but does kill the caribou. At the same time, spring is getting greener earlier that it used to, but caribou haven't adjusted the timing of their migrations. As a result, birthing females are missing out on the freshest vegetation and the chance to build up the highest-quality milk for their calves.
Of course, I'm sure the communist overlords of The Discovery Channel (i.e., anyone who buys its stock listed on NASDAQ) are lying about climate change having anything to do with the caribou problem. Still if I were Santa, I'd hedge my bets and see if Penguins can be taught to fly again. Might be a good idea anyway considering the real estate at the North Pole is a little too liquid these days. But hey Alaskan caribou hunters at least you can still shoot wolves from helicopters! The meat might not be as tasty, but I'm sure the thrill of the hunt more than makes up for it.
This post originally appeared at Booman Tribune. Steve Benen:
I've long looked for consistency -- intellectual, moral, ethical -- among opponents of stem-cell research, and I've never found any. If someone believes a fertilized egg that has grown to a few dozen cells is a full-fledged human being, deserving of the full protection of the law, then IVF would constitute nightmarish science. Conservatives would be compelled to protest at fertility clinics, and condemn families that try to have babies through the procedure. After all, the IVF process is designed to include discarded embryos.But no one is making that argument. There's a high degree of comfort level with discarding embryos at fertility clinics, but intense conservative opposition to medical research involving embryos that offer the promise of life-saving science. I've never understood this.
Of course it doesn't make sense. These people are religious whackadoodles. When a religious argument is tremendously unpopular politically, what happens is that the politicians bend the religious principles. That's why, for wingnuts, it's murder to have an abortion unless the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. Logically, it would still be murder, but that's not politically viable. Likewise, if destroying an embryo is murder when you use it for research, it is also murder when you don't implant it in a womb and throw it in a hazardous waste bin. But no political party wants to ban fertility treatments, so you get this kind of nonsense. The religious conservatives hold absolutist views on complex moral issues that are rendered absurd when cast in a politically viable context.