John Boehner’s outrageous plan to help a foreign leader undermine Obama


When I first saw this headline, I tweeted how some members of America’s body politic love all of these foreign leaders rather than their own President and as they stand compared to Obama, these leaders, Putin and Netanyahu  are losers in the arena of policy vis-a-vis American interests.  That hasn’t stopped Speaker of the House, Joh n Boehner from doing an end round and bringing Netanyahu to town to upstage the American President.  America, love it or move to Israel…

Vox

House Speaker John Boehner has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress in February, on the topic of Iran. On the surface, this might seem innocent enough. Israel is a close American ally. Surely he should be welcome in Congress, particularly to discuss an issue that concerns his country.

On the surface, Netanyahu’s speech will be about opposing Obama’s nuclear talks with Iran and supporting Republican-led sanctions meant to blow up those talks.

But there’s more than meets the eye here. Netanyahu is playing a game with US domestic politics to try to undermine and pressure Obama — and thus steer US foreign policy. Boehner wants to help him out. By reaching out to Netanyahu directly and setting up a visit without the knowledge of the White House, he is undermining not just Obama’s policies but his very leadership of US foreign policy. The fact that Netanyahu is once again meddling in American politics, and that a US political party is siding with a foreign country over their own president, is extremely unusual, and a major break with the way that foreign relations usually work.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Obama in the White House in March 2014 (Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Obama in the White House in March 2014 (Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty)

Throughout Obama’s tenure, he has clashed with Netanyahu. That is no secret, and it’s nothing new for American and Israeli leaders to disagree, sometimes very publicly. But Netanyahu, beginning in May 2011, adopted a new strategy to try to deal with this: using domestic American politics as a way to try to push around Obama.

During a trip that month to Washington, Netanyahu publicly lectured Obama at a press conference and then gave a speech to Congress slamming the president. That speech, also hosted by Republicans, received many standing ovations for Netanyahu’s finger-wagging criticism of Obama.

At first it appeared that Netanyahu was merely trying to steer Obama’s foreign policy in a direction that he, Netanyahu, preferred. Obama wanted Netanyahu to freeze Israeli settlement growth in the West Bank, for example; Obama has also sought, in his second term, to reach a nuclear deal with Iran that Netanyahu earnestly believes is a bad idea.

Netanyahu’s first responsibility is to Israel’s national interests, not to Obama, so it makes sense that he would push for policies that he thinks are good for Israel.

But in 2011 Netanyahu started going a step further, and appeared to be working to actively remove Obama from power. During the 2012 election cycle, Netanyahu and his government were increasingly critical of Obama and supportive of Republicans, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney, for whom he at times appeared to be actively campaigning. Netanyahu’s criticisms of Obama were so pointed that some of Obama’s opponents cut a campaign ad out of them. It became a joke within Israel that Netanyahu saw himself not as the leader of a sovereign country, but as the Republican senator from Israel.

But trying to unseat a foreign leader is not a joke, especially when that foreign leader is funding your military and guaranteeing your nation’s security.

Netanyahu’s government ramped down this strategy after Obama won; he even gave Obama the world’s most awkward congratulations speech. But throughout Obama’s second term he has once again gradually escalated from trying to influence Obama to actively undermining both the president and his party. The new Israeli ambassador to the US for months would not even bother to meet with National Security Advisor Susan Rice, yet held many meetings with Republican fundraiser Sheldon Adelson. Israel’s foreign policy, in other words, was more focused on undermining the American leadership than working with it.

The Jerusalem skyline (MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty)

The Jerusalem skyline (MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty)

Republicans, aware that Americans are supportive of Israel, have urged on Netanyahu’s anti-Obama campaign since it began in 2011. Inviting him to speak to Congress that year was shrewd domestic politics, and it will be shrewd legislative politics next month when Netanyahu publicly supports the GOP’s sanctions efforts.

This makes sense within the narrow scope of domestic politics — if you can use something to convince voters your party and its policies are a better choice than your opponents, you use it, even if that something is a foreign head of state. But members of Congress are purportedly supposed to put their country before their party, and siding with a foreign leader over your own president doesn’t seem to do that. Neither does cheering a foreign leader when he lambasts the president of the United States.

More to the point, it was a really significant breach when some conservatives supported Netanyahu’s implicit lobbying on behalf of the Romney campaign. If a foreign country wants to unseat your president, that is generally considered an outrageous breach. But Netanyahu has been invited in, and with the 2016 presidential elections ramping up it appears likely he will be invited in once more to implicitly run against the Democrats.

This speaks, in a very real sense, to just how extreme political polarization has become in Washington.

This sort of practice is bad for America’s ability to conduct foreign policy

To be very clear, this is not just a breach of protocol: it’s a very real problem for American foreign policy. The Supreme Court has codified into law the idea that only the president is allowed to make foreign policy, and not Congress, because if there are two branches of government setting foreign policy then America effectively has two foreign policies.

The idea is that the US government needs to be a single unified entity on the world stage in order to conduct effective foreign policy. Letting the president and Congress independently set their own foreign policies would lead to chaos. It would be extremely confusing for foreign leaders, and foreign publics, who don’t always understand how domestic American politics work, and could very easily misread which of the two branches is actually setting the agenda. (This confusion, by the way, is exactly what some Republicans are hoping to create in Iran with new sanctions.)

This could also allow a foreign country to play those two branches off of each other. That’s in part what Netanyahu is attempting to do here, and it’s working. The Obama administration did not even find out about Netanyahu’s planned visit to Washington until Boehner announced it. The Republicans are attempting to run a foreign policy that’s separate from the actual, official US foreign policy.

One more anti-Obama speech from Netanyahu on the floor of Congress is not going to break US foreign policy, of course. But it’s troubling that Republicans are willing to breach such an important principle for some pretty modest short-term gains.

Advertisements

Muslim, the new black


I hope Muslim Americans study very well American history, because it’s about to repeat itself and Muslims will find themselves having to fight the same battles of equality fought by their African-American, Native-American, Asian American and Spanish speaking American brothers and sisters who have fought the entire length of this country’s existence.  What’s even more ironic is this fight is symbolically starting on the day after the country’s observance of Martin Luther King day who’s being honored because he gave his life with a bullet to the brain fighting for the rights of people of color to equality.  Everybody loves to quote Dr. King and memorialize him while at the same time completely  ignoring his calls for racial human rights and equality.  America is determined to go back down the road of bigotry and xenophobia and it has targeted its Muslim citizens.

It’s not an issue of who is Muslim…..they come in all shapes, sizes and colors…..it’s Islam and Muslims that many in America have set their sights on.  No where was that more apparent than during President Obama’s State of the Union Address.  A blogger at RH Reality Check was insightful enough to observe the Senate chamber’s reaction to a portion of Obama’s address.  The word “applause” appears at the points in his speech where members of Congress reacted positively to what the Prez said by clapping/applauding.

As Americans, we respect human dignity, even when we’re threatened, which is why I’ve prohibited torture, [applause] and worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained [applause]. It’s why we speak out against the deplorable anti-Semitism that has resurfaced in certain parts of the world [applause]. It’s why we continue to reject offensive stereotypes of Muslimsthe vast majority of whom share our commitment to peace[SILENCE]. That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender [applause]. We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us safer [applause].

However, no one in Congress, Democrat or Republican seems to think that Muslims are interested in peace and Obama’s remarks fell flat on the deaf ears of America’s lawmakers.  That doesn’t bode well for America’s Muslims.  To add insult to injury, the Speaker of the House, John Boehner unilaterally and unbeknownst to the White House invited Israel’s warmonger Benjamin Netanyahu to talk about Iran and radical Islam…..which means Islam, which means Muslims, all Muslims those who are criminal and deranged beyond any hope as well as those who are law abiding contributing members to their societies……the ones Obama was referring to in his SOTU. Of course, Netanyahu has to demonize Muslims because he too is trying to exterminate them and he wants our help doing so….not that we’ve done very much to stop him, we just haven’t hastened his efforts.

Certainly all the talk about Islamophobia and the hysteria surrounding it takes place in an atmosphere generated by the tragedy in Paris, France surrounding the Charlie Habdo cartoons, and the demonstrations taking place in Germany and the geopolitics of the larger Middle East and it seems America is doomed to repeat its history of enslaving and persecuting a group of people based solely on an affiliation America does not like and it would appear most members of Congress have no problem with that.  This then is a part of our Nation’s character….it revels in xenophobia…..it embellishes it, embraces it, perpetuates it (FoxNews)  and it wants to legalize it, return America to it’s segregationist past, glory.  It won’t even stop at separate but equal, it wants to go beyond that to criminalize and expel.  African-Americans, some living today….have seen this propensity America has to its dark side; Asian-Americans and Native-Americans have too.  Muslim Americans might want to talk to them about how they survived the American juggernaut…..or at the very least, study and learn American history in order to prepare themselves.

Don’t think for one minute these people are serious about their jobs


113th CongressBecause they aren’t!!  I’m not being facetious, I’m serious.  The Republican controlled House, the Party currently running and ruining the show in Washington is NOT serious about governance, compromise, bipartisanship, ANYTHING except collecting their paycheck.  The party dedicated to reducing the budget, cutting entitlements, waste, fraud and everything else is one of the biggest loafers, welfare recipients to drain the government coffers and they do so by merely showing up for work and doing absolutely N-O-T-H-I-N-G. Remember this?  It was a year ago we brought you the work calendar for the House of Representatives which showed members of that body working a total of 126 days for all of 2013.  That’s a little over 4 months out of the year! Four!  Luckily they were scheduled to work two weeks in September and two weeks before the debt extension deadline but the week of the deadline date itself they were scheduled to be off!! They’ve gone and done one better for 2014.  Next year they’ve lopped off 13 days from their work schedule and will only work 113 days next year.  That’s less than 4 months out of the year. Take a look for yourself house-schedule-2014Last year I wrote

They (members of the House) are scheduled to work for only 126 days for a yearly salary of $174000. That’s almost half the number of days the average American works for a whole lot more money.  In other words, they work half as long as we do and get paid more…..and that’s if you’re just a normal member of Congress.  Cantor gets $19,000 more or $193,000 and the Speaker of the House, John Boehner gets $223,000 yearly….all to obfuscate and obstruct Obama’s legislative agenda to the detriment of the country.

Jed Lewison, writing for Daily Kos put up an interesting graphic comparing the congressional work schedule with that of the average American and the comparison is stark.  If you think there’s anyone in Congress who is a champion of your rights and values, unless you’re a crook, thief or Wall Street banker you should disinvest yourself of that notion right now.  Like anyone else who gets away with murder, or robbery, members of Congress are quite content to do as little as possible for as much as they can get! workcalendaranimated3second

Is the GOP’s Islamophobia in retreat or is the whole of the GOP screwed?


3711525790_41aac3d736Mother Jones came up with the article, The GOP’s Anti-Muslim Wing Is in Retreat with several anecdotes they say point to such a decline, in which they claim

…after a November election that saw three of the party’s loudest voices on “creeping Shariah” defeated—and the GOP presidential nominee ignore the issue entirely—the anti-Islam movement within the Republican party may have peaked. Wary of further alienating a once-promising conservative constituency, mainstream Republican leaders have sought, publicly and behind closed doors, to distance themselves from the loudest of the Muslim-bashers in their midst.

…Randa Fahmy Hudome, a former Bush administration official, Washington lobbyist, and prominent Muslim Republican, notes: “There is a self-policing factor in the Republican party, when some members get a little off base on some of these issues. That’s the state of play right now.”

However the problem is not that racists are on the wane in the GOP and thus not able to mount an offensive against America’s Muslim population, the issue is one of the GOP’s own inadequacy in dealing with ANYTHING related to policy.  From issues of women’s reproductive rights, where GOP candidates for office put their foot in their mouths regarding rape and abortion, to issues of the economy where a disorganized GOP saw its House Majority Leader vote against a bill that the Speaker of the House voted for, the GOP is to today’s politics the equivalence of the Keystone Cops, bungling over themselves without any design or purpose.  It’s no wonder Islamophobia has escaped them……they can’t agree on anything nor make any effective statement about anything else!  And if you think this is hyperbole, watch how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did what has never been done before in the halls of Congress…filibuster his own motion in the Senate.

Even more recently Speaker of the House John Boehner was reamed a new one by Islamophobe Peter King over Boehner’s refusal to put on the floor of the House for a vote a bill for funds for Hurricane Sandy relief that directly affects King’s constituency.   King went so far as to say, the day after the bill didn’t appear, that he would urge everyone not to make  any financial contributions to his own Party’s coffers.  He’s  since ameliorated his remarks after being called an a$$hole by Boehner and being reasured the House would vote on relief funds; a really strange conflated way of dealing with matters of policy and collegiality if there ever was one. King as you remember was one of the Party’s stalwarts who led House hearings on the “threat” radical Islam posed to the Homeland and it seems almost like poetic justice that he would be snubbed and then insulted in much the same way he did to many of his Muslim constituents.  However, this points to the dysfunction of the Republican party in ways not seen in recent history.

There is still plenty of kindling available on the American landscape for the GOP to ignite as they gather allies in their march towards power.  In fact inciting racial animus has been a mainstay of political ascendancy in America and there’s no reason to think the party, once it gets its act together won’t resort to that tried and true tactic called demagoguery and whether you agree or disagree that hate crimes, i.e. those against Muslims, are on the wane or not, it’s still true that Muslims are targets of hate in America. A brief look at the headlines here, here and here are anecdotal evidence enough to point to the gold mine the GOP can cultivate when they have the presence of mind to get their act together and do so.

 

Your Congress at work for you


The House Majority leader, Eric Cantor, R-Virginia,who we don’t have a lot positive to say about,  released the work schedule for 2013 for House of Representative members of Congress and guess what? They are scheduled to work for only 126 days for a yearly salary of $174000. That’s almost half the number of days the average American works for a whole lot more money.  In other words, they work half as long as we do and get paid more…..and that’s if you’re just a normal member of Congress.  Cantor gets $19,000 more or $193,000 and the Speaker of the House, John Boehner gets $223,000 yearly….all to obfuscate and obstruct Obama’s legislative agenda to the detriment of the country.  There ought to be a law against getting paid to destroy America and her institutions.

1-3a24b4ed6f

The Republican Refrain of Dissin’ the President


Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...

Image via Wikipedia

We’ve written extensively here on Miscellany101 about how the GOP is the obstructionist/racist party of today’s America.  It’s really bad however when their partisanship interferes with their governance and what’s good for the public they say they serve.  Why anyone would  accept the declaration of their party’s titular head and one of its stalwarts that it wants to pursue a strategy to soil a sitting president’s term, even if it means pursuing goals that prove detrimental to the country is astonishing, to say the least.  Especially when this president, Obama, has  in cases of foreign policy, almost mirrored the stance taken by George Bush, in effect saving a lot of Bush appointees from the embarrassing specter of being tried for high crimes and misdemeanors, the Republican’s position is meant to humiliate Obama and the country too for electing him.

It’s particulary bad however when former conservatives call the GOP out on their racist tendencies, like this one here

So, Boehner, using the phony excuse that Congress wouldn’t be back in session until 6:30 p.m.—as Roger Simon points out Congress was technically never out of session, a move designed to keep Obama from making recess appointments—essentially did what Massa Rush said to do and he put the uppity Negro in his place.

There you have it, all you doubters about the motives of these guys.  Straight from the mouth of the de facto chairman of the Republican Party.  John Boehner put Obama “in his place.” The President of the United States got “smacked down,” as he “attempted to force his way to the front of the line.”

and no one blinks an eye.  But we’re not done……..

Democratic Governors Association Chair and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said Thursday that Republicans were opposed to any plan proposed by President Barack Obama that could lead to job creation.

“I firmly believe that Republicans in Congress, driven by a concerted group, have decided that it is not in their party’s political interest to have the president succeed at creating any jobs,” he said at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. “And I believe therefore they will do their very best to deny him any victories that could lead to job creation or a speedier recovery.”

“I don’t think there is another rational explanation for much of their opposition,” O’Malley added.

There’s is another explanation, and it lies in the comments of Limbaugh and his ditto heads. It’s about putting the black guy in his place.  The GOP has taken a decidedly antagonistic position in American politics…an ‘in your face’ approach to its opponents and the American people.  We vote for them…….we can NOT vote for them the next time they come up for reelection!

A Reminder of the GOP’s platform


Don’t think the Republican Party is the party of racists and bigots? You don’t think America still has a long way to go before it fully realizes the dream of most of the people who elected Obama, or to realize this country’s potential?  Take a look at the video below!

Why bring this up now you ask?  Sarah Palin is still commanding attention and speculation about whether she will run in 2012; Donald Trump has decided to throw his hat into the politcal ring and he began with the same time worn cliches about Obama that defeated the GOP in 2008 and he’s had a strong showing in polls of Republican voters.  The tea party was formed in response to the GOP loss in 2008 and many of its members, a few we’ve talked about here, have continued the racist rhetoric that is evident in the video below.

No doubt the GOP will present itself as the party of fiscal conservatives, responsible government, etc.. but that’s a facade.  The real face of the Republican Party is the one that pushes people to the brink of fear and panic with overt and indirect references to race, religion and offers itself as a panacea for all that ails the country.   They see nothing wrong with doing that and have enlisted the help of women, like Palin and blacks like Herman Cain, Allen West, et.al who can make the ridiculous claim that because they are saying such dastardly demagogic speech  it’s not racism or bigotry.  In reality, such people, photogenic, sophisticated looking people are nothing more than lipstick on a pig.  No matter how you dress it or who you use to spout it it’s still ugly, virulent and yes protected free speech, that is xenophobic and divisive.  What such forces of darkness are counting on is an ignorant, fearful, wanting to be led by the nose electorate who will believe anything they are told and produce the desired results at the polls.  Aren’t we better than that?   America, deal with your problem!

Vodpod videos no longer available.