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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Foreign Policy

Robert Gates warns: 'We are now in uncharted waters' with our dysfunctional politics

Robert Gates speaks at the National constitution Center 9-22-11

Yes, we are a few days late getting through an accumulated pile of reading. But better late than never in this case.

These are the worthy remarks of Robert Gates, the newly-former secretary of Defense and former numerous other things in government and the intelligence community.

They are not very long, as Washington remarks go. But then Gates didn't give them in Washington. He spoke in Philadelphia on Sept. 22 at the National Constitution Center upon receiving its Liberty Medal.

You should read them because of the man's intelligence, thoughtfulness and long experience in our troubled national capitol. Freed from the team loyalty obligations of serving one administration or another, he speaks more candidly than we've seen him on the Sunday talk shows.

Gates, an Eagle Scout from Kansas who just turned 68, has some pointed observations to make about why Washington has become so dysfunctional. (You can skip over the divisive media part; he obviously doesn't know what he's talking about.)

-- Andrew Malcolm

Liberty Medal Acceptance Speech by Robert Gates, as provided by the National Constitution Center

First of all, I am deeply honored. Thank you, Captain Odierno and Sergeant Graham.

Captain, I’ve had some interaction with your father over time; you follow in a great tradition. And I thank you for both of your service to your country and for the outstanding work of the organizations you represent.

First of all, I would say that this evening is a reminder that astrology exists to give....

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Late-night jokes: Starbucks CEO reveals how he got rich

Obama at the UN with South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit As The Ticket's 73,000-plus Twitter followers and 7,200 Facebook friends/fans know, we regularly share our daily picks of the late-night jokes of interest, usually before broadcast each evening.

Feel free to pass this weekly collection on to friends using the "Share" buttons above.

Fallon: President Obama arrived 25 minutes late for a luncheon at the United Nations. In fact, he was so late, he had to sit next to Joe Biden at the kids' table.

Letterman: The U.N. General Assembly is reconvening. Fun to drive by and see those world leaders sitting on the front porch hooting at all the passing chicks.

Conan: Arnold Schwarzenegger is writing a memoir. It'll be available in hardcover, paperback and a book-on-tape that’s impossible to understand.

Fallon: At a New York City fundraiser President Obama says he's in ‘in a New York ...

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Sunday shows: Netanyahu, Cameron, Ryan, Plouffe

British prime minister David Cameron inspects a Canadian Honor Guard 9-22-11

ABC's "This Week" with Christiane Amanpour: British Prime Minister David Cameron, Hanan Ashrawi of the Palestine Liberation Organization and Obama advisor David Plouffe, with George Will, Mary Matalin, Amy Walter and Donna Brazile

Bloomberg's "Political Capital with Al Hunt:" House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)

CBS' "Face the Nation" with Bob Schieffer: Reince Priebus and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairs of the Republican and Democratic National Committees, respectively, with Mark Zandi, John Dickerson and Norah O'Donnell

CNN Fareed Zakaria "GPS": Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barosso

CNN's "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley: Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-Ind.), Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Plouffe

Fox News Channel "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Plouffe, with Brit Hume, Bill Kristol, A.B. Stoddard and Juan Williams

NBC's "Meet the Press" with David Gregory: Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, with William Bennett, Tim Shriver, Donna Shalala and Tavis Smiley

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: British Prime Minister David Cameron inspects a Canadian Honor Guard in Ottawa on Thursday. Credit: Blair Gable / Reuters

Ticket pic of the week: Do not try this at home

Snake charmer kisses his cobra pal in India

Oh, you bet. Here's something we'll for sure try on our next visit to India.

We show our respect to cobra creatures by staying the heck away.

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No, that's a little far, back up a few feet

You know, that statue hasn't moved the entire time I've been watching

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Bazuki Muhammad / Reuters

Rick Perry's new video zeroes in on 'President Zero'

Our perspicacious colleague Robin Abcarian notes over here that much of what Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been doing during his first two Republican primary debates has resembled the successful, communicative mannerisms of Ronald Reagan.

There's another debate tonight at 6 p.m. Pacific on Fox News Channel. See if you agree.

Something else Perry has also been doing, like Mitt Romney too until recently, has been focusing his attacks on President Obama, as if the Texas governor was already running a general election campaign. (Scroll down for links to those attacks.)

There's a good reason behind that strategy: Polls of Republicans all along have shown they care more about defeating Obama than about the personalities and policies of individual GOP candidates. And this morning a new Gallup Poll shows more registered voters are considering voting for Romney (62%) than either of his two main rivals, Perry (53%) or Obama (54%).

Then Wednesday, RickPerry.org released a devastating video on 'President Zero.'

"We don't need a president who apologizes for America," says Perry.

Watch the new video below. Let us know what you think.

And see if the images and narrative remind you of anything from our not-too-distant-political past. (Our answer is below this video.)

OK, did this video remind you of anything?

Perhaps of the classic 1984 Ronald Reagan reelection campaign ad, "Morning in America." For old time's sake, we'll throw that one in right here.

 

 

For last year's powerful midterm takeoff ad, "Mourning in America," click here to watch.

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--Andrew Malcolm

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Rick Perry on Obama's Israel policy: 'Naive, arrogant, misguided and dangerous'

a NY supporter embraces texas republican governor rick Perry at a  New York City news conference 9-20-11

Gov. Rick Perry's remarks on Israel, as provided by RickPerry.org

Thank you. Let me begin by thanking Dr. Solomon Frager and Aron Hirtz for helping us organize this press conference today.

I am joined today by a diverse group of Jewish leaders from here and abroad who share my concern that the United Nations could take action this week to legitimize the Palestinian gambit to establish statehood in violation of the spirit of the 1993 Oslo Accords.

We are indignant that certain Middle Eastern leaders have discarded the principle of direct negotiations between the sovereign nation of Israel and the Palestinian leadership, and we are equally indignant that the Obama Administration’s Middle East policy of appeasement has encouraged such an ominous act of bad faith.rick Perrys Hands hold his remarks 9-20-11

Simply put, we would not be here today at the precipice of such a dangerous move if the Obama Policy in the Middle East wasn’t naïve, arrogant, misguided and dangerous.

It must be said, first, that Israel is our oldest and strongest democratic ally in the Middle East and has been for more than 60 years. The Obama Policy of moral equivalency, which gives equal standing to the grievances of Israelis and Palestinians, including the orchestrators of terrorism, is a dangerous insult.

There is no middle ground between our allies and those who seek their destruction. America should not be ambivalent between the terrorist tactics of Hamas and the security tactics of the legitimate and free state of Israel. By proposing ‘indirect talks” through the U.S. rather than between Palestinian leaders and Israel, this administration encouraged the Palestinians to shun direct talks.

Second, it was wrong for this Administration to suggest the 1967 borders should be the starting point for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.  When you consider this suggestion was made on the eve of the Israeli Prime Minister’s visit, we see in this American Administration a willingness to isolate a close ally and to do so in a manner that is insulting and naïve.

Third, by injecting the issue of 1967 borders in addition to a construction freeze in East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements, the Obama Administration has put Israel in a position of weakness and taken away their flexibility to offer concessions as part of the negotiation process.

Indeed, bolstered by the Obama Administration’s policies and apologists at the U.N., the Palestinians are exploiting the instability in the Middle East hoping to achieve their objective without concessions or direct negotiations with Israel.

The reason is simple: if they perceive they can get what they want from the U.N. without making any concessions why should they negotiate with Israel?

While the administration is right to finally agree to fight the Arab resolution at the U.N., it bears repeating that we wouldn’t be here today if they had stuck to some basic principles concerning Palestinian statehood:

First, Palestinian leaders must publicly affirm Israel’s right to exist, and to exist as a Jewish state;

Second, President Abbas must persuade all factions including Hamas to renounce acts of terrorism and release kidnapped Israeli Gilad Shalit, and;

Third, Palestinian statehood must be established only through direct negotiations between the Palestinian leadership and the nation of Israel.

By not insisting on these principles, the Obama Administration has appeased the Arab Street at the expense of our own national security interests. They have sowed instability that threatens the prospects of peace.

Israel’s security is critical to America’s security. We must not forget it was Israel that took out the nuclear capabilities of Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007. In both instances, their actions made the free world safer.

Today, the greatest threat to the security of Israel and, by extension, a threat to....

rick Perry Smiles at New York crowd 9-20-11

.... America, is the Iranian government developing a nuclear arsenal. One thing is clear: we must stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Economic sanctions must be tightened and increased and all options must remain on the table to stop a brutally repressive regime from acquiring a nuclear capability.

To date, we have fumbled our greatest opportunity for regime change. As average Iranian citizens were marching on Tehran in the Green Revolution in 2009, America was wasting precious time on a naïve policy of outreach to both the Iranian and Syrian governments.

Who knows what the leadership of Iran would look like today if America had done everything in its power to provide diplomatic and moral support to encourage the growing movement of dissidents who sought freedom.

Our actions in recent years have destabilized the Middle East. We have been complacent in encouraging revolt against hostile governments in Iran and Syria and we have been slow to recognize the risks posed by the new regime in Egypt and the increasingly strained relationship between Israel and Turkey.

It is vitally important for America to preserve alliances with moderate Muslim regimes and Muslim leaders who seek to preserve peace and stability in the region. But today, neither adversaries nor allies alike, know where America stands.

Our muddle of a foreign policy has created greater uncertainty in the midst of the “Arab Spring.” And our policy of isolating and undermining Israel has only encouraged our adversaries in their aggression.

With the end-run on Palestinian statehood imminent before the U.N., America must act swiftly.

First, every nation within the U.N. must know America stands with Israel and the Oslo accord principle of direct negotiations without equivocation.

Second, America must make it clear that a declaration of Palestinian Statehood in violation of the spirit of the Oslo accords could jeopardize our funding of U.N. operations.

Third, the Palestinians must know their gambit comes with consequences in particular that America will have to reconsider the $4 billion in assistance we have provided to the Palestinians over the last 17 years.

Fourth, we should close the PLO office in Washington if the U.N. grants the standing of a Palestinian state.

And fifth, we must signal to the world, including nations like Turkey and Egypt whom we have considered allies in recent years, that we won’t tolerate aggression against Israel.

Israel is our friend and ally. I have traveled there several times, and met with its leaders. It is not a perfect nation, but its existence is critical to America’s security in the world.

It is time to change our policy of appeasement toward the Palestinians to strengthen our ties to the nation of Israel, and in the process establish a robust American position in the Middle East characterized by a new firmness and a new resolve.

If America does not head off the aggression of forces hostile to Israel we will only embolden them.

That would be a tragic mistake.    ####

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-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Michael Nagle / Getty Images (A New York supporter embraces Perry at a news conference on Israel, Sept. 20); Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times (Perry holds his remarks and smiles at crowd).

Day No. 972: President Obama unveils a deficit reduction plan

Obama talks about the Deficit 9-19-11

"We didn’t need a rating agency to tell us that we need a balanced, long-term approach to deficit reduction. That was true last week. That was true last year. That was true the day I took office." --Barack Obama, Aug. 8, 2011.

Barack Obama took office Jan. 20, 2009. That was 972 days ago this morning, almost to the hour when he finally offered his newest full-blown deficit reduction plan. (See full Obama text below.)

Or as he put it, "Good morning, everybody. Please have a seat."

If it's Monday, the campaigning president must be issuing a new plan for something (before another $35,800 per ticket fundraiser in New York City). Last week it was his new Monday stimulus package, which was so urgent it's been delayed, as we discussed right here this morning.

Today, it was how to pay for his new stimulus package plus how to start reducing overspending and paying down the $14,000,000,000,000+ in debt that someone else is responsible for accumulating in recent years.

Here's the Washington Democrat's diagnosis:

During this past decade, profligate spending in Washington, tax cuts for multimillionaires and billionaires, the cost of two wars and the recession turned a record surplus into a yawning deficit, and that left us with a big pile of IOUs.

Everyone remembers his last deficit reduction plan in April. Back then he was determined "to shrink the deficit as a share of the economy, but not to do so so abruptly with spending cuts that would hamper growth or prevent us from helping small businesses and middle-class families get back on their feet."

Which struck many as suspiciously like not much of a shovel-ready deficit reduction program.

Now that it's autumn, it will surprise only children that the Democrat wants to increase taxes because we aren't paying enough and need more to spend. He also details impressive, large-scale cuts that include $1 trillion that we don't have and he says we won't be spending on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

According to this line of thinking, our spouse has been informed that we'll be buying a Lamborghini (red) with the cuts we've made in not buying a corporate jet.

"This plan cuts $2 in spending for every dollar in new revenues," the president proclaimed. Reforms to....

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Sunday shows: Cheney, Clinton, Huntsman, Blair, Cain

Tony Blair 9-11

ABC's "This Week" with Christiane Amanpour: Tony Blair, former President Clinton and Eric Schmidt of Google, with George Will, Jonathan Karl, Michael Beschloss and Cokie Roberts.

Bloomberg's "Political Capital" with Al Hunt: Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., Republican presidential candidate.

CBS' "Face the Nation" with Bob Schieffer: former President Clinton and former Vice President Dick Cheney.

CNN Fareed Zakaria "GPS": Jeffrey Immelt, Eliott Abrams, Rashid Khalidi, Bret Stephens and Gideon Rose.

CNN's "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley: Sens, Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren and Maen Areikat of the PLO.

Fox News Channel "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace: Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), House Budget Committee chairman, and Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, with Bill Kristol, Evan Bayh, Paul Gigot and Juan Williams.

NBC's "Meet the Press" with David Gregory: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky,) and former President Clinton, with Alex Castellanos, Jennifer Granholm, Mark Halperin and Helene Cooper.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Why wait until Sunday for politics? Click here now to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or follow us @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share this item with friends.

Photo: Tony Blair. Credit Luke MacGregor / Reuters

America's newest hero, Sgt. Dakota Meyer: How he rescued 36 guys under fire

Dakota Meyer in Afghanistan USMC

President Obama awards Medal of Honor to Sgt. Dakota Meyer, as provided by the White House

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. Please be seated. Thank you, Chaplain Kibben. Good afternoon, everyone. And on behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House. 

It’s been said that “where there is a brave man, in the thickest of the fight, there is the post of honor.”  Today, we pay tribute to an American who placed himself in the thick of the fight -- again and again and again.  In so doing, he has earned our nation’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor. And we are extraordinarily proud of Sgt. Dakota Meyer.(Applause.)
    
Today is only the third time during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that a recipient of the Medal of Honor has been able to accept it in person.  And we are honored to be joined by one of the two other recipients -- Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry, who is here.  (Scroll to bottom for the story of Sgt. Petry and other Medal of Honor winners.)

I would point out something else -- of all the Medal of Honor recipients in recent decades, Dakota is also one of the youngest. He’s 23 years old. And he performed the extraordinary actions for which he is being recognized today when he was just 21 years old.

Despite all this, I have to say Dakota is one of the most down-to-earth guys that you will ever meet. In fact, when my staff first tried to arrange the phone call so I could tell him that I’d approved this medal, Dakota was at work, at his new civilian job, on a construction site. 

 

He felt he couldn’t take the call right then, because he said, “If I don’t work, I don’t....

 

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9/11 a decade later: Most Americans now expect it to happen again

911 sunrise over washington capitol and damaged pentagon 2001 9-13-01

As most Americans pause at least a moment Sunday to remember 9/11/2001 and what they were doing on that deadly day that so fundamentally scarred the national psyche, an overwhelming majority have also told pollsters they think another mass attack will happen again before 9/11/2021.

Americans now believe that Al Qaeda as a global terrorist organization is weaker today, thanks to the extermination in May of Osama bin Laden and the less noticed elimination of hundreds of his associates by various violent means in recent years.

This year 50% of Americans say they believe Al Qaeda is weaker. That's double the percentage who thought that the previous two autumns.

Although, interestingly, a third (32%) still think the disparate terror group has managed to maintain its strength. Understandable. What's your first thought when you see an airliner low over any downtown?

However, according to this weekend's fresh Rasmussen Reports survey, despite all the country's sometimes controversial enhanced security precautions, a substantial majority of Americans (61%) still believe a similar-scale attack is at least somewhat likely to occur on the homeland during the next 10 years.

This includes nearly a third of Americans (29%) who think such a deadly repeat assault is very likely.

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-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the re-Tweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends

Photos, from top: Sunrise on Sept. 13, 2001, on the U.S. Capitol and the damaged Pentagon; New York City 9/11 smoke plume as seen from the International Space Station, 250 miles altitude. Credits: Luke Frazza / AFP /Getty Images; Frank Culbertson / NASA.

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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