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Rebooting the US relationship to the Muslim world.
June 4, 2009 8:41 AM   Subscribe

Obama speaks in Cairo: "I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world." Text is here. He quoted the Koran and highlighted a subject he avoided during his campaign - his own family's ties to Islam, his youth in Muslim Indonesia and even Chicago's Nation of Islam. An early roundup of US right wing reaction, and US left wing reaction, and the Middle East.
posted by CunningLinguist (135 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch calls the speech a "flourish of naive Rodney King-ism." What does that even mean? In any case, I doubt that it means what he thinks it means.
posted by blucevalo at 8:50 AM on June 4, 2009


the theme of accusing Obama of an "apology tour"

So the winger position on the mideast is: "They are evil and we'll never ever ever apologize for anything but I'LL BE DAMNED if we stop buying their oil"?
posted by DU at 8:50 AM on June 4, 2009 [6 favorites]


Mr. Obama arrived in Cairo at 9 a.m. and was greeted by the Egyptian foreign minister, Ahmad Aboul Gheit. The streets surrounding the university and across the city were largely quiet and empty on Thursday. Many workers in the Egyptian capital had been told to stay home. The sidewalks were closed to people, but lined by hundreds of uniformed soldiers — some dressed in black, others in white — who had been standing in place for hours before Mr. Obama arrived. - New York Times News Service
posted by Joe Beese at 8:57 AM on June 4, 2009


Rodney King is famous for saying "Can we all get along." So, I guess naive Rodney King-ism would be suggesting that his speech was the equivalent to an episode of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. (Not saying I agree with Spencer, just explicating)
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:59 AM on June 4, 2009


Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch calls the speech a "flourish of naive Rodney King-ism." What does that even mean?

It means he thinks Obama is being ingratiating towards people who beat the hell out of us with clubs. In other words, your typical right-wing interprettation of anyone who doesn't think we should be waging genocidal war against Muslims.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:00 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'd love to hear more about the security arrangements in place.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 9:02 AM on June 4, 2009


Aljaeera : Obama seeks new start with Muslims.
But that might be behind a mental firewall for some of the flyover states.
posted by adamvasco at 9:03 AM on June 4, 2009


blucevalo: "Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch calls the speech a "flourish of naive Rodney King-ism." What does that even mean? In any case, I doubt that it means what he thinks it means."


I think he was referencing Rodney King's plea "Can't we all just get along?" At any rate, I think that was Robert Spencer 's "flourish of cuntism."
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:04 AM on June 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


I just had an impulse to click through to the speech and upvote it. Not in the sense of giving the video a rating, but rather like hitting the [+] next to a MeFi post, or the ^ next to a StackOverflow answer.

I am spending entirely too much time on the Internet and/or I have truly arrived in the 21st century.

Seriously though - a promising speech. Let's hope it's born out by actions.
posted by Zarkonnen at 9:04 AM on June 4, 2009


I'm surprised Drudge isn't making more of that "asalamalakum" at the beginning of the speech, especially given yesterday's inflammatory "Muslim roots" headline. But it looks like he's more interested in the president's facial hair...
posted by Rhaomi at 9:07 AM on June 4, 2009


I think he was referencing Rodney King's plea "Can't we all just get along?" At any rate, I think that was Robert Spencer 's "flourish of cuntism."

I think it means getting famous for having the shit beat out of you, then 15 years later Going on Reality TV.

Not sure how that applies to the speech.
posted by delmoi at 9:09 AM on June 4, 2009


Oh, and I thought it was good speech.
posted by delmoi at 9:11 AM on June 4, 2009


Ambinder: The White House spent months quietly working to ensure it would be carried live across the Middle East.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:11 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


The last two days my Facebook page has been littered with angry anti-Obama sentiment and Muslim-bashing type comments. In fact, anything Obaba does on the world stage seems to incite some kind of twisted reactionary rhetoric from those irrelevant 20%'ers.

When they really get going I just chime in with a comment to let them know what kind of pizza I want.
posted by HyperBlue at 9:11 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mark Lynch (aka Abu Aardvark, the cochair of the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communications and director of the Institute for Middle East Studies) has a very good take on the key points of the speech. It's worth reading.

Also of note is that Obama is apparently not a secret Arab/Muslim. ("hajib"?, "al ulazar"?) Sorry, wingnuts.
posted by oostevo at 9:14 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed," said Barack Obama, Governor-General of the United Colonies.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:14 AM on June 4, 2009 [15 favorites]


Zarkonnen: Not in the sense of giving the video a rating, but rather like hitting the [+] next to a MeFi post

I find myself trying to [+] things in real life all the time. Someone put together index cards with [+] on them, which I think I might need so I can start handing them out to good drivers, adorable kids and friendly cashiers.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:17 AM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Aljaeera : Obama seeks new start with Muslims.
But that might be behind a mental firewall for some of the flyover states.
posted by adamvasco at 11:03 AM on June 4 [+] [!]


Cone on, get over yourself.

Didn't get to hear the whole thing, but what I heard - on the BBC, in my car, in a "flyover state" - was moving and measured.
I know people get tired of the gushing, but sometimes Obama just makes me get all gushy.
posted by readery at 9:27 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Obama is leading the country. Really leading it. Everybody else is just reacting to him. No matter what your position on what he does is, you have to acknowledge that he is in charge.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:30 AM on June 4, 2009 [12 favorites]


In fact, anything Obaba does on the world stage seems to incite some kind of twisted reactionary rhetoric from those irrelevant 20%'ers.

I think many of them actually believe his name is Hussein Al-Obaba. WHERE IS HIS BIRTH CERTIFICATES WHY WON'T HE SHOW US THEM?

It's very interesting, from CunningLinguist's link, that apparently many in the Arab world also think our President is Muslim. Who knew that Redstate.com would have so much in common with the Arab Street?
posted by ScotchRox at 9:30 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like how he acknowledges that Islam paved the way for the European Renaissance and Enlightenment.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:32 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm trying to imagine what conservative criminals mean by calling this the "apology tour". I have visions of Obama's staff wearing denim jackets with "WORLD APOLOGY TOUR 2009" printed in fake rhinestones, with an airbrushed eye issuing a single tear, along with the names of arenas and football fields in all the banana republics we bombed during the Bush years listed underneath.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:33 AM on June 4, 2009 [13 favorites]


I thought it was an excellent speech, and good strategy: Carrot and stick, divide and conquer. Appeal to the moderates and sane people to isolate the violent crazies. I'm not saying that he doesn't believe what he says, I'm just saying that this is the approach we should have been using all along.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:33 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


As a conservative, I am normally critical of Obama, but I really liked this speech. Most of my young Muslim-American friends are elated at President Obama's words as well. I hope that we, as a country, can follow through with Obama's commitments for brotherhood and peace. Let's remember that we're a melting pot of religions, cultures, ideologies, and beliefs, and through that diversity can we best channel strength.

On the foreign policy front, Obama gets a thumbs-up.
posted by gushn at 9:48 AM on June 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


Appeal to the moderates and sane people to isolate the violent crazies.

hopefully that works in the US too...
posted by klanawa at 9:48 AM on June 4, 2009


My favorite part of the speech was when someone yelled out "we love you!" from the audience. He didn't say I love you back, though like he normally does, just a polite thank you.
posted by empath at 9:52 AM on June 4, 2009


As a conservative....my young Muslim-American friends...brotherhood and peace....we're a melting pot of religions, cultures, ideologies, and beliefs, and through that diversity can we best channel strength

Wow.
posted by DU at 9:54 AM on June 4, 2009


I like how he acknowledges that Islam paved the way for the European Renaissance and Enlightenment.

That's two things for the red-staters to despise.
posted by acb at 10:01 AM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


This was a great speech--a speech that I've hoped to hear for the last 15 years. If only he'd included a few more details for the westerners who don't know what he's talking about. While the audience in Cairo and most Middle Easteners know about our involvement in the middle east, people like my mom are just repeating the conservative talking-point that, "America doesn't apologize" (I asked if she knew who Dr. Mohammed Mossadeq (sp?) was, but she didn't).

It was good hearing someone finally call out the middle eastern dictators AS WELL AS Israel (they often use Israel's atrocities--stealing land, killing lots of "collateral" kids, etc--to distract "their" people from their own faults). If only something could actually come of this speech; whether it's a two-state solution or just two would-be "terrorists" deciding to stand down and take off the bomb-vest for now.
posted by whatgorilla at 10:01 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pro-tip: If they make a point of including his middle name they are most likely batshitinsane.
posted by Artw at 10:02 AM on June 4, 2009 [13 favorites]


Looking at the right-wing reaction, it seems gushn isn't alone in his sentiments. Lunatics like Malkin are of course not pleased, but the general reaction on the right seems to be that yes, we'll definitely get a lot more done reaching out to moderates instead of treating everyone with suspicion and contempt. I have to respect that.

As far as the speech itself goes, I don't understand where this "apology tour" meme is coming from at all. He's not saying anything that isn't glaringly obvious to anyone who's been paying attention. To wit:
Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. This has bred more fear and mistrust.

So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.

I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition.
That's pretty much the core of his speech's message, and I can't see how anyone on the right or left can find fault with it. That Malkin and others of her ilk do is unsurprising, seeing as how they continue to rail against the cartoon Muslim strawman.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:03 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]




people like my mom are just repeating the conservative talking-point that, "America doesn't apologize"I could understand thinking "America shouldn't apologize in this situation because we've got nothing to apologize for." But "America doesn't apologize"?

What's wrong with apologizing?
posted by Flunkie at 10:07 AM on June 4, 2009


Fucking Epic! Sometimes I'm like, "is Obama still awesome, he seems to be doing fuck all," and then Obama is all, "Shit, Chunking Express is losing the faith, time to drop some fucking knowledge."
posted by chunking express at 10:07 AM on June 4, 2009 [51 favorites]


I'm not sure--she seemed to imply that it was bad somehow. Her exact words were, "America has helped more people in the world than any other nation. America doesn't need to apologize to anyone." So I guess if I donate enough money and save a bunch of people from certain death, I can kill a few as well." Collateral children happens.
posted by whatgorilla at 10:12 AM on June 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, served in government, stood for civil rights, started businesses, taught at our Universities, excelled in our sports arenas, won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch...

but you fuck just one sheep...
posted by rusty at 10:13 AM on June 4, 2009 [16 favorites]


"For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is indeed a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically-elected Iranian government."

Is that the first time an American president has publicly admitted that?
posted by homunculus at 10:14 AM on June 4, 2009 [8 favorites]


He's not saying anything that isn't glaringly obvious to anyone who's been paying attention.

You are assuming that the right (and I'm thinking here of Rush, Newt, Malkin, etc) are both intelligent and honest.
posted by DU at 10:15 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Obama's Cairo speech available in MP3 format here.
posted by blueberry at 10:16 AM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


That's pretty much the core of his speech's message, and I can't see how anyone on the right or left can find fault with it. That Malkin and others of her ilk do is unsurprising, seeing as how they continue to rail against the cartoon Muslim strawman.

I agree with Malkin on some issues, but she is over the top today. Sometimes the partisan hostility of politics can be too ingrained in some people, on the left and on the right, which is unfortunate.

As a conservative....my young Muslim-American friends...brotherhood and peace....we're a melting pot of religions, cultures, ideologies, and beliefs, and through that diversity can we best channel strength

Wow.
posted by DU at 9:54 AM on June 4 [+] [!]


Oh, quit being divisive.
posted by gushn at 10:20 AM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


You are assuming that the right (and I'm thinking here of Rush, Newt, Malkin, etc) are both intelligent and honest.

I did distinguish between "the right" and Malkin & Co. Most everyone else on the right has been saying either "It was alright speech ... I guess" or "It was a good speech, BUT [commence hair-splitting]".
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:21 AM on June 4, 2009


I'm just watching it again, and really, I know this is trite by now, but the comparison to his predecessor is just so striking.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:21 AM on June 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


From homunculus' link:
[Arabist.net blogger] ISSANDR EL AMRANI: So, you know, there’s been a lot of excitement, of course. President Obama is still in a honeymoon period, I think, globally. A lot of people are excited about a potential change in US policy in the Middle East. But there’s also a healthy dose of skepticism. I think people were curious about what he had to say, but aren’t overly optimistic. They’re going to wait and see concrete action.

...

I agreed with his remarks on the speech, generally speaking. But if you look at some of the issues that were raised by President Obama, such as the issue of torture, which he—you know, he said that this is the ending of torture, the closing of Guantanamo Bay, are policies he enacted early on in his term.

Well, let’s look at how the situation of torture in Egypt—Egypt is considered widely to widely practice torture, as a almost systematic method, basically, of police investigation. Egypt is a country that over the last five years has regressed in terms of political reform, that imprisons political opponents, prevents them from participating in elections.

So the message, because of the location, is a bit mixed, because what Obama is saying is, on the one hand, the United States will not do this, but we will remain allied with regimes that practice the very same torture, humiliation, repression of the opposition. And I think the choice of Cairo makes it fundamentally ambiguous.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:26 AM on June 4, 2009


As far as the speech itself goes, I don't understand where this "apology tour" meme is coming from at all...
It's just "anti-anything-Obama-does" spin. Basically, "Apology tour" is meant to paint him as a bleeding-heart, spineless liberal. 'Cause only a liberal would apologize for us defending ourselves against teh evils. The secondary spin behind "apology tour" is that there is no meat behind the middle-east trip.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:26 AM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's just "anti-anything-Obama-does" spin.

President Obama Calls Sky Blue: Malkin Outraged Over "Color Interprettation Fascism"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:29 AM on June 4, 2009 [9 favorites]


I sort of wish his address had be to Joel Cairo.

OBAMA: We meet at a time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world – tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate.

JOEL CAIRO: Look what you did to my shirt.

OBAMA: As the Holy Koran tells us, "Be conscious of God and speak always the truth." That is what I will try to do – to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.

JOEL CAIRO: You always have a very smooth explanation...

OBAMA: For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is indeed a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically-elected Iranian government.

JOEL CAIRO: You... you imbecile. You bloated idiot. You stupid fat-head you.

OBAMA: The Holy Koran tells us, "O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another."

The Talmud tells us: "The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace."

The Holy Bible tells us, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."

JOEL CAIRO: I certainly wish you would have invented a more reasonable story. I felt distinctly like an idiot repeating it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:29 AM on June 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


Oh, quit being divisive.

I wasn't intending to be. You have to admit that conservatives (admitting to) having Muslim friends and (honestly) praising diversity of religion and race is fairly rare.
posted by DU at 10:31 AM on June 4, 2009


Oh, quit being divisive.

It's possible he was actually impressed. I was, and could have said the same thing.

(On the other hand... Malkin? I suppose I've occasionally agreed with her too, but the experience is rare enough compared to the strange experience of staring into the fun-house mirror of her rhetoric that I find I have to check myself when it happens.)
posted by weston at 10:34 AM on June 4, 2009


I really hate when Obama does, well, anything. All it does is stir up all the crazy right-wingers from New Hampshire that sit in the cubes around me. It's starting to get on my nerves.

The guy that sits right next to me calls the president "The Messiah" in the derogatory tone of voice that only a crotchety old man can accomplish. Today's rant was about how America sold "the Humvee" to China and how we're all going to be driving Chinese cars in ten years and "The Messiah" has no idea how to run a car company. Then he goes on about his guns and how much he hates Massachusetts because of the libruls.

I'm a fairly agreeable guy, and I like to think that I have a certain amount of respect and good will here. But if I hear this guy exclaim "don't bring your liberal friends up to New Hampshire, we don't want 'em!" I swear someone is gonna get punched in the throat.

My point being that I really can't wait for the water cooler conversation tomorrow, after they all read the news this evening.
posted by backseatpilot at 10:36 AM on June 4, 2009 [7 favorites]


You have to admit that conservatives (admitting to) having Muslim friends and (honestly) praising diversity of religion and race is fairly rare.

Not at all. I guess you need to define what you mean by 'conservative'. I know many people with conservative views on economic policy who are otherwise very socially progressive.
posted by rocket88 at 10:41 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia.

very true, mr obama, but how many of those ended up getting full and equal rights from a "two state solution"? - is there a united states of black america? - a zululand of south africa? - how is the partition of yugoslavia going?

what if the palestinian people decide that peaceful and determined insistence on a one state solution is best?

the point being that 1 - the terms of peace in the middle east cannot be settled in washington 2 - that the american civil rights experience is not necessarily a good analogy to the israel/palestine quandary 3 - that we, in fact, rejected a "two state solution" in our courts a long time ago as separate and unequal
posted by pyramid termite at 10:42 AM on June 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


(On the other hand... Malkin? I suppose I've occasionally agreed with her too, but the experience is rare enough compared to the strange experience of staring into the fun-house mirror of her rhetoric that I find I have to check myself when it happens.)

I've agreed with Malkin in the past, too. That scarf Rachael Ray wore was ug-ah-LEE!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:45 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


But if I hear this guy exclaim "don't bring your liberal friends up to New Hampshire, we don't want 'em!"
Tell him to enjoy retirement without Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:47 AM on June 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


I wasn't intending to be. You have to admit that conservatives (admitting to) having Muslim friends and (honestly) praising diversity of religion and race is fairly rare.

Sorry, I don't agree with you at all. When our country has been as divided as it has been in the last few elections, there will be a lot of people with differing opinions, but it does not mean we can't be civil or even friendly with each other. Maybe, and I am saying this with no ill-will, you can try reaching out to other people a little more to understand that labels are just petty labels and nothing more.

I think the whole point of Obama's message today, and why people from both political parties are praising his words, is that he is asking everyone-- Americans and Muslims, Israelis and Palestinians-- to do the same thing.
posted by gushn at 10:47 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


conservative does not have to mean REPUBLICAN. it particularly doesn't have to mean BATSHITINSANE REPUBLICAN.
posted by spicynuts at 10:48 AM on June 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


the speech was rousing. But what matters, as noted in the streets of Cairo, is the policies and actions that come or are to come in the immediate future. Note that when Obama won the election, we heard some rousing stuff from those not supporting him as to how we need to cooperate and make amends and be nice and build a great nation. That lasted about 38 minutes after Obama got sworn into office. So too perhaps the call for peace and love is nice in the speech. Let's see what now takes place.
posted by Postroad at 10:51 AM on June 4, 2009


Whatgorilla, please tell your mom that, in point of fact, America does apologize. Sometimes. A few decades late. If we've done something that's so clearly fucked-up that it's impossible to ignore. But yes, America does apologize. And that's a good thing. We should do it more often.

In a more general sense, I wish that people would apply the same moral standards to their country that they do to their 3-year old children. Would you tell a kid that it's somehow a moral virtue to never apologize? I think gushn has it right: the good thing about Obama's speech is that he was holding everyone to the same, simple moral standard -- and it's not that complicated either. It's the same stuff you'd to teach your kid. Now I just hope we (and everybody else) can act on it.
posted by ourobouros at 11:01 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Note that when Obama won the election, we heard some rousing stuff from those not supporting him as to how we need to cooperate and make amends and be nice and build a great nation. That lasted about 38 minutes after Obama got sworn into office.

Oh come on, it's not like Muslim extremists are nearly as insane or belligerent as Republicans.
posted by Artw at 11:01 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I know many people with conservative views on economic policy who are otherwise very socially progressive.

These people generally say something like "I'm a fiscal conservative" rather than "I'm a conservative". The latter kind of implies the whole package.

Anyway, I came to praise gushn, not bury him. So rearrange whatever offensive thing I said into something that sounds like that and let's move on.
posted by DU at 11:08 AM on June 4, 2009


Dear Mr. President,

Nice words... but do you think you can do something about the now numerous actions which directly contradict your campaign promises?
I know you want to make getting healthcare passed a priority before anything which might invite controversy, but really... can we please set a date and time as to when we can expect you to do your goddamned job, as promised?

How controversial is it to pass legislation to do exactly what you said you would do and what you were elected to do, rather than repeat and further entrench the Bush-era desecration of our remaining civil rights?

Might I suggest offering up a "Because I promised everyone, so I don't want to hear any more bitching because you were all warned"omnibus package, to push through your promises? Get all the campaign promises covered at once... just don't leave us feeling damned if you do, damned if you don't.
posted by markkraft at 11:18 AM on June 4, 2009


Good photo
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:24 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dear Mark Kraft,

Thank you for your correspondence. I enjoy reading letters such as yours, as they give me an opportunity to reflect on how little some folks understand about the machinations of federal politics and the political realities of a two-party system in such a massively diverse nation as ours. I look forward to reading more from you on the topics of: "I want my pony and I want it now!" and "Why isn't everything perfect already?" I've taken your advice, such as it is, under advisement and have decided to snap my fingers and provide everything you wish. Why this hadn't occurred to me before is beyond me. Thank you for your service to your nation via e-poutrage. You're making a real difference in the life of this nation, and I'm humbly grateful for your contribution.

Sincerely,
Barack H. Obama
posted by joe lisboa at 11:35 AM on June 4, 2009 [46 favorites]


Yeah, what is up with Obama not strong-arming everyone into getting all his campaign promises passed all at once? It's already June!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:35 AM on June 4, 2009 [7 favorites]


Kinda what Spicynuts said. Read the Economist sometime. They're pretty much conservative classic. Trying to compare them to Ann Coulter isn't going to work.

Back before the Bizzaro Supermanification of American politics it was OK for both sides of the asile to agree on things like, oh, slamming your hand in a car door again and again is somewhat painful. Since then it's more about brand name and identity. If the left shirks away from slamming their hands in car doors then the game plan says the right MUST embrace it. Loudly! Not that Rush Limbaugh is going to slam HIS hand in a car door, but you know, Support our Troops!

If you take your brand on a headlong run down the slippery slope, though, you start loosing the people who wanted the product you were selling in the first place.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:48 AM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Not that Rush Limbaugh is going to slam HIS hand in a car door, but you know, Support our Troops!

Not only would Rush Limbaugh slam his hand in a car door if Obama advised against people doing it, Rush would slam his hand in the door of an SUV, preferably one with the worst mileage he could find. Besides, with all that oxycontin on stand-by, Rush could probably stick his hand in a running garbage disposal unit without realizing it.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:52 AM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's not just that the President isn't taking action to comply with several of his campaign promises as to how he would run his administration... he's actively going against them, by having his administration support turdsickles such as this.

It might as well be called the "Just In Case A Judge Orders US to Follow The Law, We're Suspending The Law For Five Years" Act... and its being inserted into the funding for Afghanistan and Iraq, so going against it would be too controversial to do for most politicians.
posted by markkraft at 11:56 AM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


I liked how the Democrats voted down that Guantanemo thing... got to keep Obama from dragging them to far away from their core principles of being self defeating cowardly losers.
posted by Artw at 11:58 AM on June 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


Might I suggest offering up a "Because I promised everyone, so I don't want to hear any more bitching because you were all warned"omnibus package, to push through your promises?

If you actually want to see those promises implemented as actual federal policies, this is basically the worst idea ever.
posted by lalex at 12:02 PM on June 4, 2009


"I can't believe I'm even saying this... listeners, I hope you're ready, I hope you're - (canned chuckling) I just got this in, and I'm laughing, but I'm also a little shocked and concerned for our great nation here, but it says right here on my sheet, it says it right here, that President Obama is actually afraid of slamming his hand in a car door.

(pause)

Did y'all let that sink in? That's right. It took 100 years, but we've gone from Teddy Roosevelt, a man who led the charge at San Juan Hill and vacationed on Safari, to a president who can't stomach the thought of something that soccer moms are shrugging off every day.

(pause, laughter)

I mean, it'd be funny if he weren't in charge of our troops. What kind of message does this send to them - being asked to sacrifice their lives by a man who faints at the thought of the tiniest bit of pain? It's disrespectful to the troops, is what it is.

Disrespectful, plain and simple."
posted by Navelgazer at 12:03 PM on June 4, 2009 [9 favorites]


It's not just that the President isn't taking action to comply with several of his campaign promises as to how he would run his administration... he's actively going against them, by having his administration support turdsickles such as this.

Yeah, that's regrettable, no doubt about it. Still different from seriously proposing wrapping up all the campaign goals in one omnibus package to be passed at once, easy peasy.

This whole argument seems to run in circles - Obama does something historic and important, and there are people ready to bring up stuff not being done versus people bringing up stuff Obama isn't doing and there are people ready to bring up historic and important things Obama is doing.

It's not a perfect presidency and it's good to be vigilant, reminding him what he promised. I think the reaction right now is sort of like, we're all sitting here amazed that an American president is trying to make nice with the Muslim world and reverse years of damage through public discourse, and we'd like to enjoy that for a moment.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:08 PM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


readery: I don't think you understand me. Obama is not my President but I applaud the man for making the speech he did where he did. The reaction from the Arab world is more interesting that the reaction from the normal red state blowhards who I believe live mainly in what are termed the Flyover States. Aljazeera is the only arab broadcaster that I know of in the English language, however the fact that it is an Arab run station throws the wing nuts into apoplexy.
posted by adamvasco at 12:13 PM on June 4, 2009


adamvasco: " I applaud the man for making the speech he did where he did."

Hossam el-Hamalawy:

The capital is under occupation. Security troops are deployed in the main public squares and metro stations. Citizens were detained en masse and shops were told to close down in Bein el-Sarayat area, neighboring Cairo University, where Obama will be speaking. In Al-Azhar University, the co-host of the “historical speech,” State Security police raided and detained at least 200 foreign students, held them without charges in unknown locations. Exams were postponed in the major universities fearing demonstrations, and students were told to stay at home. And in several areas in Cairo and Giza, there will be in effect a curfew, where shops won’t be allowed to open, citizens instructed not to open their windows. Almost everyone I know will be staying home tomorrow watching Obama’s speech, not necessarily because they are keen on knowing what the freshly-elected US leader has to say to the Muslim world, but because they know it will be virtually impossible to move anywhere in the city on Thursday thanks to Obama’s force-for-stability host.

Those few dozens, who dared in this atmosphere to call for a peaceful protest against the visit on Wednesday evening, were met by hundreds of plainclothes police informers in Tahrir Square, Cairo’s biggest, together with thousands of riot police conscripts in their armored trucks. Police cracked down rounding up several figures from the opposition, and chasing the rest of the protesters in the side streets of downtown Cairo.

“Republicans screw the Arabs. Democrats screw the Arabs, but with a smile,” is a popular saying among the dissidents’ circles in Egypt. President Obama’s choice of our country as his next destination from where to address the Muslim World only validates the saying. Even before his “historical speech” is delivered, Obama’s “mini-historical speeches” have been nothing but one slap after the other on the faces of human rights campaigners in the region. After conversing with the Saudi monarch, “yes we can” changed to “I’m struck by his majesty’s wisdom.” Will the next step be praising the public beheadings in the kingdom as an example of ideal justice?

posted by Joe Beese at 1:03 PM on June 4, 2009


“Republicans screw the Arabs. Democrats screw the Arabs, but with a smile,” is a popular saying among the dissidents’ circles in Egypt. President Obama’s choice of our country as his next destination from where to address the Muslim World only validates the saying.

Was the implication here that Obama asked the Egyptian government to round up all these people before his arrival? Because I'm pretty sure Egypt had a crap human rights record before Obama showed up.

I can appreciate the senitment about how we act towards repressive regimes who nonetheless serve out interests. We do need to put the pressure on. But a person is more likely to listen to their friends than their adversaries, and I think Obama is working the friendship angle here. "With us or against us" didn't pan out so good.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:09 PM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's not just that the President isn't taking action to comply with several of his campaign promises as to how he would run his administration... he's actively going against them, by having his administration support turdsickles such as this.

More on that turdsickle from Greenwald: Obama's support for the new Graham-Lieberman secrecy law
posted by homunculus at 1:11 PM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


"we're all sitting here amazed that an American president is trying to make nice with the Muslim world and reverse years of damage through public discourse, and we'd like to enjoy that for a moment."

True... but is it really all that new? Or just a return to the pre-Bush era status quo?!

Take Obama's brief mention of the US overthrowing Iran's democratic government in the fifties.. . The Clinton administration did it first... and threw in soccer diplomacy, to boot.
posted by markkraft at 1:14 PM on June 4, 2009


It is amazing how the Bush years seemed to have created this dark blot extending farther into the past than it actually went. Thanks for the reminder.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:16 PM on June 4, 2009


Or just a return to the pre-Bush era status quo?!

Is that such a bad thing? I think that we're still in the "stop digging the hole any deeper" phase of the Obama presidency. Bush screwed things up so badly that just putting things back to where they were before he started seems like a fine goal to me.
posted by octothorpe at 1:35 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


markkraft: "Take Obama's brief mention of the US overthrowing Iran's democratic government in the fifties... The Clinton administration did it first..."

At Talking Points Memo, there's a piece on the speech by Daniel Levy - the general tone of which may be gleaned from its opening sentence: The Obama team's remarkable wordsmithery and the president's unparalleled capacity for delivery were exquisitely on display again...

Among the posies in his bouquet of adulation:

Almost eight years on, there it was, an American president explaining to the world what happened on [9/11] and the war of necessity against al-Qaeda that was launched in its wake.

While Obama was keeping it real about that awkward installing-a-torturing-despot business in Iran, I wonder if he also found time to slip in an "our bad" about having helped create Al-Qaeda in the first place with one of those massively funded covert CIA ops that never seem to go quite right.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:35 PM on June 4, 2009


pyramid termite: "[we] rejected a 'two state solution' in our courts a long time ago as separate and unequal"

--before that there was that two-state solution which resulted in the north attacking us.
posted by whatgorilla at 1:43 PM on June 4, 2009


I think the idea that America should never apologize because we've done more to help people in the world than anyone else is the same as saying the father with a wife and 4 kids gets to slap his wife and kids around because he's the one who goes out 60 hours a week to support their asses.
posted by PigAlien at 1:48 PM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


I was walking by one of the TVs at work and the news was, somewhat breathlessly, reporting on the speech. The banner at the bottom held the caption: "Terrorism: the one word he didn't say!"

Which is bullshit. Because I bet he didn't say "Pineapple" or "Octopus" or "Hand-job" either. If you want to sensationalize the story, at least have it make sense.

Crap reporting is crap reporting.
posted by quin at 1:55 PM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Waaait a minute. What does Obama have against pineapples, anyway?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:59 PM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


It is amazing how the Bush years seemed to have created this dark blot extending farther into the past than it actually went.

It seems like they actually took up the whole past. All of it. Sometimes I wake up and realize that not only is George W. Bush no longer President, but Barack Obama actually got elected and I voted for him, and holy shit, it makes me so happy I almost weep.

President Barack Obama. Man. It's still awesome.

While yes, I believe we should be holding him to his campaign promises, the perfect is the enemy of the good. Also: let's just imagine the world we'd be living in under a McCain presidency. I just imagined that and I need to go and retrieve pieces of my exploded head from the other side of the apartment.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:00 PM on June 4, 2009 [6 favorites]


Because I bet he didn't say "Pineapple" or "Octopus" or "Hand-job" either.

If he didn't, I need to send him some of my porn.
posted by qvantamon at 2:04 PM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Joe Beese and Marisa Stole the Precious Thing are commenting past each other up thread. Politics operates on two levels: a symbolic level, and a policy level. The Obama speech in Cairo was meant symbolically, and we all have to wait and see how (or even if) the policies enacted in the future reflect (or do not reflect) positive change. But Obama was correct to emphasize in his speech that the various sides in the mideast conflict must also step up to the plate. The fact that Cairo was put on security lock-down for Obama's visit is indeed disheartening on many levels, but if the alternative was not having Obama speak or visit at all, then it seems better to have let it gone forward as it did.
posted by ornate insect at 2:11 PM on June 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


“Aljaeera : Obama seeks new start with Muslims.
But that might be behind a mental firewall for some of the flyover states.” posted by adamvasco


Yeah. Obama’s totally not popular in Illinois.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:32 PM on June 4, 2009


very true, mr obama, but how many of those ended up getting full and equal rights from a "two state solution"? - is there a united states of black america? - a zululand of south africa? - how is the partition of yugoslavia going?
what if the Palestinian people decide that peaceful and determined insistence on a one state solution is best?

Do you have any evidence that most Palestinians actually want a one-state solution? Splitting a country up is nothing like segregation. In fact, the current situation is much more like segregation then a two-state solution would be.
I know you want to make getting healthcare passed a priority before anything which might invite controversy, but really... can we please set a date and time as to when we can expect you to do your goddamned job, as promised?
He just said he wants it done by October.
Thank you for your correspondence. I enjoy reading letters such as yours, as they give me an opportunity to reflect on how little some folks understand about the machinations of federal politics and the political realities of a two-party system in such a massively diverse nation as ours.
I don't know if you've noticed, but once Al Franken is seated in the senate the U.S. will not effectively have a "two party" system in the federal government. Republicans will be there, but they will be completely powerless unless they can recruit democrats to their position. In other words, the democrats can, if they are unanimous in the senate, pass whatever they want.

If you're going to be snarkily dismissive, it helps if you know what you're talking about.
posted by delmoi at 2:59 PM on June 4, 2009


Why does Obama hate handjobs so much?
posted by vibrotronica at 3:01 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is amazing how the Bush years seemed to have created this dark blot extending farther into the past than it actually went.
It seems like they actually took up the whole past. All of it.
I think as far as the average middle easterner is concerned it has nothing to do with "seeming". U.S. foreign policy in the middle east, and for the most part Latin America has always been terrible.
posted by delmoi at 3:03 PM on June 4, 2009


"Why does Obama hate handjobs so much?"

He went to Five Guy's, he didn't have time to go to Starbucks.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:14 PM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]




So he doesn't hate handjobs? I'm confused.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:57 PM on June 4, 2009


Why does anyone care what Liz Cheney has to say?
posted by chunking express at 5:07 PM on June 4, 2009 [6 favorites]


Every day Talking Points memo does a "the day in 100 seonds", basically a roundup of banter from the networks over the day. Today's was classic Especially the last five seconds.
posted by delmoi at 5:27 PM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


It is nice to have a leader who acts like an adult, who engages all people, rather than a president who acts more like a petulant toddler. Things are looking up in the world. The downside is that what Obama is doing is incredibly difficult to pull off in a world of sound bites, ten second news cycles and endless confrontational politics and talking points. The future after Obama remains at issue.
posted by caddis at 5:37 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Andrew Sullivan links to This paragraph free post by "the Angry Arab". Here's what he excerpted:
[Obama's] reference to the early roots of Islam in America is so disingenuous: he has one bland quote from John Adams and leave out various expressions of bigotry against Muslims by founding fathers. And he then condemns (unspecified) Western stereotypes of Muslims and then matches them with what he calls Muslim stereotypes of America as empire. But those two are not symmetrical: American stereotypes of Muslims are racist and essentialist, and the notion that the US is a war mongering Empire is shared by [non-Muslims] and Muslims alike around the world. The literature about the US as Empire is written largely by Westerners.

So Obama is asking for a bargain: to end Western racism (but not wars) against Muslims, Muslims need to stop attacking US foreign policy and wars. This is chicanery--don't you like those old fashioned words? He talks about the US as a force of "progress." How untrue for Obama's audience: the US has consistently opposed forces of progress and advancement in the Middle East: in every conflict between an oil Sheikh or a polygamous prince against progressive socialists or Arab nationalist secularists, the US has always sided with the polygamous princes who have been in alliance with religious kooks and advocates of "holy wars." Hell, he just came from Saudi Arabia where he praised the wisdom of the Saudi king and he wants to talk to me about "force of progress"? Maybe if you can bring up the issue of Wahhabi fanaticism I would believe you.
I think the guy's got a point. Is it fair to ask middle easterner's to drop their "stereotype" of America as an Imperialist power without explaining why what we did in the past wasn't imperialist, or explaining how we've changed?
posted by delmoi at 5:40 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Angry Arab is just one more bigot. "You are prejudiced against me, but we are not prejudiced against you." Yeah right, like that ever happens. There is prejudice and hatred to go around, especially in this particular conflict. Obama's attempt to find some common ground is a good thing. Acknowledge your differences and your similarities, and put more emphasis on where you have common ground and that moves the ball forward. In that vein, I take back the bigot call-out from my first sentence. Let's just say less than open minded.
posted by caddis at 5:49 PM on June 4, 2009


Republicans will be there, but they will be completely powerless unless they can recruit democrats to their position.

Meet Senator Ben Nelson.
posted by Ludi at 5:56 PM on June 4, 2009


A comment or two about Robert Spencer's analysis of the speech at Jihad Watch, but no links. Here you are.
posted by eccnineten at 5:59 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jihad Watch is a shit stain.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:03 PM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Are you linking to Jihad Watch ironically? Because that site is all kinds of stupid. All kinds. Are you going to let us know what the vdare crowd thought of the speech next?
posted by chunking express at 6:18 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, you favourited your own comment? Seriously.
posted by chunking express at 6:19 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've heard several conservatives saying the presidents full name over the last few days. I think it's because they like, and respect, him. They are so weird.
posted by Flex1970 at 7:07 PM on June 4, 2009


By now we've probably all heard that when he toured the pyramids at Giza today, he joked that one of the hieroglyphics looked like him. I just found the pic. It DOES!
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:19 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


favourited your own comment?

Turns out eccnineten always favorites his own comments.
posted by ornate insect at 8:17 PM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]




AZ: I sort of wish his address had be to Joel Cairo.

I am so sad that I can only favorite a post once.
posted by rifflesby at 9:15 PM on June 4, 2009


CunningLinguist's YT link is such a sad commentary on Israeli youth today. The n-word is dropped in reference to Obama by people imitating black rappers (oh the irony), drunken threats to assassinate Obama are pledged, and self-professed political science majors don't even know who Netanyahu is.

It's amazing how the mere fact that Obama is talking to Muslims, and not just bombing them, provokes so much outrage and paranoia. There's an insularity at work here that's truly surreal: a protective bubble that allows well-off Israeli youth to sip beers and act as if the slightest bit of well-intentioned and constructive criticism of certain Israeli policies represents an outright attack on all Judea. And meanwhile people in Gaza are living in tents.
posted by ornate insect at 9:48 PM on June 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


Young drunk American Jews in Jerusalem, the night before Obama's speech.

I wonder if that's worth breaking out the old youtube downloader for, in case it "accidentally" disappears.
posted by Amanojaku at 9:56 PM on June 4, 2009


Rachel Maddow's take.
posted by Flex1970 at 10:25 PM on June 4, 2009


Pro-tip: If they make a point of including his middle name they are most likely batshitinsane.

While this is true I find myself using it because it is still utterly amazing that a black man called Barack Hussein Obama was elected President of the United States.
posted by IvoShandor at 11:16 PM on June 4, 2009


By now we've probably all heard that when he toured the pyramids at Giza today, he joked that one of the hieroglyphics looked like him. I just found the pic. It DOES!

It really does. That's hilarious!
posted by homunculus at 11:21 PM on June 4, 2009


Republicans will be there, but they will be completely powerless unless they can recruit democrats to their position. In other words, the democrats can, if they are unanimous in the senate, pass whatever they want.

If you're going to be snarkily dismissive, it helps if you know what you're talking about.


I couldn't agree more, sir. Which is why I'd caution you against reading 60 ostensible and technically "Democratic" senatorial votes as an automatic, immediate green-light for whatever you or I or Mr. Kraft think should be enacted with respect to policy. I dare say you're presuming (snarkily and dismissively and, well, apparently ignorantly) that the votes of, say, an Evan Bayh or Ben Nelson are -- to put it bluntly -- dependable in any real sense absent an accounting of the electoral realities and pressures that surround (indeed, handicap, from my perspective) such political players. I don't appreciate being lectured about "political reality" by someone who appears to presume that 60 Democratic votes "in-name" guarantee an ability to wave magic policy wands, even if that's done in the name of priorities dear to my own agenda.

If you want to lecture people about "knowing what they're talking about," then I'd begin with a long look in the mirror. And, for the record, I haven't even broached the topic of Harry fuckin' Reid, someone whose record(s) and posture(s) I heartily suspect we both find, well, suspect at best. If you want to be pragmatic, let's be pragmatic. If you want to "hope" that 60 "Democratic" votes somehow magically becomes a talisman against the institutional inertia of Washington, then I have to wonder to what extent polemic diatribes against "hope" and "change" aren't just so much (unreflective?) exercises in self-loathing projection. I say this with zero malice in my heart and the "hope" (heh!) that we're largely on the same side, here.

If we had 60 legitimately progressive votes in the Senate, this would be moot at best and pedantic at worst. As it is, and as things are, we've got to play the hand we've been dealt. And, shitty poker player that I am, I'm willing to defer (for the moment and with some flexible resignation) to the judgment of the political agent who was able to mount an essentially insurgent presidential campaign despite astronomically long odds and against a bevy of inside players. The way I see it, and over my more idealistic objections, there is only so much executive political capital to spend in a lobby-laden democratic republic at any given time, and plenty of "wise insiders" have been left mouth-agape by the tactical maneuvers of this young now-President. I'm willing to work on the operative assumption that this White House is playing long ball (or chess or whatever metaphor suits your fancy) unless and until sufficient time has passed to call BS and shenanigans. This is not wide-eyed gullibility. This is giving "full faith and credit" where it is due and where it has been earned.

I don't dare presume this President will mend every flaw of this all-too-human republic. But I also don't dare presume to predict the future or to handicap-via-cynical-apathy the chances for progress in the very areas that lead me to volunteer on his campaign's behalf in the first place. The Joe Beeses of the world (or nation) play a crucial role here. But it's only one role. I'm rambling, so I'll close with this: we can bitch about the fact, say, that Obama didn't address gay marriage in his address to the Muslim world. Or, we can work locally to facilitate recognition of equal marriage rights for all Americans whilst acknowledging that a sitting US President just travelled to the heart of the Arab-Muslim world and delivered an address that managed to, simultaneously, treat its intended audience as global equals (e.g., by respectfully quoting the Koran and recognizing Islamic contributions to Western civilization more generally), demand honest participation in a peace process that's been for far too long nothing more than the rote recitation of position papers and bromides (e.g., by observing that Holocaust denial or dismissal of any stripe is asinine and inhuman whilst insisting that continued West Bank settlements are a potential deal-breaker and ultimately counter-productive to said process), and summon all of us (believer and non-believer alike) to a higher, that is, cross-cultural and, dare I say, universal ethical standard of humane behavior that all three Abrahamic faiths at minimum pay lip-service to. This, and all the while defending (albeit in generic terms) both the reasonableness and political efficacy of, e.g., freedom of conscience, democracy, and gender equality.

It may not "work" -- i.e., it may not change minds or resolve problems overnight. But words have changed the world before: for better and for worse. I know I'm off (your original) topic now, delmoi. But all of this is bigger than any one of us which is why I'm willing to work to help see this vision through, and it's also why (after a few pints) I'm willing to spew so much needless internet text on the idea that, instead of dismissing the intentions of this particular President out-of-hand, we all can and should take him at his word and then do what we can to see that word made deed. Sorry for the dude-ifesto, and thanks for the (sorta, mostly) thoughtful thread, all. I'll do my best to keep the ad hominems to a minimum from here out. Unless we're talking vaccines, of course. Or Scientology. Peace.

GYOFB
posted by joe lisboa at 12:11 AM on June 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


Do you have any evidence that most Palestinians actually want a one-state solution?

i've seen increasing references to it in the last few years - and logically, the longer it takes to get a two state solution going, the more likely it is that people will start looking for alternatives

right now, the two state solution hasn't been progressing that i can see

but my real point was this - you can't use american history to understand or draw analogies to the situation in the middle east, as we have found our solution in unity, not separatism
posted by pyramid termite at 12:49 AM on June 5, 2009


By now we've probably all heard that when he toured the pyramids at Giza today, he joked that one of the hieroglyphics looked like him. I just found the pic. It DOES!

Oh no! He really is the antichrist!
posted by caddis at 6:17 AM on June 5, 2009


CunningLinguist's YT link is such a sad commentary on Israeli youth today.

I guess I'm a bit confused by this video, and hope someone can enlighten me.

How can these youth be representative of Israeli views when they are so obviously American? What is the context for these young men and women to make these statements? Are they on vacation in Israel? Have they moved there? One of the young men says he worked on Obama's campaign -- is he American or Israeli? Another talks about Obama taking away guns? Is he trying to do that to Israel, or are these really Americans who are on vacation?

I hate to be an ignorant Ami, here, but this makes no sense to me. Help?
posted by hippybear at 7:59 AM on June 5, 2009


Blumenthal is the same fellow that did the Generation Chicken-Hawk video asking College Republicans why they weren't joining the army. His gimmick is getting obnoxious people to say stupid shit. And i'm pretty sure he's not trying to suggest this is a typical Israeli take on things, since he didn't edit the video to drop all the 'these are obviously Americans' dialog. I think he likes to point out how Americans can be big douche bags.
posted by chunking express at 8:15 AM on June 5, 2009


What is the context for these young men and women to make these statements? Are they on vacation in Israel?

Here's what the filmmaker says:

"Doubtlessly anyone who has visited Jerusalem has encountered the droves of American Jewish kids that are sent to Israel to study for a period of time from Teaneck or Westchester. .....The sense of entitlement that the American Jewish community has when it comes to Israeli policy is on full raw display in the words of these young adults."

More at his website.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:39 AM on June 5, 2009


chunking is right - I think he's trying to make these obviously repellent, uneducated and spoiled racist morons represent far more than they do.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:41 AM on June 5, 2009


The strangest part of that film is right at the start: what's with the Jewish kid shouting White Power and then calling Obama a Nigger? (Does the dude know the KKK hates Jewish people too? That, or this is some serious, 187 on an undercover cop, deep dover.)

And hippybear, I think this is the more relevant take away from the film makers message: "These people reflect the sentiments shared by many people in this country and this city. These people and their families are the core of the opposition to meaningful peace between Israel and her neighbors. This is what Obama is up against."
posted by chunking express at 8:50 AM on June 5, 2009


I think the bigger complaint is that people focus on the angry/crazy Arab or Palestinian, but ignore the angry/crazy Israeli.
posted by chunking express at 8:51 AM on June 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


For the record, my "GYOFB" sign-off above was directed squarely at moi. Nothing but self-deprecation. And delmoi, I appreciate your comments but I stand by my original claim that -- even with 60 "Democratic" votes in the Senate, which is something I've been anticipating with glee, believe me -- electoral politics being what they are, it's profoundly unwise to try and ram an Obama omnibus bill through both chambers. Shit, I'd have thought we learned from the HillaryCare fiasco, not to mention the Big Dog screwing the pooch (poor word choice, admittedly) on DADT. I want health care legislation (with a public option, and ideally single-payer) and the repeal of homophobic federal policies as much as the next lefty (if not more so), but there are more and less efficacious ways of bringing these things about. I wish it weren't so, but you go into legislative battle with the parameters you have, not the ones you want. Also: something about "known unknowns" and the Axis Boll Weevil. Such as.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:01 AM on June 5, 2009


Blumenthal also got kicked out of an AIPAC conference.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:44 AM on June 5, 2009


(actually that was a joint Christian fringe - AIPAC thing ^)
posted by Burhanistan at 9:45 AM on June 5, 2009


Okay, so, based on the link from CunningLinguist and subsequent posts by chunking express, am I correct in understanding this video in the following way?

"These are American Nationals, some of whom have dual citizenship with Israel, who are in the country as students, not lifetime transplants. The filmmaker believes the views they are expressing are microcosmic of the populace views within Jerusalem, regardless of national origin, and he is only presenting the American interviews because they were done in clear English without any fumbling of the language."

Would I be wrong to say "bullshit" to any on-the-street interviewer who claims to represent a cross-section of the beliefs of a city and only provides interviews with people under 30 who are out in bars? Where are the interviews with the grandmothers at the market? Or men in business suits at a high-end restaurant?

It's an interesting video, but I'm not certain the filmmaker has made his point very well.
posted by hippybear at 9:52 AM on June 5, 2009


Would I be wrong to say "bullshit" to any on-the-street interviewer who claims to represent a cross-section of the beliefs of a city and only provides interviews with people under 30 who are out in bars? Where are the interviews with the grandmothers at the market? Or men in business suits at a high-end restaurant?

These are all good points, and we shouldn't by any means think the majority of Israelis are rabid racist hatemongers who drop the N-bomb with impunity. In fact, there are a number of pro-Obama voices in Israel*. A lot of them seem happy with his pledge to continue the pro-Israeli stance of the US. A lot of Israelis aren't happy, however, with his willingness to talk to Iran, and his call to stop settlements. Alan Dershowitz has had to defend his support for Obama*, if that tells you anything. But the Israeli government has been tentatively receptive of Obama's lead*, no matter how infuriated some of the people on the street seem to be.

In other words, like everything else involving Israel, it's complicated.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:07 AM on June 5, 2009


In fact, there are a number of pro-Obama voices in Israel

Look at the neat fireworks display they held for him just before his inauguration!
posted by Artw at 10:20 AM on June 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Quotes from, and context for Cunningliguisst's youtube link, filmed by Max Blumenthal and Joseph Dana:

"What about the Jews, man? What are we, chopped liver, don't you care about us?"

"He's a Muslim for sure, who even knows if he was born in the United States,... he's, like, a terrorist...."

"...I want to have a watermelon with Obama, he's just another nigger from the town...."
posted by orthogonality at 2:36 PM on June 5, 2009


My fave was the poli sci major: "Who is Benjamin Yahoo?"
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:39 PM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


MStPT: I agree whole heartedly with you. The filmmaker makes different claims.

As a resident of Jerusalem, I can say that the people represented in this video are not members of a fringe group or simply drunk college kids. These people reflect the sentiments shared by many people in this country and this city. These people and their families are the core of the opposition to meaningful peace between Israel and her neighbors.
posted by hippybear at 4:25 PM on June 5, 2009




For the record, my "GYOFB" sign-off above was directed squarely at moi.

... so is GYOFB still available as a user name?


I kid.
posted by caddis at 2:27 PM on June 7, 2009






More from Blumenthal: Israelis to Obama - "Save Us From Ourselves!"
posted by homunculus at 8:56 PM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


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