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Politics and Media Headlines 12/29/08

Caro's picture

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Help us prove the case for blogging in 2009: post a link to your best blog post of 2008 [click through to post in this post’s comment section] for our staff and readers to enjoy, and explain to us why it’s worth the click. We hope to find some great unsung bloggers to add to our Mashable feed-reading lists in 2009, and great content to link to and share. Can you deliver, blogosphere?

The Heretik

Obama Refuses To Endorse Gaza Attacks… (by M.J. Rosenberg at Talking Points Memo)
On Meet The Press [Sunday], David Axelrod was asked about Gaza by David Gregory. Gregory reminded Axelrod that the President-Elect had visited Sderot earlier this year and said that Israel had the right to defend its people against the mortars. What does he think now? Axelrod said, predictably, that we have one President at a time. He also said that Obama understood the "urge" to respond militarily… When Obama feels strongly about anything, the "one President at a time" mantra is abandoned. When he wants to avoid being boxed in, he invokes it… I hope the Israelis understand what this means… Axelrod sent a signal. After Jan. 20th, America will be an "honest broker." That is what both sides need.

What, me worry? (by Michael J. Smith at Stop Me Before I Vote Again)
[From the Rosenberg article quoted above:] “The oldsters are cheering on the Gaza attacks but the Jewish ‘best and brightest’ think ethically and not ethnically....” …The "best and brightest" to whom Rosenberg refers all take pretty much the same line: the Israelis are being silly and short-sighted, if not downright "idiotic". The Gaza attacks are not in their interest… Considering that stunts like this are the way that Zionism took state power in the first place, and has sustained itself there for my lifetime, and has successfully beaten off during that time every remote chance of peace breaking out -- considering all these things, the "idiots" in Jerusalem might have some justification for thinking that they understand their bloody brutal business better than a troika of underage beautiful-soul yesbutnik bloggers like Klein, Yglesias, and Ackerman.

Attack On Gaza: As Usual, U.S. Media (And Most Liberals) Silent -- As Israeli Newspaper Raises Doubts (by Greg Mitchell, Editor & Publisher)
In the usual process, the U.S. government, media here -- and most of the leading liberal bloggers -- are silent or playing down questions about whether Israel overreacted in its massive air strikes on Gaza, while the foreign press, and even Haaretz in Israel, carries more balanced accounts.

A Hundred Eyes For An Eye (by Norman Soloman)
Israelis and Arabs "feel that only force can assure justice," I. F. Stone noted soon after the Six Day War in 1967. And he wrote: "A certain moral imbecility marks all ethnocentric movements. The Others are always either less than human, and thus their interests may be ignored, or more than human and therefore so dangerous that it is right to destroy them." The closing days of 2008 have heightened the Israeli government's stature as a mighty practitioner of the moral imbecility that Stone described.

The Israel-Palestine Problem: The Quest for a Political Solution (by eriposte at The Left Coaster)
The biggest challenges for the Obama administration, in my mind, are two fold. First, if a political solution is what is desired, then a key question is what kind of solution could be facilitated between Israeli and Palestinian moderates that allows them to save face with a majority of their respective populations, regardless of what the extremists believe. Stated another way, we need to create the conditions, both inside Israel and West Bank/Gaza and in the Middle-East, for moderates to convince a clear majority of Israelis and Palestinians that the eventual solution is indeed the best possible solution and that it is a win-win solution…

Second, there has to be a lasting mechanism by which the eventual solution can be sustained regardless of changes in the political landscape in Israel and West Bank/Gaza. In the absence of such a mechanism any "solution" will likely be short-lived and quickly be replaced with a new cycle of violence.
From the polls I’ve seen, ordinary people in both Israel and in the Palestinian territories want peace. It’s the extremists who keep getting their way.—Caro

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Carolyn Kay

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amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

that's what happens with "an eye for an eye" -- always.

altho this is probably more like repeatedly whacking a beehive with big sticks and saying it's because you want the buzzing and bites to stop.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

Punt: stake a "middle ground" so you don't have to make any strong stands. Take certain promisses off the table but promise to take them up later, when the environment improves.

Pass: pass blame to everyone else.

Kick: kick liberals (and all things Clinton) repeatedly in the face to demonstrate your post-partisan cred.

It will be interesting to see how Obama governs when he can't punt, pass or kick to "periodically boost his appeal". I have no clue but his vacations at important times give me the willies like you would not believe.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

-- there'll always be someone he'll blame for his failures in governing.

but -- since almost all his stuff is simply "staying the course" with Bush stuff (at home and abroad) -- the media will probably lie for him to keep it all going, like they did all along for him -- as long as the rich and powerful keep benefiting, that is.

and he's already doing the Bush/Rove thing of selling as priority #1 (along with his own new addition -- appearing to be transparent and open to input, but not really at all) -- it'll be all image management and "launching new products" like it has been under Bush, i bet.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

Greenwald -- David Gregory shows why he's the perfect replacement for Tim Russert --

... There are good reasons why the media's reverent 2003 treatment of Bush matches its 2008 deference to Israeli claims. In 2003, claims about Iraq from the Bush administration -- just like claims from Israel now -- were not aggressively challenged or disputed in good company; their pronouncements were mandated orthodoxy, pieties of the highest order. And the one thing our media stars are good at doing -- what, above all else, they're programmed to do -- is to amplify and pay homage to prevailing establishment pieties. To do otherwise, as Gregory revealingly explained, "is not their role."...

If Obama keeps on only doing and pushing "prevailing establishment" things, then it'll all be spun as success until sometime during a 2nd term, i'd say-- whether or not we have jobs or are hurting or not.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

Lerner --

... There is no path to peace—peace is the path. And if Israel wants to destroy Hamas, it has one clear way: rebuild Gaza and the West Bank with a massive Marshall Plan type enterprise—adopt our Strategy of Generosity and renounce the strategy of domination. Trust in God,, trust in love, trust in kindness, trust in generosity—and give those strategies a ten year chance to work and Israel will get far more security than it will achieve by this latest violation of international law, Torah ethics, and common sense. ...

Gideon Levy --

... For two and a half years, they have been caged and ostracized by the whole world. The line of thinking that states that through war we will gain new allies in the Strip; that abusing the population and killing its sons will sear this into their consciousness; and that a military operation would suffice in toppling an entrenched regime and thus replace it with another one friendlier to us is no more than lunacy.
In the meantime, let us now let the IDF win, as they say. A hero against the weak, it bombed dozens of targets from the air yesterday, and the pictures of blood and fire are designed to show Israelis, Arabs and the entire world that the neighborhood bully's strength has yet to wane. When the bully is on a rampage, nobody can stop him. ...

(more there too)

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on


... Framing --- Principles --- Elements
The US President sets out clearly and forcefully the fundamental principles of the peace process and presses the case with determination;

An American framing: a complete end to Israel's Occupation and the establishment of a truly sovereign and viable Palestinian state next to a secure state of Israel is in the vital interests of the United States.
Need for national expression for both peoples – though two state solution increasingly unlikely;
Negotiations based on international law, human rights and UN resolutions;
The principle of return to the '67 borders agreed upon before modifications begin;
Commitment to a viable Palestinian state with territorial contiguity, control of borders, airspace, resources and movement. ...

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

OpenLeft --

... it's pretty obvious, and quite rational why a progressive blog, particularly one with a significant Jewish presence, would focus much more attention on Isreali state violence rather than Palestinian violence--reasons in addtion to the obvious fact that Israeli state violence is so vastly more extensive than Palestinian violence, however indiscriminate violence on both sides may be.

The reason we focus more on Isreali state violence is that we are morally, legally and politically responsible for that violence in ways that we are not responsible for the Palestinian violence. And if we truly wish to end the violence on both sides, then the way to do that is to work strenuously to end the violence on our side--and that will give us moral standing and credibility to call for ending violence on the Palestinian side as well. ...

One just has to ask, what purpose would it serve to recycle images of Palestinian-inflicted violence against Israeli Jews that's been plastered all over the M$M? Vastleft seems to think it would show that we care about the victims. And the failure to recycle such images shows that we don't care. This is, to put it mildly, absurd. It is worse than that. It is a morally obscene accusation.

The reason that people post images in blogs are widely varied, to be sure. But one of the most common ones is to remind folks of things that the M$M either wants us to forget, or simply under-emphasizes. This certainly does apply to the Palestinian victims of Israeli state violence, and it certainly does not apply to the Jewish Israeli victims of Palestinian violence. ...
(great list here about how Americans -- and American Jews -- are responsible for Israel's actions -- and have many obligations to speak out on this stuff.)

Indeed, we care about others precisely because we care about our own. This is both because it is certain that violence done to others will come back to us, and because doing violence to others in itself does violence to ourselves--even when it is absolutely necessary. ...

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

The reason we focus more on Isreali state violence is that we are morally, legally and politically responsible for that violence in ways that we are not responsible for the Palestinian violence.

And, this is what I've always tried to drill into people's heads about this issue, albeit, from a non-Israeli Jewish perspective. It is the Israeli Jews with the power and authority to hold or release their Palestinian subjects. I expect more from the Israeli Jewish side for many reasons, among them that they paint themselves as an enlightened democracy and considering the horrors that their own went through not even all that long ago in the space of human history.

As for the US's role in all of this, we have to pull back our perpetual subsidization of the IDF, period, and work towards a peace when asked to do so. Outside of that, there is nothing much more that we can or should do. We have to let the Israeli government know that the teat has run dry. No more, we simple can't do it, anymore. That's what a true friend of Israel would do. We can't enable them.

On the Palestinian side of things, all that we give them is measly (compared to the money and weapons we send to Israel) amounts of humanitarian aid, anyway, so there really isn't much complicated about that side of things.

We simply can't keep enabling watching one friend getting punched in the arm, and then responding by blowing off the other guys' head, especially when the other guy holds himself up as a model world citizen.

What Israel projects itself to the world as, and what Israel actually is, are two very different things. There is no American interest in continuing to help perpetuate the lie over the truth. If Israel believes they have an interest in these kind of disproportionate responses, they need to know and know very well that they are going to have to go in alone.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

Philly Mayor Booed for Closing Libraries in Effort to Tackle Deficit Budget --

... Mayor Michael Nutter was repeatedly booed during a news conference Monday over his decision to shutter 20 percent of the city's 54 library branches in an effort to help close an estimated $1 billion spending gap over the next five years.

The mayor, who estimated the 11 library closings will save the city $8 million a year, said the shuttered facilities may reopen as public-private partnerships dubbed "knowledge centers" if the city can find enough financial partners. ...

In response to the library cuts, Nutter said he expected books, computers and other materials to stay at the "knowledge centers." But he could not say if the facilities would be staffed by librarians.

The public-private partnerships could be with individuals, corporations, nonprofits or community groups, Nutter said, noting officials have received interest in five or six of the sites.

"We are working diligently every day on this issue," Nutter said.

American Library Association president Jim Rettig said libraries work best as publicly funded entities with trained staff. "It makes as much sense to privatize your libraries as it does to privatize your police force," Rettig said.