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By Ray LeMoine
Obama moves into the White House in one week. Here he is last year in New Hampshire at a fundraiser.
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Transitional Silence
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C/O Getty Images…Hamas fires rockets on Israel.
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Gotta love Google Images

By Ray LeMoine
Barack Obama has remained silent about the war Israel launched Saturday over Gaza, which has killed 370 in five days. On CBS Face the Nation Sunday, the president-elect’s senior advisor David Axelrod was asked about Israel’s assault on Gaza. “The fact is that there is only one president at a time,” Axelrod said on a feed via Chicago. “The Bush administration has to speak for America now. And it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to opine on these matters.”

Axelrod should have an opinion about Gaza. Considering America gives Israel billions in annual military aid, the latest conflict demands a reaction from all concerned, moral Americans. Yes, Israel has a right to defend itself. But should it have the eternal right to offend the entire Arab world (again) with a mission that has no clear goals and involves heavy aerial bombardment of one the densest packed and poorest places on earth?

Today, Israel rejected a 48-hour cease-fire that would have opened a humanitarian aid corridor to Gaza, where basic supplies are running out. If Bush doesn’t want to act, Obama should speak up and distance himself from the tacit support Axelrod gave Sunday.

Gaza is unlike most conflict zones. With its borders and ports closed, Gazans do not have the option to flee the war-zone to refugee camps (it could be argued Gaza is one big refugee camp). The border closings have put Gaza on the brink of humanitarian collapse. It is not time to stress our “special relationship” with a state that violates basic human rights. An air war over Gaza, where civilians have nowhere to flee, is terrorism.

State sponsored terrorism is the oft forgotten cause of non-state terrorism. All of the most notorious Islamic terrorist organizations (Hamas, Hezzbollah, the Taliban, Al Qeada, Lashkar) use a warped Koranic interpretation to advance a political agenda. Yet too often we look at the religious aspects of the war on terror. What makes Muslims want to kill Westerners is not a love of death, it’s Western support for the killing of Muslims in Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan etc. Certainly Hamas, who are dedicated to the destruction of Israel and have been firing Qassams rockets into southern Israel by the dozens, must be confronted in some capacity. But the lessons of Lebanon apply to Gaza. In 2006 Israel tried to destroy Hezzbollah with air strikes and a ground invasion. That war left Hezzbollah stronger than before. Why should anyone assume a different outcome in Gaza?

Axelrod’s and Obama’s silence is contradictory. Why was it ok for Obama/Axelrod to criticize Bush all campaign but now just three weeks from legitimate power they shut up? This whole “one president at a time” thing might work domestically. Bailouts are one thing. No one is going to die when a bank or automaker goes under. But the war over Gaza has cost 400 lives in just five days. It demands swift reaction from all moral parties, even those not yet in power. A British government official, Douglas Alexander, had no trouble speaking out: “The human cost of this conflict is unacceptable and the humanitarian situation is getting worse by the hour.”

Axelrod seems to want to pretend that the campaign is still on, that he can sit on TV when Gaza burns and spin a non-policy. “He [Obama] will promote the cause of peace, and work closely with the Israelis and the Palestinians on that — toward that objective,” Axelrod vaguely offered Sunday, lacking any details on how to attain that “peace” “objective” in the middle of war. Unlike during the campaign, Axelrod did not criticize Bush. Instead he offered support for Bush, even though White House policy (“Israel has a right to defend itself”) has failed for 8 years running.

“This is the world Obama will inherit,” pundits are saying. Unfortunately it’s also the world he lives in, and silence/agreeing with Bush isn’t the way to peace. In the middle of this American power vacuum, Obama should publicly pressure Olmert and Bush to resolve the conflict. Obama should push for cease-fire ASAP. He should ask Israel not to invade and re-occupy Gaza. He should call for immediate regional talks that include Syria and Iran. He should ask Bush to dispatch Rice to the region. He should call for Gaza’s borders to open, to allow aid workers and journalists inside. And he should speak up now, because a Third Intifada and renewed Israeli occupation of Gaza would be blamed on both Israel and America. Further pissing off the world’s Muslims is not in the interest of a nation bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dave Brundage for changing the design. More coming soon, maybe.

Conservatism Moves Left?
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Kristol and Will are admitting the GOP’s faults while trying to save conservatism…

By Ray LeMoine
The humbling and fragmentation of the Republican Party is so refreshing. As they try to redefine their movement, conservative columnists are having a moment of stunning clarity. Yesterday George Will called out his party for practicing socialism, even though they were accusing Obama of being a “socialist.” Today Bill Kristol writes about the free-market gone wild and—weirdly, scarily—makes a lot of sense:

I don’t pretend to know just what has to be done. But I suspect that free-marketers need to be less doctrinaire and less simple-mindedly utility-maximizing, and that they should depend less on abstract econometric models. I think they’ll have to take much more seriously the task of thinking through what are the right rules of the road for both the private and public sectors. They’ll have to figure out what institutional barriers and what monetary, fiscal and legal guardrails are needed for the accountability, transparency and responsibility that allow free markets to work.

And I don’t see why conservatives ought to defend a system that permits securitizing mortgages (or car loans) in a way that seems to make the lenders almost unaccountable for the risk while spreading it, toxically, everywhere else. I don’t see why a commitment to free markets requires permitting banks or bank-like institutions to leverage their assets at 30 to 1. There’s nothing conservative about letting free markets degenerate into something close to Karl Marx’s vision of an atomizing, irresponsible and self-devouring capitalism.

Neo-liberal free-market principals, as defiend by unending deregulation and globalization, have defined conservatism since Reagan. Admitting policy failure could lead to a major revolution in conservatism.

Kristol’s recommending government regulation of markets, not to mention agreeing with Karl Marx. And Will’s calling the Bush/Paulson bailout socialist. These are definitive left-ward turns. For me, anytime Republicans move left, the world wins.

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I see dead people as a reason why audacious hope won the White House. Honk-rap suxxx.

By Ray LeMoine
Gawker turned me on to this quote from XXL Magazine:

De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest are the reasons that there is a non-white president-elect for these United States. You think white folks would have gotten behind a Public Enemy X-Clan candidate? Hellz the fuck no! We needed rappers with a global perspective like KanYe West and Q-Tip to push Barack Obama into office. In a generation, Black people will no longer exist as we know it. We will become Hyper-Black or Ultra-Black. We will be mixed with so many ethnicities that race will no longer matter to us.

(PS I left those last three sentences about hyper-ultra blacks in because they’re funny.)

Sorry, but honk-rap had nothing to do with Obama’s rise. Rather, after Hurricane Katrina Bush lost America (over a thousand blacks drowned). And America became ripe for hope. It was Bush’s audacity—ignoring New Orleans’ stranded blacks as the world watched—that placed race back in the media spotlight—remember Time’s race cover story? Many Americans believed Kanye West when he said, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Six months after Katrina the Audacity of Hope was released. Were it not for Katrina, it’s doubtful America would’ve become so transfixed by Obama’s post-race, post-partisan agenda. It was this Katrina Factor, combined with the Iraq war’s failure, that helped Democrats take control of Congress that fall. And the rest is history.

This sentence was found under WordPress’s time change setting: “Unfortunately, you have to manually update this for Daylight Savings Time. Lame, we know, but will be fixed in the future.” Is that how software is supposed to talk?

US banks to bail out foreign banks, if necc, c/o Mike Allen Politico:

“If a financial institution has business operations in the United States, hires people in the United States, if they are clogged with illiquid assets, they have the same impact on the American people as any other institution,” Paulson said.

Global citizens always love to talk up the end of the so-called American Empire. I always contend: Does your country spend a half trillion of defense, more than all other nations combined? But now I can add: Can your country invade and save other nations’ economies? American supremacy, despite the last year’s economic collapse and the wars abroad, remains intact.

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