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During a tense exchange with (Secretary of State John) Kerry at a Senate Foreign Relations committee on Wednesday, (Florida Republican Senator Marco) Rubio confronted the former Massachusetts senator. “I believe that much of our strategy with regards to ISIS is being driven by a desire not to upset Iran so they don’t walk away from the negotiating table on the deal that you’re working on,” the potential GOP presidential candidate declared. “Tell me why I’m wrong.”

“They would welcome our bombing of ISIS, actually, they want us to destroy ISIS, ISIS is a threat to them, it’s a threat to the region and I think you’re misreading it if you think there is a mutual interest with respect to Daesh [the Arabic name for ISIS] from every country in the region,” Kerry responded.

Watch the exchange here.

http://thinkprogress.org/world/2015/03/11/3632393/john-kerry-obliterates-marco-rubios-conspiracy-theory-iran/

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John Oliver speaking about the report from the Justice Department about the Ferguson, MO Police department “Now, the rest of the report didn’t just show evidence of disproportionate targeting and violence against African Americans, it also showed this.”

Reporter “Investigators say that they found e-mails from court officials and police officers that were racial jokes that referenced President Obama.”

Another reporter “Another message in June 2011 compared dogs to African Americans suggesting the animals needed welfare because they were ‘mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English, and have no frigging clued who their daddies are’.”

Oliver “It is moments like this that make me glad I’m on HBO, where you can hear me say this.  Bleep those bleeping bleepholes!  This is what swearing is for.”

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“[Putin] started out as something of a normal human being, transitioned into a bit of an eccentric dictator. Somewhere along the way something changed, the goofiness gave way to a darker, more sinister Putin. Much like a young, harmless wizard that got sorted into Slytherin. So after hanging around with some of the bad kids and sleeping in the dungeon-y parts of Hogwarts, Vladimir Putin has turned into Lord Vladimort.” — Jon Stewart

 

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“50 years from Bloody Sunday, our march is not yet finished, but we’re getting closer. 239 years after this nation’s founding, our union is not yet perfect, but we are getting closer. Our job’s easier because somebody already got us through that first mile. Somebody already got us over that bridge. When it feels the road is too hard, when the torch we’ve been passed feels too heavy, we will remember these early travelers, and draw strength from their example…we honor those who walked so we could run. We must run so our children soar.” —President Obama

http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/civil-rights/selma

 

Posted March 8, 2015 by tmusicfan in Politics, Quote of the Day

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Jon Stewart “It was the State Of The Union address the Republicans wanted, delivered by leader they wish they had.  And, Netanyahu wasted no time explaining why there was no time to waste.”

Benjamin Netanyahu speaking before Congress March 3, 2015 “That’s why this deal is so bad.  It doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb, it paves Iran’s path to the bomb….Iran’s breakout time would be very short, about a year by US assessment, even shorter by Israel’s.”

Stewart “Well of course, the Jewish assessment will be a little shorter, we like to cut a little off at the tip.  But, holy bleep, one year.  Bibi, if Iran’s that close, why didn’t you bring your urgent warning about Iran going nuclear sooner?  Oh wait, you did.  Apparently time was also running out 19 years ago.”

Benjamin Netanyahu speaking before CongressJuly 10, 1996 “The most dangerous of these regimes is Iran…If this regime, or it’s despotic neighbor Iraq, were to acquire nuclear weapons, this could presage catastrophic consequences…Only the United States can lead this vital international effort to stop the nuclearization of terrorists states….Time is running out.  We have to act.”

…..

Stewart “But, this brings up the difficult issue.  What many in our government love about Netanyahu is his conviction and his certainty.”

Netanyahu to Congress March 3, 2015 “In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut,and Sana.”

Stewart “We have to act.  Look how Iran has expanded it’s power since the fall of Saddam Hussein and the destabilization of the region.  I mean, what kind of an idiot wouldn’t have seen that coming in 2002?  Oh Shalom.”

Netanyahu September 12, 2002 “If you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region….The reverberations of what happens with the collapse of Saddam’s regime could very well create an implosion in a neighboring regime like Iran.”

Stewart “Or, the opposite.”

http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/13ry42/bibi-s-big-adventures

 

 

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John Oliver “On Friday there was some terrible news.”

Reporter “We are following the breaking story out of Moscow, the murder of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.  The 55 year old opposition politician was gunned down less than two days before he was to lead a large rally against Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

Oliver “Wow, that would seem like a shocking coincidence if you knew literally nothing about Russia. Nemtsov is just the latest in a long line of Putin’s enemies to find themselves mysteriously imprisoned or dead.  In fact, just a few weeks ago Nemtsov was asked in an interview if he was afraid that Putin might kill him, and his answer was “yes, a little bit”.  In fact, at the end of that interview the journalist said to him “I hope common sense prevails and Putin will not kill you”, which sounds chilling, but to be fair, “I hope Putin will not kill you” is just how Russian people say goodbye to each other.”

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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: President Obama stands accused of political correctness for his unwillingness to accuse groups like ISIS of Islamic extremism, choosing a more generic term, violent extremism. His critics say you cannot fight an enemy that you will not name. Even his supporters feel that his approach is to professorial.

But far from being a scholar concerned with describing the phenomenon accurately, the president is actually deliberately choosing not to emphasize ISIS’ religious dimension for political and strategic reasons. After all, what would the practical consequences be of describing ISIS as Islamic? Would the West drop more bombs on it? No.

But it would make many Muslims feel that their religion had been unfairly maligned and it would dishearten Muslim leaders who have continually denounced ISIS as a group that does not represent Islam.

But Graeme Wood writes in a much discussed cover-essay in the “Atlantic” this month, “The Islamic State is Islamic — very Islamic.” Wood’s essays is an intelligent and detailed account of the ideology that animates the Islamic State. These are not secular people with rational goals, he argues, they really do believe in their religious ideology.

But Wood’s essay reminds me of some of the breathless tracks written during the Cold War that pointed out that the communists really, really believed in communism. Of course, many ISIS leaders do believe their ideology. The real question is, why has this ideology sprung up at this moment and why is it attractive to a group, a tiny group of Muslim men these days?

Wood describes ISIS as having revived traditions that have been dormant for hundreds of years. Exactly. ISIS has rediscovered, even reinvented, a version of Islam for its own purposes today.

Wood is much taken by the Princeton academic, Bernard Haykel, who claims that people want to turn a blind eye to the ideology of ISIS for political reasons.

Quote, “People want to absolve Islam,” Wood quote Haykel as saying. “It’s this Islam is a religion of peace mantra, as if there is such a thing as Islam,” he says. “It is what Muslims do,” end quote.

Right, there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world and perhaps 30,000 members of ISIS. And yet Haykel feels that it is what 0.0019 percent of what Muslims do that defines the religion.

Who is being political, I wonder.

“An Ideology succeeds when it replaces some other set of ideas that has failed,” says Professor Sheri Berman at Barnard College.

And across the Middle East, the ideas that have failed are Pan Arabism, Republicanism, nascent efforts at democracy, economic liberalism and secularism. The regimes espousing these principles have morphed into dictatorships producing economic stagnation and social backwardness. In some cases the nation itself has collapsed as a project. It is in the face of this failure that groups like ISIS can say Islam is the answer.

This battle of ideologies can be seen vividly in the life of one man, Islam Yaken, profiled brilliantly by the “New York Times'” Mona El- Naggar. Yaken, a middle class fitness trainer from Cairo who’s interested mostly in making money and meeting girls. “But his dreams began to crash into Egypt’s depressed economy and political turmoil,” the article notes. He couldn’t get a good job and began dreaming about leaving Egypt.

Questioning his life choices Yaken became drawn to a very different ideology, a version of Islam that is rigorous and militant. Yaken, now 22, fights for the Islamic State in Syria. During the last Ramadan season, he tweeted a photograph of a decapitated corpse. His post read, “Surely the holiday wouldn’t be complete without a picture with one of the dog’s corpses.”

Islam Yaken is now a true believer. But the question surely is, how did he get here and what were the forces that helped carry him along? Calling him Islamic doesn’t really help you understand any of that.

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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: But first here’s my take. The deal announced Thursday to end the fighting in Ukraine will face the same obstacle the previous such agreement faced — how to ensure that Russia will abide by it.

Frustrated by Moscow’s continued support for Ukrainian separatists, Western statesmen have begun discussing military assistance for the Ukrainian government. But in trying to decide what would actually deter Moscow, it might be worth listening to what seems to scare Russians themselves. And it is not military aid to Kiev.

When asked recently about the possibility of so-called swift sanctions, which would bar Russia from participating in the international payment system centered on the dollar, Prime Minister Medvedev warned that Moscow’s response would be without limits.

It’s understandable why Putin’s closest associates are so rattled by the prospect of additional economic sanctions. The Russian economy is in free fall. In a report released this week, the International Energy Agency said that Russia is facing a perfect storm of collapsing prices, international sanctions and currency depreciation. The IMF projects Russia’s economy will contract by 3 percent in 2015.

And Putin needs strong oil revenues to maintain his power. From 2008 to 2009 when oil revenues did collapse during the global financial crisis, the Russian government increased its spending by a staggering 40 percent, all to preserve social stability. This according to the economists.

On the other hand, Russia could easily handle continuing its military skirmishing in eastern Ukraine. Moscow’s defense budget in 2014 was roughly 20 times that of Kiev’s, according to figures published this week by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

The argument against sanctions is that while they may raise the cost for Russia, Putin has shown that he does not respond to higher costs in a rational calculating manner. But if that’s the case, then military aid for Ukraine won’t work either. No one believes that Kiev can actually prevail in a military contest with Moscow.

A recent think tank report urging military aid itself acknowledges that the aid package will merely raise the cost for the Kremlin in order to force it to then negotiate. In other words, the consensus is that the only possible strategy is to raise costs for Russia. The disagreement is really about what kinds of costs Vladimir Putin finds most onerous.

I think that military aid to Ukraine would stoke the fires of Russian nationalism, let Putin wrap himself in military colors and defend his, quote-unquote, “fellow Russians,” in an arena in which he will be able to ensure that Moscow prevails. For a regime that waged two bitter and costly wars in Chechnya, a region far less central to the Russian imagination than Ukraine, the loss of some men and money in a military operation is not likely to be much of a deterrent.

Why would the West want to move from its area of enormous strength, economic pressure, to an area where it will be outgunned in every sense?

If Russia breaks this fragile peace, then more sanctions should be considered. Senator Lindsey Graham recently offered the most honest reason why some in Washington are advocating military assistance. Even though it doesn’t seem likely to work, it’s a way of doing something in the face of Russian aggression.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I don’t know how this ends if you give them defensive capability but I know this. I will feel better because when my nation was needed to stand up to the garbage and stand by freedom, I stood by the freedom.

ZAKARIA: But the purpose of American foreign policy is not to make Lindsey Graham feel better. It is to actually achieve American objectives on the ground. That means picking your battles and weapons carefully.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1502/15/fzgps.01.html

Posted February 16, 2015 by tmusicfan in Politics, Quote of the Day

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Ynet News spoke with former ambassadors Moshe Arens, Moshe Arad, Itamar Rabinovich, Shimon Peres, Danny Ayalon, Sallai Meridor, and Michael Oren, Dermer’s immediate predecessor. Their combined service dates back to the early 1980s.

“If the prime minister is perceived to be meddling in US politics, it has implications for the Jewish community,” Arad said.

“If he were to convince me that his actions were of benefit with regard to Iran, despite the cost of the damage to our relations with the United States, I’d support him,” Meridor said. “But we are paying a double price, and Congress in the end isn’t united against Iran. His appearance before Congress won’t be beneficial and may even hurt the things for which he is going there.”

Or as Rabinovich put it most succinctly: “He made a mistake – period.”

 

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/former-israeli-ambassaodrs-netanyahu-speech

 

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Jon Stewart speaking of the Brian Williams scandal “I love that now the media pretends that they must guard the crown jewel of their credibility when we’ve already seen it’s Al Capone’s vault.  Not that they weren’t hard on themselves post clusterbleep.”

Reporter “How did you guys do on the issue of weapons of mass destruction?”

Bill Keller (New York Times) “I think we did, uhm, I think we did pretty darned good.”

Wolf Blitzer (CNN) “I think we were pretty strong.”

Reporter “I think the questions were asked”

Reporter “there was a fog of war”

Reporter “I guess we were caught up in the post 9/11 sense of patriotism.”

Reporter “And there’s also the fog of covering the war”

Blitzer “Could we have done a better job?  Sure.  Remember, we are a first draft of history journalism.”

Stewart “But it wasn’t even your draft.  You were just copying off Cheney’s paper.  You were plagiarizing history.”

http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/j3ware/guardians-of-the-veracity