I find myself between a rock and a hard place. Who shall I support: President Obama or John Boehner? The issue, of course, is House Speaker John Boehner’s shocking invitation to Benjamin Netanyahu, the warhawk premier of Israel, to address our Congress despite our President’s strong objections.
Netanyahu, an outspoken opponent of Obama’s attempt to use diplomacy with Iran, further shocked the world by gleefully accepting the invitation. Boehner and Netanyahu, two thugs in hand-tailored suits, apparently are bent on running the United States foreign policy, pulling the rug from under not only our President, but us, the people.
It is tempting to rally with righteous indignation behind Obama because he is, after all, our democratically elected President. If he is brushed aside in a decision of this kind, our Constitution, the core of our democracy, is brushed aside with him.
The burning question is, does Boehner, as Speaker of the House, have a right to override the President in deciding what foreign leader addresses our Congress? What rights do Boehner have? A bully since he lugged beer kegs in his father’s bar to the present, interrupted only by his endless golf games and his sunlamp, he has maneuvered his way through the maze of Republican stupidity, cowardice, and mediocrity into the second most powerful job in the country.
How did he do it? I would guess bribery, threats, endless martini lunches with lobbyists … the usual tools on such a journey. And his lack of compassion didn’t hurt his climb either. While he gives the impression he feels nothing but ambition, nature did bestow one gift upon him: He cries easily.
Yes John Boehner, one of the coldest Americans ever elected to office, is a crybaby. But don’t worry too much about him. His tears serve as punctuation rather than feelings. And he is sometimes joined in his tears. He cried, for example, when two years ago he accepted the Speaker’s gavel. And so did we.
We cried again when he was just re-elected to that position. But this time even he couldn't turn on the tears. A sly smile appeared on his chronically suntanned face. John Boehner is a perfumed narcissist and we would do well not to be charmed by his glibness or his irritating self confidence.
Natanyahu is easier to read. He represents the part of Israel that has stood in the way of creating a flourishing democracy from the beginning. When Israel won the war for independence in 1946 (from the British) it had a clear path toward a Utopian democracy. Most Israeli leaders nurtured it.
But a small, ambitious, right-wing band of perpetual warriors fell in love with the image of Jews as military heroes and were determined to keep it that way. Enough of the image of the Jews as intellectuals, fighters for economic and social justice, educators and doctors. Enough of a sense of fairness; Jews are famous for saying “on the one hand and on the other hand”.
This group of militarists had no patience for that. Compassion associated with the Jewish community was ridiculed by these right wingers. It got in the way of the warrior image. From the beginning, Netanyahu’s family was part of that small militaristic group. Benjamin, affectionately nicknamed Bibi, was send to MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where, instead of concentrating on engineering and building highways and bridges, he concentrated on building his contacts in the United States, the most powerful nation in the world then and now. Benjamin Netanyahu concentrated on how it got that way.
His love of power was obvious from the beginning. And in 1976 when his brother was killed in Entebbe, the only Israeli casualty in that battle, that did it. It provided the excuse for Bibi to spread the paranoia, hate, and revenge he felt. His family money and his own ruthlessness helped him achieve the power he longed for.
But it’s starting to look like the Israelis have had it with his violent policies as Prime Minister of Israel. And now that he is seriously threatened with losing reelection, he is gambling on this rogue appearance at our Congress to show the Israeli voters that he, Bibi Netanyahu, has more command over the actions of the United States than its President.
So the world looks to us, the people of the United States, to react to this power grab. Who is the boss? The Speaker of the House? The pro Israel political action committee, AIPAC with its heavy funding of American elections and that strongly supports Netanyahu? Or is the one in charge the man who was elected for such a purpose, the President of the United States.
Ah, there’s the rub, as Hamlet would say. Would that we had a president who welcomes the First Amendment as much as we do. But Obama has prosecuted or condemned more whistleblowers than all the rest of our Presidents put together.
While protesting that he believes in freedom of speech, he has condemned Edward Snowdon and Julian Assange for trying to warn us that our privacy is being constantly invaded.
He openly condemned Chelsea Manning for revealing that our armed forces killed Iraqis for sport.
And now Jeffrey Sterling, former CIA employee was found guilty of treason for, in 2001, revealing that we deliberately and disgracefully sent erroneous blueprints to Iran to keep them from developing nuclear power.
We have a President who, while insisting he pursues peace, has embraced mass killing by remote control. Drones, oh how he loves them! He has empowered our military to program them to attack countries at will…..Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Quatar, Syria, Iraq…killing and maiming thousands of people at random.
Drones don't ask for names and addresses before they kill. They don’t try the innocent before they are proven guilty. It’s random slaughter time. It’s anybody and everybody who happens to be in their path.
Six thousand is the estimated guess so far. It may be ten times that. We can’t be sure because the press is banned from reporting the exact number of casualties, or even from being on the ground.
We have a President who chronically promises one thing and delivers the other….everything from withdrawing all troops from Afghanistan (we’ve just assigned 10,000 of them to stay there) to supporting trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership that give world corporations the final say on what is legal and what is not. Yes, if the TPP passes, as Obama wants, corporations will trump government in deciding the fate of the worlds people.
So who do we support in this Obama-Boehner-Netanyahu triangle? Once again, we’re stuck with the lesser of evils. It’s not an easy decision, but in the end it is democracy itself that we support. In it our democratically elected leader is more important than who he or she may be. Our Constitution is our anchor and must be sustained….despite the current Supreme Court that shred it at their convenience.
We, the people, who hold fast to that Constitution, join those who are outraged at the invitation extended by Boehner to Netanyahu. We agree with those who call this a traitorous act by Boehner. Netanyahu should be denied entrance into the United States. Hopefully Obama will stand firm in making these demands… Although seeing Obama stand firm on anything is a long shot….
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