Is the American dream over?

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OK, the Obama supporters on this thread have implied that he was not able to achieve all that he wanted to because he was stopped by...

 

...40 or 41 Republican Senators in Congress (which include Maine's Olympia Snowe and Sudan Collins, whose politics would never be mistaken for that of Bachmann)

...an electorate that has been cleverly persuaded by Rush Limbaugh and the ever-influential Sarah Palin (among others) to significantly alter its political beliefs towards the right of the political spectrum

 

Here's the $64 million question: exactly which potential legislation was blocked by the Senators- not what you wish the Democrats had passed but what they actually couldn't get a final vote on

 

I'm saying that Obama more or less achieved what he wanted to, including extending the Bush tax cuts until the end of 2012, which BTW means that he subscribed to the view that they were stimulative. Rather than being a weakling, he helped cajole through Obamacare, close to the toughest legislation that could be rammed through Congress.

 

It's interesting that Obama supporters are implying that too many people are simply too stupid to follow the enlightened path he wanted to lead us on, i.e., they imply that the preferences of the people should be ignored because they're wrong and Obama had all the right policy answers.

 

HDB, don't try to to pretend that you know all of what was published by the think tanks I mentioned, who BTW have a lot to say about domestic, non-national security issues. Someone like you who rants constantly about Limbaugh couldn't be bothered to actually read what think tanks publish. Furthermore, your PC claim about "rednecks without health insurance opposing Obamacare" should be backed up with some valid sources (it's PC because it's considered OK to insult rural white folks' intelligence).

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Who are you referring to as "the Obama supporters on this thread?"

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Current or erstwhile, cinzia, so that would include you and moctoj2 as well as HDB, at a minimum. All of you think the Republicans managed to more or less successfully obstruct Obama's agenda.

 

HDB, you really should read the financial press every now and then:

 

Obama and the Democrats run rings around the Republicans on a tax holiday shows how adroit the Democrats and Obama really are, despite what HDB deludes himself into thinking.

 

The Financial Crisis on Trial should be required reading for HDB. Sounds like his political strategy would blow up in his the faces of the Democrats. No doubt he will still be delusionally ranting that the free market caused it all!

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Current or erstwhile, cinzia, so that would include you and moctoj2 as well as HDB, at a minimum. All of you think the Republicans managed to more or less successfully obstruct Obama's agenda.

 

To say that Republicans have successfully obstructed the Democratic agenda this term, especially in the House, is fact. A lot of Republican voters, especially those who identify with the Tea Party, are proud of that fact. One doesn't need to be an "Obama supporter" to see that.

 

I would expect anyone labeled an "Obama supporter" to be voting for him in 2012. I will not be. Please take me off your list of "Obama supporters" and refer to me in future as a "left-leaning American." They are not the same thing.

 

I'm as much an Obama supporter as kropotkin is a "Perot supporter."

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Conquistador, you are just the most predictable bore around. You have dozens of neat little folders in your head and whenever someone dares to hold different opinions than your own he is put into a folder and decried as such: "German nationalist", "extremely partisan Obama supporter" etc. Apparently you believe that using these silly labels gives your arguments more credibility.

 

The political right seems to get ever more extreme. At its basest level there is clearly the issue that Obama isn't accepted as legitimate President at all. There is no other explanation for the risible phenomenon of the birthers and of those who claim that he is a secret Muslim. Whe you climb up the ladder it may get more intellectual but hardly more palatable. Principles like advocating the free market (whatever that means exactly) and reducing taxes seem to have hardened into dogmatism.

I really look back with some fondness to the days of conservatives like Ronald Reagan - who knew how to push the right buttons rhetorically, yet who was flexible enough to act very pragmatically.

 

 

what is socialistic if not capitalistic? The unions and trade associations are the biggest narrow minded capitalist there are.What difference does it make if the bank association or a corrupt union forces their interest on other people without regard to society as a whole?Why go to the edge of the economic destruction to press the last drop of blood out and kill of the body you want to make a living from? Even animals only kill for what they need to survive. Some people think they have to take all the traffic can bare in one swoop.I just don't believe that that advances life for humanity.

 

The unions are completely legitimate representatives of millions of employees. They are as legitimate as political parties and organized religion. They are the only way for normal employers to have effective bargaining powers when dealing with large corporations.

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It's so obvious that they have been able to largely keep the Democrats from passing legislation in this Congressional term that I didn't mention this one, but always the last one, when they had large House and Senate majorities, so which legislation did the Republicans supposedly block in the last term?

 

Given how anathema the key legislation passed by the Democrats last term was to Republicans and the obvious course correction that the voting public wanted as evidenced by the results of the 2010 midterms, why shouldn't the Republicans prevent the Democrats from doing more of what the voting public obviously disapproved of? You are, however, welcome to state exactly which legislation they obstructed this term since you apparently can't come up with anything from the previous term (2009 and 2010). At the end of the day, the Democrats had virtually free rein and a lot of political capital after the results of the 2008 election. If they couldn't get it done then, they have no one to blame but themselves.

 

 

Conquistador, you are just the most predictable bore around. You have dozens of neat little folders in your head and whenever someone dares to hold different opinions than your own he is put into a folder and decried as such: "German nationalist", "extremely partisan Obama supporter" etc. Apparently you believe that using these silly labels gives your arguments more credibility.

 

The political right seems to get ever more extreme. At its basest level there is clearly the issue that Obama isn't accepted as legitimate President at all. There is no other explanation for the risible phenomenon of the birthers and of those who claim that he is a secret Muslim. Whe you climb up the ladder it may get more intellectual but hardly more palatable. Principles like advocating the free market (whatever that means exactly) and reducing taxes seem to have hardened into dogmatism.

I really look back with some fondness to the days of conservatives like Ronald Reagan - who knew how to push the right buttons rhetorically, yet who was flexible enough to act very pragmatically.

 

I guess the substance of my arguments is too tough for you, Oblomov, perhaps in part because you seem to lack a real understanding of the US, but that is simply too bad for you and you will have to live with it. I'd say your bitter and abiding hatred towards Israeli Jews, the US and the UK should be of greater concern to you since it is ultimately self-destructive but if you want to consistently bore us with that, you certainly have the right to do so; however, don't be upset when you get refuted.

 

Perhaps someone who comes from Germany, home of the NPD, should know better than to ascribe lunatic, fringe views such as birtherism to the political mainstream (note also that the more lunatic fringe on the political left in the US still claims Bush stole the 2004 election).

 

I'd agree that Reagan was very pragmatic (thanks in part to Republicans only controlling the Senate for six years and never the House), but even today's apparent dogmatists are usually somewhat more pragmatic than they are given credit for, if only because they are primarily pursuing self-interest.

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I'm curious as to how much influence you think pundits and the media actually do have, Conq whether it be Right or Left. I find myself agreeing with what you're saying policy-wise but it seems to me that you're somewhat discounting the power of certain tactics used to garner election votes (and therefore at least the specter of continued influence in how elected officials vote) and those that employ those tactics a bit much. Seems like people nowadays are scared into the voting booth as much as inspired to pull that lever. And even a dumbass/intellectually lazy person's vote is as good as a scholar's vote at the ballot box. Who's easier to manipulate and who are there more of? The intent of an elected official is to get the vote (all too often by any means necessary of late) and keep the seat using similar tactics if need be. The intent of pundits is to get viewers/listeners/readers (all too often by any means necessary of late) to give them ratings and thus more status and advertising money. You can also substitute lobbyists and even certain think tanks into this mix unfortunately. Kind of a match made in heaven.

 

You yourself challenge group-think in many debates in this section of the forum so it's odd to see you being somewhat dismissive of the power of people/tactics influencing group-think while being inclined to challenge it at the same time.I mean...if what HDB wasn't true, would there even be such an entrenched industry? It's not like this wasn't going on even during our nations forefather's time but the scale is such that you'd have to be blind and deaf not to see it on "news" channels or hear it on radio talk shows.

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The unions are completely legitimate representatives of millions of employees. They are as legitimate as political parties and organized religion. They are the only way for normal employers to have effective bargaining powers when dealing with large corporations.

No doubt! But as a group they can be as destructive as the bank associations for the body of a nation, just not as effective because they are not as elastic as a smaller bankers group and don't have the financial means or the ears of the government.They are as selfish as the political parties and that's why America is in trouble.There seems to be no limit of self control how much of the pie they can grab.As much as possible for me and the rest of you be damned.

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I'm curious as to how much influence you think pundits and the media actually do have, Conq whether it be Right or Left. I find myself agreeing with what you're saying policy-wise but it seems to me that you're somewhat discounting the power of certain tactics used to garner election votes (and therefore at least the specter of continued influence in how elected officials vote) and those that employ those tactics a bit much. Seems like people nowadays are scared into the voting booth as much as inspired to pull that lever. And even a dumbass/intellectually lazy person's vote is as good as a scholar's vote at the ballot box. Who's easier to manipulate and who are there more of? The intent of an elected official is to get the vote (all too often by any means necessary of late) and keep the seat using similar tactics if need be. The intent of pundits is to get viewers/listeners/readers (all too often by any means necessary of late) to give them ratings and thus more status and advertising money. You can also substitute lobbyists and even certain think tanks into this mix unfortunately. Kind of a match made in heaven.

 

You yourself challenge group-think in many debates in this section of the forum so it's odd to see you being somewhat dismissive of the power of people/tactics influencing group-think while being inclined to challenge it at the same time.I mean...if what HDB wasn't true, would there even be such an entrenched industry? It's not like this wasn't going on even during our nations forefather's time but the scale is such that you'd have to be blind and deaf not to see it on "news" channels or hear it on radio talk shows.

 

You know, Syn, it seems that each side's partisans think the media is mostly slavish towards the other. I can tell you for a fact from formerly canvassing for local Democrats that there are fear tactics used to get African-Americans and Hispanics (where I come from it's mostly Puerto Ricans and people originally from the Dominican Republic who are usually very loyal Democrats) to turn out and vote Democratic, so this isn't something that is unique to the Limbaugh side of the spectrum. Unfortunately, negative campaigning is usually effective, particularly against a challenger, and that and the importance of emotions in getting people to vote and donate money means it will always be with us. Yes, it is somewhat of a factor, but probably only for a relatively small sliver of people, and I'd imagine most of them are already supporting one party or the other. If I had to guess, I would say that things even out in the cacaphony, especially when you factor in single-issue campaigns that may cross typical partisan lines to some extent.

 

Less intelligent people are not always easier to manipulate, and they also anyway have lower rates of voting participation. Think about the sorts of issues that raise passions and remember that there are two sides to the passion. I think that Limbaugh, while no doubt passionate about his politics, is also happy to be making lots of money, and that seems easier to do when conservatives are in opposition, so perhaps any increase in those tuning in to him has more to do with dissatisfaction with the state of the country than a real ideological shift. It also means that Limbaugh's self-interest may not necessarily coincide with that of conservatives or with that of the Republican Party.

 

I don't have any evidence to back it up, but I suspect US conservatism reached its peak in the mid-90s and has slowly receded since then. I recently saw, but did not read, an article or discussion topic in the NYT that suggested that the influence of Evangelicals in politics has waned.

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You know, Syn, it seems that each side's partisans think the media is mostly slavish towards the other. I can tell you for a fact from formerly canvassing for local Democrats that there are fear tactics used to get African-Americans and Hispanics (where I come from it's mostly Puerto Ricans and people originally from the Dominican Republic who are usually very loyal Democrats) to turn out and vote Democratic, so this isn't something that is unique to the Limbaugh side of the spectrum.

I'm actually glad you mentioned this because it's relevant to what I posted concerning influencing group-think and, in between HDB's other talking points, what he alluded to as well. You yourself experienced the tactics used to get or keep the minority vote in the party that is generally believed by many of those minorities to be a "safe haven" from the party labelled as being full of the "angry white male". Considering the Democrats have had the minority vote locked for quite a long time and having experienced tactics used to reinforce this lock, would you still consider this type of thing to not be as prevalent or powerful as others would believe?

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I'll answer you in more detail later today, Syn, but I think HDB saw a realignment occuring whereas I see the effect of commentators like Limbaugh as having a much more modest effect than their very public profiles indicate, üart because elections are often decided in large part by independent voters who are most unlikely to have an allegiance to a Limbaugh. There's also the negative attention polarizing figures attract like bees to honey, which would obviously limit their ability to realign an electorate.

 

The reason why we canvassed was to increase turnout in elections with statewide or federal implications since some areas tended to see chronically low turnout and therefore appeared to be ripe for cherry picking. In local elections, a candidate wanted to increase turnout, especially in the Democratic primaries, in order to scare off potential challengers.

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IMO one of the biggest political travesties in my lifetime was that Bush won a second election. The first was bad enough. The second was pure sick absurdity.

 

Bush, the rich-family draft-dodger failure at everything he'd ever done, against Kerry, who really was in Vietnam and fought. Then the Swift Boat Gun bullshit. Then windsurfing being turned around to be some elitist New England anti-American thing. Oh yeah, he speaks French, and even had French ancestry - must be a communiss!!... Outright vicious lying and manipulating people in the media. The Democrats simply LOST the real battle - the media one. Who gives a shit about think-tanks in light of that? Think tanks don't win those kinds of votes. Billy Bob don't read think tank articles either.. But he voted for Bush.

 

And then at the end, thanks to all the ogres having convinced little old aunties across America to come out and vote against gay marriage, which would surely ruin the "moral fabric of America" and turn America into a modern Sodom & Gamorrah, Bush pulled it off a second time.

 

And that against a backdrop of the enormous disaster in Iraq - disastrous strategically, disastrous politically, disastrous culturally, and on and on..

 

That Bush won that election proved beyond doubt that facts have very little to do with politics. It's about manipulating people in the media. And the Repubs won big that time. They played very dirty - and THAT's why they won.. - and that STILL seems not to have registered with the Dems.

 

When I had students during that period who were just dumbfounded that America could have such a moron for President, with pretty much EVERYTHING going against him, and yet he got REelected, that is pretty much how I explained it(not about facts, but about fighting a media war to manipulate people..), because it is afaic the only way a rational person can comprehend how such stupidity could triumph.

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Michael Moore would correspond to Rush Limbaugh on the other side of the political spectrum. Both are fat and full of hot air and their followers tend to be very simplistic and frankly, not very bright. Moore's films about the healthcare system and gun control have influenced the political dialogue.

 

With regard to foreign policy, Shrubco employed roughly 200 staffers from the CFR as did the Clinton Admin as does the Obamadmin. If you happen to pick up a book by George Friedman, for example, The Next Decade or The Next 100 Years, you may not agree with his analysis, however, it becomes very clear that the US has long term foreign policy objectives which do not vary from administration to administration. That said, my position on Iraq is very clear in some respects: it was absolutely inevitable and the people that ran the whole thing really knew what they were doing. Considering the magnitude of the project, there were surely things which did not go well and a few surprises, but in general, it went as planned. Did the administration lie about the costs and some of the other aspects? Absolutely. But everyone was on board. This was not a policy that was driven by a few Leo Strauss disciples. Search for a clip where Bill Clinton or Madeline Albright come out against the war. It doesn't exist because they publicly (although not vocally) for the war.

 

Shrub was extremely smart. Cheney, Wolfowitz, and Rumsfeld are all extremely bright.

 

Don't kid yourself - these guys knew exactly what they were getting into and they knew exactly what they were doing. It is a dark thought, but when you really think about it, you will see that it is correct.

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Then windsurfing being turned around to be some elitist New England anti-American thing.

I wouldn't exactly call myself Billy Bob, but the very second I saw the windsurfing pictures I knew Kerry was done for. I didn't need Fox news to tell me either. He was an extremely flawed candidate who just didn't "get" middle America. You can't go out during difficult economic times with ten photo ops in a row showing you in manly, athletic, virile sporting activities which, in the end, do nothing more than drive home the point that you can afford expensive hobbies that most Americans can't. It was just idiotic. In the meantime, Shrub's handlers put him in photo ops working on the ranch somewhere. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what plays better. Kerry's people were just morons.

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I know what you're saying, and agree partially. I also believe Dubya himself is not completely "dumb" politically (though he is hardly an inspirational leader, and his lack of intellectual curiosity is despicable..), and of course Wolfwowitz and co are all intelligent. BUT, even if the people behind the Iraq War were smart, it doesn't mean the war was a good idea, or long-term good for America.

 

This book I'm reading now - "How Markets Fail", has some great examples of how people acting rationally in their own self-interest can nevertheless contribute to destructive outcomes for everyone - including themselves. I.e. being "smart" does not inexorably lead to smart outcomes. On a purely theoretical level, I even tend to admire some of the neocon Chicagoans.. BUT - and this is the whole point (of many things that happen to interest me btw..*), "smart theory" often blows up when confronted with sloppy reality.

 

So even if the guys behind the scenes are really smart, what I find so horrible about the Republicans is how they have so dumbed down American popular political culture. And with great success. Rove is smart, but America thanks to him is dumber afaic..

 

* I admit to playing catch-up with economics. My interests have always been more literary, cultural-historical, Historical with a big H, and philosophical.. To make my point from a different perspective, take Kafka. Joseph K is running around trying to find logical answers to things, but the world he finds himself in is totally fxxxing crazy and just bafflingly bizarre and frustrating to anyone expecting reason to provide answers. He's looking for something or someone in a bank one day - this utlra-rational, sanitary, stolid modern institution (well, before '08 anyway..), and he opens a door in this bank and is confronted with a scene of S & M medieval style brutality and torture - leather masks, the whole bit..(been years since I read The Trial, but it was along these lines..) Bizarre, and even funny, as Kafka often is. But the point is, however theoretical and "smart" you want to get, when set in the real world, irrationality, cruelty, self-destructiveness, etc.. tend to screw up the smartest of theories. So the trick afaic is to understand this when constructing your theories in the first place. I'm not sure the whole neocon theoretical strategic worldview with grand notions of projecting American power was grounded in reality quite enough. But then again, maybe it was. Maybe there were some really smart guys in a room somewhere who realized that Iraq was necessary so American could really outmilitarize the rest of the world, etc.. As someone mentioned in connection with the financial crisis and gold reserves, most of them are in New York, so when the economic shit hits the fan, America can basically say "no I'm keeping it. What are you going to do about it?"..

 

So I don't know. But NO level of "smartness" can justify Palin or Bachmann or these other stupid ogres the Republicans employ to garner votes, the teaching of creationism and banning of the teaching of evolution and that kind of thing. There I draw the line, and that is my main reason for despising the Republicans. I am not a Democrat. In a different context I am even very anti-left. Despising the one doesn't preclude despising the other. It's just that, to me, the Republicans these last ten years or so have been particularly despicable.

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I wouldn't exactly call myself Billy Bob, but the very second I saw the windsurfing pictures I knew Kerry was done for. I didn't need Fox news to tell me either. He was an extremely flawed candidate who just didn't "get" middle America. You can't go out during difficult economic times with ten photo ops in a row showing you in manly, athletic, virile sporting activities which, in the end, do nothing more than drive home the point that you can afford expensive hobbies that most Americans can't. It was just idiotic. In the meantime, Shrub's handlers put him in photo ops working on the ranch somewhere. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what plays better. Kerry's people were just morons.

 

I disagree about the windsurfing - but agree that Kerry's people were morons. But NOT for the windsurfing thing itself, but for not spinning it right. I think it was just a question of the stronger spin machine. And the Dems got blown out of the water.

 

When I first moved abroad I lived in Prague and there was a jazz club with a picture of Clinton playing a sax in the local club with dark glasses on.. It was COOL to be an American abroad then. Since Bush it's been something you have to apologize for..

 

In any case, the Kerry windsurfing thing could have been spun as some kind of Mountain Dew image-type deal. But they caved.. AND the Dems should also have ripped into the bullshit images of Bush as if he were really some good ole' boy down on the ranch driving trucks and using chainsaws like the rest of "middle America"..

 

If the Repubs could turn Kerry into a coward and practically a traitor in the whole Swifboat UNBELIEVABE bullshit thing, then the Dems could surely have made windsurfing cool.. For fxxxsake, it is..

 

I mean, at bottom, what's worse? Kerry windsurfing and speaking French and having served honorably in Vietnam, or big fat phony images of Bush on the ranch with a chainsaw and pickup, with zero intellectual curiosity, and having been a pampered rich-boy draft-dodger? His handlers surely "got" middle America, but middle America Bush isn't.. And..., well, that's my point!.. It's not about substance. It's about image... And the dumb images the Repubs choose to go with dumb America down even more..

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That said, my position on Iraq is very clear in some respects: it was absolutely inevitable and the people that ran the whole thing really knew what they were doing. Considering the magnitude of the project, there were surely things which did not go well and a few surprises, but in general, it went as planned. Did the administration lie about the costs and some of the other aspects? Absolutely. But everyone was on board. This was not a policy that was driven by a few Leo Strauss disciples. Search for a clip where Bill Clinton or Madeline Albright come out against the war. It doesn't exist because they publicly (although not vocally) for the war.

 

Shrub was extremely smart. Cheney, Wolfowitz, and Rumsfeld are all extremely bright.

 

Don't kid yourself - these guys knew exactly what they were getting into and they knew exactly what they were doing. It is a dark thought, but when you really think about it, you will see that it is correct.

 

Inevitable in what way? Because of the internal operations of US politics? Was it as inevitable as it was claimed by some during the cold war that a military confrontation with the Soviets was inevitable?

How exactly did this turn out as planned? Was it planned to extend the political influence of Iran around the Gulf? One does not even have to point out the huge loss of political credibility and the economic damage the US has sustained as a result of this war. 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians apparently do not count anyway.

Yes, opposition to this war among politicians in the US seemed to be very restrained. Apparently this war was not least the result of a certain hubris among US policymakers after the demise of the Soviet Union.

 

Conquistador, your reaction was quite predictable as well. Personal attacks instead of arguments. It would be quite justified to call you a hooray henry for extremely racist policies at any given opportunity, but I am not going to lower myself to that level.

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Syn, I think there hasn't been much of a movement in US politics to the right since the late 1970s and early 1980s, when there was a big realignment with the Reagan tax cuts and deregulation of some sectors of the economy. TBH, no commentator could possibly have the visbility or the influence on public opinion (negative or positive) that the actions of a President and Congress (especially the former). The commentators are really just tagging along.

 

I'd also say that we haven't moved to the right on social issues, rather somewhat to the left, and Congressional legislation on national security issues doesn't necessarily indicate a rightward move either, rather it tells me that politcians want tools that they think will cover them in the event of a significant terror attack since we can't hope to prevent all of them all the time. Note also that Congress sometimes takes votes to get legislators on the record as supporting or opposing a particular issue.

 

As for economic issues, I don't think we have moved to the right in a long time, as I indicated earlier the paradigm shift came much earlier.

 

kropotkin correctly pointed out that the high-profile Michael Moore has certainly added a left-wing perspective to the national debate. I think the reason why there is so much focus on Limbaugh and Palin is that they are used by foils by the Democrats since they no longer have Bush to complain about, whereas the Republicans can focus on the current occupant of the White House. At the end of the day, how would we measure the impact of the commentators by isolating from other sources of information and the actions of politicians?

 

 

Conquistador, your reaction was quite predictable as well. Personal attacks instead of arguments. It would be quite justified to call you a hooray henry for extremely racist policies at any given opportunity, but I am not going to lower myself to that level.

 

You've certainly lowered yourself to that level with a smear and a lot of dishonesty instead of engaging the many arguments I have made on this thread in recent days.

 

I don't think anyone reasonable would consider supporting a two-state solution in the Middle East with a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza to be "racist". I imagine that there are some people who would want what is now Israel, the West Bank and Gaza to be Judenfrei, which would itself be racist. Do you want all Jews out of Israel, Oblomov? If not and you do want peace then you should support a two-state solution, under which Israeli Arabs keep their Israeli citizenship and continue to reside in Israel, which doesn't seem very racist to me.

 

The smear on your part is predictable, especially given your long paper trail of hatred against Israeli Jews, which is particularly pathetic coming from someone whose country perpetrated the Holocaust of European Jews, some of whose descendants live in Israel today. Add to that your apparent refusal to acknowledge that there is discrimination against non-Germans in Germany. Here's a hint: you don't make Germany perfect or superior by tearing down the US, UK and Israel, and you should acknowledge that Germany would not be what it is today in a unified EU without the US providing stability and protection for decades, which allowed Germany to rebuild its economy and rehabilitate its image.

 

If you're going to hypocritically complain about a personal attack perhaps you shouldn't initiate one yourself right off the bat. Then again, someone as "superior" as yourself apparently thinks he can be dishonest and disingenuous and get away with it.

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