“And yet on he pushes – civilly, rationally, patiently”

One of Andrew Sullivan’s best pieces ever:

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What strikes me is the visceral and emotional power behind the AIPAC line, displayed in Netanyahu’s contemptuous, disgraceful, desperate public dressing down of the American president in the White House. Just observe the tone of Netanyahu’s voice, and the Cheney-like determination to impose his will on the world, regardless of anyone else, and certainly without the slightest concern for his ally’s wider foreign policy and security needs. It seems clear to me that he believes that an American president, backed by the Quartet, must simply bow toward Israel’s own needs, as he perceives them, rather than the other way round. Has Netanyahu ever asked, one wonders, what he could actually do to help Obama, president of Israel’s oldest, and strongest ally in an era of enormous social and political change? That, it seems, is not how this alliance works. Moroever, an alliance in which one party is acting in direct conflict with the needs and goals of the other is an unstable one. Yes, there are unshakeable, powerful bonds between the two countries, and rightly so. But emotional bonds are not enough if, in the end, core national interests collide – and no compromise is possible.

The logic of this seems rather dark to me.

Netanyahu’s current position means that the US is supposed to sacrifice its broader goals of reconciliation with an emergent democratic Arab world, potentially jeopardize its relations with a democratic Egypt, isolate itself from every other ally, and identify the US permanently with a state that, in its current configuration and with its current behavior, deepens and inflames the global conflict with Jihadist Islam. Netanyahu, in other words, wants the US to clasp itself to Israel’s total distrust of every Arab state and population in an era where it is vital for the US to do exactly the opposite.

And it is absurd not to notice Obama’s even-handedness. It’s clear he won’t legitimize Hamas until Hamas legitimizes itself by acknowledging Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and dropping its virulent, violent anti-Semitism. He rebuked Abbas for going the UN route. Like any US president, he is committed to Israel’s security and is, indeed, vital to it. But all he asks is a good faith attempt by the Israelis to acknowledge that their future state has to be based on the 1967 lines with landswaps. Indefensible? Says who? With a regional monopoly of over a hundred nuclear warheads and the best intelligence and military in its neigborhood, and a vibrant economy, Israel is not vulnerable. And in so far as it may be vulnerable – to Iran’s nuclear gambit – its government is alienating the indispensable ally in this deserved quest for security.  This is panic and paranoia, not reason and self-interest.

And no one seems to appreciate Obama’s political courage in all this. Obama seems to understand that an equitable two-state solution is a key crucible for the change he is seeking with respect to the Muslim world, the minimum necessary to advance US interests in the region and against Jihadism abroad. With each month in office, he has pursued this, through humiliation after humiliation from the Israelis, who are openly trying to lobby the press, media, political parties and Congress to isolate this president and destroy his vision for peace and the historic and generational potential his presidency still promises. To achieve this, he has to face down the apocalyptic Christianist right, the entire FNC-RNC media machine, a sizable chunk of his party’s financial base, and the US Congress. And yet on he pushes – civilly, rationally, patiently.

This really is a titanic struggle between fear and hope.

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A mishmash worth $2000 :)

Hi guys,

I don’t remember exactly when we launched our own fundraising page, but it wasn’t that long ago and I’m so proud that we’re already touched the $2000 target. Next goal: $3000. :)

With this, here’s a lengthy Saturday mishmash.

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Weekly Address:

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Some really good stuff to read:

Roger Cohen (NYT):

On the eve of an election year, with Jewish donors and fund-raisers already restive over his approach to Israel, President Obama made a brave speech telling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “the dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation” and urging him to accept Israeli borders at or close to the 1967 lines.
The president got 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008. Perhaps those words will cost him some of those votes — although sentiment toward Israel among American Jews is slowly shifting. But true friends are critical friends. And the American and Israeli national interest do not lie in the poisonous Israeli-Palestinian status quo.

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Peter Beinart (The Daily Beast):

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The real difference between Obama and Bush is that Obama actually is what Bush said he was: a moral universalist.

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By embracing all—rather than only some—of the Arab spring, Obama also powerfully distanced himself from Benjamin Netanyahu, a man who supports Arab democracy so long as it never impairs his ability to forestall Palestinian democracy. Obama put himself on the side of Palestinian democracy, too.

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Still Obama allied America with those Arabs and Iranians thirsting for freedom, and he did so in a subtle but remarkable way. He invoked, as he so often does, the civil-rights movement. Not World War II, where American power served the cause of freedom. Not the Cold War, where American power did as well, at least in Europe. But the civil-rights movement: where an oppressed people struggling for freedom confronted American power, and won. It’s a more subversive analogy than we generally acknowledge, and one that should make everyone battling oppression in the Middle East—in Sana, Damascus, Cairo, Tehran, and Ramallah, too—smile.

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Juan Cole:

President Obama’s major policy address on the Middle East got many things right. He pointed to al-Qaeda and terrorism, which targets civilians, as a dead end. He sided rhetorically with the grassroots movements for greater democracy in the region. He condemned outright the longstanding regimes, like that of Hosni Mubarak, that had been US allies, which ruled through sordid police states. He pledged US support for democracy movements. He avoided hypocrisy by condemning US allies such as the king of Bahrain and President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen for repressing their own movements. He acknowledged the importance of ending the Palestinian people’s long sojourn in the wilderness of statelessness. He pointed to the constraining by corrupt elites of the economic and educational opportunities of young people in the Middle East as among the central discontents leading to the Arab Spring. He underlined the importance of women’s rights, and rights for minorities such as Christians and Shiites.

The courage of Obama’s speech should be recognized.

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A bolder speech would have announced that the US would be moving its naval base from Bahrain because we refuse to be in bed with a repressive sectarian monarchy. It would have supported the push for Palestinian statehood at the UN as a wedge against the Likud Party’s intransigence. And it would have mentioned democratization in Riyadh along with the other capitals that were mentioned.

Still and all, it was a fine speech, a courageous speech because it challenged US allies as much as it did US foes, and it put the US on the side of Bourguiba Avenue and Tahrir Square and Benghazi and Deraa and Taizz. That is the side of history on which the US needs to stand. As a set of ideals, it was a big stride in the right direction. As practical policy, it is hard to see how it would be implemented effectively (upbraiding Israel and Bahrain slightly won’t change those crises). But, well, at least Washington is finally not standing in the way of the people in the region.

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Michael Tomasky:

Bibi Netanyahu could have reacted any number of ways to Barack Obama’s mention of the “1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.” Let’s say, actually, four ways: embrace, circumspection, suspicion, tantrum. That he chose the last tells us a lot about the man’s shortcomings and (lack of) political instincts. All political is local, and Netanyahu undoubtedly scored points with his Likud base back home. But he has a base here in America too, and I think he misjudged that base badly.

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His behavior these last 48 hours has verged on, if not been, petulant. A foreign leader (no less one of a state whose existence depends on the United States) isn’t supposed to talk like that to a president. Add to the bargain: Obama’s a stronger president now on foreign affairs than he was in 2009, partly because of the bin Laden coup and partly because the speech was generally well received across the American political spectrum.

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Things just feels better when David Plouffe is around:

When Barack Obama traveled to Texas this month to talk immigration, David Plouffe, his top message guru, decided to stay home and watch Twitter instead. While Obama spoke, Plouffe sat before two flat-screen televisions in the White House complex. One showed live footage of Obama in El Paso. The other flickered with a lightning-quick vertical ticker tape of people tweeting with the #immigration hashtag, reacting line by line to the President in real time. “I find it useful,” Plouffe says, “to see what’s penetrating.”

When Obama went off script to joke that Republicans would soon demand a border moat filled with alligators, a blur of Twitter messages showed people sending the quote to friends and followers, signaling a messaging victory of sorts. “It’s kind of the next evolution,” Plouffe explains. “Remember back in 2008, you’d have the presidential debate, and then most of the networks would have some sort of dial going up and down. That seems very Jurassic Park–like compared to this.”

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Interesting NYT story about the progress in Afghanistan:

Afghanistan’s military and police have become increasingly reliable and effective

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I really can’t wait to see PBO in Ireland. The place is going crazy!

O’bama fever strikes tiny Irish village

(CBS News) MONEYGALL, IRELAND – CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips reports it’s easy to spot the village of Moneygall in the rolling hills of central Ireland. It’s the one where the flags are flying, and where every surface in the place has been given a fresh coat of paint.
It’s the on where they’ve written a new song as a tribute to their new favorite American president, Barack Obama.

Mr. Obama’s visit to this village of 300 people next week may be the most anticipated in this corner of Ireland apart from the Second Coming.

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But when church records were first revealed the link four years ago, an Irish Barack Obama was incomprehensible here.

“I’ve been calling him ‘Abracadabra’ because I didn’t know how to pronounce his name,” resident Carey Wilde said in 2007.

In an interview this week, Wilde said she’s learned his name since. “I did indeed, and grown to love him.”

Everybody’s grown to love him in Moneygall – especially Henry Healy. “He’s going to find everyone crawling out of his family tree to meet him when he arrives.”

The celebration of Irish roots is a time-honored tradition in American politics. Sooner or later, all American presidents seem to end up in Ireland. Maybe it’s those 40 million or so Irish-American votes. But maybe it’s because the Obama connection was so unexpected, that he has been so warmly embraced.

At Ollie Hayes’ pub, they’re expecting him. “If he’s coming to Moneygall, he’s coming in here,” Hayes says.

It’s not the party they’re worried about. It’s the morning after.

Sinead Culliton says it’s “so huge, there might be the anti-climax after.” Laughing, she said she’s worried about a “post-Obama stress disorder.”

There’s a cure for that here in Moneygall.

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President Obama Thanks the Intelligence Community:

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Finally: This is such a great quotes from Michelle Obama:

Here’s the thing about my husband: even in the toughest moments, when it seems like all is lost, Barack Obama never loses sight of the end goal. He never lets himself get distracted by the chatter and the noise, even if it comes from some of his best supporters. He just keeps moving forward.

And in those moments when we’re all sweating it, when we’re worried that the bill won’t pass or the negotiation will fall through, Barack always reminds me that we’re playing a long game here. He reminds me that change is slow—it doesn’t happen overnight.

If we keep showing up, if we keep fighting the good fight and doing what we know is right, then eventually we will get there.

We always have.

Fearless (Updated)

Confession: Whenever the president delivers a big speech, I get pathetically nervous. I’m afraid that he’ll stumble, they he’ll forget a line, that his tongue will slip. I get so nervous, I usually need a second round to actually listen and not just hear what he said. Same thing happened today, and just like in every other time – All my worries were for nothing.

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Jackson Diehl: The steel in Obama’s Mideast speech

President Obama’s Middle East speech contained a surprising amount of specificity — and in that, some real steel. Not just U.S. adversaries, such as Syria and Iran, but friends, such as Bahrain and Israel, were singled out for presidential pointers that will leave their leaders smarting

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n all, Obama’s speech contained plenty of his trademark soaring rhetoric about human rights and dignity and a broad U.S. commitment to support democractic transition in Arab states, economic development, and an Israeli-Palestinian settlement. But in most of the region’s capitals today, officials will be talking about those specific zingers.

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Time: “A Surprising Jobs Recovery: American Manufacturing is Back”

Morning guys,

1. Lovely, lovely little clip shown last night by NBC Nightly News, if you can believe it, from PBO’s unforgettable visit at Booker T. Washington High School.

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2. Once in a while, the MSM actually pay attention. Time:

The jobs rebound came early at the Case I-H farm equipment factory in Grand Island, Neb. Last September, when many companies were still cutting employees, Bill Baasch, the manager at the Grand Island plant, which manufactures combines – the large vehicles that harvest grain crops – was hiring. In the past eight months, Baasch has added 130 workers, increasing his workforce by 10%. He says rising crop prices this year has significantly increased the demand for farm equipment. “Business has been fairly strong,” says Baasch. “We have a full schedule on the floor.”

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the manufacturing in this country has, for the first time in decades, seen an unlikely boom. And it’s not just in farm related businesses. The U.S. manufacturing sector overall, after shrinking by six million positions between 1997 and 2009, has added 240,000 workers since the beginning of 2010. In fact, the manufacturing sector has been one of the few stars of the poor economic recovery. Nearly one in every six jobs that have been created by the economy since the beginning of 2010 has been in manufacturing.

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3. Fingers crossed:

Washington Post: U.S. speeds up direct talks with Taliban

The administration has accelerated direct talks with the Taliban, initiated several months ago, that U.S. officials say they hope will enable President Obama to report progress toward a settlement of the Afghanistan war when he announces troop withdrawals in July.

A senior Afghan official said a U.S. representative attended at least three meetings in Qatar and Germany, one as recently as “eight or nine days ago,” with a Taliban official considered close to Mohammad Omar, the group’s leader.

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4. Two very telling charts coming from The Maddow Blog:

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5. Let’s hope the good people of Washington will remember this next year:

When the Obama administration handed out billions in stimulus money for faster trains, new Republican governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin, John Kasich of Ohio and Rick Scott of Florida all said no thanks.
Gov. Chris Gregoire was glad to take what they gave up.
“Why they’ve turned it away I have no idea, but that’s good for the state of Washington,” she said last week.
States competed for $8 billion from the 2009 stimulus law. Washington ended up with $750 million – an unprecedented amount, equalling three-quarters of what’s been spent on passenger rail here over the past 17 years without federal help. Another $30 million came after Congress added to the pot. Washington received “more than our fair share,” Gregoire acknowledged.

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6. Well, Michelle is right, again.

President Obama made his first public comments about Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s new job as the head of the Democratic Party on Monday, suggesting to supporters that his wife recommended her because she’s a woman.

“How about my new DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz,” Obama said, to applause, at the second of two Democratic National Committee events Monday night. “She is tireless, tireless. And she’s got the most adorable kids, and I don’t know how she keeps up with everything.”

Obama then added this anecdote: “But as Michelle said, if you want something done, put a woman in charge. So, all right, everybody got – women, you got a little too excited on that.”

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7. Finally, the blogroll now has a clickable link to our little donation page

Dear Christopher Dean, you are awesome.

We’re going to hear a lot about this beautiful kid from Memphis. His introduction of PBO today was the best I’ve seen since he became president. And Christopher’s life story is such an inspiration. I watched this little clip three times and it just made my day.

Good luck, young man. I’ll remember you.

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Here’s the president’s full speech:

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And you can see the extraordinary scenes of kids crying when the president arrived, here.

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Wow, President Obama Got Bin Laden.

It is so amazing, it just starts to sink in. Therefore I’ll say nothing about the embarrassment that people like Michael Moore are causing  us, reality-based-Liberals.

Have a nice weekend, everyone. Get some rest.

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David Rothkopf

“…His finest hour. Decisive. Cool. Able to both strike hard and do so with the kind of American values and restraint that elevated the mission and stands in stark contrast to the bombast and recklessness of some of his predecessors”.

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Paul Krugman:

For the most part I’m staying away from the whole Osama thing, in part just because the field is so crowded, but just to say the obvious: isn’t the GOP showing a stunning lack of grace in this whole affair?

It’s particularly striking if you remember the atmosphere from 2001 through until 2004 or so. Back then, any hint of criticism of Bush’s War on Terror, or even a failure to show sufficient enthusiasm for his leadership, led to accusations that you were unpatriotic and somehow warped by your partisanship.

Now Obama actually gets his man — and does it in what seems to have been a truly gutsy fashion — and all we get is carping.

I can’t actually say I’m surprised, but it’s still kind of amazing.

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2.7 terabytes of data recovered from bin Laden compound

A law enforcement source tells CBS News that 2.7 terabytes of data were recovered from the laptops, computers, hard drives and other storage devices seized from the bin Laden compound. It’s unclear whether all of the 2.7 terabytes are original files or if there are multiple copies of files. To put the amount of data recovered in perspective, just one terabyte of data could hold about 2,000 hours of audio or 220 million pages of text.

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Among the material confiscated was al Qaida propaganda material including al Qaida messaging strategies to inspire and recruit new Jihadists. There is some indication that bin Laden was continuing to develop his strategy to utilize homegrown operatives that were intimately famiilar with the countries in which they lived. There was also material on current events, in an apparent effort to keep bin Laden abreast on news from around the world. Sources say it could take weeks or months to get a handle on what the U.S. has and what the value of it is.

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