Did you see the picture of Abbas and Sharon shaking hands over the table? Was it just me, or did Abbas look like he was having to stretch a little farther, lean in a little more than Sharon? Is it just me or is that symbolic of the problem--the weak Palestinians are expected to make all the concessions while the U.S.-backed Israelis call them "terrorists" at every opportunity?
And before I could sit down this evening to write this post and make any predictions about how this won't last, I hear Bill Crowley report the first cease-fire violation on this, the day of the agreement. Note that the story uses the "Israeli military" as a source--the story doesn't quote any Palestinian sources (and we all know that news stories attributed to a single source are always totally accurate).
Is it just me, or is that likely to be used as an excuse to discredit Abbas (by both Christian Zionists and the Israeli hardliners) in the eyes of the world so that the Israelis can go ahead and clamp down tighter?
Like Iraq Election
The thing is, the handshake is nice and everything, just like the Iraqi ink fingers, but it's only a start. This is not even close to real peace--they're just agreeing not to kill each other right this minute, but as for 5 minutes from now, they can't really make that promise. Just like in Iraq, where the voting was nice but ultimately meaningless if the government fails, this handshake was great but let's see what comes out of actual negotiations where documents are signed and maps are drawn.
Not to be too pessimistic--equitable peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians would be fantastic (by which I mean both "really great" and "the stuff of fantasy"). But let's not break out the champagne just yet.
And Now For My Next Trick...
Paul Krugman's column today about how the radical right wants to dismantle Social Security, not "reform" it is right on the money. If you don't want to click the link, here is a key passage:
Why expose workers to that much risk? Ideology. "Social Security is the soft underbelly of the welfare state," declares Stephen Moore of the Club for Growth and the Cato Institute. "If you can jab your spear through that, you can undermine the whole welfare state."
By the welfare state, Mr. Moore means Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid - social insurance programs whose purpose, above all, is to protect Americans against the extreme economic insecurity that prevailed before the New Deal. The hard right has never forgiven F.D.R. (and later L.B.J.) for his efforts to reduce that insecurity, and now that the right is running Washington, it's trying to turn the clock back to 1932.
Medicaid is also in the cross hairs. And if Mr. Bush can take down Social Security, Medicare will be next.
That's what's going on here. The Republicans aren't trying to help you and me save more money for our future, they're trying to take apart the most successful social programs in American history for the benefit of Wall Street. As Majority Report's Sam Seder said, this Bush plan is really nothing more than "a Wall Street hijack."
My dad won't believe this. He won't believe that the president of the United States would actually call complete dismantling of Social Security a "reform." Millions of red state Americans won't believe that their precious, God-fearing Republicans actually mean to do away with a program that has rescued millions of hard-working people from poverty at retirement. Oh no, that would violate the Master Narrative, which as you know says that above all--"It can't happen here."
Bush uses the example of Chile's retirement privatization program as one to model our own on. But by all accounts, Chile's program is a failure. Rather, it's a success for the corporations, but it's a failure for retirees. Look it up. Write a letter to the editor. Don't let them get away with it.
P.S. Molly Ivins has a great point-by-point explanation of why Bush's Social Security plan is bad for you.