Sickened at the prospect that a victory for reformist Mir-Hossein Mousavi in the Iranian presidential election might have led to better relations with the United States, neoconservatives here and their fellow war hawks in Israel are celebrating the dubious victory of hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Yes, this is true: Right-wingers in America and Israel don't want peace with Iran, nor do they want anyone to get the impression that President Obama's efforts at engagement with Iran might actually work, nor do they give a damn about the Iranian people. Mad Mahmoud is the man neocons love to hate, and they're as happy as clams that their guy found a way to steal the election.
Had Mousavi won the Iranian election as many in Iran and around the world hoped, it would likely have signalled a new and more positive direction for U.S.-Iranian relations as well as providing support for the "Obama Doctrine" of engagement with Iran and others in the Muslim world with which America's relations have been troubled. Such a development would at the same time have undercut the neocon attitude of hostility and suspicion toward Iran, as well as undercutting the right-wing Israeli government's aggressive stance toward Iran. As we know, neocons can tolerate peace only when it is imposed with an iron fist or the heel of a jackboot, and the prospect of peace through diplomacy in the Greater Middle East must surely have given them nightmares the rest of us could scarcely imagine.
In the run-up to the Iranian election last week, Daniel Pipes of the right-wing Middle East Forum came right out and admitted in a speech at the right-wing Heritage Foundation that he would actually vote for Ahmadinejad if he were allowed to vote in Iran (video). This speech was followed by a June 12 blog post by Pipes in which he reiterated that he was "rooting for Ahmadinejad" based on the twisted logic that the fundamentalist clerics who really rule Iran will always be our enemies and it's better to have an Iranian president we can really hate than "a sweet-talking Mousavi" who lulls us into thinking we can be friends. Never mind the aspirations or even basic human rights of the Iranian people; never mind anyone's desire for peace in the Greater Middle East. I've long had a pretty strong distaste for Daniel Pipes, but following this admission I'm more convinced of his utter vileness than ever. This is, after all, a man who has publicly advocated for the profiling and internment of Muslims in America, and who considers Israeli and Palestinian existence mutually exclusive (see Sourcewatch). As we leave the age of the neocons behind, I look forward to watching Pipes and others like him slide into the bitter, drooling irrelevance and oblivion they deserve.
The American Enterprise Institute's equally malignant Michael Rubin likewise told Kathryn Jean Lopez at the National Review that it might be better for Ahmadinejad to win, because a Mousavi win might give Obama and the rest of us the impression that diplomacy was actually working. Painting Iran as inherently and hopelessly evil, Rubin said of the Iranian election that should Mousavi win "it would be easier for Obama to believe that Iran really was figuratively unclenching a fist when, in fact, it had its other hand hidden under its cloak, grasping a dagger." James Taranto strikes a similar tone in the Wall Street Journal, warning against the "eagerness to see Obama's feel-good foreign-policy approach succeed."
Now that the Iranian election appears to be over, right-wingers will be tripping over themselves in the rush to use Ahmadinejad's victory against Obama. In fact, once and future Republican U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney has already piped up, saying that Ahmadinejad's win is proof that Obama's "policy of going around the world and apologizing for America is not working." These losers obviously have nothing left but the hope that Obama will fail, or can at least be said to have failed. I look forward to watching Romney and his party lose again in 2012.
Right-wingers in Israel, meanwhile, have been making noises very similar to their American bedfellows, and appear to see nothing good for themselves in any warming of relations between the U.S. and Iran, as observed by M.J. Rosenberg at TPM. From Israel in the run-up to the Iranian election Yaakov Katz wrote in the Jerusalem Post that members of the Israeli defense establishment were "silently praying" for an Ahmadinejad victory, fearing that a Mousavi win would result in decreased pressure on Iran and its nuclear program. Now that Ahmadinejad appears to have successfully stolen the election, Israeli officials and their allies in America are calling for renewed pressure on Iran. Meanwhile, Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff write in Haaretz that an Ahmadinejad victory is actually preferable for Israel because a Mousavi win would only "paste an attractive mask on the face of Iranian nuclear ambitions."
I suspect we'll hear more of this in days to come from eager neocons on both sides of the Atlantic. Obama's policy of engagement will work, however, and is working, as evidenced by the overwhelmingly positive reaction to his Cairo speech, by the Lebanese election results, by the reform movement in Iran, and by the likelihood that Ahmadinejad kept his office only through vote-rigging, suppression, and intimidation. Obama will succeed, and once he has neocons like Daniel Pipes can take up residence in the dustbin of history where they belong.
Mark C. Eades
As Iranians go to the polls to elect a president, American neoconservatives are openly rooting not for moderate reform candidate and former prime minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi but for anti-U.S. hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This is an obvious sign both of the neocons' preference for conflict over peace between the U.S. and Iran and of the generally bankrupt state of conservatism in America, reduced now to banking on failure for the Obama administration (see Huffington Post, Rachel Maddow).
Should the reformist Mousavi win the Iranian election and become president, it would likely signal a new and more positive direction for U.S.-Iranian relations as well as providing support for the "Obama Doctrine" of engagement with Iran and other adversaries. Such a development would at the same time undercut the neocon attitude of hostility and suspicion toward Iran, as well as undercutting the right-wing Israeli government's aggressive stance toward Iran. Indeed right-wingers in Israel like those in America appear to see nothing good for themselves in any warming of relations between the U.S. and Iran, as observed by M.J. Rosenberg at TPM and Yaakov Katz at the Jerusalem Post.
The unpleasant fellow you see pictured here is Daniel Pipes of the right-wing Middle East Forum, a raging neocon who said in a speech this week at the Heritage Foundation that he would vote for Ahmadinejad if he were allowed to vote in Iran (video). The American Enterprise Institute's Michael Rubin likewise told Kathryn Jean Lopez at the National Review that it could be better for Ahmadinejad to win, because a Mousavi win might give Obama the impression that diplomacy was working. Painting Iran as inherently and hopelessly evil, Rubin said of the Iranian election that "should someone more soft-spoken and less defiant -- someone like former prime minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi -- win, it would be easier for Obama to believe that Iran really was figuratively unclenching a fist when, in fact, it had it had its other hand hidden under its cloak, grasping a dagger."
Without so openly rooting for Ahmadinejad, other neocons are playing down the significance of a possible Mousavi victory, obviously worried that a shift in power will signal a fresh start for U.S.-Iranian relations that could leave American and Israeli hawks out in the cold. The same right-wing pundits who constantly point out Ahmadinejad's bad behavior as reasons to confront Iran now argue that it doesn't matter who the president of Iran is. Martin Peretz wrote at the New New Republic: "We've known for a long time that elected leaders do not carry the weight of those who have been anointed." Ilan Berman likewise wrote at the American Spectator: "Whoever ends up becoming president will have little real power -- and even less influence over Iran's geostrategic direction."
The prospect of peace in the Greater Middle East must give sociopaths like these nightmares the rest of us could scarcely imagine.
Mark C. Eades
Shawna Forde, leader of Minutemen American Defense, is one of three individuals arrested June 12 by sheriff's detectives in Pima County, Arizona, for the murder of a Mexican American man and his nine-year-old daughter.
Based in Washington State, Forde's group is one of several border militia groups nationwide that refer to themselves as "Minutemen," including also the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, of which Forde is also a former leader. Profiles on Forde and her anti-immigrant activities are available from the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.
According to authorities, Forde and her two accomplices, Jason Eugene Bush and Albert Robert Gaxiola, broke into the home of Raul Flores and his family in Arivaca AZ on May 30th, apparently in the commission of a robbery. The invaders reportedly shot all three members of the Flores family who were present at the time, killing the father and daughter and leaving the mother wounded. While Bush is the suspected gunman in the shootings, investigators say Forde was the mastermind of the operation. Nine-year-old murder victim Brisenia Flores is pictured here from the local Green Valley News:
Forde is listed as the National Executive Director of Minuteman American Defense on the group's website, and the Arizona Daily Star reports that Bush, nicknamed "Gunny," is the group's Operations Director. The three are charged with two counts of first-degree murder in addition to burglary and aggravated assault charges.
The Minuteman American Defense website and blog contains numerous photos of Forde and friends at Minuteman and "Tea Party" events, including an Apr. 15 event in Phoenix at which Forde's favorite protest sign was one reading "Stop the Obama-Nation of America." The site also includes descriptions of immigrants as violent criminals, drug addicts, and "Subhuman Mexicans." Here is a photo of Forde in full border vigilante gear from the Anti-Defamation League:
Forde's mother tells the Everett WA Herald that she was not surprised to hear of her daughter's arrest since she had previously talked of staging home invasions: "She sat here and said that she was going to start a group where they went down and start taking things away from the Mexican mafia...," Forde's mother recalled, "...She was going to kick in their doors and take away the money and the drugs." Forde's mother also says that her daughter called her a few hours after the shootings May 30 and reported that she was taking refuge in a "safe house" in Arivaca: "I'm in hiding," Forde told her mother, "You won't believe what is going down here.... The mafia, they are kicking down doors and they are shooting people and they are looking for me."
Pima County sheriff's lieutenant Michael O'Connor told the local Sahuarita Sun that the killings were an "assassination," and said the killers were also looking for Flores' other daughter, who was not at home at time of the killings. Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik, meanwhile, said that Forde as "at best a pyschopath" (KOLD, KOMO, KVOA, Seattle Post-Intelligencer).
Mark C. Eades
Under pressure from the private medical industry Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana has flip-flopped on the public health care option she once supported. In a letter to Health Care for America Now (HCAN) dated April 11, 2009, Landrieu clearly stated her support for a public insurance option. This week, however, Landrieu withdrew her support for the public option, saying "I don't think it's the right way to go."
Landrieu's reversal on the public option can only be the result of pressure from the medical industry, including the American Medical Association (AMA), insurance, and pharmaceutical interests dedicated to keeping health care in for-profit hands. As the Huffington Post observes based on figures from the Center for Responsive Politics, Landrieu has collected a career total of $1,668,693 in campaign contributions from private health insurance and health care interests. This total includes $607,616 from "health professionals" (i.e., the AMA), $401,731 from insurance interests, $269,645 from hospitals and nursing homes, $224,696 from the pharmaceutical and health products industry, and $165,005 from health services/HMOs (see also Think Progress, Blue Herald).
Tell Senator Landrieu what you think of Democrats who act like Republicans, betraying the people they are sworn to serve in favor of big-money special interests. Louisiana residents can use a contact form at Landrieu's official website. Residents of other states and/or those who don't want to mess with the form can e-mail Landrieu directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark C. Eades
Much is being made in the media of the current tension between the Obama administration and the right-wing government in Tel Aviv on the issue of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, and I fully expect that coverage of Israeli reaction to the tough line on settlements taken by Obama in his Cairo speech will focus on the negative. Equally important but likely to receive far less attention is the applause and support Obama is receiving from Israeli progressives, many of whom are as critical of the settlements as their counterparts in the West.
A sampling of progressive Israeli opinion on Obama and his stand on the settlement issue includes the following from Gideon Levy in Haaretz, predicting hopefully that Binyamin Netanyahu and his right-wing government will ultimately have no choice but to acquiesce to Obama's demands:
"Washington will decide the fate of the West Bank settlements, and we can only hope it insists on their evacuation. Obama standing firm beside the revolutionary Mideast policy he has begun will light the torch of hope here, too. The battle of the titans, Netanyahu and Obama, is little more than a farce - let us recall the fable of the elephant and the bee, or the frog and the ox. Not all creatures can become as great as they think. Let's also be realistic: An Israeli prime minister has no option of saying no to America once Washington has dug in its heels. Netanyahu knows this better than anyone, and the time has come to explain as much to his 'patriotic' coalition allies.... Time is short but the keys are in the ignition, President Obama. Drive on to peace."
Barak Ravid also in Haaretz provides the following comments from progressive Members of the Knesset:
Kadima MK Ze'ev Boim said that "Obama's speech is yet another proof that Netanyahu miscalculated the foreign policy of the new American administration."
"The President's take on the Palestinian question is similar to Kadima's, and it's a shame that narrow political considerations prevented the Israeli government from espousing the two-state solution which is the only one that can ensure a Jewish and democratic existence in Israel."
Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner said that "Israel could benefit from the America's improved image in the Arab world and leverage it to forge a regional coalition, together with the moderate Arab countries, to counter Iran, but instead the government is engaged in marginal debates on outposts."
Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman (Labor) said that Obama was right that the world's common enemy is extremism and that finding a common strategy is the way to defeat it.
"We should adopt a similar strategy in Jewish-Arab and religious-secular relations, as well as vis-a-vis the Palestinians," Braverman said. "We are committed to the two-state solution."
Meretz leader Haim Oron, for his part, welcomed Obama's speech. He said it was filled with inspiration, optimism and vision.
"The speech is the feat of enlightenment," he said.
Negative reaction to Obama's speech from right-wing Israelis, meanwhile, has been predictably harsh. Most outspoken in their opposition to Obama are settlers themselves and their leaders, whose hysterical, lowbrow rhetoric strongly echoes that of right-wing Americans. Like their teabagging U.S. counterparts, right-wing Israelis have taken to throwing Obama's middle name around as an epithet, accusing him of being a closet Muslim and of betraying Israel. Organizers of a right-wing protest outside the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem had the following to say in a press release reported by Arutz Sheva:
"Barack Hussein Obama! Hands off the land of Israel! You cannot appease the Islamic lust for conquest by selling down the Jews and their Biblical homeland."
Settler leaders quoted in Y-Net likewise said that "Hussein Obama opted to adopt the Arab's bogus versions over the Jewish truth" and that Obama's speech "pandered to Islam." Sound familiar?
Reader comments in Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post make it clear that right-wing Israelis and right-wing Americans are finding each other and connecting online, sharing their hatred of Arabs and their contempt of Obama, and hatching all manner of hysterical theories on the coming end of civilization as we know it. Before long American news audiences may see images of their president burned in effigy not by Palestinians in a Gaza refugee camp but by right-wing Israelis in a West Bank settlement. On the other hand, the enthusiastic support Obama continues to receive from Israeli progressives sounds a hopeful note both for the peace effort and for the future of the U.S.-Israeli relationship.
Right-wing hack Glenn Beck has taken on his Fox News talk show to spreading paranoid fantasies of a coming totalitarian America, total economic collapse, and an armed citizens' uprising in defense of the constitution. On the Feb. 20 installment of his "War Room" segment, Beck and a paranoid panel of guests raised the spectre of the "bubba effect," a rise of individual militias across America in response to liberal tyranny, and suggested that America is on the verge of civil war.
The segment is pure melodrama, beginning with a warning that some might find the material disturbing and advising viewer discretion. Beck then opens with a nightmare vision of the year 2014 in Barack Obama's America: All US banks have been nationalized, Beck predicts; unemployment stands at between 12 and 20 percent; the Dow is trading at around 2800; the real estate market has collapsed; the government and unions control most business; and America's credit rating has been severely downgraded. As Beck and his guests continue, the picture gets worse: Since the Democratic victories of 2006 and 2008, the segment suggests, the USA we used to know has been transformed into the Islamic Socialist Republic of Obamistan, where income tax rates have risen to between eighty and ninety-five percent, and where we all must live in fear of the Obamist secret police who will soon be coming to take away our guns and bibles. Beck and his guests predict a Mad Max-like environment in America's cities, which have become no-go zones controlled by armed gangs presumably of angry blacks and illegal aliens. Meanwhile, the disenfranchised and betrayed "bubbas" of America's heartland have taken to setting up armed, self-sufficient communities hostile to outsiders, and to preparing for civil war.
Finally, Beck asks his guests how such a situation might be defused, and they suggest provocatively that perhaps it should not be defused at all but encouraged, since it is government that is at fault and such an uprising would be an uprising against tyranny in defense of the constitution. At this Beck feigns shock and surprise, though his barely-masked excitement at the prospect says he is really just playing along as his guests more-or-less openly advocate the armed overthrow of the US government. Indeed earlier that day on Fox, Beck had played the sad and fearful prophet of doom, showing us his shaking hands to prove how afraid he is at the prospect of civil war in America, and warning us: "You need to prepare."
I wonder how many "bubbas" who watched Beck's show are, even now, stocking up on guns, ammo, and survival supplies for the coming apocalypse: Ka-ching!