Netanyahu & the Right Wing vs. President Obama

Trenchant and disturbing analysis by Andrew Sullivan, who sees a disturbing strategy by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in concert with right-wingers in the U.S., to depose President Obama. From Sullivan’s piece, “Obama’s Most Dangerous GOP Opponent.”

I don’t think you can understand the Republican strategy for this election without factoring in a key GOP player, Benjamin Netanyahu. He already has core members of the US Congress siding openly with him against the US president. . . . Netanyahu’s war would be designed to rile up not only his own neo-fascist base, but also encourage American evangelical voters to turn out against Obama, the “anti-Christ”, while other Greater Israel fanatics, like Sheldon Adelson, keep bankrolling as many Greater Israel GOP nominees as they can. A global war which polarizes America and the world is exactly what Netanyahu wants. And it is exactly what the GOP needs to cut through Obama’s foreign policy advantage in this election. Because it is only through war, crisis and polarization that extremists can mobilize the emotions that keep them in power. They need war to win.

It should be noted that Majority Leader Eric Cantor has already made clear he will side with the PM in a confrontation with President Obama. Following the midterm elections, in November 2010, after a one-on-one meeting with Netanyahu, Cantor said “The new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration.” About this, veteran correspondent for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Ron Kampeas wrote, “I can’t remember an opposition leader telling a foreign leader, in a personal meeting, that he would side, as a policy, with that leader against the president.”

So, if Israel attacks Iran, and Cantor and the Republican presidential candidates are all watching Netanyahu’s back, who’s going to be in the President’s corner?

A late add-on to this post: TPM is reporting tonight on a poll conducted of Israeli citizens regarding their attitudes about Iran.
  • 19% of Jewish Israelis support a strike against Iran even without the backing of the United States.
  • 42% say they support only if there is US support for the move.
  • 32% say they don’t support it under any circumstances.

A clear majority, 74%, either don’t support attacking Iran or would do so only with the support of the U.S. Yet, Netanyahu is showing signs of going it alone. His unilateralism is reminiscent of George W. Bush’s prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Meanwhile, as Peter Beinart has reported that Israeli intelligence officials and military officers have urged that their country refrain from attacking Iran, also reminiscent of the stance that prevailed in much of the U.S. intelligence and military community before 2003. Unfortunately, it turned out that even their opposition couldn’t stop Bush’s war. In the current situation with Israel, a dangerous situation is only made worse by members of the U.S. Congress who would enable Netanyahu’s war.


From Saturday’s NY Times: “Although Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York has been leading the national fight against requiring Roman Catholic hospitals, universities and charities to cover birth control in their health insurance plans for employees and students, some Catholic institutions in his own diocese and others throughout New York State have for 10 years been complying with state law mandating precisely that coverage. The state began requiring contraception coverage in 2002, and Catholic institutions, after losing a court battle over the issue, have followed the law. . . . ‘We currently follow New York State law,’ Mr. Howe [Fordham’s director of communications] said. ‘For employees and students, we provide insurance coverage that includes contraception. That’s the law.'”

Governor of New York State in 2002? Republican George Pataki.

It’s pretty obvious the Catholic bishops’ opposition to the Obama’s administration’s policy of requiring contraceptive coverage is really all about opportunism, and trying to give President Obama a hard time.

Such hypocrisy.

The Anvil Drops On Mitt

According to Greg Sargent’s Plum Line, ABC  News’s Brian Ross has the goods on Mitt Romney’s offshore holdings–it has seemed for weeks to many observers including me in posts here and here–that his willingness to get pounded over the refusal to release his tax returns might be explained by the presence of parts of his personal fortune nested in foreign entities, money beyond the reach of taxation, which prevents the American treasury from getting a fair share of money earned here. Turns out, we were all right all along. From ABC, via Sargent:

“Romney has used a variety of techniques to help minimize the taxes on his estimated $250 million fortune. In addition to paying the lower tax rate on his investment income, Romney has as much as $8 million invested in at least 12 funds listed on a Cayman Islands registry. Another investment, which Romney reports as being worth between $5 million and $25 million, shows up on securities records as having been domiciled in the Caymans. Official documents reviewed by ABC News show that Bain Capital, the private equity partnership Romney once ran, has set up some 138 secretive offshore funds in the Caymans.” // more . . .

From the Annals of Colossal Republican Nerve & Media Failure

From the NY Times article: “The president [Addington] said violated constitutional law. ‘I’m kind of surprised he did it, because more so than most presidents, this guy has a personal ability to assess the constitutional implications,’ Mr. Addington said, referring to Mr. Obama’s experience as a teacher of constitutional law. ‘It’s flabbergasting and, to be honest, a little chilling.’”

Nowhere in the following paragraphs does reporter Weisman point to the appalling and rich irony that this statement was made by a veteran of an administration that never failed to arrogate more power to itself. Surely, Weisman could have pointed at this without injecting the dreaded appearance of undue opinion-making into his piece. His editor should have insisted on more perspective in the story. It is journalism like this that makes news consumers like me disgusted with the New York Times and other media that consistently refuse to point out self-serving and tendentious statements made by partisan sources. // more. . .

A Political Freudian Slip

“With the leadership and backing of the American people, President Obama will turn this country around.”–John McCain, on the campaign trail in South Carolina with Mitt Romney. H/t TPM for the hilarious video.

“Asymmetric Polarization” in American Politics

“Whoever is the standard-bearer, a Republican victory in 2012 would do nothing to reverse or restrain the radically rightward march of the party. The Tea Party movement has accelerated a process that has been under way for many years within the GOP, which is now firm in its identity as the insurgent party, set upon blowing up policies and public responsibilities that enjoyed bipartisan support for many decades. The Democrats are the status quo party— protective and pragmatic. The asymmetric polarization of the two camps is the most significant feature of contemporary American politics.”–from Washington Monthly’s issue devoted to the question, “What If Obama Loses?” // more. . .

Greg Sargent Nails the GOP Plan to Unseat Pres. Obama

Now, according to Sargent’s cogent analysis, those same Repubs plan to channel the electorate into blaming President Obama for supposedly falling short of what he’d pledged to accomplish–and which a clear majority of the country was, and may well still be, eager for him to achieve. Apart from the transparent sabotage of the president and the economy that’s been the undeniable plan of the Repubs, it was never likely that Barack Obama could in four years repair what had been in broken over the previous eight years. This among many reasons is why I will work for the president to give him, and the country, the second term he needs to really do the job. Meantime, I’ll be reading Greg Sargent for lucid analysis of the shifting political tides. Thank you, Greg! // more . . .

Mitt Romney’s Nixonian Non-Transparency

Josh Marshall at TPM is definitely on to something here–Mitt Romney and his campaign are willing to put up with reporters asking embarrassing questions about his refusal to release his tax returns, probably because what’s in them is even more embarrassing, and potentially damaging, than all the pesky questioning they’re getting and will continue to get for the foreseeable future. Invoking the “Buffet Rule” Josh points out that Mitt’s tax rate has likely been at the effective capital gains rate of 15% for years and not the rate about twice that paid by ordinary wage-earners. // more

Late update from TPM: A weird remark by one of Mitt Romney’s many sons, Matt–suggesting the Romney campaign may release Mitt’s tax returns once President Obama discloses his grades and birth certificate–has given Mayor of Minneapolis M.T. Rybak, DNC Vice-Chair, an opening to hit Romney over his lack of transparency. “It’s a bad joke that the Romneys think they can repeat a lie to distract from his failure to be honest about his income.”