Day: October 30, 2011

Herman Cain Speaks Of ‘The So-Called Palestinian People’

Showcasing GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain’s utter ignorance is something I enjoy doing and will continue to do until this really strange man descends from his first place position in the GOP lineup…

TPM2012

Herman Cain’s lack of foreign policy knowledge has had him in hot water before. Since he hit frontrunner status he’s been dinged for mocking “Uzbeki-beki-beki-stan” and suggesting he might free every prisoner in Guantanamo Bayin exchange for one U.S. soldier.

Earlier in the campaign, before he had frontrunner status and its resulting scrutiny, the former CEO was asked about the Israel-Palestine “right of return” issue. This is one of the red lines in mid-east diplomacy, with the Israeli stance being that the prospect of opening the door to Palestinians displaced in the 1947-48 fighting should not even be negotiated. Cain rather put his foot in it when he was quizzed about the issue on Fox News and – clearly unfamiliar with the subject – he tried to dodge it by saying, “that should be an issue for negotiation.”

Cain’s clearly been swotting up on his mid-east knowledge since then, and a recent choice of words suggests he may have been dipping into some fairly controversial sources.

Cain gave an interview to Israel Hayom that was released Friday. It’s fairly boilerplate except for the part where he addresses the Palestinians’ recent push for full UN membership:

“I think that the so-called Palestinian people have this urge for unilateral recognition because they see this president as weak.”

It’s that “so-called” that’s striking. This is still pretty controversial territory, though it did admittedly find its most notorious expression in the words of the former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. She famously said, “There is no such thing as the Palestinians.”

What she meant by that, and what Cain is tapping into, is that the notion of a Palestinian people only arose after the foundation of Israel, and that this was a convenient way of harnessing the disparate resentments of various Arab groups who had been dislodged during the tumult of 1947-48.

This is something most serious commentators tend to hold back from claiming. Around the time the statehood push chatter was reaching its peak, a National Review editorial led with the line: “There is no such thing as a Palestinian state, and the United Nations can’t conjure one into existence.” However, their contention was very different from the idea that the Palestinian identity was simply invented so the Arabs could have a convenient stick with which to beat Israel in international institutions. Their argument rested on the far more common contention that the Palestinians – riven between Hamas and Fatah-controlled territories, lacking a Weberian “monopoly on violence,” and without strong political institutions – are not yet ready to have a definite political entity that could credibly be called a “state.” But though the editorial writers denied the Palestinians the concept of statehood, they held back from denyingnationhood.

The only people willing to go that far tend to be the more hardline publications such as World Net Daily. That publication’s editor, Joseph Farah, has several articles arguing that “Palestinians are Arabs, indistinguishable from Jordanians (another recent invention), Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis, etc.”

The statehood push is a thorny diplomatic issue, and people on both sides of the matter have some fairly nuanced positions. However, it would seem that Cain has avoided these and has moved instead to one of the furthest edges available in this debate.

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Could There Be a More Reprehensible and Ignorant GOP Candidate Than George W. Bush? Yes, Several.

Official photograph portrait of former U.S. Pr...

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Great question.

Here’s Buzz Flash‘s answer:

Where do such inconsequential people get the nerve to criticize their betters when they have so little to offer in terms of either foreign or domestic policy or intellect?

There was a time when I thought there could never be a more reprehensible, more ignorant presidential candidate and eventual president than George W. Bush, but I was wrong – - a man who served two terms still mispronouncing the word nuclear – - a person so insensate, as to find humor in a search for weapons of mass destruction under tables, and behind lecterns at a press correspondents’ dinner. Who could have imagined that the leader of the free world could be so embarrassingly idiotic as to sign on for an unnecessary war financed by tax cuts that would leave the country in a mountain of debt?

The awful truth is, of course, that he was motivated by personal demons and incomplete intelligence that drove him to make incredibly bad foreign-policy decisions, compounded by less than well-founded economic considerations. The worst part of his malfeasance remains, however, the continuing insistence on his part and that of his ne’er-do-well vice president, that their administration was right to undertake an endless war without figuring out where or when it would end and to undermine our country’s good name by using torture and calling it enhanced interrogation techniques. In a reference that often comes to mind in terms of what went on during the Bush years, there are always those who insist when a wolf is at the door that it is just a dog.

We have passed through a gruesome period of our history that will leave a multitude of unresolved issues behind, but at least for the moment the Iraq war itself is no longer our responsibility. Of course President Obama is being criticized by the likes of John McCain, Lindsey Graham and others who say we should stay in Iraq for “as long as it takes” whatever that means to them,-  – ten more years, twenty, ’til the end of time? None of the war hawks ever suggest a way to pay for our foreign involvements even as they rant repeatedly about our “debt crisis.”

Continue here…

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TV that deserves the name “journalism”

I am a very pleased fan of Up With Chris Hayes, the weekend morning news show that already has over 150,000 viewers and has only been on for about a month or so.

I DVR the show since it comes on at 7am on Saturdays and 8am on Sundays…

Salon – David Sirota

Chris Hayes’ new show on MSNBC provides a rare space for the expansive, non-partisan debates we need

Waking up at 4 a.m. is rarely enjoyable, and arising at that unspeakable hour to appear on a cable news show is particularly painful. In such situations, you feel as if you’re dragging yourself out of bed only to be treated like a canine in a dogfight, with the typical show pitting you in a contrived death match against another guest who is your equally angry, equally mangy opposite. That, or you’re simply asked to play the yes-man — the Ed McMahon to the host’s Johnny Carson.

Needless to say, I’m not a fan of most cable news because I find this format mind-numbing, uninformative and tedious (and cable news’ declining ratings over the last year prove I’m not alone). So when I was asked to appear on MSNBC last Saturday morning, my initial thought was, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

But then I realized it was a new show hosted by Chris Hayes, a journalist whose work I’ve long admired. So I said yes. And crack-of-dawn fatigue aside, I’m glad I did, because to my surprise, I ended up getting the chance to participate in one of the best television programs on the air.

“Up With Chris Hayes,” which broadcasts Saturday and Sunday mornings, purposely rejects the manufactured red-versus-blue mallet that bludgeons every issue into partisan terms. Instead, the program’s host is creating a space for more expansive discussions with voices typically deemed too unconventional, provocative or dangerous to be allowed anywhere near a television set.

Continue reading here…

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