Friday, April 18, 2014

The Bible and Oklahoma Public Education

from today's Politico Morning Education

HOBBY LOBBY PRESIDENT PROMOTES BIBLICAL CURRICULUM: Public schools in Mustang, Okla., will offer a Bible course next fall developed by Steve Green, president of the Hobby Lobby craft chain. It's the start of an ambitious bid by Green to introduce Scripture to public school students across the U.S. Within a few years, Green hopes thousands of schools will offer his curriculum - a sequence of four full-year classes exploring the Bible's content, history and impact on society. The classes will be electives in Mustang, but Green has said he hopes districts will one day make them mandatory.
- The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that it's legal for schools to teach the Bible as long as it's presented "objectively" as part of a "secular program of education." Green himself has said that he wants students to understand that the Bible is "true" and "good," but it's unclear if the classes will take that approach. The scholar Green tapped to run the program, Jerry Pattengale, told Religion News Service that the courses "may or may not espouse those views." More on the curriculum from RNS:

That more people don't see the threat that people like Steve Green represents to young Americans, and the US's future, stuns me.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Thomas Friedman's Simple Boxes

There he goes again.  Thomas Friedman reconstructs global politics (for the umpteenth time) with simple boxes.  (OK OK, so he calls them categories.)  This time it's
The first category . . . countries like Russia, Iran and North Korea, whose leaders are focused on building their authority, dignity and influence through powerful states.
The second category, countries focused on building their dignity and influence through prosperous people, includes all the countries in Nafta, the European Union, and the Mercosur trade bloc in Latin America and Asean in Asia.
And of course, he must have an all-the-others third box, lumped as "disorder":
a third and growing category of countries, which can’t project power or build prosperity. They constitute the world of “disorder.” . . . They are actually power and prosperity sinks because they are consumed in internal fights over primal questions like: Who are we? What are our boundaries? Who owns which olive tree? These countries include Syria, Libya, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Congo and other hot spots.
All of this, of course, as an entree for TF to briefly touch upon Ukraine's turmoil, and then conclude by noting that
we should have learned some lessons from our recent experience in the Middle East: First, how little we understand about the social and political complexities of the countries there; second, that we can — at considerable cost — stop bad things from happening in these countries but cannot, by ourselves, make good things happen; and third, that when we try to make good things happen we run the risk of assuming the responsibility for solving their problems, a responsibility that truly belongs to them.
Indeed.  Well said.  Agreed.

But not a word from TF, of course, about how his cheerleading (remember "suck on this?") in 2002 and 2003 helped rip Iraq from box 1 to dump it into box 3.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Roger Cohen's Disappointing Essay on BDS

The NYT's Roger Cohen writes this morning that the BDS movement is simply not to be trusted, even if its goal of ending Israeli occupation in the West Bank is laudable.  The reason?  BDS supporters ultimately wish to see the enforcement of the Palestinians' right to return (in Cohen's words, the "so-called" right to return).  For that reason, Cohen comes perilously close to arguing that BDS supporters are anti-Semites.  Undoubtedly some are, but Cohen ought to know better than to come as close as he does to tarring the entire movement with that brush.  It's not fair, and it doesn't help.
Cohen goes on to say that the UN gave an "unambiguous mandate" to a Jewish state in 1947.  Well, perhaps, although anyone who's read deeply into the history knows how much arm-twisting by the US went into that vote.  But if Cohen is going to cite that vote as the ultimate legitimizer of the creation of a Jewish state, he can't be permitted to dismiss at the same time those provisions of international law that state that the ethnic cleansing that was inflicted on Palestinians from 1946 on was illegal and that forbidding expelled Palestinians from returning was likewise illegal.
As so many commentators have noted, the crux of the issues that continue to separate Israelis and Palestinians is not the events of 1967, but the events of 1947-1948.  For Cohen to dismiss the concerns and claims of those Palestinians who were victimized then, even in the interests of securing a Jewish refuge and homeland, is - again - not fair, and it doesn't help.

Friday, January 10, 2014

About Those US Demands That Maliki Include Sunnis

At Bloomberg, former Bushie Meghan O'Sullivan calls upon Mr. Obama and his officials to head off a new Iraq war by making better use of the US's "new leverage" to convince Iraq PM Nuri al-Maliki to make his government more inclusive of Sunni representation.

She, of course, is not the only notable former official/expert/pundit calling for this.  And anyone who's been paying attention in recent years knows that much of Iraq's malaise post-US pullout stems from Maliki's failure to bring Iraq's Sunnis alongside.  Indeed, it's been more than a failure to simply include them.  Rather, in dealing with Sunni opposition, Maliki has resorted to the kind of repressive tactics - intimidation, torture, executions - that, even if we've no evidence of mass burials of people killed by the government, could have come from Saddam Hussein's manual of How to Run Iraq.

We all know that Iraq's chances of remaining a relatively unitary state (I say relatively because the Kurds have been out that door since even before 2003) hinge upon the ability of the Iraqi leadership, and Iraq's people, to create a political-social contract that will enable them to rise above the sectarian divisiveness that Saddam fostered (despite his supposed Baathist secularism) and that the Coalition Provisional Authority and its aftermath exacerbated and helped solidify, including  in the new Iraqi constitution.  Many have noted that non-sectarian Iraqi nationalism still runs deep in some elements of Iraqi politics and society.  How long that can persist if Iraq's current  cacophany of violence persists remains to be seen.

But all the American calls for Maliki to change his ways, seems to me, fail to take into account certain realities:

Nuri al-Maliki, besides being Iraq's prime minister since 2006, has also been the head of a Shi'ite religious party, al-Da'wa.  Members of that party were persecuted and executed, brutally, under Saddam's Sunni-led Baathist regime.  Maliki himself was forced into exile during that time.  The current members of al-Da'wa, and members of other Shi'ite religious parties, bear deeply seared memories of what they and their families suffered at the hands of a predominantly Sunni government.  American politicians like John McCain and Lindsey Graham who so stridently demand that Maliki change his ways cannot possibly understand the extent to which such deeply seated fear, as well as feelings of revenge, might motivate Maliki and those who back him - including millions of Iraqi Arab Shi'ites.

Although the US has professed to be a friend and ally of Maliki, much more important - and potentially much more useful - to him is the support of the friend and ally next door: the Shi'ite Islamic Republic of Iran.  That, of course, is the same Shi'ite republic that Saddam attacked in 1980, launching an eight-year war during which the Sunni-led Baathist regime of Iraq was supported by the U.S. under Ronald Reagan.  And with U.S. backing, Saddam's forces inflicted hundreds of thousands of deaths and maimed lives on Iranian soldiers and civilians, using poison gas as well as more "conventional" weapons of mass destruction.  But the more important point here is that, given the awfulness of that war, the very last thing the Iranian leadership can countenance is the re-empowerment of Sunni parties or politicians in Iraq.

All of this means that Mr. Maliki is going to be inclined to turn a very tinnish ear to U.S. entreaties and demands that he bring Sunni elements within anything close to striking distance of effective power in Iraqi politics.  Given Iraq's history over the last several decades, this ought to be obvious.  McCain, Graham, Boehner - all of those now demanding more of Maliki, as well as more of Obama - need to wise up.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

McCain and Graham Pave Path to New Intifada

Disturbing report from WashPo about how Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham have lined up with Mr. Netanyahu in expressing grave reservations about proposals emerging from the recent John Kerry-led "peace process."  Per usual for the vast majority of US congressmen, their concerns hinge almost entirely on Israel's security needs - which, in their minds (and, of course, Bibi's), can only be served by an agreement that permits the IDF almost unhindered access to the West Bank.

Graham's comments are especially worrying:

Graham said that despite detailed security proposals for the West Bank developed by a special U.S. envoy, retired Marine Gen. John R. Allen, senior Israelis remain unconvinced. “Here’s the one thing that I think dominates the thinking in Israel: that once you withdraw, then the ability to go back is almost impossible,” Graham said. “Look at Gaza. What’s the chance of going back into Gaza militarily?”


Israel can defend itself against rocket attacks from that formerly Israeli-occupied territory, but withdrawal meant giving up the “ability to chart your own destiny,” Graham said.



“I really do believe that the idea of withdrawing has to be considered in light of Gaza,” Graham said.


None of the above indicates that Graham and his ilk are going to accept any kind of Palestinian state that would also be acceptable to Mr. Abbas or any other of the more moderate Palestinian political leaders, not to mention those of a more militant stripe - i.e., a return to pre-1967 borders (with suitable land swaps) and a Palestinian government with responsibility for maintaining security with its own security forces.  That others in Netanyahu's govermnent are also insisting on Israeli control of the Jordan Valley - something that, I'd bet, McCain and Graham are prefectly okay with - further dims the prospects for Kerry's success.

I'm also struck by Graham's focus on Gaza as the template for what Israel ought not to do in the West Bank.  Implicit in his comments is the assumption that Israel had been justified in occupying and colonizing Gaza in the first place, and that Israel ought never to have left Gaza, but instead ought to have ramped up the number of settlements there as well as the degree of military occupation.

All of this, of course, plays into the established and well-justified perception that the US political leadership as a whole will accept a Palestinian state only if such a state remains completely under the security domination of Israel.  Equally justifiably, most Palestinians will view Kerry's efforts as little better than a smokescreen while Netanyahu and his right-wing government cement the creation of "Greater Israel."

And that, of course, feeds a growing probability of another intifada - something that the WashPo report likewise points out. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Time for a Deal with Iran is Now

Kudos to Thomas Friedman for his piece in today's NY Times (quoted, in full, below).  With all the boo-hooing about how such a deal would be a betrayal of our Israeli and Saudi "allies," as Friedman notes, a deal that might lead to a detente with Iran would be a huge boon to US interests across the Middle East.

On the other hand, the imposing of a new, crippling round of sanctions on Iran - one that might completely eliminate Iran's ability to export its oil - could very likely stop negotiations in their tracks and in so doing, deal a potential death-blow to any chance of averting war with Iran or securing Iran's help in bringing an end to the holocaust that is Syria (and that threatens to engulf Lebanon and Iraq as well).  Yet the GOP-dominated House of Representatives is aching to impose those sanctions, as are some of the usual suspects in the Senate.  (I'm looking at you, Lindsey Graham - and you ought to be embarrassed by your bogus comments that if we do it just "right", sanctions can work even better.  Ask the people of Iran about that. For that matter, ask the people of Iraq about how that worked out for them.  Or just go read some of Joy Gordon's reports on how wonderfully sanctions have worked, in both countries.)

The NYT reports that AIPAC and its ilk are wearing out the carpets in Congressional offices, insisting that harsher sanctions go forward.  Other of the usual suspects have hastened to the dailies to pound the same point: WINEP honcho Patrick Clawson (in the WashPo) hastens to remind us that "Israel, the Gulf states and Iranian democrats will be reassured only by vigorous U.S. actions to address their concerns" - and that besides, and despite evidence to the contrary, all that Iranians really want is regional "hegemony" (not, of course, that the US and Israel have ever aspired to that).  The ever-pesky Elliott Abrams, hoping to drive his own nail into the coffin into which Bibi's amen chorus wants to put the negotiations,  also chimes in (likewise in the WashPo) with a reminder of how nasty the Iranian government has been to the Baha'is.  No argument; they have been brutal; but, gee, why did Abrams pick this particular time to make that point?

To my mind, none of this carping is enough to override Friedman's point: detente with Iran can serve US interests much better than would ratcheting up sanctions.  And along the waym detente just might lead to a more stable, more peaceful Middle East.  So . . .

I'm reminded of the oft-used expression about how one should "lead, follow, or get out of the way."  Congress is both too divided and too discredited (shut-down, anyone?) to lead.  As Bibi knows, though, they're good at following.  But where Bibi wants to take them, American interests - and, I should think, those of the planet - won't be well served.  That leaves only one option.

Get out of the way. Please.


November 12, 2013

What About US?


It goes without saying that the only near-term deal with Iran worth partially lifting sanctions for would be a deal that freezes all the key components of Iran’s nuclear weapons development program, and the only deal worth lifting all sanctions for is one that verifiably restricts Iran’s ability to breakout and build a nuclear bomb.


But there is something else that goes without saying, but still needs to be said loudly: We, America, are not just hired lawyers negotiating a deal for Israel and the Sunni Gulf Arabs, which they alone get the final say on. We, America, have our own interests in not only seeing Iran’s nuclear weapons capability curtailed, but in ending the 34-year-old Iran-U.S. cold war, which has harmed our interests and those of our Israeli and Arab friends.


Hence, we must not be reluctant about articulating and asserting our interests in the face of Israeli and Arab efforts to block a deal that we think would be good for us and them. America’s interests today lie in an airtight interim nuclear deal with Iran that also opens the way for addressing a whole set of other issues between Washington and Tehran.


Some of our allies don’t share those “other” interests and believe the only acceptable outcome is bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities and keeping Iran an isolated, weak, pariah state. They don’t trust this Iranian regime — and not without reason. I don’t begrudge their skepticism. Without pressure from Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and the global sanctions on Iran they helped to spur, Iran would not be offering to scale back its nuclear program today.


But that pressure was never meant to be an end itself. It was meant to bring Iran in from the cold, provided it verifiably relinquished the ability to breakout with a nuclear weapon. “Just because regional actors see diplomacy with Iran as a zero-sum game — vanquish or be vanquished — doesn’t mean America should,” said Karim Sadjadpour, the expert on Iran at the Carnegie Endowment.


Why? Let’s start with the fact that Iran has sizable influence over several of America’s most critical national security concerns, including Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, terrorism, energy security, and nuclear proliferation. Whereas tension with Iran has served to exacerbate these issues, détente with Tehran could help ameliorate them. Iran played a vital role in helping us to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001 and can help us get out without the Taliban completely taking over again.


 “Iran has at least as much at stake in a stable Iraq, and a stable Afghanistan, as we do — and as an immediate neighbor has a far greater ability to influence them, for good or ill,” said Nader Mousavizadeh, the Iranian-American co-founder of Macro Advisory Partners and a former top aide to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.


There is a struggle in Tehran today between those who want Iran to behave as a nation, looking out for its interests, and those who want it to continue behaving as a permanent revolution in a permanent struggle with America and its allies. What’s at stake in the Geneva nuclear negotiations — in part — “is which Iranian foreign policy prevails,” argued Mousavizadeh. A mutually beneficial deal there could open the way for cooperation on other fronts.


Moreover, there is nothing that threatens the future of the Middle East today more than the sectarian rift between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. This rift is being used by President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Hezbollah and some Arab leaders to distract their people from fundamental questions of economic growth, unemployment, corruption and political legitimacy. It is also being used to keep Iran isolated and unable to fully exploit its rich oil and gas reserves, which could challenge some Arab producers. But our interest is in quelling these sectarian passions, not taking one side.


The Iran-U.S. cold war has prevented us from acting productively on all these interests. It is easy to say we should just walk away from talks if we don’t get what we want, but isolating Iran won’t be as easy as it once was. China, Russia, India and Japan have different interests than us vis-à-vis Iran. The only man who could unite them all behind this tough sanctions regime was Iran’s despicable previous president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The new president, Hassan Rouhani, is much more deft.  “Our sanctions leverage may have peaked,” said Sadjadpour. “Countries like China won’t indefinitely forsake their own commercial and strategic interests vis-à-vis Iran simply to please the U.S. Congress.”


All this is why the deal the Obama team is trying to forge now that begins to defuse Iran’s nuclear capabilities, and tests whether more is possible, is fundamentally in the U.S. interest. “The prize of détente with Iran is critical to allowing the U.S. a sensibly balanced future foreign policy that aligns interests with commitments, and allows us to rebuild at home at the same time,” said Mousavizadeh. There are those in the Middle East who prefer “a war without end for the same tribal, sectarian, backward-looking reasons that are stunting their own domestic development as open, integrated, pluralist societies,” he added. “They can have it. But it can’t be our war. It’s not who we are — at home or abroad.”





Friday, November 8, 2013

Bibi Pissing in the Geneva Punchbowl

With growing signs (John Kerry has flown to Geneva to take part) that a deal between Iran and the US-led P5+1 is steadily being pieced together, Mr. Netanyahu's attempts to demean and trash the process are becoming more insistent.  As reported at WashPo, Bibi "utterly rejects" the deal that seems to be emerging.  (Of course, we hoi poloi are not privy to the details, but we can assume that Bibi is being kept abreast of where things stand.)

Kerry, however, seems content to fob him off with some comments to the effect that the US is going into any deal with its "eyes open" and is looking for results, not just words.  He has gone a step further by putting Bibi on notice that the Israelis need to give ground in the current negotiations with the Palestinians, or else, as Kerry warned, face a "third intifada."  Such an eventuality seems a bit less remote now, what with Palestinians' patience running out, West Bank settlers' shameless destruction of Palestinian olive groves increasingly exposed, and troubling new evidence suggesting that former PA president Yasser Arafat's death was the result of massive polonium poisoning.  At this point, the Israelis are the only logical perpetrator - especially in light of recent reminders of how much former Israeli PM Ariel Sharon hated Arafat and would have loved to have had him liquidated.

What Netanyahu means by "utterly rejects" will become clear very soon.  What we all ought to fear, though, is that the troops at AIPAC, the brain trust at WINEP (and, of course, Elliott Abrams at the Council on Foreign Relations), and the pastors aligned with the Rev. John Hagee and the useful idiots of CUFI will be rallied to the halls of Congress, websites at Foreign Policy, and pulpits of Christian Zionist congregations across the land in a crusade to stop the negotiations in their tracks.

Mr. Obama will likely need to play all the cards in his grasp, and any new ones he can draw, to win this hand.  The stakes are enormous.  If Bibi and pals succeed in derailing this train, they may also succeed in blowing up the tracks leading to any peaceful and timely resolution, not only of the issue of Iran's nuclear program, but also the issue of the horrific war in Syria, and the rekindled civil war in Iraq.

Elliott Abrams and Hasan Rouhani's siren song

My latest at Your Middle East.  Here's the tease:

Elliott Abrams' intention – as is Mr. Netanyahu's – is to do whatever he can to sabotage any chance of a diplomatic accommodation with Iran that might leave that country any shred of a nuclear program - and, for that matter, any shred of dignity on the international stage, writes John Robertson.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

On the Hubris of American Syria Hawks

Conor Friedersdorf at the Atlantic - with an assist from Dan Larison at American Conservative - excoriates Michael Totten for his recent essay proposing that the US first align itself with the Syria jihadists against Assad, then once Assad is out, turn on the jihadists.

Totten and other Syria hawks predictably ignore the deaths of thousands and the misery of millions of Syrians. His entire argument smacks too much of the atrocity of Condi Rice's "birth pangs of a new Middle East" comment in 2006. As long as Arabs dying serves the ends of preserving American and Israeli pre-eminence in the Middle East, no problem. Except in this case, Totten is recommending a most cynical and brutal inducing of that birth at a time and pace purely to suit US interests. The whole thing reminds me of why I stopped taking Totten seriously years ago.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Negotiations with Iran

Nicholas Burns (in the Boston Globe) provides his assessment of US negotiations with Iran (including a rather chest-thumping thumbs-up for devastating of Iran's economy via sanctions), and concludes with the following:

Wouldn’t it be extraordinary if Republicans as well as Democrats stood by the president as he executed this very challenging diplomatic endgame on the most critical war and peace issue of 2014? Or is that too much to expect in the hyper-partisan Washington that brought us the shutdown?

Uh huh, it would be extraordinary - and I wouldn't count on it.  The GOP-controlled House wants to take down Obama any way it can, and I can only imagine how much the Tea Partiers want payback for their humiliating defeat over ACA/"Obamacare."  Just for those reasons, stymying Obama's attempts to work with Iran would be, if nothing else, wicked fun.

Meanwhile, if any more promising signs emerge after negotiations resume, Mr. Netanyahu will surely pull out a fire-hose to drench it all in very cold water.  That dozens of senators and Congressmen - especially GOP, but including some powerful Dems like Chuck Schumer - have sworn fealty to Bibi over the issue of Iran's nuclear program (not to mention Israel's strategic domination of the Middle East in general) can only mean that Obama is likely to find it impossible to get Congress's support for any deal that Iran could accept - or should even be asked to accept.  And, of course, even if Congress can be convinced to hold off on imposing new sanctions (which Bibi wants), it probably will not agree to significant sanctions relief - which by itself could deep-six any chance of a meaningful deal with Iran.

All of which is a shame . . . and shameful . . . because without some major compromise and breakthrough in these negotiations, the odds of war with Iran will increase almost exponentially.  That spells disaster, and ruin, any way you look at it. . . . for Iran certainly, but Israel, and the US, will pay a huge price as well.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New Strategic Realities in the Middle East

Jim Lobe (IPS) provides nicely researched overview of the new strategic realities facing the US in the Middle East.  And it's especially nice to see him quote Chas Freeman, an experienced and well-informed former diplomat whose views on US-Israeli relations and on US Middle East policy in general got him into hot water with the D.C. establishment.  Both Lobe and Freeman point out that the US ties with two long-term allies - Turkey and Saudi Arabia - are on the skids.  The Saudis are more than irritated by the US's attempts at detente with Shi'ite rival Iran; Erdogan's Turkey has decided to buy its new missile-defense system from China, even though its technology doesn't jive with the ordnance of NATO - of which, of course, Turkey is one of the militarily more powerful members.

Freeman sums it up very well indeed:

“The simple world of colonial and superpower rivalries is long vanished. . . .  The notion that one is either ‘with us or against us’ has lost all resonance in the modern Middle East. No government in the region is prepared now to entrust its future to foreigners, still less to a single foreign power. So the role of great external powers is becoming variable, complex, dynamic, and asymmetric, rather than comprehensive, exclusive, static or uniform.”

On the other hand, one of the people whose views REALLY count - because he forks over huge sums of money to support politicians who actually influence policy decisions - continues to speak of the US's evidently rightful prerogative to throw its weight around in the Middle East as it pleases, especially when it comes to Israel.  I speak of Sheldon Adelson, Newt Gingrich's sugar-daddy and political life-support during the 2012 campaign.  Mondoweiss reports (with video) on Adelson's comments at a forum at Yeshiva University after the moderator (Rabbi Shmuley Boteach) raised the issue of US negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program:

What are we going to negotiate about? What I would say is, ‘Listen, you see that desert out there, I want to show you something.’ You pick up your cell phone, even at traveling rates. You pick up your cell phone, and– what are they called– [Boteach: roaming charges] Roaming charges. You pick up your cell phone and you call somewhere in Nebraska and you say, ‘OK let it go.’ So there’s an atomic weapon, goes over ballistic missiles, the middle of the desert, that doesn’t hurt a soul. Maybe a couple of rattlesnakes, and scorpions, or whatever.


And then you say, ‘See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business. You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development. [Applause] You want to be peaceful? Just reverse it all, and we will guarantee you that you can have a nuclear power plant for electricity purposes, energy purposes.’

Adelson goes on to say that American strength "is the only thing they understand."

That, of course, is the same kind of assumption of US military omnipotence that brought us Afghanistan, Iraq, and the knee-capping of America's economic future and global credibility.

On the other hand, Adelson's comments reportedly received fulsome applause.

Betcha Bibi would have been clapping right along, had he been there.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tea Party's Obamaphobia

I don't generally post comments I've seen from other sources - in this instance, a comment appended to an article in today's WashPo.  But this one was too good to pass up:

To Tea Party Republicans: Please note that the Community Organizer; the Tan Man in the Black House; the wet-behind-the-ears innocent who has never worked a day in his life; the illegal alien who is ineligible for the presidency; the crook who lied about his educational background since he actually flunked out of college and only squeaked through law school on Affirmative Action; the happy-go-lucky boy who just wants to have a good time riding around on Air Force One while white people run the country; the Monkey Man who lives only to take goods from hard-working white people and hand it over to the darkies; Buckwheat, who should be cleaning the Oval Office and not sitting in it:
PS: Every one of my descriptions above was taken from an online post about the President of the United States, who, it turns out, has earned a descriptor you-all Tea Party folks forgot: statesman.

These clowns have wasted billions of dollars, slowed down the economy, deprived thousands of federal workers of badly needed paychecks.  They claim to have done all of this as a matter of reclaiming some sort of high ground, in defense of regular Americans. For some of them, perhaps such considerations reflect their true motives.  But for many of them, and for thousands of their Confederate-flag waving, race-baiting, gay-hating, Jesus-is-my-strength supporters, it was all about an irrational, visceral hatred of a black president with an Arab middle name.

Shame on all of them.  And shame on us as a nation if we permit people of their ilk ever again to bring this country to such a low point. 


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