Daily Archives: November 23, 2014


Senator Elizabeth Warren visits Israel as part of Mideast trip

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has the story Senator Elizabeth Warren visits Israel as part of Mideast trip: The Massachusetts Democrat is to meet with Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian officials, according to The Boston Globe.

U.S. Senator for Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren arrived in Tel Aviv on Saturday as part of a visit to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan, The Boston Globe reported Sunday. This is the lawmaker’s first trip abroad as senator.

The Democratic senator is planning to meet with Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian officials, according to the report, which cited an aide.

Warren was also set to meet representatives of UNRWA and UNHCR, as well as USAID. She is also to visit troops from Massachusetts who are serving in the area.
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In August, during the 50-day war between Israel and Hamas, Warren said in a meeting with constituents that Israel was being attacked “indiscriminately” and had a right to defend itself, according to the report.


I don’t know how I missed The Boston Globe article Sen. Warren in Middle East for meetings, visit to Mass. troops.

For a senator who has largely focused on domestic issues — rarely choosing to wade into foreign policy — the trip appears mostly designed to allow Warren a chance to familiarize herself with Israel, one of America’s closest allies and the biggest recipient of foreign aid. It also allows her to travel to some of the safer areas of the Middle East, and accomplish a basic duty as senator: see first hand the areas where US Senate votes have an impact. Warren had been among only a handful of senators who haven’t traveled abroad. . . . Warren was pressed on her support of Israel and her votes to send money to support its fight against Hamas, during an August meeting with constituents in Barnstable. Warren said Israel was being attacked “indiscriminately” and had a right to fight back even though civilian casualties were the “last thing Israel wants.” “But when Hamas puts its rocket launchers next to hospitals, next to schools, they’re using their civilian population to protect their military assets,” Warren said, according to the Cape Cod Times. “And I believe Israel has a right, at that point, to defend itself.”


The Globe failed to point out the part where the constituent to whom she replied about Israel told her that she was badly misinformed. I am pretty sure it was the Globe that reported that she said to one of her aides something to the effect that she needed to learn a lot more about the situation before she made any further remarks like the ones she made.

Isn’t it interesting how your political views effect your memory. The also seem to have a big impact on editorializing in the news section of the newspaper.

Given the part of history The Boston Globe left out, I am hoping that Elizabeth Warren is making her trip with her usual amount of skepticism about official stories told to her by people in authority. I hope she comes back with a lot more sophistication in foreign policy than she has shown here-to-fore. As a big fan of hers who is hoping she runs for President in 2016, this is one area where I recognize some weakness that needs to be strengthened.


November 24, 2014 00:02

Well, I was not able to find that report that I thought I read in The Boston Globe.  However, a Google search on “Elizabeth Warren” “Boston Globe” Israel “Cape Cod” brought me to a number of interesting articles.

First is the Cape Cod Times article Warren explains positions on Israel, Pilgrim.

    Warren said Hamas has attacked Israel “indiscriminately,” but with the Iron Dome defense system, the missiles have “not had the terrorist effect Hamas hoped for.” When pressed by another member of the crowd about civilian casualties from Israel’s attacks, Warren said she believes those casualties are the “last thing Israel wants.”

“But when Hamas puts its rocket launchers next to hospitals, next to schools, they’re using their civilian population to protect their military assets. And I believe Israel has a right, at that point, to defend itself,” Warren said, drawing applause.

Noreen Thompsen, of Eastham, proposed that Israel should be prevented from building any more settlements as a condition of future U.S. funding, but Warren said, “I think there’s a question of whether we should go that far.”

Then there was an article Senator Warren’s progressive supporters demand accountability for her rightwing pro-Israel positioning by Jeff Klein.

When Elizabeth Warren came to Tufts University in Medford on Monday she was met by anti-war and Palestinian rights activists who asked why the popular senator and national Democratic Party celebrity seemed to echo Israeli talking points about the recent Israel attack on Gaza.
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As she exited the auditorium, Warren — an irrepressible campaigner — approached the activists, shook their hands and warmly thanked each of them for being there. We handed her a flyer as she entered her car to leave.  The aide promised a meeting soon. We’ll see.

There is a lot more in the above article about some of the push-back that Elizabeth Warren has been receiving.  She may already be much more sophisticated on the topic as she lands in Israel than when she spoke on Cape Cod and at Tufts.


The article from The Boston Globe was published online about 4 hours ago, about half a day after I read the Sunday paper edition of The Boston Globe.


Making Progress: Senator Elizabeth Warren

Those of  us who are fans of Elizabeth Warren know the story behind what she stands for, but not enough other people know it.  So no matter how many times we have heard it, it still bears repeating. Here is Elizabeth Warren explaining the story at the Center for American Progress Policy Conference in November 2014.


In this 18 minute speech, she spent about 15 minutes explaining the story. If you have not heard the story, you really owe it to yourself to listen to this first 15 minutes. Once you have heard what she has to say, come back here for my comments on what she said in 2 of the 3 minutes just before the end of her speech.

I want to summarize for you some research from election day … The survey of voters in 11 battleground states. Now remember, these are the people who showed up to vote in mid-terms, two weeks ago, the people who in 10 of the 11 states that are represented in this survey sent Republicans to the Senate. And here’s what they said, 80% of all those voting said both parties are doing too much to help Wall Street, 75% said invest more money in education from pre-K through college. 66% said close corporate tax loopholes to make investments in infrastructure, or reduce the deficit. 62% said raise the minimum wage. 61% said increase Social Security taxes and increase benefits. And 62% said the Republicans don’t have a plan to help the economy. People across this country get it. Sure there’s a lot of work to be done and there is a long way to go before Democrats can reclaim the right to say that we are fighting for America’s working people …


She needs a whole other speech to explain why in 10 of the 11 battleground states in the last election the voters sent Republicans to the Senate. What she did mention in this speech is that “80% of all those voting said both parties are doing too much to help Wall Street.”

When she said that “62% said the Republicans don’t have a plan to help the economy”, she needed to finish that thought. What percentage of the people thought that the Democrats did have a plan to help the economy? She missed the opportunity to explain what is wrong with Democrats with whom large majorities of people agree with their supposed policies, but these very voters who agree with them did not vote for them.

She mentions that Democrats have a lot of work to do to “reclaim the right to say that we are fighting for America’s working people.” Maybe she was trying to be too diplomatic to be more specific about what Democrats didn’t do or just didn’t do correctly. I hope her new role in advising the Democratic leaders in the Senate does not stop her from being more specific in the near future about what Democrats need to do.

Without me naming names, I ask you to think about what Democratic candidates who might run for the Presidential in 2016, have as clear an idea of what America did right from the depression era up until 1980 and what they did that was so wrong from 1980 up until now as Elizabeth Warren explained in the first 15 minutes of this speech. Try to be brutally honest with yourself. The future of the party and this country may depend on your ability to face the facts.


Iran will do a deal with the west – but only if there’s no loss of dignity

Reader RichardH sent me a link to the UK  Guardian article Iran will do a deal with the west – but only if there’s no loss of dignity.

Speaking about Iran’s present political system, Hooman Majd wrote the following:

Beyond building the world’s first modern theocracy, which some revolutionaries and perhaps a large percentage of the then silent population never bargained for, the revolution was as much about Persian dignity and greatness as it was about overthrowing a despotic monarchy. It isn’t just pride, as some suggest, that governs popular support for the nuclear programme (or any other technical accomplishment), although Iranians are proud – perhaps overly so – of their 5,000-year history and culture, and can be accused of faith in Persian exceptionalism in much the same way the US has in its own.

I think about the application of this idea in our relations with Russia, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, Syria. and some other countries.  When we don’t give them the respect that they feel they deserve and we try to take away their sense of dignity, then it ought to be no surprise to us that they won’t agree with us on almost anything.  The more we heighten our threats and reprisals against these countries, the more recalcitrant and counter threatening they become.

Think about this same part of human nature in our domestic relations between President Obama and the Congressional Republicans.  In the beginning, Obama tried to win them over by giving them far more respect than they were giving to him.  They did not reciprocate.  It took many years for Obama to learn that his way of gaining their cooperation was not going to work.  In fact, the escalating threats by the Republicans against Obama have finally convinced him that he has  to stand up to them.

In the foreign policy domain, Obama at first took a conciliatory tone to many of our adversaries.  However, he reversed policy with them far  faster than he did with the Republicans.  Ironically, if he had  stayed the course in foreign policy, he might have got some reciprocity that he was never going to get from the Republicans.

In fact, it might have been showing deference to Republican sensitivities for him to take harsher stands in foreign policy.  It didn’t win him any fiends among the Republicans, and  it has only made things worse among some of our adversaries that seemed to be coming around to a more conciliatory approach themselves.  Just think of the sanctions we have imposed on Russia as a reward for the help they gave us in dealing with Syria.

This consideration of too many sides in all these situations has left me with one conclusion.  No single approach to relations is always appropriate in every situation.  You have to try to figure out the best approach for each situation.