I laugh to keep from crying….
Imagine what they would have done if the administration hadn’t warned Israel to use “caution and restraint”!
The Obama administration said Wednesday that it had warned Israel’s government repeatedly to use “caution and restraint” with half a dozen aid boats bound for the Gaza Strip before Israeli commandos raided the flotilla this week in an operation that killed nine people.
“We communicated with Israel through multiple channels many times regarding the flotilla,” P.J. Crowley, a State Department spokesman, said in a statement issued in response to a question from The Washington Post. “We emphasized caution and restraint given the anticipated presence of civilians, including American citizens.”
The acknowledgment shed new light on the administration’s contact with the Israeli government before the Monday morning raid, which has inflamed international opinion against Israel and complicated President Obama’s efforts to improve U.S. relations with the Islamic world. White House officials said Wednesday that there is a growing consensus within the administration that U.S. and Israeli policy toward Gaza must change, even as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu flatly rejected calls for his country to lift its blockade of the Palestinian territory.
Netanyahu, addressing his nation Wednesday for the first time since the raid, angrily defended Israel from mounting international criticism over its use of force against the flotilla, which was carrying construction materials, medicine, school paper and other aid to Gaza when Israeli commandos set upon it in international waters.
Netanyahu called the criticism “hypocrisy” and described Gaza, where 1.5 million people live in a narrow slice of dunes and refugee camps between southern Israel and the sea, as “a terror state funded by the Iranians.”
“The same countries that are criticizing us today should know that they will be targeted tomorrow,” he said, just a day after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called Israel’s policy toward Gaza “unsustainable.” “It’s for this and for many other reasons we have a right to inspect cargo heading into Gaza,” Netanyahu added.
The flotilla was organized by the Free Gaza Movement and a Turkish charity that Israeli officials say has connections to radical groups.
In an interview with Charlie Rose broadcast Wednesday night, Vice President Biden agreed that Israel had a right to inspect the cargo. “You can argue whether Israel should have dropped people onto that ship or not . . . but the truth of the matter is, Israel has a right to know — they’re at war with Hamas — has a right to know whether or not arms are being smuggled in,” he said.
At the same time, Biden acknowledged that the administration is trying to sway the Israeli government on the issue of Gaza, which has been under some form of an Israeli blockade for five years.
“We have put as much pressure and as much cajoling on Israel as we can to allow them to get building materials” and other designated humanitarian aid into Gaza, he said.
I spent some time in my lawyer’s office yesterday, preparing for next Friday’s deposition hearing re: my ankle lawsuit. It’s been almost three years since I got hurt. Apparently the towing company was (until yesterday) denying they’d ever provided towing services – which I didn’t know. Whee!
After asking me if the injury changed my life in any way, I said, “Are you serious? Do you have an hour?” I then proceeded to rattle off several dozen things.
“That’s fine, I think you’ll make a great witness,” he said. “Most people freeze up, they can’t remember what to say.”
I looked at him like “Uh, DUH.”
“Is there any reason why I can’t take notes during the hearing?” I asked him.
He hastened to assure me that he was a competent attorney, he was doing a good job representing me…
“No, this has nothing to do with you,” I said. “I’m a blogger. I write about my life all the time. I just want to know if I can take notes.”
He said yes. So I will be taking notes, in case anything really silly happens you might enjoy. Plus, I will probably be in full ADD glory, since I won’t have a keyboard or phone to play with. I’ll need something to fidget with.
If you don’t want them, don’t feed them. They don’t want a conversation, and they don’t want to learn anything. They want attention. Please don’t give it to them.
A similar argument is used to justify fiscal austerity. Both textbook economics and experience say that slashing spending when you’re still suffering from high unemployment is a really bad idea — not only does it deepen the slump, but it does little to improve the budget outlook, because much of what governments save by spending less they lose as a weaker economy depresses tax receipts. And the O.E.C.D. predicts that high unemployment will persist for years. Nonetheless, the organization demands both that governments cancel any further plans for economic stimulus and that they begin “fiscal consolidation” next year.
Why do this? Again, to give markets something they shouldn’t want and currently don’t. Right now, investors don’t seem at all worried about the solvency of the U.S. government; the interest rates on federal bonds are near historic lows. And even if markets were worried about U.S. fiscal prospects, spending cuts in the face of a depressed economy would do little to improve those prospects. But cut we must, says the O.E.C.D., because inadequate consolidation efforts “would risk adverse reactions in financial markets.”
The best summary I’ve seen of all this comes from Martin Wolf of The Financial Times, who describes the new conventional wisdom as being that “giving the markets what we think they may want in future — even though they show little sign of insisting on it now — should be the ruling idea in policy.”
Put that way, it sounds crazy. And it is. Yet it’s a view that’s spreading. And it’s already having ugly consequences. Last week conservative members of the House, invoking the new deficit fears, scaled back a bill extending aid to the long-term unemployed — and the Senate left town without acting on even the inadequate measures that remained. As a result, many American families are about to lose unemployment benefits, health insurance, or both — and as these families are forced to slash spending, they will endanger the jobs of many more.
And that’s just the beginning. More and more, conventional wisdom says that the responsible thing is to make the unemployed suffer. And while the benefits from inflicting pain are an illusion, the pain itself will be all too real.
I wish Al and Tipper Gore the best. Knowing the many, many forces that exist to hold a marriage together no matter what, I assume there are forces just as strong that compel them apart.
Whatever those forces are, I’m sure they include a strong drive toward growth, and evolution. That’s what the lives of these two eminently decent people have been like all along, and it’s not going to stop now.
I still can’t quite wrap my brain around the fact that a Democratic administration is doing nothing to help the unemployed:
Overall, seven million Americans have been looking for work for 27 weeks or more, and most of them—4.7 million—have been out of work for a year or more.
Long-term unemployment has reached nearly every segment of the population, but some have been particularly hard-hit. The typical long-term unemployed worker is a white man with a high-school education or less. Older unemployed workers also tend to be out of work longer. Those between ages 65 and 69 who still wish to work have typically been jobless for 49.8 weeks.
The effects of long-term unemployment are likely to linger when the overall jobless rate falls toward normal, threatening to create a pool of nearly permanently unemployed workers, a condition once more common in Europe than in the U.S.
“The consequences are worse for those who can’t find a job quickly,” said Till Marco von Wachter, a Columbia University economist. They extend from atrophying skills to a higher likelihood of unhappiness and anxiety. Workers out of work for a long time tend to find it more difficult to find a job, and “the longer people are unemployed the more likely they are to eventually give up searching and thereby drop out of the labor force,” Mr. von Wachter said.
The typical unemployed worker, regardless of occupation, had been unemployed for a seasonally adjusted 21.6 weeks as of April. Because of the deep recession, Congress extended jobless benefits to a maximum of 99 weeks in states with high unemployment. Those extended benefits will expire if Congress doesn’t act; the Labor Department estimates that 19,000 jobless workers could start losing benefits in the first week of June. The House has voted to extend the benefits; the Senate hasn’t yet.
While blue-collar and construction workers have been battered by the recession, they aren’t the only ones hit. Unemployed production workers, including toolmakers, woodworkers and food processors, have been out of work for a median of 38.1 weeks. Unemployed workers whose most recent job was in management, business and financial operations have typically been out of work for 32.3 weeks.
Richard Moran of Ortonville, Mich., the state with the highest U.S. unemployment rate, hasn’t had a job for two-and-a-half years. The 57-year-old, who was laid off from a testing and design job for Chrysler Group LLC, suspects his age is working against him.
Mr. Moran has attended two free training programs. The first, to become a corrections officer, ended at roughly the same time that Michigan was closing prisons amid tightening budgets. He recently finished an auto-parts design course to refresh his skills. “The certificates are piling up,” said Mr. Moran, who also has a four-year college degree in mass communications.
While education is helpful, college graduates have also fallen into the ranks of the long-term unemployed. They represent 15.9% of the long-term jobless, compared with 14.9% of all unemployed workers. Those with high school degrees who haven’t been to college comprise 40.7% of long-term unemployed, compared with 37.8% of all unemployed workers.